>A look into the past

>I was re-reading some posts from my sporadic blogging on sparkpeople.com. Here are some interesting things I found:

July 12, 2008:
I’m comfortable with myself. I understand that I will never be a single-digit size simply because of my hips.

That’s me rationalizing my weight gain (back then I was around 185). Now I do wear single-digit sizes!!

November 5, 2008:
It was embarrassing to get fitted for a bridesmaid dress for my friend’s wedding and have the lady there say my size out loud. 

This is when I went to get fitted for my dress for Tanya’s wedding. I was so embarrassed to be a size 16, the biggest I’ve ever been. Doesn’t sound huge, but when you’re taller you carry weight differently. I was about fifty pounds overweight.

November 12, 2009:
I have officially lost 31 pounds through healthy dieting and exercising.

This is after I stopped making excuses for overeating and not exercising!

Here are a couple pics:

 I didn’t take many full body shots.. I wonder why. Around 195 (December 2008).

This was a great day! I really started to feel attractive again.. not that I’ve ever thought that I’m ugly, but I started feeling more like myself and more confident. I didn’t even recognize Aaron until I saw his nameplate. He is sooooo incredibly handsome anyway, let alone in uniform! I was around 175 here (June 2009).

This is my sisters and me a couple months ago in some pictures we had taken for my parents for their Christmas and 30th wedding anniversary gift (30 years on June 22). I’m now right around 151-152 and feeling amazing.

Looking back I am amazed at the progress I’ve made, and how I’ve developed and matured emotionally through this journey. The moment I decide to lace up my shoes and run is the moment I attain victory. The results of the running are just gravy (although I definitely don’t complain about calories burned, muscle gained and increased metabolism)!

>At home in body and spirit

>I assume that most people have a sense of home. It could be emotional, and nostalgia could take over when you think about your hometown. It could be physical, as I have heard. I read or heard somewhere that it’s programmed somewhere in us what “home” feels like home based on the magnetic pole.. something we gravitate to. I think I’ll do a little more research on that, personally.

I grew up in the same house in the same town practically my whole life. It’s amazing how the house can physically stay the same, but as I grow older it seems to shrink. Things seem to not sparkle like they used to. Rooms change their furniture, lighting, arrangement. But do you notice that the house always smells like “home”? I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s like when you go on a long trip and come home and you walk in the door and feel relieved. Smells are very important parts of our memory.

For me, the important smells from my childhood are the cedar fragrance of the hand-carved cedar chest in my parents’ living room, the mixed smells of tobacco and oil of my dad’s quilted flannel jacket, and the Tide and Downy combo my mom used when doing laundry.

Whenever I smell these things, no matter where I am, it brings me home. Memories flood through my senses.

There have been other places I’ve felt “home”, too. My current apartment, for example. I’ve been here almost three years. There’s nothing quite like your first place as a married couple. I love going to someone else’s house and taking off my shoes and feeling at “home”. My aunt’s, my grandma’s, my grandparents’, my in-laws’. Growing up I had two friends, Jackie and Tanya, whose houses also smelled like home.

Feeling at home in the physical realm is easy. I am blessed to have been raised in a stable place and have such a strong sense of belonging my in community and social circles. Feeling at home in the spiritual realm has been a challenge lately.

I’m not sure where to begin as I’m not quite sure what has been happening. I mentioned after my race and whatnot the first week of November, I felt a sort of falling out. Nothing drastic, nothing that can’t be redeemed with prayer. But I felt a “honeymoon” stage of my spiritual walk fade away. I had a spiritual awakening earlier in the year that truly began when my husband left for training. I had made a conscious decision and effort to immerse myself in God-centered activities.

Just like any human relationship, strength is built on working through the times when you just don’t “feel” it. And with God, it’s easier to feel disconnected as you don’t physical encouragement like hugs to feel Him right there.

I’ve really been pondering this idea of God’s will. Not just pondering, but working through. Honestly, I’ve felt so much disappointment in the past two months. Things were really going my way for months and then all of a sudden it just stopped. Did God will it? Did He intend for me to feel disappointed? Why did I feel so strongly that Korea was going to be “it” for the next couple years?

My current stance on God’s will is more like my husband’s.. that if you are following Jesus as best you can and desire to do His will, and not straying from the statutes in the Bible, then you are most probably doing His will. In a sense, you are His will….

I think what happened was that I put all my eggs into one futuristic basket. I totally projected my existence and my ideas into the future and completely disregarded what was happening in the present. I was so convinced that something was “God’s will” that I didn’t see any other possibilities until it was staring me in the face late one night during a conversation with Aaron.

And as a consequence, I felt disappointed. I can’t say I felt abandoned; I definitely wouldn’t go that far. But disappointed in myself for the expectations I placed on the situation. And I don’t just mean Korea. There have been many other situations and relationships where I have felt disappointment.

I feel like I’ve taken a step back and tried to see things from an outside eye. One of Gardner’s multiple intelligences is logical/mathematical intelligence. I’ve definitely been employing that… looking at my life from every angle.

I really wish I could be more specific about what’s going on. I’ve felt kind of lost.. knowing where I should be or could be but not sure how to get there. I’ve been indifferent to a lot… and needing a break all around. I love church and worship and Bible study, but I’ve felt a need to take a break for a few weeks in order to come back refreshed.

I guess it’s no surprise on how someone arrives here. We fill our days with so much junk, truly. We overextend ourselves, neglect our need to exercise and relax and just… meditate. I don’t mean that in a new-age way, just in a human way. It’s our need to think and process. I would say we spread ourselves too thin, but that evokes an imagine of covering a large area and only going an inch deep. What we do is cover a lot of area and invest a lot of time and energy into everything.

Is it possible to get to a place where we don’t care to make everyone happy? Where we are content with relaxing, slowing down, enjoying the world around us? Is it possible to finally latch on to living every day with the Lord, side by side, instead of grasping for straws in the future?

I had a small revelation a few weeks ago. I realized how simple life can be as a Christ follower.

Here’s what I realized. You ready? Here it is: Be Jesus to the world.

Poof, abracadabra. With a wave of my magic wand, I revealed what life is all about on this earth. I’ve been in both camps: one where I didn’t really feel the Holy Spirit, and one where there was at time too much emphasis placed on the Holy Spirit. I’m ready to live life with balance. I am convinced, however, that to do this is impossible without having lived a little. Though I’m not yet twenty-five (April) I think I’ve lived quite a bit. I’m ready to live life with dramatically less worry and anxiety and exponentially more trust and daily ambition.

>Winter running at its finest [or coldest]

>This morning I woke up at 6AM with a little help from the alarm. Since starting my new job, I’ve been able to get on a decent schedule fast. I’ve been going to sleep around 10:30-11 and getting up at 5:45-6. I had all my running gear laid out last night.

With the forecast being about 13* at 7AM, this is what I wore: two pairs of socks, medium-weight running tights (which I put a hole into this morning.. need new ones. Darn.), pair of stretchy-type workout pants, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, stretchy-type jacket. I also had gloves and an earband. (And, I have to say that Under Armour undergarments rock!)

I also had my iPod armband, my running belt (which Aaron bought for me.. sweet), my reflective vest, and Nike+ iPod chip for my shoe. I decided to go without my belt and vest since the sun was up and we were doing only ten miles.

We started out in Gabriela’s neighborhood and took a different route through East Peoria. Honestly, my muscles didn’t seem to warm up until mile 5. At mile 2.5-3 I was taking off my gloves because my hands were roasting. But my layers were perfect. I wasn’t hot or cold. Just right.

We climbed up a hill that we descended down with ease. It took me about half a mile to recoup from that. As much as I was to stop after we crest the top, I say to myself, “Recovery, recovery, recovery.”

The sun rising above the dormant fields and yards covered with snow was beautiful. We passed quite a few gorgeous houses with many cars in the driveway and for a second I was jealous of those people just waking up, getting coffee and enjoying the morning.

The experience of running outside will never ever compare to running in the stale air on the treadmill. I did four miles the other night, and it felt like 15. It was horrible. I would rather trudge through the slush and traffic of Peoria on a Saturday afternoon than run at the gym.

I know it seems absolutely nuts to run in such cold weather. But really, you warm up fast. You train your lungs to breathe the cold air. You train your muscles to not only run a decent pace, but to run through the cold, and sometimes even when they’re numb. Like I said, it took me about five miles to get a pace going. Then I’m focused and in step with my body. My good pace this morning was 9:55-10:10 per mile.

We finished 10.25 miles in 1:47, so an overall pace of about 10:30. Not bad. We’re gonna be kicking butt when the weather warms up and we can run in “normal” conditions.

I am really motivated to kick butt on this upcoming marathon from watching Ada on the Biggest Loser Season 10. She was determined to beat the girls’ record on the marathon of 4:56 and she ran a 4:38! Heck, if she can do it after only three months of training, I can do that after six months of training!

Two things I’m looking forward to:
1) Longer hours of sunlight so I can go running again after work.
2) Warmer temps so my dad and I can go riding again

I’m already thinking about what I want to do after the marathon. I would like to do a sprint triathlon (0.6-mi swim, 12.4-mi bike ride, 3.1-mi run [I think there can be other distances too]), or try P90X. I just know that I have to have a goal in mind otherwise I’ll let myself get lazy. It would also be nice to run a few races with my husband.

It’s possible that I will lose more weight throughout training, so I’ve adjusted my weight goals accordingly on sparkpeople.com. According to the BMI scale, I could lose twenty more pounds and still be in the healthy range. I definitely don’t want to lose that much more though! I promise that I am eating. I LOVE food. But since I have more lean muscle mass, my body metabolizes food like crazy. Some days I’m hungry constantly. Today will be one of those days since I burned around 1100 calories! I also need to make sure I’m doing enough strength training because I don’t want to lose muscle mass. I read that women typically lose about 22% of their muscle mass when they do a weight loss program.

Looking back at the past year, 2010 has been my most successful year yet, even moreso than the year I graduated from college and got married. I’ve become more comfortable in my skin, stronger, leaner, healthier, more confident with living alone. I’ve met all my running goals except for one – run a half marathon. But I am able to run at least twelve miles.

I found a calculator that can kind of predict my time for the marathon based on my current fitness level. Here’s a snip of my predicted times for different distances:

It’s pretty darn accurate for my 10M. Like I said, I felt my best pace was right around 9:55 or so. Looking forward to my progress in 2011. My mileage goal will be I think between 700-900 miles.

>"Bachelorette" on the block

>Lean Cuisine for lunch. Travel coffee mugs in the sink. Kitty on my lap.

Those are just a few signs that I’m living it up as a “bachelorette”. It’s been almost twenty months since my husband left for Basic training, and then Advanced training, and now he’s in South Korea. I’ve finally, finally, admitted to myself that it’s okay to not cook every night, or for a week. It’s okay to spend just $20 a week on groceries, and eat out sometimes. It’s okay to have a lot of girls’ nights with movies and popcorn and Starbucks and knitting. That’s life right now.

Sometimes it gets lonely, like tonight. I spend all day now with lots of little people, and then I have other activities after work. When I come home, strangely enough I wish someone were here. Well, a very certain someone. Soon and very soon. I turned on the Christmas lights, lit the candles and turned on Biggest Loser on Hulu to not feel so alone.

My kitteh, Luthor, has been a great companion. He’s really come around since our first day together. He’s sweeter, he hangs out and lays around right next to me. He also lets me know when it’s morning so he can get some food. I hope we can get a dog when we move. A big one. That I can train to run with me.

Doesn’t he look thrilled?

I’ve been on a break from running this week. I stayed home sick yesterday with a short but nasty sinus infection. Antibiotics, ibuprofen, and sleep did the trick! I felt about 95% today when I woke up. I hope to do a long run on Saturday. We still have a few weeks before we really need to crank out the training. (Only 4.5 months until the marathon!)

Four more days of school (yes, we go next Monday and Tuesday), three more days at Jo-Ann (Saturday, Thursday and Friday) and I’m on break! I love being on a salary contract, and I’m excited for what the future of this next semester will hold.

Now it’s off to finally curl up with my book (Chronicles of Narnia) and hot tea before getting to bed at a decent time. ‘Night!

>Twenty-six new friends

>And no, I’m not talking about accepted friend requests on Facebook.

Today I went back to the classroom as a full-time aide at yet another small rural district. For some reason I am drawn to them. I guess I prefer the familiarity and closeness that they afford. And to be fair, I’ve never taught in a large district, not full-time anyway. Maybe I would like it more.

I met twenty-six six and seven year-olds who will be my friends from now until the end of the school year. I am known as “Mrs. W.” (I can thank my husband for my strange last name… [love you babe!]). I love the fact that I am a certified teacher and have had some classroom experience. When the teacher went home sick today, I had no qualms about taking over the class for the rest of the day. You get to know the students quickly when you are with them all day long.

To be brutally honest, I had never had any iota of desire to teach elementary, or be involved full-time like this. I had done my share of teaching piano and working at Sylvan. But when I was casually browsing websites of preferred school districts, I came across this opportunity and decided to go for it.

I’m glad I did. I can use my degree, get paid a more agreeable wage than retail, and get some experience at the elementary level. My certificate qualifies me to teach K-12 Spanish, but my only true experience teaching Spanish has been from junior high and older.

In some aspects, teaching is teaching and students are students. I know I will say many of the same things I did in high school. And really, a lot of what this age learns of language is similar to the starting point of foreign language at the secondary level.

While I will be working full-time when Aaron’s home (January) I have the advantage of having nights and weekends off. And his schedule will be changing this week so I’ll be able to get to sleep around ten instead of beginning our conversation then.

Now, off to not work on lesson plans. ๐Ÿ™‚ And to combat this sinus infection with relaxing and lots of fluids!

>I invented the word "perfectionism"

>Well, maybe that’s too bold of a statement.

In my “perfect” mind, nothing is ever good enough. I read this book cover to cover growing up.

I can run two and a half miles tonight with a pace of 9:31, which is great for me, and still not be happy.

I can get a job that seemed to fall out of the sky (as my current job did back in August) and still feel just “eh” about it.

I can graduate with a 3.74, magna cum laude, and still not be happy because I didn’t achieve summa cum laude, even though I was only .07 away.

I can work many hours a week, do extra activities, take care of the apartment and still feel guilty about taking time to relax.

I can learn how to say “no” on a daily basis to doing more and then feel guilty later for not taking it on.

I can be successful and fulfilled in my teaching career but still look back wondering what medical school would have been like.

I can try to be the peacemaker in every situation, but believe it or not, people actually are responsible for their own actions, and not everyone likes me all the time, or at all. And that’s life. But I still feel like I fail.

This “disease” has haunted me my entire life. Read: entire. From piano lessons to reading to spelling to clarinet to school to boys to… everything. There have been times when I really have felt like I’ve put in my all and I am content with the results. For example, my recent races. I prepared and achieved and that’s that.

Perfectionism is just another name for our lurking enemy, “seeking whom he may devour”. Like we talked several weeks ago in our college/young adult small group, he doesn’t care what name he goes by as long as he gets attention. And Lord knows, literally, how much I’ve given in.

I think what it comes down to is selfishness. It’s so selfish to think it’s all about us. That my achievements in life are so important that people are watching for the first step in which I falter. Who does that?? … And if they do, then they need to “tend to their own  plate”, as my daddy would say.

I think that honestly it will be an uphill battle, arrows at the ready. The truths in God’s word will be my weapons, and the knowledge and presence of the Lord will be my shield.

If you struggle with this in any way, or with low self-esteem because you compare yourself to everyone around you, please take a moment to read this:

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone elseโ€™s territory. 17 But, โ€œLet the one who boasts boast in the Lord.โ€ 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” [[II Cor. 10:12-18]]

>A girl’s gotta eat

>What does the fridge of a “single” girl look like? Like mine. I’ll spare you the pathetic picture. I’m still trying to figure out what’s so wrong with buying snack sizes of Greek yogurt, pomegranate applesauce, cottage cheese, and frozen meals in a box. I think it’s all in my head.

Honestly, if I bought the Lean Cuisine or Michelina’s Lean Gourmet or whatever when it’s on sale for 10 for $10, I would save quite a bit of money, all while getting a balanced mix of nutrients (except for the 30% daily value of sodium in some.. yuck!).

I still haven’t figured out a streamlined system for eating healthy, quickly and on a budget. The foods I like (Kashi, Greek yogurt, the better-looking and lasting veggies, etc.) cost so much more. But I guess buying those is better than going out most days for dinner, or eating just a bowl of cereal washed down with hot chocolate or popcorn.

When I was hardcore about tracking my food using SparkPeople, I was really good at packing my lunch with my steamer and veggies and fish. But now that I’ve lost the weight, I’m less motivated to eat as well as I can on my time and money budget. I’m sure my husband would appreciate it if I stick to my biweekly food budget (supposed to be only around $100, going out included). He never complains, but if I were married to me, I’d want me to stick to my budget. Shrug.

I got so used to cooking for four or five people growing up, and then even did so when we got married because we’d eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Now, eating chili for five days in a row just isn’t my cup of…. chili. When I see that Rubbermaid container with chili (or whatever I made) for the fourth or fifth day in a row, that’s when I break the plan and the budget to eat at Jimmy John’s down the road. And I don’t even favor Jimmy John’s all that well, freaky fast or not.

And then there are the nights where I eat at a friend’s house or something. Last Thursday I ate at Megan’s, Friday was with Scott and the kiddos, Saturday was with Dave and Becca and Sunday was with my grandparents.

I think I will try getting the tilapia or salmon fillets, individually vacuum-sealed, and some frozen veggies. When I buy fresh ones, I forget about them and then have to throw them out. I also think I’ll get more of the frozen meals. They’re actually pretty good.

Here’s to my mid-December resolution (???) to eat healthier and ditch my two trips to McD’s per week. Yuck. My body is screaming at me, and it’s probably affecting my running, too. Le sigh.

>2010 Facebook Style


I hardly ever say this, but I’m so glad Facebook has this app. I wish they had an archive feature so I could look back on things. I go through my journals and blogs frequently to reflect on who I am and how I’ve changed.

This year was a mix of running, following after Jesus (I found Him when I truly searched), spending time with friends and family, and a lot of waiting.

Let’s see what 2011 brings.

>Almost 300 miles

>I can’t believe I’ve run almost 300 miles this year. I started tracking just to get an idea of my progress. That amounts to almost a mile a day. I’ve run 16.91 miles just this week, 12 of them yesterday with Gabriela.

Our long run yesterday was just through Peoria.. but it had snowed a couple inches the night before, and it continued a little bit yesterday. We were debating whether to go or not, but decided to. We were running sometimes on the sidewalk, but mostly on the road against the traffic. I wore my reflective vest, which was helpful when it started getting dark.

We had a good amount of hills, I’d say. We also had to stop quite a few times for stoplights. But we made it. The last three miles were on Grandview Drive after it was already dark. I thought by that point we’d really lost our minds, but then we saw another fellow runner! In my excitement I yelled, “Yeah!” and gave her a thumbs up.

My iPod had not been charged, so I couldn’t use the Nike+ iPod app. But I survived with music on my phone. I’m convinced I could have done it without the music. The cold wasn’t too penetrating since it wasn’t windy and we were wearing lots of layers.

As we rounded the final corner of Glen and Prospect where we started, I couldn’t believe we’d made it that far. That was almost a half marathon in under two hours, with stops! We survived.

I’ve learned so far that training for a marathon requires a few things (I’m sure my list will grow as time gets nearer):

1) An awesome running partner. It’s not only safer to run with someone, but then you have that camaraderie of being crazy together and also it helps you keep your pace. Pick someone you get along with well. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Love you Gabi!)

2) Versatility in spirit. You have to be willing to run in the rain, snow, dark, light, with or without music, with or without a headache. You can’t just not go because you have a side ache. You work through it and then crossing the “finish line” is even sweeter. I think running is 80% mental, 20% physical. Your body is stronger than you think.

3) Time. Our run yesterday took two hours. You have to set aside plenty of time during the week for your maintenance runs, cross-training and then the long run. We try to do ours on the weekends since it works best for us.

So there’s the beginning of our marathon training in a nutshell. Despite my knees and leg muscles being a little sore, and feeling like I have a slight hangover (headache from lack of fluids), I feel pretty good. Today I can just enjoy the view.

>Even when

>I apologize for the seemingly constant changes to my blog “design”. I get bored easily; what can I say?

So I sit here on Tuesday evening, having been booted from RPM because I didn’t know that one had to reserve a spot for the evening RPM classes at the gym. Well, now I know. So I’ll use my energy (I burn ~500 calories in that class) to write a blog. If only writing burned calories…

Katie and I had an awesome race on Saturday. I will share with you a picture that I downloaded from runningguru.com.. I don’t think other nonprofessional pics from that day have been uploaded yet:

This is me with quite an interesting expression on my face PR’ing (personal record) this 5K. Yes, “PR” can be a verb. I crossed the finish line at 28:43, with a pace of 9:16, my fastest yet. It does not feel like I was running that fast, but it’s all relative.

I put my race pace into this calculator and it tells me that my marathon pace right now is 10:42, which amounts to approximately four hours and thirty-nine minutes of pure insanity. That’s not too shabby. Right now my personal goal is five hours, but I’m hoping that will change for the better as Gabriela and I train for this thang. Yes, thang.

My sister-in-law did awesome on her 5K.. she ran the whole thing and at her goal pace! So proud of her. I think the running bug has bitten her too.

I had another victory this weekend related to fitness: I weighed in at the gym last night fully expecting a weight gain of five pounds from my lowest recent weight, or 42-ish pounds down from December 2008. Alas, I am actually at the lowest weight I’ve been in over ten years (45 pounds LOST!). In 7th and 8th grade I gained height and then in my freshman/sophomore years of high school I grew into my height. I was never overweight until after high school. But daaaaang. It feels good! From all this running I’m starting to get two lines of definition in my calves. Sweet.

Sunday night I got home from visiting my Aaron’s oldest brother and his family at around five. I bought a little Christmas tree from a consignment shop and decided to put up it and the trimmings. You should have seen me. It was the most pathetic sight in awhile, what with my crying in between stringing the lights and putting on the ornaments.

In my prior frustration with this situation, I had let Aaron go on videochat because even to this day I hate letting him see me cry. I cry a heck of a lot in general, but I still don’t like him to see it. Anyway, I got through putting up the decorations and then I felt better. This is the first Christmas in eight years we’ve spent apart. I have to remember that no matter how hard it is for me, it’s equally so or more so because he doesn’t have family right there.

On a different topic than my private pity party, I miss teaching. You know it’s your calling when you’d rather do it than any other job. I really don’t mind what kind of teaching it is – piano, tutoring, Sylvan, whatever – I miss the interaction with students. They teach me probably more than I teach them. They inspire me, make me laugh, frustrate me, but I’m anticipating finding out our next duty station so I can look for a job.

Two-thousand ten has been by far the strangest year of my life. So much uncertainty, excitement, anticipation, disappointment, learning, growing, loving.

This week I look forward to work (day one of seven down), finally reading the Chronicles of Narnia, spending time with friends and family (and friends who are family!), talking to my husband, and what is life without watching Smallville over Skype?