Reflections Of A Lackluster Life

The Random Thoughts Of A Captive Midwesterner

Half January 24, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 1:36 pm
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About 4 months ago, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon.  My legs were dead, my lungs were dead, my entire body ached worse than it had in my entire life.  I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment like I had never known before.  People were everywhere cheering and congratulating.  And I even go a medal!

Yesterday, for the first time since that fateful day, I ran another half marathon.  Except this time there was no cheering and no medal.  It was just the same as any other day where a long run was involved.  Somehow 13 miles has gone from being the number I worked towards for months to just another distance that I am perfectly capable of running.  It has been reduced from one of the most exciting things I have ever done to a boring treadmill run with bad Sunday TV.  It was a challenging run and I probably could have run it faster, but speed was not my goal.  My legs were a little tired, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Now I realize that the same fear that a 13 mile distance had once filled me with has now been replaced with a new number, 26.  I can’t imagine running double the distance I did yesterday.  A few more miles sure, but double?  I know that is what a training program is for, to get you to that distance.  Today starts week 5 of that program, and I have 13 weeks to go after this one.  I have faith in myself that I will be able to do this, I just can’t visualize actually doing it.

For now I will focus on smaller goals, next weekend I run a 14 miler.  That will be my longest distance ever, though it doesn’t fill me with the dread of 26, it’s still further than I’ve ever had to go before.  Hopefully I will be able to run outside next week, I don’t think I can take another boring treadmill run.


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!


Second January 8, 2011

Filed under: Just Me — The Shelly Belly @ 10:44 pm
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For the last couple of months whenever I thought back to my summer training building up to the half marathon, I found myself nostalgic for sense of accomplishment after breaking another personal best, for the soreness in my muscles telling me very clearly that I had worked my body to its limit, for the sight of the scale as it kept notching further and further in the direction I wanted.  I couldn’t wait until my marathon training started so I could get back to challenging myself with longer runs and more intense workouts.  I was excitedly counting down the days until I could officially say “18 weeks to go!”.  In short, I was an idiot.

How could I not have remembered what this was like?  Pushing my pace faster and faster?  Lifting weights to strengthen my stride?  Suffering the excruciating embarrassment that is Zumba class?  Spending night after night with ice packs tied to every inch of my body with ace bandages?  The inability to fit anything but running and sleep into my schedule?

Ok, before you go getting all worried about me, I should explain that I am currently in week two of training and therefor nothing I say should be taken too seriously.  Week two is brutal.  Week one is all about the optimism and the excitement, week two is more about feeling like a failure and forcing yourself to go on.  Week three needs to get here stat.  I need this to be a routine again, not an interruption of my schedule.

So tonight I will have a 5m run on the treadmill, I’m trying for interval training if I can manage it, but I might be forced to just run the damn thing.  Tomorrow I have an 11m run outside and I am actually really looking forward to that.  I miss running by the lake, the early sunsets and freezing temperatures of Winter keep me off my favorite paths after work, but the “warm” mid-day Sunday sun calls to me!

I hope that Monday brings with it the feeling of routine that I am hoping week three will bring.  If it doesn’t, I’m just going to have to throw in the towel and go completely insane for a few weeks.  I hope no one minds?


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.


Dealing May 28, 2010

Last night I DOMINATED the treadmill.  With my new found lung capacity (thank you Nicoderm CQ) I can run so much further and push myself so much harder than I ever could before.  I didn’t have any problems finding my second wind when the workout was almost over, and the fact that my iPod randomly shuffled to the 1993 Jock Jams Mega Mix didn’t hurt anything.

Still, I have problems running.  You see, when I was a kid I was diagnosed with scoliosis.  Not just a mild case, but a pretty severe one.  You can’t see it unless I move into a certain position, but I feel like everyone can see it all the time.  And apart from the impact it has on my self confidence, it also has the ability to cause me a great deal of pain.

Recently, I have been going to a new Chiropractor (if you live in Chicago and need a miracle working Chiropractor, go to Dr. Wolcott at Southport Wellness ).  He has helped a lot with the pain.  If you add that to the fact that I’ve switched to a vegetarian diet which is an anti-inflamatory diet and that I have been losing a lot of weight which has resulted in less pressure on my spine and I’m really doing and feeling a lot better.

But no matter how much weight I lose or how much self confidence I gain, the fact of the matter is my spine IS crooked.  One of my legs IS longer than the other.  It may only be by a fraction of an inch, but believe me, it makes a difference especially when you’re running.

So how does this relate to the treadmill?  Well, usually about half way through my workout I really start noticing that I’m leaning a little to one side.  I notice that one leg feels like it’s working a little harder than the other.  I start to feel a little pain in my lower back, not enough to stop me, but certainly enough to notice.

Once I notice, my mind always starts to go down the same path.  I think about how other see me, I worry they see me as crooked.  I imagine that when people see me walking they stare.  Even though I know that isn’t how I look, it still bothers me, more than it should.  For so long I have been ashamed of this part of me that I have no control over.  But something happened that changed my outlook.

My favorite show on the entire planet is Buffy The Vampire Slayer (go ahead and judge me, I do not care).  I love Buffy.  Her character is so strong and powerful and so is the actress (Sarah Michelle Gellar) that plays her.  I was always jealous of how she could move.  Often, I found myself thinking about how different my life could be if I lost enough weight to be that strong, but then thoughts of my scoliosis would enter my head and I would think “even if I did lose that much weight I will never be as strong as SMG, never be perfect because I will always be crooked”.  So I had myself convinced that no matter what I do, I can not be perfect, I can not be happy.  Until I saw this…

My hero, my goal, my inspiration… IS JUST LIKE ME!  Sarah Michelle Gellar has scoliosis.  And what’s more than that, she isn’t ashamed of it.  It was when I saw this picture that I realized how dumb I was being.  Nobody is perfect.  Nobody.  And it’s silly to hold yourself up to an unobtainable standard.

I now have a different goal.  I no longer strive to be perfect, I just strive to be my best.  To get my body into the best shape it can be, whatever that shape looks like.  I want to be healthy and happy.

Living with such an unhealthy image of myself for so long took its toll on me, but I can feel the burden lifting.  Now I have this picture taped on the wall in front of my treadmill with the words “nobody’s perfect” written on it.  It is there to remind me what my true goal is.