Fast Times 2013

Happy New Year! Where does the time go? I had high hopes and obviously grandiose expectations for an end of the year wrap up post, a year of races post, recaps of two late fall races and another Skin Deep post. The posts are all written…in my head. If only there was a way to synch my mind with my computer I would be a prolific blogger.

I love this blogging thing and wish I could devote more time to honing my writing and photography skills. I love the therapeutic aspect of writing my thoughts and feelings. It’s been beneficial simply to get it out, but even more helpful to hear feedback from others who graciously take the time to comment here.

I have felt very welcomed by the community of bloggers I have joined. I am reading even if you don’t see a comment from me. Technical issues took up a great deal of time in the last few months. For some reason my phone does not allow me to comment on certain blogs. I enjoy tech troubleshooting so it annoys me that I can’t figure out the problem. My 2008 MacBook has given me a run for my money this year. After countless trips to the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store I installed new RAM and a new hard drive on my own. Prior to these interventions the computer ran so slowly it was impossible to do anything without being locked out by the swirling ball of frustration. It’s a running much better now thankfully so maybe I can get blog posts done more frequently.

From November through the New Year life rolled along at breakneck speed. Here are some highlights:

  • I am now the proud wearer of Invisalign braces! Long story short although I had braces at the very early age of 10 my bottom teeth have turned inward and I need to straighten them so I can finish an unresolved issue on my top teeth. I don’t believe they are invisible and though I am grateful to have the good fortune to fix this issue they are an uncomfortable nuisance.
  • I ran the Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon (cute pics of Carlos if you click the link!) again in November. I ran it for the first time in 2011 less than two months after breaking a rib during my training for the Disney Marathon. It was my slowest half marathon time. This time I ran an unbelievable race and enjoyed a truly unexpected PR. I will eventually write about it because it’s a race I would like to remember.
  • My husband, son and I ran the Northampton Hot Chocolate 5K in early December. I first ran this race in 2010. This time Orlando and Carlos ran together with my friend Mary’s daughter. Carlos did amazing. He ran the entire race and finished in just over 32 minutes. I stayed back with Mary who hasn’t run in years and suffers from tremendous knee pain at times. This was an interesting experience for me and one I would really like to elaborate on in a future post.
  • I helped run the Secret Santa Gift Shop at my son’s school which is a three day event where the kids get to shop for their families.
  • I adopted a whole foods plant based diet aka vegan after being vegetarian for three years.
  • Carlos and I enjoyed an impromptu two days in New York City with my sister. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked a bit of Central Park, saw Rockefeller Center, went to the Lego Store, the Apple Store and F.A.O. Schwartz.
  • Thanks to my sister I had the good fortune of dining at the organic vegan Candle Cafe in NYC. It was incredibly delicious.
  • My baby boy turned 7. I really wish time would slow down. Legos are all the rage in his life right now. Our guest room has been turned into Lego City.

    Legos have taken over my home!
    A new Lego truck
  • Christmas came and went with little fanfare. Orlando and I got iPads for each other. I got the mini and he got the new iPad Air.
  • I worked a lot of overtime in December. My husband got laid off on December 16th which always causes a bit of distress initially. Fortunately he started back at work the week after Christmas. This has been a very unpredictable year for him. I have been lucky to pick up overtime often, but more work means less blogging, reading and other nonessential “fun” activities.
  • Carlos got old school Battleship for Christmas and we have been having so much fun playing it together, such a great game!
  • We spent New Year’s Eve at my friend’s home in upstate New York. It was a fitting way to close the year. She is one of my dearest friends and I have been honored to be welcomed into her trusted circle of friends this year as she bravely battled breast cancer. This, in and of itself is challenging, but she did it while pregnant with her second child. She is a warrior! My friend and her husband now have a gorgeous baby girl who is healthy and so very happy. I couldn’t wait to hold her. She just sat there blissfully in my arms. As I watched my friend and her beautiful family my heart filled with so many emotions just thinking of all she has been through this year. It was an important reminder for me to not take the goodness of life for granted.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I ran a lot this year.  I shattered my fitness goals. I have taken up yoga pretty seriously and hope to continue to improve and grow in my practice.

Despite all of these milestones I have found myself in the throes of emotional eating on and off since October. Just as things improved the holidays triggered the behavior once again. I realize that my journey with weight, food issues and body image distortion are far from over. I have more tools now to cope with emotional eating so that I don’t incur a weight gain, but the fact that I’m still struggling with certain behaviors is frustrating and a bit frightening.

It’s a new year and as with the past 7 new years I intend to continue to grow, change and improve myself and my life. Having Carlos 7 years ago sparked a fire inside of me that has encouraged me to be the best person I can be. I can always be better. Improvement requires change. Change is difficult. It means facing fears, looking inside of yourself and digging up hidden truths, trying new things and most importantly it means failing.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

Holiday Break

Merry Christmas! It sure has been a busy couple of weeks, but fun. Our festivities begin the week before Christmas with the celebration of my son’s and my sister’s birthday. I was due on December 23rd but was thrilled beyond belief when Carlos made his appearance almost a week early on my sister’s birthday. That was 6 years ago. Everyone said the years would fly by once he was here, but I really wish they were wrong. As much as I wish he wouldn’t grow up so fast I have truly enjoyed every age. I can honestly say I’ve lived more in these past 6 years than in my entire 33 years before. Anyway enough of that before I begin to get all sentimental.

Pretend blowing out the candles
Getting ready

 

Can we get this party started?
Can we get this party started?
My favorite photo of the year - Mama's boy
My favorite photo of the year – Mama’s boy

 

Christmas flew by in a blink of an eye. It was different but enjoyable all the same. I spent the day with family which is all that matters. Orlando and I took it easy on gifts for Carlos. He got a handful of little things like art supplies, a couple of cars, slippers, shirts and of course a flashlight. The child loves flashlights. His main gift was the Wii Fit. We got him the Wii last year for Christmas. He had played the Fit at my friend’s house a while ago and recently mentioned how much he loved it. He was really surprised when he opened it because he never actually asked for it. We have been having a blast since. I really stink at the ski jump and I’m a nervous wreck on the tight rope! We both love the obstacle course especially when the big black ball knocks me into the water. There’s yoga and all kinds of sports along with the ability to weigh yourself and track your activity. It’s a great way to stay active during bad weather days or days when it is just too cold to spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m one of those moms that insists on Carlos spending time outdoor pretty much no matter what the weather for at least a half hour if not more, but it’s nice to have active activities to do inside the house.

With the New Year upon us I, like many others, have started to think about things I want to accomplish in 2013. I do not make resolutions because they simply do not work for me. Things have to be concrete for me which is probably why running races is a preferred goal. Once I sign up I then have to train for the race. So of course there will be races in the New Year. When, where and how far are details still up in the air. There is a big trip in the works and hopefully a few smaller getaways. It is likely that I will begin graduate school, but that’s not quite set in stone.

2012 was an incredible year for me. I did more in this one year that I feel great about than probably any year of my entire life. I stopped making excuses and started doing. The most important thing I will walk away from 2012 with is the knowledge that I truly can do anything I set my mind to. If I want it I can accomplish it.

I will ring in the New Year like I do every year…at work. It’s ok though because the holiday pay is a nice incentive. I’m most excited about how I will spend part of January 1st. I am running the Sawmill River 10K. It was actually mentioned in this month’s Runner’s World. It’s a small, no frills, local race. I have been working hard all month to PR in this race with high hopes for finally breaking the one hour mark for a 10K. This may seem slow to many, but when I look back to where I started the thought of this just blows me away.

Have a safe and wonderful New Year’s Eve! Happy New Year!!

Motivations

I mentioned in this post I am determined to ring in the New Year without any extra weight. What is it about this time of year that allows us to put our health and weight loss goals on hold? Year after year I permit myself to overeat, eat things I don’t normally eat, skip workouts all the while convincing myself that come January 1st something magical will happen to make the sins of the previous month go away. Only the magic never happens, instead I’m left feeling flabby and guilty. Well something has clicked in me over the past couple of years. As I get closer to my weight loss goal I find it more difficult to justify making excuses as to why I should put my goals on hold. Writing this brings to mind all of the excuses I have made in the past. I wish so badly I could return to my teens, my 20s and even my early 30s with the knowledge I have now. I know that this is my journey and this is just how things needed to happen, but oh how I wish I could tell my younger self how wonderful it is to finally be free of the weight. I refuse to let this month or any other time of the year be cause for me to go backwards.

Here are few things that are inspiring me and motivating me this holiday season.

  • Marion, my friend over at Affection for Fitness has announced the January Jeans Club. I recently mentioned that I bought my first pair of size 8 jeans and darn it if I am going to let anything stop me from wearing them come January. I will proudly join Marion and Satu, another favorite blogger, from Body Capable in taking part in the January Jeans Club by eating healthy, committing to exercise and staying focused on my goals despite the abundance of treats this month. Satu designed the badge below for those interested in joining.

january jeans club

  • I set a goal to run a 10K in under 1 hour during 2012. I didn’t meet that goal during a 10K race this year, but I have been running the 10K distance, 6.2 miles, in under an hour consistently for the last two weeks. I even did  6.43 miles in exactly one hour. So to keep my motivation going strong I am now officially registered for the Sawmill River 10K on January 1, 2013!! From the elevation map I have some hills to contend with in the latter half of the race, but I will not let that stop me.
  • This story of Breanna Bond, a 9 year old girl who lost 66 pounds brought tears to my eyes. I wish it didn’t take the child being bullied for something to be done for this little girl, but I’m glad something prompted the change. What really caught my attention was the way her family rallied behind her once the decision was made to get serious about weight loss. In talking about a 4 mile walk the family did daily Breanna’s mom said,“We went at night, in the rain, in the hail, in the fog, nothing.  We had a zero-tolerance policy.  We’re doing the walk, no matter what.” YES!!! I get this now for myself. If I want to lose the weight and keep it off I have to do the work. There are days I really don’t want to work out, but I do it anyway and I have yet to regret one of those workouts.
  • Helen at Doing A 180 has written a series of posts chronicling the 6 hours of black belt testing she endured. There is still one post left, but whether Helen passes or not doesn’t matter because she is already an inspiration in my book. I am simply in awe of what Helen has accomplished thus far in her journey considering the painful injury she has been dealing with this year. If you haven’t already read Helen’s posts please do especially if you are struggling with motivation this time of year. Way to go Helen!!
  • I have mentioned before that having my son was the impetus to finally get healthy. Well he will be 6 next week (sniffle, sniffle) and he still continues to inspire me to try new things. On Saturday we both tried something new.
Carlos rocks!
Carlos rocks!

Look at my little guy rocking that rock climbing wall. He is honestly one of the coolest people I know and I’m so proud to call him my son. He is almost always game for a new activity. His willingness to try new things spurs on my willingness. Together we make a fun team. I don’t have any photos of myself, but I do have a month’s pass to the rock climbing gym starting January 2nd! I loved it. It is challenging, scary and unbelievably addicting all at the same time. The pass will allow me to take the belaying class for free so I can learn to hold the ropes while others climb. I will also have unlimited use of the gym as well as unlimited yoga and Pilates classes for the month. I am so excited!!

What’s motivating you?

Friend Makin’ Monday: Christmas Questions

The holidays are really upon us. I’m feeling just a twinge of stress already. This week’s Friend Makin’ Monday questions couldn’t be more timely. I want to preface my responses by saying that I love the holidays. I love the scents, the lights, the decorations and the overall sentiment of giving and kindness. However, I absolutely hate the gift giving and sense of commercialism this time of year is associated with. I am doing my best to instill a different perspective in my son. His father grew up in a third world country where Christmas is a religious celebration to mark the birthday of Jesus. The day is also known as Dia da familia (Family Day) and is marked by cooking and eating as a family. I would like my son to know that kind of Christmas, but the resistance from my family is very very strong.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so everyone can see your FMM questions. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Christmas Questions

1. How will you celebrate the holidays this year?  Normally I have a Christmas brunch at my house so Carlos can be home for Christmas. For the first time we will be celebrating Christmas at my sister’s home in the Boston area with my sister, her boyfriend, my mother and her husband. I won’t get into the reason why we are having it at her house. My son is not very happy about it. Frankly I could care less at this point as I hope to spend the holidays with my husband and son only next year somewhere outside of Massachusetts.

2. What’s the weather currently like where you live? It is rainy and damp today which is making it feel much colder than 44 degrees. The rest of the week looks sunny with temperatures in the low 40s. I’m still running outdoors and that makes me happy this time of year.

3. Do you decorate your home for the holidays? If so, share a picture please!  Yes I do. Carlos and I finished yesterday. I’m almost embarrassed to show you my decorations so I’ll just show our stockings. For some reason my iPhone photos came out like crap for this post. I’m sorry.

Stockings hung from the chimney
Stockings hung from the chimney

4. What is your favorite Christmas movie?  Miracle on 34th Street

5. What is your favorite Christmas songs?  Silent Night

6. Do you have an advent calendar?  We do. My son goes to Catholic school and he got this little Advent calendar in his religion class.

Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar

I had to capture my son’s first preschool photo in there. Awwww! Also the Santa statue is one that I painted as a child years ago at a place called the Plaster Fun House. I have no idea how it has lasted this long, but I put it out every year.

7. Do you prefer color lights or white lights?  I love the simplicity and elegance of white lights. However, Carlos really wants colored lights so maybe next year.

8. What is your favorite food to eat over the holidays?  I’m a sucker for Christmas cookies, peppermint bark and my neighbor’s homemade fudge.

9. Do you display a live tree, or do you prefer fake trees?  We have a fake tree. I wouldn’t say I necessarily prefer it, but it’s easier. I have never had a live tree. I love having the tree up, but I don’t exactly love the process of setting it up and decorating it. The lights are a pain in the neck every single year. I just bought new ones last year and half of them were burnt out this year. My husband very nicely informed me the first Christmas we spent in the U.S. that decorating for Christmas is not his thing. It goes without saying that there are no Christmas trees in Mozambique. He has a very difficult time with all the hoopla surrounding the holidays here. I can’t say I blame him. Holidays in Mozambique were the best. I miss them a lot.

Anyway I got off track a bit so here is a picture of my little fake tree.

O Christmas Tree
O Christmas Tree

10. What would you need to make your holiday perfect this year?  Well I guess after my commentary above spending the holiday in Mozambique again would make my holiday perfect.

I know I sound like a grinch. I’m not seriously! Carlos enjoys a perfectly normal Christmas by our standards here in the U.S. He has been to see Santa. He writes a list of things he wants. We bake Christmas cookies and shop for gifts. We also donate to Toys for Tots and give a bag of mittens, hats and scarves to his school. This year we will shop for the food pantry down the street and find out how we can get more involved.

Carlos is thinking about what more he can add to his list.
Carlos is thinking about what more he can add to his list.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions.  While you’re at it maybe you could try to answer a couple for me.

For those of you with children how do you balance the commercialism of Christmas with the true meaning of Christmas? And how would you respond to the question, “why doesn’t Santa go to Mozambique?”

Don’t forget to visit Kenlie’s blog and link up in the comments!

No Thanks

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that on Saturday I bought my very first pair of size 8 jeans. They are a size 8 boot cut jean from Banana Republic. They fit like a glove yet they are not snug or tight. I had quite a moment on my own in the dressing room. I have worn a size 14 for as long as I can remember. Then I was in a 12 for about a year or so. At some point this year I bought my first size 10 and that felt amazing, but nothing compares to how I’ve been feeling lately. With that said I’m more determined than ever to ring in the New Year feeling fabulous and fit.

This week I’ve experienced my first taste of holiday temptation. My friend and I run the Secret Santa Holiday Shop at our children’s school. On Monday night we had set up and she brought pizza. It smelled heavenly, but I ignored it because it would have put me over my Weight Watcher points for the day. I had a kale salad waiting at home and I knew that I would be much happier after eating that than if I ate the pizza so I said no thanks.

Yesterday and today we operated the shop from 8am until noon. Yesterday my friend brought hot out of the oven cinnamon rolls. Oh my goodness they smelled so good which is code for I don’t know what they tasted like because I didn’t eat them. Thanks but no thanks. I had eaten a bowl of cereal at work earlier in the morning. I sipped coffee and water in between each class. I brought Trader Joe’s lemon wafers and had a few of those because they killed my sweet tooth and I knew the points value. After the shop yesterday I had a hearty vegetable wrap with hummus. It was worth the wait.

Today it was my job to stop and get a box of Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts along with a box of assorted munchkins which included the special holiday flavor red velvet munchkins. My friend brought in brownies a la Dunkin Hines, but still they smelled great. Mmmmm no thank you. Again I sipped water and coffee. I had a couple of lemon wafers, but I passed on the other treats. I just didn’t deem them worthy of my points.

Tonight I went Christmas shopping alone. I ate a healthy dinner compliments of the hot bar at Whole Foods. Instead of sweets after dinner, I had a tall skinny peppermint mocha hold the whipped cream at Barnes & Noble and a dark chocolate Adora disk which doubles as a calcium supplement. After my shopping excursion I hit the gym. I did some speed work on the treadmill and some strength training. I could have easily skipped the gym. I wanted to. Normally I get my workouts done in the morning, but my schedule is really off this week because of the holiday shop. I’m really glad I didn’t skip my workout today.

It’s really hard to pass up treats that are right in front of my face. There’s that little voice that says things like, “oh come on just have one; don’t you want to try the red velvet munchkin; you can’t deprive yourself all the time; live a little.” Only I know better now. One leads to two which leads to too many. I’ve been down this road too many times. I absolutely refuse to go backwards. So unless it is something really great I’m going to have to say no thanks.

 

The Long Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! For me it’s really just like any other weekend. In fact I’m working all weekend and then some, 7 nights in a row to be exact. The actual holiday is always up for grabs on my unit and I certainly don’t mind the extra pay. Working nights seems pretty strange to most people. I happen to love it. For whatever reason I’m a bundle of energy throughout the day (most days) and I don’t let work stand in my way of enjoying the day with my family.

This weekend has been just Carlos and me since my husband had to work yesterday to make up for the holiday. He is a mason and the school his company is building at the moment seems to be on a serious deadline so he’s been doing a little Saturday overtime here and there. He also does some side work so he’s working today too. We are used to busy working summers which is why we tend to vacation in the winter when my husband is often laid off.

Anyway Carlos and I enjoyed a very tranquil hike yesterday. At the end we made some new friends who were fishing nearby and they graciously let Carlos have a try. He absolutely loved it. Below are a few photos from the day.

The Navigator
Hiking the trails at Mt. Tom in Holyoke, MA
Up we go
View from the tower
Catch of the day
A new friend

The weather here in Western Massachusetts is summer like. I left work this morning and had a fabulous run. My shin is feeling great. I have taken it very slow and was finally ready for a longish run.

Still trying to get my 10K under an hour. Almost there!

This afternoon we are going to a birthday party for one of Carlos’ friends. It’s at a local gymnastics center. Thank goodness my little guy has so much energy.

Hope the weekend is fun, safe and relaxing. I am saying my prayers that all of our military serving both in the U.S. and around the globe are also safe. Many thanks to the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces and also a heartfelt thank you to their families who sacrifice so much so their loved one can protect this nation. Thank you very much.

36&5

Thirty six years ago today I received one of the best early Christmas gifts a 2 year old little girl can receive…a baby sister. She was like a real life baby doll. I wanted to take care of her, feed her and play with her. Our lives have taken us along very different paths sometimes close and other times very far apart both physically and emotionally. As time passes our bond as sisters has grown stronger. Traditionally it is the younger sister who looks up to the older sister. I have always looked up to my sister. I was horribly awkward during the teen years while my sister seemed to flow effortlessly amongst any group. She was smart, athletic, beautiful and stylish. Most importantly she was genuinely nice to everyone. Those qualities only enhance the responsible, independent, worldly woman she has become. I am honored and so very lucky to have such a wonderful sister.

Fast forward 31 years. Five years ago today I was in the hospital awaiting the birth of my first child. At 6:29 pm on December 17 my baby boy, Carlos, was born on my sister’s birthday. I was due on December 23, but kept praying I would have the baby on the 17th. It just seemed fitting to have my child on a family member’s birthday as I was born on my grandmother’s birthday.

I love that my sister and her only nephew share a special bond too. He changed our lives in many ways and brought so much joy to this month that begins with such sad memories for us. Carlos was just what we needed in our family. Words could never come close to expressing how much I adore him. These are the days I want time to stop so I can hold on to my baby boy before he is all grown up.

Today he was all little boy, giddy with excitement. Our day started at the crack of dawn. Finally at 6:30 we crept downstairs to give Carlos his gifts. We had everything set up last night. We gave him a Disney Cars table and chairs set (not very exciting I know!, but his previous set broke when Orlando decided to sit on the table and he really wanted another one. He was thrilled that this one featured the characters from Cars).

The real gift was the Wii. He recently played it at two of our friends’ homes so we knew he would like it. We never imagined his reaction. He loved it. He was so surprised and kept thanking us over and over telling us we are the “bestest” mom and dad ever! Needless to say I spent hours this morning riding Luigi around various tracks in Mario Kart. Fortunately new games were on their way later in the day.

Wii action
Krazy for Mario Kart

After hours of Wii I decided that as the mother of the birthday boy I too deserved a gift so I took some time to enjoy a nice 8 mile run on yet another gorgeous December day. From one mother to another I thank you Mother Nature. I did a slightly different route around home and it ended up being quite a hilly run with winds in my face for about half of it. I enjoyed the challenge though and actually made good time.

This evening we had family and good friends and their son over for pizza and cake to celebrate Carlos’ big day.

I couldn’t get a decent picture of Carlos blowing out the candle to save my life. His friend kept trying to blow out the candle too. It was a little crazy. This was the best I could do.

Carlos sitting with his Nonna and friend

My baby boy I mean big boy is sound asleep. I just went to check on him. I could sit and watch him sleep all day long. There is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping child or baby.  I am so blessed to have a beautiful, healthy son and a beautiful, healthy sister. So when people ask what was the best Christmas gift you ever got, it’s hard to imagine what could be better than the early Christmas gifts I received twice in my life on December 17th.