Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beautiful day

It's a Beautiful Day!

Today was the first day I've ran outside since December. It felt awesome! It reminded me that this is why I run. To be outside, to hear the birds, to listen to the music. To feel the warm sun on my skin.

And of course, to get that runners high. Yes! We might have had an Idaho winter, but we are back to a Utah spring, and I am very happy about that. I almost wore shorts today. It felt a little anxious. I'll give it one more day.

I also felt great for another reason. I haven't mentioned this to too many people, but I think it would be unjust  to keep the knowledge that I've learned to myself. You see, last September, my friend, Lynette asked me to take a nutrient class with her. To be honest I really didn't want to.  I liked my brownies and cookies and I knew that if I took this class they would tell me to cut out the sugar and bread and all the things I liked. I didn't want to make a change. Plus, I was worried about failing. I've never done a "diet". In fact, I am against dieting in most circumstances. But she persisted and I finally gave in.

The class turned out to be amazing and insightful. Our instructor, Nancy, has become like a mother to us. She still stops me in the gym to see how I am doing, and to let me know how good I look. Why don't we live the way we were all taught growing up? Lots of vegetables, a little meat, a little starch. Protein and fruit for snacks and lots and lots of water. It's all about keeping your metabolism cranked. That's it. Well, not quite it, but that's the basics. Portion sizes and the types of food you eat are equally important.

For the first two months I cut out almost all my sugar and found substitutes like agave and Stevia so I could still have a cookie once in a while. I cut out butter and mayo and ranch dressing. I found good substitutes like Coconut oil for butter and yummy vinaigrettes with half the calories for my salads and even for my sandwiches.  I made sure I was getting enough protein, especially after working out, and started making "The green drink" which is one of my favorite drinks now, though if you are going to make it be sure to add something sweet like pineapple!!! And the most difficult change; I drank lots of water.  When I lost the first pound I thought it was just water weight. Then the next pound, I thought was just chance. It wasn't until I lost 5 pounds that I began to think this thing actually worked. I hadn't even set a goal. I just hoped to learn to eat better. It worked! To date I've lost 14 pounds. I don't know if I'll lose anymore, but I thought that at ten pounds so who knows.

Besides feeling better, (I had a lot of stomach aches before, my mom thinks were connected to my gallbladder), I can also run faster. I have more stamina and more air. And the rotten first mile, where it felt like I was burning out the crap that I ate the day before, is now a thing of the past.  The other thing about eating healthier is the meals are simple. Cutting out all the fats and mayo and all the other junk leaves you preparing simpler meals. They are more tasteful too. One of my favorite side dishes is cut up zucchini and squash baked in the oven for twenty minutes with a little olive oil and  mozzarella cheese. Add a little green pepper and onion and you will be amazed at how good it tastes. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

I used to joke that skinny doesn't feel better than chocolate tastes. But I've changed my mind. I do love dark chocolate. Especially the dark chocolate covered almonds at Costco. Yum! But it actually does feel better to know  that you are doing all  you can to live the most ideal life possible. Things will still happen, but  I am going to enjoy it more now that I feel better.

So that's it.  But there is one snag. This has to be a life change. I've never seen anyone keep the weight off by going off a diet. There was a reason they were on that diet. Yes, it's hard to keep  up when you're with family or on vacation. It's easy to slide back into bad habits. I know that the only way to keep it off is to make healthy eating a habit. It's the 80/20 rule. If you will eat like I mentioned above 80 percent of the time, then your body will take care of the other 20 percent. So you can still have the things you love...once in a while. And not too many. :) I had to remind myself of that when the girl scout cookies arrived the other day. Much harder than I had hoped.

Anyway, that's it. I feel good. I had a great run today, and now I think I'll go have a handful of chocolate covered almonds for my mid day snack. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Lady With A Smile

There was a lady at the gym with the most infectious smile. She was tiny. Probably 75 pounds with her coat on. A Japanese woman that could run, no sprint for  forever! I would watch her sometimes as I waited for a class to begin, or if I was riding a bike. Those skinny legs spun around so fast I thought I would get dizzy.  I don't think she ever broke a sweat. She was there all the time. At least every time I was there. She was quite famous. I mean, when you see someone sprinting on a treadmill for twenty minutes it catches your attention. I didn't know her name, but she always greeted me with a smile. At first I thought she was smiling at the person behind me because I didn't know her, and, why on earth would she be smiling at me? Then I realized, that she was that way with everyone. It didn't matter if she knew your name. She was happy to see you.

I go to the gym to work out. I rarely socialize and few people would know me. I never minded this before. I liked it that way, actually. I have a lot to do and I want to get in and out without making a scene, check that box, and get on with my day. Until yesterday. That was when I went to the gym and learned that this sweet lady had died. I learned  that behind that big smile was a woman suffering with a lot of pain and  struggling with personal trials so large they seemed overwhelming. My heart broke for her. My heart broke for her family. And yes, beyond that, my heart broke for all of us that will not have that smile greeting us as we step into class, or climb onto a treadmill anymore.

Today, I found myself looking for her. Wanting to see her smile. I realized how much it had meant to me and that I never really reciprocated her kindness. In my selfish ways, I seldom started up a conversation, even as she was pleading with her eyes for someone to talk to her. I never even asked her name. A few weeks ago she asked to trade  places in Zumba because she hadn't been to that class for a while and wanted to follow me. I laughed and assured her I would only lead her astray. I asked where she'd been and she informed me that she had gotten hurt and this was her first week back. I said I was sorry to hear it but was glad she was back. That was as far as our conversation went.

So back to today. She wasn't there. She wasn't on the treadmill, or standing beside me in class. I find myself looking for her. Expecting to walk in a room and be met by her beautiful smile. Half way through class I noticed something. There, next to me,  in the very middle of the room, was an empty spot. This was unusual because the class was full. To the rim. If you've been to body pump you'll know what I mean. Like people fight to get a spot. And yet, there beside me  was this gaping hole. I wondered if she knew that she was missed, that there was  indeed a spot just for her. Could she hear my thoughts and those of half the class, as her absence was jolting to so many  people? Did she know that we did love her?

I guess I just want to say that life is hard. But it is also fragile. When it gets really unbearable we have to put our heads down and fight to get through it. It reminds me of the weight class today. My legs were shaking and I just wanted to quit, and the lady teaching the class yelled over our heads, "How bad do you want this? How bad do you want this!!!" Well, I want it... bad. So, I put my head down and finished the work out because I want this! I want this life with all the pain and disappointment and hurt and all the crap that gets thrown at us. I want this life where nothing comes easy and you have to work really hard to get what you want, and even then you may not get it. Because it may not be God's plan for you.

Because, beyond the struggle, and the fight, and the pain, and blood and sweat, there is a beautiful sunrise to be seen; an owl crossing your path as the dawn begins. It is your child hugging you and kissing your cheek and telling you that you are the best mom in the world. It is  love and jokes and funny stories that make your stomach hurt and your eyes to tear from laughing. It is the brush of someone's hand wiping your hurt away. A hug, a cuddle, a passionate kiss from your lover. It is crossing the finish line of a race, and the bite of cherry pie you've been anticipating for months. It is worth it. All of it. Remember, after the pain, there is a cool down: a child's pose, a brief respite, and eventually, toned muscles and a healthy heart. And that makes everything else bearable. As our instructor says, "We're making diamonds out of coal." We are chunks of coal in desperate need of reshaping, our trials are the very thing that helps in this process and in the end we will have our reward, diamonds.

Shine bright, Midori. May heaven be blessed with your eternal smile.