Running for a cure

I’m about to run the race of my life.

In a few months, two of my worlds will collide: running and Crohn’s disease. On Sept. 22 in Nashville, Tenn., I will run my very first half-marathon, about three times as long as I’ve ever run in competition.

13.1 miles – woohoo!

(Pray for my mother.)

If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I’ve been on “my journey to fitness” for more than a year. In November 2010 – about a decade after I first tried to become “a runner” – I caught the running bug for real. I started walking/running with my sister-in-law, and when her life got too busy to continue, I did it without her. It was harder to motivate myself without a buddy, but I knew I needed to do it for my health. Next thing I knew, two opportunities came along that would help me stay committed: a weight-loss competition at work, and the local women’s running clinic. I lost 28 of the 206 pounds that I started with. (In August 2011, a pesky surgeon had to operate on my knee, sidelining me for a few months, but on Dec. 31 I got back on track with the running. It took longer to get back to healthy eating.)

One of the reasons – no, dozens of the reasons – that I now love running has to do with the people.

First, there’s Bruce.

Besides Jesus, Bruce is the love of my life. He loved running way before he met me, and he has taught me so much about it. I used to go to races and watch him be fast. Whether I competed in those races or not, I was always watching Bruce be fast. God just made him that way.

And I was slow.

But not long ago, the tables turned and Bruce had to see running from my perspective. He took a five-year sabbatical from running, but it was not self-imposed. He was sidelined by Crohn’s disease. He had a flare-up that began in early 2007, and this one hung on for a very long time.

My very fast husband had to learn to stand on the sidelines and cheer while I competed in races, dragging my slow butt across the finish line from near the back of the pack. Witnessing this spectacle has been a lot less fun for him than it was for me, I can tell you. But he has kept a smile on his face, cheering and encouraging me at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, he has become quite the ladies’ man. (My husband, the chick magnet.)

At last year’s running clinic, we were short on coaches, and one evening I roped Bruce into volunteering. (It didn’t take much convincing.) When the clinic ended in mid-May, he was still volunteering and his love of running had rubbed off on the rest of us. Some of the ladies didn’t want to lose their momentum and suggested we keep going throughout the summer. Coach Bruce to the rescue!

We ladies – young and old, tall and short, plump and thin, brown and pasty-white – kept running. And running. And running.

We ran when it was 101 degrees and humid, the sun causing sweat to blind us. Sunshine or rain, we ran. We ran when we didn’t feel like running. We ran up hills – we love hills! (inside joke) – across bridges and overpasses, around tracks, through neighborhoods and even in the middle of the woods. Before long, we were running when it was cold again and our legs were so frozen they never warmed up, even after we ran 3 miles. (Anyone remember that 12-degree February morning at the river? Or the day it was a balmy 19 degrees?)

One hot day in early spring, a bunch of us even ran two races in one day. (I call us The Crazy Ladies of Running, Plus Bruce.)

And, all the while we ran, Coach Bruce was trotting along, doubling back, making sure his baby chicks were OK.

We were OK – mostly because we had a coach who cared about the slowest of the slow as much as he cared about the leaders of the pack.

No wonder the ladies love him.

Bruce has started being able to enter races again, although he will never get back the stamina he once had. Crohn’s disease has just taken too much out of him over the years. But he is our Coach Bruce. (He even has Brupies – get it? Bruce-groupies!)

Coach Bruce, pretty in pink.

And what’s great about it is that he makes it fun. His enthusiasm for running is infectious. For him, it is play, not work. (If you still don’t understand this, listen up: This man refers to hills as “speed bumps” or “extended passing zones.” He’s the crazy one!) At our women’s clinic pre-graduation pasta party this year, his Brupies presented him with a pink and black wig to match his clinic shirt. He wore it proudly, saying he hadn’t had that much hair in years!

At our running club’s Christmas party last year, Bruce won the Spirit Award, voted on by club members. He might not have been able to run in races, but he volunteered and he supported the club and the sport and the runners. (And since I was busy with work and school and never got around to writing the post I wanted to write about that, I guess this is that post.)

Bruce’s love of running and his enthusiasm for helping others to love it … this inspires me.

And so I will run the Nashville Women’s Half Marathon – my very first long-distance race – not for my love of running, which is strong, but for my love of Bruce, which is even stronger.

Crohn’s disease and its companion, ulcerative colitis (collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD), are hideously devastating diseases. If you would like to help find a cure for this demon that plagues more than 1.4 million adults and children in the United States, please support me with monetary donations, encouragement or simply your prayers. I have to raise at least $3,200 before the race in order for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America to pay my travel expenses (at least 75 percent of the money I raise will go to research and education).

I said I was going to run the race of my life, but it’s really the race for Bruce’s life. He needs a cure for Crohn’s disease. We all do.

Let’s race together toward that goal.

Here are the ways to make a tax-deductible donation:

  • To donate online, click here.
  • To pay by check: Leave a comment here, email me, find me on Facebook or call me and I’ll give you my address or arrange to pick up the check from you.

To learn more about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s work, visit the CCFA website.

 

Thank you in advance for any way you are able to help. Together we can do this.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

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Sole mates

My house is cluttered right now, and I don’t even care!

That’s what running does to my brain.

The floor around my chair is littered with running shoes and smelly socks (not to mention smelly dogs). I actually am enjoying this fact right at this very moment.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  1. Insanity runs in our household (it runs outside our house, too, har har).
  2. I still have the “runner’s high” from this morning’s wog in the park.

Every Saturday that we go out there with our “girls” (the remnant from last year’s Women Can Run clinic) is a good day, but today in particular was a very good day.

I started off with a buddy, but, even though my knee started feeling funky very early on, I persisted and ended up doing about half of the course solo because I passed up my buddy and was having too good a time to slow down and let her catch up. It’s not that I’m fast – it’s just that this was her first time out on the Penguin course with us (the Penguin 10k/5k is next weekend, so I guess she figured it was time to hit the trail and get familiar with the course. We won’t mention the fact that she’s 75 years old, because that really doesn’t seem to slow her down. This awesome lady does Zumba, boot camp and any other crazy thing you can imagine!).

So, even though my knee hurt in the beginning and I imagined myself walking most of the route, I kept jogging and eventually forgot about my knee problem. And since the race is jut seven days away, I really didn’t want to walk any. So I kept up a good pace and outran my buddy by about 3 minutes. Today, running solo helped me clear my head a bit.

Running is good for the sole.

When I run/walk/jog/wog, especially solo, I can clear out some of the clutter in my brain, so much so that when I get home to a cluttered dining room it doesn’t bother me so much.

So I like running solo.

But I also like running with buddies.

(Does this make me seem schizophrenic? Haven’t we already determined that I have sanity issues?)

Bruce and I are usually giddy after a jog, but today we seemed sillier than normal (I don’t think too many people noticed). And after we got finished at the athletic store, he was even worse!

You see, he got new shoes. And he was like a little boy. (We didn’t realize just how worn his old shoes had gotten until he got a brand-new pair.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as excited about a pair of shoes as he was this morning. I’d like to bottle that smile and take it to work with me every day.

Running is good for the sole, and it’s good for the soul.

Happy feet

Because I ran the 5k route this morning and the other 5k-ers drove away soon after but I still had to wait for the 10k-ers to finish, I debated about how to pass the time. I decided to put my coat back on (shed during the run), sit on the hood of my car and pray while I watched the mighty White River rush by. (Our Saturday morning parking spot is by the dam.)

Nature brings out the praise in me.

A mighty rushing river reminds me of God’s power, His strength and His ability to control the universe. This morning I thought of how He stopped an ocean so His children could pass – and all the other things He did for those ingrates.

He is the God of the ages.

Just as He saw the Israelites through a myriad of problems (most due to their own stubborn rebellion), He sees me through my problems today (most of which are … drum roll, please … due to my own stubborn rebellion).

I’m taking a class called Perspectives, and the readings immediately began reshaping the way I think of God – and the way I pray. (I’ll save the specifics for a later post, but I’m dying to tell you about this class.) But I’m getting off topic …

Jogging has brought Bruce and me closer together in a way I hadn’t imagined it would. We enjoy being silly together most of the time, and running just jacks that up to a whole ’nother level. I’ll spare you the details. (You’re welcome.)

And wogging has brought us lots of new friends. Since I got involved in the Women Can Run/Walk clinic last year – and dragged Bruce along one day when we needed an extra coach – we have had more lady friends than we can shake a baton at!

Now, Bruce is the mother hen to several ladies who caught the running bug and didn’t want to stop when the clinic ended. He is now Coach Bruce, and it has lit him up in wonderful new ways.

We’re getting ready to launch the 2012 clinic (next week!), and both of us will be volunteers this year (my goal last year during the clinic was to become a volunteer this year, and that time is finally here!).

If you are a woman who wants to add a little workout to her schedule but feels intimidated at the thought of “running” with a bunch of super-running-chicks, please put that thought right out of your head. The women’s running clinic is composed of females of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, political and religious philosophies, incomes (the clinic is free), shoe types, aches, pains, diseases, life stages, fitness levels and speeds. No matter who or what you are, fast or slow, you will fit right in with the rest of us.

I’m not a super-running-chick. I’m just a gal who can’t say no … to the idea of being healthier (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and in all others ways that running, fellowship and camaraderie can affect a person) … and to the idea that maybe, just maybe, I can be an inspiration to someone else.

Running and walking are good, clean fun. (Most of the time.) We would love to see you at the Batesville clinic this year. The sessions are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8-9 a.m. Saturdays. You can register online or show up between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at White River Medical Center, Women’s Center, Conference Room B. I will be there until about 6:20, when I have to leave for class.

To register online (or to find a Women Run Arkansas clinic near your hometown), click here.

We also have a Facebook page. If you’d like to get in on the fun before the clinic starts, click here.

Come on out and meet your new sole mates.

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Only half the BS, but twice the fun!

One of my favorite things about being married to Bruce is that we laugh a lot. We laugh at our dogs, at each other, at life – at pretty much everything. We’re pretty silly people, and we love to laugh.

Laughter is healing. Just two weeks ago, we attended the memorial service of a dear friend … and we laughed. The chaplain and the loved one’s son – both of them spoke at the service and told funny stories of the person who had just died. In the car on the way to and from the service (a six-hour round trip), Bruce and I, along with my mother, reminisced about our friend … and laughed. Barney would have liked that.

While Bruce and I are similar in many ways (both analytical, pragmatic, left-brained types, both trained journalists [it’s how we met], both lovers of words and books), we are also very different in some ways (the key difference being our approach to matters of faith; I’m a born-again Christian, and he’s an atheist).

And while we have similar senses of humor, there are some differences: He’s more into things like Monty Python than I am. I’m more into a toned-down version of MP; give me Food Network’s Alton Brown any day (he’s the best comedy writer on TV, in my opinion). Bruce likes AB, too, but I am more likely to watch a Good Eats marathon, while he is more likely to watch all of the Monty Python movies or TV episodes without moving from his spot on the couch – while I do a few loads of laundry, pay some bills, balance the checkbook, bake something, paint my fingernails, write a blog post, check my email and catch a few episodes of Law & Order on the other TV. (But the division of household labor is for another post … which, in the interests of marital unity, probably will never get written.)

Bruce and I are both “writers.” At the art and craft of writing, he is the more elegant. When we were copy editors at the same newspaper, he could write me under the table when it came to headlines – still can. He has a way with words, both written and spoken, that I don’t possess. I plod along, hoping to make someone think, or do, or laugh (and a combination of the three wouldn’t hurt); my writing kind of disappears into its pedestrian nature. (The same could be said of our running styles. He is efficient, light on his feet, can finish a workout in no time flat, and I’m there plodding along, just trying to get enough oxygen to my lungs so that I don’t collapse before the finish. I wear shoes marketed to “heavy runners.”)

Sometimes he and I follow the rules, and sometimes we break them, but usually not the same ones at the same time. I’m more likely to be rigid and legalistic in how things should be done, and more likely to be frustrated with him for not following said rules … until it’s the other way around. Sometimes he chooses to be the good boy, standing in contrast to my rebellious streak.

And a lot of the ways we communicate, with others and with one another, are different. That can be frustrating at times (he’s sanguine on some topics that I think are important and worth some effort, and I try to put a positive spin on things sometimes when he tends to be negative; we both can get defensive and a little testy when we’re tired or stressed, but usually it’s not at the same time – there again, we tend to balance each other out).

With the “positive spin,” you never know which pole one of us will be sitting on. OK, sometimes you know. For instance, when our merry band of runners (I’m talking about the remnants from the women’s running clinic, not the local, official running club we belong to) gets together on a new course for the first time, the ladies always ask Coach Bruce the route. “Are there a lot of hills?” is one of the first questions.

I quickly figured out – and I try to spread this gospel – that when you need information about hills, you don’t ask Bruce. Talk to Suzy.

Bruce has been running for three-quarters of his 52 years. He refers to hills as “bumps.” Suzy will give you the straight talk. She is a newbie like you, overweight and overstressed, physical ailments, job pressures, crunchy knees, whiny attitudes and all. Coach Bruce is not trying to put a “positive spin” on hills; he actually believes they are MERELY BUMPS. We have established in previous posts that he is insane (I believe he was brainwashed in running school), so we know that when you want to talk hills – unless you’re in a gas-powered vehicle – talk to Suzy.

So when we were wogging (walking/jogging) this morning, I by myself because my surgically “repaired” knee was feeling funky, I got to thinking about hills, and the different ways that Bruce and I approach them (not so much physically but philosophically).

And I came up with this handy formula that pretty much fits the way we approach most matters of communication:

(B + S) / 2 = A

In words: Take what Bruce says, add what Suzy says, divide by two, and there’s your Answer, somewhere in the middle.

So if you just remember that simple formula, you’ll get only half the BS but twice the fun. And you’ll be A-OK.

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Farewell, Barney Sellers

My family said goodbye to a dear friend on Friday.

Barney Sellers, faithful husband, father, grandfather – and friend – passed away on Jan. 2, 2012, at age 85. He and his wife, Betty, had just celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Jan. 1, and he died about three hours after midnight.

Barney was an award-winning photographer, known for capturing on film everything from civil-rights marches to celebrities to heads of state, including at least two kings: Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll (happy birthday, Elvis), and “Martin Luther the King Jr.,” as the hospice chaplain who spoke at his memorial service jokingly told the gathering.

But I knew him as a gentle man devoted to family and friends first and to taking pictures second.

When Barney retired to Batesville after 36 years as a staff “photog” (as he called it) at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, he and Betty Sue moved across the street from my parents in 1988, while I was in college at ASU. Barney and I had that in common: We both earned journalism degrees at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, not too far from Barney and Betty’s old stompin’ grounds in Walnut Ridge.

While he and my dad became fast friends (they both loved to tell stories, and lots of them), I looked to him as a source of teaching. As a student journalist, I, too, was interested in photography. Beyond technical skills, however, the tips I picked up from him had more to do with composition than f-stops and shutter speeds.

Dad and Morgan at Barney’s

Barney wasn’t one to photograph people – although one of my favorites is a black-and-white picture he took of my dad and niece sitting together on a bench in Barney’s front yard when Morgan was about 3. And, as a favor, he took my wedding pictures (and wouldn’t accept payment). In fact, it was on my 14th wedding anniversary last week that my mother told me of his passing. (If you subscribe to The Batesville Daily Guard, take note of Page 1 of the Jan. 3 edition, which features not only a photo of Barney accompanying the article but a shot he took of downtown Batesville under a huge full moon.)

My house and my mother’s house are adorned with pictures Barney took, and I can’t recall being allowed to pay him for a single one of them. I would be at his house, admire a picture among the dozens (or sometimes hundreds) he showed me on a particular visit, and the next thing I knew the photo was double or triple matted (by Barney) and given to me or my family as a gift. Mom was responsible for taking them to the frame shop, although the birthday gift he gave me one year (an aerial shot of the White River dam in Batesville), a wedding gift (of a huge full moon above a barn) and my favorite gift from Barney – a photo of double streaks of lightning in the night sky above the Memphis bridge – came complete with frame. He was very generous with his artwork.

Barney’s newspaper years were successful and spanned decades, but, after his official retirement, he was better able to indulge his passion for rural scenes. His “business” was called Barney’s Barns and Rural Scenes, but he was more teacher than businessman. He held photography workshops, taking eager students around scenic Arkansas and elsewhere, teaching them how to see the beauty in a simple dirt road, falling-down barn or old rusty plow.

His son Stanley – or “Chobee,” as I’ve always known him – told me Friday that probably 80-90 percent of Barney’s work centered on his beloved Ozarks.

Yes, Barney saw things that no one should have to see – he photographed civil unrest in the Memphis of the mid-20th century, he went to war (serving two stints in the Navy) and he was there the day singer Jerry Lee Lewis lost his 3-year-old son to drowning in 1962. But despite that – or perhaps because of it – he was able to see the beauty in God’s creation that many of us are too busy to notice.

I remember the time he was visiting my dad at the shop Dad had built in our back yard, and Barney saw a spider web hanging from a corner of the building. Barney said, “Don’t touch that,” or some such admonition to leave the web alone. He trudged back up the hill to his house, returned with a squirt bottle, misted the spider web and shot a typically stunning picture of it, water droplets sparkling in the moonlight.

If not for Barney, I probably wouldn’t have had the “eye,” or the presence of mind, to snap a picture of the spider-web-covered jade plant in Morro Bay, Calif., when Mom and I visited in 2006. In fact, I’m sure that my affinity for photographing “plant life” over “real life” had something to do with Barney. When I spent a summer in Guatemala after college graduation, I took lots of shots of hillsides, mountains, rivers, lakes and volcanoes, and when I returned home and proudly showed my parents all my wonderful pictures, Mom said, “Where are the people?” (She is more of the “line people up like statues” school of photographic thought, whereas Barney wasn’t so much into that.)

Barney liked to tease my mom; he had a wonderful sense of humor – sometimes mischievous, sometimes dry like mine. He loved to laugh, and he loved people.

Barney’s “uniform,” as I recall it, was a pair of khaki pants, a chambray shirt, a bandanna, sometimes a vest, thick eyeglasses and – more often than not – two cameras hanging from his neck. And when he would amble down the hill to our house – whether on foot or in his Jeep on the way to photograph some dilapidated thing down some dirt road (Chaplain Brent said he was told that Barney “knew where every barn was in the state of Arkansas”) – he frequently carried a can of Coke supplemented with Metamucil. “He’d nurse that thing all day, it seemed like,” my mother recalled Friday as we reminisced on the way home from the service. To me, the Coke and Metamucil were simply part of the Barney package.

Barney was old school and had his own way of doing things (hence the recording of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” at the memorial service). According to his family, he took “thousands and thousands and thousands” of photos in his lifetime, all of them with a film camera. His daughter, Susie, had tried to convert him to digital photography but didn’t succeed. Chobee told me about all the prints and negatives in the house, in the garage, in a 10-by-16-foot storage building. Chobee had tried to get his dad to let him sort and catalog them but, again, didn’t succeed.

“He had his own way of cataloguing them, and none of us knew what that way was.” Chobee tried to reason with his dad: Someday we’ll need to know your system. Barney promised to teach him the system, but that day never came.

Barney’s health hadn’t been good in several years. His children had been trying to persuade their parents to leave the split-level house in Batesville – where Barney didn’t do well on the stairs “and kept scaring the daylights out of all of us,” according to his son Richard. They wanted their parents to move back to Memphis, where Barney’s cardiologist and other doctors were. So, even though “his heart was in Arkansas,” according to Chobee, he and Betty Sue finally left their home state and in 2007 moved back to the Memphis area, where Barney died.

There are a few things I regret in life – not getting my Nanny or my Aunt Jo to teach me how to quilt (I paid for classes at a store after both of them had passed on), not getting my Grandma Tressie to really teach me how to sew garments, not spending more time with Dad underneath all those cars he worked on, so I’d know how to change my own oil … and not spending more time at Barney’s elbow, soaking up his knowledge of photography and his love for all things rural. Now it’s too late for all of that.

But if there is anything Barney taught me, it is to keep doing what you love – and to love your family and friends while you’re doing it. I’m determined to keep working on that lesson.

We will miss you, Barney.

It’s appropriate that Barney’s family had his remains deposited in a vintage camera case. On a date to be announced, his ashes will be scattered at his favorite spot in the Ozarks.

I took a small portion of information for this post from The Batesville Daily Guard and The Commercial Appeal. To view some of his work, please visit both newspapers’ websites (links above). The Commercial Appeal‘s site includes a gallery of Barney’s news and feature photos.

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20 pounds and then some

Before I get to today’s news about me (it’s always about me, right?), I want to give a special shout out to Chelsea Willis, a young Batesville woman who has won two gold medals this week in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. (She won golds in the 400- and 800-meter relays.) Way to go, Chelsea! You are showing us what can be accomplished with hard work and determination, and you are making Arkansas proud.

Today at our weigh-in at work, the scale showed a 2-pound loss. Finally! The past two Fridays I had lost less than a pound and was a bit frustrated. When we began the first Biggest Loser contest in February, I didn’t care whether I won or lost – I just wanted to have the accountability. By the end, when I had been in the lead for a few weeks, I wanted to win it (and I did). Now, in this second go-round, I definitely have become competitive about it. But I’m really just competing with myself – I have no idea how anyone else is doing, except for one co-worker who recently started sharing her successes with me. She has lost about 22 or 23 pounds to my 20.6, but she had more to start with so my percentages are better. And Biggest Loser is about percentage, not actual pounds.

So, back to the exciting news of the day: I’ve met my 20-pound goal, and then some – a total of 20.6 pounds, to be precise (and we all know I like to be precise).

Of course I have to maintain the 20-pound loss for a week before I can reward myself (in case it was a fluke, or some kind of scale malfunction, or I pig out next week and gain 6 pounds). I’ve changed my reward from a pair of sandals (more expensive than my new idea, plus I’m not sure my injured foot is ready for wedge sandals yet). I can get a six-month subscription to Runner’s World magazine for $9.97, so that will be my reward. I’m told the Sara Low Memorial 5K (Sept. 10 in Batesville) will be featured in the August issue.

(In case you don’t know, Sara was a Batesville High School grad and a flight attendant for American Airlines. She was on the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center on 9/11. One of her high school running buddies, Mindy, co-founded the 5K in her honor five years ago. This year is the 10th anniversary of 9/11, so my guess is that the Runner’s World feature will focus on that. It would be nice to read of other memorial races relating to 9/11.)

Thursday evening Bruce and I went to a planning meeting for the Sara Low race. If you’re looking for a way to contribute to the local running community, let me tell you we need volunteers for this race. Post a comment letting me know you’d like to help, or e-mail Ken McSpadden at macandmichelle@sbcglobal.net).

I would love to run the Sara Low race, but we’ll have to see. Despite the fact that I still have a bum foot and my right knee is a mess, I’ve still been running (I’m registered for next Saturday’s Army National Guard 5K at Lyon College, the route we’ve been training on for the past three weeks), but I have an appointment Tuesday to get my knee examined. (No news on when I will get my head examined.) If my doc sends me to a specialist, and that specialist recommends knee surgery, I won’t be able to run the Sept. 10 race. Bruce and I will be traveling in early August, so any potential surgery would have to wait until after that. This would put me out of commission in September, I assume.

Despite how crazy the thought might have been eight months ago (just before I started exercising again), I really have come to appreciate running in a way I never did before.

I have to admit it’s a love-hate relationship, but mostly love:

  • I love the health benefits (my foot and knee problems notwithstanding), and I love the feeling I get when I’m finished, or when I’m about to be finished. I love that I’ve learned to push through pain and discomfort – although it could be argued that I haven’t had much to challenge me in that area; I’ve never run more than a 4-mile course, I’ve never had to run on ice, etc., etc. I love the sense of accomplishment, even when what I’ve accomplished is minuscule. I love seeing the progress I’ve made, even when it’s slow and barely noticeable. I love how it has helped me to shed more than 20 pounds in less than five months.
  • I love being outdoors, even when it’s hot, humid, cold, dry, wet or wild. I haven’t told you, but I got caught in the thunderstorm that popped up early Tuesday morning. I was up on Main Street when the wind started blowing hard, headed back home when the rain started coming down hard, and really hustling when the gravel and dust from the overpass started flying into my eyes. It was kinda scary and kind of exhilarating at the same time. (Yes, I know, I’m a lunatic.) The next morning a lady I see each day around 6:15 slowed her car, rolled down the window and said, “I was kinda worried about you yesterday morning in that storm.” I didn’t tell her, but I sure wouldn’t have turned down a ride home if she had offered it. I see and wave at some of the same nice folks driving (or walking or biking) by me every morning on my route, and I would have felt safe hitching a ride with her – at least safer than I felt in the storm!
  • I love, love, love the time I have to myself out on the streets of Batesville as the sun is coming up. Is there a more perfect time to talk to the Creator of the universe than when a new day is dawning?
  • I love that Bruce and I are working out together and growing closer because of it. I love that he has a team to coach and feels a sense of purpose that he lacked before we moved to Batesville. He really loves coaching the ladies, and they (we) really love him. Plus, I get the added benefit of having a live-in running coach! (So far the positives have far outweighed the negatives.) Check out Bruce’s blog for his running tips and encouragement.

I can’t think of much I hate about running right now, except maybe that I still don’t have much lung capacity despite the speed (albeit small) that I’ve gained (an indicator of increased fitness, so you’d think I could breathe better by now, darn it!). Several months ago Coach Bruce told me I might never have the lung capacity I long for. I’ve had respiratory issues, mostly mild but still nagging, for much of my life, so it’s just hard, hard, hard to breathe when I run. I guess time will tell whether I can ever run an entire race without walking. Argh!

But mostly my relationship with running is love.

And today I celebrate it because it has been a large contributor to my weight loss.

Did I mention that I reached my 20-pound goal today? I did? Good. Also remember that I started walking/running in mid-November, added the healthy-eating component in February but didn’t get serious about it until April 5. It has taken me nearly three months to achieve a 20-pound loss, but that’s okay. In fact, it’s appropriate – a healthy way to do it, mentally and physically.

Remember that when you tell yourself you can’t do it. When you don’t see any progress, or you see so little change on the scale – or in your breathing, or the tightness of your pants, or your blood pressure or cholesterol or triglycerides – remember that baby steps will get you where you want to go if you’re patient.

Remember, friends, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

 

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Running on empty (verbally, at least)

I have had complaints from my vast network of readers that I haven’t written in a while.

OK, my vast network consists of about three people. And there was just one complaint.

But she was very convincing. And it wasn’t my mother.

The lack of posts is not because I haven’t had anything to say – it’s just that I can’t seem to pull my thoughts together in any coherent and compelling (and, most importantly, amusing) way. I’m just not very interesting right now. I’ve had a lot of irons in the fire – with work, with church volunteer stuff and personally. (So, really, “running on empty” is a misleading headline, but I have a headache and it’s all I could think of.)

My blog topic for more than two months has been my journey to fitness, and I know this bores some people. Heck, it would bore me if I were reading someone else’s blog about the same topic for weeks on end. Especially a topic that involves exercise, humidity and profuse sweating.

And, I have to admit, it’s been a little harder to stay accountable lately, possibly because I haven’t been writing about it. At each of the past two Friday weigh-ins at work, I’ve seen less than a 1-pound loss. But at least that means I haven’t gained, and I couldn’t say that before the “Going public” post. (For the record, at the last weigh-in I was at 187.8 pounds; that’s an 18.6 pound loss.)

I’ve been doing more exercising lately (seven days a week instead of three or four), so that should mean 1-2 pounds a week, but the past couple of weeks I was really hungry and ate more than I had been. I have healthy snacks at work, but my dinners have been difficult on the nights we do our 5K workouts. Some nights I just have a bowl of cereal because making a salad takes too much time and effort.

I’ve been taking it easy on my foot since the May 7 emergency room visit, and I have made my right knee worse by favoring my left foot. So I’m kind of schizo about my workouts. One day I decide I’ll just walk; the next I decide I have to do some jogging. Thursday night I ran the Lyon College course as though I were running it on race day (July 9, the Army National Guard 5K, which I finally decided I was healthy enough to enter – after discussing with Coach Bruce the advantages and disadvantages; funny, I don’t remember the disadvantages).

Saturday we did a timed Magic Mile because we hadn’t done one since the last week of the women’s running clinic. Between May 3 and June 25, I shaved 4 seconds off my mile, despite my bum foot and knee. As Bruce noted when he posted our times on his blog, we were running in more heat and humidity this time, too. Rah!

So, really, running on a foot with a pretty significant case of plantar fasciitis hasn’t slowed me down as much as I thought it had. And taking the 17 days off after the ER visit doesn’t seem to have made much difference, either. I’ve just learned to run with pain. I think the humidity has had more to do with my pace than the injuries. As for my knee, I plan to have that seen about soon. Because I’ve had this knee problem for a couple of years (it has just gotten worse since I started running again a few months ago, and still worse since I injured my foot), I have this fear that my insurance company is going to call it a pre-existing condition and I’m waiting for the one-year waiting period to be up (I got on my new employer’s insurance plan July 1). We’re still paying for Bruce’s “pre-existing condition” claim denial for the colonoscopy last summer (don’t get me started). Fortunately the hospital is giving us a year to pay for that portion; we have managed to pay off the doctor’s part. The total bill was about $3,500, so we’re careful not to do anything stupid like go to my annual cardiologist appointment – or have a doctor look at my knee – until after July 1.

And now I’ve made that “pre-existing” condition public. I hope no one from my insurer is reading this. It’s fortunate I have only three readers. 🙂

My time lately has been spent working, running, editing (and sometimes writing) the church blog, trying not to go off the deep end with my food choices, and making feeble attempts to spend time with my mom, who lives half a mile away but doesn’t see us as often as she should (our fault, not hers). But in about six weeks our Biggest Loser competition at work will be over, and I won’t be wogging (walking/jogging) seven to nine times a week. (Yes, that may seem extreme, but I don’t work out that hard each time – just Tuesday and Thursday evenings with the group.)

And I got new running shoes yesterday. I needed more stability to help correct problems I didn’t realize I had until recently. Who knew I had high arches and I overpronated with my right foot? (Actually, Bruce noticed the overpronation recently, but it had taken us a few weeks to find the correct shoe.)

Aches, pains, grunts and crunchy knees. Getting old is not for sissies.

I’m going back to bed.

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Things I’m thankful for

These are things I’m thankful for this morning:

  • The glorious weather. I know it’s hot, but that’s why I like to do my workout (walk/jog) at sunrise; the weather is actually cool for about an hour, until the sun rises high over the houses. Today there were just enough wispy clouds to create a soft pastel scene just above the horizon for a few minutes. So peaceful. We’ve had no rain lately, either, meaning I have to remember to water my own tomatoes and herbs (small sacrifice), but that also means I don’t have to wear special gear to exercise outside. Another reason to be thankful.
  • City road crews. The dead ’possum I experienced yesterday morning on Hill Street was gone this morning. It was a fresh kill yesterday, so I’m really glad I won’t have to look at it every day for two weeks like we did the armadillo carcass. Not sure who picked it up, but I’m grateful to that person. For the record, any time the subject of “jobs I would never want to have” comes up, No. 1 on my list has always been “the person who cleans up road kill.”
  • New friends, Part 1. At the moment I’m thinking about my new running/walking friends. Since I joined the women’s running clinic in late February (and recruited Coach Bruce a few weeks into it), I have made some lifelong friends. The group is amazing in its enthusiasm and support of one another. Many of us had been couch potatoes for far too long, and we’re now spurring each other on in many ways. This particular group is a hybrid of the women’s clinic, the Run for God Bible study and the White River Road Runners group.
  • New friends, Part 2. Bruce and I have been Batesville residents for 13 months now, and we have felt so embraced by our community. We have friends at church, at work, through volunteering and because of family connections. There’s not enough space here to explain it all or to express our gratitude and sense of belonging.
  • Old friends. I’m thinking of Lynn in particular right now. It’s been so nice reconnecting with her over the past couple of years, and now we live closer to each other and are able to have face-to-face meetings every now and then. She has been an encouragement to me, as well as an encourager. We’re on similar journeys to physical fitness although our personal circumstances are quite different.
  • Family. We moved here because of family. I haven’t seen as much of my brother and his brood as much as I would like these past few months, but my mother and I talk nearly every day by phone or in person. We share rides to work sometimes (she lets us borrow her car when Bruce and I both need to drive somewhere), she feeds our dogs when we need to go out of town and she lets us come over and watch sports on her big-screen TV – very important things! We live less than a mile from my brother, J.T., and Mom’s house is a stone’s throw from his. We love being so close to them.
  • Good health. I have minor physical ailments, but they aren’t enough to keep me from continuing my fitness journey. I have finally embraced the idea of moving every day in a way that’s making my heart stronger, both physically and spiritually. I can’t say when I will breathe my last breath, and I try to remind myself to savor each day as it comes (some days that’s easier said than done, but I still try).
  • The little deck on the back of our house. Yesterday after my wog (our Run for God leader’s word for walk/jog), I took my Bible outside to the deck to read the first five Psalms (next in our through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan). It was perfect that Psalms fell on the day I was able to spend time outdoors, not worrying about the clock.
  • Trees and birds. You notice them more when you walk the streets early or sit on the deck in the morning. The birds’ songs are melodious and soothing.
  • Good books. I’m reading one right now that I’ll review for BookSneeze when I’m finished, but I would be telling you about it even if I didn’t have to. It’s called “Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me” by Ian Morgan Cron. More later.
  • Chocolate. No explanation needed.
  • The dogs. I’ve talked enough about them in the past, so I won’t bore you with that this morning, but I’m grateful for them every day. They make me laugh.
  • Bruce. He’s my sweetie pie. I love him for so many reasons – too many to express here and now. I’ll just tell him to his face.
  • My job.
  • Home. My favorite place.
  • God. He bestows so many blessings on my life. I will never find enough words to express my gratefulness.

Beautiful weather tends to make me sentimental, hence the spontaneous gratefulness post. I think it’s important to stop and count my blessings every now and then, though. It helps me slow down from the busyness of life and remember the Source of all that’s good.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

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The slow train to sanity – or is it a runaway train?

Friends, you don’t know how hard it is for me to be sitting here writing this rather than strapping on my seatbelt and pointing the car back toward North Little Rock. It’s 7:45 a.m. as I sit down to write this, and if I left now I could be there by 9:15 (Saturday’s Insane Statement No. 1).

If you’ve read Thursday night’s post (which hit the Internet just before midnight, another sign of my weakened mental condition), you know that I have been battling an “insanity pod” – trying to bring some measure of balance back to my life (if I ever possessed any such thing) – by eliminating things from my schedule, even those things that make me seem even more insane for skipping.

You see, Beth Moore is speaking at Verizon Arena in NLR this weekend, and I had bought my ticket several weeks ago, as soon as I heard about the event.

Beth Moore is, in my opinion, the best women’s Bible study teacher – dare I say women’s teacher, period – of our generation. (Oprah might think she herself is the best teacher of women, but Oprah would be wrong; she may mention “Jesus” every once in a while, but it’s not the same Jesus that Beth Moore talks about.)

I had been looking forward to seeing Beth (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis) live for so long it was killing me. My church here in Batesville had hosted one of her Living Proof Live global simulcasts last summer, and it was amazing (of course). We ladies talked that day of wishing we could attend a live Beth Moore event (several in the gathering that day already had). So when I heard the announcement about this weekend’s event, I wasted no time in registering.

In case you’re unfamiliar with her, in women’s Christian circles the name “Beth Moore” is like the name “Billy Graham” is to the world at large. Most church women you meet, young or old, are gonna know her name and have attended at least one of her Bible studies. Men don’t necessarily “get” her, but women love her.

I became familiar with Beth perhaps 10 years ago when “my other Fellowship” – Fellowship Bible Church of North Little Rock – did one of her studies, Living Free. With the first study, I was hooked. Fellowship North has since hosted many Beth Moore Bible studies, and I could name you my favorites, but I’ll save that for a later conversation.

I believe Beth is so popular for many reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • Her depth of insight into human nature and human character, partly because of where God has brought her from personally.
  • Her depth of study of the Scriptures, including the history of biblical terminology and concepts.
  • Her willingness to share the ugliness of her past with those she teaches. By the same token, she is willing to share the ugliness of her present with us. While there is a temptation to paint her as a saint, she would be the first to tell you she isn’t. She is a sinner saved by grace, just like the rest of us who have called on the name of Jesus for salvation. And we all have ugliness that makes us need Jesus on a minute-by-minute basis. (If you don’t think you do, you’re in denial and we should talk.)
  • She makes the Bible come alive. Her sanguine personality is a big part of that, but I think the more profound reasons are 1) the digging she does into the historical texts, through exhaustive research and study; 2) the fact that she has struggled with so many of the same issues we all struggle with, and then some; and 3) she loves Jesus from the depths of her soul.

It’s that last part that resonates with so many. Beth Moore loves Jesus. If you doubt it, just listen to her for 60 seconds and you’ll likely hear her say it, in so many words. It oozes out her pores.

So I am sitting here on Saturday morning wishing I were back at Verizon Arena, listening to awesome praise music and drinking in Part 2 of her message.

I was there last night for Part 1, knowing I was coming home afterward instead of spending the night with the rest of our group. It killed me to leave, but I was so tired by that point (mentally and physically) it was the only rational thing to do. Or so I thought.

Here is where I confess, and what brings me to tears: My decision not to stay to the end of the conference was based on human logic, not prayerful consideration.

What’s ironic is that human logic is what brought me to this place of imbalance in the first place. Not giving God the time of day, most days, is where my train began running off the tracks.

But let me back up a few days:

Wednesday night I was writing a Suzy & Spice blog post and getting ready to edit the church’s Connect+Scripture blog post before finishing our tax return so I could know how much money we needed to borrow to pay the IRS (our bill is big this year, for a variety of reasons, hence the delay in filing). My mother knocked on the door; she had just gotten out of church and thought she’d swing by to see us.

I didn’t even have time to talk to her. I sort of talked to her, but I was doing “computer things” the whole time she was here. She didn’t stay long, and I felt so guilty. I apologized then, and again the next day, and again yesterday. I also told her to read Thursday’s blog post, which I wrote as a result of this encounter. Or I should say the encounter was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For it was then that I realized, for sure, that something had to give. And the fact that my mother was the one I had “given up” did not make me happy. When something has to give, your family should not even be on the list.

Mom  and the rest of my family have been the ones to suffer from my imbalanced life for a long time.

My rational self is the one that says things like “I have to go to school because of A, B and C” (those reasons are for another post) or “When we sell the North Little Rock house, X, Y and Z will change and I will have more time” or “I committed to this, and I can’t quit.”

My tendency to overcommit is what will end up killing me someday, if my family doesn’t murder me first.

So in Thursday’s post I talked about the insanity of imbalance. I mentioned needing to take things off my calendar, even things that were seemingly important. (I was thinking specifically of the Beth Moore event.)

My human logic said, “Girl, you’re going to die, or alienate your family, or get fired from your job if you don’t start whittling down your to-do list.”

So the calendar items started dropping like flies, even the one event I had waited so long for. I almost skipped it entirely, but I knew I had to go at least for part of the weekend.

There is another (also stress-related) reason I decided to experience only half of the weekend, and telling you would reveal an unflattering part of me that I’m not ready to share this morning – partly because it’s a long story; you need background info before you judge me too harshly 🙂 and this post is too long already!

A huge irony of this story is that Beth Moore talked about excellence last night – how we need to order our schedules and commitments wisely because “we cannot do a thousand things to the glory of God.” That sentence almost made me weep. It also prompted Kristi to reach across another friend, grab my arm and ask, “Did she consult with you before she wrote this?” (or words to that effect).

Beth’s challenge to us last night was to figure out what God has called us to do (“adopt a succinct life goal”), acquire the appropriate tools to fulfill it (Bible commentaries and concordances, for instance), “endure the hard for the sake of the good” (I’ll expand on that later) and embrace community. (Kristi has been instructed to take good notes for me today so I can hear the rest of the message.)

In the next few days, I’ll share more of what I learned last night, but here’s the challenge I want to leave you to ponder with me, for as long as it takes to discover the answer:

“What would it take to be excellent at what God has called you to do?”

Please share your thoughts by posting a comment.

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Stop the insanity (pods)!

A giant insanity pod has descended upon me and has taken up residence on top of my head. For the past few days, it’s been trying to make its way through my dense thicket of hair to creep into my cranium and wreak havoc with my internal circuitry. It threatens to annihilate me if something is not done to stop it.

What is an insanity pod, you say? You won’t find the precise definition in any dictionary, but an insanity pod is much like the humidity pods that descend upon Arkansas about this time of year and don’t leave until October or November. It’s a presence you dislike, but you learn to live with it, much like you learn to live with oily skin, or a husband who steals the covers. Until it’s time to cry out, “Enough is enough!” or “Out, out, darn pod!”

But, unlike with the humidity pods, you have some measure of control – within predetermined parameters – over an insanity pod. For instance, you can control how large it gets and how long it stays attached to your brain – or whether it makes it past your scalp in the first place.

In case you have never heard of insanity pods, we offer this helpful Q&A:

How do insanity pods form? No one knows for certain how the first pod came to be, but it grew and spawned other pods (much like Amish friendship bread). They approach the most vulnerable victim first (they can tell who you are). They begin by spotting someone with an overloaded schedule, too much stress from the challenges of life, a poor diet, the inability to sleep through the night and a merely compulsory reading of the Word. To that they pile on more stress, which leads to impulse eating, more insomnia, uncontrollable drooling, chocolate cravings and a worried mother (well, that last one is just a fact of everyday life, but it becomes more obvious as the insanity pod tightens its invisible tentacles around your nerve endings).

How do insanity pods manifest? The list of symptoms is exhaustive, but, among other things, the pods cause forgetfulness, crankiness, night blindness, a messy house and the Scary Mama Voice when the dogs misbehave (which means when they act like themselves).

Who suffers from insanity pods? As mentioned above, the pods attack the most vulnerable members of society first. The most likely victim is female, age 35-55, premenopausal, works full time, goes to school part time, volunteers at church and takes care of children, an aging parent, a chronically ill spouse or at least two pets – or all of the above. (We should mention that the sufferers include not only the victim, but relatives and members of the victim’s work and social circles.)

What can a loved one of an insanity-pod sufferer do to help? Just stay out of the way, baby.

How does one “stop the insanity”? As with an addiction to alcohol, food, shopping, gambling or Dancing with the Stars, the insanity-pod sufferer, or IPS, must admit her affliction. That is the first and most crucial step. (If the malady is caught early enough, there is no need for a formal 12-step program.) Then she must recite the insanity – er, serenity – prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and sufficient distance from sharp or heavy objects that can be used as weapons.

The next step is to begin removing obstacles to sanity, starting with items (even seemingly important ones) on her social, business and volunteer calendars, even if others don’t understand why this is happening. Would they rather find out about it in the newspaper or on the 10 o’clock news? (“Disgruntled worker takes out 23 colleagues, then turns the staple gun on herself – coming up after the break!”)

Relief can be immediate, much like when an Alka-Seltzer grants the first gut-relieving belch. In fact, when the first one or two items fall off the calendar, the IPS begins feeling lighter and the furrowed brow begins smoothing out. Then recovery can begin in earnest.

Within weeks (or perhaps days, depending the sufferer’s commitment to the program) a balance has been struck – the schedule is more manageable, school is out for the summer, the sufferer’s mother and the dogs are speaking to her again, the husband has stopped sleeping on the sofa. At this point, it is probably safe to approach, but proceed with caution. There could be a relapse. It is best to monitor the IPS from a distance for a few days to be sure equilibrium has, indeed, been restored.

How can you tell when the insanity pod has left for good? As there is no immunization at this time, there is no way to permanently remove the threat of insanity pods. But you can minimize the risk by remaining vigilant. The sufferer should get adequate sleep and exercise, stay hydrated, restrict caffeine, take long baths, play with the dogs, spend time with her husband, immerse herself in a few pieces of quality literature (no, we’re not talking about People magazine), work/play in the garden, write in her blog, eat 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate daily, watch Saturday morning Food Network and/or HGTV, listen to music, visit her mother more often (this should go without saying), pray and read Scripture regularly, and start reading the Sunday funny pages again.

This way, when the fall semester begins and the cycle threatens to repeat itself, the insanity pod will be less likely to try to park its ugly head on top of this particular victim’s. It will simply move on to the next unsuspecting forty-something woman and try to suck out her brain.

Help researchers find a cure for insanity pods! Contribute your suggestions by leaving a comment below. Or just send me a check.

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Going public

It’s time.

As a woman in labor says to her husband while grabbing her overnight bag and the car keys: It’s time.

It’s time for me to get serious about healthy eating, healthy living, this extra 50 pounds of baggage – and go public with my struggle. Public because it’s the only way I will stick with it. (Well, it’s not the only way [more on that later], but it’s a hugely important way, and the one I’ve chosen.)

Many factors have converged to bring me to this point, but tonight was decision time. After more than a year of wishy-washy, excuse-filled thinking, it was time to paint or get off the ladder (my former pastor’s variation on a more colorful and well-known phrase).

As with many of my so-called good decisions, this one came while I was jacked up on too much oxygen – toward the end of a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run in a beautiful neighborhood – blue skies, green trees, a slight breeze, low humidity, bicycling kids and dads, jogging moms. A perfect evening.

It was the perfect end to a not-so-perfect day at work – a day of being out of control with my eating. Today was April-birthday-celebration-day at work. Can I tell you all the things I ate without making you sick? It makes me sick (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to think about it, so maybe I won’t. I will let you imagine. Because, if you are reading this is as a person (especially a woman) who has struggled with food issues for any length of time, you don’t have to know the specifics of my particular brand of food insanity; you have your own specifics and can fill in the blanks using your own food-drug of choice.

I am typically not a binge eater, but I do tend to overdo, and today I pushed the limits of common sense. I ate a lot of junk – so much, in fact, that even though I was no longer full by the time the Women Run Arkansas clinic started at 5:30, I felt heavy. Not body-heavy, but heart-heavy.

I didn’t want to run. For this reason, I knew I had to.

One thing about the running clinic: I always feel better when I’ve pushed myself, made myself persevere. I never want to go; I always am glad I did. It’s kind of like when you’re tired and don’t want to get up and go to church. You’re in a bad mood, don’t want to do it, but you know you’ll receive a blessing if you just go. And you do. And you do.

Tonight, as always, I got to the designated running spot and walked around the parking lot while the other ladies chatted. I don’t like to do the stretches without warming my muscles first. I started off feeling like an elephant (“I can’t do this tonight. Why am I here?”) but slowly began to feel more capable, confident. By the time the group stretching began, I was ready (I had also found a bathroom in the nearby gym – an unexpected, happy bonus: I could pee one last time before jogging! [More on that later, filed under “A Million Excuses”]).

I’m sure they told us the following fact after our last Saturday morning workout, but with the wind blowing, the music blaring and the stretch leader’s head turned in the other direction, I do not always hear all the details: We were going to run a 5k tonight. In a hilly neighborhood. (Saturday workouts are on the high school track. The flat-as-a-pancake high school track.)

Tonight we ran the route of the upcoming 1040 Tax Fun Run/Walk. Sure, we’d been running nearly 3 miles in our thrice-weekly workouts for quite some time, gradually building our endurance with longer jog/shorter walk times, but tonight we took a big leap. Instead of an alternating run-2-minutes/walk-3-minutes workout, we skipped ahead to  a run-3/walk-1 pace. What? Are you trying to kill us? (Really, they’re not. Quite the contrary – they’re trying to save us from ourselves.)

But it was run-3, walk-1, and I was game. I have been building endurance, even though with my respiratory issues (Excuse No. 697) Bruce thinks I may never get the lung capacity I long for. My physical endurance, while not ideal, nevertheless has been improving.

When I finished my 5K (in 41 minutes, 15 seconds!), I walked back to find some other joggers and walkers, mainly because Bruce was with them. (He has been volunteering as a coach at the clinic for a couple of weeks, since the day we both needed the car and he stayed to see if they needed help instead of simply dropping me off.)

Strangely enough, after my run, I felt good. I am sure I won’t be saying this once the humidity pods descend on our city, but tonight it was all good. Especially when I crossed the finish line.

I felt so great, in fact, that I doubled back to jog in with the group behind me, encouraging the ladies as they neared the finish line. And when we reached it, I doubled back again to pick up the next group. “Go, ladies. You’re almost there! You can do it! Finish line just ahead!”

It made me feel good to encourage them. They may not have wanted or needed my two cents’ worth of encouragement, but I felt good giving it to them.

That’s when the crazy idea hit me (remember, my brain was all endorphined up):

“Next year I am going to be in good enough shape to be a leader of one of the running groups.” (We have several groups, starting with Walkers, then Beginner A runners, Beginner B runners, Intermediate …)

“That is my goal, my New Year’s resolution (nevermind this is April). I am going to get serious about this unhealthy, out-of-shape body and be a serious runner! And then I’m going to help others!”

If you have ever made a New Year’s resolution, or gone on a diet, or committed to anything important in the throes of an oxygen high, you know how risky and tricky the next few weeks are going to be. I’m not stupid – I know I will have many obstacles, not the least of which will be the enemy’s attempts to short-circuit my resolve. The evil one will throw in my face every single excuse I’ve ever come up with for quitting.

So let me list a few of them here, just to get them out of the way. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but here are a few of the Million Excuses:

  • My feet hurt. (I have bone spurs in the bottoms of both of my heels. I’ve seen them in X-rays.)
  • My knee hurts. (I did something to it quite a while back, and it gives me grief sometimes.)
  • I have a heart condition. (But my cardiologist told me 18 months ago that I needed to lose a few pounds.)
  • I have developed a problem with urinary leakage upon exertion. (Don’t make me explain. If you’re a middle-age woman or have been pregnant, you probably know what I’m talking about. Explain it to the other girls.)
  • I don’t have the right apparel. (Solved the most important one recently when I figured out How to buy a sports bra. This was a tongue-in-cheek post; some people didn’t get that – but he was a guy.)
  • I don’t have time. (Haven’t we all used that one? If you don’t have time to take care of your body [and your spirit], you’re too busy!)
  • I’m not very fast. (Solved that one, too, when I read No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running.)
  • I have respiratory issues. (So what? See previous item.)
  • It’s too cold/hot/humid. (Since I began running again in November, I have run in below-freezing temperatures and lived to tell about it. In the past, I have run in high temperatures and not died of heat stroke. As for the humidity – well, I’m still talking to myself about that one.)

Those are some of the excuses I’ve used for not exercising. The ones for not eating right are fewer but more ridiculous:

  • My oven is 40 years old and burns everything. (So make a sandwich.)
  • I can’t afford to eat healthy. (But you can afford a cardiologist’s bill?)
  • I don’t have time to cook healthful foods. (Salads do take a relatively long time to prepare, and cutting up the vegetables too many days in advance causes them to spoil faster. But good alternatives exist. Figure them out, and stop whining.)
  • Fresh produce spoils so fast. (So go to the store more often. Or send hubby.)
  • But this tastes so good. (So eat a little of it, savor it, and put your fork away.)
  • The Weight Watchers calculator is out of stock, and I can’t count my points without it! (Good news – I finally got the calculator.)

The excuses pile up like stacks of old newspapers. And the excuses are a lot easier to recycle.

The bottom line is that, left to my own devices, “wisdom” and appetites, I will die young. And I don’t want to leave Bruce and the dogs to fend for themselves. I love them too much for that.

That is why I’m going public:

This morning, my scale said 199. That means my actual weight is 201 (I cannot calibrate my scale to the correct setting, so I trust the one at work, where we are doing a Biggest Loser competition and I’ve been losing the same 2 pounds for about three weeks now).

My weight issue is largely an accountability problem. (At its core it’s a spiritual battle, but that is a post for another day.) And because I need accountability to my friends, my family, and even total strangers, I am choosing to go public.

I’m not going to post my “before picture” tonight because I have to find it first and it’s already two hours past my bedtime, but I am committing to writing something every single day in this space. I do have a busy schedule (job, school, family, volunteer work), but I will at least post a brief thought. Not sure yet how often I will post my weight (at the moment, I’m weighing myself every morning), but I’ll figure out the specifics as I go.

In reading this, you have found out some ugly things about me that you may not have known. I invite you to take this journey with me, whether you have pounds to shed or some other type of heavy weight that is keeping you down. I am doing this not only to help myself but to help others, Lord willing.

This journey will require prayer, commitment, obedience and a lot of listening to God’s voice (the only way this will really and truly work). I am finally ready. Are you?

It’s time to go public. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Share your struggles, words of wisdom or a bit of encouragement with me by posting a comment.

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