S.

Spring Cleanup: The Purse, Your Mind

Ah, spring, you have finally decided to enjoy us! Welcome, welcome.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we may be putting away some of our heavier, winter clothes and pulling out the lighter garments for our wardrobe.  Today, I want to talk about something that could also get a little lighter: our purses (or satchels ;)) and our minds.

You know, I was in the subway the other day and felt tension and pain on my shoulders.  And with reason!  There were just so many things in my purse that were, literally, weighing me down.  Confession: I usually carry around three bags!

So when I got home that evening, I sat down and emptied out the contents that were in my bag.  And, voilà, it occurred to me just how much anxiety was hiding in there.  Think about it, “Ah! I can’t find my keys!” usually gets you aggravated.  You have to dunk your hand in your bag and dig them up from the land of ‘beyond.’  Or, you might be checking out at a bar or retail store when suddenly you go “OMG my wallet! I know I had it in here!  Where is it?!” and that instantly just fills you up with a great overwhelming feeling of nerves and anxiety because now your ‘entire life’ is potentially gone.  Living like this is crazy (!) (and I’m no stranger to this kind of life).  So I vowed to clean up my purse… and more.

complexity

It does, however, beg to ask the question of “How did my bag get like this in the first place?”  Well, for me, I think it’s because I, and perhaps may others out there, are always in this ‘just-in-case’ mode, where we have to carry so many things around, just for that one time we may potentially need it.  In the past, I’ve tried to leave all of the truly unnecessary things behind, but failed.  I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have that one thing that would save me one day.  So I kept them.

And this actually goes further than your purse; it extends out to your life.  An example could include perhaps an acquaintance, or friend, that you honestly cannot stand, but may keep them in your ‘back pocket’ just in case you need them one day for a favor.  Or maybe it’s that sweater that doesn’t currently fit, but may one day fit, so it sits in your closet taking up space.  Or, maybe it’s that gym membership you pay for on a monthly basis and won’t cancel because, again, maybe one day you will go back to it.  All of these things aren’t farfetched to me, because they are some of the things that I couldn’t let go of.  And, surprisingly, they were all subconsciously something I was holding onto.  They were things that were bringing me back to where I didn’t want to be.  But you have to think: why spend your energy on someone who doesn’t appreciate you or help you ‘grow’?  Why tell yourself that you’re not ‘skinny’ enough to fit into something and then hate yourself for the rest of the day?  Or why spend money on something you don’t currently use instead of putting it towards something you do use?

All of this, believe it or not, is code for a fear of ‘letting go’.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to push yourself to make a change, because it will lead to a feeling of relief, a feeling of freedom, and a feeling of open happiness.  You need to trust yourself that you can do without all of these things and build a life that is better for you.  Here’s another expression that makes more sense to me these days: “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”  Right?  It’s real.  And it’s literally on our shoulders.  That bag just gets bigger and heavier, huh?  And it drives us crazier and crazier.  Yeah, wow.

I went out for a run the other day and all I needed was my house key.  But, instead, I started to pack my cell phone, three credit cards, some cash, all of my keys, my pharmacy customer loyalty card, and a bottle of water.  Was I going out for a run for my health and well-being or was I going out to run some errands?  Running for my health.  I was going out to run for my well-being.  So I took my one key off my keychain, dropped everything else on the floor, and left the house without anything else.  You don’t know how hard that was for me.  Because, honestly, I wasn’t just leaving behind my belongings.  I was leaving behind my comfort zone.  But I sucked it up, walked outside, told myself that I was doing great, and off I went for a run.  I let physical things go, but also the intangible feelings of worry and concern.  It was me time, something that we probably don’t get too often, but something that I am learning to really, truly appreciate.  I cannot explain how great it felt to not have things bring me down!  I not only felt a sense of freedom, but also felt a sense of growth in my confidence.  Because if I can do this little thing, I know I can do bigger things.

You know, my dad always teased and said that he didn’t understand why many people (women, especially) reminded him of the ‘mules’ (you know, the animal) back in his home country.  I always laughed it off and gave him a little innocent eye-roll (what a terrible thing to compare a woman to, huh?!)  But, he said it out of fun, and to put across the point that the mules ‘back home’ would be loaded up every morning with the fruit, bread, and merchandise that would then be brought to the local market to be sold.  He didn’t understand why everyone (including me) had to carry so much weight around.  He was sure that if the mule had it his/her own way, it wouldn’t be carrying anything at all!  And I am always reminded of that (oh, dad, haha).

simplicity

So I started with my purse, because it’s a symbol and a reflection of me and my life.  It does hold some aggravation, worry, stress, and neglect.  But, little by little, I will start to let go of other things that bring me down, too.  I don’t need the extra pair of flats every day in my bag – just wear the flats.  It won’t rain every day, so check the weather and leave that umbrella home.  I carry around a small bag in my big bag, just in case I need it.  Yeah, that had to go.  And all of that loose change?  That gets heavy.  And it’s also money that is laying around.  Into a piggy bank you go and off to the bank at the end of the month you shall stay! 😉

As for my earlier examples, I’ve been working on cleaning that up: I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but instead put that money towards my yoga instructions. I also (very hard, but had to) let go of acquaintances/friends that were just bringing me down and didn’t help me ‘grow’ and make me want to be a better person.  And those sweaters that didn’t fit?  I donated them to those who would get a better use of them than my closet and mind would.

Learning to live in the present, and growing a sense of confidence in yourself, is amazing.  Because you truly are your own Superman.  Think of all of the great things you’ve accomplished thus far and just think of all the other great things you will accomplish in the future by slowly working on yourself today, for a better tomorrow.  In order for something to come in you need to make room for it by taking it out.

So spring clean your purse, spring clean your mind.  You will feel more in control, trust me – it’s so relieving!  And trust yourself; you are greater than you think you are.  Spring clean your life and, oh, don’t be a ‘mule’ 😉

Loren.

L.

Letting Others Affect You: DON’T.

I’m not perfect.  And I don’t expect this blog (a reflection of me) to be either.  With that said, I want to share an obstacle that presented itself to me that turned into a real struggle.  And although it comes once in a while, the way it took me over was unacceptable.  And so I learned a new way to test myself to be brave.  Maybe this can help anyone out there with a similar situation, too.

What presented itself:
The other night I went out for dinner with a few people that I hadn’t seen in a while.  And while it was meant to be an enjoyable outing, it turned into something that took my high spirits for a detour – for about a week.

It’s hard, as you may know, to accept everyone you come in contact with as they are.  There are things that people might say or do that you may not necessarily agree with.  And while I am generally good about not letting others affect me, there seems to be a few selective ones that I cannot shake.  And that was my case the other night.  Someone at dinner seemed to have changed within the past year and acted in a way that I didn’t think was appropriate and, thus, tested my tolerance level for it.  So, throughout the whole dinner, I had this anxiety building up, just brewing inside of me.  I was worrying about: what they may say next, how they would say it, or if they were going to do that annoying thing they do again.

My dinner, though, had all the right ingredients for a successful night: delicious food, a great glass of red wine, and an environment that was ready to foster a night of open conversations and laughter.  But there I was: angry, sad, confused and frustrated.  Because out of everything I was doing to make my life better, there just seemed to be that one person that ‘messed’ it up.

So, that was a couple of nights ago.  But ever since then, the way I perceived myself hadn’t exactly been the same.  I noticed that I allowed this other person’s actions come in and encompass me, turning me into someone I couldn’t shake.  I kept worrying about the situation, kept re-living the conversations, and kept letting it get the best of me  Yes, I did go to yoga, but for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t concentrate; my practice was not enjoyable.  And then I noticed, after each passing day, that a little something was starting to chip off of my ‘road to recovery’ block.  It was like someone was taking a sledgehammer to a home I had been building for months.

Breaking us down:
I allowed for all of the negativity to come in and live itself inside of me.  And the consequences were presenting themselves very clearly, I may add.  For starters, my white board wasn’t updated.  My room started to become a mess, followed by the kitchen, and then the living room.  I craved nothing but junk food and my water intake was very low.  I was not in a clear state of mind and, thus, I couldn’t concentrate.  My self-esteem was low and I even started to panic a little on a crowded train (ugh!).  I just didn’t care about myself anymore, it seemed.  Because, why bother building myself up when someone could just come in and break me down?

I was stuck in a rut and realized that I was regressing.  The signs were all clear: I was starting to feel sluggish, I wasn’t as happy as I was throughout the weeks prior, I became more anxious, and I even started taking every day for granted.  Who was this person?  No, this was just not acceptable anymore.  I didn’t like this person; I didn’t like me.  There was no need to be stuck in this rut.  I hated feeling bloated and feeling like I was just wasting my days away.  It was time to wake up and realize that I was heading in the wrong direction.  So I put my foot down and decided that I was going to suck it up, be brave, and change my habits.  I was going to regain control of my life.

Picking ourselves back up:
I tried yoga again the following night and when my husband picked me up afterwards, I burst into tears and told him that I wasn’t happy.  I told him that the dinner from the other night was driving me insane and that it was taking over my life.

So he talked me through it (he’s so kind) and made me realize that I was basing my everyday view of myself and life on one person.  Who, let’s be honest, probably doesn’t even know that all of this internal turmoil was happening.

Yes, there was someone that messed up my evening that night.  And that person was me.  I allowed the outside world take me over and I let myself succumb to being put second.  And so, because I let in the aggravation and held on to it for days, I suffered.  No one else.  My internal suffering isn’t going to change the other person; the other person may never change (they may never know).  And we can’t control that.  Yes, we can try to talk to this person (which I have done so in the past and, no luck), but if that isn’t an option or you don’t feel comfortable doing it, then just let it go.  Don’t let it control you.  I know it’s easier said than done, but I’m saying it and learning how to do it.  So I know the struggle.

Change comes from within, as we know.  So unless I dive into this other person’s soul and live life as them, then there’s no changing anything.  Heck, the closest thing I can get to is thinking of how I married my husband and how we became ‘one’, but there’s no way I can change that man (haha, he’s great actually).  But putting jokes aside, what I can control is how I handle the situation and how I compose myself throughout it.

How to deal in the future:
So, knowing that letting what someone says or does boil up inside of me leads me to gain five pounds, be unhappy, and perceive myself as ‘not worth it’, I think I’d rather not let their actions get to me and lose five pounds, be happy, and perceive myself as definitely worth it.  Next time, I can just nod my head politely and smile.  I don’t need to have an opinion or engage in a deep conversation all the time.  I can still be respectful, but shouldn’t anticipate myself changing them.

Letting others affect you?  Don’t.  I know, sometimes it does hurt to take things in, but if you’ve been working so hard on yourself for a better you and a better tomorrow, then there should be no one that can be able to tear down your walls down and make you regress.  Not even you (ah, that quote that says “you are your own worst enemy” is starting to make sense now…).

And I came to this realization when I was taking a hot shower yesterday. Because it was in the shower that I noticed that the person wasn’t there.  The other person was just another event in my life.  The other person was about a week ago away.  So I let the water cleanse me, I started to clear my mind, I breathed in deeply and let out a huge sigh.  I was telling myself that I really do deserve better.  And that I should not let another week of self-pity and anxiety control me.

To summarize:
It’s hard being brave.  But it’s not impossible.  I’m sure the first few times will be a little difficult, but there is always a challenge before being presented with the greater success.  So my plan for today is to pick up my home, clear up my mind, and clean up my act.  I am going to update my white board, go out for a run, and be happy again.  Because at the end of the day, it’s me that counts.  And no one should ‘mess’ that up or take it away.  Because, honestly, the only one that ‘messed’ it up or took it away was myself.  And that’s just not right.

behappybeme

Last thought:
I remember when I first started telling my parents a few years ago that I wasn’t going to continue to eat white rice and oily chicken every night for dinner anymore.  And I remember telling them that I would prefer a healthy piece of salmon, some brown rice, and a baked sweet potato instead.  It wasn’t something that was exactly accepted at the time with an open mind (because, who was I to go in and change them and how they did things?  Who was I to say how they should raise their family?).  But, had I let their actions, comments, and traditional ways get to me and anger me internally at the time, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I casually pushed for that salmon because that’s how I wanted to live my life.  Happy.  Healthy.  With a piece of salmon.  And, in the end, I got my salmon.  On my own.

And that applies to many things we may encounter in our every day life.  And it’s in these situations that I have to remind myself to either take it easy or not care at all.  My parents, by the way, did accept this new way of eating (they practice it themselves today and were actually the ones that introduced me to quinoa!).

So, with that said, what do I say to my next dinner outing with that person that I can’t really tolerate?  Life is wonderful.  I am wonderful.  No one is tearing me down.  Not even me.  Bring. It. On. 🙂

Loren.

A.

Anxiety & Eating: How they go hand in hand (Part: II)

Putting all of the reasons why and how the food I had been eating all these years supported my anxiety behind, it’s time to focus on today and how I am feeling so much better.

For about the past two months or so, I’ve been eating smarter and healthier.  I didn’t just go cold turkey one day and change my whole routine.  Oh, no.  I don’t believe in extreme changes.  I do believe, though, that it’s all about those baby steps and patience that will get you to where you want to be.  My small weekly changes turned into daily ones that, today, are changing into my lifestyle (read: not diet, lifestyle).  So to start things off, I started drinking more water.  I found that when we are ‘hungry’ or have a ‘craving’ for something during snack times (think not breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but rather those times in between), we are actually thirsty.  So instead of reaching for a chocolate bar (which, ha, I can no longer have unless it’s dark and contains no dairy), I reached for a glass of water.  I then started to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.  I would eat a nice juicy apple as a mid-morning snack.  And those three o’clock cravings?  I nabbed them with some carrots and peanut butter (which I make myself (very easy)).  When you feed yourself every couple of hours or so with good things and keep up with your intake of water, you actually lose some of the cravings for the ‘bad’ stuff.  And this is how I started to increase my ‘good’ foods and move away from the ‘bad’.

Being told that I was lactose intolerant was a blessing in disguise, I feel, because it did force me to find better foods for my body.  I was now sensitive to a lot of things that I would have never imagined I could be sensitive to.  One example is any kind of those processed sandwich breads, even the ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grain’ ones.  You know, the ones that stay fresh in the plastic bag for weeks.  Red flag: that isn’t normal.  Fresh bread has a very short lifespan.  What’s keeping it fresh are the extra things they put inside of it.  When I used to eat it, I would feel excruciating abdominal pain.  And that’s when I learned to look at the ingredients list and, surprise, surprise, it contained dairy (sometimes found under its derivative names, such as ‘casein’ and/or ‘whey’).  So I stopped buying it and switched to a more ‘natural’ bread (like Ezekiel Sprouted Bread), the kind that needed to be frozen (makes sense).  When eaten, I found no pain.

Another thing that I moved away from was coffee.  I first limited my intake to one cup per day (instead of two or three) and substituted cow’s milk for almond milk.  I then found that not only was coffee making me very dehydrated, but that drinking it made me very jittery and added that extra anxious effect I didn’t need.  So I stopped drinking coffee (yes, you can survive without coffee!) and found that I didn’t need that boost in energy because I was already finding it in the good foods I was eating – the natural way.

Today I eat clean.  I eat broccoli, spinach, carrots, celery, strawberries, red quinoa, sweet potatoes, and other natural, organic, good things.  I shop the outside perimeters of the supermarket and don’t go into the middle aisles.  Or, when I do my groceries online, I only buy fresh things and rarely go into the ‘grocery’ section.  I’ve lost about ten pounds due to eating so much better.  Not only that, but my complexion now has a bit of a glow and my mood has been absolutely positive.  I should add that a friend of mine shared with me that she, too, had become lactose intolerant and found a shake (Shakeology) that was vegan, all natural, and helped with digestion.  Willing to give it a shot, I ordered it and, within a week, loved the effects it had on my body.  While it took the guess work out of my breakfasts, it gave me the chance to focus on other meals that I could improve on: snacks, lunch and dinner.  Yes, even a little dessert here and there ;).  And that’s how I started.

I have seen, first hand, that when you eat ‘clean’ you feel amazing.  And that same feeling goes to your mind and lessens anxiety.  Think about it: when you eat poorly you regret it and start to bring yourself down.  “Oh, I shouldn’t have had that extra plate of pasta, I’m so ‘fat'” or “Gosh, I hate myself.  I ate that giant piece of cake and now I suck.  The world sucks.  Everyone sucks.”  However, after eating a delicious, healthy salad (low on the dressing!) we don’t go around thinking negatively.  No, we say “Wow, I just did something amazing for my body, I am great.”

Now imagine if you continued doing this throughout the day?  Your outlook on life would be better because your outlook on yourself becomes better.  Through my own experience, I’ve learned that there is an even exchange between eating for the body and the gift of a better mind.  When I ate poorly I was, really, abusing my body.  So my body decided to abuse my mind.  I grew anxious.  None of the foods that I was eating helped me think clearer or feel better.  Yet, when I ate healthy, my body thanked me by giving me a healthy mind.  And with ‘clean’ eating, you gain a sense of clarity.  So I am eating healthy to reduce anxiety.  And it’s working!

I did lose some weight, but that wasn’t the intention.  Nor did I ever see it as ‘dieting’.  Heavens, no.  I saw it as a lifestyle change. And it started slowly, making small changes until they occurred like second nature.  I never felt like I was sacrificing anything.  Ever.

lorenfood1
My table shows what I have in my fridge and pantry pretty much all the time – how colorful! PS: Pineapples are yummy!
food2
Carrots and herbs (along with 1 cup organic chicken stock) can make a mean side to any meal!
food3
Almond milk, limes, eggs, lettuce, kale, cucumbers – all organic, all delicious!

I’ve been told that there are medications out there that can help my anxiety and my mood.  But I refuse them.  Because I want to learn the real way of living: facing some of my fears and controlling my mind.  Taking drugs is letting something control me.  And we don’t really learn that way.  Educating myself on the natural, good things will lead to a natural, good mood and way of life.  I am about two months in and am feeling an amazing difference.  I will make sure to share some of my favorite meals and tips in future posts, because I think it’s so important to help each other and see each other succeed!  Change starts from within.  I am really learning what that means now.  Amazing.

And remember: drink your water, eat your veggies, smile, meditate for even two minutes, and enjoy life.  Like many things in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.  So put lots of love and care into yourself and the result… well, the result shouldn’t be a surprise. 😉

Loren.

A.

Anxiety & Eating: How they go hand in hand (part: I)

White rice, whole milk, frozen dinner entrées, ice cream, lots of soda, beef patties, and cake.

These were some of the things I ate growing up; heck, there were some days that I ate all of these in a single day.  It was definitely a kid’s dream come true.  But ‘kid’ defined me from the moment I could chew my food to, literally, a couple of months ago.  I have been eating ‘clean’ for about two months or so now and, I must say, my anxiety level has gone down and my positive mood has gone up.

But, before I get to the current, positive moment of eating clean, I think it’s good to reflect and see how the ‘bad’ foods helped support the anxiety that was built inside me for many years:

You know, I grew up in a very loving family that taught me a lot about respect, values, and how to love.  But one thing that I was never really taught was how to eat properly.  Yes, there was always food on the table, food in the pantry, and food in the fridge, but they were all ‘quick’ things.  My meals were very predictable, too.  Breakfast was pancakes (from a box), drenched with a sugary (addictive) processed syrup.  Lunch was take-out from the local Chinese food place.  Dinner meant rice, beans, chicken, and maybe a salad.  And then the night concluded with lots of ice cream, cookies, and maybe a second round of dinner.  The only real time I would eat fruits were if we went out to the farms during the summer and went apple or peach picking – but even then there wasn’t any kind of portion control.  I would have about eight giant peaches on my way home because the giant basket (filled with nothing but that) was sitting in the car!  And then I would be tired of peaches.  I would refuse them.  When I got home it would be all “oh, hello, microwaveable bacon!”  And I went on with my life.  ‘Happy’ at the time, sad looking back at it now.

My life consisted of processed foods, filled with chemicals that I couldn’t even pronounce.  They had absolutely no nutritional value, but they made me feel ‘good’ for a quick moment.  The things inside of all of those things were alien to my body and acted like a drug.  Actually, they were my drugs.  Because that time I was seven years old and my grandmother passed away, I held back my tears because I was subliminally told that I shouldn’t be a cry baby and that sharing my emotions towards other people was a ‘personal’ thing.  This emotion was mended with me eating a whole loaf of white, processed bread, toasted with tons of trans-fatty butter and a giant glass of sugary chocolate milk.  And that time I got an eighty-eight on my math test in the eighth grade and was told that I could do better and needed to get nothing but one-hundreds?  Well, that made me feel like I was a total failure.  But there it was, that very fatty fourteen-ounce tub of ice cream and giant bag of addicting chips to help mend my broken heart and mind.  So while I was ‘healing’ my heart and mind with food, I was actually holding a lot of things back (anger, frustration, confusion, etc.) and burying them deep, deep down inside. (That explains those times I’ve cried during yoga, huh?)  So you start to become anxious.  Hating the next time you feel this way.  And it all continues to build up.  Every little bit counts.

My emotions were controlled with eating: failure was rewarded with sugary fats and successes, if I felt I had them, were rewarded with greasy foods (pizza party, anyone?).  And I grew up like this.  I was confused, trying to figure life out, restricting my self-desires to come out, and hoping to make everyone but myself happy.  I found comfort in food.  But the food I was eating didn’t give me any clarity; I couldn’t think things through with a ‘clear mind’.  All it was doing was fogging up my mind.  They served zero nutritional value, but made me ‘happy’.  Voilà, my adolescent (and well-into-my-adult-hood) drugs.

Side note:  you could only imagine how self-image played a role in this.  Why, with all of this poor eating, I wasn’t exactly ‘fit’.  I was ‘fat’.  And the media hated ‘fat’.  They said that that it wasn’t ‘beautiful.’  So, naturally, I also grew up with very low self-esteem, telling myself that I was ‘ugly’, ‘useless’, and a ‘failure’ every day.  My confidence level was lower than a turtle’s.   And this is how I grew up.  For more than twenty years, this was my life.

circa high school graduation - 2006
high school graduation – 2006

After years of suppressing my own happiness, and right before my giant panic attack last summer, I noticed a few months worth of terrible abdominal pain.  Not only that, but I was also very bloated and starting to become a bit overweight.  Worried, I went to a gastroenterologist (tummy & digestion doctor) and found out that I was lactose intolerant… great.

My life seemed to have shattered at the instant of being diagnosed, because it meant that I could no longer have the ice cream, yogurt, pizza, or cake that once mended my wounds.  I did play devil’s advocate and ate them anyway, but felt the consequences within thirty minutes of consuming the stuff.

2013 - before panic attack - after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant
summer 2013 – 2 weeks after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant & 2 weeks before panic attack

So it was true, after all.  I was lactose intolerant.  Two weeks before my I-didn’t-even-see-it-coming giant panic attack, I had to adjust.  And that was hard.  I didn’t really know how to adjust.  I never learned.  And looking back at it today, part of me thinks that the attack maybe came out from being forced to learn how to live with some confrontations and without some of those drugs.  I was starting to be confronted by my own self.

I didn’t know how to deal then.  But today, I am learning how to deal now (next post – stay tuned!).

But until then, be kind to your body.  Think back to those times you maybe reached for that thing you shouldn’t have reached for.  Think of what you were running away from.  Starting to slowly think about these things will help open up and shape you for a better tomorrow.  Don’t resolve to continue suppressing emotions with food.  Eat well.  You are beautiful. Who cares about the media.  They don’t pay your bills, you pay their bills.  They don’t give you a hug when you need it the most.  And this applies to others around you.  There is only one person like you out there and you deserve the absolute best.  The road to a better tomorrow starts with this type of first step… and it starts from within.

Loren.

M.

My first race: the struggles and lessons of being brave

Looking into the mirror these days, I honestly don’t know who the girl on the other side is anymore! 🙂 I would have never believed it if someone told me that I was to run an official race – and finish while at it. Sure, I’ve always had the intention of running. The idea sounded good. The gear looked cool. But I never really did it.

Don’t get me wrong, in my lifetime there have been instances were I would put my sneakers on and go out for a ‘run,’ but the reason was solely so I could feel better about the giant bag of chips and dip I had inhaled while watching T.V. (ah, mindless eating). After fifteen minutes of running, I could no longer do it. I would always talk myself out of it and tell myself that I was a wimp, that I was uncomfortable, that running wasn’t going to get me ‘skinny,’ and that I would never have a reason to wear those cool neon sneakers. Crazy, huh? I had to be skinny. I had to have the latest chips and dip out there. Those were all things that the media was telling me. Those were the reasons why I ran. But no one ever told me that I had to put myself first and feel good. No one ever told me that I should have a healthy mind. No wonder I would hate running; it would remind me of all the things that weren’t true to me. Nothing made sense. And it made it me hate the biggest thing of them all: myself.

I want to share with you what my thoughts and struggles were while running on Sunday, mile by mile. Because it wasn’t just a ‘perfect’ run:

Mile 1: At the start of the race, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I had been waiting for this day and it finally arrived. Smiling here, jumping there, I was a total kid! Being surrounded by so many amazing people who were also running was so motivational. I was so focused on my being. I was living in the present. And at the end of the first mile, I clapped and yelled out a loud “WOO-HOO!” I was in the zone and anxiety wasn’t even a thought!

Mile 2: It was here that I started to notice myself slowing down and realized that I was running on elevations. Ah! Elevations! I didn’t train on any! (I usually avoided them because they were uncomfortable and didn’t think I needed to run on them- serves me right to assume). So I started to reprimand myself and bring myself down. This negative way of thinking made me notice all of the people running with me again. Only this time, I was noticing that they were faster than me. I was starting to compare myself (red flag number one), which then proceeded with a pain on my left torso (red flag number two). At that point, my body was asking me to take a break. So I listened to it and took a thirty-second walk. It did help to catch my breath, but I started to get comfortable walking (this wasn’t a walk-a-thon!). I quickly searched for a motivational song on my phone and had to remind myself that I was not a quitter and that I was, indeed, brave (I was in this race, officially, after all! This wasn’t an accident!). So I got back into it and off I went running again.

Mile 3: As I was running, I started to think about how that short break may have affected my time and how maybe I was going to be seen as a ‘failure’ and a ‘slow poke’ in the eyes of others. It was here that I started to contemplate walking the rest of the mile and convince myself that no one would notice me. Yes, I was giving up. I stopped running and began to walk for thirty more seconds. I gave up. But then it hit me. Someone was noticing me. Me. And at that moment, it all seemed to have clicked. I was focusing on the wrong things since mile two. Just like running to burn calories from the chips and dip, at that moment I was running to be ‘better’ than everyone else. I wasn’t focusing on the real reason why I was doing this. I wasn’t focusing on all of the obstacles and accomplishments that I overcame to get here, mentally. But I had to focus. I had to focus and remember that I was doing this to be healthy. To be brave. To have a better life. I did train for this race. I have been training through yoga. For the past few months I’ve brought balance to my body, strength to my mind, and an openness to my soul. I wasn’t worried about the thousands of people running around me, nor how I felt claustrophobic. No, I felt free. And so, my healthy legs and heart reached my mind and told it to run. They told it to finish. They told it that I was beautiful and that I was going to finish. So I picked up the pace and kept running to that finish line.

Up to mile 4: Ah, I was so tired! But you know what? I thought about how strong I became throughout the first three miles that it gave me that extra push I needed to continue going and finish this thing! I didn’t train on elevations, but I conquered them. I didn’t run as fast as the others, but the mentality, I conquered it. And so, as I made that last left turn and headed towards the finish life, I let out a whimper, got chocked up, and shed a few tears. I was done. I crossed the finish line. I MADE IT!!

endhappy
I didn’t have to be in first place. I didn’t have to be perfect. I didn’t have to live up to any of those standards. The only ones I had to live up to were my own. And those were to finish the race and to be proud of myself. I wanted to show myself that I
could do it. And guess what? I did it. And I will continue to do it. I lived up to my own standards. And I was happy.

For many years, I had been running for the wrong reasons. And today, today I learned to run for all the right ones.

Loren.