My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Hoping to find that groove again

When I began my journey to be a healthier me in 2009, I knew it would not be an easy road. I knew I had to take it one step at a time. I had to retrain my brain to look at pretty much everything differently.

The first couple of years were a struggle. Not only was I learning to do things in a new way, I was also learning to live a life after cancer AND dealing with personal tragedies. Eventually, I felt like I had found a groove. It still wasn’t easy and I was still learning a lot, but I was getting better.

There were a few bumps in the road, like when I had to switch gyms and when Tyler decided to give up doing personal training. But I managed to get through them. Then there was the decision to change gyms again, followed by the car accident. While I eventually recovered from the accident, I never did join another gym. I think that was a contributing factor to the struggles I’ve been dealing with since.

As nervous as I was to join my first gym, I’ve realized since then that I seem to work out well around other people, even if we aren’t working out together or even know each other. Maybe I feed off their energy or something. Whatever it is, I just seem to do better with others around.

I’ve tried doing workouts at home, but it’s not quite the same. And I don’t know why. I know a lot of ways to workout with little to no equipment, but I find it hard sometimes to get a good workout in by myself.

I don’t know if it’s lack of motivation or lack of trust in myself or something else. I just feel like something is missing. And because of that, I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost. I know I only have myself to blame. And I know that I’m the only one who can fix it. I need to start making better choices again.

I’ve been talking a lot about joining a gym again. And in truth, I’ve been talking about it for quite a long time. I know it’s something I need. Living in a small town, there are not a lot of choices. And maybe that’s part of why I haven’t done it yet. But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it.

But we are getting a new gym in town and I’ve already made a commitment to join. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully, I can find that groove again. The gym is scheduled to open in about a month. I’m feeling good about it. I’m anxious to see how much I remember.

I know it will take time to get back to where I was and beyond, and I’m okay with that. I’m already working on my mindset. And that’s the first step, and one of the most important.

 

 

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Apologies

It’s been a while since I posted anything.

Too long.

I’m sorry about that.

I don’t really have a good excuse for not posting anything lately. I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

I just didn’t feel like I had much to say. And when I tried to write, nothing came together.

And when I tried to write, nothing came together. That happens sometimes. I really want to write something, but it just doesn’t happen. I can’t seem to get the thoughts out of my head.

But I’m feeling better mentally these days, so hopefully, I’ll be able to post things more often. I already have a few ideas kicking around in my head. I think that’s a good sign.

Hopefully you’ll see some more posts soon. And on a more regular basis too.

It’s good to be back.

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2017: A year for rebuilding

I don’t make resolutions, haven’t for many years. I prefer to make goals.  “Resolutions” doesn’t have the same commitment to it as “goals” does.  At least in my opinion.  I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

I didn’t make any real goals last year.  I started the year feeling very burned out and just couldn’t wrap my head around what to do next. But that’s in the past. Nothing I can do about it, except learn from it.

So now it’s 2017. I had already been thinking about goals for the year long before the new year rolled around. I already had it in my mind a few things I want to do this year. As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones.

As the year progresses, new goals will be added. That’s one thing I’ve learned, you can always add to your list. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week. Just add to your list as you go along. Sure, I have a list of big goals, big dreams. I’m sure most people do. But I’ve learned over the last few years that it’s important to make smaller goals along the way to the big ones. I will often take a big goal and break it down into smaller ones to make it more manageable and less intimidating. I’ve noticed I accomplish more doing it that way.

So what do I have on the horizon for 2017?

Rebuilding.

That’s my main goal of the year.  I spent much of 2016 injured and feeling burned out. Consequently, I lost much of what I gained in previous years.  So I’m dedicating 2017 to rebuilding.

I decided I needed a plan. I did well in 2015 because I was following a training plan to prepare for my first half marathon. I also decided that I basically needed to start from the beginning and work my way back up. I knew I couldn’t start where I left off. I had to ease my way back in, to prevent burnout and injury. I also decided that I would work on one month at a time.

With that in mind, in December, I started to map out a plan for January.

I took the training plan I used in 2015 and stripped it down to the basics. I scheduled in run/walks, strength training, cross training, stretching, food prep, and rest. That might seem like a lot, but it’s not really.

I decided I would not worry about time or distance with my run/walks.  Some days I might be able to do more than others. Some days I might struggle a lot.  I lost much of the base I had, so I need to rebuild it.  Almost from scratch. The point is to get out there and do what I can.  After Christmas, I bought new running shoes, which I needed, as well as grips to help if it’s icy. I also have relatively easy access to the indoor track, so I really don’t have much of an excuse not to do it.

So that’s the first part of rebuilding. Run as much as I can. Walk when I need to. Just get out there and do it.

The strength training and cross training is similar. Do what I can. I don’t have a gym membership, but I don’t necessarily need one either. I know many exercises that don’t require being in a gym, and most require little to no equipment. I have a few things at home that I can use. And if there are days that I feel like I need more equipment, I can always pay the day rate at a local gym. Again, the point is to do what I can. And also not to overdo it. Every little bit counts.

Food prep has been a constant. It’s something I enjoy doing every week. I need to keep doing it, making sure I have plenty of healthy meals and snacks ready.

Rest and recovery are vital elements to any fitness plan. Something I need to remember.

The same goes for stretching. I need to incorporate that more. Add more moves to what I already know. There is always room for improvement.

It might seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. And I made the plan flexible enough that I can move things around when necessary. A few days in and things are going well. Towards the end of the month, I will map out the plan for February.

Much of this year will be devoted to rebuilding. My main focus is to get back into running and working out on a regular basis. This is something I really neglected last year. As the year goes on, I look forward to seeing the progress I will be making. I’m looking forward to doing great things.

Other things I am working on this year are reading more books, more meditation, more journaling, more writing, more positive thinking, more learning.  All of these things are part of rebuilding my commitment to being a healthier person.

I’m looking forward to a great year.

 

 

 

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2016 In Review

Well, what to say about 2016.

It was a challenging year for me. Much more challenging that I would have liked.

I started the year feeling rather burned out from a very busy 2015 and with an injury that I was in complete denial about.

It actually took me a few months to realize what I was feeling was burn out.  I had accomplished 2 very big goals in 2015, and suddenly I didn’t know what to do. I had put so much time and energy into those goals that when it was time to think about new goals, I just couldn’t. I felt a little lost and unsure of myself. I didn’t know what to do. Okay, I know that sounds strange. And maybe I’m not explaining it just right. But that’s really the only way I know how to describe it.

And the injury. Well, that’s another story. Looking back, I think the injury actually occurred at the end of my half marathon. My left foot was a little sore, but I expected to be sore after the race. It didn’t really bother me that much. Except when I ran. And to be honest, I didn’t do a lot of running over the winter. I chalked it up to needing to get new shoes. And then I knew I needed to get a new pair of custom orthotics. When I did my first race in April 2016, I had some soreness, but attributed it to not doing much running for the last few months. Same when I did a race in May. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just enough to bother me. And I only noticed it when I was running. I was still feeling very burned out, so I didn’t run much. I walked a lot, though.

Then came the Canada Day 5k on July 1st.

I was feeling some soreness almost from the start of the race. I had a cramp in my right calf, as well as the soreness in my left foot. I attributed the cramping to not stretching or warming up much before the race.  As the race went on, the pain became almost unbearable. Even walking was not helping. About the middle of the race, my friend Karen met up with me (after she had long finished). I told her about the cramp in my leg. She had me stop and then she took a water bottle and rubbed it up and down on my leg. It helped tremendously! I was able to continue on. But the pain in my left foot just got worse. But I refused to give up. I had never not finished a race and I was not about to start that day! Karen had to leave me, but my friend Lani and her kids took over. They walked with me the rest of the way. It took a lot of effort to cross that finish line. That’s when I stopped denying I had a problem.

I booked a doctor’s appointment as soon as I could. The doctor said my foot was swollen, but she didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. She couldn’t feel anything broken. She advised me to that I needed to take it easy for a while. No running, not even much walking. She also told me I should replace my orthotics right away.  I was happy to hear that she didn’t think it was too serious, but bummed about not being able to run. When I asked her for how long, she said probably a couple of months. I had wanted to do more races, but knew that my foot really needed the rest. So I did as my doctor said. It wasn’t easy at first, but eventually got used to it. I was used to doing a lot of walking but knew that I needed to take it easy on that too.

To be honest, I was mentally glad for the break. I had been pushing myself so much that I think this was the universe’s way of saying to slow down and take it easy.  It gave me a chance to recharge myself. Without feeling the pressure of having to run, I felt freer. I realized that I had lost the love of running. I needed the break more than I realized.

After about 3 months, my foot was finally starting to feel better. I had replaced my orthotics, which really helped. I wasn’t quite ready to run again yet, but I did start walking more. It was almost 4 months before I went for my first run. My friend Meggan and I did a walk/run together.  A little slower and a little more walking than I would have liked, but I did it and it felt good.

I was finally feeling like I could love running again.

I also knew that it would take time to get back to where I had been. I basically needed to start back at the beginning and rebuild. I would need to take it easy at the start so I didn’t get injured again.

I even did another race in early December. It felt good to be out there again, even if it was rather cold that day.

I had planned on doing another one in December, but they had to cancel it because of the weather.

2016 was also a challenge mentally.  I felt drained and exhausted much of the year. Which is why I didn’t do much blogging. Every time I tried to write something, I just couldn’t. I was blocked. Nothing made sense when I did manage to write. I’m finally feeling good about writing again too.  Hopefully that will continue throughout 2017.

I’m glad 2016 is over. And I’m looking forward to a great 2017!

 

 

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Mindset

I’m participating in a webinar this summer called Summer of Success, hosted by Mark Black.  I’ve often thought about doing one of these, but never really had the chance to for one reason or another.  When the opportunity came up for this one, I just couldn’t pass it up.  It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling a lot lately.  I’m hopeful that this webinar will help me move forward.

This week’s topic was on Positive Mindset.

One of things I learned early on in my journey to be a healthier person is that mindset is everything.  If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t have true success.  I know that’s why I failed over and over again in the attempts I made in my teens and 20s.  Once I changed my mindset, I found the success I desired.

Mindset is how you view everything.

Do you see things in a positive light? Or a negative one?

When something bad happens, do you look for what good might come of it? Or do you dwell on the bad?

Simply put, do you see the glass half-full or half-empty?

I’ll admit I don’t always have a positive mindset.  I try my best, but sometimes I find myself thinking negatively.  I know I need to change how I’m looking at the situation, but it’s not always easy.  Sometimes I can do so relatively quickly; other times, it takes me a long time to turn my thinking around.

When I first received my cancer diagnosis, I was devastated.  I remember thinking my life was over.  I couldn’t see anything positive about it.  Even as the doctors told me it was caught early and that the prognosis was good, I couldn’t see past the disease itself.  I never feared cancer growing up.  It didn’t run in my family so I never thought to fear it.  I feared heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol because those did run in my family.  But there I was sitting in that doctor’s office hearing the words no one ever should have to hear.  As I slowly told family and friends, did my own research and saw more doctors, I realized it was not as bad as the word implies.  I was lucky.  The cancer was found early, and it’s location meant that it was the type that it did not spread quickly.

The more I learned, the more my thinking shifted. 

The more my thinking shifted, the more I realized I had been given the opportunity to change my life. 

I could continue to be the couch potato and junk-food junkie I had been most of my life, or I could look at this as my chance to make my life better.

I could learn to make healthier choices. I could learn to be a more positive person. I could learn to enjoy exercise (for perhaps the first time ever).

As weird as it sounds, I began to look at my cancer as a gift.  I was being given the chance to become a better person – both mentally and physically.

So that’s what I did.

It’s not been an easy road.  I had a lot of struggles at the beginning.  A lot of things were thrown in my path: nearly losing my dad, the death of my stepmom, the deaths of 2 of my beloved cats, and the death of my mom — all in just over a year.  None of them were easy.  Any of them could have broken me.  But I refused to let them.  I was building a new life for myself.  I stumbled and fell a lot, but I always got up.  I refused to give up.  And with each thing I overcame, I became a better person.  I began to see everything in a different light.  And let me tell you, it really does make a difference.

Friends began to tell me how much of a difference they could see.  Not just in my physical appearance.  I seemed happier.  I smiled more.  I laughed more.  I was more open.  The more I looked for the good, the more I found.  Funny how it happens that way.

Two years ago, my husband and I were in a car accident.  Yes, I was upset about it.  But I surprised myself but almost immediately looking at the good side of it.  It was a single car accident and we both walked away with only minor injuries.  It could have been so much worse.  And I could have dwelled on that fact, but I chose not to.  I chose to see just how lucky we both were.  I think that made a huge difference in the healing.

My journey to be a healthier person has not been easy.  And right now I’m going through a lot of struggles.  I’ve been dwelling a lot on the past.  This week I was reminded just how important it is to have a positive mindset.  It’s always been there, in the back of my mind. And right now the negative thoughts are trying to squash it.  But it’s starting to fight back, fighting to get back to the top where it belongs.  And I’m going to do whatever I can to get it back up there.

I know it’s not an easy road, but I’m determined to get where I want to go.  And I’ll get there.  I’m positive.

 

 

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My friend Juliet

There are a few people in my life that inspire me and make me want to be a better person. They inspire me to be kinder, more open, gentler … just be a better person.

Juliet is one of those people.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she is that kind of person to many others.

Juliet is a beautiful person, inside and out. Her smile lights up the room, and her laughter is magical.

She’s kind and understanding. 

She’s full of life and love. 

She shows compassion and kindness to everyone. 

She’s smart and funny. 

She’s incredibly creative. 

She makes everyone feel important and worthy of love. 

She’s one of the hardest-working people I know. 

She has a huge heart.

She’s just an amazing person.

Talking to her, no matter the subject, always makes me feel better. I feel lighter somehow, even if we are just talking about events of the day. I just love being around her.

I admit that when I first met her, it took me awhile to open up and allow our friendship to grow. I don’t make friends easily, but she made it easy. 

I feel like I’ve grown since I met her. I’d like to think that being friends with her has helped me be a better person — kinder and gentler to myself and others, and more open to the world in general.

She’s the kind of person that just makes the world a better place just by being here.

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Break over

It’s been a quiet few months around here. I was having a really hard time writing. There were things I felt like I needed or wanted to write about, but I just couldn’t get the words out. I’d try and try, but nothing sounded right. So I decided I needed a break. I knew that eventually the ideas and words would flow again. And I finally feel like I’m at a point that they are.

I’ve been struggling a lot the last several months. And not just with writing. It just seemed like everything was harder. I couldn’t even figure out why at first.

It took a long time for me to realize I was burned out. I completed two big goals last year and it took a lot out of me. Not just physically, but also mentally. The mental part was the hardest. I think that’s what made everything seem so hard. My brain desperately needed a break. So I gave it one.

And I’m feeling much better these days. I’m feeling calmer, happier, lighter. And I’m getting back to things I love, like running. Yes, I even took a break from that. But things are looking up. I’m running again and I’m writing again, so the world is feeling brighter. Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

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Why I love Urban Escape Cafe

I spent a wonderful few hours at the cafe today, which is what inspired this post.

I’ve been going to the Cafe for about two and a half years now. I liked it as soon as I walked in.  And it’s only gotten better.

I go there as often as I can, but sometimes wish I could go more.  I love being there.  I always leave feeling better, no matter how I felt when I got there.

The first time I went there, it was to meet someone to discuss a job.  And as I said, I liked it as soon as I walked in.

I continued going whenever I got the chance.

Fabulous coffee, good food, great atmosphere. What’s not to love?

But it was more than that.

It was the people.

People having conversations with each other.

People sharing a part of their day with people they may have just met.

They have undergone a few changes since I started going there. New owner, new location. But those changes have only helped it become even better.

The new location is perfect. Exposed brick walls. Hardwood floors. It’s warm and inviting. It feels a bit like home.

The food is still delicious.

And most importantly, the coffee is still fabulous!

The people. Oh my goodness, the people.

Juliet, the owner, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Truly a beautiful person.

Sara, who works there too. Such a sweetheart.

The regulars: Steve and Cathy, Peter, Jim, Fred, Rick, Peter, Junior. And others I’ve seen there, but don’t remember their names.

We sit around, often sharing a large table, drinking our coffees (or tea or whatever), and talking.  Talking about anything and everything. Sharing stories, comparing notes, making each other laugh.  We pause occasionally to order a refill or get some food, but then continue.  We work on crossword and sudoku puzzles. Occasionally answering messages on our phones or tablets. But always talking.

A seemingly random group of people, who may not have met otherwise, sitting in a coffee shop sharing part of their lives with each other, creating friendships.

And I always, always leave there with a smile on my face and a warm glow in my heart.

This is just one of the reasons why I love Urban Escape Cafe.

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Goodbye 2015

Well, here we are at the end of another year.

It’s certainly been an interesting one.  I upped my running game this year but faltered in other areas.  I’m still learning how to create balance.  It’s not easy.  I still struggle a lot.  I’m trying my best, but some days are really hard.  I still have days where I just want to give up.  Somehow I find the strength to push through, although I’m not sure how.  I’ve had to find a lot of strength lately, although I kind of wish I didn’t have to.  I know it’s all part of the journey, but some days I wish things were a little easier.

Anyway, let’s get on with reviewing the year…

At the beginning of the year, I set some goals for myself. Some big, some small.  Some fitness related, some not.  So how did I do with them? Let’s see …

First, I wanted to do more races. In fact, I set a goal of 10 races.  That might not seem like a lot, but for me it was.  I actually had my doubts a few times that I would be able to do it.  But I did it.

Second, I set a goal to do my first half-marathon.  This goal terrified me.  I chose a race in October so I’d have plenty of time to train for it.  After a lot of searching, I found a training plan that I thought would work for me.  I had to modify it a little, but I felt it was a good solid plan.  The training went well, and when race day arrived, I felt I was as prepared as I could be for it.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done.  Although it took me longer than I had anticipated, I did cross the finish line.  While I was physically prepared, I hadn’t really mentally prepared for it.  But I didn’t realize that until mid-race.  I gave everything I had to that race, and then some.  To be honest, sometimes I’m not sure I made it to the finish line.

I wanted to do more running this year, and I certainly did that.  I had to log a lot of kilometres in my training.  Once the race was over, though, I didn’t do much running.  I felt like I needed to rest and reboot.  In my training plan, I had built in a rest period after the race.  It ended up being longer than I had planned.  I did some short walks in the weeks after the race, but no running for several weeks.  When I did start running again, my heart wasn’t always in it.  I questioned myself a lot.  I did a lot of reflecting.  I came to the conclusion that I had given  so much to my training and the race, I was mentally exhausted and just needed a break.  I decided not to harp on it and just let myself rest.  I did do some running, but not very much.

I also wanted to get back into the gym.  While I did visit a gym here and there, I still have not joined another one.  I really do miss it.  I really do need to get a membership somewhere.  Circumstances just didn’t allow it this year.  Hopefully next year.

The other goals I had this year were relatively minor — read more, write more, spend more time with my friends.  I did read several books this year, so I’m pretty happy with that goal.  I love to read, so I always think I should be reading more.  There are several books I heard about this year that I want to read.  Hopefully I will get the chance to next year.  While I was training, I regularly wrote on my blog.  Once the race was over, I posted a couple of things but haven’t posted anything since.  Overall, I think I did pretty good with that.  I’m hoping I will do as good or better next year.  As for spending more time with friends, this one was hard.  Everyone is busy these days.  I tried many times, but to no avail.  Maybe next year will be better.

The one goal I continually need to work on is being hard on myself.  I think I did pretty good with that this year, but I know it’s an on-going thing.  It’s something I will always need to keep an eye on.

Overall, I think I did pretty good with my goals of the year.

So what else happened this year?

My job with Celebrate the Hero continued to grow.  I really love working there.  I’m continually learning new things.  It is so rewarding.  I hope things continue to go well there.

My husband and I took a short trip to Delaware this summer.  My dad got remarried, and I was able to spend time with some of my family.  Because we live so far apart, I don’t get to see them very often.  We stay in touch via Facebook, but it’s nice to actually see them. We took day trips to Philadelphia and New York City.  We crammed a lot into the few days we were there.  I wish we could have stayed longer, but at least we got to see them for a few days.

To be honest, not much else went on this year.  My training and race schedule took up a good portion of the year.  I spent as much time as I could at my favourite local coffee shop, Urban Escape.  They moved to a new location this year, but not far from their old one.  I really love that place.  I love that it feels so comfortable.  I love that everyone is so nice and friendly, especially Juliet, the owner.  It’s just a wonderful place to be.  I made a few new friends, which is always nice.  And I even reconnected with an old one.  Overall, it was kind of a quiet year.

Well, that’s it.

I hope you all had a wonderful year.

And I hope your 2016 will be a happy one.

 

 

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Lessons learned from training for and completing my first half-marathon

It’s been 2 weeks since I completed my first half marathon.  Through 4 months of training and the race itself, I learned a lot.  And as they say, hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back, there are things I wish I had done, and some I’m glad did.  You can never really be completely prepared, but the more prepared you are, the better.

With that in mind, here are some of the things I learned:

If you think you’ve done enough training on hills, you haven’t. Do more.  And do a variety of sizes.  There is an art form to running up AND down hills.

Do your training on a variety of surfaces. Roads, sidewalks, trails, gravel, dirt, etc.

Double, triple, quadruple check the race details, rules, etc. Never be afraid to ask questions or for clarification.

Do your best not to let unexpected things throw you off your race plan.

If you need help with something, ASK!  Runners are a friendly group.  Most love helping other runners.  Just remember that what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

If you can, have someone you can talk to, text or call to help calm you down if you start to freak out, especially at the start line.  If all else fails, find a random person and strike up a conversation.

If you can, check out the race route beforehand.  Knowing the terrain may help on race day.

If possible, do some of your training with a friend or a running group.  They may be able to help you correct any issues you might be having (i.e. pace, form, etc)

Remember that the only person you are really competing against is yourself.  Run your own race.  Don’t worry what everyone else is doing.

Don’t skimp on cross training and strength training. Both are very helpful.

Don’t forget about the stretching. Even a little bit will help.

Pay attention to the weather, even during training. You don’t want to dress too lightly or too heavily.  And learn to run in less than ideal conditions, like when it’s raining.  It goes back to being prepared.

Remember that it’s okay to walk, just as long as you keep moving forward.

Most importantly …

Remember your WHY and let that help you get to the finish line.

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