Reboot

The first few weeks of 2014 have been…bumpy? Nothing’s really gone according to plan, but surprisingly, I haven’t been sucked into the usually funk I experience when things don’t go accordingly to masterfully designed plan. So that’s something, I guess. Workouts, proper eating, water intake, sleep—all have been sporadic at best. I blame moving, a busy schedule, increased expectations at work…and my own laziness, of course.

I was originally supposed to be out of town this weekend to engage in some bachelorette shenanigans, but I’ve made a conscious decision to tap the brakes a bit here and—for lack of a better way of phrasing this—get my shit together. I need to be the good kind of selfish and practice a little self-love this Valentine’s weekend. So here is my full-proof, two-day plan to Get Your Shit Back Together:

1. Sleep, Hydrate, Move
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but I’m going to spend some serious time sleeping in my oh-so-cozy, newly furnished bedroom, drinking my weight in water instead of alcohol, and finally enjoying this awful winter we’ve been having—I’ve got plans to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! And then, let’s be real, I’ll probably spend the rest of the weekend immobile, since I’ll be so sore from the wintery workouts.

2. Eat All The (Good) Food
A few days (or maybe weeks?) ago, I mentioned on my Instagram that I was going to attempt Whole30: 30 days of eating “whole” foods—veggies, certain fruits, lean proteins…and that’s really it. I’ll be sharing more about my experiences with the program, obviously, but this means none of my beloved peanut butter, no bread, no creamer in my coffee for a whole month. Sounds awful, right? I was originally putting it off until March, since I had the aforementioned bachelorette party this weekend and a wedding in early March. But it has become increasingly obvious that I need to reign in my eating ASAP—it’s becoming somewhat of a problem again (oh, hello eating disorder! Nice to see your ugly face again! Not! Hahaha). 

So Whole 30. Starting this weekend. Send spinach and pray for me. Or, rather, pray for my family, friends, and co-workers having to deal with me in this state for a whole month.

3. Loving Love
Earlier this week, my roommate and I stayed up way past our bed times (read: past 9:00pm!) discussing what we’re going to put in our online dating profiles when we join up. Boys like Disney movie marathons, discussions about the Universe, and dissecting Beyonce’s Instagram feed, right?

This is the weekend I bite the so-called bullet, though. I’m going to do it: I’m going to actively put myself out there and try to wipe the perma-bitch look from my face, and I’m signing up for online dating. Again, send spinach (what?!) and pray for me.

It’s time to settle in and get serious again. So, let’s regroup and hit restart on this year. It’s going to be a big one: earth-shattering, core-shaking, life-changing. I can feel it!

A Bunch of Big Losers

Lately I’ve become a big fan of silver linings. Trying to find the good to cling to in any bad situation is so, so important–you have to remain positive no matter what is thrown at you. You just have to. Look for lessons in the negative, appreciate the sun shining on your face when saying goodbye to a loved one, savor the motion of putting one foot literally in front of the other when running a 5K. Seek out what you can gain when you lose.
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As I mentioned earlier, some of my family members and I traveled over to Wisconsin this weekend to run the Biggest Loser Run Walk. My aunts, my mom, and a couple of my cousins and I met up for a little fun on Saturday before the race on Sunday. We popped over for packet pick-up…and we are nothing if not classy ladylike ladies while out in public…20131020_10501420131019_14510820131019_150209While there, we also got the chance to meet a few of the Biggest Loser alums. I don’t really know much about them, but one of them called me beautiful. And that’s always nice to hear 🙂
2013-10-19_14.59.31Naturally, the next stop on our whirlwind Wisconsin tour was the mall. There, we proceeded to continue our ladylike ladies streak by indulging in much needed massages. Well, kind of…
20131019_17551720131019_175246Chair massages for everyone!

After a scrumptious steak dinner, we said goodbye to my mom (who, sadly, couldn’t join us for the race) and headed back to the hotel for a few more laughs before turning in early. Seriously, I so enjoy spending time with these girls. It’s been pretty amazing to see how close we’ve all become since my grandpa passed away earlier this fall.

Race day dawned with gray skies, freezing cold temps (literally), and an on and off drizzle. Brrr…We had a half-mile uphill hike to the starting line and then, solely to stay warm (haha) we proceeded to have a dance party (amidst the crowd of almost 4,000!) while waiting for our chance to run. Like you do.

20131020_083621And then run we did! As always, I was neurotic and anxious. I’ve thrown up after my two previous races, I haven’t been running consistently, I was running the race in mostly new shoes, I haven’t done a cold weather run in awhile…on and on. You know, my typical neuroses. Oh, and side note: I really have to work on stopping that negative self- talk, too. I’m not sure why that’s started up again, but enough is enough.
IMG_1625I felt okay during my run. I was all stuffed-up-runny-nose-coughing-up-a-lung throughout, and my hips were sore, but overall I felt okay. Then the hills started. Nothing too outrageous, though, at least not until we reached the last half-mile or so. We had to run up the hill we’d walked up on our way to the starting line. It was rough, I tell you!
IMG_1626But as I rounded the last little bit and saw my aunt cheering me on–I smiled. And when I saw my cousins yelling at me to get going–I smiled. And then I finally crossed the damn finish line and saw my other aunt–and I smiled even bigger and teared up a bit. I finished, I didn’t throw up and I PR’ed. So proud.

By the way–this is amazing–I initially thought I had cut 30 seconds from my time, but I just checked Sunday’s official results against the results from the WRTC run last month, and I actually cut one minute twenty seconds. YOU GUYS! I’m blown away by that! My cousins and aunts also did amazing, all of them placing in the top 10 of their age groups. So, basically Team Manda Kay rocked it big time 🙂
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This weekend felt like exactly what I needed to get my lazy, mopey butt back on track. I feel rejuvenated and re-motivated. Focused.

In life, when you lose–weight, your loved ones, emotional baggage–look for the upside and realize how much you gain.

Another Day, Another 5K

I’ve been putting off the writing of this post for way too long. Why? Well, I haven’t felt like writing. At all. And I never want this blog to feel forced–this precious little piece of the Interwebs is only meant for me. And you. But mostly for me. I want this space to be nothing but pure honesty for both you and me. Ok?

That’s why it’s been so difficult to write this post about another 5K that I’m going into half-assedly. I’ll spare you all the whiny over-analyzing (I’ve been doing plenty of that over on the Twitter and the Insta, and I’m sorry) and just tell you this:

  1. I don’t want to run this race. Not one bit.
  2. I’m so tired of wasting money and energy on these races that I still can’t complete properly.
  3. Along with this (warranted) awful funk I’ve been in lately, numbers 1 and 2 above have me all jumbled up in the head, completely de-motivating me and turning me into a ball of mush that wants to do nothing but cozy up in bed.

But come Sunday morning, despite the potential wintery mix and freezing temperatures we’re expected to receive, I’ll be in Wisconsin participating in the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Like with any other race, I’m nervous. We all know I’ve not been progressing my attempt to force this 300+ lb. body to run. But given that it’s a Biggest Loser race, I know I won’t be the slowest, most out of shape person there (something I’m selfishly always terrified of), and I’m betting that the atmosphere will be pretty darn inspiring and motivating. I’m kinda looking forward to the race just for that.

Plus, two of my aunts and cousins are actually going to make the trek over there with me and do the race, too, and Mama Ruthie’s going to make an appearance at some point. Pretty awesome, right?
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And that’s what I’m clinging to right now: I have the support of so many amazing people. I can’t let them down. I can’t let me down. And I have no intention of doing other. But it’s time to get my ish back together, suck it up, and start making everyone (myself included) proud once again. And that starts with this race, with every step I take.

See y’all on the other side! Looking forward to sharing the race experience with you…and really looking forward to things getting back to normal around these parts very, very soon!

Full disclosure: The fine folks of the Biggest Loser Run/Walk provided me with a free entry into the Eau Claire race this weekend, in exchange for posting about my experience.

Who Run The World?

tumblr_lophucDdlk1qltig3o1_500Girls, that’s who. Well, women. Anyway, Beyonce knows whats up. And so do the organizers of Women Run The Cities–the 5K race I did on Sunday. It’s seriously the best. Over 3,000 girls and women running on a cool, early fall morning along the Mississippi, while tons of people stand on the sidelines cheering everyone on. Including all those hot dads and boyfriends. Like I said, the best.
20130922_082656It was a sea of purple! I ran Women Run The Cities last fall. It was my first race. I remember the overwhelming anxiety and pride I felt that morning. I also remember promising myself that next year, I would run the entire race.
20130922_081848 561406_10103656626298520_1454735783_nYeah, well. That didn’t happen. Just like the Graniteman a few weeks ago, I came into this race completely unprepared. But unlike the Graniteman, this race felt amazing. I don’t even care that I didn’t run the full distance. I don’t even care that I barely PR’ed (took another 15 seconds off my time). I don’t even care that my time is still over 40 minutes and my friend, Stephanie, running her first race, did better than me.
20130922_094558I enjoyed the race. Let me repeat that: I enjoyed the race. I enjoyed the run, the scenery, the swag, my fellow runners/walkers, the weather, the hot Starbucks waiting for me at the finish…the whole dang thing. Weird, right?

20130922_09450120130922_09435220130922_094551I love that I’m still doing this. I stuck with this whole thang for over a year. I’m even having fun doing this: making myself uncomfortable, running in front of people, pushing myself physically and mentally. And as someone who has tried to lose weight over and over again, as someone who has never felt like they lived up to their potential or stuck with something they truly wanted long enough to see it through…to me, that commitment is greater than anything else. The faster times, the weight loss, the longer distances, the strength…that will all come eventually. As long as I stick with it.

Emotional Rollercoaster

I’ve been rather quiet the past few weeks, and if you know me beyond this blog, or follow me on social media, you know why: last weekend, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. What started out as a fun and healthy family weekend has turned into a seemingly never ending collection of the longest, saddest days I’ve ever known. I could go on forever about my grandpa, the memories I have, the events of the past week…but frankly, I need a break. This is my first real brush with death, and I can say that in no way was I prepared for the overwhelming exhaustion, sadness, and complete lack of focus I’m experiencing.

My grandpa would absolutely not want me making a fuss over him, so instead, let me share with you all the highlights from last weekend…

Originally, I had plans to travel up the road a bit to St. Cloud (where the majority of my extended family lives) to run the Graniteman Race with my cousins. Friday night, I met up with one of said cousins to grab dinner and drinks at an adorable new(er) restaurant in town.

20130906_19435620130906_194348IMG_20130906_20554020130906_185957We chatted for hours while scarfing down some delish salmon and sweet potato fries, along with a couple cold beverages.
20130906_19165120130906_19123820130906_183639On the drive home, we stopped for froyo (obviously) and rocked out to Nsync—just like when we were younger 🙂 It was a perfect night.
20130906_200511However, I went to bed extremely anxious about the Saturday’s race. After some research, I began to realize that the Graniteman was more like a race for serious runners. Which I am so not. So, the nerves had kicked in big time.

When my alarm went off at 5am Saturday morning, I was horribly apprehensive, and doubting my decision to participate. I didn’t doubt that I could and would finish. No way. But I was absolutely terrified of being the very last person to finish. I mean, it has to be someone, right?
IMG_20130907_061317IMG_3582IMG_3584Well, we showed up, tried not to pass out from the ridiculous heat and humidity, got our race packets, extensively discussed how the field looked quite experienced (i.e. fast, i.e. Amanda, what are you doing?!), lined up for the 5K portion of the race and took off along the Mississippi.

As usual, I ignored my fellow racers and focused on myself. After the first mile or so, though, I looked up to see my cousin (who runs about a nine-minute mile) two people in front of me. I typically run a 14-15 minute mile, so this wasn’t good. I knew I couldn’t keep up that pace. I was already cramping and feeling nauseous.

Reluctantly, I slowed my pace and fell to the back half or so of the pack. But that didn’t ease the nausea or the cramping. I was feeling awful and seriously contemplating stopping, finding a medic, sitting in someone’s lawn sprinkler…something. About a mile and a half in, I threw up. I probably should have stopped at that point, but nope. I figured for as much anxiety and pressure as I put on myself, I was going to finish this damn race. I’m no quitter! 🙂

So that’s just what I did.
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The entire week before this race was an off week. I had been on vacation, I didn’t run, I only did yoga, and I didn’t make the best food choices. But in the back of my mind, I still wanted to PR.

I hustled my butt to the finish line best I could—the last few hundred feet were pure torture and I honestly thought I was going to have stop and walk across the finish line. With the announcer calling out my name and all those people, including my family, standing around cheering? That would have been complete embarrassment.IMG_20130907_235205I ran through the finish line and immediately started gagging. A boy about eight years old came up to me and asked if he could cut my timing chip from my shoe, and as he bent down to do so, I literally thought I was going to throw up on him. Good. Grief!

Thankfully, I held it for a few more seconds and made it to a trash can before I threw up for the second time. Yuck!

When I had finished being a total disaster, I grabbed some water and a banana, and sought out some shade. I immediately felt fine, and spent the rest of the morning proudly celebrating my PR (I cut three minutes!), cheering out my family and friends that did the 10K and half marathon, and watching my cousin and another friend win their age divisions for the 5K and 10K. And for the record? I was definitely not the only one with heat stroke-like symptoms.
IMG_3596IMG_3608IMG_3595Another race in the books! After all the festivities, we beelined it over to Starbucks for a caffeine boost before heading out to my grandparents to join the rest of the family for a cookout. As usual we spent the afternoon eating (healthy, mostly!) and really enjoying each other’s company.

The good, the bad, the success, and the failure…this past week has shown me the invincible strength, love, and power of family. With them, you can truly get through anything.
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Yoga Challenge: Day 6 & 7

Apparently I forgot to post day 6 and 7 of my Yoga Challenge. Oops! Sorry! Guess life kinda got in the way. Day 6 and 7 did happen, I loved them intensely, and now I’m considering selling a kidney to finance a monthly membership to CorePower. I guess bliss comes at a high price.

The best part of this Yoga Challenge has been the confidence I’ve gained in just seven days. I put myself in some very uncomfortable situations in those classes, but I stuck it out. And to tell you the truth, I actually felt like a “normal” person while in those studios. Like I belonged. I felt comfortable in this new environment and comfortable with my body.

Huge change, guys. Huge.

Case in point: over the holiday weekend, my family went camping as we typically do. In addition to bringing my bicycle and running shoes, I brought my yoga mat. There’s no other form of exercise I’ve found that makes me feel like I do after a few minutes on that pink piece of rubber. Even on a rustic, dirt-covered cabin porch, with my father making fun of me and my brother dropping spare change down the back of my pants while in downward dog, I felt completely blissed in. My body feels loose and light—like I’m not carrying hundreds of extra pounds around all day every day. My mind is clear and happy. And the best part? Those feelings stick around long after my practice has ended.

The Yoga Challenge achieved exactly what I wanted it to: it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, it gave me an extra boost of confidence, I discovered a new way of moving my body, I fell desperately in love with yoga, and I made my little life a bit bigger.

Yoga Challenge: Day 5

Yesterday was Day 5 of the challenge, and…

Worst. Class. Ever.

I went alone to an intermediate class that felt like the most basic of beginner’s classes. It was all stretching and meditative, no balance poses. The instructor used phrasing and words that I’ve never heard used in a class. And! While simply sitting on her mat, never once participating in the class, the instructor wore her horrible hipster glasses. Like these:

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But she wore them seriously! To yoga!

And then about 20 minutes into class, Loud Laura plops down her mat about a foot behind me. While we were all set up vertically  facing the front of the room, she plunked her mat down horizontally. I don’t know how she got in late or what her deal was but she was the loudest person in the entire world. She wore bangle bracelets. Her clunky rings made a noise each time her hand hit the floor. She dropped her legs and arms instead of gracefully lowering them. And her breathing! Good lord. At one point I could have sworn she was snoring!

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Needless to say, all that nonsense did not make for a peaceful and positive day 5 experience. Note the fake smile on my face above. I literally have nothing positive to say about the class, which is such a bummer after how amazing the past few days have been.

Tomorrow: day 6 is postponed until Monday due to scheduling conflicts…aka it’s really effing hot outside and the thought of 105° hot yoga makes both my friend and I want to die. Bring on the AC!!

Yoga Challenge: Day 4

Today was just one of those off days. Boring, long, full of a certain fun set of hormonal emotions and nasty cravings. All this even though I was up at 5am for some cardio (treadmill speed intervals and the stair master, thank you). Blergh! I was counting down the minutes to yoga class all damn day.
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My challenge cohort wasn’t feeling well, so I ended up heading to class alone. Today was an interactive and hot beginner level class. The instructor was super friendly and explained that this class was meant to walk you through the basic mechanics of the poses practiced in future classes.

There were only seven of us in the class, so we got plenty of individual attention. It also meant that I couldn’t hide in the back row, as I typically do. I had to face myself in the mirror. And boy, that was incredibly uncomfortable. I think the self-awareness threw me a bit, so it’s definitely something I need to continue to work on!

I loved learning the details of these poses I’ve now been practicing for a few months. I moved deeper and more confidently into them…I even practiced the challenging (to me, anyway) crow pose!

I have always had a strong aversion to being touched (um, body image issues, hello), but this teacher was very hands on with everyone. Not so much correcting poses, but rubbing, pressing,massaging. I got a head and neck massage at one point, she laid on my feet to keep them down during one pose, and pressed on my lower back for a solid minute (Ah! Fat rolls! Sweat!)…and I didn’t freak out. Victory!
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I’ve said it before, but I’m really loving yoga right now. I cannot get enough. Case in point: I’ve got back-to-back classes scheduled tomorrow!

Tomorrow: Intermediate Hot Power Yoga

Yoga Challenge: Day 3

The best part of today’s Yoga Challenge class (other than being completely blissed out as I left)? The hottie instructor, Gavin. Oh, yeah…

Shirtless eye candy Gavin taught us Yoga Sculpt today: a faster paced heated class that heavily incorporates hand weights. You do a bunch of squats, lunges, arm curls…then downward dog! You do tree pose while doing overhead presses. Other than the yoga aspects, the class totally reminded me of a similar weights-based class I take at my gym.

And oh man did I sweat! That’s been the best part of these classes: I leave just completely drenched in sweat. That would have embarrassed old Manda Kay to death. But now, I embrace it, I love it, I relish it. And then I shower, of course. I’m not gross.
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But back to Gavin…

Here are four reasons why I love my future husband, Gavin:

  1. He had great taste in music. Both Ke$ha and Lorde were played.
  2. He kept saying how much he loved all of us. How he couldn’t get enough of us. We were all so, so amazing and great and beautiful. No, Gavin, you are.
  3. He stood thisclose to me and we did lunges together. I didn’t even fall over or anything.
  4. His abs? Girl, please. If yoga can give me the girl version of what he has? Yes, please!

By the way, this was my first group fitness class with a man. Weird, right? But probably a good thing if the above is any sort of indicator!

Um, so, anyway…I’m clearly loving yoga. And hoping Gavin doesn’t read this. But mostly just digging on the yoga. It’s only been three days, but these three days have been complete bliss.

I have felt so rested and calm, more confident in my practice, my body, my capabilities, my limitless limits. If this makes sense, I mentally feel physically longer and leaner. And I’ve dropped six pounds during a time of the month when that’s what I normally gain.

I’m in love! Helplessly, hopelessly in love. And not just with a certain long and lean instructor-man…

Tomorrow: Taking it back to basics! Mostly because of busy schedules, we’re doing an interactive intro to heated yoga class. Each posture is broken down into its basic components, so going forward we won’t just be going through the motions, but actually understanding them.

Yoga Challenge: Day 2

Surprisingly peppy and, yes, a bit sore, I popped out of bed at 5:15am this morning to head off to day two of the Yoga Challenge! This morning’s torture of choice? Spin. On stationary bikes that weren’t so stationary and swayed side-to-side. In a heated room that was supposed to be unheated. For a 45-minute ride that was supposed to be 25 minutes with 20 minutes of actual yoga at the end.

My butt got majorly kicked.

I loved this studio much more than the one I tried yesterday. Today’s class was at what would be my home studio if I join CorePower. Not more than two blocks from home! The instructor and her selection of tunes were fantastic, with the perfect amount of energy for an early morning workout. But even with all that, I just couldn’t get into the class.

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Within the first ten or so minutes, I started to feel nauseous and I felt a headache coming on. My body felt incredible big and awkward on the bike, and it took everything in me not to just walk out. I often get migraines while doing cardio in a too-hot environment (happens constantly in the winter at my gym), so I think that is what killed me today.

With a little encouragement from the instructor and my friend struggling next to me, though, dammit if I didn’t stick it out and make it, smiling, through class.
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Afterwards, we talked to the instructor for a few minutes about our experience and she made a great point: it’s one of those insanely difficult things that you hate while you’re doing it, but after it’s over, you’re like, “yeah, I totally could do that again!” For all the mom’s out there, she likened her class to child birth, if that helps you put the difficulty into perspective at all.

Two days in and I can already see the point and recurring theme of this challenge. I’m fighting the mind and body who both want to quit the second things get uncomfortable or challenging. But, friends, I can’t stress it enough: you are infinitely stronger—mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually—than you think. Circumstances be dammed. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Just do it.

Tomorrow: Yoga Sculpt–heated yoga with weights!