Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Running Away From Fear

I run for many reasons. Each run is different, unique and my intention for each run changes from one run to another. Some runs I do for me and solely me. There are days I run to clear my head and find focus in my life. Other times I run simply for the joy of running; to become one with that feeling of being free. To feel strong and empowered. Then there are times I run to escape something. For the past couple of weeks I spent the majority of my runs running away from fear.

My five year old son developed and umbilical hernia when he was around five weeks old. I wasn't alarmed at first as I knew what it was. It continued to grow in size and by the time he was eight weeks old we were seeing a pediatric surgeon for evaluation. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of babies are born with an umbilical hernia. From that very first visit the surgeon informed us that most children with umbilical hernias have them spontaneously resolve on their own by the time they are five. If the hernia does not resolve by the age of five it is recommended to have the hernia surgically repaired. For five years we visited our surgeon with the hopes that it would close on its own. Unfortunately for my son he was not one of the lucky ones.

I scheduled surgery for Chase right before Christmas at our yearly recheck appointment. This gave us two months to prepare him and ourselves for surgery day. I stood at the front desk that day as the receptionist was going over everything feeling nauseous and fighting back the tears. Both my son's were right there and I was not going to let them see me upset. It was my job to be strong for Chase and I would vow that any tears I would shed would not be in front of him. I didn't want him feeding off me. I needed to hold it together and be his rock.

The next two  months we would casually bring it up. I wanted him to be as prepared as a five year old could be for surgery. The procedure itself would last under an hour and I was told I could be with him until he was anesthetized. Simple procedure or not, my son was still going to have to be put under anesthesia. Though I knew he would be in great hands it did not stop my mind from traveling to all the "what if's" that could happen under anesthesia. I am a Veterinary Technician and have spent plenty of time in surgery. It's always been one of my favorite places as a technician. Though animals and children are very different, the process of how anesthesia works is the same. I am fully aware that each patient can respond differently. I also know that risks for things to go wrong are low. Low or not, there are risks! As a mother it is difficult not to go to "those places" that scare you the most.

The two weeks prior to the procedure I felt out of control with my feelings. I was irritable, easily frustrated and feeling emotional. I couldn't wait for my husband to come home so I could get out the door and run. I talked about my fears some with my husband yet kept most of what I was feeling inside until I ran. I would run and try to process everything I was feeling. I felt like someone was suffocating me. I needed to try and get away from these feelings that were wrapping around me. I needed to run away from my fear.

The day before my son's surgery on my run I tried to fight back how scared I was. I couldn't do it any longer. I was trying so hard to be strong for my child and I needed to just let go. That last mile I could no longer fight the tears. The cold wind blew my salty tears from my face as I ran harder and faster. I was terrified and just wanted it all to be over. I needed that run that day. I needed to allow myself to feel the things that I feared.

Chase, with a smile during Pre-Operation

Chase was amazing the morning of surgery. Pro-Op procedures went well and he had a smile on his face most of the time. Everyone was amazing with him as well as kind and supportive to us. They let me lay in a hospital bed with Chase and they wheeled us both to the OR. I can't even imagine what what going through his head. I am not sure I could even process what I was feeling being wheeled down halls and around corners to reach our destination. Once in the OR it was time to begin anesthetizing my son. I wrapped my arms around him as he took his first breaths like a champ. It was within a minute he started to respond to the anesthesia and his arms and legs started to flail. This is normal and I knew that. Still, holding your child as their tiny body soon goes limp in your arms is a feeling I never want to have again. Even worse, having them being taken from your arms and placed on an operating table and you having to walk away.

Walking away from him was the hardest thing I had ever done! My chest felt heavy, it was as though someone was squeezing my heart and refusing to let go. As I was escorted back to the Pre-Op room I felt like he was a million miles away. I wanted to run back and grab him. I felt helpless and alone. All I wanted to do was hold him, touch him and know he could feel my love. 

I sat in a chair in the lobby of the hospital clutching onto his favorite blankie and his new Paw Patrol dog ("Chase" of course!) that we had given him that morning in the car before entering the hospital. I cried and though my husband was right there with me I felt like I was alone in a crowded room and no one could even see me. If I pause for a moment I can still connect with that feeling and I hate it. I never want to feel that way again!

Within an hour we met with the surgeon who escorted us to go see Chase. As we walked he talked about the surgery and recovery. I am not sure I really heard much of what he said for all I needed to know was that he was OK. The first sight of him he was still sleeping wrapped in white blankets and surrounded by pillows to keep him warm. His temp was low and they were trying to warm him up. He looked so little and helpless. For a moment it was like looking at him for the very first time again. As if I had just given birth to this amazing creature all over again. He was here, he was OK, and soon I would be bringing him home and this will all be a distant memory.

I am fortunate that my children are healthy. I commend each and every parent who has to go through things far worse and ugly than we did. My child is healthy and I will watch him grow, thrive and be a strong man. Some are not as fortunate. Other parents endure surgery after surgery or have to stand by and be strong while watching their child go through chemo or some other ailment. To those of you parents, I admire your strength and courage. I will never take for granted how very lucky I am for my children. I thank God for this amazing journey I am able to take with my husband. Being a mother to my two boys is the most amazing blessing I have ever been given. I can't imagine living without my loves.

Chase is one amazing and brave young boy. I admire his strength through all of this. He makes me so proud and this whole thing makes me feel closer to him. It's astounding what kids can endure. Children are resilient, fearless, and merciful. 

Saturday morning Chase was feeling well enough that I felt comfortable heading out for a run. I ran for the first time in weeks with a sense of freedom. I felt grateful, relieved and had an amazing run. I was no longer running from fear, I was running out of gratitude and happiness. I was able to smile and breathe instead of battling emotions I had no idea how to handle. With each step I felt like I was floating above the pavement, this run was exactly what I needed. Next time fear decides to come around it better just turn around and head in another direction. Fear can't catch me, I am way too fast!

Recent Posts:
Make it A Way Of Life, Not A Diet
How I Went From "That" Woman To "This" Woman

Monday, February 15, 2016

Make It A Way Of Life, Not A Diet

We are a product of how we live, what we do, who we surround ourselves with and what we eat! Last week I told you about how after my first son was born I decided I needed to make some changes to the way I lived my life. Learning how to eat properly and exercise was something I had to self teach in order to make changes. I wanted to become a healthier person. I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of doing this and set an example for my children in the process. It took time and patience for me to get where I am today. Am I where I want to be? No friends, it is always a work in progress.

I started with using Myfitnesspal years back as a tool to help me figure out what I was putting in my body versus what I needed to be putting in my body. I was neurotic about tracking every little thing I ate and drank. I logged each meal, snack and crumb that went into my mouth. It was exactly what I needed to stop and actually look at what I was putting into this body of mine. When you actually sit down and look at ingredients and the contents you can be surprised that sometimes what you think is healthy for you, is in no way healthy at all.

Once I fell into a rhythm it was no longer dieting, healthy habits became a way of life. This is where the focus shifts. I was able to stop tracking everything I ate because I had learned what my body needed, deserved and was asking for.  When you change the way you look at things it makes even the simplest things much easier. Once I got to a point where I wanted to maintain my weight the focus was staying healthy.

What works for me may not work for you. Each person is unique as is our activity level, body build, and nutritional needs. For me it became about learning how to balance. I still enjoy the foods I love just not in the way I use to. I love food! I could spend most of my day eating. Since we are being honest here I will tell you that I do eat a lot. From the time I get up to the time my head hits that pillow I am putting something in my mouth. I try to eat every two to three hours and I choose foods that fuel me. With being a runner and maintaining an active lifestyle my body needs to be replenished with foods that will give my body the energy it needs. When I am in "training mode" I tend to eat even more. My body needs those extra calories to perform properly. 

The focus of how I eat revolves a lot around my protein intake. Here are some benefits if eating a diet high in protein

* Makes you feel fuller longer
* It aids in skin, hair and muscle repair
* Increases energy
* Greater Muscle Development with strength training 
* May help in lower blood pressure
* Helps maintain better bone mass as we get older
* Protein can boost metabolism
* Helps to repair your body after injury
I start my day off with one egg cooked over easy on a Flatoutbread that has a light spread of goat cheese and topped with spinach. I like to put a slice of ham or bacon on it. I have been on this kick for awhile now. Granola or yogurt (sometimes both together) is another breakfast I enjoy. I love eggs though and could really eat them for every single meal. So eggs tend to be my first choice! I look forward to breakfast and go to bed thinking of it! Seriously, it is my favorite meal!

A few hours later after my morning workout I make my morning smoothie. I do this every single day! Some would think that one might get sick of smoothies every day yet there are so many different combinations you can make with superfood ingredients. I also include whey protein in my smoothies so it becomes the perfect post workout/run meal. 

Then I have lunch, snack, dinner and snack again! I wasn't lying when I said I eat a lot. It is thought that frequent meals may help to boost the metabolism. This method has worked for me for years and I plan to stick to it. Remember though, you have to make healthy snack and meal options for this to work.

Some of my favorite snacks include the following: yogurt, granola, protein bars, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, popcorn,  cucumbers, cottage cheese, and energy balls.

Dinner usually consists of some sort of seafood. I love seafood! I eat lots of salmon and mussels have been on my grocery list lately. Not everyone in the house feels the same way I do about fish so I also get my protein from chicken, chicken sausage and ground turkey. 

Fruits and veggies I eat throughout the day. Every meal has a veggie and snacking on fruit is something I do as well as encourage my children to make a healthy snack choice with a fruit. How I eat becomes an example for my children. It is important for them to know how to make healthy choices and feel empowered that the choice was theirs.

Now, does this mean I don't ever eat things that are "bad" or that I don't "indulge" from time to time? Let me tell you, I indulge! Friday night we always order out and I look forward to this. I enjoy chocolate and love desserts, cupcakes and cake. This mama also loves beer! (and Whiskey and wine) It is all that balance I mentioned earlier. I would say I have a 80/20 ratio when it comes to clean eating. I don't feel guilty about eating something that would not be in my daily menu. I deserve to indulge! 

None of this is hard. Healthy eating has become the best habit (after running) that I have developed over the past few years. I am committed to becoming a better me. Just as exercise is important, so is what you put into your body. Make smart choices, eat clean and enjoy the occasional cupcake or beer. As many things in life, you just have to figure out a balance.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. All opinions are my own. Consult your doctor or registered dietitian if you have concerns regarding your diet. 

Let's get social!! Connect with me:

Monday, February 8, 2016

How I Went From "That" Woman To "This" Woman

Ahh yes, we all know the saying "You are what you eat". I couldn't agree more! Five years ago I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I didn't count calories, carbohydrates or fat content. Five years ago I was also nursing my first son and was under the assumption that as a new nursing mom I could fill my face and burn it off while letting my new little creature sucked away at my new, large breasts my husband was in awe of. Sadly, the only wonderful thing was the fact that I was fortunate to nurse my son (okay, so two things: the big breasts were pretty cool too, it wasn't just my husband who thought so) and the downfall was I was not one of those women who could throw a steak and cheese sub down her throat without it going to her ass. Not just my ass, it also started to collect on my thighs, abdomen and suddenly I had two chins. WTF! I clearly got screwed!

My son was around nine months old or so when I really took a good look in the mirror. I am not in many pictures since I always seem to be the one behind the lens, yet when I was being captured on film what I saw made me cringe. I had always been a thin girl and I didn't work out much before my son. In my twenties I would run on and off. The occasional 5K or trot around town. I never was committed to it nor would I have called myself a runner at that time. I would do the occasional Tao Boa (Who remembers Billy Blanks?!) or whatever exercise video was the fad. It worked for me. I could go out and drink to my heart's content and not have the several beers I consumed affect much besides my decision making at that time. (Believe me, I have many "What the fuck were you thinking"!!! moments that I blame on beer). Sure, eating like shit and drinking put some weight, on I won't deny that. I was comfortable with what I looked like and confident as well. Fast forward post baby and suddenly I was turning into the GoodYear Blimp! My body was pissed off and was retaliating against me. I believe if I was quiet enough I could hear it scream profanities as well.

There I was staring at myself and not really sure I knew who this person was. It made me feel self conscious, a feeling I was not familiar with and instantly hated. I wanted to make a change. I wanted to get back to a place where I was happy with how I looked. I had no one to blame but myself. It wasn't my baby who destroyed me body. No, he did things to my body that only a baby will but all that is forgiven. All those changes I proudly earned. If anything having my child change my body was the push I need to reevaluate my health. My son became one of the reasons I wanted to be a healthier, happier, and stronger person. He became my inspiration. It was me who was not taking care of the amazing vessel I had been given. It was time to make a change and become a healthier me. 

The first thing that happened was counting calories. I started using Myfitnesspal and became obsessed with logging each and everything that I ate or drank. Within weeks I was seeing a difference. The scale was going down and it had stopped swearing nasty numbers at me. Then it became a goal to get in shape. It was like someone had flipped a switch in me and I knew: I was going to run. That summer I knew that I would be running in a five person relay with my family and I had a 5.6 mile leg. That fall I started running. It began with a painful mile and soon turned into a few miles. I ran through my first Vermont winter and was ready for the relay come May with a different body and attitude.

I fell in love with running. It began like an obsessive love affair at first. I couldn't stop, didn't want to stop, and was not about to give up. The more time and effort I put into it the relationship evolved into something much deeper. My runs allowed me to be brutally honest with myself. The roads gave me a place to not just to stomp out the day's frustration but to let go, forgive, heal and grow. With each step I took I was discovering things about myself that  I had not known, parts that I had hidden away. On my runs I felt a release that I had not ever felt. I was able to open up to myself and just be in the moment. Running became my friend, confidant, and saving grace.

I even ran throughout my entire second pregnancy (even two days post due date pushing my other son in a stroller). It was during my pregnancy that I decided after I had my second son that I would run my first Half Marathon. Four week post baby and I was back on the roads. A familiar and comforting place that I had missed. I did not follow any specific training plan and I did not have a running coach. I gathered information and advice from fellow runners and applied it to what worked for me. This girl who struggled to get through her first mile a couple years earlier was ready to become a part of the Half Marathon club. I will never forget that first race and the emotions that came with reaching this goal. It will always be one of my favorite moments. 

Fast forward to today and I can tell you that I am passionate about running. I have an appreciation for this sport and all the time that goes into it. I am in awe of my fellow runners, those who inspire me to push forward to reach my goals. Because if they can, so can I! Running is some of the only time I get alone to do what I want to do. Getting out there whether it is 4 degrees or 40 degrees is all the same. I am in a place where I feel connected to the earth and all it gives me. I am forever thankful for my two legs, for my body, and for the air that I breathe on my runs. I am fortunate that I can get out there and move. Too often we take life for granted. It is important to challenge yourself. I believe that our bodies are capable of amazing things. We need to do things that scare us in order for growth to happen. My running journey has taught me so many things that I would have never known had I not decided to take a chance. That woman I use to be, she was pretty cool but she has nothing on THIS woman I am now!

Connect with me! You can find me here:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Time For Training, Races And A Giveaway!

A couple weeks back I talked about my Word Of The Year and why I chose it. For those of you who missed that post I chose CONQUER. I have been reflecting on my chosen word and using it as a focal point for my runs, workouts and moments through the day when I need that extra push. Those moments when I just want to escape and not follow through. Yes, I do have those moments. It is not everyday that my runs are amazing, that my workouts make me feel strong, or that I feel like I have this parenting thing down. Each one of these things takes commitment, devotion, patience, acceptance and discipline.

With choosing a Word Of The Year I wanted to have it on a something as reminder to me to always push forward, to take control of my life, to overcome my fears and doubts, and to remember that this is my life and I am ultimately in control of it. I started to look at the Endorphin Warrior Bracelets and when I saw that they had my word of the year I knew I had to have that bracelet!

The bracelet itself is beautiful in person, pictures do not do it justice. I chose a black band with the word Conquer. The band is soft and it snaps shut for a nice fit. I like that they have sizes XS to LG. I have a little wrist and I wanted to be sure it fit snugly. I really dig the sleek look of the silver plate. This is jewellery you can wear on your runs, workouts or as everyday jewellery. I plan to wear this bracelet for training and on my race days. Motivation comes in all forms and having my Word of the year on my wrist is a reminder of what I plan to accomplish in the year ahead.

Speaking of training, I have a few races on the books for 2016 and am anxious to add more. This is what it looks like so far: 

Unplugged Half Marathon on Saturday, April 9th  

Vermont City Marathon/ Doing a HALF as a two person relay on Sunday, May 29th 

Worcester Running Festival Half Marathon on Sunday, June 19th

Having races already on my calendar helps to keep me accountable. Last year I did the Unplugged Half Marathon and used it as a training run for the Vermont City Marathon Half that I did. This year I plan to be ready for the Unplugged! This will be Half Marathon #7 for me and this race is an easy, pretty run along Lake Champlain.

January I was happy to get in 126 miles for the month. Last year I only hit 82 miles in January so I am excited that I was able to get in the miles I did. Truth be told, I wanted to hit 130 but I am happy with 126. The goal this year is to hit 1,500 miles, and I will make sure I get there!

Strength training has been going great. I have been doing a Ultimate Sandbag Training twice a week. I really enjoy the workouts and like how it challenges me. On the other days I work with my hand weights or do a video workout. I try to switch it up and be sure I am targeting different parts of my body. Creating a strong core is a focus of mine. A stronger core means a stronger runner. In order to be a stronger runner I have to put in the work and believe that I can be better. I must focus on the fact that there is always work to do, form to perfect, a pace to strive towards and a PR to beat.

Now, let's start the week off with another giveaway! In the beginning of this post I told you about my new Endorphin Warrior Bracelet. The awesome team over at Endorphin will give one of my readers a bracelet of their own where you can choose from one of their five words. Click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway to enter! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!! If you don't win you can use a special code of: CrystalR15 for 15% off at checkout until February 29th, 2016. Please feel free to share! Have a fabulous week!

Disclaimer: I was provided with an Endorphin Warrior Bracelet for review. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are proudly my own.