Thursday, July 30, 2015

All signs pointed to change...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the me before I first ever made a change.  I remember doing Atkins diets in college and then a week later just eating pasta for every meal at the dining hall followed by a chicken sandwich from the local pizza house at 1am after a full night of drinking.  I don't really remember becoming heavy and losing control I just remember needing to make a few purchases of new clothing and stretching out a lot of old clothing.  No one in my life was saying anything one way or another so I just kept going with business as usual.  College was supposed to be fun and I was having it!

I have stumbled across this picture so many times when looking for some before pictures down in the basement and I just couldn't bring myself to share it.  Then I said today if I still have that old bathing suit I will try it on and do a before and after pic.  I was 22 years old in this pic and on my senior year spring break with my girlfriends.  I was very comfortable in my own skin and now looking back still happy about that.  Happy that people didn't make me feel unhappy.  I remember the chocolate buffet night on the cruise ship....that was my favorite night!
2000 vs. 2015

I don't think that I am better person because of the choices I make today verses the choices I made 15 years ago.  I do think that I am a healthier, stronger, happier and a better example for my now four children.  I remember when I went to one of my early OB/GYN appointments when Ben and I were first married and my doctor said to me..."Wow...I really don't believe you weigh as much as you do.  You don't look like you do.  Let's get your thyroid checked out."  I had never even heard of thyroid issues and didn't think we had that in our family history but if it meant there was an answer to me being heavy...I was all ears. The doctor seemed alarmed so I guess I should have been too.

I went and got my blood drawn and can remember the doctor calling me to say that all was great with my issues there.  I remember calling Ben to tell him I received the results...and the answer was I was just heavy.  Growing up I was not heavy but merely a big boned athletic built girl.  I was definitely the bigger girl in the class but nothing to what I brought my self to at the age of 22.  That phone call was pretty devastating.  A change needed to happen.

I don't remember the date of that testing but I know it was before we were trying to have kids.  I remember sitting in the parking lot and crying.  I remember thinking that this was a ray of hope and I was in the dark again.  

So enough chatter from my girlfriend who lived out of town who was having success with Weight Watchers and I decided this was going to be my method of change.  I can write things down, I can weigh things, I can read sides of boxes, and I can exercise a bit.  It was not rocket science and the basic principles of in verses out were finally right in front of me...It was time for a change...I was ready.

This is not me saying I am perfect or made all the right choices.  I know still to this day I have struggles.  Lunch the other day of leftover brownie/chocolate chip cookie muffins from my son's bday celebration with a side of reeses pieces is not success.  But it is life.  My daily food logging and exercise may be a bit over the top for some people but for me it works.  It has worked more than five times of me tackling a fairly large weight loss pre babies, in between babies, and post babies.  I tried it based on a whim from a friend and it gave me the tools I needed to be ready to battle those pounds when they crept back into my life.

And now I sit in a place where my goal has been met...still with perfect viewing to the other me...knowing she can creep in at any time.  I still look at my body and there are things I would like to change.  Food doesn't scare me in that I think I can't control myself around it.  I know that if a day gets out of hand it's only one day.  I have had success too many times to let one day of failure kick me out.  I wake up the next morning, get my workout in, eat my oatmeal, and log my stuff.  It is what I need to do to keep me in the zone.  One of the most amazing things that has come out of this whole transformation is that I now look forward to my exercise on most days and the thought of trying out a new fun recipe that may be vegetarian when we would have never tried exciting.  I get excited over being able to handle the changes and challenges my body is going through and want to see what it will be capable of next.  

I am putting it all out there with this picture to really show you that a change can happen.  You can start the process and keep it going even though life events may derail you over time.  You can get back on the wagon and keep pushing.  You can try a little harder every day.  It is scary but you are not alone...your support system is there waiting to help you along the way.  As those little changes stack up and before you know it you are having BIG results.  Things will get easier, you will feel better on the inside and out...and everyone around you will see this new you.  You will shine!

Embrace the suck...choose you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hoping for the best

Eleven years ago today I became a mom.  I was 26 years old, married to my college sweetheart and ready to welcome a beautiful little baby girl into the world named Reagan Leigh.  I had my baby shower with family and friends, "sugar and spice and everything nice" and prepped and nested till my heart was content.  We were ready to welcome into the world this healthy little baby girl.

Headed to the hospital and was just very excited that the day was finally here.  I was so excited to have a little baby girl while hubby was still warming up to the fact that there was not going to be a football thrown immediately with this pink bundle.  My doctor had checked on me at around 7am that day and then was back just before 12pm and said I was ready to go.  I can here my doctor saying...come on Reagan.  Ben and I both had our pink going home outfits to match little baby girl's outfit.  We were ready!

Well...people are not perfect and that day how ever many months earlier...the lab tech was having an off day.  She told me baby girl and in fact there was a bouncing baby boy waiting to meet us.  It was quite a shock and a story that still makes me smile to this day!  Out came this 8 pound little boy and my doctor said...It's A BOY?!?!?!  His voice was so oh no...they were wrong!  Ben then may had mentioned the size of certain things that may swell during delivery...but then had the biggest smile on his face I can ever remember.  All of his fear and anxiousness over a little baby girl were put to the side and his excitement and joy for a baby boy were pushed to the front.  He felt like he could handle a boy for the first time through a bit easier.

So here we were with this baby boy...that did not have a name for two days as we never came to an agreement on a boys I referred to him as buddy, mister, cutie pie and baby boy.  My mother in law's boyfriend came in with a HUGE pink balloon and when we told them it was a boy he said...holy crap!  and quickly exchanged his balloon for a blue one.  We received a showering of blue, green and red onesies with footballs, teddy bears and trucks in the mail via family and friends.  When I tell you we did not have one stitch of green or was all pink and purple.  All was switched out at home before we made our arrival.   Reagan was never on the name list for any of our other children...that ship had sailed.

So here he is today...eleven years old and becoming this strong, smart, determined young man.  He is faced with challenges far greater than I did when I was his is a different time.  As I want him to stay little forever, want to snuggle with me and read a book or ask me to play a game with him...I know those days are few remaining.  He is typical first child, wanting to help me out as much as he can, do his best in all aspects of life...trying to be the number one.  He does well in school, loves to play sports, is the funniest and silliest kid around...and all together a good kid.  I can only hope this will last.

He was given the spirit award on his summer swim team this summer.  He is not the fastest kid in the pool but gives his all at every meet and has the look of defeat when it doesn't go in his favor.  He has the same competitive gene that I do and I suppose that is a blessing and a curse.  The spirit award is for the kid that supports other members on the team, motivating for others, helpful to those that need it, respectful to coaches and other teammates, and a rule follower.  I will take that over the fastest swimmer any day.  For all the pressures that he has around him...for that to be something he is remembered for...I am beyond honored.  

Eleven years went by pretty quickly...I am not in a rush for him to grow up any faster because once he wants to stop playing cars with his baby brother, or let his sisters do his hair and dress him's over.  He will be this big kid in this house...his voice will lower...his shoes will get bigger and bigger...and I can only hope that he will still want to snuggle every once and again.

Starting a family is a exciting yet frightening I can't believe I did at the young age of 26.  I was naive and scared and did my very best...I had all the guilt of being a working mom and not being there on his first birthday when he took his first steps at daycare.  I tried to get him involved in sports and activities I thought he would like and schedule playdates and meetups to keep him entertained.  My husband and I were this team that was starting to create our bench and he was our first pick...a surprise pick...but the still the first member of team G!  It was the best times of my life.

Now as I sit typing and he watches his shows on his birthday morning all sprawled out on a chair that makes him look longer than he actually is...I am beyond words proud of him.  He has become this mini version of my husband and I with a zest for life and humor that I don't always get but still appreciate.  At 26 I was hoping this would all be easy and fun and at the eleven year mark...I can say it was not all easy or fun but definitely worth it.  We will continue on raising this little man boy...and hope for the best.  Hope he continues to make smart choices and does the right thing.  The controls are shifting with every year he ages...that's okay....or so I keep telling myself.

Embrace the suck...choose you...and sometimes you just have to hope for the best!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It just takes one day

Each time that I lost weight over the years I got myself to the comfortable place where the pants I had in my closet fit again and I didn't feel GROSS anymore.  It was many days and weeks of writing, logging, planning, exercising and convincing myself every morning that I could do it.  There were times between each of the pregnancies that I didn't get back to that initial starting weight but it was close enough because I knew another baby was in our future.

I was chatting with my best friend a few weeks ago when we were lucky enough to get some time together and she said in her best friend voice, that yes Julie you are a little extreme.  The strange part of me was kinda happy to hear that...especially from her as she has known me through all my shapes and sizes.  When the person that knows you best sees that this is a new stronger you than ever has to be the real deal.

It just takes one day for you to wake up and tell is the day.  No more excuses.  One day to put on the workout clothes and do more than just go to Target and Costco in them.  One day of grabbing a measuring cup and seeing how much pasta you are having with dinner.  One day of going to bed early so you can wake up early to get to the class at the rec center in the morning.  One day of a friend saying let's sign up for a 5k and you agreeing.  One day of telling yourself that you have not truly committed to finding the new you and today is the day of true commitment.

In January of 2014 when I said enough already...I was ready for the change...even though I was not sure what I was going to uncover.  I had a goal in mind but over the past six months I have blown that goal out of the water.  I have pushed myself to new levels and trying new things.  Fitness is a huge component of my daily life with training for my 1/2 Iron Distance.  I can't look at the eight and an half hours I have to finish in a week and think this is impossible...I will never be able to run that far or swim that long let alone find the time to get it all in.  I have to just break it all up into pieces and tell myself I can do that one piece.  The next day...same thing...I can do this one piece of the giant puzzle.  
So through this process I fit into my clothes that were in my closet and then I needed to buy new ones.  I feel better on the days that I push myself extra hard and find its easier for my mind and body to make the smarter choices in the kitchen.  I am able to eat more and cleaner with the new me.  I don't feel limited or deprived.  I know what I need to do for success and I take it a day at a time.  It is still a challenge everyday to not eat three waffles with my kiddos and a big glass of milk but rather enjoy my oatmeal and decaf tea.  Those waffles smell soooo good!    When meatballs and spaghetti are on the dinner table I have the garlic bread too and probably more pasta then I would if I wasn't measuring it out.  If I know I can have it and it works into the's on my plate!

So day...try to log your food...see what you are taking in.  One day...go for a walk or try a class at the gym.  One day decide that you are worth more than you are telling yourself.  When you start to feel good...everyone around you will makes for a happy place.  Then when you wake up the next day...try again.  You may not have immediate success but don't give up on you so quickly.  It took more than a week to get you to this unhappy place so it will more than likely take you more than a week to get out of it.  Days will be long and hungry and tiring...but you will be able to do it!  The next day you will be proud of this new you that is creeping out and you can do it again!  Small changes add up to AMAZING results!

Embrace the suck...Choose the day at a time!!

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Additions...remembering mine with a smile

A friend of mine today had baby number three!  She had asked me last week if I could come over and throw two french braids in her hair so she didn't have to deal with the knots and tangles while laying in a hospital bed for the next three days.  She was already thinking of this baby first and how he would need all the love and attention she could give and her hair was just going to have to take a back seat.

I went over this morning around 8:30 to get those braids done before taking two of mine to camp and she was there...very calm about to have a baby in just six hours.  She had her other two clothes laid out on the table for the helping hands to easily find in her absence.  A swing was put in the corner away from all the toys of the older siblings so maybe this new addition can have a little bit of quiet time.  Life as usual was going on all around this pending new could feel the excitement in the house.

They were blessed this afternoon with a healthy baby boy and I am sure she is taking all the time to look at those cute little toes and long skinny fingers.  Smelling that baby's head was always my favorite thing in the world to do.  And after having my third I really loved my stay in the hospital while family watched after the other two.  I am hoping my friend truly enjoys those quite moments in the hospital before her man on man defense turns into zone.

As I wished her well before I left this morning she said I am sure you don't miss all this...and the fact that you get to wear regular clothes.  In that moment, with all that excitement in the air...I did miss it.  I know that our family is complete and there will be no more Gs added to our six pack. It does make me sad that that phase of my life is now behind me...I still am changing diapers but they are not cute little swaddlers that actually smell good...I know bizarre that I like the smell of diapers-prior to use of course!  We pass through these phases so quickly and don't even know sometimes that we have left one behind.

Each of my four babies brought so many new and exciting things into my life.  Yes I gained fifty pounds with each child...ate a lot of salty meats and craved all the cheeses I was not allowed to eat while pregnant...but I really loved being pregnant each time.  My first I was told he was a girl according to the sonogram...out came a bouncing baby boy-that was a tough one to wrap my head around!  My second was the little girl that I tried to have in the same timeline as G1 so I could use all those cute little girl clothes I received at my baby shower three years prior.  G3 was exciting as the older ones were now aware of the process and getting excited to be helpers.  Our family was getting bigger with every big belly that appeared in our home.  When G3 arrived I was so excited that G2 had a sister...something I always wanted.  And then G4 arrived after putting me on bedrest for a bit, he was almost telling me to slow down before he arrived...and he made the perfect bookend to our family.  He has brought all that fun and silliness that a boy can bring that we haven't seen in a few years as they were covered in princess dressups and nailpolish.

As my kids are getting bigger and doing more mature things I at times think that I am staying stagnant in my life...however my birthday seems to still come every year so I guess I am getting older.  Those days of sleepless nights due to feedings and a house filled with cute little plush toys and playmats are far behind me.  My aunt has always said...bigger kids...bigger problems and as my oldest are just 11 and 8 I know that I haven't even touched the edge of this iceberg.  Time moves on and as slow as the days can be I do know that these years are going quickly.

So the joy and excitement that my friend is feeling today as she lays in that hospital room with the beeping machines and she jumps up as her baby is coughing trying to clear his's all new again.  That is an excitement many are lucky enough to have more than once and I still look back and treasure each of those first quiet moments.  I don't long for those days but I do look back upon them and have a huge smile on my face.  I loved becoming a mother.  It was worth every bit of sacrifice that was made over the 36 months of pregnancy and 48 months nursing and then the years in between trying to find the me that was hidden in this exhausted body!!  I have managed to resurface a stronger woman than I went in...and one that has learned many lessons through these four kiddos.  There wasn't too much suck that I had to embrace over those early years...I was very fortunate.

Kiss your kids, hug your spouse...remember that excitement and love you felt...and sometimes take those moments and play them in your head when you are in fact embracing the suck that is the day to day...and hopefully it will make you smile.

Congrats to the O family...enjoy that new bundle...I can't wait to smell his head!

Embrace the suck...choose you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Is it ever enough??!!

All day long I feel like I am doing catch up from the day or even week before.  When I finally get around to completing a project I usually have to be sure to share this completion with members of my family...otherwise it will more than likely go unnoticed.  So here we go into the next week of crazy run around and trying to check the boxes of regular chores and routine topped with a little bit of fun for the kids and parents alike.  It's exhausting!

I fall into the trap that everyone else does with pinterest and social media in our faces all the times!  I feel compelled to do all that I can every moment that I am not dragging my kids to and fro their next activity.  I have said no to travel sports for my kids because I just feel like they do not need to have that much pressure on them at the age of eight yet I continue to apply pressure to myself in other areas of my own life.

I competed in my first sprint triathlon this past weekend in over 6 years.  In the training for my half Iron distance this October my schedule has a sprint and an Olympic distance to get me prepped and ready for the half.  It was a small race locally here in the DC area but still fun and nerves were to be had come race morning.  The alarm went off at 3:50 training partner and I wanted to be there by 5:30 to get ourselves set up and give ourselves some time to relax before the fun began.  It was a chilly morning and the thoughts of getting wet and then riding on a bike was not ideal but there was no other way around it.

I love going to these events, whether it's someones first or 50th race you see all walks of life here.  There are many people with Ironman tattoos and swag and then you have a mom with her two kiddos wearing more spandex than she probably is comfortable ever wearing..and now she is out in public doing so.  Every person has a story to tell as to what made them sign up for this race and what their goals behind this.  This sprint tri could be the end of their story or just the beginning.  I love the support this community shares with all the participants and the love and passion they show for the sport of triathlon.  I was on a bike rack with two women that have been friends for some time and have been riding together for over 15 years.  They were both in there placed third overall and the other placed in her age group.  The woman who placed third overall was ahead of me on the bike...she ate hills for breakfast...I passed her on the run and just lost out to her by under a minute, 4 seconds to be exact...every second counts in these events!  She was beyond impressive.

South Riding Tri 2008...Hagerstown Tri 2015

So yes...I placed first in my age group and was the fifth woman to finish overall.  I am very pleased with how I did and it feels good to know that all the hard work I am putting towards this goal in October is in fact coming together.  I know as the races get more difficult and more seasoned participants are there with me, the likelihood of any top prizes are few and far between.  As my coach (and hubby) and I were driving home he asked how I felt about the day.  I replied with that I felt the day went well and was happy with how things shook out.  I then started the knit picking that I always do about everything and said I wish I just pushed a little harder on the bike on some of those hills to gain back some time.  I wish in the pool swim I went under the lane line as I swam down the lane to the next lane to save some time.  I wasn't sure I did a hard enough sprint at the end of the run.   All the little things I remembered from the day were right there with me to see and stand out like stain on a white shirt.

With that hubby says to you got first in your age group, fifth female overall, ran the fastest you have run ever and it was okay?!?!?  You are seriously sick Julie!  

Why do we continue to put this pressure on ourselves!!  I tried to explain to him that my personality is just overly competitive with myself.  That is always how it will be.  I want to always do my best in these types of situations and when it's all said and done I can find the holes where improvement needs to be applied.  

So I need to relax.  I sometimes worry that if I relax too much I'll lose my edge and start slowing down.  I know my dedication to things in life and in my heart of hearts know that really won't ever happen.  Every success should be celebrated...every personal victory acknowledged!  Making the choice to start a process to uncover a new you alone is a success.  That first step is the hardest one!  So don't beat yourself up when you step on the scale and it only moved .5 or even stayed the same.  You have to trust in the process and start to teach yourself that sometimes that alone is enough!  You are enough and you are doing the best you can do each and every day.  You are  a work in process.  Loving your kids each and every day is enough.  Saying yes to carrying your four year old down the stairs in a huge bear hug is enough because pretty soon she won't fit or ask to do that anymore.  The little things are enough.  

So let's stop the beat ups, the comparisons, the pressure and let's start celebrating, encouraging, accepting and motivating.  We all have an end date some where down the is way to short...and as wonderful as it is to push yourself to new limits you sometimes have to realize that it's okay if you just miss that goal.  You did an amazing thing just trying and being present in the moment.  You challenged made that were ready.  You gave it all you had at that moment.

I write this not to try to impress anyone with my pace at which I ran or the miles per hour that I biked...but rather to show you that if your heart is in the right place and your mind wants to can do whatever you want to do...and that is enough.

Embrace the suck...choose you!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Okay, I'm Ready

Taking some time this week to rest and relax with my family at the beach I grew up going to.  The only schedule we are trying to follow is the tides so that our stuff doesn't get wet and we move our chairs closer to the shoreline when we can.

Being away from home base does not mean that me or hubby are stopping the craziness that goes along with our training for our fall races.  Two bikes were mounted on the car rack, bike trainer packed as well as a box fan to keep us cool if we aren't able to make it outside for our rides.  I have attempted an open water swim with a full epic FAIL!  I do not like swimming when I can't see the lane line below me...what's up with that?!?!

It was my long run day...I had nine miles to do on the highway that goes right along the shore line.  This area was hit very heavily by hurricane Sandy so you have homes that are in shambles and boarded up, others that are completely gone and more that are in process of construction.  It is not normal to see so many work vehicles in a shore community but unfortunately it has become secondhand here.

So I slept in until 8am when hubby got back from his run for the morning and it was my turn.  I slowly crept out of bed after G4 and G2 came in to get snuggled in bed to watch a show.  I was ready to roll down the street that still has broken asphalt and huge potholes and rocks and dirt for road.  I was chugging a long and was very excited to see all the runners, walkers and bikers that are still lining the sides of these broken down roads.  They are out there doing there thing before the day truly starts. 

I can remember almost every summer that I was here I would tell myself this is the summer I was going to start running every day and enjoy it.  This was the summer I was really going to get myself into good shape before starting up field hockey season in the fall.  I remember my brother telling me to run the distance of the telephone poles on the highway and then walk to the next one...anything to keep me going.  I also remember eating a lot of crumb bun, mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate sprinkles, Italian subs,  bagels with cream cheese, personally made fried chicken sandwiches with some amazing cheese and sauce on them from the market I worked at...loaves of bread dipped in a delicious vinaigrette salad dressing while I waitressed all summer long.  These were not good choices.   I was not really ready to make any change or start anything new.

I was along a stretch during my run and I saw a girl walking with her dad who was walking their dog.  She looked to be about 9 or 10 years old.  She was walking a little bit ahead of him but still keeping him close to her side on the busy road side.  As they passed me I heard her say, "Okay, I'm ready."  And with that I looked back over my shoulder and sure enough she and her dad and her dog were running.  The smile that they put on my face was just huge!  They kept me happy through all of my miles.

Okay, I'm Ready.  Those are big words and I am sure that little girl doesn't know the strength she showed.  I have no clue how far or how long she ran with her dad that morning but I know she made the choice to do it.  Telling yourself you will do something and then actually doing it are two very different things.  She told herself she was ready and then she put it into action.  Her father did not seem to be there pushing her but rather there for moral support and motivation.  

Maybe this was her first day running...maybe it was the first time they had made it past the split in the highway...maybe she is trying to get herself into a healthier place for her.  Maybe she just loves to run at this early age.  Her story is limitless. 

I feel like vocalizing I'm Ready can be a really huge thing.  Telling yourself you are going to stay on task, start something new, begin a plan of some kind is great.  The scariest part I feel is saying those words out loud to someone other than the reflection in the mirror.  The first person that you need to have that conversation with is definitely yourself but then you go on and find that person that will not push you or pressure you but in fact motivate and inspire you.  They need to be your safe place.  They have to be willing to push you when you need to be pushed and hold you when you need to be held.  You also need to remember that you spoke those words, "I'm Ready" to them and they are going to try their best to help you get to that place.  FIND THAT PERSON!  Let them help you.  We all need all the help we can get!

So are you ready...are you really ready to make the change, find the uncomfortable, choose the hard, rise to the challenge, embrace the suck.  The list is long and one you can continue to just read or one you can take action with.  As I continued home in my final miles I saw a guy running with an Under Armor shirt on that read "I WILL."  He was getting a long with some dragging feet but he was out there doing it at his pace.  He was ready.  

Make the choice...Be ready....Embrace the Suck...Choose You!