Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ho Ho Holiday Half Marathon, done!

Yesterday was my second of three "Holiday Half Marathons." I already ran the "Hot For The Holidays Half Marathon" on Thanksgiving, and Christmas was number two. 

Here I am after the half marathon: 

And my medal: 

Next up? My Arctic Blast Half Marathon this weekend in celebration of the New Year. 

I got this! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

From The Failures, Success.

fail·ure  (flyr)n.1. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.2. One that fails: a failure at one's career.3. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: a crop failure.4. A cessation of proper functioning or performance: a power failure.5. Nonperformance of what is requested or expected; omission: failure to report a change of address.6. The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment.7. A decline in strength or effectiveness.8. The act or fact of becoming bankrupt or insolvent.
It may seem odd that I would be writing a blog about failure. I mean, it's the time of year when people send Christmas Cards out celebrating a year's worth of accomplishments. And here I am, posting about all of the things I failed to accomplish in 2012. Weird, right?

Here are a few of the failures, in no particular order:
  1. Attempted the 100 Pushup Challenge. Failed.
  2. Created my Holiday Challenge. Failed.
  3. Tried a "Countdown to Key West" Challenge. Failed.
  4. Signed up for the Laguna Hills Half Marathon. Failed.
  5. Eating Clean? Failed.
And these are just health and fitness failures. I haven't even mentioned financial, personal and emotional failures I've been responsible for this year. All tallied, it's a pretty significant pile of suck.

Just reading my own list feels like this picture.

And yet...

I don't feel like a failure. That might seem hard to believe, but it's true. And I'll you why. I don't feel like a failure because none of the things listed above were enough to make me quit trying. 

Yes, I make big plans for myself. I dream up big challenges that I may or may not be able to complete. But that's the point of a challenge, right? To push me to do more, to try more, and to keep going long after I want to give up.

And the other important thing about failures? They aren't permanent. They are just stepping stones to the next challenge, the next opportunity, the next chance to be successful.

And this year, I have been successful. I've finished two marathons, thirteen half marathons (with two more to go), three relays, and a few other runs. I've accomplished so much more than the old me would even have attempted. And that courage to try, to keep trying, that is what makes my successes so much more powerful than my failures.

So, now that you know that failure isn't something to fear, what are you going to attempt to do? What big and scary challenge are you going after?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Make The Right Comparison.

As many of you know, I'm part of a team of runners featured in an upcoming documentary, "From Fat To Finish Line."

From Fat to Finish Line : The Documentary from Media Meld Studios on Vimeo.

In just over a week, I'll be arriving in Florida and starting the most incredible part of my physical fitness journey. I'll meet my eleven teammates and we'll run our 200 hundred mile relay from Miami to Key West.

As we get closer to the relay, we're beginning our media blitz and really drumming up attention and excitement about the documentary. And that means sharing our stories - and our photos - on the team site, our Facebook page, and other social media sites.

This is one of the before/after photos of me that we have shared on the team site:

I think it's a great comparison of who I was and who I am now, but seriously, look at these photos of my teammates:

Amazing, right? I'll be honest. Sometimes, looking at my team, I feel, "how the heck did I get here?" I mean, look at these other people. Their photos are absolutely stunning. Each of them has done so much, and when I compare myself to them, I feel like my transformation doesn't match up.

But that's the point, isn't it? It doesn't compare. And it doesn't have to. 

Yes, it's true. I have been a little stressed about meeting everyone. Old tapes are playing in the back of my head about them not liking me, or me not fitting in, or even me feeling like an imposter who doesn't really belong with all of these obvious Success Stories.

But the new me is better able to handle these kinds of feelings. Instead of tearing myself down, I'm building myself up. No, I didn't lose a hundred pounds. Fine. That's not my claim to fame. What I have done is moved myself from a couch potato to a three-time marathon runner. I may not have appeared on national television to celebrate my accomplishments, but I have motivated several of my friends to start their own journeys to physical fitness and improved health. And I may not be in the perfect shape I wanted to be in as I head to Florida, but I am trained and conditioned and able to run 20+ miles on any given day.

My point? I need to make the right comparison. It isn't about feeling inadequate because my teammates are all so incredible and amazing. It's about feeling confident in the changes I have made and in the person I have become.

If there is any lesson for me to learn, it's that comparing myself to other people is a fool's errand. Behind someone else's "perfect" smile, they may be dealing with their own insecurities and fears. And the person living the great life may be struggling with personal problems hidden from the world. No one has a perfect life and no one has the one, single story of personal growth, change, and accomplishment.

I'm rambling now, but I feel like I can't get the words out fast enough. I want the man who can barely walk a mile but continues to push for more every day to feel good about his efforts. I want the woman who has lost five pounds but has two hundred more to go to feel proud of what she has done. I want the whole world to stop comparing themselves to the rest of the world and, instead, focus on the positive changes they have made - and continue to make - for themselves.

As I head to Florida, I will no doubt have moments where I feel like the rest of the team has more "right" to be there than I do. I'm only human and my insecurities don't just vanish because I want them to. But when I feel that way, I will remind myself that I am a part of the Fat To Finish project because I earned my place. I represent those of us who lost our spark, our passion, and are now willing to do whatever is necessary to get it back.

I will not compare myself to others. I will compare the me I am today with the person I was just two years ago. I am a success story. I have moved from fat to finish line. And I take my place on this team with pride.

Let's do this!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Loss So Great, It's Impossible to Comprehend.

Today, I'm thinking of 9/11. I remember watching the news and hearing, ultimately, that more than three thousand people were killed. It was horrible, and shocking, but mostly unbelievable. I could't grasp the truth of so many lives lost. Three thousand people? What would that even look like, if all those people were standing next to each other in an empty field. I just couldn't visualize a loss so large.

My anguish and sorrow came later, when the incomprehensible numbers were replaced with the individual stories and images. Instead of thinking that three hundred firefighters were killed, I had to think about a single fireman who left behind a wife and a son on the way. Instead of the six police officers killed, I thought about the one who refused to leave the side of an injured man and ended up dying there with him.

When grief is so large, it numbs me. But the small, personal losses find their way through. And now, I feel the same thing happening again with the deaths in Newtown, Connecticut.

I can't wrap my head around the reality of a large number of six and seven year old children killed by a gunman. It's so heinous, so unfathomable, my mind simply won't accept it. But reading the names and seeing the faces makes it all too real, and each of them feels like a new pain in my heart.

Knowing who they are is painful, but we owe it to them to remember and honor the lives they led. And our grief is the price we pay - willingly - for having known and loved them for a time. Each time I hear a name, see a face, and learn about the person and their life, I will grieve again. And I accept that.

Today, the tears fell for two of those lost, Emilie Parker and Victoria Soto. One was a child who believed in Santa Claus and angels and brought joy to all those who knew her. The other was a schoolteacher, a young idealist who believed that teaching was her way to change the world.

It's possible to not feel the loss of twenty-seven people, because the heart just can't handle that much pain. But it's not possible for me to see these two, hear their stories, and not grieve for them. Today, I'll honor them by holding them in my heart and celebrating the wonder that was each of their lives.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Not About The Pace.

I went for a run this morning. I ran nearly a minute slower than my normal pace. And yet, I'm very happy and have no problems at all with my performance. What gives?

It's simple. It's not always about the pace. Every run isn't going to be a Personal Best, and every workout won't be "OMG! Best Ever!"

My plan was to go to the gym this morning, but the 4:30am alarm came and went. I felt tired, exhausted even, and I really wanted an extra hour of sleep. And the sound of the rain outside was like a lullaby. So I chose to roll over, go back to sleep, and adjust the rest of my day as needed.

Since I didn't go to the gym this morning, I was able to get into the office by 6:30am. Uninterrupted and wide awake, I  got a lot accomplished before the rest of the crew came rolling in at 8:30. By 9:30, I was ready for a break. I changed into my running gear and headed out into the rainy morning.

(Yes, I am fortunate. I have a fair amount of flexibility with the hours I work and I also have a shower at the office. So I can go for a run during the day. I like that.)

But back to the pace. Running in the business-centric area of Mission Valley means dealing with traffic and stoplights. And today, it also meant negotiating some flooded areas and running in the cold rain. Clearly, it wasn't going to be one of my faster runs. What it turned out to be was one of my most enjoyable runs, though.

I ran for the fun of it. I enjoyed the feel of the cool rain and didn't think for a second about being too hot. I laughed out loud more than once seeing the "What the heck?!" looks on the faces of the people working in the offices as I ran by. And more than anything, I liked feeling like I was dedicated and motivated by running in the rain while others drove by and stared in disbelief.

My pace was slow, yes. But today's run wasn't about speed. It was about having a good time and proving to myself that deciding to sleep in once in a while doesn't have to automatically derail my training plans.

Post rain-run, ready to get inside!
My Rainy Day 5K Results

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Woah. Who Are You People?

So, I woke up this morning at the are-you-kidding-me time of 3:30. I tossed and turned a bit, but ultimately accepted that I was not going to be able to fall back to sleep. I crawled out of bed and headed to the living room to enjoy some quiet time while checking email. 


When I turned on my iPad, I was swamped with new email and notifications. And not just from people I know, either. There were all sorts of fabulous new Spark Members commenting on my blog. I wondered, "who are you people?" 

And then I saw it. An email from SparkPeople with yesterday's blog featured. Well, well. That explained it. Now I know how all these new folks found me. I love it. Absolutely! 

And the best part about having a blog that gets a little attention? All of the powerful and personal responses that people share after reading it. It's feel-good validation that helps me stay motivated and inspired. 

So, thank you to everyone who has shared a bit of you with the rest of us in the comments. You are all the perfect reminders to me that the Spark Community is absolutely amazing! 

Me, this morning, after my 12+ mile bike ride to celebrate 12/12/12. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Sucks To Be You, Right?

I'll be honest. Most days, it's easy to be me. I'm awesome. I have a cool job I really enjoy, I've had my amazing husband in my life for sixteen years, I'm surrounded by great friends, I have a fantastic extended family, and I have time and the financial ability to travel from time to time and experience races and other athletic events across the country. I have also dropped a lot of weight, gotten myself into shape, and changed myself from a couch potato to a three-time marathoner.

What's not to love, right? I must spend my days smiling from ear to ear because everything in my life is absolutely perfect. I am free to work out every day, I have the time to shop for and prepare healthy meals, and I have fitness buddies always ready to keep me motivated.  It seems perfect, doesn't it? All rainbows and sunshine.

Is that what you're thinking? Compared to your life, I have it easy, right? You have a job that makes you crazy. Or maybe you don't have a job at all and being unemployed is stressing you out. And free time? Pfft, as if. Between the kids and the chores and the cleaning and cooking and trying to take care of everyone else, you're lucky to have a moment to yourself. You don't have the money to buy new workout clothes or sign up for a gym or even buy workout DVDs. You can't afford to sign up for races, so you have nothing to train for and your motivation lags. Your eating is out of control because you can't afford to prepare multiple meals and your family won't eat healthy meals.

The list of obstacles is endless, and we haven't even talked about how you feel like working out is a waste of time since you won't stick with it, anyway, and everyone else sees results but your weight isn't changing. And no one notices that you're trying as hard as you can and you're doing your best and is it too much to ask that just one person takes the time to encourage you?!

Face it, the world is full of success stories, and you aren't one of them. You're still struggling to lose weight, or get to the gym regularly, or stop eating junk food, and this is the hundredth time you've tried to change your life but really, what's the point?

No, seriously. Stop. Enough with the browbeating and attacking yourself and focusing on all the things you don't have and can't do and will never be. This may come as a surprise to you, but worrying doesn't burn calories and beating yourself up isn't cardio. So why are you expending energy on things that don't do anything to make you feel better?

Yes, I get it. Your day-to-day life is clearly not designed to make it easy for you to focus on your health and physical fitness. You're pulled in every direction and everyone seems to need something from you. Well guess what? That is never going to change. The world will always be full of demands on your time. You need to start making your own demands.

And healthy eating is hard to do. Your co-workers keep bringing junk food to the office and insisting that you "... just try a little." Your family complains that they don't like the new things you cook and they just want things to be like they were. Your friends are upset that you aren't joining them for drinks and dinners and get-togethers, anymore. But it is you who decides what you are going to eat and how much of it, not your co-workers or family or friends.

So you don't have a support system. No one you know wants to run with you, or even go for walks, and you don't know a single person at the gym. There is no one to help you stay motivated. Okay, fine. But when all is said and done, it's up to you to workout. Having others with you can make it more fun, sure, but not having someone with you is no excuse for not doing it.

And the most challenging obstacle of all... your own heart and mind. Maybe you have already tried hundreds of times to lose weight. And maybe the only thing you hear from other people is criticism and disbelief. If they believe that *this time* is just one more failure waiting to happen, fine. Let them think that. It doesn't make it true. Your opinion is the only thing that matters. And your belief in yourself is all you need to succeed.

If it sounds like I am writing from experience, it's because I am. I have overcome all of these obstacles and more. I have been too busy to work out, too tired to cook, and too depressed to take care of myself. And since I'm being honest, I will admit that I still feel these things from time to time. But I have also been too stubborn to quit, too confident to fail, and too proud of myself to feel bad.

I am living proof that a person can change their life. And I'm also an example of someone who continues to have doubts, to struggle, and to feel like my life is out of control. But it's in those moments that I step back, remember how far I've come, and recommit myself to the things I really want - to be healthy, fit and confident.

Still think it sucks to be you? Okay, maybe some days it does. But if you have ten minutes to sit around and complain, you have ten minutes to take a walk. If you have the time to call a friend and grumble, you have time to prepare a healthy meal. And if you can spend hours watching TV, you can spend an hour watching the TV at the gym while you ride the bike, walk the stair climber, or run the treadmill.

Life is about choices. What choice are YOU going to make to get what you want? I chose to get up this morning at 4:30, to make sure that I had plenty of time at the gym to run a 5k, strength train, and get a fifteen minute cool down ride on the exercise bike. And that choice means that I will feel awesome all day long.

Post run and strength training, on my way to the bike.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Run. Lift. Commit.

I've been on a serious slide. And it shows. I've been using the ol' "Life Happens" excuse to justify poor eating and missed workouts.

Well, you know the deal. It's bullshit. And I know better, too. Yes, life happens. Right now, my husband is stuck in a cast and will be for another seven weeks. And he is supposed to keep his foot elevated. That means he can't stand up in the kitchen and prepare meals.

Yeah, sure, that's a great excuse for fast food, right? Wrong. It's a bad excuse. Like most excuses, it stinks. It's just a way for me to explain away my poor choices.

It ends today. I know what I need to do and I'm ready to focus on the basics.

Run - Today started with a 5K.
Lift - Strength training after the run.
Commit - Make good eating choices.

Run. Lift. Commit. It's all about doing good things for my body and trusting that my body will respond accordingly. It's time to shake off these extra winter pounds and replace them with 100% Awesomeness.

(And in a sign that the universe is already rewarding me for my efforts, I got to enjoy a completely empty gym this morning. Sure, maybe the fact that it was just after 5am had something to do with the lack of company, but I prefer to think it was a gift to encourage my good choices.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The More Things Change, The More They Don't.

Oh, my. I love old photos. They act as time machines, taking me back to a long-ago day. I can't help but smile back at the little kid I used to be. And magically, I can still see that boy in my pictures today.

 I suppose I knew from way back that I was destined to be a big star. *laughing*

There's no real reason for posting these photos today. I just wanted a reason to smile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who's Got an IMDB Page?

This guy!

"I'm ready for my close-up!"
It's true. Our upcoming (and still filming) documentary, "From Fat To Finish Line," is now one step closer to reality. We now have our own page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). And with that page comes entries for each of us featured in the film.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the John Hulsey IMDB Page.

It's been an exciting adventure already, and we haven't even crossed the start line on the Ragnar Relay. I just want to get to Miami, meet my amazing teammates, and get this run started!

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Can Handle This... Right?

Oh, the best laid plans, right?

I'm working on a six week holiday challenge, and so far, it's been terrible. I was in trouble as soon as I began, to be honest. I have just started a new job, and while I'm incredibly happy to have it and excited about the days ahead, the truth is that the first couple of months are going to be super busy. I've been working 10+ hour days and that will continue well into the new year.

What does that mean for my challenge? Well, it's not a reason to just abandon it. And I'm not using it as an excuse to quit working out and eat like crap. But it is affecting the amount of time I have and my energy levels.

I'm struggling here. I have to balance my need for downtime, my desire to work out, and the demands of my new job. It's tough.

Add to that my husband's unfortunate accident last night. While attempting to make dough for homemade pizza, he dropped an incredibly sharp food processor blade onto his foot and sliced all the way down through his tendon. We had to go to the ER last night, and now we will have to meet with an orthopedic surgeon this week and figure out if (when?) he will need surgery to repair the tendon.

Here he is last night, settling in on the couch and trying to rest.

This morning, I got to wake up at 4:30 so I could drive him to the office and then get to work myself. I'll take lunch to him later today and then pick him up whenever he gets off work late this afternoon. It's going to be a long day for me and, judging by my yawns already, I doubt I will have the energy to workout. I may just force myself to go for a run, though. I'm hopeful that will help me burn off the stress/worry I have over his injury.

This life/work balance thing can be tricky, but it's something that people deal with all the time. It won't be enough to knock me off balance or keep me from my goals.

And how is YOUR Monday?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Hulsey-Sanchez Brothers of Mercy Recovery Center

As many of you already know, our friend recently broke her leg while visiting from Los Angeles and has settled into our guest room for an extended stay. She's traveled a bit since, but for the most part, she's staying local. Her doctors' appointments are here, the house is single story and easy to navigate on crutches, and she has people to help her with meals, etc.

Our friend has decided that our home is not just Casa John and Ric. She has also named us the Hulsey-Sanchez Brothers of Mercy Recovery Center. And today, we got our first mail addressed that way.

And what wonderful things were in that package? Well, I don't know how the sender knew, but the gift she sent us is absolutely, completely perfect.

Our previous flags had aged to the point where they were no longer serviceable, so we had to take them down. But today, our brand new flags are going up.

Thanks, random stranger who might also be related to a certain lady with a broken leg. Your gift was thoughtful and generous, and we will think of you every time we come up the walk and see these beautiful flags.