If you know anything about training for a triathlon, you know that “bricking” plays an integral part of that training. For me it’s most important that I work on my transition from bike to run. The swim and run, for me, are the two strongest events. It’s the bike that has me freaked out and it’s the bike that I’ll be spending the most time. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been upping my miles each week with last week going 43 miles on Peppermint Patty. The entire time I kept thinking “how can I be on this bike for upwards of 4 hours and then run for another 2+ hours?”
You spend a lot of time in your head when you’re cycling for hours at a time. You try to keep your mind clear or think about other things like scenery or when to open your next packet of GU because (at least for me) it inevitably falls back to that reminder that I’m on Peppermint for a long time and after that I have to shuffle my feet in some semblance of running.
It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling the past few weeks trying to get this new job and Half Ironman training under way. Really struggling. So much so this might be the first time I’ve taken on a physical goal and actually felt like I’ve taken on more than I can proverbially chew. I’ve stood in the kitchen, looked Mimi in the eyes and the words “I feel like I should drop out” have honestly come from my lips. I’ve laid awake at night seriously debating whether this venture was too much and that maybe I’ve reached my physical limit. Not everyone was meant to be an Ironman and maybe that included me.
I’ve said “Go big or Go home: and going home is NOT an option” and yet for the last couple of weeks I’ve wondered if “going home” wasn’t the right choice for me. That maybe this was the wrong time (as if there is ever a right time).
Yesterday I sat down with my friend Leanne whose been graciously holding my hand through this whole process (and by holding my hand I mean she laid out my training plan, set me in motion to cross the finish line and is pretty much keeping me sane). I told her my trepidation about maybe this endeavor was a little more than I could handle.
“Do you believe in yourself?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Then trust that I know better and you can do this”
So I’m trying hard to let go of the notion that this is “too much”. I’m holding onto the proof that I’ve never not been able to do something I set out to accomplish. I’m returning to the memories of what it was like to train for my marathons last year and how painfully hard it was emotionally and physically leading up to race day. In the midst of panic I’m taking a few deep breaths to keep calm and carry on.
This morning I set out on my long training day. After my pep talk with Leanne I’ve decided to focus on bricking the bike/run portions of training for a bit. It doesn’t help to be angsty about the transition from riding to running if I don’t even give myself a chance to experience the physical/emotional turmoil of doing both together. I wanted (needed) to do this Olympic distance bike/run. It’s not anything close to what Half Iron man will require me to do but I remember how spent I was when I crossed the finish line of my Olympic Triathlon so I figured it I can at least get through that this morning then maybe I’m going to be okay after all.
Instead of thinking about the running after 24 miles I just focused on when to eat and drink. That’s another thing I’m lacking experience in: when to fuel. I focused on how my legs felt and kept telling myself that I know how to run and soon enough I’ll be back to doing what I’m pretty darn good at. As I got closer to hopping off of Peppermint and heading out on foot I talked myself down. I wasn’t going far. 3 miles out then back for a total of 6. The initial run felt sluggish as it always does during this transition and it was good practice for me to just.keep.going. It wasn’t the physical act of bricking that I needed today. It was the emotional act of bricking that I needed. I needed to know that when it was done and over I could in fact keep going. Yes, I’m tired and in need of a nap but I feel good physically. In fact I was running at my normal pace even after biking for 90 minutes as a 15 mph clip (which for me is pretty fast).
I’m not saying that now I’m all beating my chest like Tarzan claiming I’m ready for Mont Tremblant and that 70.3. In fact I’m not even sure what I’m saying with this post today. I needed to get out there and emotionally practice my bricking and tonight when I lay my head down and wonder if this is the right path for me at least I know I’m not quite ready to go home…
All too often we listen to the doubts of ourselves and never really push past those doubts. We think we can’t lose weight. We think we’ll never be able be as physically active as we want. We think we’re destined to sit on the sidelines while everyone else pass us in a blur of “see I’ll never do what they do”. I’m so freaking scared of this Half Ironman and in that fear I let the feeling of doubt wash over me not really understanding that my emotional strength is as important (if not more) as my physical strength. Sometimes you need people in your life to tell you to stop listening to what you think is the truth and listen to the actual truth:
We Believe In You.
Before I get into this blog post I would just like to emphasis this isn’t directed at anyone in particular. I try not to point fingers unless it’s absolutely necessary (and in the history of alifechangingjourney it’s only happened once). Many people are going to read this and immediately think to themselves:
“Oh My God! Tara is totally calling me out”…
And that is the absolute point of this blog. Not to point the proverbial YOU out specifically but to talk about something that so many of us do on this journey of life changes: Hide.
When we start out on this journey it can feel extremely lonely. The disappointment we feel in ourselves for having gotten to a place where we even have to think about a beginning can feel so overpowering we’re afraid to take the first step in the direction we know we want to go. We feel isolated in our fear. Alone in our frustrations. We think that no one would ever understand why we’re crying at the idea of moving our bodies in ways unthinkable and *GASP* possibly doing it in front of other people. We’re afraid of ridicule and laughter. Certain of side comments that consist of “too fat” and “what the fuck are they thinking?” Assured that the barrage of stares from strangers will occur the second we raise our heartbeats up from attempting to step up from our couches and out of our comfort zones.
Then something almost magical happens with the help of the social media; we find we’re not as alone as first thought. Oh sure maybe I have A LOT more weight to lose than you do or vice versa, but we’re discovering that we share the same trepidation on this new path we’re on. You’re frustrations over the scale match my anger over figuring out which “Plan” is right for me. You’re elation over earning your first pin from Weight Watchers matches my joy at walking into my first boxing class and actually surviving. We discover that beyond us, there are more. Many more. Soon we’re following hundreds of people all on different paths but moving in the same direction: Forward.
Things stop going as “planned”. Life gets in the way and that forward direction starts to slow down. The elation of others begins to outweigh your joy at what your accomplishing. The success of others only reminds you of the failure of self. Or maybe you made it the the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and you’re not as motivated to push forward, move ahead, go after what you deserve. You keep up a facade but in truth, life is not going as you thought it should. Slowly and maybe without even thought you begin to hide. You don’t talk about your fears anymore because you think people won’t understand what it’s like to be a star only to fall from the sky and come crashing down to reality. Maybe you’re hiding because everyone around you is doing exactly what you thought you should be able to do at this point in your life but it’s taking much longer to.just.get.there….
We’re so focused on trying to prove to one another how “good” we are at what we’re trying to do we forget that life is a struggle. That life is about feeling our emotions truly and honestly. It’s about saying to the persons we’ve shared any part of this experience with “This shit is hard my friend.” We’re afraid to say “Yes, in fact I was at goal weight but I’ve gained some back” or “Yes, I did run 3 marathons last summer but struggle to run 6 miles now” because we don’t want to admit to ourselves that just like anything that must be traveled there are going to be bumps, turns and directions in the road we weren’t anticipating.
It’s the one thing I love about my blog so much. For every “Oh Hell Yes!” there is a “Oh For Fuck Sake” to go along with it. For every “I Did It!!!!” there’s an “I Can’t” not too far away. The hardest thing I had to teach myself (with a lot of practice) is how to not hide no matter how badly I want to go unnoticed.
Someone on the last blog post commented on my use of language: “Even your language sounds like it’s taking a lot of effort. Focus on what you want instead of the effort of achieving it. Use more empowering language instead of “it’s hard and it takes a lot of effort… it’s a long ride etc”. The quality of our communication with ourselves and others determines the results we get in our lives.” And while I agree with what the reader is saying I also know that it’s because I am so forth coming in my emotions that being able to say honestly what I’m feeling allows me to move beyond more quickly and get back to business. This journey is hard. It takes a lot of effort. And the one thing I refuse to do is hide no matter how shitty I think it’s going. Everyday is a struggle to stay in the moment even long into “end of the rainbow” phase of my life.
Have you been hiding? Afraid to talk about the “downs” because everyone else is “up”? Afraid that people won’t continue to give you rockstar status because maybe your lifetime WW membership is now coming wth an added 30, 40, 50 pounds that you tried to hide? Afraid that the people of last year won’t know it’s you this year because the scale shows a different number? Afraid to say “I’m struggling because it’s hard and is taking a lot of effort” because you think others will look at you like a failure? Don’t hide. We need to hear your story. All chapters. No matter how bad of a read you think you might be, you are worth reading. Those of us that are struggling with our current journeys need to know that we’re not alone.
We need to know that this journey is worth taking.
No matter the outcome.
Normally I peruse the interwebs for some kind of picture to put at the beginning of every post. Don’t ask why cause I don’t know. I guess I feel like it makes the post more readable or breaks up the monotony of thousands of words coming together and sometimes causing your eyes to go cross eyed trying to make sense of what I’m writing (saying, meaning, feeling, expressing)…
Today I have nothing.
Everything feels jumbled. This new job. The new schedules (both work and Half Ironman). I’m trying to keep calm (and carry on) but
more often than not every once in a while I feel like everything is bubbling over and I don’t have enough paper towels to clean up the mess. I feel like it’s not appropriate for me to complain because I’m so extremely grateful to be earning a paycheck. In fact just today I received my very first electronic copy of what amounts to my very first Canadian paycheck and while it’s much less that what I’m used to making I am beyond thankful for every single penny (or I guess it would be nickel since they’re doing away with the little copper coin).
I miss Mimi.
It’s been harder on my emotional “get up and go” when that “get up and go” only includes seeing her a few moments in the morning and a few moments in the evening. There are a lot of things I was taking for granted (like going to the farmers market on Saturday for landjaeger and Sundays at my in-laws) that I’m missing more than I thought I would. The longer training days (thankfully happening in the middle of the week) are physically demanding and a little intimidating because I’m out there on my own for the most part. Marathon training was much different this time last year. Getting up and running for upwards of 4 + hours just seemed easier knowing Mimi would be at the end of the run or ready to pick me up if I ran out of gas in my legs.
Yesterday I set out to go on one of the longest rides I’ve ever been on with Peppermint Patty. Last week I hit 22 miles and it was tough. I pushed it yesterday going a total of 37 miles in about 3 hours. I started out and felt pretty good even though I had no idea what I was riding towards. I planned the route but hadn’t yet ever been out that way. All I know is it followed the Ocean and you can’t go wrong if you have the Ocean to look at…
Here’s the deal; it was windy…like windy as all get out. Wind = slow going. Add to that the multitude of hills (and by multitude I mean “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me with this hill shit!”) and it makes for one hell of a hard ride. I planned better than I usually do. Food. Water. Buff and gloves to cut the cold. I didn’t wear the right shoes and that was my big downfall. Not too long after I started out my toes fell asleep and because of the wind factor it was extremely painful to get through the entire ride. So much so that I had to stop a few times and walk around to get the blood flowing to my toes again. I can still feel where it was the most painful so I’m pretty sure I got a tinge of frostbite on my little piggies.
But I got through it…
All 37 miles.
The only problem now is that I’m hyper focused on the fact that there will be a 1.2 mile swim before the ride, an additional 20ish miles (and another 90 minutes in addition to at least 3 hours) and then a half marathon run…
(don’t freak out, don’t freak out, don’t freak out)
When I got home, I missed having Mimi there waiting for me. That ever important hug and “it’s going to be okay” does more for my spirit than I guess I understood. My spirit is a little beaten up right now and I felt it as I headed to the gym for what was supposed to be my other long training day. 9 mile run and 1 mile swim…
I made it to mile 5.5 and left.
I just didn’t have it in me to get through another 3.5 miles then swim for 1600 meters. What I wanted more than anything was to be home. Do the dishes, throw in a load of laundry and grab a cup of coffee from the local bakery. All I kept thinking about on the treadmill was yesterday’s ride and how much physical work there is during that 70.3. How the hills were hard and how my toes were so painfully cold it scared me. I’ve never not been able to get through a few miles without having to walk but at mile two this morning I hit a wall and no matter how much I fought back it was not going to give and I was not going to fight it.
I wanted these last few days to feel strong. To feel closer to being ready than farther than I imagined. I know I can do all three events separately. How I’m supposed to bring them all together to add up to earning that Half Ironman title is still beyond me. I’m hoping next week’s long training days go a little better…
59 days to go.
Okay so here it is Sunday.
My last post was a week ago.
Not because I haven’t had anything to say
In fact I’ve had quite a bit to say.
Before I get into my rant (but in a good way…sort of), I have a Tommie Copper review weaved into this blog post. If you don’t want to read the rant (what the eff is wrong with you?), just scroll down and get to the giveaway (ya greedy bastards! Oh who am I kidding, I’d probably do the same damn thing. You can always come back and read the rest of the blog).
Okay so the rant. Right so here it is Sunday and if you’ve been keeping up with
the Jones what’s been going on over here in my corner of the world, you know I started a new full time job after twiddling my thumbs, screaming in frustration, checking the mailbox everyday, waiting patiently for almost 18 months. In a whirlwind of “Holy Crap, I have to get my shit together”, I started last Wednesday and let me be totally honest…
I’m fucking exhausted.
Okay so maybe that wasn’t the initial response expected but I might as well get it out of the way. I’m tired and I’ve been crying a lot. Now before the blog world goes “oh poor Tara, look at her finally working like the rest of us and here she is complaining she’s tired. Well let me tell you about tired…blah blah blah“, I wasn’t expecting everything to change so quickly so a lot of this tired/crying comes from a place of emotions. I haven’t quite figured out how to get this schedule under control and while it’s only been a few days I tend to get all freaked out with any kind of change (that’s the Aspergers coming out to play). Small changes reek havoc (like not having my usual locker at the gym available and needing to figure out which locker to pick) so you can only imagine what adding a full time job, trying to keep Ironman training on track, worrying about making sure Mimi gets to work and her appointments and as funny as this sound: trying to remember what the hell goes on a traditional chicken sandwich (if you’re familiar with Pete’s, you’ll know what I’m talking about), does to my emotional psyche.
But let’s not get all “I hate working” around here. I don’t. In fact I’m really having a good time being in this new environment. In the chaos I find a lot of solace since the job itself isn’t taking a lot of thought. I make sandwiches. I make A LOT of sandwiches. I get to talk to people all day (even if it’s just asking them what kind of cheese they’d like) protected behind sneeze guard glass satisfying my social interaction via parallel play.
And I’m earning a paycheck…
So all in all everything isn’t so bad. Adjusting takes time and I’ve been so used to having plenty of time that I forgot what it was like to not have hardly any at all. I worry about whose going to make dinner (Mimi had to remind me that she fed herself just fine before we met), how she’s going to get to work (Again reminding me that she’s got around town just fine before we met) and whose going to hang out with Old Man Chester when he’s lonely (and by lonely I mean sometimes I like to lay down on the bed just so he’ll come snuggle with me throughout the day).
The other thing I have to remember is that this is just me getting my foot into the working world door. While I do like where I am currently earning a paycheck it’s not the only place I have to earn said paycheck. I have an interview on Tuesday for the Canada Games Center and if you pay attention to my Yelp check in’s you know that’s where I train. I’ve also applied for an interpreting position with the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers (yes that’s right…horses!)…
The Universe may just change things up for me.
And while I don’t like change, I’ll do what is best for me.
(Aspergers be damn!)
Okay, okay…so now if you’ve managed to stick it out this long this is where the giveaway begins. Tommie Copper has been so very good to me. First with compression ankle sleeves, then compression socks and tights. A few weeks ago TC contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying out a pair of knee sleeves and a short sleeve compression shirt …
So I’ve had both in my hot little hands for a couple of weeks and let me just get right to the point: I LOVE THEM! The knee sleeves took a bit to get used too but I’ve used them running, biking and swimming (hello Ironman training) and I was skeptical about how they would help me. I don’t know if I have a wonky gait when I run but I tend to have some soreness a day or two after. Same with biking, and since its my weakest of the three events the soreness is quite apparent after getting off the bike. Having the sleeves on kept me focus on stride and I felt less “wonky”. Better stride = faster recovery. Big thumbs up for the sleeves!
The compression shirt may come as a little bit of surprise as to why I love it. As a weight loss person I have the “loose skin” syndrome. It’s not horrible but enough that it makes me super self conscious if I wear a tight fitting shirt. This makes the compression shirt perfect for me. I can wear it while working out and lessen the self conscious feeling. Oh and it makes my guns look pretty freaking amazing!
One last thing; as someone who is both on the spectrum for Aspergers AND transgendered this shirt brings me so much happiness. The compressed feeling brings a sense of comfort for the Aspergers and the compression pushes those girl bits on my chest down so I don’t have to slouch as much to hide that part of my gender.
Tommie Copper wants you to love them as much as I do so here is where the fun begins! They are letting me do a giveaway for your own knee sleeves or short sleeve compression shirt.
I’m using Rafflecopter to keep things easy.
It will be up for a week and then someone’s gonna get some good news!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This could very well be one of my most favorite blog pictures I’ve used to start the beginning of a blog post in a long time. The last week or so has been a beautiful chaotic
mess whirlwind of last minute road trips, crossing the border, sitting in offices waiting for my very own social insurance number and combing different job announcements.
I didn’t waste anytime.
When you have
days, weeks, months, over a year of time on your hands you get to think about what you might want to do once you are able to hit “submit” on the electronic resume you’ve been writing and rewriting. By trade I’m an ASL interpreter. A very good one (to toot my own horn) and there was some assumption that this is the direction in which I would head once I was able to join the world of the employed.
But instead I’ve decided to go off the well worn path and do something completely different. I’m returning to the food industry after a long long absent….15 years in fact. There is an amazing specialty food market in the heart of Halifax that I’ve loved since almost the day I landed and this coming Wednesday, I’m joining the ranks of their full-time staff working on the Deli line. When I sat down for the interview last Tuesday I was asked the question “Why would you want to work here”….
My honest answer: Who wouldn’t want to work here?
Yes, it’s a major pay cut. Yes I have to go back to working weekends and evenings. Yes I have to go back to wearing a uniform with my name embroider on the chef’s jacket (I wonder if they’ll let me get “T-Rex”?) but all those things don’t even phase me. First off I’m so freaking exciting to just be getting and going to work. Secondly this specialty market reminds me of one of my most favorite places back in Tacoma. Thirdly, the deli line is a focal point so we’re talking busy busy busy and engaging, engaging, engaging. And maybe the most important reason I’m really excited about working there is I’ve never had a bad experience there as a customer. I mean never and I go there a lot. People there just look like they enjoy working there and when you’re returning to the work force after a long hiatus you want to enjoy where you are.
(it also helps that it’s less than 2 blocks from where Red works)
The interview happened Wednesday and when I sat down I had one intention: Convince them they wanted me as much as I wanted them. I felt really good about how it went but the interviewers said it would be the following Monday when they would be officially offering the position. Interviews were to finish up Friday and then a few days to decide on the candidate.
Sit back and relax.
Send out another handful of resumes.
Because no matter how hard you try to move time, Monday will not come any faster.
Less than 24 hours after the interview I was offered the position.
There literally is no time to think about how this is all going to affect the very things I’ve become accustom too over the last 18 months. All will be figured out as I go along. The time with Meegan, the training of Half Ironman, the blogging (both here and over at theHDD) and just getting used to working 40 hours a week are worrisome but if there is one thing I know about this long journey of life changes it’s this: I always keep moving forward no matter how small the steps may feel.
The next couple of weeks things might get real quiet here as I figure out how this new schedule of mine can include all the things I love to do (spending time with Red, training hard, writing). I’ve decided to add my social media apps back onto my phone since there will a strict “no phone” policy in place while I’m working…
OMG DID YOU JUST READ WHAT I WROTE….
“while I’m working”
And all is right in my world.
And just like that the immigration process is over.
18 long months we’ve been shuffling papers, paying fees and waiting….
Over a year of running to the mailbox hoping for some silver lining and only finding letters of such and such has expired or “we never received payment” when clearly our bank account says they did. Offices closing and files left sitting until someone stamps the next phase as complete but never truly explains just how many phases there are to finish.
Getting the “we made a decision” email and then nothing. Asking for a copy of my passport and then silence. Being told it would be another 35 days once the decision has been made to get something in the mail but that thing is what? Welcome to Canada or Go Back to the States? and 35 days? Is that business days or actual days because you know 4 ish weeks is much shorter than 7 weeks but really whats another 2 months added on to the 18 months we’ve already been waiting…
The anticipated “it won’t be here” walk to the mailbox.
And there it was.
Almost like Charlie and the golden ticket, the envelope from CIC had arrived but too afraid to be disappointed, we didn’t assume that “golden ticket” was inside. Heart racing, tears already falling and the ever so painfully slow opening of the envelope so as not to rip any paper work inside.
We had gotten so used to the waiting we didn’t even know how to react to what amounts to everything about our lives changing once again. The celebrational jump around the kitchen complete, we planned our “holy shit, we have to get to a border as fast as possible” road trip. Throwing some extra food in the bowl for the cats, a quick call to my in-laws and all of a sudden we’re driving towards the US border, not knowing what we were doing but at least we had the piece of paper that said come on down, we’d be happy to make you a permanent resident of Canada.
350 miles and six hours later, I stood in front of a immigration officer and watched him sign his John Hancock to the one piece of paper that is about as important to me as my beautiful wife Mimi, my gorgeous niece Amy, my Old man Chester cat and the one thing that I truly own outright: My Car Dusty.
Fast forward to today (not quite a week later) and I’m feeling the affects of all the crossroads converging. My mind has been going a mile a minute about what to do. My eating in celebration of paperwork, unplanned road trips and Easter holiday has been literally in the crapper (causing my crapper to not function properly) and I’m literally at a stand still as to “What’s Next?” Throw in a little (or a lot of) back pain from throwing it out Wednesday followed by 12 hours of driving but not giving a shit because I had a piece of paper that needed someone’s Johnny H and I’ll be damn if it wasn’t happening ASAP means I haven’t broken a sweat in just about a week and thoughts of Half Iron Man training went on the back burner while Pizza, Beer, Ice Cream, Coconut Cream Pie, Cadbury Mini Eggs and Potato Chips were front and center.
I’m combing job postings like a mother fucker. Thinking about returning to the work force and finally….finally being able to contribute financially to this marriage and bring some peace to Mimi’s over worked bank account. A flower shop just opened up last week less than a block from our house and I stare at it’s windows anticipating the day I can walk in and buy something without having to first ask Mimi for a few bucks.
I’m thinking about what I actually want to do for employment. Go back to my career as an interpreter? Something that I was exceptionally good at back home but not sure where I fit in here, the universe sent me a sign (pun intended) this weekend during our garage sale festivities. Three Deaf people approached our table (among 400+ tables) and for over a half hour we chatted away reminding me why I love being an interpreter. It felt so natural to be back in my “element”. At the same time my life since arriving in Halifax has taken some much ingrained turns. Working full time will change everything. Christ, working part time will change everything. Thoughts of “who will cook and clean?” “Who will run the blogs?” “Who will lay around with Chester when he’s not feeling so hot in his old age?”, “What happens to the coaching that I love so much?”…”How does all of this affect my Half Iron Man?”
There is so much racing through my mind that I am standing in the middle of the proverbial room and not knowing which way to turn to get up and get moving. This blog post is more about helping me verbally vomit all the stuff inside my head so that I can get down to business of finding a job and finding a new balance in my marriage to Red. My to-do list is long with little things that bring me joy (making almond butter) and big things that scare the crap out of me (research business license for freelancing). Today is the last day of vacation for Red and not wanting to waste it sitting in front of the laptop trying to decide whether I want to be a part time dishwasher, a full time beer drive thru attendant or an interpreter, I also don’t want another second to go by without hitting the send button with the subject “Job posting”.
Food is another matter in this “help, someone tell me what to do next” panic feeling. The both of us are feeling the affect of “fuck it, let’s eat (insert food here)“. So we begin to reign in our choices this week and try to return to a more “normal” food foundation knowing it’s what makes us feel better physically and emotionally.
Now I’m off to drink copious amounts of coffee (with coconut milk) and begin figuring out how to tackle this new chapter in my life and planning what kind of flowers I’m going to be buying my beautiful Red with my very first Canadian paycheck!
Welcome to Canada!
I don’t spend too much time blogging about my training for races nor do I spend too much time writing about the “hum drum” of my everyday ordinary life (though it is far from ordinary considering). This blog is much more woven with words of emotional work I do to change my life rather than the physical work I do to change my life.
And to be honest, I don’t know which one is more difficult.
What I do know though, is that without the work of one there would not be the work of the other. I couldn’t push my body as physically hard as I do if I didn’t set the emotional foundation needed to believe that I am strong enough and more importantly that I deserve to push my body beyond the boundaries I set against myself for so long. The same can be said for the emotional work that I push myself through. I couldn’t do it if I didn’t set the necessary physical foundation to know that I am strong enough to deal with even the darkest of days and many times it is through physical strength that I find the ability to express my emotional strength.
I have a hard time believing in myself even today.
There are a few words I never truly imagined I would be able to call myself when I decided to stand up and take control of my life. It happens to all of us as we begin this journey of weight loss. We start by working out at the gym, or walking around the block more and we compare ourselves to those we wish to be. I remember going to the gym early on in my weight loss and watching one particular runner. Every morning she was there on her treadmill and I would always hop on the one behind her because she was everything I wanted to be: Fit, Fast and looking like her running was a run in the freaking park on a sunny day with the birds chirping in her ear while bunnies hopped next to her and deer pranced along side (she looked that comfortable). I would look at her pace and think “I’ll never run an 8 minute mile” and then look at my pace and think “Fuck this 13 minute mile feels like I’m going to hurl”
I don’t run a 13 minute mile anymore.
I don’t wish I was her anymore.
I am her.
When I put that first 5k sticker on my car I could only dream about the 26.2. I never thought I would call myself a marathoner. Then I added a 10k sticker, still not believing in myself and my ability to chase after the 26.2. Then I got really good at running half marathons and right along the 5k and the 10k sticker went my beautiful 13.1 sticker…even when I had my sights set on my first marathon I didn’t believe that I could but I worked hard for it. For hours alone, I ran. Thinking about what it was going to be like to cross over that finish line and then lovingly place that sticker on my car. A badge of honor for other people to see and maybe dream like I once did. I cried so much while out there on my own because in the end you can have all the support in the world cheering you on but the only person that is going to get you from mile zero to mile twenty-six is you.
More times than not I had to have “The Talk” with myself to keep going;
“You want this more than anything right now Tara.”
“You deserve this.”
“You keep moving.”
“You are okay and you will finish”
Then when I finished the first one, I pushed the boundaries even more and completed two more a short time later. Pushing the physical boundaries means I am pushing my emotional boundaries and when I’m doing both I am becoming a better me. A stronger me. I never thought I would become a marathoner but I did because even though I didn’t believe at the time I continued to push until it was a reality.
Being able to call myself an Iron(wo)man is one of those things I still don’t believe and yet I am 3 months away from stepping up to the starting line and doing everything in my power to cross the finish line. Training is supposed to officially start April 1st, but this week I’ve started following what will become my “normal” schedule for the next couple of months, and in addition to the new schedule I’ve continued to go to boot camp, so this first week of transition has been a wallop. I’m more sore than I’m used too and tired is taking on a whole new level (though that may be a diet issue more than anything else). I’m finding myself wondering what I’m getting myself into and whether or not I’ll actually be able to finish. Drills in the pool leave me feeling like I’m floundering, riding for an hour and having legs tire out leave me wondering how I would continue for another two and then of course it all comes with the “and you want me to run 13 miles after all this” freak out that I’ve been having every day this week.
But here’s a little secret:
I’m also having “The Talk” with myself as I’m swimming, riding, or running. Just like the 5k, 10k, 13.1 and 26.2 stickers I’ve worked so hard to achieve I deserve this 70.3 more than anything and I will keep moving at all costs. As I’m swimming I think about what it will be like to stand among all the other athletes, regardless of our abilities and hear that gun go off. To know that as soon as I start, everything I’ve wondered about myself is about to become a reality. As I’m biking indoors (waiting for Spring to arrive) I close my eyes and think about what it’s going to be like to ride for 56 miles in Mont Tremblant. The beautiful scenery and the cheering crowds. When I feel my legs get tired I just remind myself that this is what I deserve. To push the boundaries that I held against myself for so long. When I’m running I imagine seeing that finish line in front of me. Just thinking about it makes me choke up (even blogging about it). To know that all the physical and emotional work these last
few months three years has brought me to the very moment I never believed possible.
So this week I am tired. My muscles are sore. I need to look at the foods that I’m eating and think about changing my food foundation up for what I’m asking my body to do. I’m crying while I’m swimming (and making it hard to see out of my goggles), I’m crying while I’m biking (but it just looks like sweat) and as expected, crying while I’m running because while I am pushing those physical boundaries I continue to push the emotional boundaries as well.
Mont Tremblant, I am coming for you.
As a life coach there is one thing I have to always be to the people I spend time with (and to myself):
I think when people look to those that are accomplishing things they’ve only dreamed of or are just starting to dream about, the one thing they are hoping for is that at the end of the proverbial rainbow life is delicious and all the (insert whatever feelings/emotions you wish would go away) will actually go away.
A common expectation of those of us that spend a majority of our lives in the category of obese / morbidly obese and attempt to lose weight (for the umpteenth time) is that the weight is what causes the majority of our emotional breakdowns and once that’s gone it takes depression, anxiety, sadness, anger, resentment, jealousy, defeat, shame, insecure, self loathing, and all those other nasty negative emotions right along with it.
I’ve said it over and over again through out this blog of mine that I did the same thing in the very beginning of this, what is hopefully to be my final attempt at weight loss and my only attempt at life sustaining (and life long) changes. I scoured hundreds of blogs looking for those that were where I could only imagine standing one day; 100+ pound weight loss.
They were few and far in between.
I found them among the masses of other weight loss bloggers. The difference is they were where I wanted to be, not where I was. I was swimming in the deep end with other virtual bloggers looking to lose this massive amount of weight once and for all. All of us reaching out trying to grab on to something that made sense, some sort of flotation devise that would become our life jackets that we could hold on to for dear life as we floundered around trying to save our lives.
At first I looked for the “oh life is great now that I’ve lost the weight” and the “I have absolutely no problems now that I’m half my size” along with the “losing the weight was the answer to all my problems” endings to the fairy tale story that I was trying to recreate for myself. I read these blogs like they were my Bible. As if I was reborn again, I devoured everything they said while still wondering when I would get to the “and then I lived happily ever after” ending.
Because losing the weight should always have a “happily ever after” right?
As I continued to swim in the deep end of weight loss, I found my ability to tread water a little easier. My flotation devise became my own words. So many of those that had jumped into the deep end around the same time I did began to quietly slip under the water as guilt/anger/depression grabbed one leg and resentment/addiction/self loathing grabbed the other, slowly drowning themselves in paper bags with promises of pain relief in the form of food.
As my own words helped me to stay afloat I began to understand there is no “happily ever after”. There is no rainbow at the end of the storm. That losing 100+ pounds wouldn’t take away my depression, my self-loathing, my addictions. Stepping on the scale at 160 pounds wouldn’t clean the slate of my past mistakes nor allow me to walk into a room full of people and feel like I belonged.
That’s when I took notice of those bloggers that still stood where I wanted to stand. They wrote about real life. They didn’t pretend that life was all unicorns and cute chubby cheeked drooling babies when the scale finally stopped on a number they’ve worked so hard to get too. Years after weight loss they still had to deal with the curve ball life tended to throw in their direction and sometimes they caught it one handed and chucked that shit right back at life with a resounding “TAKE THAT!”
Sometimes that curve ball cracked them upside the head and took them down a notch.
I stopped looking for the happily ever after and focused on my “here and now”. I took my life apart and bit by bit I held it in my hands slowly putting it back together with a clear understanding of how I felt broken for so long and that losing the weight wouldn’t “fix” me. As I got farther away from wanting to be one of them and inched ever so slowly towards being one of them I let go of the notion that losing the weight is what’s going to finally bring me happiness. In fact, it became apparent very quickly that while some of “problems” that I associated with morbid obesity became easier to deal with, a whole new set of problems came with “oh look I now can wear a size 8″
This last Sunday, that curve ball came right for my head and while I did everything I could to catch it with one hand and throw it back with an air of confidence, it conked me right between the eyes and left me feeling down right shitty about myself. So much so I couldn’t look at Mimi in the eyes because I didn’t want my existence to be acknowledge. I couldn’t look in the mirror without throwing daggers with words like “ugly” “undeserving” “worthless” attached to them towards myself. As I sat down to eat breakfast, I had to rock myself with each bite because every time the fork reached my mouth it took everything I had to not shove it down my throat until I bled. I wanted to be invisible, to blend into the walls that surrounded me on the outside because the walls on the inside were caving in and I didn’t know how to stop it.
Do you see what I’m trying to tell you?
This journey of weight loss and life changes doesn’t get easier when the scale finally congratulates you for a job well done. Life is the same set of struggles whether you are wearing an XXXL or a Sm. The difference between the me that once wore a size 26 and the me that wears a size 8, is that I know even when I feel like I’m drowning in my own emotions and think I can’t stay afloat I know that these feelings are temporary.
I stopped looking for the rainbow and learned how to ride out the storm.
I may be internally screaming that I’m worthless but I’m also whispering “You’re okay”, “This will pass”, “You are loved”, “You are worthy”. When I can’t look Mimi in the eyes because my existence is painful, I allow her to look at me because I trust her when she sees me. When food is difficult to place in my mouth, I rock to sooth myself because I know I need to eat to nourish my body even when I deeply believe I don’t deserve it.
My journey of life changes and weight loss has made me stronger emotionally and physically and while the emotions I feel don’t get easier, how I deal with them and for how long has. Instead of months and years living under a dark cloud not knowing how to get out from under it, I know now that the sooner I acknowledge that dark cloud descending the sooner the proverbial umbrella comes out to protect me from the impeding storm.
So if you’re here looking for the “happily ever after” of my story there isn’t one.
What you will find is someone who is where you want to be.
Someone that used to sit on the sidelines of their life wondering if this was as good as it get. Someone that used to find relief at the bottom of a fast food bag and wondered how long she could shop in one size before having to move onto the larger sizes (again and again).
And now that very same someone is standing up and taking control of her life the very best she knows how and while getting smacked up side the head, every once in a while by that curve ball called life, catching it more often than not and throwing it back with a mean right hand and a loud “TAKE THAT”.
Losing the weight didn’t solve my problems.
Finding the solutions did.
The other night, Mimi and I watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The title alone made me a little “oh this is a chick flick isn’t it?” and since I’m more boy than girl I prefer a movie with a least one good car chase, a few blow em up scenes and then of course the obligatory hurrah of the super hero over powering the villain and bringing peace to mankind for another day. Like the good Manwo (a term coined by my most awesome brother-in-law Adam) that I am I know the rules of any relationship must include the occasional chick flick….
Surprisingly, I loved this movie more than I thought I would.
In fact, it might just be one of best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s very rare that a movie will provoke a lot of thought for me. Again, because I’m more of a “shoot em up” “Bang! Bang!” sort of girl/boy but this movie provoked a lot more than I was anticipating. Most of my life I was (am) Charlie. The wallflower. The kid mostly gone unnoticed or at least that was (is) my perception growing up (living life). The secret that Charlie kept was the very same secret I kept (and still keep mostly to myself) because the people that could help with some closure are long gone and what’s the benefit of pointing fingers in accusations when there is no one in front of you to ask the burning question: Why?
Charlie says this line at the very end of the movie:
“You Can’t Control Where You Came From but You Can Control Where You’re Going”
I can’t control from where I came…
I couldn’t control my mother’s mental illness that had already dug it’s claws deep into her soul long before I was conceived. I couldn’t control that she looked for love in the darkest corners of the loneliest places and found my father waiting for her, to give her his definition of love while she grasped at anything close for comfort. Soon after, I came along. Another reminder in her already scarred life that love doesn’t come without pain and pain can be forgotten more easily when you’re drunk.
I couldn’t control the cloud of depression that invaded every aspect of the family I was born into. My mother, my brothers and eventually me. I couldn’t control the undiagnosed conditions that wreaked havoc on my small body. From the days of rocking in a crib, banging my head on the railings to throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall almost every day of my primary school years, to the uncontrollable urge to hit myself in the head, pull my hair out and dig at my skin until I bled at the first sign of a tough emotion because back then, the word Aspergers hadn’t been spoken.
I couldn’t control the intense survival mode I felt towards food as a kid. The over eating as a child because no one was taking control of my upbringing which led to shoving utensils down my throat to find some sort of control over food, emotions, my life, anything. I couldn’t control any of it. It is what it WAS but it is NOT how it has to be.
I can control where I am going.
I write a lot about things most people would prefer to sweep under the carpet and forget about. The only problem is that underneath my carpet was the collective heap of a mess from all the sweeping I tried to do for so long but without success. I couldn’t continue to “sweep” away the emotions of the past and hope to continue forward into the future. I don’t necessarily like to write about mental illness, gender confusion, abuse, food addictions, drug addictions, and my own transgressions but I do because while I couldn’t control where I came from you can sure as hell bet I could control where I was going and if I wanted to go anywhere I needed to start by cleaning up the shit around me so that I could begin to lay a good foundation of understanding who I was, who I am and who I want to be.
I’m open about my life because there’s an off chance that someone else is out there sitting in the same heap of crap I sat in for so long. Wondering how long it’s going to take for things to change or wondering if this is everything called life for them. I wanted for so long to blame my past for where I was standing. To point the finger at my mother, my brothers, my teachers that saw the signs but didn’t say anything and lay blame for who I was (or who I wasn’t). I wanted to point the finger at relationships ended, at social anxieties and depression that seem to never end and at the never ending barrage of food that I shoved down my throat as my heart raced knowing eventually I would bring it all back up and finally feel a short-lived sense of comfort as the blood vessels in my eye burst and my throat bled from the forceful vomiting. I wanted to point at the big dirt pile under the proverbial carpet that I’d spent forty years sweeping and blame everything else on everyone else for what I had become.
But I control where I’m going.
It’s one of the reasons I have no ill feeling towards the first part of my life and I’m able to (at least to the best of my ability) stop looking over my shoulder trying to lay blame where there is no blame to lay. Everything I am today and everything I strive to be is because I am in control of my direction. From the food I eat and the miles I run to the emotions I feel and the gender I choose; I am in control.
People ask me why I love to race. Is it to add to the medal or racing shirt collection? Am I trying to place in an age group or beat a personal time? To be honest, it has nothing to do with any of those things (though I do love a good medal). I love to race because each time I step up to a starting line it reminds me from where I came. The starting line (the life) that I couldn’t control. As I cross over the beginning , the struggle to reclaim control over life is played out with each forward step.
I feel good as I start out. Strong. Weaving in and out of people as I find my place among all of those trying to accomplish the same thing but each of us, while running together are very much alone. Much like everything in my life (in our lives) I start out strong. Confident. This time will be different. I can do it. I am in control. No matter what happens during the race I decide my next move. I cry, I laugh, I wonder what the hell am I doing out here? I decide when to rest, when to stop and take a picture and when to thank those for volunteering. I decide when to refuel or pace behind someone to help get my mind off of all that is around me. Just like in real life every choice I make during a race is because those are my legs moving not someone else’s.
That is my heart beating.
As in life I become tired. Muscles are sore. I feel alone. I want to quit. So many times I looked in the mirror and gave up on myself. Hung my head in shame knowing that I was never going to be good enough. Wanting to be something but slapping that “NOTHING” label on my heart over and over again. I looked around and pointed outwards. “It’s your fault”, “You did this to me”, “You didn’t love me”, “Why????” Darkness would envelope me and I would stop where I stood, giving up…
Sometimes (most times) I feel that darkness during a long race. The “just give up” feeling tapping me on one shoulder while the “you are still nothing” feeling taps on the other. It’s in those moments, where all I can think about is sitting on the ground and giving up that I remember that I’m in control of everything I do. I stop worrying about how fast I’m (not) running and start remembering that it’s the commitment to finish by any means necessary that urges me forward. I allow the emotions to overwhelm me because I know that this is life in front of me and I can either sit down and give up or I can fight for every step forward until I am right where I need to be; at the finish line.
Life is a struggle. It’s a constant swim against the current. An uphill battle. We often feel defeated and then spend so much time comparing what we haven’t been able to do against those that have been able. We feel out of control with almost everything in our lives. Our families. Our jobs. Our addictions. Our mental illness. Our gender confusions. Our weight. We feel inadequate and with that inadequacy comes the pointing of the fingers and the outward lay of blame. What we forget is that WE are in CONTROL of everything we do going forward…
You can’t control where you came from.
But you can control where you’re going.
It’s no secret (well maybe that’s not true since I did keep it a secret for a long time) that I’m trying to write a book. For the past year I’ve been trying to regurgitate my life into some form of written story. The hard part is that it’s so fucking emotional that it takes me a long time just to get a few pages down. The entire time that I’m typing away, I’m also reliving everything as if I’m in the moment of experience.
I write something.
I feel something.
This week has been especially hard because I’ve been writing a lot about my mother. Feeling like the words should be taking one path, I am completely thrown off track because my words decide to take a left instead of right and I find myself writing about things I was unprepared for.
My friend Jon says there are two types of writers; Microwave writers and slow cooker writers.
Microwave writers tend to sit down at their laptops or pick up a pencil and verbally vomit as much as possible in as little time as possible. Afterwards they spend the time revising, rewriting, regurgitating until something more tangible is in their hands.
Slow cooker writers like to simmer for long periods of time on what they’re trying to express. I’m a slow cooker kind of writer. Honestly I’m a slow cooker kind of person in almost anything I do. Sometimes it takes me hours just to get a few paragraphs onto a page because I have to mix the ingredients just right. A little taste here. Add a little pinch of something there. For me, writing is a process of reliving. As soon as my fingers begin typing I’m there, wherever there is at the moment.
That’s why it’s been such a process getting this shit out of me and into some chronological story for the rest of the world (or the handful of people that might actually be interested) to read. I think it might be easier if this was a book on how to lose weight or how to start running with some funny antidotes here and there for you to laugh along side with me but this book is downright emotional. It’s “easy” to talk about mental illness, addiction and morbid obesity in the safe confines of a blog. My posts are short and too the point (at least the end result is short and too the point) and while the blog itself is extremely personal I feel like the process of putting this book together is more exposure than I’m ready for.
I’m not just a slow cooker when it come to writing. I’m a slow cooker when it comes to almost everything in my life. The same analogy can be used in weight loss as well. So many people want to lose weight and lose it so fast they don’t take the time to understand that there is going to be a lot of “clean” up if you don’t take the time to simmer. I chose to simmer along the way. I chose to stay in the moments and feel the emotions that came with the weight loss. I didn’t try to get to where I wanted to be as fast as possible because I knew the path there was filled with potholes of regret, confusion and as much sadness in losing the weight as there was happiness in gaining my life.
I’ve been crying a lot this week.
I’ve not been making the best choices in food.
I’ve not been moving as much.
I’m in a simmering point in my life right now. Just letting things be right where they need to be. At times I want to claw at my face to stop from feeling and at those very same moments I want to wrap my arms tightly around myself and whisper “it’s okay Tara”. I know part of the reason for my “SMB” (social media break) is because I’m deep in my own thoughts and emotions as I continue to write enough words to hopefully show someone the possibilities of a story to be told.
I have a lot of patience for myself that I didn’t have before. I have a lot of patience in many things that I didn’t have in the past. I’m easy to let go of anger and frustrations toward people and situations because as a slow cooker I take the time to think through my emotional reaction to things. It has been a hard lesson learned that above all things, I deserve to be the most patient with myself. I’m not spending too much time thinking about how I haven’t eaten the best, or moved the most. Instead I’m focusing on how hard it is emotionally to relive the story that is my life and to trust that the New Self of Tara will know when the time is right to let go of some Old Self of Tara behaviors.
I’m taking a few extra deep breaths this week (and in the coming weeks, months) as I continue to do what I need to do. While I *want* to write this book, I also *NEED* to write this damn thing. It’s the first thing in my life that I truly felt I needed to accomplish no matter how painful it is to see through to the end. I spend a lot of time thinking how no one will understand the emotional toll I’ve gone through just to get 20,000 words down. Sometimes I wonder if other people are as emotional when they write. This week I was writing about blueberries of all things and in the middle of my favorite coffee place I burst into tears because I was there in the middle of my story once again.
(fuck even now I’m totally tearing up because just thinking about what I wrote this week)
It hurts to think about writing. It hurts to think about NOT writing. I was born to do this. I was born to be something fantastic and even though life was kind of shitty along the way I’m still fighting to be that someone fantastic. My words are like the key to my emotional freedom. Without them I think I would just stop caring about my own life, my own journey.
Writing is like food.
I love and hate it all in the same bite.
But I have to do it.