Reflections Of A Lackluster Life

The Random Thoughts Of A Captive Midwesterner

Costs March 24, 2011

Filed under: Running — The Shelly Belly @ 8:44 pm
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Upon reading an exceptional post by Annabelle Winters about fitness planning and goals, I went out for my morning run with thoughts of the post still in my mind.  Normally my runs are filled with daydreams.  I imagine that I’m actually running in the marathon I’ve been training so hard for.  I picture how my family will be there at the finish line.  I try to imagine the cheering crowds and energetic atmosphere.  Basically, I let my mind do anything it can to take me away from the reality of the brutally cold, wet and windy weather that has been plaguing my runs all winter.

Today, however, my head was not full of happy thoughts.  It was one of those runs… everyone has them.  Only 5 miles long, it felt like 15.  My feet hurt, my legs were tree trunks, my lungs weren’t working, I was tired.  Battling the wind took every ounce of my tiny supply of energy.  So instead of thinking about the happier aspects of my running, I started thinking about costs.

I know what I’m gaining from this, and it is a lot.  I’m losing weight, feeling better about me, achieving goals, gaining respect, etc etc etc.  I am becoming a new person, it’s hard to describe what that feels like.  But you can’t become a new person without leaving the old one behind, or at least large parts of the person you once were.  As much as I disliked who I used to be as a whole, there were parts that I really liked that I am giving up for my new goals.  To ignore this is ignorant and to cling to these things is holding me back from becoming who I want to be.

So in an effort to further my fitness and life goals, I am going to acknowledge the things that I am giving up for this new life and attempt to let them go.  I might grieve these losses briefly, but if I didn’t believe it was worth it to leave them behind, I would never have started this in the first place.

__________________The Costs_____________________

Drinking. Let’s be frank, I like to drink… a lot.  When I think about relaxing and having fun, I rarely picture it without a drink in my hand.  I still consider one of the best times in my life to be the year that Kiel and I spent every Wednesday night at The Spot, a local Karaoke Bar with our good friends (the lovely Annabelle included)!  We closed the bar down every week, stumbling down the stairs and making our way to someone’s abode or the nearby train station.

For the majority of my adult life I could be counted on to always be up for a beer.  And now I just can’t do it.  Don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally on Sundays indulge in some white wine after a really long run, or enjoy an ice cold Corona with a slice of lime after a mid-summer 90 degree run, but my days (or nights rather) of sitting around watching TV (we’ll get to that in a minute) and drinking are essentially over.

Now that every aspect of my life revolves around my running, I am going to bed early and waking up earlier.  I can’t get up at 4:30 and run 10 miles if I have been up past 9 or have had even a glass of wine.  I need to be at my best pretty much all the time.  I am sure that when I am not training, I will indulge a little more often, but considering I’ve signed up for two marathons this year, I’m not going to have a huge break from training.

And then there is the issue of my tolerance… I have none.  I used to be able to drink most people under the table, now I’m feeling pretty drunk after a glass or two of wine.  And don’t even get me started on anything stronger (just ask Peter about the Vodka in Barcelona).

So, to my party/binge drinking days, I must say goodbye.  It was fun while it lasted, but I need to let it go.  As one of my good friends Allison told me recently, “there comes a point in your life when being happy is more important than having fun”.  Wiser words were never spoken.  From now on, nights of drinking and debauchery will be reserved for the off season and special occasions.  I’m sure that my liver thanks me.

Buffy.  Ok, not Buffy specifically, but that’s the one I feel the most.  I miss TV.  I used to get home from work every night and chill out on the sofa in my PJ’s with a beer (or a case of beer) and marathon episodes of Buffy, Alias, Greys Anatomy, Angel, Bones, Sex In The City, Dollhouse and The OC.  The only breaks I would take were to get up for mass amounts of food and smokes.  Now, I’m lucky if I can find time to catch up on the Grey’s recordings on my DVR.  I won’t even start new shows because I don’t have time to watch them.

I lived for TV.  I spend hours wishing that I was like the girls on my shows.  Instead of living my life, I was watching fictional people living out theirs.  Part of it is my over active imagination, I am captivated by stories.  I love to get caught up in other worlds, it truly is an escape.  But when it becomes a regular thing, it’s not an escape anymore, it’s a trap.

Now I’m not saying that I want to go back to living for TV, but I do occasionally find myself longing for a stretch of two days when all I have to do is eat and drink and watch Buffy.  I need to get over it.  I might have those days occasionally in the future (likely every time I see Peter), but that kind of lifestyle doesn’t mesh with who I am today.  I probably wouldn’t even enjoy it as much as I remember, but the feeling of nostalgia sometimes nags at me, specifically at 4:30 in the morning before a 10 mile run!

A social life.  This one has to be the worst.  I miss people.  I haven’t seen most of my friends in months, between my job and my training schedule I barely have time to cook dinner or grocery shop (and don’t even ask about the cleanliness of my house) let alone go anywhere or see anyone.

The last time I saw Jessica was on my birthday, back in January!  I have been trying to schedule a dinner date with my friends Jennifer and Nikki for months.  I haven’t actually SEEN Annabelle in about a year.  I don’t even have time for “date night” with Kiel.

Being a runner is often times a solitary and lonely thing.  I wake up by myself and I run by myself.  I see Kiel for a short time after my run while we are both getting ready for work and then I go to bed at night before he gets home so I can get up at an obscene hour of the day.   I just miss being with people.


So that pretty much sums up the big costs for me.  And I am happy to pay them!  Because what I am trading them for is something much much much more valuable.  This year has been a test for me and will continue to be that until winter.  I wanted this and though I seem to have to remind myself of that more and more often lately, I still remember why I started all of this in the first place.  I know I can make it.  I will run my races and be more proud of myself than I have every been.

Once I am done with these races, I will take some time to re-evaluate where I’m at, what I’ve achieved and what my new goals should be.  And for now, I will concentrate on bidding farewell to the old me and embracing the new me.


Short January 21, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 6:03 pm
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Who wears short shorts?  Apparently I do.  While modeling my newly purchased pink running shorts for my husband, he eyed them speculatively while asking if they were indeed shorts or underpants.  This morning I took my new “underpants” to the gym to run in, but of course I had his criticism on my mind.  Where they too short?  Had I really worked hard enough on my legs/ass to justify wearing them?  Were people looking at me with a “who does she think she is” glare?  Was my butt hanging out? I hadn’t worn shorts in public more than 3 or 4 times since high school for exactly this reason!

I took a few deep breaths and told myself very firmly that no one was looking at me before I got on the treadmill.  After a few minutes of running, I assessed the situation.  My butt appeared to be staying put inside the shorts and my legs, toned and muscular from months of training did not jiggle about, perhaps I had earned this after all?

All in all, it was a great workout!  I ran 6 miles, and the last time I did that (Wednesday) I was wearing long yoga/spandex pants (another big step for me a few months ago) and I was sweating up a storm.  Long running pants are simply too hot for indoor long runs.  Shorts on the other hand are great!  I never once felt overheated.

So here is to the upcoming spring/summer running season!  Shorts galore!  Next big hurdle?  Ditching the shirt!  Sports bra running here I come!


Speed January 14, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 2:35 pm
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Last night I tried something new.  Thursday is my last running day before a day of rest, and it’s not a very long run.  This week it was 3 miles, a distance that is starting to feel like a waste of time.  3 miles?  Sure, that distance scared me when I started running, but that was  a long long long time ago.  So I decided to start using Thursday runs to work on my speed.

I split my workout into different intervals, 4.5mph and 7mph.  I ran a quarter mile at 7 (pretty much my top speed if I want to be able to run for more than 30 seconds) and then recovered for a minute to a minute and a half then I went back to sprinting another quarter mile.  I did that for three miles.  I finished my 3 mile way faster than normal doing this and I didn’t feel like I was going to die like I do when I attempt to run the entire run at the “sprint speed”.

Today I feel fine, though I was a little worried that the increased tempo would lead to increased muscle aches, that just isn’t the case.  I will continue to work on my speed intervals and track my progress on my long runs to see if my work is shaving any time off of my run.



New December 28, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:48 pm
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Well hello there!  I’m back!  Did you miss me?  Probably not, but that’s really not the goal of this is it?  I am happy to report that today starts something serious and very important to me.  Today I start officially training for the Nashville Rock and Roll Marathon.  That’s right!  In just 18 weeks I will have trained my mind and body to travel a distance of 26.2 miles.  I can not wait to know what that feels like.

I plan on documenting the experience a lot here, so I apologize in advance if I get a bit obsessive as I do tend to do that.

In truth, I have never been more excited about a challenge in my life, but I have never been so nervous either.  This is the biggest goal I have ever set for my body and I really hope that my body is up the the task.  Only one way to find out though right?  Here goes nothing… wish me luck!


Behind November 8, 2010

Filed under: Writing — The Shelly Belly @ 1:16 pm
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I am so freaking far behind in Nano it is beyond funny at this point.  My main mistake was to underestimate the complexity of my life right now.  There is just so much going on, it’s no wonder I barely have time to write.  On top of my job and my running there is still a house to keep up, dinners to cook and animals to take care of.  Add to that the fact that my car is in the shop and the ceiling in my kitchen is leaking… again… and my stress level is at its breaking point (that happens a lot lately).

Tonight there is a write-in at a local Starbucks and I think I’m going to have to go and really get down to business.  The problem?  It’s not within walking distance, and as I mentioned before, my car is in the shop.  So I have decided that if I can’t make it to the write-in, I will just have to go to my local Starbucks that IS in walking distance and do my own write-in.  Really all I need is a gingerbread latte and a tasty pastry and I’m good to go!

So here’s hoping that I can catch up to my goal tonight!  I’m sure I’ll update on my progress again soon!


Run October 27, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:59 pm
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Last night I sat down with a fresh 2011 calendar and a pen.  I took some time and plotted out the next 6 months of my life.  I now know every mile I need to run between now and April 30th to prepare myself mind and body for the Nashville Country Music Marathon.  In addition to my running, I will also be joining a gym that is within walking distance of my house so that I can add weight training to my schedule at least 3 times a week as well as taking a spin class on my cross training day (also, I’m thinking that with all the work and tight muscles, yoga wouldn’t be a bad idea).

The plan I'm following, but I added 4 weeks to the beginning of it!


I know it looks pretty rough, but I am just beyond excited!  I can’t can’t to see how my body will adapt to the schedule and I’m psyched to see my progress!  I like to push myself and this is by far the most strenuous attempt thus far.  I’m sure that there will be a fair share of bitching going on here over the next 6 months, but I really hope that at the end of all that there is a post on my stellar performance at the marathon!


Weight September 1, 2010

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:50 pm
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I have never really been comfortable talking about numbers with people as far as weight is concerned.  Even when I was at my smallest back in high school I didn’t talk about what I weighed.  A large part of that was due to my unhealthy view of body weight and my judgmental view of myself.  I have never given myself much in the way of compliments for any part of my body, even when I look back now and know they were deserved.

Maybe I haven’t come too far in the past 10 years, but I do feel like I have gained some perspective on health, especially in the last year.  I’ve learned so much about my body and my nutrition and about actually being healthy.  I am working on shedding unhealthy body images and building up positive goals.  Part of that mental process is getting over the fear of numbers.

So here it is, all laid out on the table, my weight loss story so far, numbers included.

I started this weight loss journey at 240lbs. I might have been a little higher at some points, but I honestly was just too depressed to get on the scale.  I have scoliosis and because of the extra weight on my body, I suffered through chronic pain for over 2 years when I was at my very heaviest.

It was a horrible time for me, I would spend my nights drinking beer and watching TV and eating a lot of food.  I would  wish to myself that I could look like the girls on television, but I didn’t see a way to lose as much weight as I wanted.  I felt stuck in a cycle.  The more weight I gained, the more impossible it seemed that I could ever take it all off.  The only thing that kept me even remotely attached to a happy reality were my friends and family.  I really don’t think I could have ever gotten through that without the support of my husband Kiel, my sister Ginny, my friend Jessica or my cousin Peter.    These were people in my life that never made me feel fat and I will always be thankful that they were there for me.

At a Starbucks in college

In Michigan on vacation

Going to a wedding

Playing video games

I don’t remember exactly what the trigger was for the change, it just happened.  Maybe I just got fed up with being sad and depressed all the time.  I started off with very small changes.  I introduced veggies into my diet and started cooking lean meats like fish and chicken instead of burgers and steak.  I tried not to get pre-made food, instead opting to cook meals from scratch.  I also bought a treadmill.  In the beginning, I couldn’t really run, I just walked.  Eventually I worked my way up to a minute or so of jogging every now and then.  After a few months, I was running, I would run about 2 miles a few times a week.  During this time I also really fell in love with cooking.  I learned a lot about making food that was healthy and tasty.  I saw a little bit of improvement, but for all of the changes I made, I still only lost about 20lbs and it kept going up and down, still the little bit of improvement felt good.

Then one day, I got food poisoning.  It was the worst experience of my life.  It took me days to recover and during that recovery time my body rejected all things meat.  When I finally felt better, I realized I had gone about a week without meat and I felt really good.  My cousin Peter is a vegetarian as is my boss at work, so I had always been intrigued with the diet, but I always loved meat to much to give it much thought.  I figured it was worth a shot at least, if I didn’t like it… meh… no big deal, I could go back to meat anytime I wanted.   At this point I have been a vegetarian for 6 months and I haven’t looked back.  Cutting out meat really helped me lose more weight.  I dropped another 20lbs in a hurry.  At this point I had gone from 240lbs to 200lbs and I was feeling a bit better about myself.

Peter & I in Chicago

At Arlington National Cemetary

At Arlington National Cemetary

Goal dress #1

Soon after a trip to Washing DC for a wedding, I decided to put my new body to a real test, I decided to start training for a half marathon.  So 11 weeks ago, I strapped on a new pair of running shoes and started a 12 week training program.  At the beginning I could run about 2 miles, this past Monday I ran 9.  I am proud to say I am a runner now, through and through.  I absolutely love it and I love the way it makes me feel.  The half is on September 12rh, I will be running side by side with about 20,000 other people on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive for 13.1 miles… I can’t wait!  The training really kicked my weight loss into high gear.  I am currently at 176lbs and loving it.  I’m not done yet, I would still like to lose another 20-50lbs, but I am ok with it happening slowly as I run and eat properly.

About 2 weeks ago

New shirt

A shirt Peter got me

A new dress

A new me

After I am done with the half marathon, I plan on training for a full, after that it’s on to triathlon training so I can compete next August.  I really do feel like a completely different person and I am still getting to know a lot about me.  One of the things I felt I had to do was share my story, somehow committing it to text makes it real and on some level it keeps me accountable.

I know that this post has been a really long one and I”m sorry about that.  Thanks for taking the time to listen to my story.