Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life gets in the way

I realized that I've seriously been slacking on the posts lately, I could give you a million reasons why I haven't been writing but truthfully every time I start my list I hear a voice in my head saying "excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build monuments of nothing...those who dwell on them seldom succeed".  So here I am, silencing all the excuses I have for not keeping up with something I truly enjoy.

I've noticed a big jump in readers the last few days so I'd like to give a little background on ALL the things I do.  Perhaps it will help you understand 1. why I take a hiatus from time to time and 2. no matter how busy you are, there is ALWAYS time if you MAKE time.

Where do we start?  Let's see, I work full time in an office 9-5 job.  I sit all day and there are always temptations lingering in the kitchen.  Our office is situation in one of the restaurant meccas of the city and there are a plethora of options for eating out.  It can be really easy to give in and indulge my stomach's desires when I smell chocolate just walking down the street from the train station to the building.  Aside from that, I'm also a student.  I'm a full time college student FINALLY finishing up my degree (in business if you were curious).  That in itself is a huge workload to manage but I do my best manage my time efficiently.  As I'm sure you've noticed, I've become quite the avid runner/triathlete so I have to work in training time and races as often as I can (this usually means sacrificing sleep and getting up extra early to get in a run before work).  Sounds like 3 full time jobs in itself doesn't it?  Well, we still have a few more items to cover.  I'm a nerd, and I LOVE volunteering.  Last year I became an education volunteer at The Field Museum of Natural History.  I do early childhood education with kids age 2-6 and this is what really helps keep me sane.  It's my escape from the world and I can just enjoy being a kid, seeing things through their eyes.

Put all of that aside and my real passion is for makeup.  I'm a freelance artist and just in the last few months have had some exceptional opportunities.  A short independent film I worked on was shown at a film festival this weekend and next month photos of some work I did will be in a gallery showcase debuting in Switzerland.  I'm not trying to impress you or anything, I want you to know that no matter how much life throws at you, keeping things balanced will allow you to pursue all of your endeavors.  You have to learn to eliminate the dead weight.

This is my test for things.  If you're pursuing something new, it deserves ALL 100% of you.  Give yourself to it completely.  Don't just kind of do something.  This doesn't mean all of your time goes to it, but you need to put all of your heart into it.  Anything worth doing should receive the best effort you can give.  All or nothing.  The things that don't deserve a full commitment are like dead weight and will only slow you down and hold you back.  You can't expect to get 100% results from something you're only giving 50% effort to.  This goes for everything in your, relationships, business, diet, training, work, etc.  Sometimes my friends think I'm crazy when I dive right into something, but the truth is I couldn't see myself doing it any other way.  If you can't commit your max effort to something then you should probably re-evaluate if it's even worth doing.

I realized I haven't been giving this blog 100% effort and it totally deserves it.  So expect some more posts to start rolling in, I'm recommitting myself to inspiring others and helping them achieve success.  (on a side note, I don't always have ideas for posts so any suggestions are most appreciated!)
And because tt's been awhile since I've posted one of these...not because I haven't made any progress‬ or that I'm not proud of what I've been able to accomplish, but mostly because this is just a way of life for me now. I don't see it as a "before and after", its who I am, it's a part of me. On the left you can see how big my smile was, despite how unhealthy I felt because I knew I was on a journey to better things. It won't happen in a day, but each day that you stay focused and committed it will get easier and you will feel stronger.  Wherever you're at in your journey, have faith that you're making the right choices and believe that you possess everything you need to achieve success.

A big inspiration to coming back to this was seeing myself featured in the newest edition of my sorority's newsletter La Mensajera check out page 11 to read a bit more about me :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

March Races - Get Lucky 7k/Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Running Gammas
Last year for St. Paddy's Day I decided to run the Chicago St. Paddy's 5k down at Lincoln Park.  I signed up by myself, determined to keep my promise to myself to run at least one race a month.  There was another race that day, the Get Lucky 7k and then the Shamrock Shuffle later that month but I chose not to run either one.  My friends Abby and Johnny were registered for the Get Lucky and Jacob was registered for the Shamrock Shuffle but having their support still wasn't enough for me.  I didn't believe in myself that I had what it would take to get through a 7k or 8k race.  I was only about 5 months into my running career and even the thought of something longer than a 5k was absolutely frightening to me.  Looking back on it now I wish I would have pushed a little hard, or believed a little more, but things happen for a reason and I don't regret the choice I made.  I ran my 3.1 miles, enjoyed my post-race beer and then headed home to relax before meeting up with friends later.  The only thing I felt was determination to come back next year and conquer both the 7k and 8k.  Seems funny to think about now, I let a race distance scare me.

Me and Sam - postrace
This year, the Get Lucky race was probably the one I've most been looking forward to.  This would be my chance to face the fear I once had and finally defeat it.  The anticipation had been mounting for weeks.  I couldn't wait to lace up my shoes and hit the ground running.  Forecast was saying it would be a bit warmer that Saturday morning which would help my performance that morning.  Per usual, like all Team Ortho races, I volunteered at packet pickup to see all of my favorites.  We're like a family and I look forward to our little reunions at each expo. 

Me and Iliana - postrace
That morning I met up with my fellow running Gammas to take our group picture and then headed to the starting line.  Abby and I kept the same pace for awhile but eventually I just couldn't keep up anymore and had to fall back.  The course was muddy and wet but I didn't mind.  Once the blood started flowing and my body warmed up I truly enjoyed the pace and sights.  The trail winded through some wooded areas and back along the lake.  I felt oddly overcome with emotion when I crossed the finish line.  I finished in under an hour and couldn't tear the smile off my face.  After finishing I knew the only other race standing in my way of beating my doubts was the Shamrock Shuffle 8k.

The Shamrock Shuffle has a pretty big expo in the days leading up to the race and I was there for both days to help out Team Ortho with the Women Rock packet pickup.  One of the additional perks for that was the male models goofing off with us.  We had a great time and it got me super jazzed about the kickoff of racing season.  (Even though race season is pretty much year round for me)

matching shoes, we didn't plan it

Jenny (my TRI training buddy) wanted to run the race as well so she picked me up and we headed to Grant Park together.  We got there extra early so decided to walk around a bit and take pictures.  As soon as we entered our corral the excitement was overwhelming.  If you're not a long distance runner, but want that big race feel, THIS is the race for you.  You can't help but get caught up in the electricity flowing through the air.  The weather was great and we were off to a fantastic start.  Somewhere around mile 3 I think we encountered the fine gentleman of the Chicago Fire Department.  Yes, we ran just a little bit faster that mile and had a bit more pep to our step.  The miles flew by one by one until we were coming down the home stretch.  I don't think I've enjoyed any other race quite the way that I did this one.  I was happy and loving every second of it.  We raised our arms in triumph as we crossed the finish line just over an hour after we started. 

As I sit here and type this I realize that the only running distance I have left to conquer is the full marathon which I'll be taking on in October.  Sure there are ultramarathons and what not but my last true test of myself will be this race because after that I'll truly be unstoppable. 

The Fat Kid Struggle

So here's the deal, I seldom get swept up into the drama of a Facebook status...BUT every once in awhile someone comes along and posts something that I just can't ignore.  This was one of those times and I'd like to share it because writing is therapeutic for me and maybe my words will help you fight off your own bully

the status that sparked it all:

Another gym pet peeve.... Fat people that I saw 2 or 3 months ago in the gym.... Are still as fat as they are right now... You are just wasting time and money... ‪#‎weightlifting‬ ‪#‎transforming‬ ‪#‎changesomething‬

I considered just ignoring it or blocking the person, but I have this thing where I sometimes feel the urge to right a wrong or fight an injustice...I guess that probably comes from being the daughter of a formal social worker so here's what I replied:

at least they're still trying...maybe you could try helping them and put some positive energy out into the world

It seemed like the perfect response, short, sweet and calm (because we all know I had the burning desire to really dig into this guy and tear him a new one). I patted myself on the back for not stooping to his level and kept my head held high.  Then I saw that little notification icon light up and this is what I read:

They have mouths.... I think it would be more discouraging to say "I haven't swan your body change in the last 3 months. May I step in and help"... Close mouths don't get fed

Yup, it took quite a bit of self control to not type the first 10 things that came to my mind.  I took a deep breath, pulled up my big girl pants and  carefully crafted this retort:

I can't speak for them, but I speak from experience as a fat person myself, that going to the gym in itself is really's scary to put yourself out there and get a treadmill next to someone skinny who doesn't have to stop to catch their breath or worry about their flabs of skin bouncing everywhere as they move their body. Trying new machines is tricky if you've never used them and those pictures don't always help, it's embarassing to ask for help with something that everyone else is making it look like child's play. It takes courage to walk into a gym and get your workout done as you feel like people are watching and judging you. Which clearly, they are after reading your post. Also, 2-3 months isn't that long for some people to see changes...your body often takes times to readjust and lose inches instead of pounds. They may have started well before you noticed them and are currently at a plateau, it happens. I'm sorry that their fat bodies somehow impede your gym experience, but if you're not willing to do anything to change it I don't see the point in complaining about it. You could easily walk up to them and say "Hey I've noticed you've been working out for a few months, if you ever want to train together and I can teach you some routines or give you tips let me know" 

This last comment spurred a whole array of comments from others who either were now just noticing this little conversation or perhaps (and maybe this is just wishful thinking) my words gave them the courage to also speak out.  Then of course, he had to go and ruin the positive vibe we had going by adding another of his ignorant comments to the mix:

if you don't see anything changing (weight or appearance) wouldn't you say..."hmmmmm I must be doing something wrong" let me ask someone who has knowledge on how to help progress

I'm not saying I'm a fitness pro or anything, but I do know a thing or two about weight loss and fitness from my own personal trials and tribulations.  Not one to bring all the attention to myself and make it all about my journey I simply said the following:

They could be asking for help, and maybe they've tried lots of different things, but just haven't found what works for them yet...I guess the point I was trying to make was that you haven't been in their shoes, you don't understand their struggle, and assuming they aren't making an effort to change when they clearly are by their determination and commitment to going to the gym is just sort of naive on your part. You may not see their changes, but I'm sure they feel them and that's what keeps them coming back. Perhaps their victory is getting through a mile without stopping and they're improving at a slower rate. Progress is still progress even if YOU can't see it.

It's been over an hour now and he still hasn't responded so I'm guessing that last comment had it's desired effect.  Or maybe he fell asleep, who knows.   Please please PLEASE don't let people like this discourage you.  They can't dim your shine.  No one knows or understands what you're going through and what your journey is like.  We all have different paths for a reason.  Seek out those who wish to uplift and encourage you along the way.  It pains me to see that people like this really do exist, and worse that they appear in my newsfeed.  I learned a lot from this experience though and hopefully you can too.  Be confident in yourself and know that whether or not others see it, you're making a difference.  Don't be ashamed of your body, love it and be proud of it, because THAT body is the one that is putting in the work, going to battle every day, and pushing/fighting as hard as it can to get to the body you want.