My First Half Marathon

As many of my readers know, the half marathon I was supposed to run in January wound up getting cancelled due to inclement weather so I was able to defer my registration to a different race. Well I’m happy to report that I finally was able to run my official half marathon with RunDisney last weekend, the Star Wars Dark Side Half, and it was a pretty awesome experience! In this entry I would like to regale you with tales of my training and meeting my goals and finishing my first official half marathon. I was able to run my first half with my godmother, Suzanne, and one of my oldest friends, Sarah, which was a great way to stay distracted and have fun for two and a half hours while running.

2017-04-23 21.35.02

Here’s just a preview of some of our shenanigans. 

For my last half, I did a novice training program by Hal Higdon that was really good for me given my starting point. The unofficial half I ran, I clocked in at around 2:53 which is pretty decent for a first go at running 13.1 miles. This time, since I was already pretty well trained from January (I picked up about 3 weeks after) so I wanted to try a different plan and settled on another Hal Higdon plan, the HM3 (for more experienced runners). Despite the fact that it would only be my first “official” half marathon, I felt pretty good after the last round of training that I was ready for a tougher program. I found it to be a great program and only had a couple of missed training runs in the 3 months and that was including a week where I was sick. I was also challenged by an article on the internet to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, which I finished in 28 and definitely attribute to my awesome training.

2017-03-30 19.12.46

28:05 – that’s right stupid internet article I AM in shape! 

Now let’s get on to the real exciting stuff, race weekend! For all RunDisney races you have to attend their running expo to pick up your bib and shirt before your race. They have tons of exhibitors set up at the Wide World of Sports selling various running accoutrements and health related stuff. There was even a booth set up by Celebration Hospital that had a body composition scan you could do for free and in just a couple of minutes.  Suzanne and I decided to give it a shot and I was thrilled with my results! After 8 weeks of bodyweight training (and several prior months of lifting) I apparently have 72 lbs of skeletal muscle mass and 18.7% body fat (despite my BMI being closer to 24). Based on this information I’m in the “fitness” category of body fat percentile and pretty close to “athlete” which of course gave me a huge boost of self-confidence which I assume helped me run my heart out the next day.

2017-04-22 10.41.59

Getting my body composition scan done, fancy machine and all. 

Now on to the actual race, which by the way starts at 5:30 in the morning, and required a bright and early 3am wake up on my part. So after sleeping about 4 hours (because nerves sometimes don’t let you fall asleep), we three lady warriors trudged to the bus stop at 4am to sit around in our corral for a while before it was our turn to run. Now it should be made clear that Sarah (who I’ve known for 20 years because we’re so old now) ran this race after having only 3 weeks of training and also one week of it being sick. Suzanne is a seasoned pro at running, she even finished a full marathon in under 5 hours earlier this year. And right in the middle you have me, who has been running for 18 months and trained the full 3 months for this race. But we stayed together for most of the race, Suzanne keeping me at a pace on track to finish in under 2 hours and 45 minutes, and Sarah kicking ass alongside us until about mile 9. I had my half marathon playlist in one ear to keep me motivated and Suzanne encouraging me and pushing me to go hard and stay on track in the other. One last motivation for me was knowing my dad & Suzanne’s son Hayden (one of my best friends and only 12 years old) were waiting for us at the Boardwalk around mile 12 to help push us through to the finish. I started getting emotional around mile 10, but after seeing them and getting to hug Hayden I couldn’t help but cry a little.

2017-04-23 20.09.41

Suzanne & I still leaping around mile 11, and hamming it up. 

I consider myself very lucky that Suzanne joined me in this race and volunteered to stick with me and pace me for my first race. Without her help I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to meet my goal and finish in under 2:45. Almost every time I wanted to walk or take it easy for a bit, I thought about keeping up with her and wanting to achieve my goal and kept running. Plus we took some amazing pictures together on the race course that I’ve already framed in my apartment and make me laugh every time I see them. I would like to one more time acknowledge the fact that she was placed in the C corral, her best ever, and she came all the way back with me in corral G so that we could be together. Thanks to her and a little bit of my training, I finished the race in 2:33:16 – far under my 2:45 goal going in. Throughout the race I didn’t have any issues until I was sprinting to the finish and my calves started cramping up. So what you can’t see in my finish line photo is the Charlie horse like pain searing through both of my calves, luckily I’m good at hiding my discomfort. I’m happy to say that after plenty of walking, a shower and a stellar breakfast at Olivia’s Café, I was all better for my day at Hollywood Studios and was able to enjoy wearing my medal proudly around the park.

2017-04-23 13.47.14

My finish line photo, feeling very triumphant and not at all like my calves are on fire and seizing up. 

For my first half marathon, I could not have had a better experience. RunDisney may not be perfect in their organization, but I had a great first race at the Dark Side half marathon and would most certainly do another in the future. I’m thinking my next goal might be to complete the dark side challenge, which consists of running a 10k on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles in 2 days doesn’t sound so rough right now, but ask me again by the time next year’s race rolls around. For now, I’m going to keep running 3 days a week, bodyweight training 2-3 days (more on that soon), and working on my nutrition. At this rate, I’ll never stop working on being the best I can be- which isn’t such a bad position to be in.

2017-04-23 11.40.19

We 3 Amazonians conquered the 13.1 mile course, and I’m super proud of all of us! On to the next adventure! 

When Life Gives You Lemons

As promised (to no one in particular other than myself) over the weekend I decided to run my makeup half marathon, after last weekend’s RunDisney cancellation. I sit here with my laptop, medal around my neck to type this up. On Sunday morning at 6am, I dragged myself out of bed and laced up my shoes prepared to run 13.1 miles to earn that half marathon medal. When I began my run, it was still dark out so I had to use the flashlight on my phone in order to see the pavement in front of me. But I knew that the later I started, the longer I was going to have to be running in the sun, so a dark start was for the best. I plugged in my ear buds, put on an episode of the “Anna Faris is Unqualified” podcast and began my nearly 3 hour run.

2017-01-15-09-21-34

After nearly 3 hours of running, I did it. 

Prior to this point, the farthest I had run was 10 miles in my training and I had planned on running my first half marathon at the happiest place on earth, with thousands of other people alongside me. If you’re not a runner you might not understand the difference between a training run and a race, but they’re pretty significant. At a race you have mile markers, water stations, medical tents, and a group of peers doing the same thing as you that provide you with the motivation to keep going. At RunDisney events in particular, there’s a sense of camaraderie fostered among the runners. When you see someone struggling you give them words of encouragement or a high-five, and other people support you. In a race you have people to pass and someone to chase ahead of you, but on a training run you’re alone and have to support yourself.

As I chugged along my running trail in the dark, I let my mind wander as I often do on my long runs as it provides a great distraction. I spent time thinking about how far I’ve come since starting Couch to 5k in December of 2015, and how now I was embarking on my first half marathon. If I could finish these 13.1 miles, I really would be able to call myself a runner and put that 13.1 magnet on my car that I was so proud to buy. The medal I had picked up from Wide World of Sports last Saturday would have some meaning, it would mean that I had achieved something significant I had been working at for months.

2017-01-15-09-39-08

Post-run on the couch with the medal around my neck. Proud as can be. 

There were times where I got a stitch in my side and slowed to a walk or felt my quads getting tight and wanted to give up and just walk home. But you know what, I didn’t. Even when I had no one else holding me accountable and was doing this for no one but myself I kept going. I thought about when I was younger and I would cheat myself and lie to my mom about running a mile like she recommended to get me in shape for softball season. I would walk up and down the street for 10 minutes and then sprint down the hill by our house to get my heart rate up before I went home. I used to cut corners and cheat myself often when I was younger, but that was no longer the way I conduct myself. Today I was going to keep going and finish this half marathon even if it was just for myself and no one else.

When I got home and collapsed onto my couch, Gatorade in hand, it finally sank in that I had just run a half marathon. That I did it by myself without anyone holding me accountable. I already had the medal I was to earn, so I didn’t do it for the bling. This time I did it for me, to prove to myself that I could do it. When I started this weight loss quest some 19 months ago I never thought I would lose 100 pounds, let alone run a half marathon. I’ve achieved so much in that time and I didn’t do it for anyone else, I did it all for me and maybe a little bit for my mom.

2017-01-15-11-27-25

My reward for running 13.1 miles, 2/3 of a supreme pizza for dinner! 

I frequently think about my mom and what she would think about all that I’ve done. I’m sure that she would be proud of me, and I know there are lots of other people who are but I can’t help but wonder what she would have to say. My mom always had something to say about things and I just miss her unique brand of humor. One thing I know for sure, she would’ve been waiting for me at the finish of my first Disney half-marathon and cheering me on, rain or shine. And I know that no matter what I do as far as running in the future, she will be there with me in spirit as she is every day.

Life Is Like Photography- Sometimes We Develop From The Negatives

Well my faithful readers, I have some disappointing news to share with you. I was unable to run the Disney half marathon last weekend, as it was cancelled due to inclement weather. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but after 13 weeks of training for this race I was pretty upset to not be able to run on Saturday morning. Because the race was cancelled (for the first time in RunDisney history) we were offered several options as repayment for the cancelled race including park hopper tickets, a Disney gift card for the cost of the race, the chance to run the full marathon the following day, or the option to defer and run another RunDisney in the next 2 years. I chose to defer to another race so this weekend I have to email RunDisney with preferences for what race I want to run and hopefully I will get my chance to run a half marathon later this year.

While this was a pretty big bummer for me, it gave me the opportunity to learn some lessons about myself personally and physically. The biggest revelation was the fact that I was absolutely crushed when I found out I wouldn’t be able to run the half marathon. If you had told me even a year ago that I would be so disappointed that I didn’t have to run 13.1 miles, I would’ve probably laughed in your face. It really is amazing how much can change in a year- last January I was just finishing up the Couch to 5k program and this year I finished up a half marathon training program. It took quite some time, but I consider myself to be a real runner now and that’s something I’m really proud of.

2017-01-06-15-30-39

These photos were taken to serve as memories of my first half marathon weekend. Now they show me how excited I was to run 13.1 miles- something I never thought possible. 

Despite the fact that we didn’t actually get to run the race, everyone who was signed up was able to get their finisher medal either at the Wide World of Sports or in the mail. Seeing as how I was going to the runner’s expo that day anyway, I decided to pick mine up in person. When I received my medal, instead of feeling that sense of accomplishment and pride in what I had completed I just felt empty and hopeless. I had this incredible medal that I had done nothing to get, it felt like getting a participation trophy for softball and it didn’t feel good. I decided not to wear my medal to the parks, as I had intended to after running, because I hadn’t earned it. One of my friends pointed out to me that I should think of it as the reward for losing 100 pounds- because I hadn’t done anything big for myself after the accomplishment. That made me feel a lot better, but I still want to earn my medal. So this weekend I intend on going out and running 13.1 miles on my own, so I can really say I’ve run a half marathon and put the 13.1 magnet on my car without guilt.

2017-01-06-15-44-42

The excitement was palpable- just hours before the disappointing news. 

The other really good thing that came out of this weekend was that I was able to meet and chat with Jeff Galloway, the Olympic runner and trainer. My godmother wanted to meet him so I joined her to wait in line after exploring the expo. I introduced myself and shook his hand and Suzanne decided to be a proud godmother and brag about my weight loss to Jeff. He really took an interest in my story not only because of my substantial weight loss, but also because I decided to do this in my early twenties instead of waiting like so many others do. He took down my information, we took a picture together, and he said he would email me about mentioning me on his website. So that was a pretty cool opportunity! I don’t really tend to bring up my weight loss or brag about it unless someone else brings it up to me first, because I don’t want to seem like the total narcissist that I actually am. But when an Olympian acknowledges that what I did was impressive, it does make me feel pretty accomplished.

2017-01-06-16-22-23

Me with Jeff Galloway! It was so great to meet him! 

Hopefully in the near future I’ll be posting about my excitement for my next half marathon (cross your fingers that I get in)! Despite the disappointment I faced this weekend, I’m glad I had the opportunity to do some self-reflection and hopefully I’ll be able to set some new goals for a future race.

2017-01-07-12-02-41

Some good things did come out of Saturday- like this cuddle party with my Godbrothers! 

What Comes Next For Our Hero?

I would like to apologize for my lack of entries this month, but it’s been really crazy with the holidays and such. Here’s one last entry to wrap up the year since I achieved my weight loss goal finally! It has occurred to me that I never really explained what my ultimate goals were with my weight loss, especially since I so infrequently use the numbers on the scale in my blog. The truth is, that for a while I was pretty embarrassed of how high my starting weight was and didn’t want anyone to know just how far gone I was at the start. Now that I’m below my goal weight and I’m no longer ashamed of the number on the scale I’m not afraid to share my weight or where I started. When I began this journey, my weight was not the highest it had ever been but it was certainly much higher than I ever expected to be at 264.6 lbs and a BMI of 39.1, which is right on the edge of being classified as morbidly obese. Now here I sit about 18 months later weighing 163.6 lbs with a BMI of 24.2 (healthy weight!) and in the best shape of my life. I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made and hope I can continue to reach future goals going forward.

2016-12-16-08-52-39-2

12/16/16 – I reached my weight loss goal! 

Now comes the part where I admit to you that I’m not perfect and I’m only human and have legitimate fears, one of which has to do with my weight loss. I’ve lived my life as an overweight person for a very long time, more than half of my 25 years. For the last year and a half, I’ve lived my life as someone losing weight and I’ve been pretty ok at it, to put things modestly. But what absolutely terrifies me is what comes next, when I reach the goal weight. I have no idea how to live as someone maintaining weight, as it’s not something I’ve ever had to do before and I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be very good at it. Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying about things like gaining the weight back and ending off worse for it, but I do worry a lot so that’s not particularly unusual for me.

What is unusual for me, is having finally reached this goal and not knowing where to go next. I work well with linear things like schedules, lists, and goals. When I started this weight loss journey, I never really expected to get this far or to ever make it to the goal I had set initially (which was 200 pounds and I have long since surpassed). Now as I have surpassed my V-W Day (Victory in Weight Loss)  I worry about the next step of my journey. When I began this noble quest, I knew that this was a lifelong journey and I was going to make changes in my lifestyle that were permanent. I guess I just didn’t expect to reach my goal so quickly, not that 18 months is a quick amount of time to lose 100 pounds, but it is much faster than I expected for sure. Based on my previous weight loss struggles, I didn’t even think I would make it this far.

2016-12-15-19-24-32

December of 2013 weighing in around 279/ December of 2016 weighing around 165

When I started running I used the Couch to 5k plan and loved having a schedule, then I got signed up for a 10k and began the Bridge to 10k program. After my 10k I took a couple days off and relaxed, I said I wasn’t going to run for a week but I ended up lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run 2 days later. When I finished my two and a half mile run, I got home and felt very odd, sort of empty, when normally I feel great after a run. I realized that I felt empty because I had nothing I was working towards, I had completed my 10k and had no future goal for my running. This was when I allowed my godmother to swindle me into doing the Disney Half Marathon in January 2017. Having several months before I needed to start training granted me the freedom to take things easy and spend the summer running shorter distances and working on my pace which I am certainly grateful for. Around October 4th I began my half marathon training program and was so happy to have a set schedule leading up to the half marathon next weekend.  But I’m getting away from the point here, which is I like schedules and programs and when I’m without them I tend to get distracted easily like I am currently.

Another great concern I have is that after losing all of this weight I will have become someone who is never content with their body. I’ve lost 101 pounds and I still occasionally find myself noticing things I want to change, like how I wish my arms would be slimmer or that my tree trunk thighs would get smaller (granted I’ve lost eight and a half inches from them) but I am my own harshest critic. I suppose as long as I’m still working toward a goal (finishing the half marathon in this case- which is 7 days away) I’ll have room to work on my body and won’t have to worry about my weight so much.

2016-12-23-11-56-46

Stretching like a dork before the Jingle Bell Run 5k in Bradenton earlier this month, it looks like I have no idea what I’m doing but I swear I’m a real runner. 

Basically I just wanted to take this last entry of the year to talk out some of my anxieties and show you all that I’m not some awesome perfect weight loss guru. I’m just as unsure and anxious as anyone else, maybe even more so. If anyone else has struggled with the same thoughts or has been through it, I would absolutely appreciate comments and discussions on the matter.

Listen To Your Body (Forget About Your Heart)

So maybe don’t forget about your heart, I was trying to make a play on the song “Listen To Your Heart” but make it apply to your body. Yeah, it probably doesn’t really work like I intended. What can I say, my jokes don’t always land. Apologies to my readers for missing last week, I was embroiled in some serious preparations for Hurricane Matthew and just ran out of time before the storm. I was blessed to not suffer any damage from the hurricane, other than some minor flooding on my porch. Anyway back to the matter at hand, this week’s entry. This week I would like to take some time to talk about fitness, rather than just weight loss. More specifically, I want to talk about recovery and how important it is to listen to your body.

As some of you may know, I tend to follow a pretty strict fitness regimen most weeks in order to keep losing weight and gaining muscle in my quest for the perfect human form. All kidding aside, I tend to be pretty strict about my fitness plan. I run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and I lift weights with cardio on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. But every once in a while things get in the way of that and I have to take a break and recover. Last week during my hurricane prep, I took a bit of a tumble while boarding up a house and bruised up my leg. I wasn’t really concerned with the pain after I got up, I was too busy worrying about how much it was going to set back my half marathon training. I had already started my first week of training and I didn’t want to have to wait around for my leg to get better before I could run. After consulting with my coach/fitness mentor/fairy godmother, Suzanne, I realized that I needed to take it easy for a bit and not run for at least a week. So for the last week I’ve been “resting”, not running or doing cardio, and only lifting weights. Which has been driving me nuts!

2016-10-08-14-16-12

It might be hard to tell without a comparison foot, but my ankle was pretty swollen and note the bruising on the lower part of my leg and a couple spots up top. 

I’m not good at taking it easy, I like to stick to schedules and it’s been a difficult week of recovery. That being said, by icing my leg 3 times a day and not overdoing it by resting, my swelling has gone down significantly and the bruising has been getting better. I think I’m finally ready to start running again and I hope I haven’t lost too much of my edge after this week off. As much as it pains me to admit, resting and recovery have been crucial to the healing process of my leg and they’re definitely important to mind on any fitness journey. Suzanne is always telling me to listen to my body, to avoid injury or general wear and tear. While I’m 100% certain she’s correct and the authority on this, I struggle with it sometimes. My mom used to tell me I had “selective hearing” when it came to listening to her. That I would only listen to what would benefit me, and not the rest of what she would say (which is probably accurate). So occasionally I like to think that I have the same selective hearing when it comes to recovery and listening to my body.

2016-09-24-11-55-35

Sometimes your body is telling you to have a margarita. 

I’m not the type to overwork myself, I have the schedule in place that I do because after a lot of tweaking I found it worked best for me and didn’t cause strain. I am however, the type to ignore minor bumps and bruises or pain here and there, in favor of my fitness goals. Learning to listen to my body has been a long process, but I’m so happy that I’ve gotten better at it over the last year. It hasn’t been easy, I pulled a muscle in my lower back last February and tried to run 3 miles, let’s just say it was one of the more painful runs of my life. I learned my lesson the hard way, but now when I feel these aches and pains I know to take it easy and allow myself the time to recover. A couple weeks ago when I tweaked my back I skipped running and the gym for 3 days, until there was no longer any pain, and instead did yoga designed for back pain. It wasn’t the workout I had planned, but it was something and it aided in my recovery and I was back to running in less than a week pain-free.

2016-03-01-15-25-32

This is my “I just ran 3 miles with a pulled back muscle” face. I was in a world of hurt. 

I guess this blog entry is aimed at the Type-A people, like me, who never want to stop their progress even for one day. If you haven’t already learned the importance of recovery, learn from my mistakes and don’t run 3 miles on a pulled back muscle. It is NOT FUN. This weight loss journey has definitely been a learning experience for me, and I think it has tremendously benefited me both in regards to my overall health and the lessons I’ve learned that apply to other areas of life. Sometimes it’s good to take a break and allow yourself recovery, whether that’s from exercise or life in general. Listen to your body, it’s not just telling you things for the hell of it.

BMI: Bullsh*t Measure Index

Apologies to my readers for missing a post last week, it was a crazy week with exams at school and a lot going on. But I’m getting back to business now!

As someone who has been losing weight for over a year and managed to drop my BMI by almost 14%, I think I have enough experience in the area to call out Body Mass Index for being a ridiculous measure of what’s normal. According to the Body Mass Index, an average body mass is between 18.5 and 24.9% fat. Of course, what this doesn’t account for is how much muscle weighs, different body types, etc. My current BMI is 25.2% so even though I’ve lost 94 pounds and I’m able to run 3+ miles multiple times a week, according to this scale I’m still overweight and therefore “unhealthy”. My blood pressure is the lowest it’s ever been, I weigh less than I have in over a decade, and yet by the standards of science I’m still considered to be overweight, which I think is total bull.

2016-09-25-19-28-47

This “overweight” individual just ran 4 miles in under 56 minutes. (insert shade throwing eye roll at BMI)

As of 2010, the average size of an American woman is a 14 and the average BMI is 28.7% (which is considered overweight). While I’m extremely proud to be better than the national average based on this information (at a size 8 and 25.2% body fat), it really is discouraging to know that I’m still not considered “normal” by these standards.  I’ve never subscribed to the idea of wanting to be normal, as I don’t believe that “normal” is a reality. I once heard the phrase “normal is just a setting on the dryer” and I have never agreed with something more. I’ve always been into “weird” stuff, like older movies, and nerd culture so I never thought I would be considered normal and I was ok with that for a very long time. Things changed when I started losing weight though, as I got closer to my initial goal I decided to readjust and make my goal to have a normal BMI.

I’m currently nearing my weight loss goal, sometimes the end feels so close that I can taste it, but it still bugs me that Body Mass Index is used as a measure of “health” in our country. I haven’t considered myself to be thin since before I hit puberty, and for the first time I am confident enough in the way that I look to say that I’m thin. I know that it must be true because Ariel has started telling me to “eat something”, the true mark of being thin. It makes me feel amazing that the important people in my life think that I look good and healthy. I certainly think I’m in the best shape of my life, but this internationally recognized “scale” says I’m still overweight.

2016-09-24-12-19-22

If looking like this isn’t “normal” or healthy, I don’t think I want to be normal. I was teaching my Godbrother Hayden how to pass a sobriety test at EPCOT, though I was drunk while teaching him. 

So I’ve decided to reject the Body Mass Index and just be happy where I’m at. I’m still trying to lose those last few pounds to reach my goal, but I’m not being so hard on myself about it. I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made, and I’m so much healthier for it that some number on a scale or some reading from an index doesn’t matter. If the way I look and feel now is unhealthy, then I don’t know what it would take to be considered healthy. It’s my belief that as long as you’re working on being healthy and getting in shape, the number on the scale shouldn’t matter. If eating right and exercising consistently is healthy enough for me to lose almost 100 pounds in under a year and a half, I think I’m pretty healthy.

Depression And Finding Your Patronus

Depression is a topic I have touched on in previous entries, but I feel as though it should get its own separate piece. Most people have dealt with depression at some point over the course of their lives, for some people it’s a more frequent problem than others. I didn’t really have a whole lot of experience with depression prior to my mom’s passing, but after that I learned that sometimes depression was going to darken my doorstep and often it was going to be on the days I least expected it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a total nerd and I really took some comfort in J.K. Rowling’s comparison of the dementors in the Harry Potter series to depression. It really struck a chord with me how suddenly a wave of sadness could pass over you and you could feel the happiness sucked out of you. I realized that I was dealing with my own personal dementors and I needed to find my Patronus to banish them away.

hp

This is an older picture of me & Ariel from her Harry Potter party with our friend Sam photo-bombing in the back with his chocolate frog card. Gryffindor all the way! 

For a few years after my mom passed I had no manageable way to deal with my depression, there would be nights where I would cry for what felt like hours until I was so hoarse and could barely breathe that I fell asleep, exhausted. I’m not someone who likes to cry in front of other people, unless I’m watching a Disney movie in which case I will bawl my eyes out, so it was sometimes hard for me to handle my grief alone. My boyfriend, Chris, is always telling me that I don’t have to be Wonder Woman all the time, I can take some time to cry and be upset but that wasn’t easy for me to do for a while, especially in front of others. After a year or so of doing nothing but crying to deal with my depression, I started to journal whenever I would become upset. While that was a good way to express my sadness and write about the things that triggered me, it wasn’t really helping me move forward. I’m sure at this point you’re trying to figure out what on earth any of this has to do with fitness and my weight loss, well I’m getting to that.

When I started working out last year and I began my “epic weight loss journey”, I started to realize that I wasn’t getting sad as often. For a while, I even thought maybe I was done being depressed which was foolish, but I had a bright side to things finally for a bit. I did however gain a better understanding not only of my body, but also my emotions when I started taking care of myself. I began to realize that sometimes I had advance notice of days when I would be wonky (my mom’s favorite word to describe feeling off), and that doing something active could help to combat those days. Sure, I still spend some days crying and some songs or movies trigger me into thinking of my mom and being depressed, but they are much fewer and far between than they ever have been before.

The greatest thing I’ve found to combat my sad days is going for a run, often times the days when I feel the most depressed are the days I’m more inactive. I’ve become so used to working out and being active, that on my lazy days I sometimes crave the extra endorphins. I really noticed a big decline in my depression around December 2015, when I began the couch to 5k program. I started to use running as a way to be alone with my thoughts and just zone out and listen to music and for me it worked wonders. Normally around the holidays is a really tough time for me and I miss my mom so much every single day, we had a lot of special Christmas traditions that I miss. But this year, I wasn’t nearly as upset as I had been in the past and anytime I felt myself starting to get depressed, I would just head out for a run and come back feeling so much better.

2016-01-19 09.27.58

Nothing like a nice cold morning run to wake you up and start he day off right. 

I want to make a point to say that I know the things that worked for me won’t work for everyone. Sometimes depression can be overwhelming and activity isn’t enough to make it better, I know that antidepressants and counseling have a negative stigma but they really shouldn’t. I genuinely wish the world would be more open to talking about mental health and acknowledge that for some, they need more than just “be happier” to fix the problem. In the past, I’ve sought counseling, but it just didn’t really do the trick for me.

I had finally found my Patronus, and it was running which I guess as an animal would be a cheetah maybe? If anyone can think of a better running animal, I will completely rework my Patronus. If it’s of any consequence I’m a Gryffindor through and through, Pottermore sorted and all! Anyway if you’re someone who struggles with depression like I do, I fully encourage getting active to overcome some of your sadness. Even if it’s just going for a nice long walk and listening to an audiobook, or doing a quick set at the gym, find your Patronus and keep those dementors at bay.

cheetah_patronus_by_atsyrc-d6j8qw2

An artist’s representation of what a cheetah Patronus would look like.