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Talking Through The Gross

There’s an article making the rounds about the scientific reasons the past Biggest Loser contestants have put on weight after coming home and then not been able to lose it again, or letting it get out of control bringing them back to obesity. It talks about metabolism and the chemistry of how your body breaks down foods.

But you know what? I don’t need science to explain it. It’s actually easy.

You just feel gross.

And it’s hard to care about what you’re eating or if you’re exercising if you feel gross. No matter how much weight you lost or where you ended up before you started putting it back, you just feel gross once you can feel the weight BACK on your body that you worked hard to lose. More gross than before you lost it to begin with.

I got down to racing weight (the weight I feel the most comfortable running long distances) before my 100K and have since gained 15 lbs back of that weight and I can tell you: I just feel gross. If I met me in public I wouldn’t think, “Gross!” But my clothes don’t fit right and I feel bigger rolls in places and I can’t wear my cutest outfits and I see these marks on my body from where my clothes are tight and sometimes I wear big shirts to cover the fact that I can’t button my pants.

And when you’re feeling all of those things from putting on weight you worked hard to lose? It is really hard to motivate yourself to A) Eat Right and B) Exercise.

And then, when you do? When you’ve put on weight, exercising just feels weird. You can feel things jiggling you used to not, things hurt more on a heavier body, and you don’t have the stamina you used to have. So every step or push or jump is a constant reminder from your body: Look! You’ve put on weight.

And if you have problems eating when you’re upset, then of COURSE you’re going to turn to the donut shop.

I think you can put on 5lbs and not feel too much of that stuff, depending on how tall you are. I’m short so, so more than 5lbs and suddenly the Gross Trigger sets in because that’s when clothes change on your body. Once that Gross Trigger kicks in you have to climb UPHILL every time you go to work out. Or every time you skip the french fries. YOU JUST FEEL GROSS. And you don’t make good decisions when you feel gross.

So that 5 becomes 10 becomes 15 and…

You see where it goes.

It doesn’t matter what science says, honestly. It doesn’t matter how much you lost or what size you got down to. All that matters if you were at a certain weight long enough to get to know how your clothes (often NEW clothes) feel on that smaller body, and you put on 10-15lbs, you’re going to feel gross. Period. It doesn’t matter if you look gross (because I’ll be honest, my boobs look great at this weight) it matters that you FEEL gross. And it’s hard to push past that.

And it’s different than when you first attempt to lose the weight to begin with. At that point you’re probably dressing for the heavier body. You know how the clothes fit. You might know you need to lose weight, but there’s no reminders of dramatic or recent failure every time you move. Once you lose it, and then start gaining it back? It’s like a constant reminder: YOU HAVE FAILED!!!

I wake up and can FEEL the 15lbs extra on my body so, before I even get out of bed I’m thinking, “UG. Gross.” Which makes it SUPER hard to motivate myself to run or eat right. Right now, RIGHT NOW, I’m thinking about donuts instead of running because donuts don’t make my body jiggle and won’t leave chafe marks on my thighs. Also? I don’t have time to run this morning.

Here’s my brain right now:

Ew. I feel gross. I don’t want to feel gross. What makes me feel good? RUNNING! Ew. Running makes my returning rolls chafe and jiggle. But you know what else feels great? DONUTS.

And this whole, “Yes, but you’ll feel terrible later!” response is bullshit to anyone who eats their feelings. OF COURSE YOU’LL FEEL TERRIBLE LATER. But when you just want to feel better NOW, then LATER does not matter. Being addicted to food as a mood lifter is no different than being addicted to drugs or alcohol. There’s a huge part of you who knows about the LATER issue, but that part is not making decisions. Only the part that wants relief RIGHT NOW is making decisions. So right NOW I’m thinking, “Krispy Kreme is open 24 hours. I could get donuts for the office on the way into work. I haven’t brought donuts into the office in awhile. Imagine how delicious that would be.”

And immediately? I’m not thinking about how gross I feel. I’m thinking about donuts. And donuts make a person like me? Who eats their feelings? HAPPY. Even if but for a brief moment.

Gross. I just feel gross. BUT DONUTS ARE AMAZING. That would totally make me feel better.

But I have to get back on track. My 100-miler is inching closer and closer every day and running 100 miles on this body is NOT AN OPTION. No matter how much better my boobs look. Also? 15 lbs on a 5ft 3in body is about where the line occurs where you need to start buying new clothes. I’m down to all of the stuff that doesn’t fit tight against my body and that’s NOT MUCH. One pair of jeans. And even they are terrible the first day out of the dryer. I need to get on track or I’m going to have to buy clothes for this body and that’s not in the budget.

So I have to battle PAST the gross. I have to look deeper into the “GROSS” feeling and not give into it. This body is still amazing, now matter how gross it feels. I need to take care of it. I need to love it. Even if all of my bras leave pinch lines now, and even if my thighs rub together when I wear those shorts that I used to love. All of the things that repeat to me: Gross. Gross. Gross. I need to fight back against that with different mantras. And now we come to the hardest part of all. The part I’ve been really trying to work on in therapy. Treating myself like I would my good friend. Reminding myself of the good work I do and that my body carries me through that work so instead of thinking about the rolls or the chafing or the tight clothes, I need to think: WHAT DOES MY BODY NEED RIGHT NOW? Does my body need donuts? No, because that will totally zap my energy later today when I need it most. Does my body need exercise? YES. And while I can’t squeeze it in before work, maybe I can squeeze it in after. I need to really be in-tune with the needs of my body and not the way it FEELS in the clothes that are too tight.

I need to look deeper than the unbuttoned jeans and really think about how I’m treating my body. And I need to feed my soul with compliments instead of donuts. Instead of eating donuts, I need to remind myself of the wonderful things I do to improve the lives of those around me. Let that be my quick-fix when I’m feeling bad.

Easier said that done.

But if I saw someone telling another friend, “Oh, gross. That shirt is so tight on you it shows your muffin top on the jeans that are too small,” I would FREAK THE F*CK OUT. I might even punch that person in the face and say, “DO NOT TALK TO MY FRIEND LIKE THAT. She is beautiful. She is full of love and joy and she cares so deeply for the world around her. DO NOT TALK TO HER LIKE THAT.” And then I would hug my friend and hold her until she felt better.

I just need to treat myself, like I would treat my friend.

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Putting Words To The Things That Are Working In My Life

Some of my therapy has actually been discovering things I’m doing right, or things I already knew but didn’t really know that I knew it…if that makes sense. One of those things is the Power of Vulnerability. I’ve interacted a little bit with the concept through BrenĂ© Brown (hence capitalizing it because it’s like HER THING and I can’t help it) but I never really connected with it until when my therapist pointed out that sometimes when we make ourselves vulnerable in front of other people (like crying in front of them) we can create better connections. Something about how we were talking about it, or maybe when made it click with me: YES. THIS IS SO TRUE.

I have built a lot of friendships through this blog by being vulnerable. Back in the early days it was openly talking about my struggle to have children. But I’ve also opened up about struggles parenting kids with their own emotional challenges, and then we’ve bonded over grief, and lately we’ve connected a lot over my move to seek out a therapist. All of these steps along the way I’ve been vulnerable and many of us have seriously connected over it, making me closer to some of you guys than I am to people who I see every day.

But then lately she also sent me to Robert Waldinger discussing the power of strong relationship in defining happiness and it hit me again: I AM DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.

Since 2010 I started putting myself out there in the real world to meet people and the more true connections I make, the happier I feel. It may seem silly to be like, “I’m the happiest I’ve been in years!” at the same moment I’m seeking out therapy for the first time. But the thing is, I feel like lately I know what happiness feels like. There have been years before that I didn’t know what I was missing out on, in any consistent level. But since 2010 I’ve really gotten a feel for the power of joy and I’ve also become less scared of reaching out for help so when my darks got so dark in February and March – knowing how light my life can be now – I had to get help.

But in general I have really been happy with my relationships and I truly feel a lot of them are built on mutual vulnerability. Even if it’s something silly like admitting you’re terrible with names, that allows someone else who also has the SAME PROBLEM to admit the same thing and then you have this really strong connection over that things that makes you feel really ashamed sometimes. I’ve built so many friendships on the mutual disclosure of social awkwardness. It’s amazing, really. It seems so silly but when you admit to someone you are socially awkward, it’s like immediately giving yourself permission to relax because YOU HAVE ALREADY WARNED THIS PERSON. And if something awkward happens? You can bond over it instead of falling into a shame spiral.

I highly recommend having “Text Friends” who you can send “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!” messages too when you’ve done something stupid. It immediately lets you put that Thing Out There that is embarrassing you so you stop (or maybe just slow down) that terrible Rumination of Shame thing we all do where we replay embarrassing moments over in our head for years. STOP RUMINATING! It’s so bad for you.

(This is something I shout at myself 100 times a day.)

So I’ve learned that when I started putting myself out in the world, I started feeling happier because I was making connections based on vulnerability. AND I NEVER EVEN REALIZED I WAS DOING IT.

I’ve been thinking about the ways I’ve been making this happen and not realized it. I think a lot of it is thanks to Facebook, honestly. I post a lot on Facebook. I fangirl on Harry Potter articles and admit crying over puppy videos. I share stories of humiliation in an entertaining fashion and I share information about mental health and grieving. All of these things allow me to open up about being vulnerable in an assortment of different ways, without having to do it face-to-face. So when I get face-to-face with someone I know on Facebook, we can connect over things maybe I’ve discussed before. I’ve had so many wonderful encounters with people who said, “I’m not religious either, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in Alabama.” Or maybe, “Thank you for being so open about LGBTQ issues. I don’t have a job that allows me that freedom but it’s nice to see your support.” Or even, “I AM TOTALLY AWKWARD TOO! YAY!”

Facebook has allowed me to establish vulnerabilities in a type of “safe place” so that I don’t have to be freshly vulnerable in person.

I also find myself only spending time connecting with people in environments where we can actually CONNECT. I have two women’s groups I meet once a month and they are both very conducive to opening up. We meet in people’s homes and we are all vulnerable together and it’s wonderful. And then there’s my running friends and the WONDERFUL thing about running is you don’t have to look people in the eye so it makes it THAT MUCH easier to be vulnerable. My running friends know more about my personal history than some of my family probably does. It’s amazing how safe you feel opening up to someone who knows you just peed in the woods.

I get overwhelmed with all of the things in my life I feel like I’m doing wrong, so it’s really nice to uncover things I’ve been doing right. Being vulnerable here has allowed me to be vulnerable in the real world and I’ve made connections in both places that have given me a foundation of happiness to build upon. Pre-2010 Kim didn’t quite know this kind of happiness was possible, the kind you feel when you have an arsenal of friends fighting a war with you. Thank you for being in the trenches with me. You have shown me what happiness feels like and given me the strength to reach out when I need help.

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Avoiding The Low-Hanging Fruit During Political Season

This entry is for TWO types of people. If these qualities do not apply to you? Come back tomorrow.

If you:
1) Have a complex sphere of relationships with people from all different sides of politics and you
2) Would like to maintain those relationships past November, then this post is for you!

Here is my prediction:

I predict with 100% certainty that at least 99% of the political Facebook posts between now and November will be framed in the “Why Your Candidate Is Worse Than Mine” format.

And I get it. It’s easy. The “Things Your Candidate Has Done/Said That Make Them Terrible” fruit is hanging very low on both sides and it’s the REALLY EASY one to grab. I see it every day and think, “I COULD TOTALLY GRAB THAT. IT IS RIGHT THERE. IT IS SO EASY! LOOK!”

But I’m asking you to stop for a minute and think about that.

One thing I know we all agree on is that politics have gotten divisive and ugly. It seems it has all boiled down to TWO SIDES and we must ALL CHOOSE ONE OR PERISH. Not only must we choose one, but once you are on that side you are required to think everyone on the other side is either bigoted and ignorant, or un-American and entitled.

And that Low Hanging Fruit Of Terrible Qualities is there for all of us to grab.

But, here’s the problem: Any time you share a Facebook post with a “Why Your Candidate Sucks” type of link or commentary, you are closing the potential for dialog before it even starts. You are putting fuel in the fire between the two sides so that no one can even look at the other side without burning off their eyebrows. You are starting in attack mode. And I get it, I really do, attack mode is SO VERY EASY. And no matter what side you’re on, you see the negative qualities of the other candidate and you are VERY FRUSTRATED as to why anyone with their RIGHT MIND would want that person as president.

The problem is? BOTH SIDES THINK THE SAME THING.

Trust me. I am a blue dot in a red state. But this is NOT going to do ANYTHING to help put out the fire in between that divides us all.

So I challenge you instead to post the POSITIVE things your candidate has going for them. If you post an article titled, “Why I’m voting for Trump,” and it includes arguments about his tax plans or his foreign policy plans that you support, then you are not starting off in attack mode. You are starting off as SUPPORTING your guy which means the chances of a good dialog are much better. Whereas if you post something that says, “Why I’m not voting for Clinton (or Sanders),” then any of your friends or family who are voting Democrat are immediately bristled against you.

Posting POSITIVE support for your candidate is more likely to help you maintain relationships through November. Take it from someone who has been writing online as a blue dot in a red state (and a red family) for the last three elections. I learned the hard way.

Of course – if you have no desire to maintain relationships with people on the other side of the aisle, then please! Post the negative attack stuff all day long!

But if you want to survive through November with relationships intact, then I encourage you to avoid the low hanging fruit. It’s there. It’s easy. I have to resist eating it every day. Instead, climb higher on the tree. Do some research on your candidates policy proposals. Share out stats and numbers and reasons why you’re voting FOR the person you’re voting for and not why you’re voting AGAINST the other guy. IT IS VERY HARD, and honestly why I’ve not posted much about candidates on Facebook. It’s too hard for me to resist that low-hanging fruit so I’ve just been avoiding it so I don’t damage relationships. I can’t resist the low-hanging fruit so I’ve been avoiding the orchard all together. I’ve just focused on posting about issues and not about candidates.

Of course, if maybe you’re ONLY making your decision to vote AGAINST the other guy? Maybe just stay of Facebook until December if you want to continue being friends with the people who are voting for the person you hate.

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Praying To Myself

I was looking up at a post-storm blue sky yesterday and just breathing in the smell of Spring and trying to deliberately think about breathing in love so that I can exhale it to the world around me. I closed my eyes and really tried to reflect on soaking in some energy as it was that point in the day where I tend to collapse emotionally since I get up so early. I really struggle with post-work energy. I thought about filling my heart with love and joy and so that I could reflect that to my children instead of entering ZOMBIE MODE which is what I tend to do in the evenings.

As I was having this moment, so to speak, it occurred to me: This is my prayer. And I’m directing it inward.

During my religious years I prayed a LOT. God was basically my therapist. I would cry to him and confide in him and I have often thought that the praying part is what I miss the most about religion. I miss not having a concrete format for praying to someone or talking to someone out in the universe somewhere. I know some agnostics have abstract ideas of a God-like being that they pray to, but I don’t really have that. I don’t deny there’s a chance that there could be a power greater than me in the universe; but if it exists, it’s beyond comprehension of my feeble mind so it’s not a source of comfort in the way I need for “prayer.”

But lately I have just been turning my thoughts inward to reflect, and then outward toward the universe. Just almost talking to the world around me. Thinking about the energy I want to give out and the energy I want to soak in. I keep a bullet journal page open on my desk now that says things like, “Breathe, walk, stretch…” to remind me to take a moment and FOCUS on what is bigger than me. I had noticed I was getting wrapped up in the mundane daily to-do lists and forgetting the bigger picture of who I want to be and how I want to influence the world around me. So, I’ve been taking these moments to re-center myself and remind myself that the energy I put out in the world stays there, so I should try to make it positive.

And that is basically what I used to pray for. “God, help me be a better person.” Constantly. I begged for help with everything from lying to abstinence. I would beg for help to stop gossiping and I would pray for discipline for attending mass. I was constantly looking to my God to help make me a better person which is now what I’m doing by turning inward upon my own heart. I’ve essentially started praying to myself. And it feels pretty good.

I AM MY OWN GOD, BOW BEFORE ME, SELF!

(Kidding.)

I do enjoy the feeling I get though, when I remind myself in those reflective moments to focus on the energy I’m putting out into the universe. It’s like a reboot when I’m dragging through my daily tasks. I actually do this several times a day lately, this praying thing, and I hope to keep up the habit. Especially now that I realize the connection to what religious me used to do. Prayer was a stabilizing force when I believed in God, it only makes sense that it be stabilizing again as I learn to believe in myself.

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Lessons Learned During A Stage Race

This is my third year doing the Grand Viduta Stage Race and I have learned some lessons and have some take-aways, y’all. Sit back and soak up the elite-runner knowledge.

HA! I made myself laugh at that one. Sit back and soak up the knowledge of a crazy girl who talked about boob chafing for 3 days.

  • You never know what kind of aid you will love with all of your heart until you get to the aid station. Last year my friends who rarely drank coke found themselves drinking it at every aid station. For me last year it was Powerbars. This year? Pretzels. I am NOT a pretzel person. Unless it’s a Combo you will never see me eat a pretzel by itself but this year? I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH. The very last aid station on the very last day did not have any and I might have cried.
  • Surviving the same 3-day trail race with someone can help you surmount any past social faux pas. Whether you thought someone was in their 50s who was actually in their 30s, or if you called someone by the wrong name, or if you called someone’s dog by the wrong name…you will still be besties by the time the 3 days is over. Just knowing you fought the same war and survived eliminates all past awkwardness. This is a treasure for someone like me who does embarrasses herself regularly.
  • I will offer strangers drugs at some point. The first year it was a guy who had rolled his ankle and was going to quit. “I HAVE DRUGS!” I always say. Because I do. I carry ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Excedrin with me. This year I offered them a guy who was just trying to survive past day 3 after an injury. “ARE YOU SURE?” I emphatically said when he declined. I am the back-woods drug pusher, I DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.
  • I am best friends with all aid station workers. Without fail, every year, every day, every aid station, I show up and want to just bond with the clean people on the other side of the table. They’re like mystical humans and they’re offering me food and sodas and water and I just profess my love and appreciation like some sort of stalker ex-girlfriend. My group always points out, though, that we are aware of the difference between us and the racers at the beginning who probably don’t even stop. We stop, we chat, we take pictures, and we hang out. WE ARE NOT IN A HURRY, NEW BEST FRIENDS WITH THE PRETZELS!
  • I will break my No Sending Facebook Friend Requests after every Grand Viduta weekend. I set the rule in place because I’m obnoxious on Facebook. I post a million times a day, everything from Harry Potter memes to Trans Advocacy articles. I am a LOT to take on Facebook so it makes me feel better knowing that I did not push that on anyone. But if we survive Grand Viduta together? I’m probably going to send you a friend request. If you didn’t push me off a mountain by day 3? You can handle me on Facebook.
  • There’s always things to learn about your friends. I made new friends this weekend, but I also learned new things about old friends. Like engagement stories, or favorite music, or the fact that we know the same church camp songs. (“I am a C! I am a C-H! I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N!”) There’s never a shortage of conversation topics and since you’ve lost your mind, there are no taboo subjects. “I poop at the same time, every day!” Might be something I said 14 times over the last 3 Vidutas. Would I ever even talk about my regularity to my family? HELL NO. But someone running 3 days with me through the woods? You’d better believe you’re going to know all about my digestive health by the time we cross the final finish line.
  • You can never love your trail running friends enough. I end every year feeling so blessed to be a part of this amazing community. These people are my family. I love seeing their beautiful faces and cheering them on and laughing with them, and maybe sometimes crying with them. I want to greet them all with hugs every day but I don’t because that’s weird and I’m just now getting them to look past the fact that I forgot their name that time at packet pickup. But I love them, and every year after this wonderful weekend, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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