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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seasons of Weight

          I’ve rode a weight roller coaster my whole life. Every season the struggle is different. Sometimes I’m up in pounds, sometimes I’m down. I never seem to find a resting place, a constant weight where I can eat a little, splurge a little, exercise a little and ultimately be happy in my skin.

In July I had this amazing trainer who was encouraging me. With her help I lost seven pounds and was snugly fitting into my size 10s again. She was amazing. Just as the pounds were falling off my amazing trainer, who is also in the Navy, was stationed to Florida. She left as the first cold gust of winter came, and as if it were instinctual I started hoarding food like a bear in preparation for the cold months ahead.
              Food comforted me; it helped me during stressful times, and it always knew how to make things right for the moment at least.  By November I had managed to pack on five of the seven pounds I lost with my trainer. Then I met Javi, this fine, suave Latino man who was very much into appearances. I wanted to look good, and by good I mean slim, next to this gorgeous man so I started hitting the gym again.

I started working out again every other day, and managed to shed about six pounds. But this time it didn’t feel as great as it did when I was with my trainer, working out for Javi felt forced. I could tell he liked that I was getting my shape back by his compliments and glances at my ass. But, it didn’t feel right, because I was losing weight for all the wrong reasons: to feel good inside, so Javi would want me, so I could feel beautiful.

By the time the holiday seasons rolled around, I was over working out. I wanted to eat whatever the hell I wanted and be one of those curvy women who love their full figure bodies. I wanted to not give a fuck what my boyfriend thought of my work out schedule or eating plan. So I started hoarding again.

Large fries, soda, chicken nuggets please, and yes I will have dessert. Eating took the edge off the pressure to be skinny, the stresses of work, and a boyfriend I no longer felt connected to. As I packed on the pounds, my self-esteem  plummeted.

I hit rock bottom when I couldn’t get my size 10’s to fit over my huge booty. I pulled, tugged, and stretched but there was no helping it.  Getting on the scale was even more depressing. I had somehow managed to pack on 10 pounds in a matter of two months.

With spring around the corner, I want to find a happy place, a place where I’m happy in my weight, comfortable inside and out. And, I desperately want to get off the roller coaster. This spring I just want to be healthy. I don’t have to be string bean skinny or humpty dumpty fat. I just want to be healthy whatever that means for my body. I want to go up a flight of stairs and not be winded. I want to shimmy into my size 10 and do a victory dance in the mirror. This spring I want to get me back. The slim, kinda curvy kinda slim, kinda thick Lauren who can eat food responsibly and not turn to food when my feelings overwhelm me. I am ready to shed my winter coat. And, this spring I want to do it for me.                                                                     

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Land of Motherhood and Matrimony

          Somewhere between graduating college and almost turning 30 I’ve stumbled into place where I am the minority. It’s a place filled with baby showers, wedding announcements, and sonograms.  I’m reminded of it almost every week with new Facebook statuses announcing marriage or baby plans. If you are single and in your mid to late 20’s you know how isolating it feels when your all friends start to have babies, and get married. This is how you know you’ve stumbled into the Land of Motherhood and Matrimony.

 Almost every holiday another one of my twenty-something friends gets engaged, married, or has yet another baby. The Facebook photo albums of their single party lives are replaced with pictures of their baby’s first steps, and honeymoon pictures. Somewhere after the twinkling twenty period of my life, I stumbled into this Land of Motherhood and Matrimony. But, I’m not a member. I am a  visitor passing through, and frequently people will remind me how far off course I am in life.  I wonder why my little single life isn’t enough.

I know other twenty-something folks know how I feel. I was in a coffee shop the other day, and I overhead what appeared to be a person defending her place in Singlehood to someone who had obviously crossed over into the Land of Motherhood and Matrimony.
              “So what if I don’t want to get married until I’m 35,” the young woman said. “I’m focusing on my career right.” She stuck out her chest as if to accentuate that she believed in her choice.

I could tell by her awkward pose that she wasn’t buying an ounce of what she was saying. Her friend’s judgmental inquiry into her babyless, manless life made her feel like she had to defend her choice to be single. Something in me knew she felt like an outsider too. I could sense she felt like a foreigner in a land where all her girlfriends and buddies were moving on without her. While they were talking of Mommy groups and playdates, she was still talking about crumby boyfriends, and bad first dates. I knew she heard the same clock I heard at night. It's the tick tock sound you hear when someone else joins the Land of Motherhood and Matrimony and reminds you that you have not.
This sound is the life clock. It’s similar to a biological clock, the reminder women get that lets them know their baby making days are numbered. When the life clock starts ticking it reminds you tick, tock, tick tock, where your life is supposed to be and where it isn’t.  Apparently by most of my friends standards I'm supposed to be move in the Land of Motherhood and Matrimony in my mid-twenties. What can I say I'm a late bloomer. I am almost 30. I have no child, no boyfriend, it’s just me. People frequently remind me how off course I am.

“You don’t have a boyfriend? You’re such a sweet girl. Oh, I know we have to hook you up with our friend. What’s his name? Right, Byron. Bryon would be perfect for you,” says a friend.
It’s as if people think something is wrong with me, because I am without a child or a husband.

                “Oh look she’s almost 30,” sympathetic older women will say. 

                 “Don’t you want to have babies,” my grandmother says.

                 “You’ll find the right one. Believe Lauren,” says my kind friends.

 It’s like some Hallmark statement for sad single people.  Why does singlehood get empathy, sad faces and a pat on the back? They might as well say, ‘Aw you’re single my condolences.'

 What is so bad about being single at 29? I have my dream job. I have an amazing condo, and a cute Volkswagen Beetle that allows me to drive in style. It does not have lot of fancy features but it gets me where I need to be. I have a small circle of solid friends. Don’t I get credit for that? Apparently all those things are not that important because I’m still single.

I can assure all of you that being single is perfectly fine for my age. I am certainly okay with it. I don’t need a man to complete me. I am fine by myself. And, if prince charming doesn’t come till 40 or never I’ll manage.  Also as happy as this land of Motherhood and Matrimony seems it’s also extremely frightening. I've seen my peers give up their single lives, their privacy, for these little bundles of joys called babies. They trust their lives to men (or as they call them husbands) they’ve only known a few years. Some of marriages fall apart, some husband leave, or they realize this life is not what they hoped for. Some of my friends have let their dreams fall to the way side to become parents. Do I really want all that?
             Sure when I turn over in my bed at night, the only warm body there is my nine pound dog Goliath. No one is there to make me coffee in the morning, or cuddle with me a night. It’s just me. Right now that’s perfectly okay.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Discouraged but Determined

                I am on week three of my half marathon training, and I am slightly discouraged. The furthest I’ve run so far is three miles, and even then I had to stop a few times to power walk. The idea of doing 13.1 miles is feeling extremely daunting now. I mean 13.1 miles. How the hell am I going to make it that far when 3 miles is a challenge right now?

                I keep reminding myself why I am running. I’m running to renew a promise to myself to be healthy, a promise to my mother, a promise to minimize cancer risks. But, lately I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the idea of running a half marathon.   A 5K hell an 8k seems doable now but 13 miles. What was I thinking?
                As bad as I want to throw in the towel, I can’t. I have to keep going even if it means I have to power walk part of the way, I am determined to do this half marathon.

What Keeps Me Going
                I have enjoyed the therapy running has brought back to my life. Before I moved back to Virginia Beach, I was an avid runner. I ran every other day in Lynchburg. Lynchburg has the best running trails, and terrain for who people who love to run. Some of my best Sundays were hitting the running trail after church. As I’m trying to return to that lifestyle I am reminded of how much I love running.
                  I run with an iPod, but I love turning it off every once in a while, and just listening to my shoes hit the pavement.  In those moments I try to process what is weighing me down. I think about things I have to do at work, friends I need to pray for, and dreams I’m still chasing. With each step I feel stronger, and more determined to keep going.

What I love most about running it that it’s not easy. It’s personal, it’s singular, and it’s a battle of the mind. You have to push yourself to put those running shoes on in the morning; you have to push yourself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That is what makes it even more rewarding when you finish a run, it’s because you know you did it , you broke through, and you didn’t give up. So here’s to not giving up.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Running a Half Marathon

I’ve decided to run a half marathon. My reason for this is not to prove I can do it. It’s to renew a promise I made to myself years ago. It's for my mother. It's for me. My mother is the reason I started running in my early 20’s, and she’s a big reason I am training for my biggest race ever. 

              My mom was diagnosed with cancer about six years ago.  I still remember running out of the house after she told me and my brother.  My boyfriend at the time chased after me, and held me under a summer moon until I got tired of crying. My mother told us she would fight cancer with every inch of her being, but she was prepared to die if it was God’s will. Things start to look a lot different when you or someone you love is at the brink of losing their life.  You start to reevaluate what is important, and what you’re doing with the precious time you have.
                My mom’s fight for survival made me realize I wasn’t pursuing one of my biggest desires which was to lose weight.  I seriously think I’m genetically predisposed to being curvy. I can handle that. But, when my mom was sick I was very overweight. Heck I’m overweight now. I wanted and want desperately to shed the weight.  I want to be healthy, go up a flight of stairs without getting winded, run a mile or two and feel good about it. I want to shimmy back in to my skinny jeans from my early 20’s and strut my stuff in my hip hugging dresses. These are things I am too ashamed to do when I am carrying around extra pounds.  

               When my mom was sick I looked at my body differently. I started thinking that the very cancer in my mother could be lying dormant in me. After mom was diagnosed I became obsessed with my cancer risks factors; I read books, researched cancer online, and went to the doctor way too much to see if I could minimize my risks. The doctor said while it wouldn’t completely decrease my chances, living a healthier life style could be a start. That is why I started my running journey six years ago, and in the process I lost 25 pounds.  Well here I am again, overweight, unsure, and ready for a change. I am approaching 30, the year I will have to start getting mammograms to look for cancer. And, I’m sad to say I’ve let life get in the way of my ability to be healthy, lean, and fit. I promised myself the year my mother was diagnosed I would be healthier, make smarter food choices, and stay active to decrease my cancer risks. I am sad to say I have let stress, work, life, and more stress get in the way of that. But, today is a new day, and I am training for a half marathon to put that promise back into practice. I am training for a half marathon to honor my mother by taking care of the body God has given me.