0 Miles per Month

Get it? GET IT…?! Because I ran zero miles for the month of July! I probably could have, but I was already slowing down with my running schedule as it was. Prior to hopping on the Bikram band wagon cult, I was completely and totally lethargic. The longer I got into yoga and making sure I went each and every day, the more I did not want to run in fear that it would exhaust my body. I tend to forget that I have lupus and cannot push myself like others can- doing both at that frequency seemed like a poor life choice. The longer I went without a daily run, the longer I missed running.

Truthfully, I was fearful that I would no longer be able to run and that my body would have to retrain itself. I was hoping 105 degrees of torture would help to prepare me. Not only do I feel physically stronger than I was, but mentally I was continuously challenging myself to push through and each day I did. My new attitude: If I could do it, I can do it.

Following my 30 days of Bikram, I did give myself one day off from working out entirely, but I was pumped to lace up my sneakers and hit the boardwalk. It was actually a craving- I know, hard to imagine, I usually crave ice cream, not running, but I needed my fix. Day 2 post Bikram and I was ready for a change. I rode my bike west, met John for a 2 mile run on the beach, and rode home, totaling 11 miles on my bike. I felt alive again. I woke up this morning charged to go- making sure to take a gratuitous ring next to my sneakers photo.

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dirt and sparkles = love

Taking to my beloved boardwalk I ran, blasting oldies but goodies- yup, I’m talking about you Tricky…

And it felt freeing. Not easy, but freeing. Running, I love you and I missed you. I will never leave you for that long again! Today, I finished 4 miles in 40 minutes, not too shabby for a month hiatus. The muscles and brain do not forget, so maybe it has been a while since you last had a good workout, but it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Because, why not?! That’s the best logic I have for you.

Lucky Thirteen

Today was day 13 and I have had a revelation.

If I treat going to bikram like it’s a chore, it becomes my chore. And let’s be honest, no one likes chores unless they are accompanied by a nice little allowance. And unfortunately, I’m paying to attend these classes so it’s not like an allowance circa 1997 at all. Not that I was hating my life for 90 straight minutes or anything today- just kidding, of course I was.

People will try to convince you that once you get into the groove of working out that it wont feel like a chore anymore. I went so far as to google this and came across a reddit page dedicated entirely to the question: How long was it before the gym went from chore to fun for you? (read if you care) The writer of the post said it took him/her longer than a year because they were really just “dicking around.” Other responses include:

  1. “the gym is my sanctuary. The place where I stop being Husband & Dad. Just that guy with the headphones and the Don’t “F” with me face”
  2. “I always finish a full 1.5 hour workout but I had to stop on monday cause I started to get bladder problems and feel like I have to piss all the time. Probably the A/C that is blasting in my small ass gym caused it.”
  3. “Y’all think most people should/would enjoy working out. That’s honestly silly.”

Ya’ll, I agree with person number three. I might be a tid-bit of a Debbie Downer right now, but I don’t think there has been a time in the two years that I have consistently worked out that I was like,

working out is my religion.

Which, spoiler alert, is what someone of Reddit wrote.

My revelation is this: Working out may never be what gets my blood pumpin’ (I wrote this not realizing the irony in the statement until I re-read what I wrote. Let’s leave it.), but it is a part of my life that I refuse to abandon. What it comes down to is that I need to change my own outlook on challenging workouts- I need to have the perspective that going to bikram is more than a chore. To do that, I have to identify why I’m going and what keeps me going back for more.

Maybe a little of this too:

Today after class I spent the day with my family on the beach where I fake laughed for a significant amount of time with my two year old niece. We dug up animals, we built shoddy sand castles, we jumped in the waves. We had a blast and not once did I think to myself: I really regret taking that ridiculously hot class with minimal breathable air where everyone smells and that woman literally farted in your face. She farted- in. your. face. Now that I’m reflecting on class today it’s amazing that I didn’t think about that even once until this moment. It’s because that 90 minute class is not the be all end all and when it’s over, it is over.

Tomorrow is day 14 and if I find myself cursing off the teacher inside of my head (for reasons that are not their fault- what a bitch, this room is too hot! Yes, you signed up for this class, you moron.) I will come back to my own mental list of why I’m doing this in the first place.

To rock a pair of jeans better than no other For my health. My mental happiness.

And to rock a pair of jeans better than no other. 

The Road Less Traveled

Tonight I’m writing for accountability because my sole enjoyment at the moment is coming from my couch and chocolate.

On Sunday I attended a chocolate expo and confession I can’t stop eating my purchases. This is only problematic because I’m pretty sure I’m eating my emotions- eating feels so good. It makes me happy. Somehow, if I can only focus on the sweet and salty taste of the gourmet chocolate treat I’ve been binging on, I can temporarily think about nothing else. Until I’m done with the piece of chocolate and I’m left feeling disappointment- where’d it all go?

To clarify, there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate. If anything, power to you! The issue is that since last week I have been trapped in a hole of nothingness. This blog was created with the intent to spread positivity, so I hate to turn this into a snooze fest, but I have to be real. Since last week life has been emotional to say the least. I am still struggling to rationalize David’s passing and working with teenagers complicates these feelings. Ultimately, I want to fix them. I want to help them. I want to let them know life is beautiful, and wonderful, but full of challenges. I don’t fully understand why I feel this overwhelming sense of needing to help others- the truth is, I feel powerless.

This deep rooted reflective state that I’m in is not helping my health- I can feel the exhaustion from the lupus and I feel my energy and excitement in training waning as a result. I bring this up because all I want to do is eat garbage food. Somehow in my life I have allowed food to be a thing of comfort. Tonight I needed to write that down. This is my post of accountability. Tonight my goal is to turn it around. My favorite things to do when I’m upset are close people off and eat food. Neither of those options seem like the path I should take given how far I have gotten up to this point. So I’m going to take my road less traveled and I’m going to run. Not away from problems like I have done in the past. I’m literally going to go for a run. And I hope in my run I can find solace in the fact that there is only one controllable thing in my life- it’s the choices I make. And that’s why I pay it forward. I want to put happiness back into the world. I believe in saying hello to people, and smiling, and asking people how they are. Not because it’s what’s “right” but because I genuinely care. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep doing it, it will help even one person.

Oh, and thanks google for the inspiration.

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Two More Miles

Two miles- if I tell myself only two more miles I can keep running. Those two miles are the increments that I find myself depending on to push through. Generally I rely on this trick heavily, along with my new favorite- reading trashy magazines. One trashy mag for every two miles- I have it down to a science.

Yesterday the gimmicks were unnecessary because all I could think about doing was my run. I needed to shake off everything. This week was one of the heaviest emotional weeks of my life. Finding running has provided me with an outlet that I never had before. Running, like writing, has become a channel for everything in my life and alI could think of was, what do people do when they’re upset that don’t run?! Riddle me that.

And so I got on the treadmill and I ran. My ankle cracked, my neck was sore. I truly believe that emotions impact our physical well being and let me tell you, I felt like a wreck. I lowered the speed, I slowed down, and I continued. And I ran and I ran until there was nothing in my mind or my body. I just looked ahead, straight into the blackened television screen that I did not bother to turn on. At times all I could think about was David, and my mom, and my brother, and life. I was overcome with grief, but this sadness somehow kept my thoughts so blank, yet so consumed.

The minutes turned into miles and the miles allowed the emotional pain to turn into physical pain, and ultimately it all evaporated. And I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but running allowed me to feel angry, and sorrowful, and manifest that negativity in a better space. I could feel these emotions boiling inside of me and I was afraid that they were going to be taken out on those closest to me. I needed to run, and I needed comfort. Yesterday I ran eight miles straight.

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My brother and David climbing a reservoir- typical boys being boys behavior. My mom was so angry when she saw this picture- I can’t believe you boys climbed up that! What’s wrong with you two?!

In some strange way I kept running for David. I kept envisioning this life that needs to be fulfilled- Never be afraid to go out on the limb, and climb as high as you possibly can. Keep going. Don’t stop. Life is too short. Challenge yourself.

Run Hard when it’s Hard to Run

Run hard when it’s hard to run. 

Those are the fabulous words my mom chose to engrave on my Hanukkah nano. Which I love.

Those words made me address my own hidden fears- Am I running as hard as I could be?

When I began running I could feel my heart in my throat. At times two miles seemed nearly impossible, but there I was, day in, day out running it. Gradually I made my way from a 12 minute mile, to 11 minutes, to 10, to 9, and even 8. I continued to run two miles, but the difficulty of the run shifted. I was finding new challenges within the same distance. I would go on rainy days. Or days that seemed too hot. Or the sun was blinding. I didn’t care because I had a goal in mind- I needed to do my two miles and I needed to run 52 miles per month. It’s what I promised myself. By my first month I made the shift and conquered three miles but continued to regularly run two. By my third month running, the once challenging 2 miles became easy, but it was comfortable. I had made the transition into somewhat of a runner. Hello, I now own running sneakers. And they are so hip. But could I do more than my comfortable two miles? 

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If there’s something I’ve learned through my escapades in trying to be healthy it’s that the brain is a powerful thing. And mine is super powerful- in a negative way. Usually when I hit the two mile marker I hear my brain- you’re good- you earned pizza today! She’s such a bitch, that brain of mine. I start to think I can do more, but she talks me out of it. But your knees… don’t forget your knees- they are so delicate. And you also earned that pizza. You must be famished from exerting so much energy. BRAIN! 

So, today I shut my brain off. I literally told her to shut her trap, I looked dead ahead, and I ran. I got to two miles- keep going, you feel good. I got to three miles- I actually feel good. And then a great song came onto my Hanukkah nano, and it hit me- just keep going. And I did! Today I ran four miles- the most I have ever done. And I feel fantastic. Take that brain. You negative Nancy. 

John wasn’t feeling too hot after that ten year reunion I filled you in on, so he just snapped some pictures as I completed my run- I recognize how creepy this looked to everyone around us, but it was imperative that this day go down in my personal history. 

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FEELING LIKE A CHAMPION! A sweaty, disgusting, champion. 

And that my friends is the story of the first time I ran four miles. Thanks for reading along! Tomorrow I will discuss- songs to listen to when running four miles. Now, I will leave you with what the gym left with me today:

222Yep. It’s real. This is really a class at my gym now.

 

Girls Night

A girls only art party? I’m in! Thursday night was “ladies night” at a new art studio in the area. Fortunately, I have a friend who is an amazing planner and therefore, gets us to do random things- because it would not have been me to set this up. I’m more of a last minute, fly by the seat of my pants (resulting in everyone doing nothing) sort of person. Five of us headed over for a night of quality time, snacks, and vino.

If you read about the art class I took this summer then you already know of my artistic apprehensions. I love any artistic expression, but it is nerve racking! When I paint, I tend to over think the whole process… What if I make a mistake?! The rational person in me says, exactly, so what, who cares. The real me is a control freak- ugh. So, last night I was forced to face my inner perfectionist demon once again.

The project we were working on was a self portrait- How many self portraits can I make? John is already freaked out by my other one… (see here) We were told to bring a black and white image and any other materials we wanted to use. I printed out the boardwalk photo seen here and rushed out of my apartment grabbing a magazine and photo booth picture of me and John from the fridge. Always prepared.

Thankfully this place is more prepared than my crew- they had maps, magazines, music sheets, old books, sewing material, you name it…you could use it. We could glue, paint, sew, get wild all over our art. All of these choices became my challenge. I deliberated over what materials to use, what medium to use, what picture to use, should it be horizontal or vertical? My friends on the other hand were fabulous and amazing and just going for it. Oh, to be neurotic. Finally, I made peace with my decisions, held my breath, and went at it.

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Once I let go it was amazing. I’ve said it before, but painting is therapy.

I’m pretty sure I lost a solid two hours of my life from zoning out… I don’t even know what happened.

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When I came to my senses I had included anything I would want in a “self-portrait.” the color blue, water, a changing sky, love, summer, whispy, musical, slightly macabre (that may be a dead bird…), it’s me.  

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As I looked around the art studio I noticed many works that have been created by children. They are fearless, their brush strokes are uninhibited, their color choices are non-sensical. Their work is beutiful. When do we lose our daring artistic sides? Picasso once said,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

My friends and I spent the night laughing at our work- Beth joked that there was a nice spot for her art in the garage. What are we even creating? On the car ride home Jess and I discussed art. Who determines what beauty is, and what is and is not art. One time John and I went to the Met to see the Matisse exhibit- John looked at me and said, THIS is art? I’ve seen 8th graders create better stuff than this guy. But that’s what I adore about Matisse- he challenged what was acceptable and typical.

I guess what I’m trying to say is- I had a blast. Whatever I did create, I did it next to my favorite people. I had an amazing night. I blew off some steam. I expressed myself. I felt good. I want to remain an artist as I grow up- I’m not ready to lose that piece of me yet, or ever. We all have that in us- remember when you were a kid and you never challenged yourself or your talents? You just painted- with your hands, and your fingers, and you made a mess, and you had fun.

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Home.

When I was growing up we moved. I was born in New York, moved to Florida at 2 months and lived there until I was 6, moved to Albany, lived there 6 months, moved to Queens, lived there until I was in 8th grade, moved to Westchester, lived there throughout high school, moved back upstate for college and grad school, then moved here. As scary as it is, I have lived in Long Island nearly as long as any place I have ever called home. Home was a word I had trouble identifying with- I had a positive connotation with the word and have associated it with family, but when I closed my eyes, I saw people not a place. That is a beautiful thing, I am thankful I have people that are my home, but I often longed for a place that I could call my own.

Recently I wrote about my new found affinity for all things Lawng-I-Land– maybe not all things, but this is now the place that I view as home, and the place I intend on growing old in. It was nearly one year ago when my home, my work community, John’s hometown, were all hit with tragedy, like many places in the surrounding area.

This is not a post about Hurricane, Superstorm, whatever you want to call it, Sandy. This is a story about rebuilding.

If you have been paying any attention to my blog you may realize that I run frequently, and when I run, I frequent the boardwalk. What I have not mentioned about this boardwalk is that it is not whole. The boardwalk that I run on was destroyed by the flooding and surges of Sandy, the bones of our beloved boardwalk were picked clean by those who looked to maintain some connection with a place they held close to their hearts, and whatever was left was then demolished in order to rebuild.

Some of my fondest memories were created on that boardwalk. When John and I met we were friends in similar places in our lives. We would go “running” together on the boardwalk. I say “running” because I couldn’t make it one block without stopping to catch my breath and walk. He would try to motivate me, but we spent most of our days together talking and falling in love. It was on this boardwalk that I would re-learn how to ride my first bike in fifteen years (p.s.-  riding a bike is not like riding a bike). 

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When the boardwalk was gone we all waiting eagerly for it’s return. We watched as other areas rebuilt quickly, and we were not always the most patient, but it was only because we loved that damn thing!

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Throughout the summer we waited for news and we watched the beginning phases of something so essential to our city by the sea. It was during this process that I began to rebuild myself as well. I took this picture from a rooftop yoga class over the summer. I recall looking over the balcony and feeling a sense of pride and joy.

We were coming back.

When the news arrived that a section of the boardwalk would be open to the public in August something clicked inside of me. It was that week that I decided I needed to run. Maybe I needed that boardwalk to open. It signified something special- It was beautiful, new, not complete, but it was stronger than it was before.

The first section was only .8 miles each way, making my initial runs just under two miles. Welcome back.

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When the second section opened I was ready to push myself, it was now 2.5 round trip.

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This past week it was expanded again. I was able to push myself more than 3 miles round trip.

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Our boardwalk is not complete, but with every week that it has expanded I have allowed myself to push my own boundaries. This boardwalk has old memories, and it has become a place of new and growing memories. Our city is not entirely rebuilt, but as I said, each day we get stronger. We come together as a community, and we rebuild better and stronger versions of who we were one year ago.

Wheels to Water

To write a post about something truly inspiring sometimes makes me lose my “voice.”  I can’t always find the right words to express how powerful some experiences in life are. Today I was invited to a special event, Wheels 2 Water, which is put together by the Testaverde Fund for Spinal Chord Injury.  The Testaverde Fund works to raise money for a cure and more recently to help families who have suffered the trauma of having a loved one succumb to spinal cord injury (http://testaverdefund.org/).  The Testaverde’s are also amazingly wonderful people who anyone would be lucky to know!  

Wheels2Water allows people with physical disabilities to get in the water and experience riding in a wave (or more!).  For anyone who has ever surfed, you understand that powerful moment when the water catches right underneath the surfboard- it is a moment of connection and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be so deeply connected with the ocean.

After coming home and having time to reflect on the day I began to read about the foundation.  I watched videos from past Wheels2Water events and listened to individuals explain what this day means to them.  One man spoke about how paralysis, at times, can make you feel as though you are trapped in the wheelchair.  By giving people an opportunity to take life for all that it offers and not allowing the wheelchair to become a prison is what makes people like the Testaverdes heroes.  It makes the world feel limitless and makes me realize that we need to take chances and live.  

ImageMany people came out to the beach today to take part in this special day.  One girl in particular stood out to me.  She looked roughly my age, and it was her first time getting in the water with a surf board.  She was afraid, but she was determined.  The smile on her face when the water pushed her forward was unbelievable.  

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This girl will never know, but she made my day complete.  Happiness is contagious and if we allow ourselves to catch the bug we might just spread it ourselves.  Seeing her joy spread through me like the flu in a college dorm.  Thank you.  

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We have all been dealt a different hand in life.  We can sit and look at our struggles with contempt, or we can rise above them and live.  I feel so entirely appreciative and grateful for all that I have. Today I was able to see so many people come together and share a day for an important cause.  Hopefully with studies, awareness, and further research more can be done for people with spinal chord injuries.  Today I am grateful, reflective, and more aware than I was yesterday.     

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Friends with Benefits

Not like that you pervert.

I literally mean that my friends come with additional benefits (other than their adorable little faces).  What exactly are those benefits you ask?  Well, let me tell you.

I think it’s important that you know that I cannot take total credit for having this awe inspiring moment of fitness and health that arrived to me like a burning bush to Moses.  I actually owe it to friends for getting my head on straight.  It was as though we simultaneously had life changing moments, but all for unique reasons.  We all needed a change that required us to make fitness and better choices a priority.

I’ve written about it before, but turning 25 hit me like… turning 25.  It is never easy to accept that you are no longer 16.  Life suddenly smacks you across your newly acquired cellulite and says “you cannot eat whatever you want, do whatever you want, live however you want.”  Even though there were consequences then, they never seemed as real.  Even the lupus felt unreal, I felt healthy, I looked healthy-  I must be healthy. Well, as I have spoken about previously, that caught up to me this year.

When I began my personal journey in May I was a weaker person.  I had limited commitment, limited self-control, and limited motivation.  Getting in shape just didn’t seem worth it- However, my couch, take out Chinese, and some good TV in my PJs did.  It was that post college, I have a career, I’m tired, slump phase, and quite honestly, it’s an easy phase to be in.  Because it feels so good.  I legitimately did not care, and I felt fine with my life choices.  Now, I explained how having a flare is what made me hit my breaking point and come to the realization that I needed some physical reform.  I cannot speak for my friends and tell you what made them arrive to their own personal catharsis-esque moments, but I will tell you that they are the ones that kept me going.

First it began with yoga.  We were a tribe of friends going to through hot yoga.  Occasionally we would glance at each other if something that needed to be discussed after class happened, for example any time the guy who makes provocative breathing noises would breath.  At times we acknowledged a ridiculously challenging posture just by making eye contact.  You can say a lot with your eyes in a 90 degree 1.5 hour class.   We would give slight smiles for a job well done that actually meant, HOLY COW- YOU JUST DID THAT, YOU ARE AN AMAZING SUPER-HUMAN… maybe I was just saying that with my smile, but whatever.

We would take this challenge with us to Bikram yoga.  Which led to longer amounts of eye contact, and 15 minute debriefs in the air conditioned bathroom following class.  We would high five and say, “we are survivors!”  I began to look forward to spin class, and step, and the other classes we would challenge together.  My workouts became friend time in their own way.  By sweating it out together we were able to commiserate on the difficulties after class and realize that we were in it as a team.  At times I would not have gone if it wasn’t for a phone call, “are we meeting on the corner to bike over at 4?” Or the pinky-swears that we are indefinitely getting up at 9 for the class on Saturday.  Even a phone call from Danielle, living in the city, telling me about a boot camp class, made me realize- why can’t I get up and just do something right now?!  They all inspired me when I didn’t have the strength to inspire myself.

Friends serve many purposes, but I’m glad to have friends that regularly make me want to be a better version of myself. I have come a long way since May. Surprisingly, even to myself, I actually enjoy running on my own now.  Running is now my release and a cleansing period from my day.  It is a time to reflect and relax and to push my abilities and challenge myself.  I needed my inspirations to get me to where I am today.  My friends are the ones that keep me because they keep going.

Am I perfect?  Far from it.  Every day requires some inner strength to get me out the door.  Even if I am tired, or the day was long, I know it will all be worth it in the end.  And do not get me wrong- I still love my couch, take out Chinese, some good TV, and hanging out in my PJs, but now I do it after I run.

Amurica!

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This was my morning run. Flags are up, a volleyball tournament for cancer research is filling the beach, people are piling into town. Makes you reflect on the beauty of life and how we need to appreciate all that we have. The boardwalk has been in progress throughout the summer as we rebuild from hurricane sandy. Today they opened the newest extension of the boardwalk. John and I ran 2.5 rather than the usual 2 miles because WHY NOT! It’s a beautiful day to get outside and do ANYTHING! Happy Saturday! Make the most of life.