Empire Half

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I often need to sneak up on myself. Otherwise I wouldn’t take the plunge. Signing up for a half marathon was not on this morning’s agenda. One of the other Moms in C’s classroom at school is a runner. She’s relatively new to the sport, but she’s already done a marathon and a bunch of halves. A few weeks ago she suggested I do a half near Albany for my first try. Today I told her I was considering signing up for it. “Oh, that’s already full.” she told me. “You should sign up for the Empire State Half Marathon. It’s in Syracuse in October.” “Is it pretty flat?” I asked. I mean, let’s get real. I’m slow and 13.1 miles is going to be a mighty struggle for me. Hills and 13.1 miles would be an impossibility. She assured me there was only one big hill.

So I told myself not to think about it. I drove home on autopilot, pulled out my wallet, got on the website and signed up. I’m excited. I’m terrified. Thankfully October feels really far away.

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I need to announce them as soon as I commit. That way I can’t talk myself out of whatever I’m doing without looking like a quitter. Shortly after writing a FB status update stating that October 19th is the day I do my first half marathon my wonderful friend A signed up as well. I’d been bugging her to visit this year, and now we are going to have an insane adventure together. Knowing she is going to be there makes the idea of the race less scary.

This past weekend my friend did her first 25K race. She has been a big inspiration for me when it comes to this whole running deal. The last time I saw her in person was less than I year ago and I told her I admired the hell out of her and simply couldn’t imagine ever doing what she did. A few weeks later I bought my first pair of running shoes and somehow made myself do it. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed I could get up on a Monday morning and jog more than three miles without stopping. It wouldn’t occur to me that a goal of 13.1 miles was a possibility. Somehow my friend’s support from a couple of hundred miles away has been a huge factor in helping me realize I can do this. She gleefully commented that she can’t wait for how much more I’m going to talk about poop when I start running longer distances. I responded that I didn’t think it was possible for me to talk about poop more than I already do.

A couple of hours later T and I had the following conversation. It might not be about running, but Kelly this one is for you:

The boys are on antibiotics. Which means the boys have diarrhea. In the middle of the day they get yogurt and applesauce doctored with probiotic powder, but even still the meds upset their bellies. Both of their parents have wicked IBS, they never had a chance in terms of tummy troubles.

This afternoon T was giving me a particularly satisfying hug when I asked him if he pooped at school today. He nodded his head. “Diarrhea or solid?” I asked. “Solid!” he gleefully replied. “Really?” He could hear the excitement in my voice. “Well….it was solid in the middle. Kind of liquid at the beginning and end. It was poop-arrhea.”

It is certain that poop-arrhea will become part of our family’s vocabulary. I mean, it is a magnificent word.

So brace yourself for more jogging talk. More poop talk. And please wish me luck!

C poops

Caught this guy behind the curtain. He hides when nature calls. I asked if he was pooping. “Noooooo!” he shouted. He was lying.

me and my boys

Me and my boys.

Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

A couple of days ago my friend made a facebook group for people trying to run/jog/walk 1000 miles in 2014 and then posted a status update about it asking friends to let her know if they wanted in. There is no way on god’s green earth that I am making it to 1000 miles this year. My jogging has been a solo endeavor. It actually needs to be a solo endeavor. I’m an introvert with a severe anxiety disorder. The thought of jogging with another human makes me want to puke.

So joining a running club or finding an informal crew to go out with isn’t really an option for me. I like being alone. People have explained to me that they chat on their runs with friends and it cracks me up. I’m gasping for breath the whole time. I cannot imagine carrying on a conversation.

All of that said, I know next to nothing about training. The idea of an online community of actual runners appealed to me-I could learn a thing or two. I wanted in.

Yesterday I was poking some fun at my slow running times and another person in the group suggested speedwork to increase my pace. I had to google it. I also was introduced to the fabulous word fartlek (Thanks, Kelly). Obviously the highlight of my day.

I found an article explaining speedwork for beginners and I decided to do it this morning. You want to know one of the most stupid and ridiculous things about an anticipatory anxiety disorder? I was so nervous to try intervals, so uncomfortable about stepping outside my established jogging routine, so frightened to try something new that I had the shits all morning. Like full on IBS diarrhea. The boys were almost late to school because I had to run back to the bathroom for the 12th time.

It is so embarrassing to admit how incapacitated I am by doing new things. Even after all these years of living with anxiety I am still deeply shamed by how hard it is to engage in normal activities. Before every class I take I feel sick to my stomach. My brain is generating a list of possible excuses to get me out of going until the moment I step into the classroom. We went to a birthday party this weekend at a gymnastic place. As soon as T joined the group he ran off to an area he wasn’t allowed to go to, one of the instructors telling him to stop. I yelled at him and immediately felt like a parenting pariah.  I blinked back tears as I stood there with the other parents, unable to make eye contact. Next month through my class I have the opportunity to attended two days of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York City. It is a huge deal. And I am so scared that I simply cannot bear to think about it other than to hope I am hospitalized with a non-life threatening illness so I don’t have to go.

But.

The classes have been fantastic for me. I am hoping to become a matriculated grad student. I have new career goals. My self confidence has been positively impacted. T and C had an amazing time at the party. I’m glad I got to see it. We are going to start T on gymnastics classes there next month. What a bizarre stroke of luck that I have a professor who is on the board of the largest Right to Food NGO in the world! Who gets to do this shit as a part of class?

So yes, my fear and discomfort when faced with normal life is suffocating. But the difference between the me of three years ago and me now is I am fucking doing stuff anyway. I am putting myself in situations that are uncomfortable because the long term payoff is worth it. Was the fear and discomfort any less three years ago when I was struggling to engage? Nope. It was not. I’m going to have it no matter what choices I make. So why not fucking try to enjoy life? Why not make sure that I get to see my boys’ faces light up with joy as they ran around with a pack of kids and have the best time they’d ever had at a birthday party? Why not GO TO THE UNITED FUCKING NATIONS?

Why not run intervals for the first time?

Because there is a difference between facing fears and being a fucking moron.

The roads were not very clear here in Syracuse this morning. Actually worse today than yesterday because we are in the city where alternate side of the street parking means today’s driveable part of the road wasn’t really plowed well at 9:30am. The side with cars on it was pretty damn clear, though. So I wore my amazing and trusty yaktrax. And found about a .2 mile stretch of flat blacktop. And realized when I got home that I hurt my foot. Yaktrax are magic. I can jog in snow without slipping at all. But trying to sprint in them? Let’s just say that I’m a fucking idiot.

Being an idiot is really the easiest way to get hurt while jogging. As soon as I hit the road I knew it was dumb to try speedwork. But I didn’t want to wuss out. Thankfully tomorrow is my rest day. We’ll see how the foot feels on Thursday….

********************************

P.S. I called the doc’s yesterday. Have an appointment for March 10th. Kinda proud of myself.

C jumps

C is missing the fear impulse. It was so cool to see him flying through the air.

hat hair

Short hair = amazing hat head.

swing

The swing actually resting on the snow.

The Bitch Loves Vacation

Anxiety disorders don’t just melt away when you go on vacation. My bitch climbed uninvited into the rental car when we left my parent’s house. Evidently she also booked a seat on the flight down to Miami. She snuggled into the king size bed in our hotel room, pushing her way past me to settle in next to Z for the night.

It was pretty naive to think she’d stay at my folk’s house.

Z finished with his work event at 3pm this afternoon. He has been looking forward to checking out the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Perez for weeks and he was pretty close to the museum already. The traffic in Miami is fierce. Four and a half years of Syracuse living has made us soft. Instead of killing an hour and a half by coming to pick me up just to drive back across town he suggested I take a cab.

I begged off because there was school work I needed to attend to that was time sensitive. Which was the truth. But I was also relieved I had an excuse.

After he enjoyed the exhibit he called to see if I’d cab it out there for dinner-there were some restaurants on the water. And the one thing I’ve said I want to do here was make it to the beach, just to look out at the Atlantic for a bit. I couldn’t do it. My stomach was clenched, the fear made my mouth taste bitter. I just couldn’t.

What is it like? How does it feel to be able to move around in this world without fear? To not worry that your bowels will betray you? To drive in traffic without feeling panic at being surrounded by so many people?

Am I going to spoil every vacation for the rest of my life? Am I going to teach my boys that fear is natural? Am I ever going to relax and fucking enjoy myself?

That’s not quite fair. Wednesday was my day. Mostly because I didn’t leave the hotel room much. Z had a work event and was gone from before I woke until 5:30pm. I slept in. I fucked around on the computer. I goddamn ran the fastest mile of my life (8:35) and finished three miles in under 30 minutes for the first time. I fucked around on the computer. I napped. We went out for dinner at an excellent sushi joint. It was perfection. Except for the drive to the sushi joint. That was tense. But otherwise the day was glorious.

Tomorrow is our only day together. We are going to go look at the ocean and eat good food and nap. I am telling that bitch to back the fuck off and let me have a day with my husband. Here’s hoping she is in a listening mood….

fam hot tub

Family hot tub time during our last day at my folk’s. Holy shit, do I miss those boys. I have needed a break and am grateful for it, but I cannot wait to squeeze them tight on Sunday morning.

coconut

Z brought a coconut he found on the ground into the room.

fastest mile

After several weeks of struggling in the freezing cold and wind, after several weeks of tackling many hills doing a dead flat run in 60 degree weather basically guaranteed I’d beat any previous personal record. But I didn’t expect to beat my mile record by almost a full minute! Think I can now officially stop calling myself a jogger and start calling myself a runner.

Undermined By the Bitch

Sometimes I am jealous of bipolar people.

I know. That sounds insane. It sounds like I don’t understand what a terrible and serious disease bipolar is. I do understand. Really. And I promise I don’t have munchausen syndrome.

I have a chronic and pretty severe anxiety disorder.

If I’m stuck with a chronic mental illness seems reasonable that I’d fantasize what life would be like with some of the other mental illnesses out there. For the most part I think that many of us who wrestle with unrelenting crazy learn person specific coping mechanisms that make getting through the day a little bit less painful. Over a year ago there was an interesting thread on a friend’s fb wall about dealing with mental illness. People seemed happier that they had their own specific illness rather than some other variety-me included.

Kind of stands to reason.

I have had once severe depressive episode in my life. It sucked me into the nothingness, I wanted to escape this world, I was robbed of emotion, of feeling anything except profound self hatred. The depression lasted for about a year. The thought of another depressive episode scares the shit out of me, I have no idea if I’m strong enough to make it through again. Anxiety on the other hand has been my constant companion for over 20 years. Naturally my coping mechanisms are much more sophisticated in that arena.

It was comical in a rather macabre way to read this thread-the depression people saying they would much rather deal with that than anxiety, those like me grateful they didn’t have to deal with depression.

But. All day Friday I was sick to my stomach with anxiety.

On Friday night 9 (would have been 10, but someone was traveling-we missed you J) of us met at a local restaurant for dinner. Without kids. Ok, there was one kid. But she was barely a month old and as every parent knows that doesn’t count.

Please do not get me wrong, I wanted to go. I couldn’t be more thrilled that we have found a group of friends that we enjoy so damn much. The majority of the time we all hang out at our place. Our friends are always thanking us for hosting. But the deal is doing it at our place means I get to enjoy myself like a normal human. The anxiety is still there, but it is muted. I feel unencumbered by my sickness.

Of course we had a fantastic time. Of course I am glad I went. Hell, I can’t wait to do it again.

But I really fucking resent the anxiety for causing me so much discomfort on Friday. I am really sick of being hog tied by fear.

We are at my folk’s house right now. We flew down yesterday. On Tuesday morning Z and I will drive to the airport and fly to Miami. We’ll fly back and pick up the boys on Sunday. It’s our first chunk of time away from them since we became parents.

I’m so excited I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m sick to my stomach with anxiety.

Am I going to ruin this amazing trip for myself? Is that bitch anxiety going to win? Will I ever get out from underneath her?

The bipolar thought occurred to me this morning as I was jogging. During our trip down south for the holidays I made fantastic strides with the jogging. I was also better rested than I’ve been in ages. Z let me sleep in almost every day. There were a lot of naps. Z went to work the day after we got back home and worked through the weekend as well. For the last two weeks I’ve been sleep deprived, which is my usual state. The jogging improvement evaporated. Today’s 5 miles were an exercise in frustration. Every step was a fight. I’m tired, compounded not just from lack of sleep, but because of the anxiety. Anxiety steals energy and leaves emptiness in its wake.

I got angrier and angrier at the anxiety for slowing me down. Why can’t I harness that energy into something worthwhile? Why can’t I be fucking manic for a bit? Why am I stuck with a condition that takes and takes and takes?

Ok, I don’t really want to be bipolar. Manic episodes are unpredictable and can cause terrible upheaval and hurt in the lives of those who suffer from bipolar. But the energy that I spend on the anxiety…I need that energy. I fucking want it back. I don’t want to fight this fight anymore. I want to be better. So I can enjoy the anticipation of a great night out with friends or a vacation with my husband. So I don’t have to move through the world encumbered by what feels like a 100lb coat made of my fears. I am pissed off at that bitch anxiety and how much she controls me.

But there isn’t a cure. She isn’t going anywhere. She is as much a part of me as my mousy brown hair and blue eyes. The only way I will ever get the best of her is to fight through her bullshit. To go out to dinner and have a fucking awesome time after a day of lightheadedness and diarrhea caused by the bitch. To enjoy Miami even though this morning I woke up with an anxiety attack so bad that I had to take a chill pill immediately. To continue my jog even though my body is screaming at me give up. To keep trying. For Z, for T, for C, for myself. I will live my life in spite of her, hell I will live my life to spite her.

sleepy travel companion

My adorable traveling companion.

plane nap time

Z quietly sang C right to sleep after we took off.

bad jog

Pissed off jogger. Sometimes we have bad days. Feels pretty honest to document them as well.

Ouch

Made it to the Y yesterday. Barely got through two very slow miles on the treadmill. Man, do I ever hate that thing. The whole time I just want to stop, I feel like me heart is going to explode even though I’m going considerably slower than when I jog outside. It’s the most miserable 22 minutes ever.

Today there wasn’t time for a trip to the Y. Z had an 8 AM appointment. I left the house for my jog at 7:15 so he could leave on time. Which meant no coffee or breakfast pre-exercise, guaranteeing a crappy time. But at least I did it, right?

It was 21 degrees when I woke up this morning, warmer by far than it had been in days. By the time 7:15 rolled around it had fallen to 19, but I’ve jogged in colder. During my stretches I noticed my right hip was bugging me again. I knew I wasn’t stretched out enough, but I also knew if I didn’t go RIGHT THEN that Z would be late for his appointment.

Damn, it was cold. The air felt like it was burning my lungs. My muscles were bunched tight against the frigid wind. I was slower than I’ve been in months, much slower than on the treadmill, like over 11:30 a minute slow. I finally made it home and that is when the pain started. It wasn’t my hip, it was the middle of my upper back. Clearly I contorted my body to try and conserve warmth and I pulled something.

Over the next hour the pain blossomed. It is the worst pain I’ve experienced since I started jogging 6 months ago (holy shit, has it really been 6 months?). During this exercise odyssey I have reminded myself to be reasonable, to not push myself into injury or exhaustion so I can keep on going. But today I was so obsessed with not missing another day that I was stupid.

I don’t know how to heal my back. I don’t know how long a break I need to take. At this point I’m hoping tomorrow morning I magically wake up pain free. The icy-hot patch I’ve put on my back is helping, but I am fucking pissed at myself.

Yes, I proclaimed on my birthday that I want to complete a marathon before my 40th birthday. I’m not going to get there if I am not careful with my body. Making a jog happen no matter what the consequence is basically setting myself up to fail.

Seems I have a lot to learn about exercise. And hubris. And good decision making.

cold runThe pain was just starting when I took this.

bad back

Icy Hot patch working its magic. And I’m being all honest and uncomfortable with this one-lower back blubber! I have it!

cousin hot tub

We were doing this last week. Would feel pretty awesome on my back right about now.

silly k c z

My current favorite picture. If T was in it it would totally be the header photo of the blog. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.

Missed Day

The whole time we were away visiting family over the holidays I didn’t miss a single jog. Timed my rest days as travel days, made it happen no matter what. Five days a week I was out there. And I had some big breakthroughs. Both my parents and in laws live in very hilly neighborhoods. The hills kicked my ass, but they also helped push me over the edge and under a 10 minute mile. Consistently. I’ve been chasing that goal since I did it once in October and it feels pretty damn terrific. One day I even jogged both miles under 10 minutes.

Now on to the next goal. Hopefully by spring I’ll get closer to breaking 9 minutes.

Because of obligations today, our first day home, I didn’t have a two hour window to get myself and the kids to the Y for a jog. The only time I had childcare coverage to go for a jog in our neighborhood the temp was 2 F with a windchill of god knows what, and call me a baby but I couldn’t hack it. I know it is a really small thing to complain about, but I’m pissed. I’m pissed that after two pretty difficult weeks of making the jog happen no matter what I failed on the first day home.

Of course it is bigger than than. I’m scared if I give myself permission to miss one day I’ll give myself permission to miss lots of days. I’m scared that the jogging is the only thing that is holding me together. My anxiety was pretty bad on the trip, traveling is always rough for me. The anxiety is under control when I stick to a routine. The chaos of figuring out sleeping arrangements for our growing families and siblings, the different routines all our kids adhere to in regular life tossed away, the decades of family…stuff. Well, frankly I’m historically a mess the week before we see family, during, and the week after.

(At this point I’d like to make clear that the travel is more than worth it. T is finally old enough to have meaningful relationships with the oldest cousins on each side of the family, and it is an indescribable joy to watch him and AG or him and G have fun with each other. Also all of our siblings are also playing the compromise game when it comes to the needs of their kids and they play it with an enormous amount of grace.)

This trip I felt like the jogging was a lifeline. It was a release and time just for me. It tempered the anxiety. Whenever I find anything that works against the evil bitch that rules my existence I clutch it in a death hold–yoga, pills, therapy, Z, jogging. Intellectually I know that I’m in there as well. I’m doing the work to get out from under her as she tries to suffocate me.

As we were pulling out of Z’s parent’s neighborhood yesterday morning I asked Z if he remembered a long car trip we took with his Mom and sister. He and I were probably recently married. It was well over a decade ago. Before we even left the boundaries of Winston-Salem I had to have them stop at a friends house so I could have horrific anxiety diarrhea (please, consider the humiliation of THAT little house call) and then right after we hit the highway I made my mother in law pull to the side of the road so I could scramble into the woods for another round. As Z and I (yup, he came with me) emerged some time later I saw a cop car pulling away-you are never supposed to stop on the side of a highway. I hated myself. It was an awful way to live. And it was absolutely normal for me. When I look back on that now I can queasily laugh at what a literal shit-show I was.

Sometimes the IBS is still terrible, but mostly I’m in a better place. I’ve done years of therapy, tried every drug under the sun, learned to trust that Z really does love me and doesn’t just stay with me out of obligation and pity.

The grip that I have on this life feels so fucking tenuous. Yes, I’ve done the work. Yes, I’m a mostly functioning member of society. But those who have suffered from a major depressive episode are statistically more likely to suffer from another. I mean dude, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I have the capacity to be actually fucking insane. The worst of it could come roaring back and there would be nothing I could ultimately do to stop it. Sure, we’d recognize the signs now. I have help already in place, I might not bottom out in such a spectacularly ruinous way. None of that means it won’t come back. I can’t prevent it. Z can’t prevent it. My shrink can’t. The love I have for my boys can’t. It is my most overwhelming fear.

Jogging has become a life preserver to me. I miss a day and in my addled mind I am a step away from a major psychotic episode. Um, how much better am I really? Don’t answer that. You better bet your ass I’m making it to the Y tomorrow, though.

last jog of vacation

The final jog of vacation.

leonard cousins

All the Leonard cousins.

cordano cousins

All the Cordano cousins.

skateboard

T was pretty excited about his Christmas skateboard.

Resolution

Saturday was supposed to be my long run. It was 9 degrees when I got up, the forecasted high was 18. Z suggested I wait until the afternoon and I had no trouble agreeing with him. Problem was the snow began by the time it was a balmy 14 degrees and I was ready to go.

pre Saturday

Suited up.

It was stupid and dangerous and terrifying and slow. I did 2.3 miles yelling at myself the whole way that if I got hit by a car it would be my own damn fault. That bitch Anxiety was back. She told me if I didn’t run something terrible would happen. The sane part of me told myself if I did run something terrible might happen. Crazy won.

post Saturday

And I was a fucking mess by the time I finished.

Over the weekend one of my smartest friends told me if I increased the the incline a bit on the treadmill that I’d get closer to my natural stride. I took her advice to the Y on Monday (thanks J) and managed to jog two very slow miles. Damn, is it hard to jog on a treadmill. But they were safe and snow free miles.

SU does a great job keeping the campus plowed, so today I tried South Campus for the jog. It was early enough that the roads were still a mess. I basically chased snowplows, or they chased me. It was 10 degrees and snowing. It felt good to be out there even if one of the miles was more than 12 minutes. Running in snow is like running in sand. It is a whole body workout.

Jogging in winter. I’m figuring it out. I want to figure it out. Mostly I’m biding my time till spring. But I’m sticking with this thing even if it scares me to say it.

I’ve been thinking about jogging a lot. How if I’m going at a slow pace I feel like I can just keep on going forever. How I haven’t stopped to walk since the first time I did 5 miles on November 16th. I learned when I feel like I can’t go on now to just slow down a bit. I’m figuring out these little tricks. Coming up with a training routine on my own that changes things up, speed, hills, medium run, long run.

It is still hard. I have to force myself out of the door. I get disappointed when the snow or the treadmill affects my time in such a major way. I beat myself up when I have a bad run. But I’m going to try and stay healthy. I’m going to keep at it.

I’ve been thinking about jogging and time and my birthday and the fact that I’m 37 on Wednesday and that 40 nearly has me surrounded. A year ago right now I couldn’t jog for two blocks. Now I can go for 5.3 miles. This time of year is naturally a time for reflection. Every year I turn to Z and ask what he thinks we will be doing and where we will be in a year.  Life is full of surprises, wonderful and heartbreaking. This year I am focusing on the good- I learned that the impossible is possible. I learned no matter how many times I swore up and down that I could never exercise regularly that it was a big lie. I can make myself do hard stuff.

The other night we were sitting on the sofa after dinner. “I’ve been having a tiny little thought.” I told Z. “Hmm?” he replied. “Now, I get that this is crazy. But what if I were to try and run a marathon before I turned 40?”

Z looked at me like I was an injured bird he found on the sidewalk. He clearly didn’t want to spook me. “I think that is an excellent idea.” he said very soothingly. “I think you can do it.” He paused, terrified he was going to say the wrong thing. “Maybe this summer you could do a half marathon first and then do a full one.”

“Um. Totally. I’d have to start with a half.” He was visibly relieved that I wasn’t going to try and force my way through 26.2 miles in March.

Starting tomorrow I have three years. Before December 18th of 2016 I will run a marathon. There. I’m being bold and outrageous and reckless. I will run a marathon. And you can hold me to it.

bye daddy

Waving goodbye to Daddy on a snowy morning.

snow boat treehouse

The boat treehouse looked lovely dressed up in snow this morning.

Flip Side

It was cold out there during my jog this morning. In the high 20s, but the wind was cutting and brutal. Since I wrote the post about jogging last week I’ve struggled. Don’t get me wrong, I go. I do it. But it has been harder.

Writing a post that declared I’m sticking with this exercise thing nudged my anxiety. And she informed me that I was a fraud. A non-jogger. That after my fancy proclamation I would fall on my proverbial face and never lace up my sneakers again.

Oh my god, she is such a fucking bitch.

Wednesday was a rest day, so last Thursday was my first jog after the post last week. Man, the anxiety dogged me for the whole 3.12 miles. It was scary hard. At the end I wanted to cry.

That’s the flip side to this whole thing. It’s important to acknowledge. Exercise is as much of a head game as it is a physical activity. You have to convince yourself to go. You have to convince yourself that you can do it, that you are worth the time it takes, that you are doing good work even when you aren’t PRing all the time. Sometimes you give it your all and you still don’t achieve your goals. Sometimes you phone it in and hate yourself a little. I’m guessing that the struggle is just a part of the game long term.

If it is hard for you, if you get discouraged, well, I do too. Let’s just keep on keeping on.

photo (28)

Sometimes there aren’t ecstatic pride selfies. Sometimes there are exhausted and pissed and frustrated selfies. But it is part of the process.

If you guys love blogs and FB as much as I do you’ve come across that Fit Mom “What’s Your Excuse” meme. I don’t want to link to it because I think it is incredibly harmful, but a quick google search will locate it if you are interested. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the picture. While she is wearing workout gear, she also is in full hair and makeup. It is great for her that her hard work has paid off and that she has earned her conventionally attractive figure. She didn’t earn her conventionally beautiful face, she was born with it. But she is beautiful and if I looked like her I’d feel pretty great about myself as well.

A lot of conversation has happened in the media and online about her message. The fat shaming (which she insists is not fat shaming) is obviously problematic. But putting all that aside I find the image, the implied goal, to be rather boring. Instead it is extremely plastic, completely unattainable, and frankly I feel sorry for her because she is missing the point.

No matter how hard they work out 99% of women are not going to look like her. Especially without hair and makeup done and a professional photographer lighting the session. She has achieved what society and the patriarchy has dictated is the female standard of beauty. But that standard is bullshit. It is unrealistic. It is designed to keep us striving for a goal most of us will never achieve as a way to undermine us and keep us less than.

I don’t jog five times a week so I can look like her. No matter how hard I exercise the stretch marks from my second pregnancy aren’t going anywhere. My boobs will never be perky again. The lines will never disappear from my forehead or from around my eyes. In fact, they are going to be joined by a shitload more wrinkles as time marches on.

I do this because it makes me feel good. I have more energy. It is probably keeping my anxiety a bit in check. Last week my father asked me how I’ve felt since starting the jogging. “Lighter in my body.” I told him. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean I weigh less. I just mean it is easier to maneuver my body around in the world. I have more control, feel capable of more.” That is more of a reward than trying to look like Gisele.

If Fit Mom really wants to inspire people why is she advertising physical beauty as the outcome? Isn’t it more helpful and more honest to cop to how hard it is to regularly exercise? To admit that some workouts suck. You let yourself down, but you dust yourself off and try again the next day? Because cumulatively you feel pretty terrific in your body even if a group of frat boys wouldn’t deem it fuckable? No frat boy would want to get with this middle aged lady. And guess what? I don’t give a crap because I can’t imagine wanting to get with a frat boy either.

On her website she has a bunch of tips for her “healthy lifestyle” including putting post its in her kitchen that say “Food is Fuel”. It actually made me cry when I read it. I feel sorry for her. Food is joy, food is celebration, food is delicious, food is family, food is pleasure. Moderation is certainly key, but denying yourself the richness of experience that eating provides? Making food the enemy? Major red flag. And to be clear, this is pure speculation, but it is moving towards a disordered relationship with food.

I want to encourage my friends to exercise because I can’t believe how wonderful and proud it has made me feel. Just a month or two ago I would have told you that I could not jog for 5 miles. I simply couldn’t do it. And now I’ve done it three times. I am amazed that my body is doing hard things. If a lifelong couch potato can do this you can, too.

So keep posting selfies. Even if you don’t look like Fit Mom (I sure as fuck don’t). Even if the workout sucked ass. Every time out there isn’t going to be a win.

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Back to this morning. After my jog I was chilled to the bone. Z had to split for work, so I settled the boys in front of a movie and ran for a quick shower. The hot water felt amazing everywhere but my belly, ass, and thighs. Fat concentration means less blood flow to the surface. The cold was intense in those areas. The water burned as it hit the red patches, still icy to the touch.

I was trying to rub life back into my thighs when I heard C pad into the bathroom. “Hey kiddo, what’s up?” I called. He sidled over to the corner of the shower curtain and pulled it back with a huge shit eating grin on his face. This kid. He really does have the shit eating grin to end all shit eating grins.

He grinned at me. And then he triumphantly held up a deli bag of ham.

Motherhood. God damned Motherhood. When I imagined it years ago I never thought it would involve a toddler interrupting my shower time holding a contraband bag of deli meat that he scored. Let me tell you, the shaved ham in the bathroom was way more hilarious than anything I came up with when dreaming of future children. Man, these kids keep me laughing. Even if I was pissed as hell when we went downstairs 20 minutes later only to discover the fridge door had been left wide open.

lion t

We went to the zoo today. When we walked by this display T insisted I take his picture. With his crazy hair he makes a perfect lion.

safari c

And here is my intrepid explorer. He’s probably hunting for some ham.

Addicted

As I was descending into the pain of the stomach bug Sunday I had a moment of panic. Then I realized it was a rest day. I wasn’t going to miss my jog because I was sick. At that moment I decided I’d be well enough to run Monday.

Monday morning I was far from 100%. The diarrhea continued. My belly gurgled and flip flopped. I ignored it and put my running tights on. When I woke up it was 15 degrees warmer than it was on Saturday when I ran. How could I miss a day of balmy 36 degree weather?

photo

I did it. It was pretty ugly, but I did it.

The jog was slow as hell. I changed plans and skipped the hills, shortened it to exactly two miles. But I did it.

Last night Z was sick. And T had nightmares. And I’m not sure what the fuck C’s problem was, but he was up 5 times. No one in our house got a lot of sleep. This morning I dropped the boys off and did my stretches. I jogged those hills that I skipped yesterday. Lack of sleep affects my performance more than anything, just two minutes out of the house and I knew I was in trouble. But I told my tired legs to figure it out. Even on the mile with the hills I somehow forced myself to keep it under an 11 minute pace.

Last week was freezing and snowy. It was the first real taste of winter jogging. The boys were out of school for Thanksgiving break, but Z was working most days. He promised we’d figure out how to make my jogs happen. And we did. I returned from Monday’s run frustrated at my slower pace, but I was working out how to safely run on the roads and avoid the ice. I thanked Z for making the time for me to go as he headed out to work. I told him I realized something as I was outside in the freezing cold. Wanting to do this isn’t the issue. I don’t think I’ve ever really wanted to jog. I still don’t know what has kept me at it for the last 5 months. No, I don’t want to do this. I need to do it.

Life feels out of control in so many ways. The new graduate program I am planning on enrolling in will not be happening until the fall of ’15 rather than next fall. Another year is a big deal as I am hurtling towards 40. Another year before I start the job search. I’ll still take a course a semester and I’ll put a big dent in the coursework before I officially matriculate. On top of that money is tight. We are trying to be frugal, Z is being fantastic about picking up extra work wherever he can find it, but supporting a family of four on an assistant professor’s salary is challenging. We’ve made our bed. We both wanted me to be home with the boys, so this has been our choice. And we are luckier than most. We haven’t done anything to earn our safety net, we were just born to parents who can provide one. Dumb, dumb luck. We do not have anything to complain about. We have a beautiful home and can make our mortgage. We certainly don’t have to worry about putting food on the table. I just look forward to a time when we don’t have to have texted negotiations about how we are going to afford to put gas in the car.

So money is tight. Z is crazy busy at work. The boys are growing up at a bewildering and breakneck pace. I’m writing a research proposal and putting together the first powerpoint of my life for class and I feel like an academic fraud as well as an old lady in a young person’s game. The anxiety has been brutal this fall.

Yeah, life doesn’t feel out of control, I feel out of control.

The jogging. Forcing myself to go everyday. Measuring my progress. Proving I am stronger than I’ve believed my whole life. Jogging three days in a row of freezing cold and snow and not seeing one other person out there. It all makes me feel powerful and proud and just a little bit in control. I’m showing up to something. Even when it is hard or uncomfortable or life is overwhelming me. I need it. In just five months I’ve become addicted.

It doesn’t feel completely healthy, but when one suffers from anxiety with ocd tendencies I’m not sure any new obsession, um I mean hobby, ever can be 100% healthy. I fear if i don’t make my five days a week something terrible will happen. Getting sick scares the shit out of me because it will mess with my weekly routine. I didn’t really want to go yesterday. I was weak and still recovering from the stomach bug. But I needed to go. It wasn’t a choice. And it made me feel better.

cold jog

Why all the redundant selfies? Believe it or not, I’m not trying to humble-brag. I’m actually pretty damn proud of myself, nothing humble about it. But in keeping with the honestly thing the jogging pictures are never filtered or altered. There has been no radical physical transformation in my appearance. My BMI is still firmly in the overweight category. The biggest change has been in my bad cholesterol and you can’t see that in a photograph. I post the selfies because I am not a size two beauty. Who cares? I’m still fucking thrilled with myself.

PRed 5k

But the biggest reason I post the obnoxious selfies (besides the fact that my dad likes to keep tabs on how I’m doing) is if I can do it you can, too. I’m no one special. I’ve shunned exercise all my life. But I’m out there doing it. I include my times occasionally, which is also the antithesis of a humble-brag because they are damn slow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m making progress. But my fastest mile, and the only time I’ve broken 10 minutes, was 9:47 I believe. In the picture above I’d just PRed 5K. Kept it under 11 minute miles the whole time for 33:49. Yes, it is much like I jog through molasses. I guess I feel like the slowpokes should get to celebrate as much as the speed demons. I’m never going to be the best at this. I’m never going to be near the best. But I’m doing something for me. I’m plugging along. I’m proving that my middle aged body can do something I didn’t believe it could for my whole life. That smile on my face is sincere. I may not be fast or skinny or cut, but god dammit I have earned the right to be proud.

You should give it a try. And you should be proud, too. You should post selfies and your times and if they aren’t as fantastic as those of your friends you shouldn’t give a fuck. Because you are amazing. I am amazing. We are kicking ass and we are taking names.

Under the Influence. Of Anxiety.

T shouting, “Mom! C is eating play doh!” Me shouting right back, “I. Am. Pooping! I cannot do anything about it right now!”

That moment perfectly captures the feel of the last two days.

My hormones are not in a happy place. Could be the first month on a new birth control pill. Could be the weaning. Could be freaking-out-about-my-class anxiety. Or we-are-broke anxiety. Or our-annual-Christmas-trip-to-see-family-is-going-to-involve-just-as-many-miles-in-under-two-weeks anxiety. Or I-have-an-anxiety-disorder anxiety.

My boobs. They still have milk. After some googling this morning I’ve learned that extended nursers can take up to a year to stop producing small amounts of milk. UP TO A YEAR! I’m certainly not engorged. Not in real pain. They just feel a little full, a little achey. Like they have a job to do.

I want to move on. Like C has moved on. I can actually sit on the nursing rocker with him in my arms and sing him to sleep at nap time. He doesn’t even ask to nurse anymore. As I hold him I’m grateful. One of my biggest fears in weaning him was I wouldn’t be able to cuddle with him because he would want to nurse.

How do I move on when my damn boobs are betraying me? Constantly reminding me that I want to be nursing him.

So I’ve been a crank. No patience for Z or the boys. Anxiety and anger bubbling close to the surface.

Last night Z and I decided that T needed to clean up the legos on the floor of his room before he went to bed. I told him that they should be put away by the time I got his cup of ice water or he’d lose his story. He grumpily got on the floor and started tossing them into the bin. He was still there and still working when I got back upstairs. So I didn’t take away his story. I sat and helped him.

Bedtime proceeded as usual. We got into bed and read a book. He turned off his light, took a sip of water, got into bed. I started singing to him. Halfway through Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer he put his hand over my mouth and said, “No more songs. Just cuddles.”

Ok. Pretty damn rude, but I don’t love the singing portion of events myself. We cuddled.

T, “After tonight I never want you to do my bedtime again. Never. Ever. You are never allowed to do my bedtime. Forever.”

Um, what the fuck?

Here’s the thing. He really hurt my feelings. And it isn’t like I haven’t admitted worse about myself here, but I’m deeply ashamed of how I felt. When someone hurts my feelings my initial impulse is to hurt them worse. I wanted to lash out at T. Make him feel like shit. I wanted him to lie awake after I left for the night, eaten up with guilt for being so nasty.

Dear god, I am an asshole.

Thankfully I was able to stop myself from being cruel to my four year old son. I was able pause and really think about how I wanted to deal with my hurt.

In the pause he told me he was upset that he didn’t get to hide under the bed.

Oh.

You see, when I get his ice water he hides. In his mind his hiding place is a mystery to me. But he always goes under his bed. I pretend to prowl around the room looking for him. And eventually I crouch down and yell, “BOO!” He screams with delight.

He loves it. What I should have known is he depends on it. Because he is as much a creature of habit as I am. Cleaning up the legos fucked with the program and he was furious.

I offered to let him hide. After a couple of minutes I whipped my head under the bed and yelled, “BOO!” On cue, he screamed with delight.

We cuddled again after he crawled back into bed. “T. Listen. When you say things like you never want me to put you to bed you really hurt my feelings. You need to apologize to me. Because I seriously felt terrible when you said that. But no matter what I love you very much. And I will always love you. If you are upset about something you need to explain that to me rather than being mean. Remember what Daddy and I said on our walk today? Just don’t be mean. That is the number one lesson we want you to learn in life. Don’t be mean.”

Sometimes it has been a shitty couple of days. But when it matters you rally and are not a despicable asshole to your young son. Yet another swift kick to the balls, Anxiety. I win.

heartbreaker

My heartbreaker. Kid needs routine. I need to remember that.

nose picker

Digging for treasure.

middle finger

Ah. Yes. This. Well, it is only fair to talk about the real crap jogging days if I’m going to celebrate the awesome days. I’ve broken 10 minutes doing a mile once well over a month ago. Tried to do it again on Thursday and today. Thursday my time was 10:01. Today? 10:00. When you try as hard as you can, when you push yourself and it just isn’t good enough, man, it fucking blows.