Truth, ultimately

I have a confession: I’m a fake.

Or maybe I’m just a flake.

I have spent years building the courage to write, to make it public, to be authentic – to put myself out there.

It’s not easy. I want people to like me, to think I’m perfect.

Then again, I don’t. (Want people to think I’m perfect, that is.)

God has spent years teaching me how to be OK with imperfection, in myself and others (He’s still working with me on that, and I have a feeling He’ll have job security for many years to come).

I’ve written a blog for about 4 1/2 years, getting (I hope) more transparent, vulnerable and honest (some might say too honest at times) with the passage of time and the chiseling of my character.

One of the enemy’s best weapons against me has been comparison. I most often compare myself not to the One who created me – the only appropriate standard by which to measure myself – but to other people. I even compare myself to my former, sometimes better, self. I’d like to think everything about me has grown better with age and wisdom, but that’s only if I don’t look in the mirror. (Wrinkles, saggy skin, blemishes … did I mention wrinkles?)

And getting my identity from what I do rather than who I am in Christ is always dangerous.

So the writing thing … it’s a big deal for me. The more I write, the less anxious I am about it, especially when it comes to mundane topics, such as my latest healthy-muffin recipe or what running shoes I just bought. On the other hand, the topic of my “journey to fitness” gives me butterflies sometimes; it means I am accountable to you, the reader. But “going public” with my precise weight last year was one of those scary things I knew I had to do, not only to help myself but to (I hope) encourage and inspire other women who struggle with similar issues.

When I write about spiritual things – and, who am I kidding, everything I write has a spiritual basis – I’m a little more apprehensive. After all, my writing, as I have mentioned recently, has a more “pedestrian” nature than that of others with whom I compare myself. (Just being able to end a sentence with a preposition is a challenge for this former copy editor!)

And I have some blogger girlfriends (and a blogger husband) who write more eloquently and elegantly than I. Most of the blogger girlfriends write about spiritual stuff, and many of them express themselves way better than I do.

For me, that is just one more form of intimidation in The World According to Suzy.

I haven’t written much about my past as a depressed, lonely, angry girl with low self-esteem. Maybe it’s that I don’t want to dwell too much on a life that seems so far distant now – a life that God has rescued me from but which I tend to want to revisit at odd and uncomfortable times, especially when I think He’s not looking.

When I was in college and part of a group then known as the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministry), I was around a lot of other young people who had a heart for missions and other types of ministry. As a young woman who wanted to follow Christ wholeheartedly, I found those people – especially the females – intimidating.

Even though I didn’t sense God’s call to formal ministry (seminary, followed by a church staff position, etc.), I thought those young women were more spiritual than I was. I thought they had some inside party line to God and that I had somehow missed the signal.

I thought it was all me.

I was comparing my own spiritual journey with others’. My path seemed to be taking me to the “secular” world rather than the vaunted world of “ministry.”

I now realize that God has always called me to ministry and missions; it’s just that it looks different for me than it does for others. He didn’t make me a carbon copy of Janae or Dianne or Stephanie, or Angela or Annette or Betsy. He made me me. He gave me the unique skills, talents, desires, hopes and dreams of a girl who one day would grow into the knowledge that she doesn’t have to please one person on this planet as long as she pleases Him.

Over the years, the confidence has grown, not because I have anything to boast about but, as one friend quoted in a recent post (citing one of my very favorite scriptures):

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

I want my heavenly Father to use my weaknesses. I need to be vulnerable. I need to be OK that she is a better cook or he is a better writer or that I will never run a 7-minute mile, no matter how much I train and how hard I try. But another woman – the one who just passed me in the 5K, the one who weighs 50 pounds less and has mascara that stays put even when she sweats – will win the medal and she is beautiful and worthy of a huge cheer while whizzing past me (if I can catch my breath long enough to do it). I can look at others’ skills and talents and be OK with the ones He gave me, knowing that they are a gift to be used for His kingdom work.

Just as importantly, I need to be OK that He forgives me even when I cannot understand why He would forgive the same sin over and over … and over. Once I have given my sin to Him and know that He has forgiven me – at the highest price He could pay – refusing to forgive myself is a form of selfishness and ungratefulness.

And even when I ramble and put people to sleep and I veer off the subject to such a degree that I annoy even myself, it merely shows that I am human. And I eventually get back to the point.

Yes, I do have a point:

My point is Truth. Truth comes from being vulnerable, honest and open, and ultimately it comes from God.

This evening I received a Facebook message from my college friend Janae. She started a blog recently and wanted me to share it with others in the hope that it might be an encouragement – to minister to you and me and our friends.

Janae was one of those college women who intimated me. Back then, I knew she was going to do “great things for God.” And she has, only she wouldn’t look at it that way. She would say she’s simply letting Him use her in His grand scheme to redeem the world and that she’s just a small part of that plan. (Wouldn’t you, Janae?)

So after spending an hour or so reading through all her blog posts, I can confidently say that I wholeheartedly want you to read her blog. And if you like hers better than mine, well, then it’s the Lord speaking to you through her in a way that I can’t. I speak to those I speak to, and that’s OK. We both want to bring God’s ultimate Truth to those willing to listen.

Read Janae’s blog and be blessed, dear friend.

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I feel good!

I’m supposed to be doing my homework (more on my awesome class in a future post), but I had to stop and write a few words about this:

I was actually able to leave work at quitting time today (been working lots of overtime lately), so Bruce and I got to jog together this evening before it got dark. I ran more than walked (unusual for me), and it felt soooo good.

So tonight, doing my homework, I am in a really great state of mind.

Exercise will do that for ya. If you have been sedentary and thinking about taking up some form of physical activity, let me encourage you to go ahead and get started.

It will be good for your body and your spirit.

Amen.

P.S. I forgot to post my weight Friday (Feb. 3). It was 183.5.

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Running on full

This morning, seven of us (Bruce, me and five of our merry little band of running women) tackled the racecourse of the upcoming Penguin 10k/5k for Special Olympics in Batesville.

This was our second time out this year, all of us together. We had a bigger group last week, but those of us who weren’t out of town or ill today got our behinds out of our warm beds and braved the 36-degree weather (sunny but cold) to gather our courage, our winter apparel and our timing devices to walk/jog/wog the course at 8 a.m. (The photo below is from last week – it was too cold today to get my camera phone out of my pocket!)

Catina, Lisa and Shannon (tiny dots) on the White River bridge, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.

I got an iPhone for my birthday a few weeks ago, and I downloaded an app called RunKeeper. It tracks my mileage, time, pace and other things that help me know how I’m doing.

Last week it tracked our run pretty accurately. We did a tiny bit more than 10 kilometers, which would be 6.2 miles. I recorded 6.5 on my app.

Today, about halfway through our workout, RunKeeper stopped “keeping” so well. We seemed to be on pace at 3.2 miles, just before we got to the golf course. But once on the course, we suddenly jumped up to 6.5 miles. By the time it was over, it had us at 16.02 miles, but in reality we had gone just 4.5, according to my buddy Phyllis’ device. (We all decided not to do the entire course – some of us had to leave to meet friends, and the rest of us decided we’d trained enough today; after all, it was only our second time at this distance for most of us after being in hibernation mode for several weeks.)

Long story short (I know: too late!), none of this really matters to me.

I am not, and never will be, an elite runner, and no matter what RunKeeper or any other wacky device tells me, I will never run a 4-minute mile.

That’s okay. I like where I am. My life is full. I have enough.

Since Bruce and I moved to Batesville in 2010, we have been happier than we have a right to be. We love our little community, we love our friends – old and new – and we love running together, whether just the two of us or with a group.

I have embarked on a journey to fitness, and it has had hills and valleys that have made me stronger, wiser and more compassionate.

I forgot to blog yesterday about my weight, but it was 3 pounds more than last Friday. Ouch.

That’s partly because I knew I was going to start tracking my food intake, and I was strongly leaning toward rejoining Weight Watchers Online because I really like Weight Watchers and I now had the capability of using the mobile app. (I had tried to find a calorie and activity tracker that I liked, but none compared to WW.)

I sort of had Jan. 14 in mind to rejoin because that’s the date I joined last year. 🙂 So I was eating like there was no tomorrow. But when the scale indicated 3 pounds heavier in just one week (188 pounds), I knew I couldn’t wait another day. I joined Friday, Jan. 13.

I’m still 18 pounds slimmer than I was a year ago, but gaining back 10 of the 28 pounds I had lost is disheartening. It makes me kinda mad at myself. I don’t want to make excuses, so I won’t mention the holidays (you can enjoy the holidays without going overboard, and I did go overboard) or my knee surgery as excuses. Those can be deterrents to weight loss, but I could have found other exercises while my knee recovered; I didn’t.

I’ve learned a lot of things in the years that I’ve been overweight, and some of them I’ve had to learn, relearn and learn again.

And that brings me to my point (you knew I had a point, didn’t you?).

I’ve been overweight for about 20 of my 49 years. In those years, I’ve read lots and lots of articles and a few books about how to lose weight. I’m glad to say I’ve never tried any of the crazy, dangerous ways. My method has always been to eat less and move more. But even the eating-less part can be unhealthy sometimes, when it’s the wrong type of food. I’m gradually learning to get rid of the stuff that isn’t so healthy and substitute good, healthy, fresh, whole foods.

But it has taken baby steps.

I have lost weight and gained it back. I have gone through periods of eating good, whole foods and periods of nasty, fattening junk foods (thank you, God, that You’ve allowed me to survive this despite my efforts to kill myself with fat and sugar).

It is a journey.

I have a couple of goals now. Previously a weight-loss/fitness goal for me was just that: all for me (and maybe my husband). Now I not only want to get healthy for me, I want to do it in a way that I learn good lessons to help others.

I’ve already learned lots of lessons – some good, some bad, although I suppose you could say that any lesson that makes you wiser is a good lesson.

If it takes me another two years to get down to a healthy weight, so what? If in that two years my journey can help someone else be wiser, gain courage and motivation and get healthy, it will be well worth it. We will learn from and gain encouragement from each other.

I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out. But I do believe this to be true: God intended us for community. If we can fellowship together, learn from one another and build each other up, that will make me really happy. And healthy.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV).

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185 pounds

I forgot to tell you in the last post that my weight was 186 (that’s 8 pounds gained since my knee surgery and subsequent down-hill slide into indulgence).

Since I wrote that post Wednesday night (I had weighed that morning), I’ve lost a pound. Friday is my official weigh-in day, so I’ll try to remember to post each Friday. My blog-every-day plan kind of hit the skids when school started in September. It was a loooong semester.

Now that I have an iPhone (a birthday present in late November), I’m looking for a good calorie-counting app. I’m trying one out but not sure I like it. If any of you can suggest a good one, please leave a comment.

Today will be a bit of a challenge, because we’ll probably be eating at a restaurant in Memphis and I’ll have less control over the food prep. Bruce, Mom and I will be going to Southaven, Miss., for the memorial service of a dear friend, Barney Sellers, who died Monday. He was featured on the front page of Tuesday’s Batesville Guard, but you have to have a paid subscription to view more than a few paragraphs online. Here’s a link to the article in the Memphis paper, The Commercial Appeal, which is free (you have to register only if you want to post a comment).

I will write more about Barney in a future post. He was one of a kind.

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Dear Nike

Dear Nike,

I don’t know how to break this to you gently, so I’m just going to be blunt:

Our 10-year love affair has hit a bump. I’m sorry to tell you this, but my feet have cheated on you. I have cheatin’ feet.

It started innocently enough. I needed new shoes to help with my plantar fasciitis problem and my crunchy knee. I went to the Runner’s World website, clicked on the Running Shoe Finder and took the quiz (apparently women’s magazines aren’t the only ones with compatibility quizzes).

After submitting my answers to several questions (Are you male or female? How high are your arches? What are your motion mechanics?), I got a list of suggestions, including the news that I needed stability, which you had not been providing enough of over the years. This was a bit of a surprise, but not entirely: I had been leaning a bit in the wrong direction (overpronating) for several months, possibly even years. It was inevitable that I would get hurt.

I don’t blame you entirely. It was a combination of things.

First, I hadn’t been in tune with my true needs. I was surprised to discover recently that I have high arches. I had always believed I was “normal” in that area, so I had never tried to deal with my issues. Turns out I needed better, more rigid arch support. I thought all I needed was a soft place to land (extra cushioning) with minimal support, and this is what you had given me all these years. I can’t exactly blame you for not providing what I didn’t know I needed.

Second, some of my needs have changed. When I began looking for you 10 years ago, the store clerk (or, as I prefer to call him, “the matchmaker”) suggested I try your women’s Air Pegasus model, which was for “heavier runners” (or, as I prefer to call us, “full-figured gals”). I felt the love immediately. As you gently caressed my feet, I knew this was a match made in Runners Heaven. And you weren’t bad on the eyes, either; the physical attraction was undeniable. White and black with a red swoosh. Ooh, baby!

But that was then. This is now.

I’m more mature now, and lighter. The extra cushioning is nice, but I need more from a shoe.

And there was my husband to think about. You might assume that he urged me to be faithful, but he did not. I had tried on a few models in a local store – brands I did not even want to look at, much less allow to touch my feet – but I kept longing for you. Nevertheless, he wanted me to keep an open mind, to be sure I had exhausted all local options.

I had already found a better, younger version of you online – one that offered cushioning and support. And even though the Running Shoe Finder helped me narrow my choices to one or two, that was a virtual store. I needed to try on a few real pairs before deciding, especially since this was such a big decision for my physical (and, yes, emotional) well-being, not to mention our checkbook.

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that the one I had ultimately chosen online was … you again. A cushiony, more supportive version of the shoe you used to be. I had even virtual-chatted with a guy at the Road Runner Sports website. (Those guys are like the Dr. Ruth of athletic gear. They help you find true compatibility. True love to last a lifetime – or at least a few months, until the shoes wear out.)

I asked him the difference between the model he suggested, the Nike Zoom Equalon+ 4, and a similar model in another brand that I had been looking at, albeit reluctantly. I didn’t really want to stray from you, the one I had loved for more than a decade, but my husband/coach sometimes has to talk sense into me. I couldn’t try on the Equalon, and I had tried on some other brands that seemed to fit my needs.

But Dr. Ruth-guy had me sold on the Equalon; he said it was equivalent to the other model except that the Equalon had more cushioning. Support and extra cushioning! The total package!

But, alas, there was the third thing: a sale at the local store.

My husband, who’s also my coach (and my real true love), went with me and watched me run each time I tried a new pair. Because the store didn’t have my chosen shoe (you), he watched as the other brands corrected my overpronation. Nevertheless, he said I should think about it some more. He even urged me to ask the clerk to order last year’s model of the one that seemed to be the best fit (the older model was $40 cheaper, and I was under no obligation to buy it). A few days later, the store clerk called. My order had arrived.

I tried on the shoe. It felt good, it offered stability and … it was good looking.

I can’t say it looked better than you in every way – I’ve grown to love your happy little swoosh over the years – but it was narrower. It made my wide boats look like … well, normal girl feet. And it has stabilized my gait. Not that the online version of you wouldn’t have done the same thing. But I couldn’t be sure of that. A relationship that begins online is risky.

So, Nike, I have cheated. I’m sorry I’ve strayed. But I have a feeling our love affair isn’t over – if you’ll take me back someday. Because someday money won’t be such an issue. I will still be frugal, but I’ll be better able to make the choices I want to make when it comes to my feet. I know you will offer me a soft place to land again (and again). And the stability I need.

Thanks for the memories, but don’t think it’s over for good.

I’ll be back.

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You say torn meniscus; I say crunchy knee

It’s official: My crunchy knee requires surgery. It will be minor, outpatient and supposedly quick. I’ll be off work Thursday and Friday (Aug. 11-12) and should be back to my routine by Monday. The doc said I’d need crutches for a few days, and I’ll have to undergo some post-surgery physical therapy, but I should be back to normal (and running!) within a few weeks.

People, I wanted to do the Dance of Joy right there in the doctor’s office! (I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t want to embarrass Bruce. Like it would faze him.)

This means my training for the 2012 Olympic trials won’t be on hold for much longer.* And those running-shoe deals they’ve been after me to sign? Well, the shoe companies will just have to duke it out for my much-sought-after endorsement. There have been so many calls, I’ve had to change my phone number. 🙂

Yes, this is very good news. Penciling in my new training schedule now …

Oh, yeah, you may be wondering about the surgeon’s diagnosis. Of course the official diagnosis by my primary-care physician is Crunchy Knee, but the surgeon came up with his fancy new term from some medical book or something: torn meniscus. Sounds like a made-up term, doesn’t it? I bet he got it off some quack website.

Nevertheless, that’s the term we’re going with, unofficially (I’m humoring him by going along with it). So in three weeks he’ll go in with an arthroscope and clean out the area around the injury. He’ll trim off the torn part of the “meniscus” and take out any floating pieces, if there are any. The surgery is called a “meniscectomy.” Supposedly. According to the surgeon’s alleged medical research.

Apparently this diagnosis and the resulting surgery have gained popularity. You can even read about them on reputable websites such as WebMD. So, rather than trying to ’splain, I’ll just let you click here and read about it for yourself. Some clever person was even commissioned to draw pictures of what the “meniscus” looks like.

So the weeks and months of wondering and fretting are over. My crunchy knee can be fixed, and I will run again (Lord willin’).

Woo hoo!

*Lest you think I’m already under the influence of anesthesia and thus delusional, please be assured that I am merely giddy with excitement that my orthopedic surgeon did not give my burgeoning running career the same death sentence my primary-care doc pronounced two weeks ago. Yes, I am over the top (don’t worry; I’ll come back down to earth tomorrow). I like my orthopedic surgeon! Even if he does make up medical terminology.

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It’s up to me now

Friday I went to weigh in at work, and the person in charge of the Biggest Loser competition handed me back my $5 entry fee. She said I and one other person were the only two contestants left, so she was returning everyone’s money (and with only two more weigh-ins to go).

I’m very disappointed about the contest, and I won’t go into detail about all the reasons, but the bottom line for me is that I’ll have to compete with myself now.

It’s kind of funny – I was recently pondering how I would do once the contest was over, especially if the other contestants didn’t want to re-up for a third go-round. But I didn’t dream I would be thrown to the wolves two weeks early! I thought I would have more time to shore up my resolve and come up with a game plan. I guess you’ve always got to be prepared for what life throws at you.

I’ve gotten a lot out of the competition (since I finally got serious about it). It has helped keep me accountable. Now I will have to be creative in making myself stick to my fitness program.

If Monday morning’s MRI reveals that I need a course of treatment (or surgery) on my knee that will end my illustrious running career, losing weight is going to be even more of a challenge. I really burn a lot of calories when I run, and the competition at work has helped me stay motivated to keep moving.

I’m going to e-mail a handful of thin women in my department at work to see if they would mind getting a weekly Friday morning update reporting my weight. I think they will be fine with it. (For the record, my current weight is 185; that’s a 21.4-pound loss since early February. Woohoo!)

So the game has changed, and we’ll see how things go when I don’t have a weekly contest to keep me motivated. It’s up to me now.

And, really, it was always up to me.

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Hope springs eternal

The orthopedic surgeon scheduled an MRI for Monday morning (the X-rays this morning didn’t tell him what he needed to know).

He said I may not have to give up running, depending on what the specific problem is. It may be a tear in the meniscus, or it may be this or that, blah, blah, blah. (The only part I heard was that I might be able to run again after the problem is treated.)

I’ll update you again after Monday’s MRI: 8 a.m. – first thing in the morning!

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Just a misunderstanding

I’ve been thinking about this knee thing. (You knew I wouldn’t be able to let it go, right?)

Since the doc told me a week ago that I should stop running, and to walk only on non-hilly surfaces, I’ve been sticking to walking, mostly (only about 1 percent running – really).

But … after a frustrating few days of trying to stay in the flattish parts of my neighborhood, I started doing the 4-Mile Class route again – walking (mostly).

And it really hasn’t bothered my knee (much).

So this morning as I was on my way home, trudging down the overpass over the bayou, a realization hit me: I totally misunderstood my doctor the other day.

She didn’t tell me not to run in hills. She said not to run in heels!

Well, every smart girl knows that! So, really, I’m ahead of the game. I never run in heels. In fact, I haven’t even worn heels in more than a decade, since the last time I had a bout with plantar fasciitis, was diagnosed with bone spurs and spent $200 on a pair of custom orthotics that got tossed out with my old running shoes last year (they didn’t help much, anyway). So I can keep walking in hills. Why didn’t I realize this before?

I’m so relieved.

It was all just a misunderstanding.

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