Insights from a Marathoner

Insights from a Marathoner

February 7, 2013

Have you ever had a conversation with a perfect stranger that tremendously impacted your life? Well I did recently! I met a Marathoner about a week ago at a party we attended prior to the big game. Now I have met people here and there that have run a couple half or full marathons in the past. But this guy was the real thing, a real live Marathoner! I’m sure I’m going to get the numbers wrong but he had run something like 15-16 FULL marathons and 17-18 HALF marathons. Holy moly that’s amazing! This is the kind of guy that owns the title of Marathoner. He has mastered his skill, he has confidently triumphed through all the physical, emotional, and no doubt spiritual obstacles, and he has finished the task and completed his goal over and over and over again.

This gentleman was kind enough to allow me to pick his brain for about 10 minutes to which I stared in awe soaking up every tid bit of wisdom he had to offer. My relationship with exercise has progressed during this journey and over the last six months and I’ve toyed with setting a new personal fitness goal of completing a half marathon to start with and eventually a full marathon. So as we entered 2013 I declared to my husband (from my sick bed-seriously) that I wanted to train & completely a half marathon by the end of the year. To my delight the Lord brings a real live Marathoner across my path in the dawn of my strength returning and as I am permitted by doctors and family to continue in my exercise journey. Totally inspiring!

As I walked (3.1 miles) this morning and reflected back to that conversation I realized there are many significant parallels to running a marathon and my journey. Let me share with you some of the things I took away from our conversation and how they parallel to the feat of getting healthy physically, emotionally, spiritual, and losing over 110+ pounds! Getting healthy has been my mountain, but no matter what mountain we face in life I believe these truths are invaluable to success.

1. Visit a local running club and get connected with a team to train.

Why is connecting with a team so vitally important? God created us as relational beings and we need one another as we face challenges in this life. A team will be built of individuals at different stages of experience & expertise. Surrounding myself with people who know a lot more than I do about finishing a marathon sounds like a terrific place to start. When I have faced challenges on this journey to getting healthy I have surrounded myself with people who have had success, experts with experience, people who passionately care about this journey, and people who will cheer me on! I am on a team that is working together to get healthy and you are part of that team!

2. Start small & work your way up. Jog a 5K, then a 10K and so on.

As a counselor I would sometimes see people choking on their own issues. If a pizza represents all of the issues one faces I would see clients trying to stuff the whole pizza down their mouth at one time. When in reality to successfully work through issues we need to take one slice of pizza and then eat it one bite at a time. Starting small is manageable, it allows your body, mind, soul to adjust & grow without discouragement. If I went out today and tried to run a half marathon I would fail and probably never try it again.

3. Get the proper equipment you need such as good running shoes.

There are many tools available on the market today that can help you conquer a marathon. Everything from specially designed shoes, watches that record your pace & aid with training, compression pants, to belts that hold water bottles.  This equipment by itself does nothing to get you across that finish line BUT it does allow some level of comfort and direction in the training process. Finding & using the right equipment when we face a challenge is critical to success. In getting healthy I use a website to track my food and store recipes, I use a food scale to accurately determine the quantity of food before I consume it, and I use weights and a medicine ball when working out. These tools support my goal and keep my focused on the journey.

4. Train faithfully and expect your training to affect the lives of those around you.

Transforming into a Marathoner requires a day by day commitment to train. According to Brad Boughman’s MarathonRookie.com “The secret to successful marathon training and half marathon training lies within staying supremely motivated, training smart & safe, and maintaining proper nutrition.” I hear a lot of commitment in that power packed statement. It is a slow progressive process of choices that lead to the ultimate goal. Daily choosing to stay focused and committed empowers each new day. Similarly our journey to health requires daily focus and commitment. We are in training and determined to finish the race!

Let’s be honest we don’t live in a box; ALL of our choices both positive and negative affect those around us. The family of a Marathoner sacrifices time, money, and energy for the goal. They walk through life with this person in training and see the transformation taking place. A legacy is being built through their sacrifices that will last a lifetime. A legacy of endurance, determination, willpower, strength, hope, and good health will certainly be passed on to the next generation. When we started this journey I had no idea how the changes we would make would affect the lives of our family & friends & many others. Somehow through our authentic transparency people have become inspired and encouraged toward honoring God through living a healthy lifestyle.  May a legacy of good health and a lifestyle that honors God be passed on to our future generations.

5. Don’t give up on your dream.

My dream to complete a marathon will not be achieved overnight. It will take time, determination, and a lot of work. I need to surround myself with a team of experts who are focused on the same goal. I need to start small and build on my successes. I need to get the tools that will support and encourage my goal. I need to faithfully train no matter what it takes and remained focused no matter what hurdle I face. Finally I need to never give up my dream to finish a marathon!

A phrase that has stuck with me throughout my journey to getting healthy is “This is a marathon, not a sprint”. Losing over 110 pounds does not happen overnight, it is not fast, it is not a perfect journey, it has its ups and down, and bumps & bruises along the way. The Marathoner I met last week left an impression with this statement: a marathon is not about speed it is about finishing the race. I plan to finish the race I am in and continue on to the next one. Whatever challenge, mountain, or race you find yourself in I pray that you are encouraged and inspired that you too CAN see your dream fulfilled and succeed!

Out of Control?

Out of Control?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Happy New Year to you! This is my first post of 2013 and some of you may know that I have had a series of medical issues for several months. So if I have or need an excuse for not writing more…it is due to my current health struggles. None the less I had something on my heart today to process & share.

Superbowl weekend. It may be the first big “Food Holiday” of 2013 and seems to be as fierce as ever. 2 years ago on this weekend I know doubt cooked and ate my fair share of 10,000 calories or more. 2 Years ago was of course before we started on this healthy journey. I love to entertain and food holidays provide a terrific outlet for the “hostess with the most-est” in me. 1 Year ago today I would have probably been having a panic attack at facing this food holiday. 1 Year ago I would have been on this journey for about 5 months. In the early part of this journey I struggled so much when we would go to people’s homes for parties or potlucks. I struggled emotionally with feeling out of control, or at least thinking I would be out of control around such a variety of unhealthy foods. I remember a distinct time we were driving on the way to a potluck dinner and due to circumstances I don’t even remember now, I didn’t know what food would be there and anxiety overshadowed me to the point that I literally had a panic attack. My sweet husband was driving nearly oblivious to the mountain of emotions raging inside my head which provoked this intense panic. We pulled the car over and he talked me down off the cliff I had built for myself emotionally.

That seems so long ago and yet the emotions still feel very real.  The feeling of being out of control has been a theme that comes up usually around food holidays for me. Why is that? Well in a normal week I will have purchased, cooked, and eaten all foods which have been 100% in my control. So approaching an occasion in which that percentage is significantly decreased tests the limits of my restraint. My self control around enormous amounts of high calorie, low nutrition, fatty, and sugar packed foods has over and over again been the determining factor for a backslide of whatever healthy eating plan I may be trying that day. Just typing those words rings with irony in my heart, why on earth would I have put for over 20 years those types of insignificant temporal items over my own health & well being???  That sounds like a blog for another day!

Today I am facing a major food holiday. This evening I will be attending a football trivia party where each guest brings a dish. Tomorrow I will head over to my Mother in Law’s home for a dinner in which I will be bringing a few items and we will enjoy the game with our family. Today I am armed with a lot more successful experiences and a plan. At this point I have survived many major food holidays and feel confident that I will face this one head on and come out alive & well. My perspective has changed which is my biggest asset. These events are NO longer about food, the power of food has been decreased, and these events are about the people. Getting to know people, meeting new people, sharing, loving & knowing people….isn’t that why we go to these parties? Well it wasn’t why I always did in the past…I went often to gorge myself on all the food I thought was so yummy.  Now my first priority is the people!

It’s not enough to just go there and focus on people. I have to have a plan to back me up. So here’s what I’ve done.

  1. For tonight’s party I am choosing to make an awesome but healthy dip and serve it with fresh cut veggies. My own dish is within my control and I am choosing to bring something I can feel good about eating.
  2. I have eaten normally all day and will eat a small dinner before going to the party. I have learned that going to these events starving does horrible things for my restraint. Eating a small dinner still allows me to nibble on a few items but also be able to maintain my self control.
  3. Position myself away from the food. I have no idea where the food will be at this home I have never been to BUT I know that if I sit hovering over my greatest temptations I WILL eventually give in. So I will position myself near people, packed full of conversation, and not directly over the food.
  4. Deprivation kills me every time. Did you notice in my plan that I am still planning to eat while there? It is NOT realistic and it is NOT emotionally healthy to think that I am going to go to this party and not eat anything at all, drink water all night, by the end of the party I’ll be binging in the corner with the greasiest item there! No, I have to plan to eat and enjoy myself.
  5. Choose wisely. At this point in my journey I value every calorie (point) I eat. So I may fill my plate with a few options, but then if I try something I don’t like I WON’T continue to eat it. I want to enjoy the foods I really really like and still stay in moderation.  I won’t put items on my plate that aren’t interesting or appealing to me. If I do eat something that isn’t wonderful I’ll politely set it aside and throw away later.
  6. Don’t beat myself up afterward. It doesn’t do me any good if I go over the calories (points) I planned on to hammer and hammer myself that night or the next day. Each new bite is a new chance to honor God with my body. So allowing me to be renewed and refocused with that truth is really helpful.
  7. Exercise. Let’s be honest this whole weight loss thing is all just a numbers game. So fitting in some exercise before and after this food filled weekend is a perfect way to combat any weight gain.
  8. Lastly to repeat my first point – making it about the people. Laugh, enjoy friends, and enjoy the game. I am not going to get so hung up on myself that I miss the opportunity to invest in relationships I cherish so much!

So before this big food holiday this is my perspective. I hope that it helped and encouraged many of you! Looking forward to an amazing 2013 together!