Archive | June, 2011

A blast from my past and a push to do more.

9 Jun

Before I taught Body Pump, or Boot Camp, or Pilates……I ran.  I was a slow runner.  I AM a slow runner.  But I ran.  And after I ran a race, I wrote.  I posted this on FB, but a lot of you did not know me then.  You only know me now.  The mean boot camp instructor 🙂

This was also the beginning of my fevers, extreme fatigue, and other oddities like anemia. I had no idea those things would lead to a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease.  But I KNEW during this whole process that something was wrong.  I had many runs where I could FEEL my body was taking a turn for the worse.  They say you always have an autoimmune disease in your DNA, if you have one, but that it can lay dormant for many years before it is triggered. I often wonder if this training was my trigger.

I am posting this because ANYONE can set a physical goal and meet it.  People often tell me that they can’t exercise the way I can because of this or that.  But I went from exercising on my own (walks and Tae Bo, back in the day) to pushing some of the finest athletes I have ever seen to their limits.  You can do whatever you expect of your body.  If you expect a walk to be your limit, then it will be.  If you expect you can make it through Body Pump and nothing else, then that will be your limit.  But if you want to set an even higher goal and are willing to train for it, you can ACTUALLY do it.  Don’t settle because of your weight or because of what you think you can do.

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would not only have run that half marathon and a few triathlons (mini), but that I would also be teaching Body Pump and Pilates and boot camp, I would have thought you had lost your marbles.

STOP slowing yourself down.  Get out of your own way!  YOU can be one of those people who runs races if you want!  Or who takes ballet as an adult.  Or who takes Zumba.  Or better yet, comes to MY classes!  No more excuses.  Lets get moving!

Here is what I posted on Facebook…..

As soon as my half marathon was over, I was flooded thoughts that I wanted to jot down. Most of them will be boring to everyone other than me. But I am writing it somewhere that I will not lose (I lose everything)…here! So don’t read this if you think you will be bored 🙂

So this journey started in about April when I got the idea at Starbucks with Michelle. One of Justin’s coworkers mentioned that she was going to train for the half marathon. I thought…wow! That is impressive. As I pondered this, I asked her about it and she said that she figures that if other people can do it, so can she! Suddenly in that moment, I thought…hey, why not ME? So I researched a little and found a reputable training group, bought new running shoes, and in what was a leap of faith for me, I bought one of those silly 13.1 magnets for the back of my van. I needed a solid commitment from myself and a constant reminder of what my goal was. I felt super silly, but gave it up b/c I needed it back there.

The first day of training, I was blown away by how normal the people looked! Sure there were some skinny people out there with muscular legs and cute outfits. But the majority were pudgy and wearing ratty old stuff. Yay! Good news!

I printed up my running schedule, posted it on the fridge, and diligently stuck with it. I paid my dues for not only the training group, but also the marathon. I knew that I needed to put my money in this game b/c the tight wad that I am would not want it to go to waste. Within about a month, my right knee started hurting. Bad. I found a good sports medicine doc and he put me on some meds to help. Within about a week of that, I got a bleeding ulcer in my stomach from that pain killer. Nice. I was off to a great start. 🙂 After quitting that medicine, I did physical therapy twice a day and started wearing a knee brace. I also cut my running by a third (the “runner’s rule of thirds”), took glucosamine, and prayed that God would let me continue this journey. The knee pain eventually went away and I picked back up on the schedule.

Every Saturday after a long run, I would call my mom on the way home and EVERY week she would get so excited with me as I shared how many miles I ran that day. I so looked forward to making those phone calls b/c she gave me such encouragement. Thanks, Mama. My whole family made me so proud. My dad, Michelle, Justin, even Daniella…. everyone was so sweet and encouraging and would get so impressed by what I told them. Their encouragement kept me going.

My Luck…he never once complained that I left him EVERY Saturday to go and run. He was my pillar. Although he questioned my sanity a number of times (he hates running!), he did everything in his power to support me and keep me going. Every night before a long run, he would lay everything out for me. Fill my water bottle, get my knee brace, my keys, my breakfast bar, my coffee…everything ready and in place. And EVERY run as I slipped out of bed he would whisper to me that he was proud of me.

Back to some obstacles along the way….I was also battling anemia. I had many, many weeks of lots of napping and lethargy. It was miserable! But I was resolved to keep running. No excuses. No excuses. If others can do it, why not me? I also started noticing an odd thing I did not expect. My scale was going the wrong way. I started this so excited that I would shed a few extra lbs. I did not care enough to diet them off, but what fun if running did that for me! I could not wait! But no, no, no….for me, the scale started creeping UP! Oh well, I was sure that once I got in to high mileage runs it would start coming off.

The summer was full. We traveled a lot and did a lot of fun things. But I never missed a long Saturday run. I ran in North Carolina one weekend on a sorry excuse for a treadmill that did not even calculate mileage. So I just ran for 50 minutes and hoped that it was 4 miles. That was my first time to ever run more than a 5k. My first big accomplishment! I ran at my family reunion with some cousins who were willing to get out there with me and do 6 miles in the August heat in south Texas(Thanks, Dee & Becky). I even did my first 10 miler on my treadmill b/c we were going out of town that weekend and I needed to get it in. Talk about a long run! 2 hours on a treadmill! YIKES! But God provided by allowing Reid (who does not like watching TV) to be extra good and willing to be alone for that long while I was in the office running. I know, child abuse. He can tell his counselor one day. 🙂

For 6 entire months, I never slept in on a Saturday but would get up and meet my training group at 6 am and go running.

Another neat provision from God. I asked him to let me meet someone to run with. On the first day out on a Saturday morning, I “happened” to be standing next to a girl who looked roughly my age. Always the talker, I struck up a conversation. That was day one of a running partnership that would last until the end. We found lots to talk about and moan about for some long, long runs. We would meet in the pitch black for morning runs if one of us could not make the group Saturday run. God provided a perfect partner for me!

The last month has been rough. My anemia was finally under control. And then I got a stomach bug. That cleared up within a few days, but I started getting fever every day. As I write, I am still (3 weeks later), getting a fever every day. I took 2 solid weeks off running and then did one run and had to get off after a few minutes. I missed our last 9 mile long run. I eventually got another 30 minute run in and then did a 6 miler as our last training run. The marathon was creeping up and I was not well. I had lots of visits to the doc and lots of blood tests. They still are not sure of what is going on in there. But I just knew that God had allowed me to get this far and would somehow let me run on Nov 16th.

The night before the race, I got everything ready….bandaids, lip protector, advil, knee brace, bib, safety pins, shoes and socks to change in to, camera, etc…. I was well hydrated, well rested, and ready to carb load. My family and my parents went to an Italian Restaurant and everyone patiently waited a LONG waiting list with me to let me get my fettuccine alfredo 🙂 Sweet family!

Another sweet memory….coming home after my first 10 miler on the road to my family in the driveway cheering for me and jumping up and down. I love them so much. See why this has been easy for me???

So race morning, my alarm goes off at 4:30am…we leave at 5:30 am. We get downtown and it is 35 degrees and windy. I was DYING! I HATE cold weather with a passion! We walked a little ways to a bus stop where we waited and waited for a shuttle to the start line. Eventually we got there, waited about an hour in line in a crowded Taco Cabana to go to the bathroom, and then finally made it to the start line. It was our turn and off we went!

I was bundled and shed my jacket right away. My feet were not there. I could not feel them for a mile and a half. Have I mentioned how I feel about being cold?!?! Anyway, my partner, Leslie, and I take off. She had a goal of two hours and 30 minutes. I had a goal of being out there and finishing. I knew right from the start we would not finish together. And that was fine with me. I did not want the pressure of feeling like I was holding her back from her goal. So off she went right away and I just let her go. I made a decision at the very beginning to walk through every water stop. I wanted to run the first 3 miles straight and then do a run/walk rotation of 5/1. I felt that I had trained that way, my body liked that way, and I was going to do it! And that is exactly
what I did!

It was GREAT! I loved it! I could not wait to see my family at mile 8 (where they would hopefully be waiting). I just kept thinking, I can get to 8 miles! I can do that! Keep going, Brittany, keep going! At some point, I realized that there were not nearly enough bands or cheering on this course. I realized that this run was just me and God. Nobody else. He had gotten me here and He would get me to the end. I had the best time out there. I would tell him when I was hurting and ask him to give me strength. I have never experienced anything like that run. Alone. But not at all. At mile 8 I saw Luck and Dani!!!!! I hugged them, started weeping, and left just as quickly as I got there. I cried hard for a while and realized I could not run while breathing that way. So I asked God to make my emotions go away and He did 🙂 I teared up a few more times when I realized I was really doing this thing!

About mile 10, I was beat. I had a HORRIBLE blister that felt like a constant bee sting on my big toe. My legs were no longer really there. I knew they were moving b/c I was, but I did not know how. I was running along SouthTown and kept thinking to “dig deep.” I did not even know what that meant, but I always heard people say that. Then I just said forget that and told God I could NOT go on without Him. There was NO way. The next few miles eventually went away and I found myself nearing the end. I knew I was way over the time I wanted. But I truly did not care. I would not have traded my slow, long run alone for anything in the world. The crowd started to get thick and the cheers regular. People were cheering for me! They were helping me finish! I saw the final hill (what moron made the race end on a hill?????) and made it up. I turned the corner and saw the finish line. I ran toward it. It was all surreal. 6 months of training for THIS!!!! And I did it! And I was about to cross the finish line! As soon as I crossed, I got my medal and started taking it in. I cried. But I needed to find Lucky. I called him. Then walked forever to get to where he and Dani were. I thought I was going to pass out.

We finally connected and I hugged Dani and Luck held me and I cried and cried. They were tears of joy and exhaustion and being overwhelmed and relieved and proud and some leg pain, too! It was over. I did it. I learned what it means to have a conversation with God for 2 1/2 hours. And how real he is. And how to rely on him for strength. And that I truly can do anything through Christ who strengthens me!

When we made it back to my parents’ house, they were all outside cheering for me. Michelle, Justin, Gabi, Reid, and my mom all jumping up and down. It was beautiful! I talked to my dad later (he had been in a tournament that day) and he could not believe I had done it! Lucky teared up all day long and told me how proud he was. The look in Dani’s eyes was priceless. Reid later told me “aggratulations, mama.” Luck went out and bought me a pie to celebrate. While he was gone, I put the kids in bed. We sat on Reid’s floor and prayed together. Dani thanked God for me being able to finish the race. Reid prayed for my blister to heal. It was an amazing end to an amazing day. I spend my life caring for my family. But yesterday, they paid me back for everything. I am blessed beyond words. Thank you family and thank you friends who cheered me on and inspired me to keep at it. Your facebook messages have overwhelmed me! I love you all!

And as a follow up, don’t ever train for a half marathon to lose weight…in the end I gained 12 lbs. Oh well! It was worth it!

Another update.

8 Jun

For the past month, I have slowly been feeling better.  I would say some days I was as good as 75% back to normal!  So last week, we started taking me off Prednisone.

When people ask, “How are you?” I could finally say. “Better!”

Until this week……

I am back to the old routine of couch, do stuff for the kids, couch, teach classes, couch, bed.  I do what has to be done.  But I cry a LOT.  I hurt a lot.  By the end of the day I sometimes can’t kiss the kids goodnight b/c it hurts too bad to go back down the stairs.  So I scoot on my butt (pretty thought, no?!) to the bottom or have Lucky kiss them for me.  I am nauseated a lot.  And just have zero energy.  Oh, and piles all over my house.

I am very sad.  I will be honest.  I LONG for life to go back to a few years ago.  I LONG for the days when Sadie didn’t have cancer.  Life seemed so easy and carefree.  I could go where I wanted and do what I wanted and feel more in control of things.  I wasn’t more in control, but I had the perception that I was.

God has always been in control.  He still is.  This is teaching me that I just need to acknowledge that and be okay with that, even if I don’t like the current path.  My path is eventually going to lead me to heaven.  Not because I am good enough.  Because I am not.  I can’t attend church enough.  I can’t even read my Bible and pray enough.  None of that.  I can’t do anything for that reward.  God’s grace ALONE allows me to have comfort on this journey.  Allows peace in my heart.  And will one day allow me to live eternally in heaven with a NEW BODY!!!! I can’t wait for that part 🙂

This is all good news for me because at the moment, I can’t even talk to God.  I am just not there.  I can cry and ask him why Sadie has to have cancer.  I can cry and ask him why I can’t take my kids to the park and the pool anymore.  I can cry and ask him why a precious, dear family we know is hurting so much.  But sitting and being in his presence is just not happening.  Smiling and thanking Him for all of His goodness….it is not either.  I DO remember and KNOW that ALL good things come from Him.  I just don’t quite feel it.

Thankfully, his son took the punishment for my sin.  One died for all to live.  And each and every day he provides for me.  Friends bumping in to me at the store just when I am about to breakdown.  My parents calling and asking to take the kids just when I can’t move another muscle.  Friends dropping off random notes of encouragement or gift cards.  Literally, JUST when I need it the most.  See, the comfort I am receiving is not just in my heart.  It is not just some silly Christian believing in a “higher power” and therefore making up “comfort” that is all in my head.  No, I get that peace in my heart, too.  But I also get these amazing people who listen to the nudges in their hearts to reach out to me.  God actually comforts me though them.

And there you have it.  My rambling for the day.  And my prayer.  I pray for most every one of you. It may not be a formal, “Dear God……” but I remember you in my heart and ask for Him to be there for you.  And by the way, if you don’t know this, you are forgiven, too.  God loves YOU as much as me and everyone else He created.  You haven’t screwed up too much for Him.  You also are not good enough for Him.  Kinda nice, right?  Takes the pressure off.  Just ask Him to help you understand.  He will.

How to cut a watermelon.

8 Jun

I realize this is not rocket science.  But a few years ago, I came up with my own way of cutting watermelon.  Here are the benefits, as I see them:

1) It only takes a few minutes and the entire thing is chopped.

2) You don’t have to have watermelon dripping from your chin to eat it off of the rind.  I know some people actually enjoy that part.  Not me.

3) There is hardly any waste.

4) We eat a LOT more watermelon because of #’s 1, 2, and 3.

Get a watermelon that has a nice “sun spot” (even though it is not from the sun) and one that is not a dark green, but starting to yellow.

First, take that puppy and cut it in half.

Lay one of the flat sides down and slice off the top.

Now take your knife and run it down each side.

Repeat until it is a naked little guy.

Now start about an inch off of the top and slice across the watermelon.  Leave your hand on top of the fruit to hold it in place. (I needed my hand to hold the camera!)

Then repeat every inch or so until you get to the bottom.

Now, keep the watermelon where it is, but turn your knife up/down, and start slicing the other way, 90 degrees from where you just sliced.

Repeat every inch or two until you have gone to the end.

Voila!  Gently nudge your pile-o-goodness and you will have a whole bunch of bite sized watermelon pieces! Repeat with the other half or saran wrap it until you are ready for the rest.

What is more, watermelon is PACKED with nutrition.  You get Vitamin C, Vitamin A (in the beta carotene form), and lycopene!  It is a great way to cool your family off while doing their bodies good.  Happy summer!

Appliance love.

4 Jun

I had the great pleasure of getting two new fabulous appliances for my bday.  Both set of parents and Luck all combined to make this the best birthday gift receiving ever!

First, I got a new Cuisinart coffee make.  I am a coffee LOVER.  You put beans in whole and this baby grinds and brews all in a few minutes.  The freshest, best coffee ever!  It does sound like an airplane is taking off in my kitchen, but that is just a reminder of the goodness I am about to enjoy.

Secondly, I got a Blendtec.  It is a cousin to the more famous VitaMix.  But it fits nicely under my counter, comes in red, grinds rice so that I can make my own rice flour (Vitamix requires a second container for dry grinding), AND is available at Bed Bath, & Beyond with a 20% coupon.   You do not NEED one of these to make the shake I am about to share.  I used my Cuisinart for a long, long time.  This appliance makes it much easier.  But don’t let that stop you from making this for breakfast, lunch, snack, or a light dinner:

Here is what I used today, but you can use anything your heart desires.  I used a whole carrot (not peeled b/c I buy organic), a whole apple, English cucumber, squash, broccoli, frozen loose spinach, frozen blueberries, milled flax seeds, almond butter, almond milk, and pomegranate juice.

Add about this much almond milk:

Throw in a nice amount of the pom juice.

Then take all those veggies (leave them whole if your blender has the horsepower)and put them on top of the liquid.

Sprinkle in a good amount of this:

Keep your ground flax seeds it in the fridge or freezer, or grind your own in a coffee grinder.  To get all of the nutritional value out of flax seeds, you gotta grind them.  Otherwise, they serve as a great fiber source 🙂  Meaning, most of them will pass through you whole and your body won’t get the Omega 3 goodness from them.

Next, spoon in some almond butter.  I like this one b/c it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and because almonds are so good for you.  If you prefer another nut butter, go for it.  I think that adding the nut butter makes this shake substantial and will allow me to 1) not throw up my vitamins 🙂 and 2) stay full until the next meal:

Now you are ready to pour in whatever frozen fruit you feel like.  The kids usually pick when they are drinking them.  And they almost always pick blueberries or strawberries.  Here is your warning:  if you pick blueberries, your teeth will be blue and you should NOT take it on the go!  Give yourself a little time to brush your teeth after 🙂

Blend it all into oblivion.  Pour and enjoy.  Reid cheers when I make him one.  Dani cringes as she sees what goes in it, but always admits she likes it.  It is taking that first sip that is the hard part.  Once she does, she likes it! Lucky loves these, too.  But he dislikes cucumbers and so he only likes them if I leave those babies out.

Can you imagine how good your body will feel if you start having these every day?  It is hard to get all of the recommended veggies in.  This makes it a cinch.  AND they are all fresh veggies.  Honestly, you can throw in literally ANY veggie.  Kale, cabbage, Romaine, cauliflower, WHATEVER!  The beauty is that you taste the pom juice and the frozen berries.  You can always start by adding some honey or something sweet if you need it.  Sometimes I make it with chocolate almond milk for the kids.  But eventually, you will learn you don’t need that.

Being vegetarian has taken my taste buds to a whole new level.  I truly taste more flavors now.  I get the depth of flavors more than I even did before.  And I have always had an acute sense of taste.  Which is a blessing when good food is around and a curse when it isn’t!

Happy eating, and happy blending!  Please tell me if you ever take the plunge and start making these!  I will be happy to help you get started 🙂

And SERIOUSLY, if this doesn’t make my Lupus better…what on earth will?????