Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Support, sabotage and boundaries

The non-supportive friend, family member, or random acquaintance on Facebook...what do you do about those people?  Well, the Facebook one is easy...defriend! 

Many times people mean well when they tell you that you don't need to lose any (or any more) weight, or that you've lost so much that you look like you are going to blow away. *eye roll*  They are sort of intended to be compliments, but at best, they are backhanded compliments.  They are kind of trying to say that you are fine to them just the way you are, but they are also telling you that you should quit what you are doing.  Ultimately, they make you feel bad about a healthy choice you have made for yourself, and that is unfortunate.  Hopefully, this person didn't really mean to have this affect, but in reality, some of them really mean it.

The closer the person is to you (anyone have an unsupportive spouse?), the more it hurts and the more frustration it brings.  When you embark on this lifestyle change, you want your loved ones to celebrate with you.  Exercising and losing weight makes you feel good--damn good!  You need support in your down times (there WILL be down times) because it's a long, hard journey.  The last thing you want is someone bringing you down and making you feel bad--or even ashamed--of what you have accomplished.  Yet it happens every day.

"You are going to workout again?" {followed by a very loud sigh--sound like your spouse?}

"You are depriving your kids treats just because you are only eating rabbit food now?"  {your mother-in-law?}

"You are getting so skinny.  Do you even eat anymore?" {your mother?}

"You are not still trying to lose more weight, are you?"  {your friend?}

Understanding the reasons why people aren't supporting you, and attacking them head on, is the only way to really get through this. Please don't let them convince you that you are doing something bad!

Reasons people don't support....or even sabotage:  The Spouse

There are so many reasons a spouse might not be supportive.  By virtue of being a woman, I have heard more complaints from the woman's point of view.  I have not heard as many stories of a wife not being supportive of their husbands getting healthier.  I'm not saying non-supportive wives don't exist, I'm absolutely certain they do.  But my spousal examples are written with clear hes and shes because writing "he or she" every time it comes up is just too cluttered.  I'm not bashing men/husbands, I swear! 

Men, please do not take offense if you do not see yourselves in these stories--I'm not talking about you.  However, if you DO recognize yourself a little, maybe you have some thinking to do about how you might better handle these situations.  You can also switch out he for she in these stories and they probably work just as well.  I'm not letting the ladies off the hook either...we've got our own set of issues, especially in the the mother/mother-in-law department.

Reason #1:  He's afraid of losing you.  Sometimes people get too "comfortable" in a relationship.  Sometimes when their spouse starts getting fit and trim, they feel like they won't be good enough anymore.  From these insecurities (ones that they will rarely ever admit to) comes the push-back against you getting healthier.  To address this, you must address the insecurity issue.  Unfortunately, if he's not willing to say he's feeling insecure, it can be harder.  You must reassure him that you aren't going anywhere, even more than you think is necessary.  Try to have a sitdown, purposeful discussion about how important your health is to you, and how much it would mean to you if he supported you.  Specifically tell him how you are not feeling supported.  Ask him if there's anything you can do to help him feel better about it.  Ask him to join you on your journey to good health.  Once he feels comfortable that you aren't going anywhere, he will feel better with the idea of you being healthier.  If he doesn't seem to care what's important to you, and continues to try to control, then the problem goes deeper that you getting healthy.  Get some professional help to work through these issues, they will not get better without addressing them.  It's important to have a supportive partner in life! 

Reason #2:  He doesn't like taking care of the kids (or insert other usual spousely duty here) alone.  Let's say your workout time can only happen when he can stay with the kid(s).  Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing dads out there doing a heck of a job, and I'm not talking about them.  Let's face it though, there's a bunch of dads who call watching their own kids "babysitting".  Babysitting?!  You are not being paid $10 per hour to watch these kids!  They are YOUR kids!!!  But I digress....  When the woman is out of the house, the man must fend for himself, and possibly fend for the little ones left in his care as well. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, but this may not be a comfortable role for men who have gotten used to something else.  Change is not easy for people, so you have to address it.  Again, you need to sit down and discuss how important this is to you, and then try to come up with a compromise that will work for both sides.  First find out what the exact issue is.  If some meal planning is necessary for you to get to the gym without a fight, then do it.  If taking one of the kids to the gym's childcare makes it easier, then do it.  However, if it doesn't matter what type of compromise you are coming up with to solve the stress over your gym time, professional help may be necessary.  A healthy marriage and family must allow time for each person be themselves, to do something they enjoy.  If that's not happening, then there is possibly a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.

Reason #3:  She feels like you don't spend enough time at home as it is.  {See, women have issues too.}  You work all day, and then go to the gym at night?  This is your only family time during the week, and you choose to spend it away from your family?  Have you ever heard this guys?  Women are wired completely different than you--it helps when you realize that.  There are several reasons that she can feel threatened by or resent your workout time.  Reason #1 above is one of them.  Insecurities lead to all sorts of bad thoughts.  Address them.  The sooner the better.  Another one is a need to feel cared about.  Many women need quality time with their spouse to feel loved.  You may not need that to feel loved, so it's easy to overlook that she needs it.  You have to come up with a compromise here.  You have to keep your workouts regular without making her feel neglected--whether it is real or perceived--you cannot discount her feelings.  Can you workout in the morning or lunchtime to keep your evenings for family?  The problem may be as simple as she's been home with the kids alone all day, and she just needs a break.  There's no deep underlying mystery, maybe she's just tired!  Give her that break, and figure out how to make her life easier while you go workout.  If she's agreeable, offer to take the kids with you to the gym daycare to give her an hour on her own.  It will show that you care about her while being able to workout as well.  If you really think about it, you can come up with all sorts of ways to continue to let her know you care and get in a workout as well.  Just make sure you talk to her first and that you are suggesting things that serve her needs.  If you drag the kids off to gym daycare and she's looking for evening family time, your efforts will backfire big time!  A little communication goes a long way.  Again, if communication and compromise aren't working to solve the issue, professional help might be needed.

Reason #4:  It hasn't "clicked" for them that they need to get healthy as well, and they still want to eat junk and not change a thing.  Oh boy, this one is hard.  You can't force them to change, so try your best to include them in the changes without making it so obvious.  Switch higher fat and sugar snacks for lower ones.  Ask them to go for walks with you and the kids.  Have some conversations on why it's beneficial without nagging that they make changes.  Just be a great influence, and hopefully they will join you eventually.  If not, then you have to ask them to accept a few things.  If they must eat junk food, then they can do it away from the house.  This is the same for smoking, especially if one spouse is trying to quit and the other is not.  They need to respect the fact that you will be tempted by it if it's in the house.  If they refuse, then there are definitely some respect issues going on.  Those need to be addressed.  Call in the professionals, if necessary.

Reasons people don't support....or even sabotage: The Mother (or Mother-in-Law)

Mothers (in-laws, too) are as different for different people as different can be.  If you have no "mommy" issues in your life, consider yourself blessed--or maybe in a lot of denial.  I am lucky enough to be writing this without too much experience, however, I've witnessed and heard a lot of stories about people who are not as lucky.

Who else but a mother would passive-aggressively comment on your food choices?  "What?! You don't want a second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy?  But that tiny scoop you took was so small!  You used to always love my mashed potatoes." *sad face*

Or parenting choices?  "What?! You take your kids to the daycare at the gym?  Don't they spend enough time at a daycare while you are working?"  *sad face* 

How about sending home large bags of treats (the candy and chips and cookies--oh my!) with the kids because you are obviously depriving them of their childhood (obesity)?  I sigh just thinking about this.

How you address it really depends on how important this fight is to you and to what degrees that boundaries need to be set.  How negative do you perceive the comments/actions, and how much do they bother you.  If your threshold for these things are high, and she doesn't get under your skin, maybe you can keep shaking them off and she'll get bored with them eventually.  However, if there is a little malice (whether real or perceived), then some addressing might be in order.  Here's three different scenarios with different levels of intrusion:

Scenario 1:  She's really harmless, and doesn't mean much with her comments/actions (I'm thinking of the mashed potato comment above).  If this is the case, and there is no ill will behind it, try your best to nicely (but firmly) address, and then ignore.  Chances are, nothing better is going to come out of this.  Don't be guilted into eating more, acting differently or giving up.  Let her know that it's nothing personal about her mashed potatoes, and that you still love them, which is why you took a normal serving size instead of skipping altogether.  Eventually (hopefully) she will get the message that it's your new normal, and leave you alone.  If she doesn't, you might want to consider if it's really more like a Scenario 2 or 3 below.

Scenario 2:  She's mostly harmless, but is trying to suggest you are doing something bad with her  comments/actions.  This is where you really need to evaluate whether the fight is worth it.  It just might be necessary.  If you are able to shake off the comments and stick to your guns without much guilt or effort, then do it.  However, if it eats at you for even a minute, address it!  You need to let her know that it's not appropriate to undermine your choices as an adult whether it be for yourself or your children.  Try to keep it as matter-of-fact and overly nice as you can.  Feelings might get a little hurt, but it's still better than you harboring resentment.  Talk it through, let her know how important this is to you and your family's health.  She doesn't want sickly, unhealthy grandkids, does she?  {Guilt is a two way street!} Pull on as many heart strings as possible.  If she doesn't get the message and respect your wishes, you are probably in a full blown Scenario 3 below.

Scenario 3:  She has no boundaries, and is just trying to control you by criticizing you.  I'm sure if you think about it, this same controlling behavior has happened all throughout your childhood to current day.  There are just no healthy boundaries here.  Once you become an adult, your parents need to respect your choices.  They don't have to agree with your decisions, but that it not their call to make.  If you are overweight, this controlling behavior just may have played a role in how you got there.  This is a fight worth having because things will not change if you don't make them.  They may not even change if you do, but boundaries between grown adults need to be set and followed, or there are consequences.  There are some possible outcomes of you tackling this issue head on:  (1) you set clear boundaries and improve your relationship with your mother after a period of readjustment; (2) you set clear boundaries, however your non-receptive mother cannot deal with it, so you spend less time allowing her to have access to you and your family {that's not a bad thing given the unhealthy boundaries}, or (3) you don't set clear boundaries and you continue to be controlled and made to feel bad about your choices even though you know they are good (i.e. eventual sabotage). 

Please don't choose outcome #3.  You deserve to be in control of your own life.  Seriously, what's the worse that can happen by choosing #1 or #2?  You don't let your mom make you miserable anymore.  That doesn't sound so bad!  And if these situations are happening and it's your mother-in-law, your spouse MUST get on board to address it, especially if you are looking at a Scenario #3.  Don't allow this to also cause issues in your marriage.  The boundaries are probably being violated for more things than your healthy lifestyle changes.  Set them in place and go about your life.  It might be ugly at first, but you'll be happier in the long run.  There's a lot of books to help with setting healthy boundaries, or maybe once again, consider some professional help.  There's more to life than allowing others to dictate how yours should be lived.  You deserve experiencing that.

Reasons people don't support....or even sabotage:  The Friend

They are not really your friend--ditch 'em.  Whew!  That one was easy!

All joking aside, if a friend is not supporting you, you really need to evaluate the so-called friendship.  It's mostly like jealousy or about their own poor self esteem.  It's not about you.  You need decide whether the friendship is worth salvaging, and go from there.  Ask them to stop with the negative comments and explain that they aren't beneficial to anyone.  If they continue to make comments, it might be best if you didn't hang out much anymore. 


Okay, I know this was long, and if these things didn't apply to you, it was even longer.  If you made it this far, thank you for bearing with me!  If you do not have boundary issues with anyone in your family, thank your lucky stars!  I've heard so many horror stories that I can barely believe they are true.  They make me sad and mad, so I felt this had to be written.  Don't let another person control your destiny.  If you've made a decision to lead a healthier life, then do it!  A huge part of changing your your life is not only changing the outside, but you have to adjust what's going on inside to make those changes last.  Don't let others put doubts in your head, and don't forget, you deserve a great life. 

You probably noticed, I mentioned seeking professional help several times.  I really mean it.  Working through issues with a trained professional can do wonders for you, your family and your closest relationships.  Don't give up before you try some counseling to get to the root of the problems.

Above all else, keep it going!  If you are doing enough to get someone's attention like this, you must be doing something right!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"But you're so thin! How could that happen?"

Hi all! Thanks to Shane for inviting me to share a little bit about a life changing event that (not coincidentally) happened two years ago today. I guess that my hope in writing this would be to encourage anyone who thinks that they can't be physically fit to find a path to achieve whatever level of fitness that means success to them.

February 18th, 2010
     7 AM  - Go to work
     8 AM  - Wonder why I'm having some mild heartburn (never have it)
     Noon  -  Nagging heartburn not going away ( maybe some food will help)
     2 PM  - Gag down my last cigarette (this will become obvious later)
     4 PM  - Drive home knowing there is something really wrong going on
     5 PM  - Ambulance called after cold sweats, chest pressure, and shortness of breath is real intense.
                  My wife and daughter both recognized that things were bad by the light gray coloring of my skin. Our neighbor Jayme (she is an RN), came over and said, "You look like shit. Call an ambulance now" Flattery will get you nowhere, Jayme.

I won't go into great medical detail here, but I had a heart attack on the way to St. John's Hospital. I remember some of the next hour or so, but suffice it to say that I knocked on Deaths door, and was lucky that he had gone bowling or to the grocery store. I had a 100% blockage in my left anterior descending artery, and two other blockages of 96%, and 97%. The fantastic Dr. Goswami put a stent in the 100% block, and did the other two 5 days later. I ended up spending a total of 8 looooooooooooong days in the hospital with lots of uncertainty hanging over our heads. The "our" I speak about is my fantastic family. I choke up sitting here writing this just thinking about their unbelievable love and support during this time. Becky, Jordan, Lucas, Audrey, Luciana, Nancy, Dee ........... just to mention a few. The support from friends was also critical in the mental game I played with myself. Would I have long term damage? How could I afford to miss work for an extended period of time? There were so many thoughts of self-doubt that popped in and out of my head. The support from family and friends got me through (and continues to get me through) the most difficult thing I'd ever dealt with.

Fast forward to April 25th (or therebouts) to my follow-up visit with the unbelievable Dr. Goswami. I had been told that some damage to the heart muscle should be expected. I had started doing some rehab at Prairie Heart Institute earlier in the month, and was feeling pretty good about how things were progressing. I had decided early on to not stick my head in the sand, and follow the directions of the different nurses and exercise physiologists who run the rehab program. Those of you that know me understand that this is not always a character trait that I exhibit.☺So after a few tests, my wife Becky and I are sitting in an exam room waiting for Dr. Goswami to come in and give us the lowdown. After what seemed like an hour, he walks in and says, "You're sort of a miracle. Your heart function is completely normal."

So back to the title of this story. I've always been very slender and active, and had so many people comment, "You're so thin, How could that happen?" Well, I ignored family history, didn't watch what I ate, smoked, didn't have regular check-ups, and dealt poorly with stress. All of that has changed now. I eat healthy foods, see my doc regularly, haven't smoked in two years ( the single most important change physically), and have a much more relaxed perspective. And I run. I run a bunch. Shane and Tammy can both testify to what running and exercise have done for them. I know what it has done for me too. I've run a handful of races, and am currently training for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign at the end of April. I'm also registered for the Chicago Marathon in October. (along with my oldest son Jordan, Shane and Tammy). The sense of accomplishment is tangible when you finish a race. It doesn't matter how fast you run, (although one should always try to improve their time as it relates to their fitness level) just finish what you start.

That's my story in relatively short form. Maybe (if Shane approves) I'll post about my first marathon experience in a few months. Until then, be well. . . . . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Beating Anxiety Part I" OR "How to tell the drug companies to SUCK IT"

I have been pretty healthy most of my life. I've been blessed with a good immune system, fairly good genetics, and a decent metabolism. So, what happened around my 40th birthday really took me by surprise.  It was around Halloween. I first noticed something out of the ordinary at my buddy's Halloween party. I was playing a werewolf out in the woods for an outdoor haunted house.

When a group of people would go by, I would jump out of the brush and chase them a few yards before returning to my hiding spot. Doing this, I began experiencing a strange sort of fatigue, and a vague shortness of breath...weird. Like most guys, I promptly blew this off.

You know what they say about middle aged men and doctors... basically if we see blood in our poop, we will poop in the dark! I have been guilty of that type of thinking in the past.  Over the next few days I started experiencing strange sensations. Tingling in my hands. Tightness in my neck. Shortness of breath. Oppresive feelings. Upset stomach and weird pains in my abdomen. Choking sensations. Something strange was going on. The shortness of breath was the most concerning.

A few days later sitting at my desk at work, it really hit me hard. I decided to do what anyone would do--go for an intense walk on my lunch hour. I figured I was stressed and a good blood pumping walk would help. It didn't. By the time I returned I was really concerned. I had a tight feeling in my chest and couldn't seem to take deep breaths. Now I began to get scared. The 'H' word swelled up in my mind. Heart Attack. I decided not to screw around with this any longer. I asked a coworker to take me to the hospital.  A coppery taste worked it's way into my mouth as the fear really started sinking in. I had a new baby! What if I need surgery? How will my wife take this? Will she be ok? Will I be ok? A millions thoughts raced through my head, none of them comforting. So off to the ER I went.

When I arrived, they heard "middle aged guy with tightness in chest and shortness of breath" and immediately got an IV in me and an EKG on my finger. The IV guy put the IV in my forearm, which was stupid, I have lots of good veins in the crook of my arm, but he sticks a big needle right thru a big muscle. I can already see my forearm turning black and blue. I laid there for a while and tried to relax. Strangely, the shortness of breath had seemed to dissipate when I arrived at the hospital, but as I laid there, it started to return. Since I was at the hospital, it didn't seem as scary. I decided to ride it out and see what happened. For a while, it got kind of intense, and I felt like I just couldn't get enough air, and my chest felt like a had a large concrete block sitting on it, but it never got unbearable. I told the nurse, she looked at my oxygen and said I seemed to be getting plenty of oxygen in my blood. Then I was off for a chest x-ray, which was all clear.

I was starting to get tired of sitting here with nothing really happening. I settled into a vague uneasy reverie. A guy came in having intense stomach pain and seemed to be drunk. They asked him a bunch of questions like how much he drank, he said a lot.  After a bit a nurse came in carrying a chart. She looked at me and said I had elevated liver enzymes in my blood. I asked what that meant. She said it was a sign I could have liver trouble or even failure in my future. She then recommended that I might want to reconsider how much alcohol I drank. I was puzzled at this, and said okay, but it shouldn't be a problem because I rarely drink alcohol. She looked at me oddly and said "what's your name?" When I told her she turned red in the face and said... "Oh... Mr. Bumgarner... I'm sorry, I was reading the wrong chart. Turns out Mr. Stomach Pain in the next bed was the one with the liver enzymes! Then I heard another nurse telling Mr. Stomach Pain that he had a major ulcer that was causing the pain.  I didn't have a lot of sympathy for the guy, but at least he was keeping me entertained!

Eventually the ER doc came around and said, "It doesn't appear there's anything really wrong with you. It is my job to make sure you are not going to die. From what I can see you appear fine and our tests found nothing. I want you to follow up with your regular doctor. I don't want you to return to work until you see your doctor." Well that was both good and bad. It appeared I was fine for the moment but something HAD been wrong.

Finally I walked out of the ER. I got home and called my boss and told them what was going on. The next morning, I called my doc and they told me they couldn't get me in for 3 days but until then I was to stay home and relax. Great. Three days of doing nothing. This was not going to be fun or easy at all!

I am not a patient person. I don't deal well with WAITING.

The next three days were both boring and very stressful. I was really concerned about my 'episode', but seemed to be feeling OK. Still, I didn't want to take any chances, so I literally laid on the couch and did NOTHING for three days.


A lot of times with health issues the worst part is the waiting, and the not knowing.


I had a friend with cancer and he told me when it comes to dealing with the medical system, nothing moves quickly and you have to learn to live with endless WAITING.  My friend's cancer turned out to be terminal, but he lasted 13 years, beating everyone's expectations. Even his own. When the doctor finally told him that the cancer had started growing again and he should get his affairs in order, I asked him if he thought about dying a lot. He said it was on his mind when he woke up in the morning, and on his mind when he went to sleep at night, but the living was everything in between.


I was starting to understand that mindset. I had no idea what to do with myself, besides sit on the couch and worry and wait for the next three days. Welcome to age 40!

Change was coming my way...


Monday, February 6, 2012

New miracle prescription helps weight loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and more!

Got your attention, didn't it?  What if I said that it really does exist?  A miracle prescription that can cure all of these things and more?  You would want to know what it is, wouldn't you?  You would want to get it for yourself or a loved one that might be suffering from one or all of these things?  What if it was just that simple?

Well, it is simple:  it's called regular exercise along with good food choices.  Blah!  That's not what you wanted to hear, right?  Sorry, it's a fact though.  If all the health benefits that came with regular exercise was in a pill form it would certainly be called a miracle drug.  Exercise is something that I think too many doctors fail to prescribe before medication.  I mean literally write it down on a pad and hand it to the patient, not just make the suggestion to them.  And when they do prescribe exercise to a patient, they should be very serious and deliberate about follow up just as they would any other prescription.

Some people would literally kill for a miracle reversal of bad health, yet they don't want to exercise.  "If I could just have a pill instead...."  Let's see, this pill here may cause all sorts of sexual side effects, ruin your liver, or occasionally cause death.  No biggie.  Give it to me!  There's a new popular weight loss drug that I don't even want to say the side effects because it's just too nasty (let's just say keep fresh undies with you at all times).  Really?  This is better than exercise?  Really?!

This entry has been kind of hard for me to write--I like to be more positive usually.  I really don't want to sound judgmental--this is not intended to be--nor is it to condemn anyone for past or present choices.  I just needed to get the attention for those who might be seeking the magical "pill" that can cure these things.  Sometimes people see pills as the only way out.  They just don't realize or give themselves enough credit that they CAN do it on their own.  I know a girl who has tried nearly every fad diet in the world, and she keeps complaining that they just don't work--yet she tries another. 

Diet and weight loss is a billion dollar industry (more accurately, $58 billion according to the American Dietetic Association).  If we are spending billions of dollars on diet and weight loss each year, then why are Americans just getting fatter?  Because the products don't work!  They are selling dreams and possibilities.  Unfortunately, they are not selling reality for the long term.  It all comes down again to calories in and calories out--good food and exercise.  The products that work (at least temporarily) are the ones you are supposed to take along with a healthy diet and exercise.  Guess what?  It works because of the food and exercise part, so just save your money.

Someone might say that they've tried eating right and exercising, and it just didn't work for them.  They lost the weight, but it all came back--sometimes with a little more.  It happens so often, that the term "yo-yo dieter" doesn't even need an explanation.  This is certainly not a willpower problem--they obviously put in work to lose the weight.  There is a problem in perceptions and expectations.  The problem is that people think that if they just get to their "goal" weight, they can quit torturing themselves with diet and exercise, and get things back to "normal".  I'm not sure why it doesn't click with them that their old "normal" got them there in the first place!  They need a new normal to continue to be healthy.

Exercise has played a huge role in my own health story.  Three years ago, I was on two different prescriptions for high blood pressure.  My highest blood pressure reading was 210/116 while I was on one prescription drug already.  Seriously, that's not a typo.  So they had to add another drug.  Even after being on two drugs, my blood pressure was still running high (130/80+).  It was more frustrating to me that I didn't even have one usual risk factor for hypertension.  I hated the thought of taking two pills a day for the rest of my life (I was only 36 at the time).  So a year and a half ago, I started running.  Since that time, under my doctor's supervision, I have been able to wean myself off the pills.  I took my blood pressure just the other day and it was 116/78.  I have also lost more than 15 pounds.  It's just amazing to me that regular exercise had better results than two prescription drugs.  If that can't be considered a health care miracle, I'm not sure what is.

Exercise involves a new way of life.  It's your new life, and you are so worth it!  As hard as it is to find time for regular exercise, staying unhealthy is not the easier choice in the long run.  To ensure better success, make small changes and keep adjusting as those habits become your new normal.  Make sure you are making healthy choices that you can sustain for life (i.e. do not deprive yourself, neglect your family, or hurt yourself with too much too fast).  Start slowly, like finding time to walk 30 minutes a day.  How about your two 15 minute breaks at work or during lunch?  Take a loop around the block with your co-workers.  It all adds up.

If you need to lose weight on top of getting active, try starting small by cutting out sweetened drinks and soda.  That can save you hundreds of calories a day (did you know a Starbucks Caffè Mocha has 260 calories with 8 grams of fat, and 41 carbs?).  It only takes a 500 calorie deficit a day to lose a pound a week.  One pound a week for a year is 52 pounds lost.  That's impressive to me.

See, it's really not so hard after all.  It is really something you can do.  You just have believe in yourself and  make up your mind to change your life for the better--and forever.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You can run a half marathon! Yes, I mean YOU!

Some of you may know that I started a blog a little over a year ago about my running adventures (  I started running in September 2010, and in December of that year, I started writing about it.  It was nice to get out my feelings and frustrations about running, and it's so great to be able to look back at older entries and see how far I've come.  If you are on a similar journey, I highly recommend writing things down along the way.  You can write for this blog if you want, we're always welcoming new contributors.  I think I'm going to retire that blog and move my posts over here.  I don't write as much as I used to because after the first few months of running, things move a lot slower.  There's a lot less to write about.  So, I will probably post here from now when something new is going on with me.  I'm not such a "newbie" runner anymore.

So much has changed since I started that blog.  I really remember hating running back then.  I remember it being a means to an end (calorie burn/exercise), but there was nothing I really enjoyed about it.  (I wish I had known about Couch to 5K!)  I was trying to describe this to a friend the other day who started running, and I told her she would be doing half marathons before she knew it.  She laughed it off, and said said running was a means to an end (calorie burn also), but she would never do it "for fun".  It sounded SO famililar.  I told her she should read my blog from a year and a half ago.  When I first started, I also hated running (most of the time) and could NEVER imagine running a half marathon.  Isn't a half marathon just about impossible?  Isn't that for amazing, elite athletes that look like Greek gods and goddesses? 

In a 

Half marathons are full of normal people.  Young people, old people.  Big people, little people. People like you.  People like me.  I ran my first half marathon seven months after I started running.  Before I ran the half, I would have thought this to be an amazing feat.  Now that I've run one, I know that if you run regularly (30 minutes, 3 days a week), and if add one mile to just one of your runs once a week, in a couple of months you can be ready for a half marathon (13.1 miles).  Yes, seriously!  Quit rolling your eyes at me!

There is an awesome sense of accomplishment in completing a half marathon.  After crossing that finish line, you feel pretty incredible (and maybe just a little rough at the same time).  It's amazing.  While normal people do run half marathons all the time, it is still something that could not be accomplished without some hard work and dedication.  You earn it.  I know it's not for everyone, but if you have ever had some little voice in the back of your mind wanting to do it (a bucket list item maybe?), then you absolutely can do it!  Don't let doubt or a lack of confidence tell you that you can't.  I'm the queen of self-doubt, I battle her on a daily basis, so I know a little bit about that.

Here's your plan:  If you are not running yet, start the Couch to 5K program.  Get yourself running continuously for 30 minutes straight, three days a week.  Then you are ready to start stepping it up with a training plan like Hal Higdon or use the SmartCoach app from Runner's World.  Take it slow and consistent with your training.  Your goal is to finish, not to be first place.  Walking for parts of a run is not shameful--giving up on yourself is.

Just start working at it, and in no time at all, you'll be able to stick that cool 13.1 magnet on your car with pride.  Come on, just try it!  What do you have to lose?