What’s Next?

It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately as I’ve finished up the fitness and health trainer course I enrolled in last fall.  The answer to the question scares me a bit.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, though, which is part of the reason I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit.

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that this happened last week:IMG_1583I passed the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer exam!  That allows me to call myself a certified personal trainer.  Yikes!  Somehow the title implies some level of expertise, but I feel like I still have so much to learn.

But back to the question.  What’s next?

I’ve shied away from talking a lot about what I hope to do as a certified personal trainer, but the course is done.  I’ve passed my certification exam.  Now is the time.  Am I going to do something with it?  Am I going to allow the vision that propelled me in this direction to begin with come to fruition?  Or am I going to shrink in fear that I might fall flat on my face?

So I’m just going to bite the bullet, put all my dreams out there, and see what happens.  If I fall flat on my face, well…I fall flat on my face.  At least I will have tried.

Losing 63 pounds and finding so much life in being fit and healthy ignited a passion in me.  There aren’t many things I can say I’m truly passionate about, but health and fitness are true passions.  I could read and talk about it day and night and never get bored with it.  But in my job as a nurse, I encounter people every. single. day. who are my age or younger losing body parts because of diabetes, taking medication for high blood pressure, having trouble breathing, and all largely related to obesity.  It gnaws at me.  And it frustrates me to feel like the most I can do at this point is help them manage their diseases.

I don’t want to just treat diabetes and high blood pressure.  I want to prevent it.  My own journey to health and losing aches and pains I thought I’d be saddled with for the rest of my life was an eye opener, and I began to think, “What if I could help people lose weight before disease sets in?”

And this vision of becoming a personal trainer was born.

I remember how uncomfortable I used to be going to the gym, stuffed into my workout clothes, feeling like everyone, especially that super toned guy with the bulging biceps, was noticing my every fat roll.  And I’ve talked to enough women to know that many experience similar feelings.

So what I hope to do with my CPT certification is mobile training, going to those who are at risk for developing chronic disease because of their weight, working with them in an environment where they feel comfortable, and walking them down the road to health.

But making that a reality involves thinking through a lot of details and logistics.  I have no idea how to set up a business, and I’m sure issues will come up that I’ve never even thought of.  But what a grand adventure!

I’m excited for the next step.  Scared spitless, but excited!  So follow along with me as I figure out this whole certified personal trainer gig and how to start and run a mobile training business (Geez Louise, I guess saying it means I really have to do it, uh?!).

Talk to me:

Have/would you ever work(ed) with a personal trainer?

If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would that be?

 

 

An Interview with My Favorite 4-year Old Runner

My niece Candice was born with hearing loss, but seriously, unless you saw her hearing aids, you’d never know she had a hearing problem, thanks to Happy Hands.

Happy Hands is this super cool preschool and kindergarten for kids with hearing loss or communication disorders.  The kids learn to sign, along with all the other things preschoolers have to learn.

Candice has been going to Happy Hands for a few years now, and I am just amazed at the progress that kiddo has made.  Her speech is right on par for a 4-year old and her hands are so expressive when she signs.  She blows my mind.  Well, all my nieces and nephews blow my mind for that matter.  Seriously, how did I get the privilege of being Aunt Nita to such great kiddos?

But back to Happy Hands…I am so grateful for everyone who makes that school function, from office staff to teachers and everyone in between.  Every year the school does a fun run as a fundraiser.  You may remember that I attended last year as well.  I can see myself attending this fun run for a lot of years to come.

The run itself is set up in the parking lot of the school.  Cones divide the space and arrows chalked on the pavement point the direction to run.  I love this starting line!071And there are all kinds of fun characters that attend.  Candice was totally enamored with Jimmy’s Egg, or the big marshmallow as one cutie pie called him!079The police and fire department also came.  I love this look on Candice’s face as she waits with anticipation to see the fire truck.

070At the end of the run, I “interviewed” Candice.

Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever?!  She is definitely my favorite 4-year old runner!  Here’s to lots of years of “running super fast!”

I love when the things I’m passionate about collide, and this Happy Hands fun run fundraiser does just that.  It takes running and turns it into an avenue to support on organization that is helping my sweet niece find her way in a big world.  If you’re looking for a worthwhile organization to support, check out Happy Hands.

Talk to me:

What’s one of the best fundraisers you’ve ever attended?

What’s been the best part of your week this far?

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Week 1 Jump Rope Challenge

Well, week 1 of my jump rope challenge was a big, fat goose egg.  I jumped one day.  One lousy day!  Fifteen minutes!  What?!  I’m not going to meet my goal like that, but life happens and that’s how it went.

Monday night, bleary eyed from a night shift that ended that morning, I got myself out on my patio, determined to get in my fifteen minutes of jumping.  Fifteen minutes of jumping doesn’t sound like much, but it’s such high intensity exercise that it wears me out quickly.  That quarter-hour felt like an eternity.  I had to actually pause my timer and take a water break for 1-2 minutes.

I had good intentions of keeping up my jumping, but I’m not sure what happened.  I had a couple of tough CrossFit workouts (Well, let’s face it.  I’ve never done a CrossFit workout that wasn’t tough.) that made me pretty sore, and truthfully I just lost my motivation for jumping rope.

But, today’s WOD had double unders again.  Coming home with red jump rope bites on my arm has renewed my determination to get back at it.

Anywho, here’s how last week’s jump rope session went.  My goal was to jump 200 times consecutively without missing the rope.  Over and over, I’d make it to around 150 jumps and miss.  I won’t lie.  I might have said some curse words.  Finally, I was down to the last few minutes of my session and this happened:

So I hit my goal for that first session with 200 unbroken singles.  My goal for this week is to work on jumping higher and twirling the rope faster. I’ll let you know how that goes (wink).

Here’s to whatever your fitness goals are!  Let’s do this!

Talk to me:

How do you keep yourself motivated to do hard things?

What’s a goal you met recently? (Hey, even if your goal was to eat a salad one time during the week, I’d love to hear about that!)

Double-under Quest

I came home from CrossFit a few days ago looking like this:

IMG_1529No, they aren’t cat scratches.  They’re jump rope bites!

We jump rope a good bit at CrossFit.  If you’re like me, I hadn’t picked up a jump rope since I was a little kid, so when I started CrossFit a little over a year ago, I was severely out of jump rope shape.  Over the course of my short CrossFit “career”, though, I’ve improved on the jump rope.  I can jump 200 times without missing the rope–on most days.  You know how it goes.  Some days you just can’t do anything right, right?

But when it comes to double-unders…

Most CrossFit workouts that include a jump rope include the skill of double-unders, having the rope pass twice under the feet with a single jump.  To me, it’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.  Somehow, I just can’t seem to keep my jumping rhythm while speeding up my twirling rhythm.  It should look like this:

But I’m not there yet.  I can usually get a double-under with every other jump, but I’m having a hard time stringing a run of doubles together.  IMG_1536CrossFit jump ropes tend to be a slim cable, so when I miss, the rope really packs a wallop.  Hence, the lovely whelps on my arms. But I am bound and determined to get this skill down.  I’m done with letting the jump rope beat me, literally.

So, starting Monday May 1, I’m challenging myself to a month of jumping rope.  For the month of May, I am challenging myself to at least 15 minutes a day (except Sundays) of jumping rope and working on double-unders.  My goal is to do ten     double-unders unbroken at the end of the month.

Will I meet my goal?  Check in and follow along on my quest for      double-unders!

Talk to me:

What’s a goal you’re working towards?

When’s the last time you jumped rope?

 

What I’m Eating These Days

So how’s your eating going?  Are you making healthy choices?  It’s hard.  I know.  Believe me, I know!  But I thought today I’d tell you about some of the foods that have made choosing healthy a bit easier for me lately.

  1.  Tomato Basil rice cakes.  I discovered rice cakes early on in my weight loss process.  I know a lot of people turn up their noses at them, but I like IMG_1484them.  Plain rice cakes aren’t all that tasty alone, but use them in place of bread and they’re wonderful!  Throw some tuna, turkey and lettuce, or even peanut butter on a rice cake, and you’ve got a quick, low-calorie meal, and the crunch of the rice cake satisfies the part of my appetite that needs crunch as well.  But these tomato basil rice cakes are amazing!  They taste great alone which makes them perfect for when I’m craving something crunchy and salty.  They also work great as a base for turkey and gives tuna an extra zing.
  2. Powdered peanut butter.  Who knew there was such a thing?!  I LOVE peanut butter!  No day in my world is complete without it, and running out of peanut butter nearly constitutes an emergency.  Seriously.  I have IMG_1483gone to the store for nothing expect peanut butter.  True story!  But I try to be careful with how much peanut butter I eat because it does add a lot of calories and fat to my diet.  What I like about this powdered peanut butter is that I get the taste of peanut butter without the fat and with significantly fewer calories.  My experience with it is limited to use in smoothies, but I’m anxious to try it just mixed with a little almond milk in place of the real deal.IMG_1522
  3. Zucchini.  I love all kinds of squash.  Butternut squash soup is one of my favs!  I love roasting summer and zucchini squash.  But lately I’ve sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions in a pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  When the vegetables are almost done, I toss in some chicken.  Holy cow!  So good.  That’s been my dinner several times this past week.
  4. Blackberries.  I’ve never been a big fan of berries aside from blueberries and strawberries.  The crazy thing is that I was in the store recently, saw blackberries, and thought they just looked so good.  Why is that when I’ve never really cared for them before?  Anyway, I picked some up and had some for a snack later.  Well, I am a reformed berry hater.  They are IMG_1523so good!  And they’re really good for you too–lots of antioxidants to fight cell damage.  I just have to be careful to eat them in moderation because, as with all fruit, blackberries are sugar.  You know how your body stores excess sugar?  As fat.  Yep.

So who says healthy eating has to be boring?!  Who needs pizza when you can eat squash?!

 

Talk to me:

What are your favorite foods/meals at the moment?

Care to share a favorite healthy recipe?  Leave it in the comments for all to enjoy.

Freedom in Fitness

So this Easter weekend, I’ve been thinking about the concept of freedom.  It’s a big concept, right?  Ask anybody what freedom means to them, and you’ll probably get a different answer.  I mean, think about freedom in the context of war and our soldiers.  Wow.  Think about religious freedom, and people around the world dying for what they believe.  Think about political freedom.  Think about freedom of speech, and all the other freedoms the Constitution of the United States bestows on its citizens.

But the freedom I’ve been thinking specifically about this weekend, you know, with it being Easter and all, is spiritual freedom.  Read my story here of how the truth of God’s word freed me from a lifetime of trying to be someone other than who I was.  If you don’t feel like reading that story, let me just say, folks, that there is incredible freedom in just being who you are.  No, I don’t mean just let it all hang out wherever you are!  Manners and discretion are important, but just drop the mask.  It’s okay that all your ducks aren’t in a row!IMG_0183

And as I’ve mulled over this incredible gift of spiritual freedom and just enjoying being the ME that God made me to be, I began to think about how much physical fitness mirrors this concept of spiritual freedom.

Here’s the thing.  I felt almost as trapped by an obese body as I did by a deceived mind.  Just as my erroneous beliefs of who I was affected how I acted, my obese body affected where I went and what I did.IMG_0747

Listen, I could find any excuse in the book to not attend a social function when I was fat.  And then I would lie on the couch and have a cry because I felt lonely.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Seriously, I was letting my desire for food rob me of life.  When I put food in its proper place, lost the weight and put my body in a place to function more effectively and efficiently–Wow!  The world became this never-ending amusement park, full of places to go, things to try, adventures to tackle.

No, of course, everything’s not rosy.  Please.  I still have tough days.  I still struggle with erroneous thoughts.  I still make bad food choices.  7386(Yep.  I ate Cheetos last week.  Can we say bad food choice?)

But the point I’m trying to make is that being fit makes it so much easier for my body to just do what it’s supposed to do.  Because the work of just moving and caring for my body has eased, I have the strength, energy, confidence, and desire to try new things.

Fitness has given me a different kind of freedom.  How can I help you get there?

 

Talk to me:

What did you do on Easter?

Is there something weight is holding you back from doing, or at least, trying?

 

 

Running Coach!

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas, at St. Vincent’s hospital.IMG_1069No, don’t worry!  I wasn’t there because someone was sick.  I was there for educational purposes, and it wasn’t nursing or anything medically related.

Curious yet?

I attended a running coach certification course!  It was a weekend jammed full of information on the different types of runners, what different types of runners need, and how to design training programs for runners from a couch to 5K to a marathon.

I have to admit.  It was pretty overwhelming.  I never realized what went into the training that I’ve been through.  I just showed up and ran with my group, followed the coach’s instructions and lead, and then on race day, I showed up and ran my race!  The science and discussion behind various training strategies is fascinating–and complicated!

Anywho, attending the course was the first step towards certification.  The next step was successfully passing the online exam.

My goal for this week was to complete the exam.  We could take as long as we needed to complete it, as long as we completed in within 30 days of the course.  So I started the exam yesterday.  I’d work through a few questions, take a break, come back to it.  This morning I finished the exam.

My heart starting beating fast as I hesitated over the submit button.  I had one chance, and there were a few questions I was unsure about.  But I knew that I had answered the questions to the best of my ability.  Come what may, I was done with the test.  I hit submit.  And then that 5 second wait that seemed like 5 hours was over and my score popped up on the screen.

Was that really my score?  I could feel my hands start to shake.  It’s over, I told myself.  Deep breath, girl.  You….PASSED!IMG_0337

Yes, I passed the exam, and Tulsa now has a new certified running coach.  So if you’re in the Tulsa area and you think you might like to be a runner, I’d love to help you reach that goal!

 

Talk to me:

Who’s the best coach you’ve ever had?  Why?

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My First Trail Run: The Spectacular Spill on Turkey Mountain

One thing on my running to-do list has been to try trail running.  But training for and running two marathons in one year didn’t leave much time for other running adventures.  So with no big races planned for 2017, when I saw the announcement about the Snake Run I decided to take the opportunity to try trail running.

Now, the name of the race seriously made me reconsider registering for the race since my fear of snakes borders on a phobia.  I am terrified petrified of snakes.  I hate them so much I made my sister read the reptile chapter in my eighth grade science class to me so I wouldn’t have to look at those pictures.  Shiver.

But once I scrolled past the picture of a colorful, coiled up snake (shiver, again) on the race’s website, I discovered that the name of the race came from the curvy nature of the trail on Turkey Mountain, a wilderness area right here in the middle of Tulsa (sweet!), and had nothing to do with snakes, thankfully.  Then, I learned that runners of this race chose a time limit of either 3 or 6 hours.  The objective, then, was to run as far as possible within that time limit.  Sounded like a good race for my first trail race, so I signed up.  At least if I made one lap and decided I hated trail running, I could just quit.  There wasn’t a distance I needed to complete.  Kind of took the pressure off, you know.

So for those of you who follow me on Facebook, here’s the story I promised you of why my first trail run ended like this:trail running, 1The day of the run dawned sunny and clear, a perfect day to run.  I was feeling a bit nervous since the rules of this race were so different from road races.  A veteran trail runner explained that we would make the 3.75 mile loop, check in at the start/finish line for our miles to be logged, and head back out for the next loop.  The strategy came in finishing the current loop before your time limit was up.  Otherwise, those last 3.75 miles would not be counted.

The 6 hour runners started, and 15 minutes later the gun went off for us lowly 3 hour runners.  I took my place in the line of runners along the narrow beginning of the trail, and my first trail run was underway.  I discovered that what I’d been told about trail running was absolutely true.  My pace was much slower, and I had to focus on the ground right in front of me to know where to put my feet.  Yep, just like they said.

snake run2, 2017About 2 miles in, I was feeling good, enjoying the new adventure of jumping over rocks, mud puddles, rocks, and ditches when all of sudden I found myself face down in the dirt.  But it wasn’t just a fall.  It was one of those falls that begins with a couple of bounces when you hit the ground and finally ends when you skid to a stop with an “oomph.”  A most spectacular spill, I’m sure, if I’d been on the viewing end of that initiation into trail running.  Other runners passed me like gazelles, slowing down enough to make sure I was okay and to pass on encouragement to “walk it off”, telling me that a fall makes me a true trail runner.  Sprawled on the ground, taking up the entire trail with limbs in every which direction, that did make me feel a bit better!

snake run1, 2017I landed hard on my left hip (enough to get road rash through my shorts, I discovered later), but running didn’t seem to make it worse, initially, so I kept going.  My goal was to run 13 miles in the 3 hours, but with each loop, my left leg and knee started protesting more and more and my lap times kept getting slower.  Finally, I noticed that I was holding my breath and with each step over tree limbs, rocks, or ditches, a little moan would escape from my mouth.  I decided that to risk further injury, the prudent thing to do was to end the race…at 12.75 miles.  I hate doing the prudent thing sometimes, especially so close to my goal.

So there you have it.  The story of my first trail run…and 2 weeks later, I’m still sporting a nice greenish bruise on my leg.  But fall and all, I had fun!

Talk to me:

What’s something new you’ve tried recently?

What’s something you’d like to try?

 

From the Back of the Pack

For the first time in over a year, I skipped a Saturday run today.  That shin pain that developed after my last marathon has been bugging me again this week, so I decided it would be best not to run 16 miles today.  Plus, Saturday runs have not been so much fun lately.

I’ve been feeling discouraged about running and CrossFit and fitness in general lately.

Two weeks ago I ran the Sweetheart run double–a 5K followed by a 10K.  I was okay with my 5K time but 158disappointed in my 10K time.  It was almost 2 minutes off my PR.

Then we had a benchmark workout on the schedule at CrossFit.  It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves to see that we’re progressing in our fitness.  Our score was the total number of repetitions of several different exercises completed before the final buzzer.  Of the girls, I finished last by quite a few repetitions.

And after running with a group for a year where I could easily run at the front of the group, I moved up a pace group where I’m lagging way behind everyone else, crying inside, the coach plodding along beside me, encouraging me so I could just finish the run.

What is going on?  Why is everything such a challenge?  Why can’t I do better?  These are the questions I’m asking myself as I mentally berate myself from the back of the pack for not keeping up with the others.

As I’ve mulled this over, thinking about my performance in the various activities I participate in, it came to me.  Things are harder because I’m pushing myself.

148The Sweetheart Run with the disappointing 10K time?  It was actually a 15K PR.  So it wasn’t a consecutive 15K, but I understand now why my 10K time wasn’t better.  For a total of 9 miles, I made myself run raster than I did during my last 15K.

And that CrossFit workout that I’m bummed about?  I actually completed more repetitions than I did last time, and, unlike last time, I did not scale the workout.  I used the weights and distances that the workout is meant to be done with.  Gains!

And maybe I am bringing up the rear in my running group, but I’m running at a faster pace for a longer distance, something my body is not yet used to. 159Perspective.  When I stop comparing myself to others and look at the gains I’ve made, I’m doing okay.  Things are hard now because I’m making my body work hard, but that’s how fitness gains happen.  And that’s really what it’s all about.  Whatever you do to keep yourself fit, it’s not a competition (unless you’re a professional athlete in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading my little blog!).  It’s not about comparing yourself to others; it’s about pushing yourself to be the best, the strongest, the fastest, the fittest you can be.

156So I traded in my running shoes for dumbbells today and got my glisten on.  Hopefully, next week I’ll be back with my running group, trying to remember that my place at the back of the pack means I’m getting stronger!

Talk to me:

How are your fitness goals coming along?

How are you feeling about your current level of fitness?

 

Relapse

One of my biggest fears since losing a boatload of weight is that I would gain weight again.  I’m terrified of that happening.  I never want to be overweight again.  I hated how I felt physically and mentally as an overweight obese person, and for the most part that fear has kept me on the straight and narrow in making good food choices.  That, and the fact that my desire for junk food is essentially gone.  Well, mostly gone.

But then it happened.  I’ve gained some weight.  Not a lot.  I bet most people who see me every day can’t even tell, but I know.  While I’m learning not to be totally obsessed by the number on the scale, when I know what I’ve been eating and I see that number go up, I know I’ve put on some weight.

Confession time.  I’ve been eating way too much chocolate.  Like every day, having something chocolate.  I know what my trigger for sweets is–fatigue.  When I’m tired, I crave chocolate like a drowning man must crave air.  I feel like I HAVE to have sugar.  And my resistance to temptation when I’m tired is zilch.  I feel like my will power is completely tapped out, and I give in.  Every.  Single.  Time.

IMG_1280Working night shift, I spend about 75% of my week tired.  I’m up for over 24 hours more than one day a week.  It’s a tough schedule, and Lord willing, I’ll be able to come off of it soon.  So while I tend to want to comfort myself with this notion that I have reason to be tired and that chocolate is just helping me get through the day, I am NOT okay with gaining weight.  And I recognize that stinkin’ thinkin’ in my excuse.  Chocolate is food, an inanimate object; it can’t make me do anything.  And it can’t really make me less tired.  Fatigue or not, I chose to eat enough chocolate to put on a few pounds.  Me.  I did it.

So my old fat self would have beaten myself up, said “to heck with it” and had some more chocolate.  Anybody in that boat with me?  But having gone through a major weight loss, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and gained some tools that I think will get me back on track.  This is how I’m handling this little set back:

  1.  Remember.  I find myself thinking back to how I felt before I lost weight, reliving those aches and pains and negative thoughts and emotions.  I don’t want that again.  That’s enough to motivate me to get back on track.
  2. Go back to the basics.  I’ve pulled up my Lose It! app again and am tracking my calories daily again.  I need that concrete reminder of how002 many calories chocolate deducts from my “calorie bank” and then, deciding if having chocolate is worth going over my calorie limit or being hungry the rest of the day.
  3. Find new ways to deal with fatigue.  It’s tough when you’re halfway through a 12 hour night shift and find yourself absolutely exhausted.  That’s when I really start craving chocolate.  I’m still working on this part; it’s definitely the hardest part for me, but I’m trying to deal with it by not keeping cash on me (so I can’t go to the vending machines) and by bringing healthy snacks like fruit, protein bars, or a baggie of almonds and raisins to work with me.  When I’m home and the cravings hit, I’m trying to just distract myself with another activity or if I have time, just lie down for a nap.

So I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.  If you find yourself in this same position of having lost some weight and now gaining some, don’t beat yourself up!  This does NOT mean the end of your healthy lifestyle!  Own the choices you’ve made that have led to the weight gain, and get back on track.  We’ll do it together!

Talk to me:

How do you handle set backs on the choices you’ve made to live a healthier life?

What’s your favorite weight loss/health app?