Circle of Inspiration

Yesterday morning I completed another 5k, the She Power 5k.

20190128_152212_hdr copyI had signed up for this 5k back in July 2018.  A while ago.  I had done this race in February and loved the race and the medal, so I knew I wanted to do it again.  And the medal this year was beautiful!  Who doesn’t want the bling from a race, isn’t that why we do it?  Well I also signed up with the intention that this was going to be a PR for me.  My fastest 5k race was in January 2009, 10 years ago.  I was 10 years younger and 20 lbs lighter and had trained for a couple of months.  6 months was plenty of time to get ready to make this 5k a Personal Best.  Sometimes the greatest intentions don’t always work out…..

I did not prepare for this race other than a couple of walks here and there and a 5k in November that told me I was REALLY out of shape…. But I still had time.

Everything was pretty much stacked against me for yesterday’s She Power 5k… no training, extra weight, my husband wouldn’t be able to be beside me and encourage and motivate me along the way…. Yes, things were stacked against me.  And thoughts did enter my mind that maybe I would just walk and set a goal for next year, putting off my goal for a future date.  The problem with that is that the future date usually doesn’t arrive.

Yes, circumstances, lack of preparedness and my thoughts were threatening to keep me from this 5k, until….

My Circle of Inspiration.

We all have a Circle of Inspiration, made up of friends, family, co-workers, strangers we meet or see on TV or read about, individuals who walk into our lives for a moment and so many more.  Many individuals form our circle, inspiring us along the way.  And we find inspiration and give inspiration within this circle.  The great thing about a circle is it has no end; the inspiration is all around us.  What a wondrous thing to be able to find inspiration in so many ways, from so many different individuals.

I have a wonderful and wide-spread Circle of Inspiration I can draw from.  And it is in this circle that I find the strength to fight on, to work harder, to keep going when all I want to do is quit.  Whether it is about just getting through my day, getting out of bed, stepping outside my comfort zone, continuing my journey of health, facing hard things in life or crossing a finish line when I don’t think I can, inspiration is there.  My husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my extended family, my friends, the strangers I have met and so many others inspire me to just do it, to take the leap and fly!

20190127_073024 copySo, with everything against me, what made the difference for me yesterday morning was these ladies, part of my Circle of Inspiration.  Some had done a 5k before and for some of them this was their first.  And they inspired me on my journey.

When I worked as a WW Coach (formerly known as a Weight Watcher Leader) I had the privilege of getting to know many individuals who inspired me every day, every week.  These women met in meetings I led.  And I was blessed these past couple of years to have been a part of their journey.  I have laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated with them, and commiserated with them.  And I have had the privilege of getting to know their individual stories.

Each of these women came to this race yesterday for their own reasons and with their own goals, inspiring each other along the way.  That Circle of Inspiration.  Some struggled with physical limitations, and some faced mindset challenges, yet each of them was willing to set aside the challenges that could have kept them from walking this 5k and instead they chose to step outside their comfort zones.  I have often said that stepping outside that comfort zone is where our greatest growth happens, and these ladies were proving that to be true.  Having the privilege of knowing their personal stories gave me the strength to show up and to cross that start line.  And they gave me the courage to push myself beyond what was comfortable so that I could finish strong.

We gathered before the race and lined up at the start together.  When it was time to go, we went at our own paces.  Each of us had our own personal goal we wanted to reach.  And that was scary for some of us, maybe for all of us.  But because of this Circle of Inspiration, because of the support we found in each other, we were able to push forward.  One-step-at-a-time, literally!

I was inspired by all of them, whether it was their first race or one of many…. I was inspired by their enthusiasm and excitement at completing a race.  I was inspired by their determination to push past the physical barriers that had kept them from even 20190128_152234_hdr copydreaming of doing a 5k race, those physical barriers that at one time kept them from even walking around a block, let alone 3.1 miles.  I was inspired by how they changed a mindset from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “Yes! I can”.  I was inspired by the support and encouragement they showed each other.  I was inspired by those who conquered their fear and were willing to do this race with little preparation. I was inspired by seeing the empowerment that comes from believing in oneself.  I was inspired by the resolve to finish faster than the last one.  I was inspired by their faces, the joy, the pride after finishing this race. I was inspired by the courage shown to finish a race despite a fall and injury, and not just finish it, but finish strong, something I am not sure I could have done.

To say that these ladies inspire me is an understatement.  Each one of them is an inspiration and I am so very blessed to know them and be encouraged by them!

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Congratulations, my friends! You thought you could and you did!

We all finished this race yesterday morning, proud of each other and proud of ourselves.  We each met or exceeded our personal goals.  And yes, we are ready to do it again!

I know that without these ladies I would have still done this race, but I am not sure how hard I would have pushed myself without my Circle of Inspiration, those who inspire me every day in my life and these ladies who gave me the strength and courage to push myself faster and to see what I was capable of.

I didn’t finish with a PR, but I finished faster than the She Power 5k 1 year ago and faster than the 5k I did in November.  I walked and I ran, knowing these ladies were somewhere amid the sea of women and they were pushing themselves too.

I was just 3 ½ minutes slower than my fastest race 10 years ago……imagine what I can do with a little inspiration, a little training, and being a little healthier….  Next year will be my year, I have no doubt!

With a vast and far reaching Circle of Inspiration, WE CAN…. I CAN …do anything!!

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Just keep swimming…..

This past June I asked the members who attend my Weight Watchers meetings to set a summer goal and asked them where they wanted to be when September arrived.  Goals help to keep us focused and give us something to strive for.  And summer can be a difficult time… routine changes, kids home, travel, visitors, hot days and so much more can make summer a challenge when on this journey of weight loss and improved health.  So I asked them what would make them feel successful this summer and set the goal.

And then I did what I asked them to do and I set a summer goal for myself as well.  This summer I wanted to focus on what would get me back on track, help me feel more in control and help me to continue improving my health….physically and mentally.

20180528_072329_HDR copyThis year we got a pool in our backyard… really we had an entire yard built for us, pool and so much more.  The pool has been my calm place, my meditative place, and my active space.  I love the water.  Our pool is 31 feet in length so that I could swim laps.  I love to swim the length of our pool over and over.  It is so soothing.

It was while I was in the pool that I decided on my summer goal—I would swim the length of our pool 100 times.  When I set the goal I was swimming 10 lengths and then pausing before doing another 10.  So, okay, goal set!  It may take me all summer….maybe into the first week of September, but I was going to do it.

A month into the summer I got up early one morning and swam 70 lengths of the pool… 70!  This was going to be easy to hit my summer goal.

And then I went back to 50 lengths.  It was hard to keep track of the laps in my head and starting out it sounded like a lot to do.  But I was still enjoying my swim time.

In July I joined a team to participate in another challenge that got me walking again and had me figuring out how many lengths in the pool I would need to do to swim a mile—170!  That was too many!  85 lengths for half a mile was more achievable and would help me get to my summer goal, so I started swimming a half mile in the mornings…. Not every morning, but some.  It felt good, but boy was I tired by the 85 length.

A quarter of a mile was more achievable for me, so that became my normal swim.  And then last week I checked in with my members to see how their summer goals were going…we were now in our last month of our summer goal.  And that is when I realized I still had not met my goal.  I had until the end of the month to achieve the goal of swimming 100 lengths of our pool… 3100 feet!

Yesterday I didn’t have a chance to get in the pool, so I decided last night that I would get up and swim early this morning and just add 5 lengths to my half mile for a total of 90.  Okay I could do that!  It was just another 5 beyond what I had already shown I could do.  And then by next weekend I could hit my goal.

This morning I got up early and stepped into the cool water in our pool.  I needed some way to keep track of these laps because 90 was a lot and I knew I would get lost in my thoughts.  And really, 90 seemed like way too much.  How would I do this?

Determined to do this swim, I grabbed 9 small rocks from our yard, 1 rock for every 10 lengths of the pool.  Okay, looking at the rocks, yes that seemed doable.  And I began to swim…. First 10 and a pause to move one rock to another area.

And I swam another 10, moving another rock.  Wow, this was easier than I thought.  I was focusing on 10 at a time and I didn’t need to count higher.  Each rock I moved meant I had done 10 and then I would say I could do another 10.  I kept going and before I knew it I had more rocks in the done pile than in the need to do pile.  That was motivating.

Finally, I moved that 9th rock!  Done.  But I could do 10 more to hit my goal.  I know I can…. So I did another 10.  100 laps, 3100 feet, more than half a mile!  I was so thrilled to have achieved a goal I had set for myself…..

And then I thought well, how many for a mile….. okay let’s see what I can do.  And I grabbed 7 more rocks, not really expecting to get to 170 lengths but I was going to go until I was too tired to go any farther…. And I swam, focusing on 10 at a time and moving a rock after every 10.  After moving 3 of those rocks, having now completed 130 lengths of my pool, my mind was telling me that I had already gone beyond my goal, did I really need to continue?

Yes, the mind is powerful and my mind, my doubts, were working to get me to stop, to be happy with what I had achieved.  I had reached my summer goal a week early and didn’t need to do more.  And yes, I was very happy with myself at that moment, but as I moved that 4th rock, I said, just 10 more….. and I kept going….. just 10 more…..

rocks 2And then I moved that last rock.  I had done it!  1 hour and 15 minutes after starting, I had completed 170 lengths in my pool and 1 mile!!  I DID IT!

Not only did I hit my summer goal, I crushed it!  I pushed through my thoughts of stopping and completed something I wasn’t sure I could do.  I kept going.  And it was because I broke the bigger goal into smaller goals.  Saying I was going to swim 100 laps seemed daunting, but 10…well that I could do.  And when I reached that 100, I was able to push myself outside that comfort zone beyond what I thought I could do and go farther, 10 lengths at a time.  Just 10.

Weight Watchers is about more than counting points and losing weight….so much more.  Because of Weight Watchers I have learned so many skills, changed habits, discovered just how much I can do, and found a belief in me that my younger self never dreamed was possible.  I am grateful for all that I have learned and continue to learn through my journey with Weight Watchers, becoming the best and healthiest version of me that I can be.

Setting goals keeps me motivated and gives me something to strive for.  And when the long-term goal seems too big or too far away or unreachable, setting a smaller goal makes it more achievable.  And that is what I did this morning, just 10 at a time and all those 10’s added up to a BIG 170!!  Reaching goals, well it feels AMAZING!  It gives me a boost in my confidence and has me feeling like I can take on anything and conquer it!  IT may take some time, I may not be perfect at it, but I will get there. One step at a time, one small goal at a time!

I will get there by taking that leap….. one small leap at a time!

Finding My “Why”

This month I celebrate 10 years since reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers. 10 years.

Never. Going. Back. There. Again.

These 10 years have not been perfect. Most of these 10 years I maintained at or below my goal weight, but not always. Yet, each time my weight would edge up, I would get back where I needed to be….sometimes it took me a little while, but I always stopped before I went up too much because I WAS NOT going to go back to where I started. And not wanting to feel the way that girl felt, the heavier and unhealthier me, was a powerful motivator to get me back on track.

But, I am an emotional eater. And these past couple of years have been hard. Old habits crept in to give me the comfort I was seeking. But I kept telling myself I wouldn’t go back……I’ve got this…..I know what to do……

I am not at my goal weight.

Wow. That is hard to admit, despite the fact that I have known this, and those I work for have known this. And I have struggled to figure out why I am having such a difficult time losing the weight. Thankfully, I am maintaining….because I will NOT gain it all back!

I have been going to meetings as a member to help me. But for the past two years I have gone to meetings and not weighed….why would I get on the scale at the meeting when I know I am up. And I only needed to weigh “officially” once a month for my job. So…… I kept struggling. There was no real accountability or commitment…….

Then two weeks ago I spent the week talking to the members in my Weight Watchers meetings about their “why”…..that reason for walking through the door and the reason they wanted to lose weight and get healthy.

I shared the reason I walked through the door of my meeting back in 2006. And my reason to continue. I asked my members to rediscover and get in touch with their “why”….. yet, I couldn’t answer the same questions I asked my members.

Here I am, a lifetime member and a Leader for Weight Watchers and I was struggling to find my “why”.  

And I didn’t understand how I could not know my “why”…… until yesterday when I had my epiphany, and it clicked with me that I needed a ”why”….I needed to remember the reason I started, the reason I continue, but more importantly, I needed to have a new “why”….one to motivate me to get back to the healthy me I wanted to be and one to motivate me to get to the personal goal I had set long ago, and never reached.

But no matter how hard I tried, I could not answer that question.

So, I decided to start with accountability and with the mindset of a new member. And last week I went to my meeting, at a location where the members do not know me or that I work for Weight Watchers (I need the anonymity) and I stepped on the scale.

I. STEPPED. ON. THE. SCALE.

Boy was that a big smack upside my head.

I knew what it was going to say. I knew. But seeing it written in my weigh-in book, the tears started. Crap! What have I done to myself? How could I do this to myself? I was so mad at me. And disappointed in me. My leader was amazing in that moment. She “got” it. She knew what I was feeling. No lecture. No questions. No judgement. I remembered in that moment how safe those meetings feel for me. And how much I need them—for the accountability, for the support and for the judgement free zone.

Okay. Done. Now to get back to where I want to be. And that meant doing the next step….tracking my current weight in my Weight Watchers app, which I have not done in a really long time. Another smack upside my head. That day was becoming a “reality-hit-you-upside-your-head” kind of day. But I needed it!

This week was better but still hasn’t gone as planned….why? Because I was still struggling to find my “why”. Still struggling to keep tracking….hmmmm…….and then……

AHHH! Epiphany! I realized yesterday, in one of my many conversations with myself, that I wasn’t finding my “why”, because I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wasn’t being honest about where I was and what I had been doing. Stepping on the scale helped me to see the reality, but I still needed to quit hiding. Yes, hiding from the truth of it all and I needed to stop pretending that everything was great and that I was at my goal.

How can I find my “why” when I was not facing the whole picture and telling myself everything was fine? Kind of hard to get in touch with a “why” when you don’t think you need one.

THAT was my epiphany!

And then my “why” showed up. I want to get back to my goal weight and to my personal goal because I want to be around for my grandchildren that will one day come into this world….but I don’t just want to be alive—I want to run with them, get down on the floor and play, skip with them, swim with them, hike and camp with them… I want to be able to take them on trips and dance at their weddings. Yes, I am looking far into the future…..but if I continue on the path I am currently on, even if I stay right here and maintain, I won’t get to that far off future with the grandkids I hope to have one day. I need to look to the future, I need to dream about the things I want to do—hiking with my husband for our 50th wedding anniversary, traveling, and living to be 100—a healthy, vibrant and active 100-year-old. I am getting older, the arthritis is setting in, and I know that getting to the healthiest version of me will make all the things I dream of possible.

There is my “why”.

And once I found it, my week went better…. Tracking, mindset, food choices all were healthier because of my epiphany that led me to my why.

I am taking the leap and looking forward to a healthy, active and very, very long life.

Finding Peace in a stressful world

IMG_4028 copy“Me time” is so very important yet it feels so selfish. 

Life can be stressful making it hard to take care of “me”, making it hard to sometimes find some peace. 

We talk a lot about taking care of ourselves in the meetings that I lead and how important it is, yet we can get lost in the day-to-day of our lives and in the stresses. 

This morning I decided I was finally going to take some time for me…..some time to do something I enjoy, simply because I ENJOY it.  I grabbed my camera and I headed out to Riparian Preserve, an oasis in the middle of the city I live in.  This oasis makes me forget about all the “stuff” that clutters my mind.  I walked the trails, sat on the benches and enjoyed the birds and rabbits that call this preserve home. 

In this place, in the midst of the city, I found peace.