The Burden of Words.

Some words carry a lot of weight and meaning that you don’t intend, so you end up qualifying them with More and More words and you find yourself thinking how did one simple statement get so complicated? Other times, the thing you want to say is SO VERY COMPLICATED AND WORDY, that you settle in on a simpler phrase that doesn’t really say what you need it to say, but suffices in minimal words.

That’s how I feel when I say, “I need to lose some weight.” I feel that phrase fits BOTH statements. Sometimes the words are not enough, and I feel like I need to add more explanation. But other times I choose them BECAUSE they don’t require the explanation is closer to the truth.

The FIRST thing I feel like those words imply is that I want to be thinner or lighter or skinnier. But that’s not the case. Not really anyway. That’s more of a by-product of losing weight, but that’s not the why. I don’t feel like I’m fat, or overweight, so losing weight is not about being skinnier. It’s just about…well…losing weight.

See? A lighter body is an easier body. I am currently about 15lbs over where I’ve been in the last year or so where I felt like my body was the easiest to control. The main area that affects me is running. The lighter you are, the less pressure you put on your joints when you run. The time in the past year or two where I’ve held around 15lbs lighter than I am now? Are the times where running felt the easiest on my body.

So…losing weight is about becoming a lighter body. So those words are exactly the truth, but I feel like they need more explanation.

HOWEVER, losing weight is actually just another by-product to the BIGGER problem I’m constantly trying to solve: Emotional Eating.

The truth is, my real goal is ALWAYS to have a healthy relationship with food. When I’m maintaining a healthy relationship with food? I settle in around that 15lbs lighter goal I mention above. So, when I’m thinking about weight and my body the real desire is to break my habit of emotional eating. To stop going to the kitchen and stressing out because nothing in there fits what I need to dull my anxiety or my sadness or my stress…so I run to Publix, buy a box of donuts, and eat them all in the parking lot.

But saying, “I need to quit my dependence on food to help me cope with my unpleasant emotions…” is such a burdensome and personal statement. It’s much easier to say, “I need to lose some weight.”

So, sometimes I choose those words because they don’t require more of an explanation, sometimes I avoid them because they require too much explanation.

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I’m a mere 10’ish pounds away from where I was in this picture. That’s significant because that’s less than I’ve put on in the last few months. I’m now closer to this girl than I am the girl that ran 52 miles last March. The problem is? I’m doing that same run again this March, so I’d really not to get any closer to her and get back to the body I was at the same race last year. The body I have right now? Will not survive 52 miles. I barely survived 31 this weekend. I think a lot of the new problems I had running this season is because I’m carrying more weight than last season. And I’d like rectify that.

But I’d also like to quit sneaking 6-packs of donuts into my belly while parked at a local Grocery Store. I’d like to NOT eat 15 bean burritos for lunch. I’d like to be able to fall asleep at night without that over-full feeling in my stomach.

So…I need to lose some weight. But it’s much more complicated than that. But it’s also just that simple. All at the same time.

I gave myself this week of trying not to think about it too much. I earned that. But today I’m kicking it into gear. I’m going to try meditation again for the 14th million time. It’s just one of those things that I feel like should help me if I would just stick with it. I’m going to try to quit cheating my plant-based lifestyle when I’m in need of the emotional salvation that donuts and chocolate chip cookies can bring me. I’m going to try to drink more water. I’m going to try to cope with my anxiety or my sadness in ways that don’t require digesting.

I’m down to one pair of jeans and one pair of ugly corduroys that still fit this body. I need to turn this train around before I’m restricted to all elastic-waist clothing indefinitely. My main goal of this running season is accomplished, but I have a 12-hour run in 5 weeks and a 3-day stage race in April and I’d like to enter those events with the same body I had at those same events last year.

Challenges in the Zoot Home.

I’ve spent this week resting to an INTENSE degree. Partly because I was so sore after Saturday and partly because I just have no time to run this week. I had to take time off work on Monday for Wes’s doctor appointment and time off yesterday for my monthly library duties at the kid’s school. That means any free time during the day had to go to work and we had three nights this week with basketball related activities AND I had a book club which had me out until almost 11 one night. (Not the book club I’m in charge of, that one fell through the cracks months ago…this is a book club someone ELSE is in charge of. I didn’t finish the book, but I went for the conversation.) So…all of my free time at night went to watching my favorite TV shows. Some shows I’ll just let build up until I have free time, but not my favorites…they have to be watched the day after they air! IT’S IMPORTANT STUFF…IT CAN NOT WAIT.

So! I’ve been “recovering” this week. I’ve also been “eating all of the food” this week. I’m not being too hard on my 5000 calorie days since I did just complete a pretty awesome 10 week running challenge, but I exhausted my excess burnt calories after my 4th batch of french fries on Monday, so if I don’t nip this in the bud I’ll need another 10 week running challenge just to help me lose the weight I gained back EATING OFF THE FIRST CHALLENGE.

RECOVERY! NOM NOM NOM.

We found out before Christmas that Wes had been taking random AR tests over books he hadn’t even read, and failing them terribly. His percentages are awful and he wasn’t even meeting his “point goal” for the terms which was INSANE because he is a really good reader. SO! We talked a lot about reading and being a responsible test taker and about how doing poorly on a test hurts more than not taking one at all, SO ONLY TEST ON BOOKS YOU’VE READ, DUDE. The first week back he read two higher-level books and told me he aced both AR tests. WOO! Doing better.

But then I looked this week to see how much those 100s helped his percentages and HE LIED TO ME. He didn’t even get half of the questions right. BUT HE READ THOSE BOOKS. I know he did, we talked about them, I listened to him read…WHAT IN THE HELL? I emailed his teacher about it and talked to him AGAIN about A) Lying and B) Taking his time because that was my first thought: He’s just rushing.

This is the kid who has STAR TESTING scores on file at school that test him in the “Needs Immediate Intervention” category in Math and Reading. Now…his teacher did NOT recommend him for any intervention because she knows he does great, but she also pointed out: It took him 12 minutes to take the test. Most kids take 35+. He basically just sat down, answered as fast as he could, and left.

SO! We talked about TAKING OUR TIME. We also talked about how to really think about what you’re reading. I asked him questions about the books he was reading again. And crossed my fingers.

WELL! The last two test? 100%! And I checked to make sure he wasn’t lying! For real! Actual 100%s! WOOT.

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Of course, it sounds like the act of taking the test may have nearly killed him because it was SOOOO BOOOOORRRRRIIIINNNNNGGGGG…but, you know, it’s progress!

I’ve said time and time again – Wes would be the perfect candidate for an atypical learning situation. Homeschooling, or private school. He seems to have a natural ability in math and reading but HOLY CRAP he has no desire to do well nor to even focus. And I have no desire to work with him on any of this BECAUSE I AM BEHIND ON AGENT CARTER, DAMMIT!

So! He’s working on taking his time on tests even though they are SOOOOO BOOOOORRRRRRRINNNNGGGGGGG and I’m working on A) NOT eating all the food in all the land and B) Catching up on my favorite television show. It’s a week of challenges in the Zoot house. We all have a burden to bear.

(Is it bear? Or bare? It’s bear. Right? I’m too lazy to look it up but NOT too lazy to type a whole other paragraph at the end of this entry discussing bear v/s bare. I should teach classes on productivity and effective uses of time.)

Grand Slam Race(s) Report

10 weeks.
4 races.
1 marathon.
3 50Ks.
119.2 miles.

All for one jacket and a HELLUVA lot of bragging rights.

I had completed 3 of the 4 Grand Slam events 2 years in a row, so I didn’t come into this challenge blind. And in the 2013-2014 season, I added a marathon before the first 50K so I still did 4 races in 10 weeks. (For the record, I did the same road marathon this year so you could add that into the math up there for an even more impressive stretch of racing.) This year was not going to be that shocking to me. I knew the hardest race was Mountain Mist, the LAST in the line of races, and I had never done that before. But the general feeling of exhaustion that comes with racing so many races so close together? That was not uncharted territory for me. BUT! I still feel like the mental part of these four races and just knowing you’re doing the Grand Slam? Came with an unexpected weight in and of itself. Just carrying around that knowledge since October: I’m Grand Slamming…that made the experience even more unique than just the stretch of races themselves.

Here are my Post Grand Slam Thoughts:

  • Misery Loves Company: There have been years in the past where this challenge was either A) Not organized in any official capacity or B) Not being completed by many people. If anyone completed the challenge in those years? I apologize. Because having 40’ish people toeing the line at Mountain Mist with me on Saturday, having survived the last 10 weeks alongside me? Gave me more strength than I knew it could give. We had a closed Facebook group where we organized runs (as we were all tapering/recovering the same weeks) and vented our fears and anxieties. We shared lessons learned and advice given. When I decided I’d Grand Slam November 2013, I had no idea I’d be doing it with so many friends. Some of these participants weren’t even my friends yet! But now we’re all battle buddies…we survived in the trenches together. Those bonds will be there forever.
  • Tapering and Recovery are Luxuries: When you have two weeks between a marathon and a 50K, you are essentially tapering and recovering AT THE SAME TIME. None of us ever really got to do any proper tapering or recovering because you’re always thinking two races ahead. Yes. You have a 50K in two weeks and you just ran a marathon, but the HARDEST 50K is right around the corner and every weekend not training for that race is a missed opportunity. We all tapered to certain degrees, and recovered to certain degrees, but nothing like we would have been doing had we only been training for ONE of the four races.
  • I can always run more. I actually think this was a lesson I started learning at my 12-hour run last year. When I started realizing I’d be cutting it close getting my 50 miles in the 12 hours allotted, I had to force myself to run even when I didn’t want to. These four Grand Slam races really drove that point home. Even if my legs were cramping, or my back was spasming…even if my knee hurt or I pulled my groin…I could always run at least a little bit. (Barring any real injury, of course.) Before this year I was of the school of thought that – once something starts hurting towards the end of a race – I just start walking. I may squeeze in a random jog here and there, but the majority of what I was doing was walking. But I discovered in these 4 races that flats rarely hurt, and downhills rarely hurt. So, if I broke things up, I could always run at least a little bit. I ran more of the back half of Mountain Mist on race day than I did some training weekends. Even when I was having severe issues with cramping, so much that I had collapsed in the middle of the trail, I was still able to run on the flats and downhills without triggering another cramp. “Walking” is not a permanent status. No matter how tired I was or how much pain I was in, there were still portions of the trails or course that I could run without irritating whatever issue I was struggling with.
  • I can walk fast/strong. I have short legs, I’m not going to win a walking race against someone with a long stride. BUT! I learned that I could do a lot of passing when walking an uphill. I didn’t so much on the last climb of Mountain Mist, but I had uphill walks in each of the 50Ks that I recall being able to pass people walking uphill. I read a lot about “smart walking” last year – not resigning to being “slow” if I was walking. I pumped my arms, I lengthened my stride, and if I was feeling strong I could often pass people walking up hill, even though I was walking too. I passed a couple of people on K2 on Saturday, all while walking.
  • Taking meds while racing is very common. I took medicine for pain for the first time this season during a race. I never knew people did that, I have since learned that few people don’t. Now – there are definitely things you have to worry about if you take certain meds for pain while doing intense physical activity so I’m not going to list out what I took when or how much because I don’t want it to be read as a “THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO!” But, I kept Ibuprofen and Excederin at my disposal during every race and if I had to take any of it? I become ultra-aware of getting plenty of water because the problems really happen if you combine meds with dehydration. I drank at least 140 ounces of water on Saturday. Possibly closer to 200 ounces. I filled my 70 ounce pack up 3 times but I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to how much was in it each time. But THAT’S how much I was drinking to try to balance out the fact that I was taking medicine for my pain. BUT! The point? People do it. Ask around. Talk to your doctor. Read articles. AND STAY HYDRATED.
  • Fuel. Fuel. Fuel. It’s easy to forget to ingest calories when you’re running long distances. Your stomach rarely ever feels “hungry” so the mental trigger is not there. However, at the advice of veteran runners before me, I stayed ahead of the game at every race. I use applesauce packets and jelly flatbreads when I don’t have to carry fuel on me. This weekend, since I had to have it on/in my pack, I did use some Cliff Gels (one of the few vegan gels) with caffeine in them. BUT! I also used applesauce. I practiced with both, so that’s what I carried with me. I tried to put something in me every 45 minutes to an hour. I alternated between the applesauce and the gels just so I would spread out my caffeine, which I knew I needed. This season was the best year I ever had in terms of fueling, and while I know your body can change in it’s wants and needs from year to year, it does feel nice to feel like I’ve finally figured – at least THAT part out.
  • I’m done with road marathons. Except for maybe a Disney challenge with friends or family, I don’t see me ever running a road marathon
    again. I’ll do 13.1 races on the road, but I think that’s the maximum distance I can handle on the road anymore. Focusing on trails all season and keeping the road runs isolated to the road marathon in the Grand Slam, that really put the spotlight on how differently my body handles roads. I hurt SO MUCH MORE during a road race than I do on the trails. It’s just such a more repetitive motion and the surface is SO HARD compared to the dirt of the trails…I just don’t think I’ll do another one. That means, of course, I won’t Grand Slam ever again. But I’m okay with that. I’ve got my jacket. I’ve got my shirt. I’ve got my sticker. I’ve done it once, and while I can say with certainty that I will still do Mountain Mist 50K every year…I can say with just as much certainty that I will NOT do the Rocket City Marathon again. Or any other road marathon for that matter. If I’m going to keep pushing this body to run long distances, I’m going to have to keep it on the trails.

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Things I’m Currently Loving

  • Agent Carter: If you like Action movies with badass female leads? Then this is will be your new favorite TV show. She’s an independent badass who has to fight one helluva patriarchy in her workplace environment. It seems that I might be the only person watching this show – if the ratings are any indication – so get yourself to Hulu where I think all episodes are still free, even if you’re not a Hulu Plus subscriber. And I’m 90% sure you can watch them on ABC.com. GO! There are so many crappy women characters on television – go watch one that kicks a whole lot of ass.
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  • The Subtraction Project: I know I’ve talked about loving this here before, but there are so MANY ways to love it now I wanted to talk about it again. There’s the 30-day challenge but it’s ON Demand! And there’s a podcast! And there’s a book coming out! As someone who has been downsizing her “stuff” for years so that she can EVENTUALLY downsize her house (we may die in this very empty house before it ever even makes it on the market) – your life can ONLY be improved by subtracting. There is no better feeling than just letting go. Whether it’s getting rid of half of the 12 giant serving spoons you have (REALLY? When was the last time you needed ALL 12?) or narrowing your 15 pen cups to 3…you’ll be lighter with every prompt, I guarantee you.
  • U.S. District Judge Callie Granade: She has ruled FOR gay marriage TWICE in the last week in Alabama. And while there have been copious amounts of negative responses…they have been WAY overshadowed by positive responses. Even when I’ve perused comments on local news Facebook pages, the negative stuff is no where near as common as then, “Holy Shit. So we may not be the 50th state on this wagon after all!” type of comments. People are shocked, but in a good way. And while there’s a stay and many are not optimistic we won’t see our way out of it, I’m still super euphoric that this happened to begin with. This judge was appointed by Bush. These cases were on no one’s radar because no one expected them to be ruled on in this way. AND SHE DID IT TWICE. Gay marriage may not be legal in our state at the end of this stay, but Judge Granade did her part and she did it beautifully and I will forever be grateful for her.
  • Afterlight Photo Ap: If you like playing with actions in Photoshop? This app will give you what Instagram never could: CONTROL! I can adjust temperature, sharpness, light, AND it gives a bunch of awesome filters. I still upload my photos to Instagram, but I don’t use the filters or anything anymore, I do it all in Afterlight. I love it too because you can leave the photos the size they are, or crop them to a different size, and THEN you can add the white background around it to make it square. I don’t want all of my photos to be square, but you have to in order to put them on Instagram. Now I can make them any size I want, or leave them the original size, and then Afterlight just adds the white border around it to fill in the area to make it square. BOOM.

    We don't often get a chance for snow pictures, so glad Gregg Gelmis got this shot yesterday!

    A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

    This picture is the perfect example. Because it had other people in it, I didn’t necessarily want to put it on Instagram without their permission (I try to avoid that if possible, unless it’s a big group shot that I’m seeing other people share across their social media) so I cropped only myself and made it square in Afterlight! Way easier than trying to work within Instagram rigid square framework.

So! What are you loving right now?

Normalizing Mental Healthcare

We bloggers talk about when our kids get the flu or colds, we discuss how long they’ve been sick and how much medicine we gave them and whether or not they puked on our carpet. But when I talk about finally seeking help for Wes and his anger issues, I get thanked because it’s kinda rare. And so I’m going to keep writing about it in hopes to normalize it a bit. I won’t talk specifically about anything Wes said in appointments, but I’ll talk about the general experience and anything helpful we learned.

The first thing Wes asked me when we talked about seeing an “Anger Doctor” was, “Did you ever see an anger doctor?”

I told him that no, I didn’t, but when I was little things were different and I didn’t really know or understand such things existed. I explained to him that anger wasn’t my issue as much as stress and anxiety and sadness. I explained to him that I might start seeing a similar doctor for my issues if his doctor does a good job helping him! I told him how many friends and family I have that go to those kind of doctors and that there’s nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about.

When you cut your eye we went to the eye doctor. When your foot was hurting we went to a bone doctor. This is a doctor for when your feelings are hurting, basically. Some people go when they’re too sad and they can’t get happy. Some people like me go when they get so stressed over stuff that it hurts their body. Sometimes they can give people medicines that help their brain work with those feelings better, or sometimes it helps things called “glands” that make hormones. We’re hoping to find a doctor that can talk to you and talk to us and teach us how to help you cope with anger. Just like when Daddy went to a doctor about his back, they taught him a better way to sit? It’s the same thing. This doctor is going to help us learn a better way to deal with anger.

So, last week we met with a Psychiatrist for an evaluation. If you’ll recall, it’s in an adjacent city because our insurance doesn’t cover anyone in Huntsville. The only appointment they had was at 10:30 so I kept him out of school that morning and by the time we were done and ate lunch there was no point in sending him back. THIS is the sucky part about an hour an 1:30 minute total commute to a doctor. The school day is only 7.5 hours long. The appointment took over an hour, then we had to eat lunch, so I need to figure out the best time to schedule the appointment to get the maximum amount of school in. 10:30 was not the ideal time, but that was all they had.

He talked to Wesley for awhile, just general questions, obviously looking for signs of any wider compulsive behavior. I was very nervous seeing a psychiatrist first because I was worried he would just say, “Here’s a prescription! Be on your way!” I wanted to try counseling for a LONG time before anything else, so I was a bit worried when I felt like he was looking for a medicatable diagnosis. BUT! That didn’t last long. We didn’t think Wes fell into any “diagnosis” either, just a simple anger/aggression issue.

He asked Wes if he knew why we were there. Wes did, he even told him some of his bad ways of processing anger. The doctor talked to me about who all Wes crossed that boundary with. Just me and his sister. Never his Dad and never at school. The doctor said we came at a good time. Obviously, because he doesn’t reach that point at school or with Dad, he has boundaries there. Maybe fear of punishment, maybe respect of position (sometimes kids are more respectful of teachers than parents), but either way – there are boundaries there that he doesn’t cross. We just need to get those back in place for everyone else.

He got us in to see a counselor and we go today. It will be interesting. In some ways, I feel like it’s already helping because I’ve been able to stop a few of his episodes just talking about how we’re learning how to deal with anger better. But then, it’s also gotten worse. Leaving our first appointment with the psychiatrist last week (and I swear to you, the timing of this is REAL LIFE, not a comedy script) Wes got mad I wouldn’t give him his DS and he threatened to jump out of the car and run away. AND HE WENT TO JUMP OUT OF THE CAR. Now, we weren’t moving, but just the idea of it scared me to death. Jumping out of the car AND running away. So, what if that was just his “Go To” reaction now that he’s learning not to hit?

And then last night he punched me again when I was carrying him away from a situation that had unfolded. And then he said he wanted to kill himself.

Yep. That really happened. My 6-year old said he wanted to kill himself.

Let’s just say I would have rather run that really exhausting 31 miles all over again, 10 times in a row, than ever hear those words.

We talked awhile but it was a touchy situation because he also says/does stuff sometimes he KNOWS will upset me, mainly because he wants the reassurance of the love I give in return. So now I’m trying to talk to him about THAT. “If you are upset and need some love from me because you’ve done something you know upset me, can you think of a way to just ask for it instead of talking about killing yourself?” We talk a lot about asking for hugs in this family. Instead of acting out, if you just need some love, ask for it…it’s okay. And that has actually been kinda helpful and I think that’s what he was trying to do last night. He knew he screwed up. He knew he hit me, hard, often. And I think he just wanted me to hold him and remind him that losing him would break my heart. No matter what he does, I’ll always love him. I think that’s what he NEEDED so he said something extreme in a hope to garner that love.

But it was still really difficult and something I have no idea if I handled well or not.

Looks like our counselor has a lot to look forward to, today!

So! First counselor appointment: Today! I’ll keep you updated on my experience. If I’m there for any part of Wes’s sessions, I obviously won’t talk about those, but I want to share anything we learn that might help anyone else in similar situations. Some kids take longer to learn how to ride bikes or swim. Some kids need extra help with their emotions. There’s nothing wrong with talking about that like we talk about when our kid gets the flu.