Cutting Out Cravings

crave cupcakes rachel kramer busselMy boyfriend Julian, who is studying Sociology and Psychology, shared something with me this weekend that blew my mind. It’s about cravings. (If you don’t suffer from cravings, stop reading this right now go read one of 23 Thorn’s posts on owls instead. He has several, and they are awesome.) If you do struggle with cravings, however, read on… I am about to change your world.

Julian has been reading and studying about cognitive therapy which, according to Wikipediaseeks to help the patient overcome difficulties by identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. The founder of Cognitive Therapy is Dr. Aaron Beck, who has written extensively on the subject. Dr. Beck also has a daughter, Dr. Judith Beck, who is a psychologist and who also is known for her work in cognitive therapy. Dr. Judith Beck has written several books, including works on diet and weight loss. I tell you all of this because it really helped me knowing this came from someone with authority in the field, if I had heard what I am about to tell you from some random person it would have been easy to disregard it. Here it is:

Cravings pass. Whether you give in to them, or whether you don’t, they eventually pass.

Seems ridiculous, right? Obvious. Think about it again though, let it really roll around your brain: Whether you give in to them, or whether you don’t, cravings pass.

How do you act when you get a serious craving? I have three methods of coping with them:

1) A Little Goes a Long Way: If I am craving something decadent like wine or chocolate, one way I deal with cravings is by having a small amount of what want, but of high quality. So, I might have a small bite of seriously wonderful, expensive chocolate from a local sweet shop, rather than having a full Milky Way bar.

2) Bait and Switch: instead of having what I want, I try to find something that is similar or has similar associations. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream, I might have a low-fat Fudgsicle instead.

3) All In: If the craving isn’t something I consider unhealthy, I will go ahead and indulge (and sometimes even if it isn’t.) In fact, sometimes, I will go ahead and deliberately eat more of the item than I normally would to “quench” the craving. I did that with fruit not long ago.

What I don’t do? Simply let it pass.

Since Julian told me that simple phrase that he had read, its been going around and around in my mind. (It seems so obvious, but that’s always the way with hindsight.) Every time I start to crave something, (and it is surprising me how often I have cravings,) I think of this phrase – like a mantra. “Cravings will go away.” You know what? Cravings aren’t a thing. They aren’t like a cold or headache. They aren’t a gremlin with a knife to your throat. It won’t kill you if you don’t give in. Cravings are simply thoughts, and these thoughts are made stronger by thinking about them. Once you choose not to give in to the craving, and I mean really decide, (no takebacksies) the craving starts to go away.

The thing is, we now live in a world where we can give into our cravings whenever we want. Pineapple in December? Done. Eggrolls at 3AM? Easy. Past generations never had this. If they wanted Grandma’s homemade cherry pie in February, it was just too darn bad. You had to wait until cherry season – and grandma to get around to making it. Now we can drive to a store and pick up whatever we want.

Here’s what I wrote back in January about cravings:

Usually if I have a specific craving, I figure my body is telling me something – sometimes it is a needed nutrient, (Craving steak? Maybe I am low on iron.) and sometimes it is a symptom of something emotional. (Craving chocolate? How are the stress levels?) I normally just have a bit of whatever it is and the problem is solved.

Now, I think it is something else. I think a craving is my brain’s way of distracting me from something else:

Last week a bag of sugared cinnamon almonds stole my soul. Someone had brought them in to work and left them on the “free food” counter. I thought I would have a couple with my morning coffee, and I decided to leave the sugar out of my coffee to balance it out. The almonds were delicious… and then, I could not stop eating them. All day I kept popping up from my desk to have just a couple more, long past when I knew I should stop. Thinking about it now, I think what was really going on was that my brain was desperately trying to avoid the big ugly work project that I have been procrastinating on. The whole “Will I? Won’t I?” battle in my brain kept me happily distracted from the work I was supposed to be doing. Our minds are amazing at finding ways to fool us.

I also think cravings are habits, as in “at this time, I aways want (x).” I’ll give you an example – after Julian and I had this talk, I kept thinking about it. Then Sunday night he and I went out for Asian cuisine. I had an amazing dish of spicy green beans. Afterwards, I found myself craving something sweet. The little fortune cookie that came with it was not nearly enough. I almost suggested going out for ice cream, and then I thought: cravings go away. I really looked at what was going on. I wasn’t hungry – far from it – I was stuffed with a great meal. There were two things behind this particular craving: 1) I was having fun with Julian and didn’t want the date to end, and 2) I have a bad habit of always following up spicy/garlicky food with something sweet. But that’s all it was – a habit. I didn’t need it. I sat with it and just reminded myself that the feeling would pass. It did, and our date kept going because we wanted it to, not because I had to throw something else in there.

When I got back to work on Monday… there were still some sugared almonds on the break room table.

I didn’t have one, and the funny thing was, it wasn’t even a struggle. Part of it was that I had gotten that dreaded project done, and part was that every time my brain would send up a little craving thought, I noticed it… and then went back to work. Instead, I set times throughout the day that I would eat. I decided what I wanted to eat, how much, and when, based my goals, not on cravings.

I want to eat well. I believe in eating delicious food. However, I am going to make those decisions consciously. And as for the in between times when I have a cravings?

They will pass.

Photo credit: Rachel Kramer Bussel

Can Running Intervals Actually Be… Fun?!?

training run scheduleWhen I started first running, I made a promise to myself: no running in my own neighborhood. Why? Because initially running in my own neighborhood was incredibly, deadly, mind numbing boring. Guess what? This weekend I went for a run around the neighborhood, and it was incredibly fun!

So, you know that I am using a training calendar from a local marathon. I am not, however, following it exactly to the day. Instead, I stick with each level until I feel comfortable enough to move on. As you can see in this photo, I did three two-mile runs before I felt ready to move to the next step. What I wasn’t expecting was that the next step would be going back to intervals. I thought that now that I was running miles, I would keep adding to that, but nope! Back to intervals. In fact, back to one minute run/one minute walk intervals – which I haven’t done in a while.

Sure, I was tempted to make up my own next step, I’ve done that before, but ultimately I keep coming back to the schedule… after all, they are the experts, I’m not. On Saturday I decided to go ahead and follow the training program and get out there and do my intervals, and here’s the thing – it turned out to be fun!

The first couple of minutes were awkward, just when I felt like I was starting to move well my little RunKeeper lady would call out a one minute marker and I would have to change my pace. Then I figured out that because I was walking every other minute, I didn’t have to restrain myself during the run portions. Normally I hold back so I have enough energy to make it through the whole run. Since I was running only one minute at a time, however, I could just go ahead and let loose. It was the first time I’ve done that – just ran like I wanted to!

The blocks flew by. I wasn’t bored with my neighborhood at all, in fact, I barely saw it – I was enjoying myself too much! Plus, I am finally at a place where I can start thinking about other things while running. For so long all I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other, now I’m finally getting to where I don’t have to do that anymore. I can daydream and think about blog posts or whatever I want. It makes running a lot easier, I can tell you that.

Once I got in the groove, my 30 minute run of intervals went fantastic. In fact, it even felt pretty easy, up until the last couple of minutes – then I started to wind down. My pace was, of course, much slower due to all the walking, but still decent, (for me.) I run for a lot of reasons, but I have to say, this was the very first time it was fun. Satisfying, empowering, motivational… I’ve felt all that and more from running, but never before fun. It makes me look forward to it in a whole new way.

Sharing the Trail

The 30 Minute (ish) RunCorredora by Daniel Lobo

I had a interesting little experience over at Big River Park the other day. When I got there, the lot where I usually park was practically full. It’s never been that busy before, so I kept looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. Then, once I did find a spot to park, I realized the walking path was crammed with people. Fortunately, the path is roughly the width of a one lane road, so even with all the folks on it, there was still space to move. I typically don’t like to be around people much, (the perfect place for me to run has just enough people around so I feel safe, but few enough that I don’t have to actually interact with them,) but I was determined to run anyway.

Now that I have my first official two mile run under my belt, my goal was to try and extend the amount of time that I run a little. Pace-wise, I am running roughly 11:30 minutes per mile. Two miles at that pace, plus a little more, means my total time out has been around 25 minutes. I thought I would see if I could do a full 30 minutes. I decided not to worry about speed and just see if I could run continuously for the 30 – I just wasn’t sure how it would go with all the people around.

As I ran, I realized that the people on the path were all together. They were all roughly middle to late aged, roughly the same larger build, and they all had the same look on their faces – a cross between determination and misery. I’m guessing it was some kind of weight loss clinic. They were trudging (and really, that is the best way to describe how they looked,) in groups of twos and threes, with single folks scattered between them. It was weird passing around them, usually I am the one being passed! I kept noticing the single gals (the group was predominately female) and wanting to give them a fist bump or shout “c’mon! you can do it!” to them. Sadly though, I think my well meaning encouragement would have come off as patronizing, and since I had no desire to be slugged, I kept my thoughts to myself.

I eventually figured out that the group, whoever they were, were using just one section of the path as a track. They were heading up to one point then looping around and heading back. I passed one of the end points and enjoyed some solo running in the woods before I looped back myself and headed back into the crowd. Suddenly an air horn went off. All around me my path-mates popped up and started jogging! From my high point on the trail it looked exactly like a hot skillet full of water drops, all bouncing around me! It hit me – they were doing intervals! I noticed their looks of misery deepen.

Eventually I passed the other end of their loop. There was someone there with cooler, bottled water, and of course, the air horn. I didn’t hear the horn again, so I am not sure how long their intervals were. As for me, I did well up to about 27 minutes. Then my legs started giving out. I ended up alternating between walking and running the last bit. I’d walk for a few seconds, then run as long as I can, then walk again for a bit. I wish I would have made it the whole 30, but I felt good about what I accomplished. Every run is a good run.

Photo credit: Daniel Lobo on flickr

More than Strength – Building Confidence

Leap of Faith by Hamner_Fotos

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: I feel far more confident today than I did 8 months ago. I am more willing to take risks, try new things and speak my mind. The interesting thing is that it has almost nothing to do with losing weight or my body at all, but it has everything to do with working out. I started to notice the change a couple of months ago. Julian commented on it as well. I originally assumed that it came from losing weight. I looked better, so I felt better, so I seemed more confident. But you know what? That isn’t it. I’ve spent some time really looking inside myself and I’ve come up with a completely different answer.

Taking risks enables me to take other risks.

When I started running, I had no idea what I was doing. (Truthfully, I still don’t.) So, quite literally every step of my way I’ve been pushing my own boundaries. Having hated the idea of athletics for most of my life just getting out and exerting myself in public was a huge risk. Taking a Run Clinic was a big deal for me. It was a great class and I loved it, (and will probably go back for a refresher sometime soon,) but I had to run in front of other people – something I hadn’t done in years. It is good that my fear of injuries is greater than my shyness! Each time I run, I am taking risks – whether they are external (new locations, other people, weather conditions, etc.) or facing my own internal fears and self imposed limits.

And it isn’t just running, buying a kayak and going out on the water solo for my first time was a new experience. Lifting weights has been a building challenge. (Each time I feel confident in a weight, I go out and get the next one!) Julian asked me if I’d ever consider taking a martial arts class, and I have looked at gyms and other fitness centers in my area. I even went some while out of town – a complete first for me.

I haven’t achieved everything I have set out to do. Sometimes despite my best efforts, my plans go awry, things happen I don’t expect. But here is the important part – working out (running, kayaking, etc.) is getting me to continually try new things, and every time, I feel great for getting out there and giving it my best shot. That’s lead to me feeling more confident in myself overall. I am speaking my mind more and tearing down a number of long held beliefs about myself.

Interestingly, that was what this blog was supposed to be about – seeking new paths, learning more about myself, trying new things, and figuring out what matters. I just didn’t expect to find it this way. I’ve been thinking that weight loss and working out and all that were one path on my journey, but now I see that it actually is the path. It’s leading me, emotionally and mentally, towards being able to take leaps of faith in other parts of my life.

Who would have thought?

Photo credit: Hamner_Fotos on flickr

Note: after writing this, I realized it also belonged on my About Me page, so I have added it to both. It seems to really encompass a lot about me right now.

Sweet Like Candy

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I am not a big one for rules, but this little quip made me laugh.

eat less sugar

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I do have something of an addiction to sugar. By that I mean I don’t crave traditional sweets – cakes, pies, cookies or anything like that, but if I choose to have a piece of candy or chocolate, I get really intense cravings for more. So, as long as I stay away from it, I don’t want it and I’m fine. However, if I decide to have something with sugar, it gets a grip on me that is hard to shake. The cravings last for days, and if I give in, they seem to get worse.

Honestly, that scares me a little. Health reasons aside, I don’t like anything that has that kind of control over me. I make my own decisions, and no chemical is going to dictate that for me! So, yeah, a little less in my diet would be a good thing – after all, I am already sweet enough!

Magical Wishes

Genie Lamp by DavidD on flickrI ran across this article on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty on the fallacy of weight loss miracle cures. (They have so many great articles over there, check them out if you get a chance.) Anyway, it reminded me of something that’s been happening in my own life in regards to my weight loss: dealing with the question: So, what are you doing?

It comes up almost every time I bump into someone who hasn’t seen me for awhile. I have a small frame, so my weight loss is fairly obvious. Inevitably the So, what are you doing?question comes up. The frustrating thing is that they don’t really want to know. No one wants to hear the real answer. If I start to tell the truth, “I used the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track calories.” their eyes glaze over and they look away. I have actually had someone, a friend, turn her head and start a new conversation with someone else while I was in the middle of that sentence, at about “on my phone to track…” The truth is what everyone already knows – there is only one way to lose weight: burn more calories than you are taking in. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Different methods work for different people, but what it comes down to is, you have to work out a little more and eat foods that are (mostly) good for you. But, of course, that isn’t what people want to hear. What they want is a miracle cure. They want to take a pill or an extract and have the “pounds melt away.”

The other thing that happens is that people hear I am running and think that is how I lost weight. It isn’t, and frankly, it really irritates me when people leap to that assumption. I know what they’re doing. They are finding a reason they can’t lose weight themselves. It goes something like this: Oh, she’s a runner now and lost a bunch of weight, but I can’t do that because (insert reason for not running) so therefor, I can’t lose weight like her. What I try to explain is that I lost the weight first. I was not running at my heaviest. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the heck out of people that are out there running while overweight. Talk about being brave and strong! I see those folks out on the trails and I always want to run up and shake their hand and tell them how awesome I think they are. (I don’t because that would be weird, but I think about it.) But that wasn’t me. Instead, I waited until I was at a size where I felt more comfortable, and that’s when I started running. I don’t run to lose weight. I run to keep the weight off. I also run to increase my stamina, my endurance and my confidence in myself. I run because I am finding I can do a lot more than I ever thought possible – but that all came after the weight.

I was venting to Julian about all this and he came up with the absolutely perfect solution. He gave me a phrase to use:

Well, I have two wishes left… and you know what?  I am taking offers…

I’ve used it a bunch. It never fails to get a laugh – usually accompanied by an eye roll. It directly confronts the magical cure mentality in a harmless way. If they press, I typically following it up with “I eat a little less, I work out a little more,” and leave it at that. Weight loss is a really personal journey. I have a few dear friends I can talk about it with, but otherwise I try not to talk about it too much, except here on my blog with you, dear reader!

Photo credit: davidd

The Morning Dog Walk

good morning from the dog

Umm… Mom? I think you should get up now. I sense that there are bunnies outside.

I was just considering writing about my early mornings with Hermes and then I saw Vivienne’s post about her morning wake up calls. I couldn’t resist. Just about 6:30 every morning, I roll over and see this little face, staring at me – Hermes waiting for me to get up and face the day.

This is what I call his “sad eye” face. Hermes doesn’t vocalize at all – no barks or whines. When he wants something he just looks sad, and waits for me to figure out what it is. In the morning, it’s his walk.

If, like on the weekends, I don’t seem to be moving quick enough, he’ll proceed to shake his collar making it rattle. He knows that will always make me open my eyes. (I am a light sleeper.) He’s expecting me to get up, feed him, and then hit the sidewalks for our morning stroll. After all, he has scents to sniff and trees to pee on – this is no time for sleeping in!

Yes! That's better! Nothing like the scent of summer...

Yes! That’s better! Nothing like the scent of summer…

I admit, there are times I resent it. I love sleeping in. I used to be a night owl who would sleep in until the last possible moment. Now that I have a dog, I am pretty much up at 6:30 every morning – even on the weekends. Believe me, there are plenty of times I wish he’d grow some opposable thumbs so he could let himself out and I could get back under the covers! Of course, that is not to be…

On the other hand, walking is my peace, my meditation. It’s now how I wake up in the morning. Even though I am dressed and out the door, I don’t actually feel “awake” for a block or two. I compose blog posts, make mental lists, plan my day and even work through problems on those walks. I know they are good for me – both brain and body.

So, until Julian wins the lotto and hires me my own personal dog walker, I’ll be up, yawning and trudging my way down the road, leash in hand.

Success – My First Official 2 Mile Run!

Glouster Geen-Oxford by kamshots Mission accomplished:

I ran 2 Miles. (and a bit more!)

I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to make it at first. I went after work in the neighborhoods around my office. I prefer to run in parks, but I had a post run date that night with my 3 year old niece (who hereafter shall be known as Little Fish,) and there aren’t any good parks for running between my office and my sister’s house. I thought there was one, but when I drove over on my lunch hour on a scouting mission, it turned out to have a boat ramp, softball and soccer fields, but no walking or running trails. So, I hit the sidewalks instead.

I know these neighborhoods a little bit. I’ve walked them on my lunch hour several times. However, the distance you can go when walking versus running are pretty different. I was heading a bit into uncharted waters.

The run started poorly. I had drank a bit too much water at work, and was really feeling it at first. On top of that, my music went awry. After reading that Haruki Maruakmi prefers classic rock for his runs, I thought I would give it a try. I’ve been listening to CCR, which went really well. Credence tends to have song that get me moving, and I know them so well I can listen to them without losing focus. Next I thought I would try the Rolling Stones. The problem was that, unlike Credence’s “Chronicle”, I didn’t vet my Stones album nearly enough. On my last run I hit “Angie,” and while I love that song, it is not good for running. On this run I hit “Fool to Cry.” Not only is “Fool to Cry” one of the slowest paced songs, it is also one I just loath. So, here I am, trying to run but just getting angrier and angrier at the voices in my head! When my little RunKeeper lady announced my pace, I found out that my anger was killing my pace. Fortunately even bad, slow songs have to end eventually.

Once that evened out, so did my body. I started finding my pace. I had set RunKeeper to update me every four minutes, which seemed really long. I had gotten used to announcements every minute, (since that’s how I track intervals,) and four minutes seemed like eternity, but I suspect it is better for me in the long run.*

I ran roughly a mile and a quarter one way and then looped back. I gave myself a little extra distance since I have been known to pick up the pace at the end, resulting in me running out of loop too soon. That didn’t happen this time. I hit 2 miles with still roughly a quarter to go. When RunKeeper announced that 2 miles, I slowed to a walk and fist pumped the air in glee.

Then I looked up. The last quarter mile left to me was all downhill and completely shaded. “Rock and a Hard Place” just started up. I knew I had no excuse to walk. After a second or two, I picked my feet back up and ran the rest of the way!

First two mile run, done! I can now cross that off my list!

After the run, I drove over to my sister’s house and got to have my swim date with Little Fish. We had so much fun in the pool – and I can’t even tell you how great that water felt. Honestly, it was one of the best workout nights ever.

I do have a new goal for running – to run 100 miles by December 1st. I am 14 miles in on that goal. With the number of weeks remaining until then, I have to do about 5 miles a week to hit it. It’s going to be a bit of a stretch goal for me, but very doable. I know there will be weeks where I won’t be able to run, and that’s going to make it tough. However, I am getting faster (hit my fastest time ever on this last run) and should be up to 3 miles soon. That should help offset any busy weeks. I’m tracking it, of course, and I will let you know how it goes!


Photo credit: kamshots on flickr

* HA! I love puns.

I Used to Hate the Sun

The road near my cabin... so much sun.

The road near my cabin… so much sun.

I didn’t always hate the sun. When I was a kid during the summer, sunshine meant days I could go out and play: run around the woods behind our house, build forts, climb trees. My neighbors had a pool I could use, so sunshine meant days of swimming and making up games in the water.

I think I started hating the sun in Junior High, those terrible preteen years. That’s when we started paying attention to our bodies and our appearance back then. (I know it starts much younger now.) I’m old enough that tanning was still popular. Girls I knew started “laying out” to get that perfect summer tan. I tried it a time or two. I hated it.

My family weren’t beach goers, so laying out, if it was to happen, was going to happen at home. As I mentioned, our back yard was in the woods, so it was shaded and full of bugs. That meant one had to lay out in the (very exposed) front yard, something I was far from comfortable with in those awkward years. On top of that, it was dead boring, uncomfortable, and the minute I found a good position, it felt like an ant was crawling on my exposed skin. (Sometimes they were, sometimes it was my brain playing tricks.) I’m also pretty darn pale by nature, and of course, I had no idea what I was doing, so I inevitably got burned, and burned bad. Sunblock had a long, long way to go… and back then I knew girls who swore by tinfoil shields and cooking oil to get even darker.

So, I gave it up. I never did tan properly. It didn’t help that when I turned sixteen I got a car, thereby removing the last reason I would willingly ride my bike. Most of the popular girls, the ones who came to school sun-kissed and gorgeous, also played sports or were in summer cheerleading programs. If they didn’t have those, they had access to tanning beds, cottages or beaches. That wasn’t me. I was happier curled up in the shade with a good book, or in my later teen years, spending my spare hours working inside at my job.

It wasn’t just my pale hue that kept me from fitting in with the popular crowd. I was always too bookish, too artsy, too… odd. I had friends, but they were all like me, second or third tier odd ducks that were all funny, smart and great to be with, but also frequently socially awkward or a little too unfashionable to really fit in. At the same time I was meeting and spending time with a group of kids with dyed hair, white skin, and thick black make up. This post punk precursor to the goth movement defied the sun by only going out at night. My other friends, a bunch of theatre geeks, were too busy running from school to rehearsal to worry about things like getting sun, or “a little color” as my Mom always called it. (“You’d look nice with a little color.” she’d say.) All of this sort of snowballed into an extreme dislike of the sun.

Oddly, it wasn’t people who were tan that I didn’t like. My sister has that perfect skin that tans beautifully, my Dad did too. I knew plenty of people who worked outside or played sports that were tan and I didn’t think twice about it, but personally, I started to deeply hate the sun. Then all the findings started coming out relating sun exposure and skin cancer, and it cemented it for me. The sun and me – we just didn’t get along.

There are other factors as well. I‘ve mentioned before that because my legs have always been fairly thin, (despite me being larger everywhere else,) that I didn’t wear clothing that showed them off. The end result? From my freshman year of high school (when it was mandatory for gym class) until this May, I did not own or wear a pair of shorts. In the summer I wore jeans or skirts… long skirts. I didn’t even like capri pants much. Also, thanks to my fair skin, when I went out in the sun I covered up, either with clothing or super sunblock – the higher the spf, the better. (My sister called my sunblock “sweater in a bottle.”) Also, I didn’t “gleam” or “glimmer”, I sweated, a lot. Essentially, summer sucked – and it was all the fault of the sun.

I never got as bad as my mother, who (out of a fear of cancer) avoids the sun so completely that her doctor had to put her on Vitamin D supplements. I like nature and being outside – I just like it in the shade of a big tree, or in the spring or fall when it isn’t so stinking hot.

Then something happened…. I started running.

I started in the spring when it was still cold outside, but of course, that only lasted for so long. Then one day last month I went for a run in the middle of the day. I had appointments in the morning and plans in the evening, so I went out around noon. It was hot. The sun was high in the sky and there were no clouds. As I sat in the parking lot of the park, I realized that I hadn’t packed sunblock. I decided to go anyway.

It felt crazy and a little risky, but as I ran, I thought “How bad can it be?” It’s true, I was only out for a half hour and roughly half of that was under trees, so I don’t think I got any “color” at all. It was on that run that I started thinking about my relationship to the sun. For so long I fought for my pale skin that I had turned it into a point of pride. I considered the whole lot – athletics, tanning, shorts, exercise, sports, summer – all of it, as something that wasn’t me. The fact that I avoided it proved that I was different, and I embraced that difference.

But then I started running and it all changed. Later that day I stopped at the store to pick up some sunblock for my running bag. I went straight to the “sport” shelf. I ended up buying a small bottle spf 30 lotion for my face, but a spray on can of spf 15 for the rest of me. I have never in my adult life bought a spf below 45.

A few days later, I bought my first pair of running shorts.

Today, I’m sort of tan. Not dark tan by any means, but you can tell I spend time outside. (Admittedly, usually at 6:30 AM and 6:30PM, so we aren’t talking about a ton of exposure here.) I have three pairs of shorts and three pairs of outdoor walk/running capri pants and one pair of jean capris. Considering I own probably less than 5 pairs of pants, this has become a high proportion of my wardrobe. The sun doesn’t bother me now, and frankly, neither does the heat. I’ve mentioned that I have been running on days in the high 80s with 100 degree heat indices. I’m okay with all of it.

Running, and losing weight, first brought me to a place where I felt more comfortable taking risks. By taking those risks, I’ve started challenging my own long-held beliefs. Not just about the sun, but about how I dress, how I look, what I do – and don’t do. I know the fact I bought, own and wear shorts doesn’t seem like a big thing, but you have to realize that the last time I owned a pair it was 1986. It is a big deal.

We have these personal manifestos of all things “me” and “not me.” They are the very definition what we like, what we do, even who we are. They serve as mental shortcuts. When something new comes up we can check it against the list – is this me? Will I like this My taking up running is challenging, and changing, that manifesto. At first it happened subtly, but now I see it, and I embrace the change. When a friend recently suggested a climbing gym, “the old me” instantly started to demur, but I caught myself, and instead I said, “tell me more – where is it located again?” 

I’m not throwing away every long-held belief about myself, but I am holding them up to the light. I’ve decided to let the sun shine through.


The (almost) Two Mile Run

Two Miles


I (almost) ran two miles! All at once… well, sorta. When I wrote yesterday about running my first mile, I also mentioned that I am following a training guide from a big local marathon. Well, the next step after one mile, was two! (Again, I would have thought they would have ramped it up a bit slower, but there you go.)

I had mixed feeling about the run. On one hand, I was mentally pumped to go out and try it. The single mile had gone well, and so had the one one following it, so I felt pretty confident. Yes, I had separated them with a one minute walk, but I was pretty sure I could do it. On the other hand, I could tell my body was really tired. I hadn’t slept very well the night before and my body felt weighted down and sluggish. I only have so many nights a week I can run, however, so I decided to go for it. (Besides, the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do, right?)

I picked a different park to run in. Like the one from yesterday’s post, it is along the river, but this is a much bigger park. It’s really well shaded and has extensive running / biking / walking paths. Even when the park is busy, it is big enough that it doesn’t seem crowded. Since I knew my body was tired, I wanted to keep my mind active by changing the scenery. It is no fun running bored!

A view from along the river.

A view from along the river.

No surprise – it’s hot here. Temperatures are in the mid eighties. Still, there was a nice breeze coming off the water, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In fact, the first half of mile was easy. I ran well and felt well. The next mile after that though, I started feeling it (and sweating like crazy.)

I almost made it, but just before the 2 mile marker, I couldn’t go anymore. I switched to a walk. For the last .25 I switched back and forth between walking and running. I’d walk for a few seconds, then run for as long as I could, then back to walking. So, I still went the whole 2 miles, but there are parts of it that I walked.

When I got done, however, I realized that I had achieved my fastest time – even with the walking! That makes sense in a way – even though I walked, it was least amount of walking I’ve done. It surprised me though, because I really thought I was taking it easy. I was trying to go a little slower on the first mile so I had something left for the second. It didn’t quite work out that way.

That’s okay though – it is all about learning, right? The point is that even though I walked part of the way, I didn’t walk much. I am pretty sure the next time I go out I can do the full two. I’m going to get a rest day in though, so I am a little better prepared!