Friday, April 18, 2014

I {heart} Couch to 5K

I told you how I sort of fell into running. I was hooked from my very first step. I needed a plan. After extensive research, yes, I am freaky like that, I stumbled upon a Couch to 5K schedule. It was exactly what I needed.

When I started, the 60 second run seemed so doable. I was excited. Come on, 60 seconds, who can’t do that?? Um, me! Brian went with me and manned the stopwatch, as he was pretty much walking. Part way through I thought, surely I was dying or he was lying to me and we had gone for five minutes. ‘How much longer I would pant.’ Forty more seconds. WHAT!? Are you kidding me. My legs hurt, my lungs were burning and I was gasping. I did it though. And so, we repeated this scenario for two more days that week. By the third day I was running the 60 second segments with ease. It was amazing.

The next week, 90 second runs. With my new found confidence, I was sure this would be a piece of cake! Um, no, not so much. Sixty-five seconds into my 90 second run I, again, though I was dying! But by the end of the week, I mastered that 90 seconds. This was exactly the pattern for the next several weeks.

I began to learn something about myself. For the most part, it was far more of a mind game than a physical challenge. My body could do significantly more than I thought it could. I would have to talk to myself the whole time. Encouraging and even exhorting along the way. My family was so supportive. Elijah, my six year old came down (to the treadmill) each morning, sleep still in his eyes, in his underwear, to watch mama run. He would snuggle into my sweatshirt that I threw off this premenopausal body about two minutes into the warm up section. I would get thumbs up from him, “you can do it mama”, and high fives!


Our treadmill is old and extremely loud, so I had my headphones pretty loud, and apparently, I would sing very loudly so everyone upstairs could hear it. I had no idea, but they would snicker up there when they heard me trying to sing and breathe at the same time.


By week five, things got serious! By the end of the week I was to do twenty minutes straight! Running, straight, for twenty minutes, did you catch that? I was nervous and excited all in the same moment. I was confident by now, I had seen my body do some things I never thought it could do. I knew if I just believed in myself and could keep my head from convincing me I couldn’t, I just might do it. I got on that day, put a sticky note over the timer so I couldn’t  watch it, and just started running. I did it! Twenty minutes of non-stop running! You can believe that I was crying, not only from pain, but from sheer joy! I even went a few more minutes just for emphasis! The high I felt was incredible. Such a sense of accomplishment.

The next four weeks of the program were a little bumpy. I had shoe problems, and consequently foot pain, all to familiar from years past. But I persevered, I dug deep some mornings, and even ran through tears. My mind was saying, ‘quit, you can’t do this, who do you think you are? But, something would rise up and I would fight back! I found a strength I never knew I had. Running was teaching me so much more than just how to put one foot in front of the other.

new shoes

(my new ‘official’ running shoes)

I will never forget the morning I ran my first 3.1 miles. I was prepared to take a photo of the treadmill dashboard when I got there. I had seen other girls do this and post on a group I was on, so I was excited. We prayed and I got on the treadmill, again, covering up the time/miles with a sticky note that said, ‘just keep running’. I would sprint for a minute or so, just to get there faster. It was not pretty, me, running for that long, but I was doing it and as I got closer, I was choking back the emotions. I yelled for everyone to come down so they could see me ‘cross the finish line’. Almost there! Two-tenths of a mile to go. I kicked the speed up to get done faster. I did it!! 3.1 miles! I hopped off, gasping for air, trying to gather enough strength to take a photo. My ever so supportive, encouraging and sensible man, concerned I might get hurt, as the treadmill was still going, pulled the cord. He loves me so and doesn’t want me hurt. But guess what? By pulling the cord, the treadmill shuts off! The screen went dark. No proof, no photo op, all gone. I screamed, no, almost in slow motion. He was completely baffled and I was crying hysterically by now, trying to explain to him that I had wanted a photo. He felt awful, I mean AWFUL. Talk about mind over matter. I had to pull myself together and not make him feel worse. It was hard, I still could cry over it just remembering. Silly, I know.


It doesn’t matter, I did it! I completed the whole program and actually ran a whole 5K! I am not sure I can express to you, the significance of this to me and what a huge accomplishment it was, considering the state of my body in the beginning. So amazing! I could not be more proud of myself, even all the tears, the struggles, the discouragement, all of it! I did it!


encouraging picture

You don’t have to want to run, but whatever it is for you, YOU CAN DO IT! Maybe it is starting a walking program, or getting back to working out. You are worth it! Take the time, dream and get out there and do it! I am probably close the least likely person to ever want to run, never mind be able to run. Nothing is impossible with God. Let Him take you all the way to your dreams!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Merry Heart Challenge!

There is a verse that has been almost chasing me for months now. I have decided to do a little challenge. At first, I thought, 100 days, but then I chickened out and didn’t want to set myself up for failure, so I am starting with 15 days. ANYBODY can do ANYTHING for 15 days, right? I hope it grows, but this is a very doable place to start.

The verse? Proverbs 15:15. I am starting on the 15th for 15 days, care to join me? I love this verse in the Amplified.

“All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad (merry) heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].”

“All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.”

For the next 15 days I am going to be looking for things that make my heart merry! I may take a photo of it, jot it down or just ponder it in my heart. Adjusting the lenses on my perspective to really see the true beauty I have in my life

It really is true, when our hearts are merry, glad and light, we have a continual feast, regardless of the circumstances. I don’t know that choosing a merry heart will change my circumstances, but it will change me, and how I see and handle the circumstances.

I also love the first part of this verse in the Amplified. Anxious thoughts and foreboding, can you just feel it?? Such heaviness! Ugh, my shoulders already feel weighed down at the thought of it. How much ‘lighter’ we feel when we have a merry heart! A side note to this challenge will be NO anxious and foreboding thoughts allowed! I will repent immediately, Lord helping, when my default Modus operandi rears its ugly head.

Merry Button

Care to join me? How hard is 15 days? You can do it. Let me know if you want to join in. You can do it for 15 days, 30 days or go for gold and do it for 100 days! I am going to also be posting this on my Facebook, where I will likely be posting photos that make my heart merry. Feel free to join me there too. Just comment on my post that you are doing it and I will pop over and see what is making your heart merry.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Becoming A Runner {Fitness Friday}

Literally, 17 years ago the desire to run was birthed in me. I had turned 30, and I wanted to run a marathon. I now see that was an incredibly loft goal. But the desire was there. I was never a runner. I hated the Physical Fitness test in grade school, do you remember those? I could do the standing long jump, but the 50 yard dash, ugh, I thought I would die!

The only time I really remember running, was when I was five, I was being chased by a Dalmatian at my friends house. He caught me and bit me right in the, well, you know. I’m sure I ran around as a kid, but I couldn’t run very far or very fast.

Fast forward, several children, pregnancies and weight changes. Off and on, over the years the desire was still there, but even walking for extended periods of time was challenging with foot pain and back pain. My family and I would joke about me being a runner, long before I EVER ran a step. I would see an iPod and say I needed one, because I was a runner, you know. We would laugh. Or, I bought a hoodie that had these strange holes at the bottom of the sleeve. At first, I thought I should take it back, until I realized they were for my thumbs, because I was a runner.  See, the signs were there all along. The last couple of years, there was such an this urge to take off out the door and run. It was so strange. Sometimes, I would open the door and run down the driveway, just to do it. Crazy.

This past winter, after an extremely frustrating day, I couldn’t contain it anymore, the anger, the stress. I grabbed my son and said, ‘let’s go run’. Um, okay? It was dark, snowy and cold. Oh, and mom has never run before. Sounds like a plan. We started walking and talking and I said, ‘let’s run’ and I took off like a shot. Well, not really like a shot, sort of a slow shuffle. He started running too, but quickly switched to a fast walk when he realized my “running” was equal to a brisk walk for him. We laughed so hard. It was a moment I will always treasure. I was running! It felt so good . . . for about 20 seconds. We repeated this scenario several times and I made it further down our road than I ever have on foot.

Something hooked me that night. The beauty of the falling snow. The dark and quiet of the night. The release of stress, exhausting muscles and lungs. I felt like I was dying and coming alive all in the same moment!

Next time, Training For A 5K (at 47, and overweight, and out of shape, and unable to run for more than 20 seconds, yeah, it was pretty!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Do You Do . . .

This could be about someone in your life, while it is very specific to my own struggles, I bet you can relate in some way.

What do you do when someone lies to you for years and doesn’t seem to care and never truly repents?

What do you do when your heart has been broken so many times, you really don’t trust anymore? While you know it is not right, you can’t help but be cynical.

What do you do when the anger wells up deep in your gut, it feels like a lead balloon that makes its way up to your throat. You try to hold it back, you shake your head, pleading for mercy, hoping you can just stuff it down one more time.

What do you do when the tears won’t stop? It’s the middle of the night, alone in your bed. You are sitting up, hugging knees to chest, rocking back and forth and with deep sobs. You can hardly breathe, head feels like it might explode. You beg and plead for God to intercede. Does He hear a mama’s heart? Really?

What do you do when the pain in your heart is physical? It’s an ache so deep you just want to rip it out and make it go away.

What do you do when your husband’s heart is breaking as much as yours and all you can do is weep in each other’s arms until there is nothing left?

What do you do when your children come to you, confused with their own pain and anger too? When you have to hold them and try to make sense of the whole thing.

What do you do when you see no repentance, no fruit? The carefree posts on Facebook or lighthearted conversations that take place, all the while you want to scream, “WHY AREN’T YOU DOING SOMETHING ABOUT . . . “

What do you do when you gently encourage and try to help and speak up to no avail?

What do you do when you keep quiet and let them sort it out and see nothing change?

What do you do when you pray and pray and pray and nothing seems to change? You realize this has been going on for years, same story, same song and dance, same pain. Oh, life goes on, you get distracted, even wonder if things have changed. Nope, something always snaps you back to reality. Nothing has changed.

What do you do when you wonder, is this a pain I will carry to my grave? Will I watch this perpetuate for generations?

What do you do when you want to accuse and blame God? I know this is not the answer, but the temptation is great, isn’t it? You want to ask WHY? Why aren’t you doing anything? I fail sometimes.

What do you do? Honestly, I’m not sure I know anymore. Completely powerless. Completely and utterly powerless to change the situation.

What do you do? I don’t know, except to continue to surrender, to cry out, to pray, to believe when nothing in me believes. Help thou my unbelief, Lord. To hope in His faithfulness. To trust in the goodness of the Lord when I ‘see’ no goodness in the situation.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42:9-11

Friday, April 4, 2014

How This Mama Started (Fitness Friday)

I want to start a series, Lord willing, on my journey to fitness. Not exactly sure what it will look like, but I will randomly share snippets from this really exciting journey I am on. My hope is that my story can inspire the every day mama. The mama who comes from a long line of health issues, has lots of children, has even been very sick. I love seeing strong YOUNG women who workout and are a size 0, but that is just not my reality. I am not saying these women haven’t had their own struggles, I just hope to bring a dose of reality and my spin on getting fit.

First, some background. I am a 47 year old mama to nine children here on earth and have 6 babies in heaven. That means I have been pregnant and breastfeeding A LOT. I have led a pretty sedentary life. Even though I am a busy mama, still, by most definitions I have been sedentary. Over the years I have had spurts of exercising, but never consistently.

I have had lots of problems with my back, SI joint and feet. These issues as well as, well, being a mama to NINE have certainly not helped in getting fit. I won’t go into all of it, but there is so much more that has really inhibited the half-hearted fitness goals I may or may not have had over the years.  I am not using these as an excuse, just letting you know the factors. I know women who have more on their plates than I do and still make time for fitness. It’s simply where I personally have been.

Something has recently ‘clicked’ in regards to exercise and a desire to be fit. Several months ago I began to exercise in earnest. It literally has become a lifestyle and I am so thankful for the grace to do it. Learning all I have about health and fitness, I just felt so compelled to get at it while I could. I read somewhere that we lose 1% of muscle from the age of 25 if we do nothing to keep it. That was frightening to me. I know the benefits of muscle mass and if I was losing 1% of muscle mass for the last 20 plus years, I knew this was not good. My goal quickly became to build muscle mass.

I am so pleased with how far I have come in five short months! I began doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and short Tabata routines.  All free videos on YouTube. My favorites are from Fitsugar Fitness (be careful of the bikini workout, don’t say I didn’t warn you!)  and Fitness Blender. You can search for them. I always did a 10 minute workout or two. Anyone can do 10 minutes, I would tell myself. Often, after the 10 minutes I wanted to do more. If not, 10 minutes was more than sitting in a chair. In a few short weeks I began to really notice a difference and sense of well being. When I reached to pick something up, there was such strength. Squatting, bending, lifting all felt strong and natural to me. Aches in my back began to go away.

I believe that exercise should be very functional, meaning doing exercises that you would do in your every day life. Like squats, balance work and lots of core strength workouts. Full body workouts.

When I started, I could not do ONE military type push up. Not one! I could do about 20 on my knees, but I have always wanted to do ‘real’ push ups. Within a few months I was able to transition from ‘girl push ups’ to more than 20 military push ups at one time. This was so exciting to me, to actually SEE the improvement! I could out plank each of the nine other people in my house.  Also, I can do more proper form squats than anyone here, over 100 straight. I am talking about perfect form, measured squats!

I have a very, very long way to go. Reality hit recently when I realized that while I have gotten so strong, I am still likely at a beginner level. That goes to show you how far to the negative I was. I am perfectly okay with this, I have learned to LOVE the challenge and the ensuing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) of which I have some hilarious stories about. Apparently, when you first start a new routine you might not want to do the whole thing.  I can’t blame myself, it was only 10 minutes, how hard can it be, I would think. Um, let’s say a couple of times I literally could not walk the next day. I am talking, crying with each step, crying when I had to squat to go to the bathroom, crying each time I got up, crying just sitting there. Yes, perhaps a bit much for this mama.

My next goal is to begin a serious heavy weight lifting/training program. I hope to be able to do it all at home, I want my testimony to be that ANY mama can get fit and you don’t need a gym! Who has time or money for that, right?

I also started running! More on that next time.  Yes, this out of shape, never run a day in her life (except when being chased by a dog at age 5) is now a runner!! Woo Hoo! this one really excites me. I can’t wait to tell you about this one!!

Do you workout consistently? What do you love to do? Have you accessed your level of fitness?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Enjoying the Journey

I have been recognizing a battle with discouragement in my life lately. I seem to be so fragile in the things I hope for or am believing that it doesn’t take much to go from super excited to the depths of despair in a nano-second.

I didn’t recognize it at first, and am still having a hard time really grasping it. My sweet (patient) husband tries to help me see it, but when I am in it, I can be as blind as a bat!

The enemy comes with lies that are true, at least in part.  Does that make sense? Blatant lies are much easier to detect, but when there is an element of truth to them, I get all confused.  I see the ‘truth’ part and get confused and start to despair. I don’t often see the ‘lie’ part, you know, the part that has ‘always’ and ‘never’ in it.

An example, ‘I hurt my hip, I will never be able to run that 5k’.  Okay, I DID hurt my hip, but who says I can’t run that 5K? AND, if I can’t run ‘that’ 5K, who says I can’t run another? I get all spun out before I even think it through.

I am such a ‘destination’ person that I am often miss the journey, or at least fight my way through it. I’m the worst traveler, I just want to be ‘there’, so impatient in the journey. Life is a journey, not a destination! Everything about life is a journey. I am learning to keep my eyes off the destination so much and learn to enjoy the journey. The journey is full of bumps and hills, both up and down, and so much beauty and joy.

Think about it, so many areas in life our about the journey. Motherhood, marriage, physical fitness, healthy, overcoming difficult situations.  Rarely do we arrive at the ‘destination’ without having to at least do some traveling. I feel like I am ‘in training’ in many areas of my life right now, and this is one of them. Enjoying the journey.

Think of the peace and joy that I miss out on, I stumble all over the journey just trying so hard to get to the destination! I trip, fall face first, have to get up, try again, rinse and repeat! Instead of just walking through, enjoying each step, thanking God for the ups and downs, walking in peace. Sigh. That sounds so much better, and better for my health too!

That’s where I’m at today. How about you? Is this something you struggle with? Or do you LOVE the journey, every little step of it?

This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! Purposing to enjoy the journey!