Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pictures of Me

Today my coach texted me asking for pictures from my first Olympic Triathlon last summer.  I asked why and he said he was putting together a project for the team and wanted to use the pictures in that.

I actually hesitated.

I almost said no.

This is going to sound really silly.  Especially since I post pictures from my events here in my blog and on social media all the time.

But it has taken me a long time to be okay with doing that much.

I still don't like myself in pictures.

I still look at them and see all my faults and fat rolls and places that wiggle and jiggle.

I have made a very conscious decision to be in pictures, to post pictures and to try and not comment on my true thoughts about how I look in pictures.  I don't want to be gone someday and not have many pictures for my family to look at and remember all of our adventures.

We had this happen when my aunt passed away from breast cancer.  She was always a heavy lady, and looked even heavier than she probably was because she was very short.  When she passed away and my cousins were putting together a slideshow to show during her memorial they had a hard time finding very many recent pictures to use.  Most of the pictures she was in she would make a face because she wasn't happy someone was pointing a camera in her direction.  But when I think of my memories of my aunt they are full of laughter and love. She had a huge heart and a quick wit and I loved her so much.  I decided then, even before I started working on being a healthier me that I would not leave that as my legacy to my kids.  "She didn't want to have her picture taken because she was fat."

As a mom I always tried to do whatever was fun with my kids when they were growing up.  Even if I was terrible at it or looked ridiculous.  If my kids wanted me to swim with them, I swam.  If they wanted me to run around a softball field with them after their dad played a game, I ran.  If they wanted me to swing with them, hang on the monkey bars or do an obstacle course I gave it a shot.  I didn't want to be the mom that just watched them.  I wanted to be the mom that played with them.

But the pictures didn't reflect that for a long time.  I avoided being in pictures by being the one who took the pictures.  Before cell phones and selfies this was an easy way to hide behind the camera.  I would play and goof off and then go grab the camera and take pictures of everyone else.  I never asked anyone to take pictures for me because I secretly didn't want to be in them.

I decided to get over it.

Mostly I do okay.  Every once in a while that self-conscious side of me rears its head again.  If I'm looking at pictures and I make a comment about my tummy or some other flaw, my husband is all over it.  He hates that I do that and shuts me down immediately.  He seems to think I'm pretty no matter what, he may be a little biased.  😉

Today when my coach asked me for pictures I really wanted to say no.  It seriously makes me anxious to think that pictures of me are being used to show off what a bunch of athletes are up to.

I feel more like an athlete than I used to.  I know my body is doing more than it's ever done before and I'm learning to take joy in that.

But that doesn't mean that old hang ups and issues don't resurface on occasion.

There are victories here on a couple of levels.

First, that I take my picture or have my picture taken often.  I try to focus on the adventure and fun that I'm having and not how I look.

Second, that I said yes to Jon about using my pictures.  Big win there.

One of the things I have learned is that what my eyes immediately go to is not even close to what everyone else sees.

It seems, if you can believe it, that most people don't look at my tummy.  They look at my smile.  Go figure.  😏
Strong & Smiling.  I like that description.  😄
Get your picture taken!

Accept the compliments!

Learn to see yourself through the eyes of people that love you.

Being a healthier person doesn't mean just working on the body but also working on the mind and heart.

Sometimes that is harder but like most things in life, the hard things have the biggest rewards.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Taking Joy in What My Body Can Do

I have been feeling fat and frumpy lately.

I think this is partly because of the time of the year.  It's darker for more of the day.  It's hard to be motivated to do anything.  Sometimes I feel like I'm just doing what I can to make it through each day.

I also think that it is part of my own self doubts and body image issues.  While I have come a long way in that area, it is a never ending battle.  

Lately I have been trying to remember on how far I have come in becoming a healthier me.  I have been looking at pictures from the past few years or realizing how cool it is to have extra length on my airplane seatbelt after I have buckled in.  

But as cool as that is, it hasn't really helped me feel less fat and frumpy.  

I've been comparing again.  Never a good thing!  Fabulous people that I know and love that are making awesome changes and seeing immediate and significant results.  I'm so happy for them and proud of them for working hard to make positive change.  But the nasty little person in the back of my head is stomping her feet and wailing, "Why can't I have change that quickly?  Why are they already faster than me?  Why did they get to lose weight so fast?" 

Blah Blah Blah.

Same stuff that I have whined and bitched about for years.  

I seriously need to get over myself! 

Because they aren't me.  I have changed.  I am faster than I used to be.  I have lost weight.

It just hasn't gone the way I had planned or wanted.  

You would think at my age I would have a better understanding of how life rarely goes the way I plan or expect.  😳

For all I know there is somebody out there that wishes they have had the results I have had.  

I have had a cold for about a month now.  Mostly a really nasty cough that isn't too bad during the day but gets worse in the evening and then is horrible at night.  I seriously feel like I'm coughing up a lung.  When I exercise I feel like someone who should be hauling around an oxygen tank because I sound so awful and wheezy.  

In spite of this I have had some pretty decent runs and swims.  My swimming this fall has been trending faster pretty consistently.  I am about 30 seconds or more faster per 100 yards than I was a year ago.  That's pretty cool.  My coach has me doing a lot of running intervals at paces that I never would have dreamed I could sustain for any length of time, let alone for a 200, 400 or 800 yard interval.  

Pretty fun to see the improvements even when I'm not feeling 100%.

Last week I was doing my Wednesday group run with Jon and a couple of his other athletes, Mike and Marcus, on the OSU campus.  It was cold and rainy and I didn't really want to go.  But I sucked it up and went.  We did our warm ups then ran a lap.  Usually I am hard pressed to keep up with everyone on their warm up lap since their slow pace is faster than my fast pace.  However, in spite of the wheezing I chugged along with Marcus the whole time.  (I don't think he was going slow for me.  lol)  Then we did some short speed drills working on our form and run cadence.  Next we took off to run the Beaver Freezer route for a few laps around campus.  

The other two guys took off and Jon ran with me for two laps.  I always enjoy running or riding my bike with my coach.  We talk about all kinds of things, mostly about workout things but also about big picture stuff that all connects to being a healthier, happier person.  There's lots of stuff that I know in my head but getting it into my heart is hard work.  Comparing, perspective, etc.  All my usual blah blah blah stuff. 

One of the things that Jon said really has stuck with me this week.  He said that loose clothes and airplane seat belts that aren't tight are all awesome and fun.  But he wants me to be proud of and take joy in what my body is able to do.  

Take joy in what my body is able to do.  

That has stayed with me all week.  

I have come so far.  

I am doing things that six years ago I never would have dreamed of.  

Sometimes it's not pretty. 

Sometimes it's freaking fantastic.  

Either way there are lessons to be learned and things to gain from the experience.  

Here are some things that my body can do that I take joy in:

I can run.  There are people out there who have served in the military who have lost limbs.  There are people out there who were hurt during the Boston Marathon bombing that lost their legs.  While they overcome many difficulties to be able to walk with prosthetics and function again, I just swing my legs out of bed each morning without much problem.  I can run anytime I want.  It's really a pretty remarkable thing. 

I can swim.  Just over a year ago I got in the pool with my daughter to work on becoming someone who could swim competitively.  At first I was sure I was going to drown before I ever was able to swim on length of the pool (25 yards) without snorting water or having to stop.  Now I swim 200 or 300 yards for a warm up!  I have discovered that the love for being the water that I have always had has translated into a love for the sport of swimming as well.  I really enjoy my time in the pool.  Even if I had decided I didn't enjoy triathlons, I would have kept swimming as part of my work out.  I have discovered something that I really enjoy just because I do.  

I can bike.  I used to be so scared of my bike rides.  Getting ready for a ride was a lot of mental self talk that I was not going to crash, I would be fine and it would be fun.  I have crashed a couple of times.  While it's not fun, I survived and learned a few things which helped me on future rides.  I still have the occasional anxiety about riding my bike.  For the most part I look forward to my rides and working at getting stronger so I can go faster.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and I got my first 10-speed bike.  I loved riding around the neighborhood with my brother and sisters.  There are times now when I'm flying down a hill and I feel just like I did on that 10-speed when I was a kid.   

Me!  I can do those things!

Still tired all the time?  Yep!

Still not at the weight I want to be?  Yep!

Taking joy in the fast that I am stronger than I have ever been? ABSOLUTELY!!

When I started running I did a 5k and then got talked into doing a half marathon.  I sometimes feel like I missed out on enjoying the process of getting better at the shorter distances and working my way up to the longer one.  I'm not doing that with my triathlons.  I'm enjoying every part of the process and working at getting better at what I have done.  I'll know when and if I am ready to tackle something longer.  In the meantime: 

I'm taking joy in the fact that I did a whole bunch of triathlons last year and fell completely in love with the sport and all that goes with it.  

I'm taking joy in the fact that I have the ability and the health to keep working at getting stronger so that I can get better at being the best athlete I can be.  I know there are many people out there fighting sickness or other struggles that would probably love to be able to be active, even if it's slow.  Grateful that I can continue to work at being as healthy as possible.

I hope that if you are reading this you are able to look at whatever you are doing to be a healthier you and realize that you should take joy in what you are able to do.