Every January, I reflect back on January 2009, when I first started this blog. I think about how I felt back then. Scared, unhealthy, hopeless. And how far I’ve come. Even with this recent injury, I always knew that I had a core of well being inside that wasn’t going to go away even if I couldn’t do much.
This coming January will be my 5th healthaversary. Five years! And I’m going to celebrate in two ways. One, I’m going to participate in the Hot Chocolate 5k on January 12th in San Francisco. I would LOVE to have as many friends doing it with me. A hot chocolate party! It comes in both 5k and 15k distances. And the “swag bag” is crazy awesome – it’s actually a fleece jacket! What!
I’ll also be hosting my traditional walk-to-the-labyrinth and brunch at another time, but I realllly wanted to do something “5-ish” for this special five year commemoration. After the ordeal I went through this fall, I am more grateful than ever for my health. This will be the first 5k since my injury. I am hopeful and optimistic that I will be able to complete the 5k, most likely walking. That pesky hip injury I was dealing with BEFORE my ruptured disc? It’s talking to me again (sigh).
So please please please sign up! 15k or 5k, your choice. You can run like a gazelle or waddle like a wombat (that’ll be me). It’s probably going to be chillyish but we will have some cozy fleece! And hot cocoa! It will be a big, beautiful, Foodie McBody Party. No running necessary! (but it’s certainly allowed and encouraged if you like running)
PRICES ARE GOING UP DECEMBER 30th so please take advantage of the early pricing. If you use the code FOODFOODMUG, you will also get a free hot chocolatey mug on race day. Yay swag!
And…. Ta-da!! As an official Hot Chocolate Blogger, I have been authorized to give away one FREE RACE REGISTRATION!
This has been a really amazing five years. The most challenging, exciting, incredible five years of my life. I’m ready to celebrate. Join me!
If you want a chance to be the recipient of this free registration, leave me a comment here below and tell me FIVE THINGS that keep you healthy! Also, follow the Hot Chocolate 15/5k on Twitter and Facebook to get all the sweet details.
And the winner of the race registration is… JULES!! Congrats, Jules, I’ll be sending you your registration code. Can’t wait to see you (and everyone else!) out there on January 12th!
I have had even more intense negative feelings about Pilates as I’ve had about yoga. I think both of those things make me feel really inadequate. I feel like I am bad at them, because I am super inflexible, and getting more so as the years go on.
Which is probably why I need them.
I took a couple of Pilates classes a few years ago and ended up in tears. I hated every single minute of those classes. EVERY. They were uncomfortable and made me feel just like a big huge failure. I swore to never go back. Plus, the word “Pilates” sounds like the word “Pilate” to me, which is all about betrayal, right?
But recently, I’ve been having more hip and back pain due to super tight, and I mean SUPER TIGHT muscles. I can’t sit upright with my legs extended. I can’t touch my legs below my knees, let alone my toes. I know that I need professional help when it comes to increasing my flexibility. It’s one of those catch-22 types of things. I am inflexible because I don’t do things like yoga, but I don’t do things like yoga because I am inflexible.
Recently I have been thinking about finding a one-on-one Pilates teacher and working on those machine things. I think I have this notion that I need to get stretched out, like on a medieval stretching machine (drawn and quartered?) and I need HELP to do so. This recent yoga challenge was a real eye opener. Part of me wanted to run for the hills and swear (once again) that I would never EVER do such a thing again, but then part of me knows how much I need it. If I keep going like this I’m going to be shaped like a chair for the rest of my life.
So. Gulp. That’s my new goal for… umm… sometime before the end of 2012. I will investigate and find a private Pilates instructor, someone who can help me, maybe, one day touch my toes.
I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. ~Henry David Thoreau
Day 2 – Friday, Nov. 2 Write about the weirdest thing about your health OR Find a quote and use it as inspiration
I’m not so sure what is weird about my health, so I’m going with prompt #2.
Today I woke up in this little cottage in the North Carolina woods. It’s my third flying trip in three weeks, and I was a total grump about getting on that plane. It really stressed me out to leave my work, my complete mess of a house, and numerous obligations to come on this family trip. Back when we planned it, it sounded like a good idea – to visit Mr. McBody’s aunt and uncle (whom I adore) at their home near Asheville, North Carolina.
And as it turns out, it was a VERY good idea. It has already been way worth the stress of wrenching myself out of my life yet once again. Because the last two trips were “busy” trips – one for a conference and to visit friends, and the second to visit Juniorette up at her college. They were bustling and busy and stimulating and GREAT, but also kind of exhausting before, during and after.
This trip? It almost brings tears to my eyes to realize how perfect it is, and how much I needed it. I am, as is no secret, a very very social person. I love meeting up with people at all of my beloved COMMUNITIES. I thrive on community – at Fitbloggin, at Weight Watchers, my adoption peeps, my writer buddies. But what might not be as well known is that I absolutely thrive and need solitude. I NEED IT.
Right now I am sitting at this little table in this little writers’ cottage (normally inhabited by Uncle McBody). It is a freaking DREAM. I am happy. I am beside myself with happy! Outside it is fall and the leaves are trembling in all of my favorite autumn colors. I can hear critters shuffling through them outside my window. Mr. McBody, up in the main house, is engaged in endless conversation with Uncle (which they both love) and my mother is utterly content with Auntie – watching the birds come to the bird feeder, patting the sweet cat, and dealing with the antics of the mischievous dog.
And I am here in the cottage, alone. Exactly where I want to be, doing what I most love to do.
This morning, I took a beautiful 4.1 mile run through the autumn countryside. It was crisp and cool and gorgeous. I was so happy.
We shared a lovely, healthy lunch. A veggie salad followed by two squares of dark chocolate. I like how these people live! (can I mention again how much I love them)
And now… quiet. Ahhh. I can actually think. And rest. And write. And I know that days/weeks like this are as crucial to my health as good food or exercise. I need to re-charge. I need to have no sound but the ticking clock on the little yellow stove.
Back in the day, I used to go to writing retreats a lot more. I was lucky enough to be granted fellowships at colonies like MacDowell, Blue Mountain and Hedgebrook. My longest time away was eight weeks, and man… it was heaven. My mom came to stand-in and help with my children, and everyone thrived. (that’s a whole OTHER topic that I won’t go into right now, how some people villainized me for “abandoning” my children to the care of (gasp!) their FATHER and GRANDMOTHER – but you know? they’re wonderfully functional young adults now, no scars to be had from THAT anyway, thankyouverymuch) Ironically, it’s been tougher to get away now that I have a job and a mother who is harder to leave than my children were.
Be that as it may. Even being here less than 24 hours has brought home to me the absolute necessity of finding and making time like this. It’s as important as sleep, or air.
Do you like or need to be alone? How do you find time for it?
Why do I write about my health? Why do I blog about health? The two questions are interchangeable, because I think if I did not blog about my health, I wouldn’t be writing about it. The blogging, ie the public conversation, is a necessary element.
I started this blog on the day that I first doubted my health. When I felt that my health had betrayed me, or that I had betrayed it. I was alone and afraid. I knew from other trials in my life that writing was a way to find my way through frightening territory.
I don’t know who or what I would be if I could not write. I first began writing imaginary stories, illustrated ones, about girls with cats and men with hats, when I was about six. When I was ten, I started keeping my first diary, the bona fide kind with a miniscule key and gold edged pages. I wrote in Harriet-the-Spy type composition books and then thick black Chinese notebooks with fine lines and thin paper. I have never not written, ever since I learned what writing was.
On the day that I learned that I probably had diabetes, I did not think it would be good for the blog. I was terrified and ashamed. I desperately wanted to talk about what had happened, but I did not want anyone I knew to know what I was grappling with. I could not bear the thought of looking anyone in the face and telling them that I had probably eaten and slogged my way into ill health.
As I always do when I am feeling desperate or anxious, I turned to writing. Why not just write in a secret journal and keep it under my bed? Why not use my already conversational blog? Because I wanted to talk to people, but I wanted to do it from behind the dim curtain of a confessional. I wanted to discuss my predicament, but while wearing a paper bag on my head.
And so I began this blog. A blog in which I could express my fears and worries, and a vehicle for finding other people who had traveled this same path. I needed companions, but not the same companions I had known my whole life. I needed: though I didn’t know it even existed at the time – the healthy blogosphere.
I have met other people with diabetes. Other people who almost have diabetes. People who have lost weight or can’t lose weight or lost weight and then gained it. People who are struggling to get off the couch or who are training to finish an Ironman triathlon, or their first 5k race. I have read the words of people who have made me cry and throw virtual embraces into the air, hoping they will land on a real human.
My blog is no longer secret or anonymous. I have met other bloggers, and my nonblogging friends have come here to see how I am doing, or to express their own thoughts and feelings about their health. It is a place where I can be seen.
This blog gave me my health. It gave me a place to say, “My health is not so hot,” and to say, I feel better than I ever have. It gives me a place to be honest, and vulnerable, and discouraged and hurt and victorious. It’s not just about my health – it IS my health.
I’ll never forget the first time I did the Big Blue Test. It involves taking one’s blood glucose, then exercising for 14+ minutes, then taking it again. Simple. I first did it the first year I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had never done this particular before-and-after test before, and I remember my blood glucose going down a LOT after exercising. It was such an eye opener and it was THE thing that helped me make the direct connection between activity and health. MY health.
Last year I was fortunate enough to participate in the Big Blue Test video promoting exercise for people with diabetes. It was so much fun, such and honor, and to this day I do not fail to get goosebumps when I hear that song. This year’s video is pretty darn cool, too!
The deal is that every day between now and November 14 (World Diabetes Day) – you can take the test at the Big Blue Test site. You don’t have to have diabetes in order to help people with diabetes!Each test done will mean a donation toward much needed supplies for people with diabetes.
This morning I put on my BBT T-shirt. I tested, then got on the elliptical in my garage for 22 minutes, then tested again. The drop isn’t as huge as it was the first year, BUT that’s because I ate an apple with peanut butter less than an hour beforehand and I can tell you that without the exercise, it would have been a lot, LOT higher. So YEAH exercise, and YEAH Big Blue Test.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment that was left recently, in which Karen said, “I don’t ‘do’ challenges…” and I nodded my head. She’s not that kind of person. So many people aren’t. But then I had to think. I AM the kind of person who does a challenge. As often as possible. Who almost needs a challenge in order to get ANYthing done. Left to my own devices, I’m likely to sit around and watch TV shows on Hulu all day. But given a challenge – and suddenly I am capable of things I would never consider on my own.
I am currently in a ton of challenges, some private ones just with myself, and then others that involve hundreds or more people.
The Writing Challenge: I recently challenged myself to write as many consecutive days as possible on 750words.com. Blog posts do not count. I’m now on Day 3, which means I’ve earned myself a Turkey sticker. Yay me! Writing has been so important to me (so I say) and yet I do not make it as much of a priority as I’d like. So I’m just doing this on my own.
A running friend of mine has challenged me to run every day. Any time or distance. I am now on Day 5. Last night it was almost midnight and I hadn’t run. I put on my shoes and ran circles around my little street for 5 minutes. I’m saying that counted. But… no way would that have happened without the Running Challenge.
The Yoga Challenge: I have done one yoga pose a day for the past 15 days. Except for today. Tomorrow I will do two. I admit that I tried today’s pose in the morning and it scared me so I backed off. I will complete it tomorrow, with picture, as well as tomorrow’s pose.
Creative Process Challenge: I’ve been reading this bookwhich asserts that for successful writing to occur, you must do three things. Process, product and self-care. I count the running and yoga as self-care. The product is what happens with the Writing Challenge. But now I am also challenging myself to 15 minutes of non-goal oriented creative process per day. So far I have played with pink Play-Dough and done a drawing of a pumpkin. Two days down.
The Big Blue Test: from now until Nov 14th (National Diabetes Day) I am participating in the Big Blue Test. This very test helped me understand the link between diabetic health and exercise, and I will be forever grateful. I encourage everyone, diabetic or not, to participate, because every test done means that $5 will be donated for much-needed medical supplies.
SO those are the things I am doing right now. That’s a minimum of an hour (or more) committed to Challenges per day. I’m finding the time where it seems there is none. But I can say if I weren’t doing the challenges, that time would be lost.
I think I am the kind of person who NEEDS challenges. Interesting.
Have you ever participated in a challenge to get yourself going? Are you doing one now? Tell me!
Actually it was GrowSoulBeautiful‘s idea. I met them at Fitbloggin’ where they had a cool yoga photo booth. But I almost totally ignored it/them, because you know, yoga just isn’t my thing. They were really cool and nice people with a nifty project, but… you know.
Then I got back from Fitbloggin’ and October started and before I knew it, everyone and their sister was doing this #YogaADay challenge on Instagram. I happen to love Instagram (look for me there under “foodiemcbody” of course). So I was seeing people popping up all over doing these challenges.
I thought about it for a minute. It seemed like, come ON, one pose a day? I can do that, right? It’s something like #couchto5k but for Yoga newbies or Yoga-phobes. Which I just might be. But it seemed like the most gradual, small way of entering. I jumped in.
The idea is that you do one pose a day, according to the chart above, and post a photo on Instagram with the tag #yogaaday. So then if you do a search for that hashtag, you see all the people doing that same pose on the same day. There are hundreds of people! Which is both good and bad. It’s inspiring and cool. People do their poses in amazing settings. And some peoples’ forms are absolutely perfect. Awe-inspiring, really.
And other people – like me – are, um, not so perfect. A lot of these poses are really, really hard for me, and I know they are just the beginning ones. (I can’t wait for the Dead Person Pose on Day 14! That one I got down!) I can usually only hold them for a microsecond before I start screaming or fall over. Then when I see the picture, especially when I post around the same time as the perfect-yoga-form people, I want to die of mortification. But it’s like, showing up, being real, not worrying about being perfect, all the stuff I learn from my good friends.
I’m not sure what will happen at the end of this 30 days. If it will inspire me to take a class or get a teacher and get BETTER at this, or if it will make me permanently head for the non-yoga hills. It is a very humbling experience. I can’t say it’s fun. Every day I face the pose with more than a little trepidation. But I try it. I suppose if I kept trying it I would get better. But do I want to? Is it a goal of mine?
I still haven’t decided. But I do know that this challenge is challenging more than a lot of other things I’ve done. It’s right up there with mud races and triathlons. It’s OUT of my comfort zone, that’s for sure – both physically and emotionally. I’m not quite sure why.
It’s not halfway done yet. Anyone out there want to jump in and join me? I’ve loved having company of some other folks during the first 11 days.
One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar. I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!
Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.
I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.
We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!
Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.
We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!
We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53” I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.
We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.
The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.
At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.
Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.
What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.
The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).
The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.
For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.
Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.
Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.
Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.
Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.
Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!
Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.
To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?
So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.
What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?
Today is my two-year anniversary of reaching my Weight Watchers goal weight. I “celebrated” rather sheepishly and quietly, mostly because I am a couple pounds over goal due to certain Hormonal Influences of the Week. But also because it’s been a rough patch of time lately and I just wasn’t feeling as exuberant as I did last year. I didn’t go out and have cupcakes. However, at my meeting last night I fastened some curly ribbons to my nametag and at the end of the meeting, I did announce my 2-year goalaversary and I told the members they could ask me anything they wanted.
One person raised their hand and said, “What do you do when you feel stuck?” Ahem – like RIGHT NOW? I stood and thought for a moment. And then I said, “I change things up. I look for something new to do. A new book, a new kind of exercise, a new recipe, a new way of looking at things. Anything to move things and unstick them.”
And just as I said it out loud I knew it was true.
THEN we had Celebrations and we celebrated one member losing 11 pounds. She said it was due to “earning LOTS of activity points, and joining Team in Training!” We all clapped. Then I remembered when I had joined Team in Training in 2000 and completed a marathon (walking). I remembered what a wonderful experience that had been.
This morning, I was still thinking about it. I thought about another member who came up to me after the meeting and said he was “doing pretty good” with his food, but that he wasn’t getting much activity in. Then the neurons in my brain started sparking and I thought, “Hey! I should recommend that he try Team in Training! How awesome would that be!”
Then it jumped to, “Hey. Maybe *I* should re-join Team in Training! Maybe I should do a marathon!” I had gotten a flyer from Team in Training just last week (I’m still on their mailing list, 11 years later). I started getting excited.
Then on the way to work I remarked to Mr. McBody that I was contemplating something biggish. I told him. He said, “That’s a great idea!” But then he said… “But you know, I’m not sure these long distance events are really a good long term plan.” (speak for yourself, dude.) And he went on to say that maybe I ought to mix it up and do something other than running.
I was about to get all defensive and upset and tell him I was going to be running long races into my eighties (um??) and then an even bigger bunch neurons exploded in my head, and the words “triathlon – running- biking – swimming- TEAM IN TRAINING!” all merged together at once and I let out this huge “Ahhhh!!”
As soon as I got to work I went on the site and looked at the upcoming events. Marin County Triathlon. November 5. My heart started pounding. And I registered for an info session on the spot.
I’m going to do this. This is my new thing! This is my shaking it up!
I’ve whispered and mumbled and thought about the word “triathlon” in the past. But then I never started and I knew that I was just plain CHICKEN. Of the biking/swimming part. And I know without a doubt that the ONLY WAY – the ONLY way in the entire universe that this will ever be possible for me, will be if I have a coach and an entire HERD of people doing it with me.
My big, giant, annual work event finishes up on July 22nd this year. Training for the Marin County Triathlon begins on July 23rd.
Um, isn’t that, like… fate?
So THIS is how we celebrate the 2nd goalaversary. First year, cupcakes. Second year, triathlon. Okay.
Anyone want to join me?? I’m going to an information session in San Francisco on July 7th!!
Oh, and: this is what I love about working at Weight Watchers. It’s SUCH a two-way street. I need to be in there, and I need my members as much as they get support from me. Thanks for throwing some sparks into my brain, people!