Saturday, April 29, 2017

INCREDIBLE!

Yeah, I know that all caps is like shouting out loud.  But, that's what I wanted to do after completing my second Half-Marathon.  Last Sunday...April 23rd.
Wooooooooo hooooooo!

April  of 2016 my friend Connie and I did the Naperville (Illinois) Women's Half Marathon.  We loved it! So, as soon as registration opened for this year's race (which was last spring), we "raced" to sign up.  :)  Pun intended.

Then, last summer we told our walking/running friends about the half and encouraged them to do it.  "You have plenty of time to train for it" we said.  Well, eventually there were 7 of us...pretty much our entire group...that registered for the race.  Then, all of a sudden, winter was winding down and race time was almost here!  Lots of training going on and a "just a bit" of nervousness.  Yikes!

It was a very different feel and completely different dynamics doing this race with a group of friends.  Different, but wonderful! What a bonding experience.
The energy, the anticipation, the nerves, the encouragement, the praise.
Every time I remember this experience, I'm reminded how blessed I am to be surrounded by this group of women.
Want to see a few (or lots of) pics from half marathon day?  I thought so.  Okay!

Pre-race, at the start line.
 The temperature was around 38 degrees F pre-race.  My fingers were SO cold.  But the sun was shining and the temps rose pretty fast.  Ideal weather for a half.
I think there were about 2500 women doing the half and nearly 2000 in the 5k.
In total, almost twice as many as last year.
Our team of 7 post-race, adrenaline still pumping!
From left to right: Me, Shawn, Carol, Michelle (in front), Cayce, Connie & Laurie.
Me with my finishers medal.  That thing is heavy!
Our friend Carol have to leave right away, so we missed her in these photos.  :(

This is my favorite photo.  So fun!

Five of us headed out for lunch after the race.  It was a day for "eat anything you want" for lunch.  Splurge!  I had a burger with fries and it was DE-licous.
We sat there and talked for a long time.  Lots of laughter, too.  We may have gotten a bit loud occasionally.  We got "the look" from a couple a few tables away.  Sorry, but not really.  It was a very special occasion and we were still pumped.
I still smile every time these memories pop into my brain.  Like...right now.
Guess what?  Our next race is two weeks from today.  "Only" a 10k this time.
I'm still amazed that I'm doing these races at this point in my life.  No, I am NOT bragging.  A lot of people do half marathons.
I'm amazed because just a 3-1/2 years ago I was 77 pounds heavier than I am now and had several health issues.  There was no way that I could have walked even a 5k at that time.  I have much to be thankful for and two of those things are the ability and the good health to be able to do the physical activities that I have come to love so much.  And...if I hadn't made the changes in my life that led me to where I am today, I may not have been surrounded be these wonderful women...in last Sunday's photos.  God leads us in ways and directions that absolutely amaze me.  For that, I am so grateful.
May God's Peace be with you all.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Holiday Indulgences and Old Habits

You can probably guess by the title of this post, what I'm writing about today.

Throughout the year I indulge occasionally in some sweet treats.  A few simple carbs, now and then too.  But just a few.  No harm done.
Well, that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is THE most difficult time for me to resist treats.  They're at work, they're at holiday parties, they're everywhere!
This year I certainly indulged a few times too often.  The result was a weight gain of 5 pounds.  Oh my....that was difficult to write.  Ouch!
I realized how VERY easy it is to give in to those old habits of "treating myself" to unhealthy foods.  Too often.  Bad habits, no matter from how long ago, are so easy for me to fall back into.  I changed to a healthy eating lifestyle in August of 2013, so it's been a few years.  But, oh how easy I can pick up those bad habits.  At those times, it's easy to think of myself as someone addicted to food.  It can be a crutch.  It can be comforting.  It can be so much more (or less?) than a source of nutrition!

My bathroom scale and I have not been buddies lately.  BUT I'm working to change that.  I've lost half of that weight gain and I'm working to lose the remainder.

I, mentally, beat up myself for gaining those pounds.  I'm glad you couldn't hear those conversations with myself.
What if I can't lose those 5 pounds?
What if I gain more weight?
What if I, then, can't wear all the cute clothing I've bought?  My favorite jeans especially.
Buy a bigger size???  No.  Just...NO.

Eventually, I stopped that crazy whirlwind of negative and destructive thoughts. It took a while.

I'm sure I'm not the only person that gained a few, or more than a few, pounds over the holidays.
But, believe me, it's reason for concern and stress for someone like me.  Someone who worked hard and made many lifestyle changes, in order to lose 77 pounds and get healthy.  And working on staying healthy.  Yes, it is work...and always will be.  But it's very important work.

I know that I will lose those few extra pounds.  I know how to do it; I've done it before.  I'll do it again in the future...I'm sure.  This will be a lifelong journey.  And it won't ever be easy.  But it IS doable and it IS worth it.   So. Very. Worth. It.


I love this version of me, so I want to take care of her!  She's worth it.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

It's so much more than "before and after".

Well, where do I even begin?
This blog post has been rolling around in my brain for so many months.  I haven't known where to begin, but I knew I wanted to write it.

When I made the decision in August of 2013, to make changes to my eating and activity habits, I really had no idea it would lead me to where I am today.  My primary goal was to lose weight and get healthier.  Yes.  I did that, and so much more.

You know that there is always a "before and after" photo, right?  Okay, I'm showing you that.  But, there are SO MANY other changes to me that one doesn't see in photos.
My "before" photo in 2013, as I began to change me.  My "after" photo taken in April 2016 after my first half marathon.
I'm beyond happy that I've lost those 77 excess pounds AND kept them off for this long.  Two years and 4 months, at this point.  But I realize that I will have to continue making healthy choices for the rest of my life.  Sometimes those choices aren't easy.  Sometimes they're VERY difficult.  Sometimes I stray a little and make the wrong decision.  Oh yes, I have my weak moments.  Moments?  Ha! Make that "hours" or "days".  But I've learned that when I go off track, I just have to tell myself that it's okay.  It's temporary.  No need for a pity party (well, maybe a short one). 
Anyway...it was temporary.  It's happened before.  It will happen again.  Stop it now and start over.
That philosophy has worked for me.  My weight varies within a range of about 4 poumds

Now. The title of this blog post.  Yes, it's so much more than a "before and after" photo.

Besides my appearance and my health, there have been so many other things that have changed as a result of my weight loss.

My self esteem - in addition to feeling good physically, I feel so good about myself.  It took quite a while for me to see myself differently.  That mental picture of myself looked a lot like the "before" photo for quite a while.  I had to get used to the new me, and really come to terms with this version of me, to think of myself differently.  It finally happened though.  I'm so happy about that!

The activities I enjoy - I still love my paper crafting hobby; very much!  But...I also love physical activities. Especially distance walking.  It feels great to get outdoors and MOVE.  I love the way it makes me feel...physically, emotionally and mentally.  When I've been working at my desk for too long, my body lets me know it's time to get moving.  On those days when I feel tied to my desk, with little time to spare, I feel deprived if I don't get some walking time.  That time I spend walking is restorative and rejuvenating.  I need it, mentally and physically.  Actually, I need it spiritually too.  I've found that my walking time is one of my best times for prayer.

Mentoring/advising/sharing - I'm really not sure what to call this one.  During the time I was losing weight and still now, so many people have asked me for advice on losing weight.  I am, in no way, qualified to give any expert advice on this subject.  I'm happy to share what has worked for me, but I know that it may not work for someone else.  It's flattering to be asked, I'll admit.  I think each of us really has to educate ourselves on this subject and each person has to ask themselves why they want to lose weight.  And, are they ready to make a lifelong commitment to these changes they're contemplating?

Comments from others - This one is really very interesting and occasionally confusing.
I've received many positive and encouraging comments and compliments on my physical appearance since losing all that extra weight.  Of course, that's a real boost to my ego and it's fun.
When shopping for clothing, I'm still surprised when a sales person refers to me as "little" or "tiny".  I shopped the plus size section of stores for so many years, so this is a complete turn around for me!
Now, occasionally someone will tell me that I'm too thin.  These are the comments that confuse me.
I'm healthy, I feel great and I'm within the "normal" weight range for my height.  And my doctor is pleased with my weight.  Occasionally, when I'm told I'm too thin, I start to wonder if they're right.
I know that I look MUCH different than I used to.  Many people were used to seeing the "before" Susie.  Since losing weight, my proportions are different and gravity has had an effect on some areas of my body.  Well...I'm not going much further with that subject.  I'll just say that body does not look the same as someone my size who never carried that extra weight.  Some areas may be a bit thin, but others have some "extra".  So, I'm always going to be a bit out-of-proportion in comparison.  Ah well.  I'm just keeping it real here!
Most importantly, I'm happy (and my sweet and supportive husband is happy) with my "after" and that's what really matters.

As I wrap up this post, one other thought just came to mind.  It has to do with how I think of myself.
My friend Connie and I walked a half-marathon together in April.  It was my first and her 3rd (I think).  After completing the race and taking a few photos, we headed over to the tent for snacks.  Gotta get that "free" banana, right Connie???  :)
In front of the tent was a sign that said  "For Athletes".  Oh. My. Goodness.  I am an athlete.  Never, ever...ever had I thought of myself as an athlete.  That was an "Aha" moment with a capitol A!

I still smile when I think of that sign.  And I'm smiling right now.  :)
And now that I stop to think about it...I smile a lot more these days.






Here are a few quotes that really speak to me.
Love my bright colored running shoes AND my veggies with chicken.  Truly!!!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our Beautiful World - Outdoor Activity

Hi!  I follow a blog called Our Beautiful World and I always love the photos that the team posts.  These posts are from all around the world and such beautiful photography.  I've rarely joined in, but when I opened my email and saw what the prompt word was...well, I knew just the photo to use for this prompt.

This week it's "Outdoor Activity"
  
Since I participated in a 5k race this morning, I have a photo to share.  My friends and I met up at 5:45 am today, to head up to the race.  The weather was perfect, around 58 degrees F.  The sky was clear and the sun was just coming up.  A blessedly cool morning for August in northern Illinois!

Left to right: Michelle, Connie, me (Susie) and Laurie.

Photo credit: Michelle Heinrich
After the race we stopped for breakfast.  That gave us lots of time to talk!
Such a fun group of women to spend time with.  I'm truly blessed!
Enjoy your day and the people in your life!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Goal Reached!

Since the summer of 2015, one of my goals has been to walk a half-marathon.  My friend Connie asked if I'd ever thought of doing one and she offered to walk it with me.  Connie has run several half-marathon before, so it meant a lot to me that she was offering to WALK the entire race with me.
Immediately, I got so excited just considering doing a half with her.  I knew I wanted to do it, but would I be ABLE to do it?  Of course I could!  But I knew I would need to train for it.  I read all that I could find, to prepare myself for the race.  Connie and I trained together, too.

Training is so important.  We did a training walk, probably about 10 miles, a week before the half.  This particular session taught us a lot.  Hydrate more and EAT more during the walk.  I had read about suggested snacks to eat during a long race and I took one snack with me.  But realized, when I began feeling drained, weak, wrung-out...that I hadn't eaten enough.

For the half marathon race I made sure I took along more snacks.  What a difference it made!
I felt good throughout the entire race.  Of course I got tired, but I felt good.  Never weak.  And my recovery time after the half was quick. It was an amazing experience!

The race we chose, was the 2016 Inaugural Naperville Women's Half Marathon in Naperville, Illinois.
It was a sunny and cold morning on April 24.  Just 45 degrees F.  I was shivering while we waited for the race to start.  Maybe just a little bit of that was nerves...but mostly cold. :)

Here's a pic taken just before the start.
Then...............when we finished.  It was awesome!

Crossing the finish line together!

Waving to our personal photographer.  Thank you Tara!

Connie and Me.  Do we look happy...or what???!!!

Elated me!



The medal and tshirt I earned.

 All throughout the half marathon (by the way, that's 13.1 miles) there were volunteers handing water and gatorade.  And there were "Volun-cheers".  That's what their tshirts said and they indeed cheered us on.  The place where it meant the most to me, was leading up to the finish line.  Both sides of the track were lined with volunteers cheering and yelling for us.  Encouraging us to finish.  It gave me such a boost and I even had tears in my eyes.  It's an experience I'll never forget.
Oh.  By the way....Connie and I have already registered for the same race in 2017.  Woooo hoooo!!!

Go for it.  Do it.  Whatever it is you really want to accomplish, you CAN do it.
A few years ago, when I was 77 pounds heavier and did no physical activity, no one could have convinced me that in 2016 I would complete a half marathon and love it!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Friends in Fitness

Hello!  Long time, no talk.  Actually no writing, right?

Like most everyone else, my life has been full.  Full of many things.  But, let's talk about fitness friends, walking buddies...whatever you choose to call them.  They are such a blessing to me!

Most of my fitness walking is done by myself, simply because my schedule doesn't coincide with those of my walking friends.  But on those occasions when several, or even 2, of us can meet up to walk and talk...it brings me such joy.  I love walking outdoors and enjoying it with friends makes it even better.

Since my previous blog post (yes, many months ago) my friends and I have done several 5k races.  It was so much fun!  Such a difference from participating in a race on my own.  Until this year, I only knew these from church.  Except one.  We were neighbors many years ago.
Once we realized that we had this common thread of getting/staying fit, one thing led to another.

We've been racing together and having a lot of fun.  These women are funny, motivating and supportive.  Who could ask for more?  Not me.  :)

I'll share a few photos of what we've done so far this year.  Some are from races and some from our group walks.
April 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 - It was hot!



May 30, 2016 - 8 miles!   
June 4, 2016 - Rochelle Hospital Hustle 5k.  Several members won medals!
July 5, 2016 - It was a long, hot & sweaty walk in the late afternoon!

March 12, 2016 - The Lucky Hub Dash 5k.  What do you think of our home made tutus?  This was SO much fun!
Not a group photo, but I just had to share this goofy "ballerina" pic of me. :)
We've walked all kinds of weather.  ALL kinds.  We walked in a blizzard of blowing snow/sleet and very cold, last November in a 5k race.  Connie and I walked about 8 miles early on a Saturday morning this spring.  It was 24 degrees F and windy.  Wow, so cold.  Lots of mild, pleasant weather.  We try not to go out in hot weather, but sometimes the weather gives us a surprising warmup as we're walking!

We have more races planned for this year.  A 5k in early August, a 5k in early October and a 10k in late October.  I can hardly wait!  Oh. I'm still trying to decide whether I'm signing up for that late November race this year.  Snow???

Hey, get out there and move.  You'll be glad you did!





Sunday, April 10, 2016

Walking Buddies

For much of the past 2-1/2 years that I've been distance walking, I've walked by myself.  That's okay, but sometimes it sure would have been nice to have a walking buddy.  Finally, one day at church, my friend Connie and I decided we should meet up and go walking together.

Oh yeah.  The time and miles went by so quickly AND I had a great time.  What a boost to my motivation, too.  I highly recommend finding a walking partner!

Here's a pic from yesterday, when Connie and I finished a very long walk.
The temp when we headed out a 7 am was 24 degrees F, with a windchill of 17 degrees.  The big plus was...we had sunshine.  Finally!!!  Even though the air was cold, the day was beautiful.  I don't know if I would have braved that cold air if I hadn't committed to this walking date with Connie.  I was determined not to back out.  And...I'm so happy that I didn't.

About a  month ago, a couple of other friends from church asked if they could walk with us.  You bet.
So we created a private Facebook page for all of us to use, just for coordinating weekend walks on the bike path.  Who can go, what time...etc.
Here are a few pics of our walking group, from several different weekends.



I am so grateful for the friendships I've made through this fitness journey I'm on.  Just imagine how many more friendships will develop through the coming years.  Because, you know...this is a lifetime journey.

Friends are truly a blessing!