Thursday, June 6, 2019

When the Mirror Doesn't Match Your Mind

Body image...yeah I'm going there. 

I happened upon this quote today and it has just been rolling around in my head all day.



You see I've been struggling lately, okay more than lately. Maybe since January when I collided with my driveway and went from running 4 times a week and lifting weights 2-3 times a week to absolutely nothing. 

I've always been thin, literally my entire life. Okay, not my entire life, there was that whole stretch from birth to maybe preschool where I had more rolls than a bakery...


Shout out to my Grandpa for forever memorializing said rolls with this photo. Also a shout out to my Grandma for having that wallpaper because it's majestic AF.

Junior high gave me that ever so sought after gangly nothing but limbs and nose look that was popular sometime between never and not ever.


Those shorts...wtf...

Everything from this picture on was a solid awkward stage and no, I shall not be sharing any more photos. Let's just say my haircuts did me no favors.

By senior year of high school, I would say I finally came into my own. And by senior year, I mean literally mean moments before I walked across the stage to get my diploma. 


I choose not to discuss the poster I am holding up in this photo, except I will say it was a gag gift and it lived in my dorm freshman year. 

But college, that is where I finally found myself as far as my image. It's also where I learned some of the nasty habits that would plague me for years.


I mean, I was totes adorbs, right? I'm also wishing I kept that tank top. 

But the reality is that girl was not happy. Not just with my body image, but with the mental image of myself as well. When that picture was taken I was in the most toxic relationship that only amplified everything. I had to look a certain way, act a certain way. I had to be a trophy. 

I did whatever I had to do to be that trophy. I distinctly remember not eating a lot, if anything. I smoked like a chimney to curb my appetite and basically existed on Red Bull to stay awake. 

It wasn't healthy. The fact that nothing serious happened to me shocks me to this day. And what's even scarier, is that nobody knew. 

But it didn't stop. When I was getting married I kicked it into high gear and kept it that way until after we were married. And I would like to point out my husband is the polar opposite of the toxic person and literally could care less if I was a size 4 or 14. But for me, in my own mind, old habits die hard. Being thin was always synonymous with being pretty in my mind.


This was the thinnest I had been in years. I distinctly remember my Dad telling me I was too thin that night. I didn't believe him, I thought he was being ridiculous. 

 I was in the gym constantly, food was the enemy, everything had restrictions. Eat too much? Better work it off. That amazing Red Bull habit picked back up during this time as well. The less I ate, the more Red Bull I consumed. It was the only way to stay awake. Again, how did I not have anything serious happen to me?

This was my mind. This is was the voice constantly in my head. 

Then I got pregnant with twins.

Good God.

I like to say I gained 70lbs when I was pregnant, but let's be real, 70 means 80ish. I also gained the majority in my last trimester, but I wouldn't change it. I had big, healthy, strong babies. My goal was to leave the hospital with them and I did just that. 

But after...

Oh Lord...

I hated myself. I hated what I looked like, I hated everything about it. My stomach was literally destroyed. I had stretch marks everywhere. I fell into a depression. 

God love Scott, he looked into surgeries thinking it would make me feel better, but I knew in my heart it wouldn't. It can't change what your mind sees when it looks in the mirror. 

So then my obsessive self took to walking with my friends. We would push our kids around different neighborhoods and walk miles a day. The weight came off, but I still hated myself. 

If we are being honest it took almost all 11 years since they were born to finally embrace this body of mine. I can say I finally have a healthy relationship with food. I completely credit running with this shift. I began to look at everything as fuel, not a reward, not a punishment. Fuel. Working out became my time. Time to clear my mind and make myself stronger, not skinnier. 

Last month I was bathing suit (it still makes me groan) shopping and my friend Sarah finally said "buy the damn bikini" and my friend Leona added, "wear the damn bikini."

I did it.


Are the stretch marks still there? Totally. Do I have that mom pooch because my abs are totally split from carrying the weight of two babies at one time? Oh for sure. 

But you know what, I don't care anymore. At this point, my goal is to stay fit. My goal is to continue to have this body do totally incredible things like run marathons and lift heavier than the guy on the machine next to me, all with a smile on my face. 

Is it still a daily struggle? It can be. Did I feel myself edge towards old habits when I was immobile from my injury? 100% But I caught myself. I let myself get doughy knowing I could bounce back. 

Real talk...am I 100% confident in my skin? No, but I'd say I'm a solid 75% which is so much better than I ever was. 

Would anyone ever know this was the case? Doubt it. I can promise you anyone that knows me today would be shocked by all of this, simply based on the fact that whenever you see me I'm probably shoveling food in my mouth. 

At the end of the day, I'll take the girl in the beach chair with stretch marks over the girl who starved herself to wear a size 4. I'm pretty sure I could bench that girl anyway. 

Stay strong everyone. 




Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Stubborn Luck

Over lunch today I had someone ask me how my recovery was going. People have been commenting on the fact that I'm in heels, or that I look good since the break, and that it's nice to see me without the walker. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago I was confined to my bed in a ridiculous amount of pain. With the exception of when I first wake up, my limp is almost nonexistent. With the exception of the one-inch scar on my thigh, you'd never know I have three freakishly large pins holding my femur together.

"You made it look so easy, you handled it so well."

Did I? I don't think I did. I think I threw a fit the first night I was home. I distinctly remember throwing a pillow while crying because I was in pain and couldn't sleep. I remember taking my first shower, sitting on a shower seat with my leg hanging out of the shower because it was too painful to get all the way in and just sobbing. And when I say sobbing, I mean the all the way from your gut ugly sob, the kind where you can't breathe, but you don't make a sound.

Those first two weeks I cried...a lot. Those first two weeks I swore...a lot. Those first two weeks I lost hope...a lot.

I threw countless pity parties for myself. Sometimes people would indulge me, more often than not they wouldn't. I appreciate the times they wouldn't.

Sure, it's fine to wallow in self-pity on occasion, because let's face it, the situation sucked...like really sucked. I went from running four days a week and hitting the gym at least two to three times a week to nothing. Zip, zero, zilch, nada, nyet, etc. I watched my leg muscles atrophy and it killed me. I worked for that calf, I worked for that quad and hammy. I put miles on those legs, they carried me through some of my toughest runs and helped me through some crazy shit, and they were disappearing before my eyes.

It was devastating.

I hated being helpless. I hated having people open doors, carry things for me, help me to my car. It drove me insane. Now, I would like to point out in a normal situation, I don't mind these things, but when I had a walker and physically could not do it myself, it enraged me.  Thank you to those that understood that and let me be stubborn, but finally stepped in when they knew I needed it and whispered words of encouragement so I wouldn't be defeated.

That helplessness humbled me though. The struggle of finding convenient parking (yes, I refused to get a temporary handicap parking tag...stubborn, remember?), the amount of time it took to get somewhere, the fact that I was exhausted from walking into a building, it humbled me. People do this on a daily basis and are not like me, they won't be getting better. I am so incredibly lucky.

It's cheesy to say that, but I am.

My recovery for all intents and purposes has been perfect. Everything is healing the right way to the point that I tend to forget I even broke it...well until I overdo it at the gym.

I'll repeat it, I am so incredibly lucky.

And maybe I did make it look easy, but I can promise you, it hasn't been easy, and it's not over yet. I still have a little more than a month before I can run and I just started reincorporating weights into my workout (cautiously of course). I had to laugh the other night because when I was leaving the gym I ran into my chiropractor. We were chatting on our way to our cars and he asked how I was doing. While catching up I mentioned that my surgeon humors me, he gets that I'm stubborn and that I want to push through and get to the finish line. My chiropractor laughed, tilted his head and said, "Yeah, I get that, in fact, I'm pretty sure I humored you, too."

I can see the finish line approaching and I know it's not the full finish. I know I'll have to work back to where I was and I know I'll still have to go at a turtles pace. But I can see it and I'm ready.



Sunday, March 24, 2019

Unbroken

It's been a few weeks since I finally received the all clear (well, majority clear) from my surgeon. I was cleared to ditch the walker, which I may or may not have already done a few days earlier, and begin working out, albeit, modified workouts.

It's been amazing.

It's been terrifying.

Did I mention it's been amazing?

I started cycling again on a stationary bike and finally hit the treadmill and elliptical this weekend. It has been simply fantastic to workout again. It's also slightly overwhelming the amount of support I have received. It seems like every time I have stepped foot in the gym I get the smile and "it's great to have you back" from trainers, fellow gym goers, receptionists, etc. It's overwhelming to think people you just happen to see would even notice your absence.

The other thing that has been overwhelming is my reaction to the phrase "you're not broken anymore." It's silly really, but was I broken to begin with? Yes, I did break my femur, and thanks to my bill from the surgeon it shall forevermore be referred to as the pinning of the femur, but that was it. But upon reflection when hearing the phrase multiple times, yes, in fact, I was broken. I'm not going to lie, this broke me several times, not just my leg, but my spirit. I had so many pity parties, and so many times I felt like this was the absolute worst thing in the world, but that first time I hopped back on the bike, it went away. I realized at that moment just how lucky I was to bounce back in 6 weeks. I even gave it an extra week for good measure.

I still have a slight limp, but most people don't notice it. I'm not in heels yet, but that will come with time. Honestly, if you didn't know, you probably never would.

So yes, I was broken, and now I'm pinned together. What a ridiculously amazing metaphor for life, right?

Now let's back to it, shall we?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Senses that Last a Lifetime

The senses are a funny thing, aren't they? It's amazing how you can react to a certain smell, a sound, a picture, you get the idea. I've been overwhelmed lately because it's a crazy week that I'm walking, or more appropriately hopping, into. I started thinking about the sounds I remembered from this week, and the smells and it got me thinking about all the things I remember throughout my life.

Like the smell of Old Spice...my grandfather had a bottle in his bathroom and always smelled of it. It always reminds me of him, even to this day.

The smell of my grandmother's perfume. I don't know what it was, but if someone near me has it on I instantly stop and look.

The sound of people's laughter. My aunt had the best laugh. Her laugh could make you laugh even harder than you already were.

The sound of my son crying when we gave him quite possibly the most devastating news a 9-year-old boy could hear. That's a sound I would give anything to never hear again.

The clicking sound my daughter made when she had her seizure.

The sight of asphalt in my periphery when I flipped the car I was driving, followed closely by the sound of glass shattering.

My kids first cry when they were born. I remember holding my breath until I heard each cry.

The first time I saw my Dad cry.

The first time I saw Scott cry.

The smells that pour through the house when I make my mom's dressing.

The scent of my Mom's perfume.

The last time I saw someone's smile, the laugh that went with it, and the feeling of hitting their helmet before they ran back onto the field for the last time.

The senses are amazing and this week, I'm going to cling to all the memories that I can.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pity Party of One, Your Table is Now Available

This entire process has been a series of pity parties for me, but the one I have been dealing with this week takes the cake. This weekend is Princess Half Marathon weekend. This weekend would have been my ninth consecutive Princess Half and my sixth Glass Slipper Challenge. It sucks beyond belief, especially knowing that I will lose my perfect status for Glass Slipper.

Aside from the race, it's also a girls weekend for me, my sister (who is celebrating a birthday today!) and niece. We run all the races, eat all the food, and park hop til our heart's content. Well, I am still hopping, just not between parks.

I know the feeling will pass, I know at the end of the day it is what it is, but it still sucks, plain and simple. I know that I am extremely lucky to be healing as quickly as I am and to be surrounded by so many people that are helping with the healing process. Truly, I am (and I sparely use this phrase) blessed.

So thank you to everyone that checked in on me this week because of the race. Thank you to my niece for understanding when I asked for no more updates from the expo. And thank you to anyone who has participated in my pity party this week, I promise I'll put on my big girl pants next week.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

What Did You Expect?

I survived an entire week of work in the office. As silly as it sounds it was huge for me. Last week I made it two days and basically needed the entire weekend to recuperate. I was smarter this week and opted out of a few events and stayed in the office, which I think in the long run helped.

I will say though, the funniest thing out of all of this are some of the comments I have received. I'm not totally sure what people thought I would look like when they saw me. Maybe something like this:


I mean, that's the only logical explanation because almost everyone that I saw throughout the week either said, "Wow, look at you, you look amazing!" or "Wow, you're standing!"

Yeah, I look totally normal, and if you didn't see me walk with the walker, you'd have absolutely no idea. It's funny, but it's also one of those weird things I'm struggling with when it comes to this injury.

I only have 2 weeks and 5 days with the walker and then I can safely return to the background of everyday life that I relish.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

From Zero to Marathon

I went back to work on Wednesday. I had told my boss come hell or high water I would be at my desk that morning. I honestly cannot tell you just how amazing it was to be back at my desk. It was the normalcy I craved. Now, don't get me wrong, it didn't come without some babying, and constant checks to see how I was. I have a feeling that will continue until I ditch the walker.

I worked at the office Wednesday and Thursday, full days. Friday morning though, I woke up, started to get ready for work and Scott finally looked me in my clearly exhausted eyes and said, "just work from home today." He was so right. My friend Leona compared it to marathon training and how after a few hard runs you need to either dial back your miles or rest. So, reluctantly, I did just that.

I've mentioned it before, but the mental games that come with this injury are by far the hardest. I look fine by all accounts, and if you saw me at my desk (and didn't see the walker), you would never know I'm two weeks post-op. And the reality is I don't know if anyone really knows how much it takes a toll on me.

Something I have mastered over the years is the stoic face while in the midst of a crisis. Maybe it's the years of PR training, maybe it's my Eastern European heritage, who knows. The point is, in a crisis, I will never show my cards. You will never see me cry (unless you are deep in the inner circle), you may see a slight fluster, but that's it. When my son took a ball to the ribs at practice and dropped, I portrayed the calm parent, but on the inside, I was screaming. When my daughter went through a fence on her horse and flung to the ground, I didn't scream, I didn't yell, I was calm on the outside. In the midst of all of this, I've shown a calm face, a smile, an "I'm totally okay" but inside I'm screaming, I'm wailing, I'm defeated.

Staying home on Friday was a giant pity party. I was upset with myself. Upset that I couldn't make it another day in the office. That I was weak. I cannot tell you how many times I was reminded that I'm still healing, that I'm actually probably going too fast. I was reminded of all that I've accomplished in the two weeks, and yet, it's not good enough for me.

I know this is going to be a long process. I know this is going to be a challenge both physically and mentally. I'm thankful for my friends and family who talk me through my pity parties. The amount of support I have is ridiculous honestly. It's so much more than any one person normally has, and I am so grateful for it.

Each day brings a new victory and I'm hoping to accomplish more this week than last week. And by accomplishing more, I mean actually work and go places, not accomplish watching more documentaries on Netflix.

Only 3 more weeks with the walker. Okay, 3 weeks, 4 days, and 16 hours from the moment I write this. But who's counting? Me...that's who.


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