One year journey…

I started working out in late August/early September 2016. By October 2016, Chris had convinced me that I needed to take pictures of myself and measure my bicep, waist, thigh, and bust in order to do comparisons along the way.  I was reminded this morning that I took my very first photos one year ago today.  Some days it seems like I’ve been on this journey forever while other times it feels like I just began.  

Here are my photos from last October:

And these are my photos today…. no sucking in (but you can tell I never wear these clothes anymore… holy wrinkles!):

The first thing I notice in these photos is the difference in my demeanor.  In the old photo I look defeated, disgusted, and sad.  In my photos today, I’m happy and excited. The change in my mood is definitely noticeable to others around me too. I’m no longer tired every minute of the day.  I’ve got energy, which is a welcome change.  

I started this journey at 216 pounds and weighed in this morning at 178. I’m 38 lbs lighter and healthier in general. I’ve lost a total of 21 inches.  Besides my weight, I’ve also noticed these changes:

-I can run a mile and ran an entire 5k.

-I can do regular push ups (not on my knees).

-I am so close to having a mile in the 9s…. up until recently I thought 10 minute miles were completely out of my reach.

-I am not scared of planks… in fact,  I like them. 

-I love lifting weights.

– I’m in love with my upper leg muscle,  Chris calls it my quad….I have no idea about technical terms. 🙂

-I don’t crave pizza and pasta all the time.

-I’m not a slave to my scale.  I do weigh in regularly,  but it no longer controls my mood or ruins my day.  

I’m sure there are many more things I could list, but I think the biggest change is in how I feel about myself.  I’m proud of myself and the changes I’ve made.  It hasn’t been easy,  but it has been worth it.  

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It was a great weekend…

It was Fall Festival weekend! I love our little town’s yearly festival… granted,  it would have been even better if we had some fall temperatures…but, sadly I don’t get to choose 🙂

Liam and I started the day off at 6:30. We got ready and headed into town for his fun run and my 5k. Liam constantly tells me he is fast and he is! He was leading the charge for awhile and right at the end he lost his fire and got 3rd. We definitely have a sprinter on our hands! I can’t wait to see where track takes him in a few years. He was upset afterward and had a stomach ache, but it quickly went away and he was ready for some donuts! 

Immediately after his fun run, it was time for my 5k. I was a little nervous because I hadn’t been training like I should have due to being injured. My goals for this race were to 1) finish in under 40 minutes and 2) run the entire race.  

When I began running the first time,  years ago…I told myself I was never going to be an outside runner.  I would run on the treadmill forever. And I’d definitely never run a race by myself without having a friend right next to me.  As always in life, things change. These days, even though I still use my treadmill,  I generally don’t run on it.  I prefer running outside.  And yesterday,  even though I lined up with a friend,  I ran my own race and I was by myself. Guess what?! I didn’t die! I can run without someone to talk to… who knew! 

Even though I ran by myself,  I was surrounded at the start line by lots of people I knew.  I love running in a hometown race for that specific reason! We have a great group of runners here and they all push me to be the best runner I can be.  Thanks to Kathy,  Angie,  Heather,  Danita, Tracy,  Debby, Erin, Julie, and Sarah. You guys always make me feel supported and encouraged. Some of you are crazy fast and it makes me want to be better.  I love that we have such an awesome running community here! 

This 5k was a tad bit easier for me (until the hill…. I’ll get back to that!) simply because I train on these roads and I knew when I crossed the finish line there would be people who knew me cheering me on…I rarely have that! I did end up running the entire race… even through the water station.  I also ended up spilling a ton of water on myself,  but hey….I kept running! I felt like I was killing it until I started up Washington street and remembered our 5k ends with a huge uphill, thus Top of the Hill 5k. I was spent… totally spent. I didn’t think I had anything left in me to get myself up the hill when out of nowhere I hear Chris Brown say, “Amanda…. you can do this! You are crushing your time!” He came back to the bottom of the hill (he finished in something ridiculous like 21 minutes!) and ran with me to the end. I think at one point I said, “Chris…I can’t do it!” He assured me I could and I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Thank God for Chris Brown. My Chris was at home working on house projects so it was nice to have someone there to give me that extra push. Thanks,  Chris…. I truly appreciate what you did!

I finished in 30 minutes flat (my watch said 30.13.) My previous 5k time was 36 and some change,  so I’m thrilled with my time. I’m certain I can’t pull that off every time,  but it felt good yesterday! Friends….I started out with 15/16 minute miles and now I’m regularly doing low 10 minute miles. If I can do this, you can too! Don’t let fear stop you from chasing your dreams! 

After the race I worked the Cub Scout booth for a couple hours with Renee, then judged the Chili Cookoff, and walked in the parade.  It was a busy morning,  but I had a great time.  

After the parade, I finally got to go home and take a much needed shower.  We headed back up to the festival around 4 and the kids rode rides for over 3 hours. Maggie, who was scared of the Scrambler at first, rode it over and over all night. The kids had such a good time.  They even convinced Chris and I to ride once.  I forgot how fast it went! All in all,  we had a great weekend. Let’s bring on Fall!

Life changes…

We moved to Illiopolis/Mt. Pulaski nearly 9 years ago.  It was an exciting move because we were moving from Decatur where we had houses right next to ours, to our farmhouse with neighbors on the next block.  We knew absolutely no one here. I was pregnant with Liam and Maggie wasn’t old enough for pre-school. I was a stay at home mom and Chris worked (still does) in Decatur,  so meeting anyone was incredibly difficult.  When Maggie turned three, we signed her up for 2 day preschool at Zion Lutheran School.  

It’s crazy to think about how that one decision basically shaped who I am today.  We walked into the school for orientation and the first person I met was Janette Cooper. She was the first person I had really met in Mt. Pulaski at all. It blows my mind that one simple interaction started a 7 year friendship.  You never know how big a part someone will play in your life when you first meet them.  Janette became my first friend here. She welcomed me and treated me like a friend from the beginning.  She drove down to DQ for my dad’s funeral.  She and Chad are our Cards Against Humanity buddies and friends we can always count on for a great time.  Although we don’t go to Zion anymore,  Zion brought many wonderful people into my life. 

I had no idea when I walked into Zion’s office for the first time to pay tuition, that Gloria and her family would become near and dear to my heart. I, maybe, spoke 3 sentences to her before I was asked to take on a few hours a week in the office to learn Gloria’s job and take some stress off her plate.  From that moment,  Gloria and I became really close.  Gloria and Butch are my Mt. Pulaski parents.  If you would have asked me when I first began taking Maggie to Zion if I could see my life turning out that way,  I would have laughed… I barely knew Gloria and she became my family!

Zion also brought Abby into my life.  The day I met her,  in the Narthex after church,  I just thought I had better introduce her to Maggie because she was going to be her new teacher.  I literally thought nothing of that encounter other than she seemed like a nice person.  As the year went on,  Abby became my person.  She was the Meredith to my Christina. We spent ridiculous amounts of time together, laughed at ourselves regularly,  and knew what the other was thinking. I wonder how my life would have been different if I hadn’t stopped to meet her after church that day.  

Zion brought so many amazing people in my life, PCD, Susan, Jill, Sam, Pam, Tricia, Barb, Kelly, Sarah,  Shelby, Debby, Heather, and more people than I can even name…. One simple act of registering Maggie for preschool, changed my life and put it on a new path.  

Quite a few of my friends have moved away over the last couple of years and we left Zion… felt our calling to go back to the Catholic Church and move our children to the public school.  I was ridiculously nervous about leaving my little bubble where I knew everyone and knew exactly how things worked.  I had acquaintances at the grade school,  but no real friends. I was terrified I wouldn’t make any,  but as always God had different plans.  

Jamie and I had talked on and off over the preschool years since our daughters attended Zion together.  Jamie put her kids at the grade school right after finishing preschool, so she knew the ins and outs of the public school much more than I did.  I would go to her for advice and to pick her brain.  Maggie and Jamie’s daughter were good friends, so it was nice to have someone who was willing to chat with me and help me figure out things.  I had no idea that Jamie would turn into someone who I text nearly every day. Someone who organized an entire afternoon for me on the anniversary of my dad’s death,  so I wouldn’t be alone.  Jamie went from an acquaintance to one of my best friends. She was the first person to make me feel like there was life after Zion and I’d make new friends and be okay.  

In the past year,  Angie who I spoke to on occasion when we’d run into one another and Kathy who is my neighbor and I hadn’t even met until our first open house at the grade school, have become my sounding board for everything… my running companions… and my best friends.  I can’t even tell you how it happened,  I can’t pinpoint the moment when we became bosom buddies…. it feels like it’s always been that way. One day I’m being asked if I want to run a half marathon and the next day we have an ongoing group chat where we discuss a variety of randomness daily.  These two probably know me better than most people.  I’m not afraid to tell them those crazy things that I’m scared someone will judge me for. They get me….or at least I think they do.  

About a year ago,  I walked into the open house at True Form fitness.  It had just opened and I wanted to check out what classes would be available and what machines were there.  I had seen the owner,  Danita,  quite a few times at the library,  but we had never really had a conversation.  I met her again that day at open house and thought nothing of it, she was just the lady who was opening the gym.  I had no idea that she’d be the person who would help me on my health journey.  I had no idea that I would start taking classes from her and love them.  I didn’t realize that because of her classes I would form a bond with other people working on getting healthy.  I didn’t know she would be the one who would push me,  encourage me,  and motivate me. She opened my eyes.  She had me take a good long look at myself and decide I needed to change. Danita means more to me than she knows! It’s because of her that I no longer look like this…

Of course,  I’ve met many more people along the way and I’m making more friends all the time…Renee and Julie to name a couple.  I’m just so grateful for this journey and how each of these people have helped shape who I have become and who I will become.  

My message to all of you is to be open.  Be open to new circumstances.  Be open to change.  You have no idea how someone will impact your life when you first meet them.  A chance meeting with a neighbor,  a teacher,  a person at the grocery store could turn into something really special. So, keep your eyes open! Have a blessed week. 

Personal Record breaking kind of week…

The kids started school on Wednesday and Chris had a mid-week out of town trip for work,  so I didn’t find any time to make it to classes at the gym.  I was exhausted this week.  It takes me a bit to get used to change and schedule changes are the worst on me.  I like my routine and I like things to continue going the way they are,  but as a mom and wife,  I know this is never going to happen.  

I didn’t go to my usual early morning classes because I was tired and wanted sleep to help me make it through the week.  I did continue my 10,000 steps a day… every day.  I went to running group on Tuesday and Saturday and got on the treadmill all of the other days.  I’m committed to getting some form of exercise every day… even when I really don’t feel like it.  

On Tuesday,  we had open house at the school to drop off supplies and meet the teachers. Liam has the same 3rd grade teacher Maggie had,  so we know she’s awesome and have zero worries. Maggie is in 5th grade now,  which boggles my mind.  We have a new teacher and new experiences.  She’ll get to do band,  she’s signed up for Girls on the Run,  and we are hoping to do Scholastic Bowl.  She already really likes her teacher,  so I’m excited to see how this year goes. Chris and I drove separately to Open House so I could head to running group immediately after.  

Running group was created to get people ready for our town Fall Festival 5k. I love it! I am pushed harder in this group than I’ve ever been pushed before. On Tuesday,  there were only 4 of us.  We started out,  but no one really said how long we were running.  We usually do 3 or 4 depending on the night.  We got to 1 mile and I felt good,  realizing at that point that I was still running despite the fact that I generally do a run/ walk method.  I hadn’t ever run much further than a mile straight without a walk break.  We got closer to 2 miles without walking and my friend Julie said,  “Amanda,  you’ve never run this far before!” I had acknowledged that in my head before she mentioned it,  but I was trying not to focus on it.  At that point,  Chris (not my husband… this is the running group leader) said he thought I could do 2.5 without stopping.  So, I kept going.  We made it to 2.75 and I said I had a goal of running a 5k (3.1 miles) straight through without a walk break.  So,  I kept going.  It is awesome to have people next to you encouraging you and helping you crush goals.  Chris said I could walk at 3.2 when I met my goal,  but I kept running. I ran until we stopped….4 miles.  Yep,  I ran 4 miles straight.  I still can’t believe it.  I had my fastest mile,  my fastest 5k time, and my longest distance without walking all in one night. Did I mention how much I love running group?!?

I showed up for running group on Saturday,  but I was unaware that our leader had to work.  Julie had already mentioned that she wasn’t going to make it.  I showed up and waited to see who else would make it,  but no one came. I messaged Julie and she said to give her a minute, she’d be in.  So, I took off around the American Legion to attempt 1 mile by myself before she arrived.  To my amazement, I pushed myself to another record… I beat my fastest mile again! I finished it in 10.11. When my watch beeped to tell me I had finished a mile,  I was stunned.  10.11 is crazy fast for me! Of course,  I couldn’t keep that up so Julie and I ran/ walked until we got to 4.5 miles.  I’m so grateful that Julie met me because I enjoy my runs so much more when I have a friend along for the ride.  
In other news, pictures from last Sunday’s 10k were posted. I immediately loved this picture! It makes me feel strong…. look at those legs! I remember posting my first race picture from the Penguin in the Park 5k and I hated how I looked, now when I see race pictures,  I’m proud! 

I’m planning to do intervals today.  I’ve never done consistent intervals,  so we shall see how this turns out.  I hope you all have a great day!

It’s too much for my butt and other crazy things you hear on race day…

“Would you like some butt water?”

“Oh, my crotch is wet!” 

Yep,  this is how race day started out for me yesterday.  Granted,  none of these actually sound like what they meant at the time.  Angie spilled water on herself when she was attempting to fill up her flipbelt water bottle.  She puts this bottle in the back of her belt,  which she then calls her “butt water.” She also let us know that she went for the smaller bottle because the longer bottle annoyed her and was “too much for her butt.” Sorry, Angie…..I had to! You never know what we will talk about when we are together, but my running friends always make me laugh.  We thought it was interesting that our shoes were color coordinated and we didn’t plan it! 🙂

Yesterday was the 40th annual Abe’s Amble 10k at the Illinois State Fair. It was the first time I had ever run it.  To be honest,  I signed up because the shirt was adorable and that’s reason enough to get up at 5 am to run 6.2 miles 🙂  We met up with our friend, Julie and her cousin before the race. Apparently,  I’m a leaner in pictures.  Haha. 

I’m glad I registered for the race.  Although the humidity was atrocious and the race was pretty darn hilly, I was proud of how I did.  I had never run an official 10k before,  so I didn’t really have any expectations. I wanted to do it so I could get a baseline time and have something to strive to beat.  I ended up finishing in 1 hour 18 minutes, not a super fast time…. but a decent one for me.  I started by doing intervals with Angie and Kathy, but ended up doing my own run/ walk method…. just walking when I felt like I needed to.  It worked out well. I need to figure out my perfect interval time and go from there,  but I haven’t mastered that yet.  Perhaps that will be my fall goal 😉 I realized that I’m able to run longer before needing walk breaks and I’m able to keep that momentum going for a longer distance.  I’m so excited to finally see changes in my running ability. It feels amazing. 

Besides the 10k, I also met up with the new running group in town on Tuesday and Saturday. I really enjoyed the group and hope to make it to more runs.  I really felt like the group did a great job pushing me. I’m not someone who is wonderful at pushing myself…I can easily talk myself out of going harder than I’m used to. It is nice to have that extra push.  

In other news,  I’m so close to my second weight loss goal.  I started this journey at 216 lbs…. and I’m really close to the 170s. The last time I lost weight,  which I did with very little exercise, I got down to 179. When I get to 178.9, I’ll feel like I accomplished my second goal of being the smallest I’ve been in years….. and not only the smallest,  but the strongest I have EVER been.  

I hope you make this week a great one and thank you for following along on my journey.  

A wedding and a challenge complete…

Last weekend,  Chris and I traveled to Wisconsin for my dear friend, Abby’s, wedding.  It was a gorgeous weekend.  The weather was cool and the location was beautiful.  It was rustic and perfect for an outdoor wedding and reception.  We even got to spend time with some old friends. (Thanks for the awesome picture,  Janette!)

I was a bridesmaid and spent most of the weekend with Abby, her mom, and the other ladies in the wedding.  We got our hair and make up done.  I was nervous because I was scheduled to get mine done first at 7:30 am, but there was nothing to be concerned about because everything stayed on wonderfully.  Let me just say,  I have NEVER had self confidence…. never. I’ve always felt bad about my body and the way I look,  but that make up artist was a magician.  I seriously loved the way I looked when she was finished.  Because of her,  I’m playing around with new make up and spending a little more time on myself 🙂 

I did manage to get my 10,000 steps in before the wedding.  I got out of bed at 5:30 and went for a walk. I ended up getting over 4 miles that morning.  Abby joined me for a little while and I really enjoyed some one on one time since we rarely get to see each another.  All in all it was a great weekend.  Abby was a beautiful bride and I am proud that I got to be a part of her day. 

When I left the reception on Saturday night,  I got a pounding headache.  It was awful and stayed around for a few days.  Once I got home, stomach issues decided to join the party.  Needless to say, it was not a good week for working out. I did get mileage in every day, walking on the treadmill, but I didn’t spend a lot of time at the gym.  

My mom was visiting this week and she joined me for a walk. I think she regretted it right after we started,  but she kept on moving.  At one point we passed my friend and neighbor, Kathy.  I love how active our little neighborhood is. 

As I have mentioned before,  I participated in a 200 miles of Summer challenge.  It started on May 27 and ends in early September.  At first,  I was really slacking and figured I would head into September with 75 miles left,  which would be impossible…. but,  July brought a determination my way that I had never experienced before.  I got mileage every single day (except the 1st) and did the same in August.  So,  I finished my challenge ahead of schedule.  I got my last miles in on Friday morning with my friend Jamie. I’m so thankful for this challenge because it really made me step up my game.  I’m signing up for another one for Fall,  which will begin in September. 

In other news,  my friend’s and I have scheduled races every month for the rest of the year.  I love planning ahead and having something to work toward.  I’m so thankful that I have such wonderful friends in my life who are working to be better and helping me achieve my goals!

Crushing goals…

I’ve been spending a lot of time walking lately.  I do at least 3 miles every day,  sometimes up to 6 depending on the company.  I was starting to get down on myself because I “should” be running. But, I consistently told myself a mile is a mile….it doesn’t matter how I get there.  

I like to make lists and set goals.  Sometimes the goals aren’t realistic.  Sometimes they seem just out of reach.  But,  sometimes… sometimes…I crush them! 🙂 

Ever since I began running again I set a goal of a sub 40 5k. I have had a 40, a 47, a 42…. but never under 40. Awhile back Angie suggested a 5k in Warrensburg.  My first thought was,  “A 5k in July sounds like torture!” So,  what did I do? I signed up any way. 

As the time for the 5k got closer and closer I thought I was in no way prepared for this race since I’ve basically only been walking.  I really had no expectations.  When we got to the race I had no nerves…. none…. because I had put no pressure on myself to do anything spectacular today.  I had planned to show up, get my shirt, and cross the finish line. Nothing exciting.  

We started the race and it felt good.  Angie mentioned that we were on pace to beat my goal. I immediately thought there was no way that could happen because I hadn’t trained properly. As we kept moving forward,  Kathy told us to leave her and go.  She said she wanted me to have a successful run and make good time.  Let me be honest,  that was hard for me.  As much as I wanted to crush my goal,  I also wanted to run together.  I wanted to do it as a team.  I’m thankful to Kathy for seeing that I was planning to stick together,  but for kicking me in the butt and helping me move toward my goal.  I would never had done it if she hadn’t encouraged me.  

So, we double checked with Kathy to make sure she was good with us leaving and we took off. Angie was by my side, telling me our pace… making sure I knew I could do it. We didn’t run the entire time,  but we ran almost all of it. Our walk breaks were short and few and far between. Angie is awesome at keeping you focused, but also distracting you by her stories. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have finished the race strong without her. At one point,  she told me to take off….we were nearing the end and she wanted me to finish strong.  I could hear her cheering me on as I ran.  I literally came across the final curve with tears in my eyes.  I crossed the finish line at 36.09….. something I never thought possible. 

My point of this entire story is this: Sometimes your friends see something in you that you can’t see.  They push you to be the best version of yourself. These ladies have helped me train for a half,  they’ve lifted me up when I am feeling sorry for myself,  and they’ve never stopped believing in me. I’m not sure what I did to deserve their friendship,  but I will forever be grateful.  

Do something today that will help you meet your goals. It’s a good day to make a change!