Weighty Matters

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My First 5K

I love the community in which I live. We do a lot of events to raise money for various organizations throughout the year and they always seem to be well attended and also supported by the businesses in the area. It’s not like we’re a huge metropolis either. We have maybe 8500 full time residents and the “full time” part is questionable. I think there are a fair number of people who claim their home here is their full time residence but they actually spend a chunk of their time elsewhere. Whatever the case, we collectively turn out to support the area events.

Today was the Sombrero Beach Run to benefit KAIR. This organization runs a food bank for low income people and also a homeless shelter and kitchen to supply meals to homeless folks. Every dollar raised is a big help. When I saw friends sharing about the Beach Run on their Facebook page, the announcements captured my attention and I decided to sign up. Not only do I like to support KAIR, but I also liked the message I was sending to myself. I can do a 5K walk! Two years ago, even though I was post-surgery and losing weight, I still wasn’t in good enough shape to walk so far. I sure couldn’t have done it prior to my weight loss surgery. Now, today? A whole different story!

The overall event had several competitions: 10K Run; 5K Run; 15K Challenge for runners who wanted to do both races; and the 5K Walk. A friend who has done the race before assured me there would be plenty of walkers so I didn’t feel strange about signing up for the least challenging competition.

For me, this wouldn’t be a competition at all, really. I wasn’t walking to win. All I wanted to do was walk, complete the 5K in less than an hour, and not come in last. Yesterday, a friend texted me that she was going to sign up too, so I’d even have a walking partner.

Last night, I went to the beach to pick up my number, t-shirt, and goody bag. Can I just tell you that I felt absurdly pleased to be so official? I had to think and plan my food for race day. I opted to eat a protein-rich breakfast and got up early enough to make a frittata with sautéed spinach and shallots mixed in and a slice of very crisp bacon. (My dogs love when I make bacon because I always make a slice for them too.) After eating, I had plenty of time to let the meal settle before putting on my socks and walking sneakers. I pinned my number on my shirt, grabbed my water bottle and headed out.

The weather could not have been more perfect! Apologies to those of you enduring endless snow storms and frigid temps. Down here this morning it was in the low-mid 70s with bright sunshine and a cool breeze off the ocean.

The 10K race started at 8 a.m., more than an hour before the 5K, so there were lots of folks milling around while a D.J. played dance music. A couple of people I know and I danced on the beach to the Electric Slide, the Cuban Shuffle and the Cha Cha Slide. Why not? I considered it a warm up routine. What fun to be part of this crowd of people! I knew so many of the folks who were either working the food tents or getting ready to hit the course. The area businesses did a great job. There were platters of cut-up bananas, bagels with cream cheese and various pastries if anyone wanted carbohydrate energy. Other volunteers were grilling hot dogs and sausages and wrapping them in aluminum foil to distribute after the races.

Finally, 9:15 approached and we gathered at the starting line to depart en masse. We were off! My friend and I chatted the whole way and also applauded runners who passed us coming back as they completed the 10K run, and then the 5K. Volunteers and residents along the route cheered and applauded us as we passed and handed out cups of water if we didn’t have any to drink. The energy from everyone was glorious. I was having a blast!

On the way back, I noticed that we’d lagged a little. I think we got distracted by our own gabbing. I urged my friend on and suggested that we should finish strong, so we picked up our own pace. Thanks to that, as we neared the finish line, I saw that we were, indeed, going to finish ahead of the one hour mark. 57:45 to be exact. Best of all, we were far from the last walkers to cross the line! All goals met and I was all smiles. We asked some volunteers to snap this photo as a keepsake.

After finishing my first "official" 5K walk.

After finishing my first “official” 5K walk.

When I think back to my life pre-surgery and how walking any distance physically challenged me, I can’t help but feel big time happy and not a little proud of where I am today. I don’t need to be the first to cross the line in my age class to feel like a winner. Just getting out and doing it at all feels like a win. Having fun and enjoying the effort? Bonus!

I’m going to keep my eyes open for additional 5K walks for other fundraising events. I know that I can beat the time we set today. Like I said, we were gabbing and not paying attention to our pace. That’s just a personal challenge that will make it even more fun. In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the glow from entering and completing my first official 5K event!


Misplaced Guilt

I got up at 6 a.m. today but it was raining so I didn’t go out for a walk or bike ride. I also didn’t put in one of my home exercise DVDs. Instead, I prepared and packed lunch for work, turned on my DVR recording of last night’s Scandal (OMG!), and ate breakfast. By the way, that whole mixing of some vanilla extract and honey into plain non-fat yogurt turned out great!

I feel really guilty that I didn’t exercise. I know this is misplaced guilt and just another great example of how diseased thinking can strike. I exercise for at least an hour a day, usually seven days a week. That’s even more than the usually recommended amount. Even when the number on the scale is slow, the inches coming off and the reshaping of my body are evident because of the exercise. Bottom line: I have no reason to feel guilty because I skipped a day of exercise.

Particularly when I haven’t skipped an entire day. I could make it up tonight after work — or not. It’s okay. The only person who disagrees isn’t even a person — it’s my subconscious or some part of my brain that likes to make me feel bad or feel like I’m letting myself down or doing something wrong to screw up my recovery.

Right now, I’m going to declare that I will not listen to that part of my psyche. I will not spend another minute feeling this misplaced guilt. I will not compound it by also eating off of my food plan. I will remain in recovery today.

I needed to get that out. Thanks.

By the way, have I mentioned that tomorrow I’m doing a 5K walk race? I’m not in it for competition. The whole event benefits a local service organization that runs a food bank and homeless shelter. I wanted to support the organization. Not only will tomorrow give me a chance to do that, but it will put me squarely back on the exercise wagon.


Cruise Day Four – Mindful Eating and San Juan

I slept in and missed the morning Wellness Program but still took a good four-five laps around the promenade deck to make up the steps. I’ve focused on mindful eating (reading that again in my journal reminds me that I still need to do this all of the time, whether at home or out) which means that I stop before I eat, close my eyes and remind myself to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop eating when I’ve had enough. Doing this demonstrated to me that it is indeed possible to be satisfied with one small waffle and two skinny sausage links. Yes the waffle is just a carbohydrate and I had a little bit of syrup on it, but I figured that I would more than compensate with the one hour line dancing lesson. Besides, after my deck walk, I’d skipped the elevator and taken the stairs to the buffet restaurant — up six decks!

I believe it’s obligatory to play Bingo at least once when cruising, so I did. Lost but had fun, which was also pretty much my reaction to my less-than-successful visits to the ship’s casino. After Bingo, I ran over to the line dance lesson. Then I went down several flights of steps to take my cowboy boots back to my room. I then went up four flights again to grab a light salad, again eating mindfully. (At this point, those waffle calories were definitely gone!) We were pulling into port in San Juan, Puerto Rico which is an American territory. So, for the first time since leaving Ft. Lauderdale, I turned on my phone and did a quick check of personal email and Facebook. I did not, however, check my work voice mail.

I’d taken my salad outside to the sundeck since it was such a pretty day. On my way to get more water, I ran into country start Jo Dee Messina. In her concert she’d shared that she and her siblings are caring for their ill mother. She’s very nice and we ended up chatting about being caregivers to our parents. I also ended up giving her and her husband a quick tutorial in QR codes and how she could use them in her Facebook marketing. (Yes, you can take me away from work but you can’t take marketing instincts out of my brain. If her soon-to-be-released album has a QR code on it, you’ll know why. 🙂 )

My excursion for San Juan wasn’t scheduled until 3:50, so I simply sat in the sun for awhile, writing in the journal and reflecting on what I terrific time I was enjoying so far. It’s like I carried around this little bubble of happiness. I was having fun and also feeling incredibly good about myself, my eating, my activity level, and everything else.

I had this big realization while sitting on that deck. Nobody on this cruise knew me as a super obese woman. I’m not sure why, but that wowed me. It was both exciting and cool to think about it, even if I’m not exactly sure why it tickled me so much. Maybe it was the complete absence of lingering shame. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t doing any of my leftover projecting. Whatever the case, it was extremely freeing.

When it was time to gather for the excursion, I got in line with everyone else and just started meeting the people I’d be with for the next several hours. We’d signed up to go on a night kayaking trip to the bioluminescent bay. To get there we had to first take a 90 minute bus ride from the ship. This meant we had lots of time to get to know each other. I first met a 30-something year old woman named Emily. Since she was also a solo traveler, we paired up to paddle together in the two-person kayak. This cruise was filled with lots of friendly, interesting people. Emily is a project manager for construction companies and had recently quit her job to return to school. her goal is to work for nonprofit organizations, preferably Habitat for Humanity.

Also on the bus was Dave, a sound engineer for the Gatlin Brothers. The three of us talked a lot.

Kayaking at night was fun and I was thrilled beyond measure to discover that I no longer have the slightest bit of discomfort sitting in a kayak. My legs used to go numb after a while, but not anymore. My body has strengthened even more in the last year than I realized, at least for kayaking. We paddled out through a mangrove channel to get to the bay. Emily and I cracked jokes, sang river and water songs, and I did my impression of narrators for BBC nature shows. The bay itself was cool! Dinoflagellates in the water fire off a photon when disturbed — one sparkle of light per 24 hours. When you stick your hand in the water, or your kayak paddle, the water starts to glow. Not so great for pictures, but pretty to see.

The kayak trip took about 90 minutes and then we had another hour plus back to the ship. We were very late and missed most of the Vince Gill concert. As it was, we ran to the theater in our kayaking clothes. Thankfully, my bathing suit bottoms had mostly dried in the towel I’d wrapped around myself so they didn’t dampen my shorts when I pulled them on. I’m sure I looked like a sticky, salty hot mess, but we just stood in the back of the theater. If anyone gave us funny looks, I didn’t notice.

None of us had eaten any dinner to speak of so we went up to the buffet for the late night offerings. Seriously, if there is food put out, people will eat — even if they don’t normally show down at 11 p.m. when at home. A light snack satisfied me and we spent most of the time chatting some more before calling it a night.

Remember when I said I thought I’d work off the morning waffle? Well, before I went to bed, I looked at my FitBit. For the first time ever, I logged close to 21,000 steps in a single day! 21,000 steps plus 90 minutes of kayaking. Booyah to the nth degree!