Tag Archive | stress reduction

50 Races by my 50th Birthday

I am back in training mode because, let’s face it, I’m crazy. I also committed to finishing 50 races by my 50th birthday which means I have 20 months to finish 12 races. I can do this. Right? And because I’m back in training mode, I thought It would be fun to share what it was like for me to run my latest race. And what I learned from it.

I trained incredibly hard for the Disney Half Marathon this past September. For twelve weeks, my entire life revolved around my running schedule and my every free thought was wrapped up in routes, nutrition and pain. Lots of pain. And after two years of health issues and a pretty serious fall about three months before my race (separated shoulder, mild concussion and cracked rib), I was ready.

The night before the race, we had a pasta dinner (gluten free for me) and then reflected at the start and finish lines to get ourselves in “the zone.” Then it was back to the hotel to set our things out and settle in for an early night of slumber. Now, I have to ask who really sleeps the night before a big race? Because my mind was all over the place. And did I mention how HOT it was? Good God we were in for a tortuous run.

The alarm went off at 2 a.m. and it was time to load up on the body glide, tape up my shoulder and don my race attire, only to find I had pinned my bib all the way through my shirt. With bib re-pinned, I double and triple checked my pockets, made sure I had my nutrition, ear buds, ID, etc., I forced myself to eat my pre-race breakfast and out the door we went. 3:00 a.m., 80 degrees outside and 70% humidity. WHAT? What the Hell were we thinking? We arrived at Disneyland only to discover there was a yellow flag warning and folks with health issues were encouraged to back out of the race. I am now of course, a bundle of nerves and have to pee every few minutes “I don’t have to pee. I don’t have to pee. I DON’T have to pee…” Perhaps if I say it enough times, I will convince myself that I don’t have to pee. Of course at this point I’m now questioning my training over the last few months and whether or not I will make it to the finish or be swept. Why the Hell is it so hot? Can I do this? Why did I think I could do this? And then the National Anthem plays and we all sing it together. What a beautiful moment. And then the realization hits that this is it. The moment we all trained so hard for. And, we are off.

As we run out of the safe confines of Disney and head out onto the open road, I notice the first of a many ambulances. It has barely been three miles and people are already dropping like flies. Did I mention how hot it was?! At this point there isn’t much to look at because Anaheim isn’t really that much to look at and it’s all mind games at this point. Although I am thankful for the kind souls who lined the race with their creative signs such as “Smile, remember you PAID to do this.” Yup, it takes a special kind of crazy to run 13.1 miles for FUN after paying $200 to do so! (And just so you know, I was having this EXACT conversation in my head as I was running.) As I approach mile 8, I’m fairly certain I cannot go any further. My fingers are so swollen, they are like sausages and I cannot bend them. I’m tired and feel overwhelmed by the heat and my feet hurt and I start pouring water over myself at each water station because I’m so miserable and it’s so hot.  I’m also bargaining with myself at this point and making myself promises in the event I actually survive this stupid race that I actually paid to run. And in that moment the race flag is changed from a yellow flag to a red flag warning. UGH. The game has changed. Now it’s all about survival.

We enter Angel Stadium and the sheer cool factor of running out onto the field makes up for the misery I’m feeling at this point. I run around the stadium high-fiving every spectator I pass in the hopes their positive energy will somehow enter my body and give me the boost I need. And, you know what? It worked! For a while. We run out of the stadium and through the parking lot down the street and see this giant overpass looming up ahead, in direct sunlight no less. And another person collapses. For a brief second I wondered (hoped?) perhaps it was me who collapsed and I was having an out of body experience. No such luck. And so I push on.

Mile 11. This is about the time I started crying. Yes, I actually started crying. It was hot, I was miserable, I couldn’t bend my fingers, I didn’t want to run ever again and I still had 2.1 miles to go. So close and yet so far. Some random woman in the crowd beckoned to me and held up one of those cooling neck rags to give me. At first I wondered why I was being singled out, but if I looked as bad as I felt, there was my reason. God bless her. That and the ice she poured into my bra was what got me and all my delirious glory to mile 12.

Mile 12.  I can see Disneyland. I mean, I can see actually see it. I’m close. Only 1.1 miles to go. OMG. I still have 1.1 miles to go… This race is never going to end. There is a saying that the longest mile in a race is the last .1 miles. Do you want to know why? Because at that point you are wondering where the HELL is the finish line. Because you want to finish strong (ok, who am I kidding at this point. I just want to finish upright) and so you need to be able to conserve your energy for that last sprint to the finish line. I was in such a fog, I didn’t even realize I had crossed the finish line until I did. So much for my happy finish photo. Let’s just say my photo looks pretty much like I’m sure you are imagining at this point. But no matter. I finished. I pushed through the heat and the tears and the pain and I FINISHED!

This race was not the best run of my life. It wasn’t even in the top ten. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is I believed in myself and accomplished something not everyone can do healthy, much less with the health issues I have. I learned that we all have so much more inside of us than we think. That even when my body is begging to stop, to be strong and reach deep down and fight. But, most importantly this race taught me not what I am capable of. It taught me to believe that I AM capable.

And as I walked to the medical tent to ice my shoulder, I smiled and began to plan my next races. Because there will be more. Twelve more to be exact.

 

Advertisements

To the Finish Line and Beyond

My doctor suggested I read a book called “The Wahls Protocol” and I’m already fascinated and I’m just on chapter one! As most who know me know, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and something called ABPA. I am lucky in that I’ve been able to manage both through what I eat – a strict paleo diet and after a very difficult year am now off all meds. A miracle? Sure. But also a lot of hard work. A passage that spoke to me from her book: “You are made of cells…Cells come in different sizes and shapes and they all do different things, but they are, essentially, the building blocks that make up our bodies… They need certain nutrients in order to do the work of keeping you alive and healthy. Without those nutrients, the cells begin to malfunction, even die. Where do those nutrients come from? They come from the food you eat, nowhere else… Your genetics may determine WHAT goes wrong but when the cells aren’t getting what they need, the body doesn’t work right and something (usually many something’s) will go wrong somewhere.”

“People often wonder whether health is mostly a matter of genetics. Do your cells work well or poorly depending on your DNA? If it were up to your genes, then what you eat and how you live wouldn’t matter very much. However, we know this isn’t the case.”

Wow! Just wow! I’m living proof of this. I went from being very ill two years ago to sitting in the car traveling to run a half marathon in three days. I was once so ill that, at the rate I was declining and had someone very dear to me not stepped in, I would not be here today. I’m certain of it. I was then referred to a Functional Medicine doctor who saved my life through diet and supplements. Of this I am sure. I went from being bedridden and weak with such bad thrush I couldn’t eat. The oral thrush then moved into my esophagus; a testament to how very sick I was. The very medications I was being given to cure me were slowly poisoning me.

I’ve written about the struggle to be weaned off prednisone. It was hell. There were days I didn’t want to continue but I knew deep down I had no choice so each taper I fought through the extreme pain -my body hurt to the touch, every joint hurt terribly. The mood swings were awful, I couldn’t sleep or eat. By the time things settled down, it was time for the next taper. And so it went for a year until I was finally free of all meds and, to this day almost eight months later, still am.

I’ve been training for this run for months. I’ve trained through minor health setbacks, including a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I’ve trained through sinus infections and asthma attacks. And through it all I’ve managed to push through and move forward, one mile at a time.

This is not my first half marathon. My first was four years ago – right before all of this began. But this one is most important to me. Because, you see, I’m me again. I’m strong and healthy. I’m a little battle worn but isn’t anyone who has fought such a battle and won? I’m proud of how very far I’ve come in such a relatively short amount of time. I am a fighter. And I believe with all my heart and soul where I am is because of how and what I eat. And this is why I write this blog. Why I passionately share with anyone who will listen.

To come to terms with what I’ve been through I had to believe there was a purpose to all of this. And my purpose is to pay it forward. To be that person to someone in need. To share what I’ve learned and perhaps make it easier for others. So that even if just one person knows they are not alone and can do this, then all of this will not have been in vain.

And as I cross that finish line on Sunday, I know there will be tears but they will be tears of joy. Of triumph. I’m not just running this race for me but for the many who have been there with and for me the last two years. Those of you reading this know who you are. The ones who prayed with me, cried with me, made me laugh, helped me with my workload, just simply loved me… you will all be with me on Sunday.

I am ever grateful to you all.

IMG_6162

Embrace the lessons

Still sick. It’s a sinus infection gone sideways and now my jaw is locked. Seriously. Can’t make this stuff up! And now I don’t care if I never see another bowl of applesauce again. COMPLIANT applesauce because even though I can eat precious little right now, I’m still keeping to the plan.

A dear friend said she’s praying “It’s enough Lord” for me. No kidding, right?! But that got me to thinking… perhaps the prayers should be that I embrace the lessons and be grateful for the journey. Because it’s through this journey that I see goodness and hope. People are now reaching to me for help with their illnesses. Friends are sharing what I’ve been through with others and encouraging them to reach out to me. And that they actually want to hear what it is I have to say is still hard for me to wrap my head around…

I’ve been praying for the Lord to show me His purpose in all of this and every day it becomes more clear. Perhaps not only is each experience meant to make us stronger but we are to then to go forth and share those lessons with others. And that is now where I am in my journey. Talking to people. Sharing what I’ve learned and where to turn for help.  Holding their hand through this as someone held mine. Modeling that having a chronic illness does not have to mean the end of the world but that it is instead the start of a new one full of promise and hope.

I’m not perfect. Dealing with my illness is hard and I have to be ever vigilant. And there are times, such as now where I could easily give up and stop hoping. Times where I don’t want to do any of this anymore if I’m going to be brutally honest. But what keeps me going is hope. Hope that I have more good days than bad. Hope that I can make a difference in this world. In somebody’s life. Hope that all of this isn’t for nothing.

So whatever it is you are going through. Be grateful for it for there is a lesson just waiting to be embraced. One which could change your life for the better.

IMG_4579

 

 

Asthma and emotions/stress

The declining health of a parent, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, work stress…  All things out of our control and yet things which affect us emotionally.  All things which may make it hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate.  Well when you have asthma, stress can affect your breathing. Stress is the enemy to asthma and anyone who has asthma needs to learn how to manage stress.  And it’s hard.

Believe me. I sit here typing after having my third breathing treatment of the day.  I was up all night unable to breathe.  I started coughing until I gagged and vomited.  Awesome, right?  And why?  Because rather than keeping my stress in check, I let it fester and grow until it made me physically sick.

I talk about food and health and how important it is to eat healthy to stay healthy.  But emotional health is important too.  I shared this with a student the other day who was very stressed.  I told him to find a time in his day to regroup and breathe.  And normally, I follow my own advice. There’s always time in your day.  ALWAYS!  Find something that calms you and make time for that. Go for a run, listen to music, go outside for fresh air.  Remove yourself from the situation.  Don’t let the small things become big things. Talk to a friend or loved one.  Whatever it is that works for you, do that.  Because nothing is more important than your health. Nothing. As for me, worrying won’t make my mom better or bring my loved one back or make that colleague any easier to work with.

If you have asthma, I challenge you to find small ways in which to work on handling the stress in your life.  When I actually practice what I preach, my asthma stays in check. I saw the warning signs but I refused to stop and listen.  I’ve been using my emergency inhaler so much the prescription I filled on April 4 is already empty and I can’t get another inhaler until May 4 without my doctor’s intervention.  I also know that because I let things get this far and I’m bordering on bronchitis I’m probably going to be forced to take a prednisone burst.  And darn it, I know better.  Because now here I am beating myself up… more stress.  I would laugh but that makes me cough!

So, learn from me.  Not taking your health seriously can have serious consequences. Pay attention to your emotions, get rest, eat properly and follow your asthma action plan. Reminders for both you and me. Together we CAN do this! We CAN keep our asthma under control.

IMG_4476

 

 

What a difference

What a difference hard work and determination can make, and what a long way I’ve come. The photo on the right is 4 years ago, full of prednisone and a few months after surgery number two. The photo on the left is today-completely weaned off all meds and in remission. Life is good. And looking at these two photos, how can you not believe that clean eating is the best thing for you. Is my journey over? No. I have a long way to go. But looking at this photo, I see how very far I’ve come.

FC159426-1CB0-42AA-90D8-0193D6795DD4

It’s St Patrick’s Day and I hate corned beef. So, this is what was for dinner. Salmon with Dijon mustard, honey, lemon and dill in the instant pot and green beans with a little Cajun powder from Penzies Spices. Much tastier, I say.

IMG_4094

I also was wanting something special for dessert and came across this recipe from Barefoot Provisions:

For this epic shake- you’ll need:

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls ice
1-2 tbsp coconut sugar
3/4 tsp mint oil or extract (fresh mint would be great)
1 tbsp cacao nibs
inch of vanilla bean
1 tbsp of your favorite nut butter

These are ingredients I always have on hand. And, because I’m still fighting off a sinus infection, I also threw in a little VSL3 probiotic for good measure…

IMG_4095

So, you see, anything is possible if you work hard enough for it.  I’m not missing out on anything and, most importantly, for the first time in a really long time I feel great and I think it shows. Honestly, if I can do this, so can you!

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding your soul

I share with you much about feeding your body but not of feeding your soul. And as I type this I’m doing just that. It’s four o’clock in the morning and I sit on the balcony overlooking the ocean. Not another soul is stirring. It’s just me and my thoughts and the sound of the ocean in a place which means so much to me. A place which evokes so many memories of my children and my own childhood. Today, this is my church and I sit in the silence  just listening. God is all around me. I feel it and I am comforted. A friend of mine said many are with me this weekend as I walk the beach and also as I pray. And I feel it. I feel their prayers and love. In this moment I know I’m not alone.

I share this with you because we all need to experience a moment like this. To be still and just feel. To listen. And it’s a rare moment we do just that. And it doesn’t have to be at the ocean. We just need to find a moment in our day to still ourselves. To center ourselves body, mind and spirit. We are so careful of what we put in and on our bodies but what of our soul? To truly heal, we must care for that as well.

I challenge you to do just that. Find a quiet place and just be. Listen to the things around you. The wind or the rain, the birds… Just listen and breathe. If you need to, go back in your mind to a moment or place in time. Hear the sounds, breathe in the scents. Breathe… I guarantee you will find the same innner peace I did this morning.

Peace.

img_3680

 

Non Scale Victories

We get so caught up in the numbers; I get caught up in the numbers.  And by doing so, we set ourselves up for failure.  For me, this reset isn’t about the numbers on a scale.  It’s about feeling good about myself, having more energy, building up my stamina. The Whole30 program says to not look at your scale for 30 days.  Do you know how hard that is?  Of course you do.  But you know what?  They are right!  Since I started my reset, I’ve noticed my clothes fit better.  I FEEL better, more alert.  When my alarm goes off, I can now easily wake up and I want to go to the gym (ok, let’s be honest here.  While I did hop out of bed when my alarm went off this morning, it took about 5 minutes on the treadmill before I was awake and alert!).  It has been a while since I really felt my love for running.  I’m back to planning routes in my head and, more importantly, am having fun while I run.  These are the things I’m choosing to pay attention to this month.

It’s so important to find something you like whether it be walking, running, swimming…  Just do SOMETHING!  I belong to a Runners with Rheumatoid Arthritis support group and was talking with another member about her run today and how she felt bad because she had to run/walk.  I said so what.  A mile is a mile.  Period!  It doesn’t matter that she didn’t run the whole way.  What matters is she felt good enough to get up and move today.  Celebrate THAT and be kind to yourself.

This morning, it felt great to be back on my routine and I had a great run.  And what made it great was that I did it.  I felt good and had fun competing with myself to keep my mind occupied and pass the time.  And then I worked on strength training in the weight room.  After, I rewarded myself with time in the steam room.  The beauty of that was I was able to sit in total serenity and just be.  I never allow myself that time.  But I will from now on. 

This journey I have been on, especially this past year, has been amazing.  It was difficult and there were some days I didn’t think I was going to make it through.  But I did.  And I learned so much.  I’m so grateful for everything because last year changed my life for the better. Every single day is a gift.  What people think of me is something I no longer care about because it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I feel about myself.  And, right now, I feel pretty damn good.  That’s the biggest non scale victory of all.

So, don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling. Know that there are better days ahead and, if you are having a bad one, know that it will get better.  I promise.  Find something good in each day and celebrate that. If you just signed up for a gym and are nervous and feel self-conscious, know that’s normal and then let it go.  Everyone there is so wrapped up in what they are doing and probably feel the same as you. Just do your thing and be proud of yourself.  If a full Whole30 is too much of a change right now, then don’t do it.  Don’t set yourself up for another failure because you have to be fully ready to commit.  Instead, make one small change.  Cut out soda or coffee or, gasp, sugar.  Just one.  Do that for a month and I challenge you to see if that doesn’t make a huge difference in how you feel.  At the end of that month, celebrate your accomplishment and then choose another challenge for yourself.  And don’t stop there.  Keep challenging yourself.  Trust me. This is all doable stuff. Is it hard?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  Heck yeah it is! You CAN do it!  I promise.

non-scale