What Groot Taught Me About Christmas

GrootEvi asked for a giant stuffed Groot. I didn’t think much of it because I knew we’d be able to find one. So when we were a week out and I started looking…I was unpleasantly shocked to discover that big huggable Groot is not a thing.

So I decided to make one.

Me. Not a crafter. Not even a little crafty. But I was determined. I started three nights before Christmas, and I FINISHED HIM! He’s adorable but looks nothing like the “real” Groot. He has dried superglue on his head, a floppy neck, and big button eyes. His mouth was drawn with a Sharpie and his hands are shaped all weird. His stuffing is somehow seeping out of the fabric in tiny little bits. He’s far from perfect. I was worried she’d think he was weird or silly or stupid. I was worried she wouldn’t like him.

I worried for nothing. My sweet girl was so grateful. She still hasn’t put him down. She’s thanked me for him a million times and declared that he doesn’t look like the real Groot, he looks BETTER! She says he’s wonderful and unique (just like me, she says!) and it makes my heart lighter.

And then…it got so much better. She paused mid-stocking opening, leaving all those shiny gifts untouched, because she wanted to put together her Lego Chima Phoenix mini with me. She paused BEFORE opening a gift somewhere around the midway point to thank me for her presents – as in, sitting in front of an as-yet unopened gift, she was so suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude that she stopped, looked at me, leaned over for a hug. “Thank you, mommy,” she said. It was just so damned sweet.

In the days after Christmas, she’s taken Groot everywhere, continuing to extol his virtues to anyone who will listen. She loves him, and not because he’s exactly what she’d imagined getting. She loves him because I made him, and because she’s so full of love that she radiates it.

And that’s the lesson I  more than needed to learn this Christmas. I’m raising a little girl who is utterly infused with love, who’s got so much of it that it’s seeping out in every direction because it just can’t be contained. So I must be doing pretty alright as a mom, and more than that, it’s time for me to soak up some of that love. She’s a reflection of me in some ways, and so it’s got to be in me too. It’s time for me to bask in it, settle into it, direct it where it’s most needed…sometimes that’s inward, and sometimes it’s out.

This year is all about creating space for love.


Another amusing Evi anecdote? My brother brought her a tee shirt from MIT, which she was so overwhelmed to receive that she wasn’t quite sure how to process it for a little bit. The day she finally wore it, I told her how cool I thought it was that she was wearing a shirt for a college she might go to. Without missing a beat, she said, “Might? I WILL go to MIT” and went back to tying her pink boat shoes.


Halfathon Recap

Hey, guess what?


It was…pretty awesome. I felt good the morning of the race, and Dacia and I found a place to park quickly. I’d talked to the race director about starting early but never got confirmation, and when I got there I couldn’t find someone to ask. In the end, I started at 7:05 with the other walkers, and that turned out fine. If I’d started earlier it would have been in the dark anyway, so I think it was probably a good plan overall.

We started out strong and fast, and overall I ended up maintaining a faster pace than I had on any of my training walks. I felt good for the most part too. I struggled around mile 8, when I was feeling wonky and also started getting some serious blister pain. At that point there was nothing I could do about the blisters, and I know now that the issue is the socks I wore. Lesson learned. Don’t wear new socks…

I did eat as I went, sticking to Gu and Clif Blocks and that sort of thing because they were small enough to fit into my race belt. I had the first Gu around mile 4, and then every 2-3 miles after that I had something. I also think I should have had protein for breakfast (I had coffee and two bananas) because it might have helped the wonky feeling that came and went after mile 8.

Still, I finished strong and happy. I was a little bit sad because the husband and kid were trying desperately to get there, but got stuck in traffic and missed me crossing the finish line. Another lesson learned. Spectators should get there a lot earlier if they want to see you finish. It worked out alright though, because Erik got video of my crossing and we showed it to the kid later. I crossed with a smile, then cried like a baby for a minute or two.

Man, I was SO not expecting the race to be so emotional! There were volunteers holding signs along the course with all sorts of inspirational messages on them. I got pictures of a few of them, but not the most impactful ones because I was busy not crying. One right around mile 8/9 said Be Brave, and it was right when I was struggling and it just felt…yeah, like it was for me. I kept thinking OMG I’M DOING THIS and the closer we got to the finish line the more amazing it seemed.

I did it. I wore the wrong socks, and I stopped to sit down too quickly after I finished, but I did it. I could barely walk the rest of the day (skipped stretching too, unintentionally). I was SO worried about Monday since I tend to have 24-48 hour delays in soreness, but I was a little better on Monday and nearly back to normal by Tuesday morning. The blisters are still twinging a little, but I’m keeping them clean and tossing on some Neosporin now and again, so they seem to be healing just fine.

So: no new socks, should have stretched, don’t stop walking when you’re done, have spectators in place earlier.

Also: Am amazing. Did the thing.

Seriously. I stuck with thirteen weeks of training. It’s the first time I’ve ever stuck with a training plan and seen it to the end. Even if I’d crawled across the finish line after six days, I would have called it a victory just for that. I finished last in my age group, and 905/913 overall. And I couldn’t be more proud of that. I set out to do the race, I trained for it, and I felt strong when I finished.

And yes, I want to do another one. I’ve got my sights set on Space Coast next year, since that gives me nearly a year to train. My plan is to redo my training plan with more yoga and strength included, and then do it a third time with a focus on speed.


13 Weeks, 13 Miles

Thirteen weeks ago I started a walk training program to get me ready for my first-ever half marathon. Today I walk the race.

It might be the first time I’ve stuck with an entire training plan, and while I’m nervous, I’m also ready. I’ll be decked out in my ENELL ambassador gear, which I’m thrilled to have. I wouldn’t have comfortably made it through my long walks with that bra.

Even better, I’m walking with Dacia. She’s amazing, incredible, and a runner who volunteered to walk the race with me at my pace. I’m excite to earn my Santa Starfish medal with her.

Thirteen weeks. Thirteen miles. I can do this. I’m a little worried about fueling properly, but I’ll get that figured out with Dacia’s help.

For everyone who reads these posts, who follows along and offers support and friendship….thank you. I’m feeling oddly emotional about this whole thing and I’ll be thinking of you all.


Habits That Work

For six days now, I’ve been working on morning meditations to help me focus on what matters most. It’s not about weight loss. It’s not even really about food, although my hope is that by channeling my energies into constant reminders that I AM ENOUGH, I’ll be able to sidestep many of the food issues that come with being an emotional eater.

So how’s it going? Well, I’ve made some pretty significant progress in terms of sugar cravings and crap foods. Have I had sugar? YES! But in those six days, not once did I find myself reaching for something out of emotional need. Sometimes I did the meditation only in the morning. Other days I did it several times through the day, depending on how much I felt like I needed it. The truth is that it felt pretty easy, and I began to think more and more that this was just a good couple of days anyway. We were off our routine, traveling, celebrating, etc, and maybe that got me out of my own head enough to make better choices. Not once did I have a stomach issue related to food, which has happened a fair amount lately.

And here’s the thing. By no means do I think that meditating every day means I’m never again going to eat emotionally, make bad food choices, and upset my colon. I know better. I’ve spent a lifetime doing this, and unlearning the habits doesn’t mean eradicating them. In the end though, I had myself pretty convinced the meditation wasn’t working. This morning, unintentionally, I forgot to do it. It was the Monday morning after a holiday and I wasn’t prepared to jump back into my morning routine. As such, the basic necessities of the morning – get dressed, pack lunch, walk dog – replaced any time for meditating.

I got to work, ate two pieces of pie and a candy bar, and then wondered what the hell had just happened. Is pie for breakfast a big deal? Not even a little. But I did it mindlessly, without ever thinking about whether it was what I even wanted. The pie wasn’t even very good. So yes, meditation works for me. It works incredibly well, and I’ll keep it up.

Half Marathon Training 

I walked ten miles yesterday! It’s the longest I’ve walked, and it’s also the fastest pace I’ve managed for any walk over 6 miles. My previously broken foot is a little sore today, and I definitely didn’t stretch out my hips the way I should have, but overall I feel great! I’m two weeks away from my big race now, and I’m feeling READY! I’m super grateful to be an ENELL ambassador for this race, since I’ll definitely need serious support to see me through 13.1 miles! So now I need advice about the race…

  1. Will there be regular water stations? I’d rather not carry my own if I don’t have to.
  2. My hands tend to swell a lot when I walk. Any thoughts on how to reduce this for the race?
  3. Do I eat? Do I not eat? If I eat during the race, what’s a good option for something easy to carry and eat while moving?
  4. If it’s fully charged, do you think my iPhone 4 battery will last through the whole race if I’m using the MapMyWalk fitness app?

Repetitive Thoughts

I AM ENOUGHFixing my food isn’t working. Because I want to look better, feel better, do better, be better isn’t working. Because my body deserves it isn’t working. So it’s time for something new.

The human brain can be shockingly convinced of all sorts of things through sheer repetition. It’s long past time I look to the source of my problems, and a little dependency on my monkey mind might be just what it takes.

Remember Bjorn? Remember how she’s constantly doing and saying detrimental things out of a well intentioned place of both love and fear? Well, she’s my monkey mind and she’s terrified of letting go of the things I’ve learned to rely on when I’m scared or feeling out of control.

So it’s time I try to soothe her, to address the things she’s so scared of, with sheer repetition. I started this morning with a new kind of meditation.

I am enough, I have enough, I do enough. I am safe and loved. I make lives better.

Over and over, for as long as I can. Every morning. Because these are my fears, that I am slowly but surely failing the people that I love most. That at any moment I’ll be discovered for the fraud I sometimes fear I am. That all my efforts aren’t enough.

Slowly, day by day, I’ll repeat my truths. One day, I’ll hear them, accept them, become them. I’ll be focusing on the things I’m doing well, the ways I feel lit up, and leaving the rest of it behind. (MORE YOGA!)


So how am I doing with Half Training? Not too shabby! I missed my long walk last weekend. It’s the first walk I’ve missed, 9 miles, and because of the holiday week I won’t be able to make it up before I’m due to walk 10 miles this weekend…so I’m letting it go. I feel good about having kept up with the training this long, and I know I can do this half. It won’t be as fast as I wish it could be, but I will finish and I’ll do so with a smile.


Just Keep Moving

I’ve had some pretty fantastic walks lately.


The picture on the left was from a nighttime Color & Glow 5K I did a few weeks ago. I wasn’t super excited about the night race, and I do think they could have lit the path a lot better, but overall it was incredibly fun. I genuinely enjoyed the glow paint, even when I did get it in my mouth, and I got an incredible chance to talk to several women there about my love for all things ENELL. I even gave away one of my awesome ambassador slap bracelets. As an ambassador for ENELL, I’m super lucky because I get to talk about something I genuinely love, and they’re generous enough to pay for my race entry fees.

Overall the Color & Glow was incredible, but I might think again before doing another race at night. This one was over an hour from my house, so next time it’s closer or it’s a no-go.

Next up was the Oktoberfest 5K I did representing Jost Running. It was such an awesome experience. Not only did I earn a huge, beautiful medal, but I also got out there with my sister and her boyfriend, and even my mom’s dog! My husband and daughter joined us for the first three miles or so too. It was so much fun to have people to chat with the whole time and just get out and moving. And of course I used my incredible medal to open a cold beer (it’s a bottle opener too!) when we got home.

Jost has some great upcoming races, medals, and causes too, so check out their newest options:

Strength In Numbers: November is the month to give thanks, and this month we are choosing to use our miles to support of our service members, veterans, and their families and thank them for all that they have sacrificed in the name of our country. The “Strength in Numbers” benefactor is Courage Beyond at Centerstone – an organization that helps it’s members cope with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental and emotional struggles, after and during their service.

Let It Snow: We’re not afraid of winter, in fact, bring it on and LET IT SNOW!! This December, join us in racing for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and fighting blood cancers while pumping ours!

Finally, today was an eight mile training walk to prepare for my December HALF MARATHON walk! My dad took the kid fishing this morning, so my husband came out with me and we spent an awesome morning together. It was such a great way to spend time together. The weather was beautiful, the walk was awesome, and the chances to chat were perfect.

Physically, I struggled a little with this walk. I was feeling tired and dehydrated before we started, so I felt a little bad in the sun at the end of the distance. I was also having some pretty significant foot soreness in the foot I broke a few years ago, and I am a little bit worried about how to handle that for the half. My sister recommended the massage therapist at her spa, so I might try that out just to see if it helps.

Anybody else have issues with post-break pains?

Anyway, the thing is… I love walking. I love getting out in the fresh air and moving my body. I love the way it feels when I’m done, all sweaty and tired but not awful or ill. Walking and yoga and barre are SO my body’s ultimate choice of exercise!


Gain vs. Loss: Maintaining HAES through Weight Loss

How do you come to terms with results when they require a focus on the same tools that trigger unhealthy thought processes?

When you’ve spent years extracting yourself from the diet and weight loss mentality, how do you make sense of weight loss?  How do you celebrate an apparent result of choices made, when that result represents something that could trigger some seriously detrimental thought processes?

I don’t know what the answer is here. The truth is that this whole thing is complicated for me. I’m not really weighing myself right now, but I do occasionally step on the scale…because I own one?  Because I’m curious? Because it’s ingrained to consider my weight as an important piece of information? I can’t say for sure.

So as it so happens, I weighed myself just before starting both half marathon walk training and Pure Barre classes. I didn’t do it because I was starting those things. It just happened that way. When I looked back and realized I’d completed a month of both, I got curious about weights and measurements – I’d taken those a month earlier for the sake of picking the right sizes for Halloween costume pieces – so I figured I’d see where I was at.

A quick comparison made it pretty clear that I’d made some changed. In fact, I’d lost five pounds and a little over three inches.

I was thrilled. Elated. Then, frankly, a little scared.  I lost weight! Yay! Yay? Is it alright to be happy about it?  If I AM happy about it, is it just because I’m still wrapped up in old thoughts about health and success? If I celebrate weight loss, I feel like I’m just back to using that as a measure of success…which has proven to be drastically untrue for me.

So I’m trying to focus instead on something better. I made changes that I enjoyed making. I chose movement that made me feel good, gave me space to clear my head, and made my body feel strong and capable.  As a result of those choices, and either despite or unconnected from my food choices at the time, I felt better and stronger. I had more energy. I struggled less with mood fluctuations. As a side effect of these choices, I experienced some weight loss and a measurement decrease.  Those changes were NOT the point, are NOT the goal, and CANNOT be counted on as continuing changes even if my behavior remains otherwise the same.  The target I am chasing is the way my activity choices made me FEEL (awesome), the way they made me THINK (clearer), the way they made me MOVE (with confidence). Those are the things I’m chasing as I continue my journey.

And that’s where I feel like I can turn my focus to food. If it’s about losing more weight/inches, my attempts to eat better are never going to work. In fact, lately I’ve been trying to focus on WHY I continue to eat in ways that don’t best serve my body, and the more I think about it the more I feel like having any sort of appearance focus on what/when/why I eat is going to be counterproductive for me. If, on the other hand, I can focus on the things that will make me feel my best, be my happiest, provide me the most energy to get happily and productively through my days…then maybe I can make the choices that help me thrive.

So this coming week will be a week for me to focus on those choices. Even through the weekend, which for me is usually a time of acknowledged crap eating, I’ll be attempting to eat the foods my body needs. I’ll be interested to see what happens in another month if I can maintain the food choices that provide me with my best mind/body connection.


Belly Up to the Barre

My first class at Pure Barre St Pete was pretty scary. I spent the time leading up to the class feeling horrified by the whole concept, and I was absolutely positive I was going to hate it.

I walked in to a trendy studio occupied by workout clothes I can’t afford, perfectly young and lovely staff, and pounding pop music. As I sat there in my R2D2 yoga pants with no idea what to expect, I became painfully aware that there was a sort of unspoken uniform. Black leggings, flowy tops and tanks in conservative colors (no neon, no prints unless they were branded), and everyone in the same grippy bottomed, sparkly mesh topped socks. I felt so conspicuous, ever more so given I outweighed every other class member by a good fifty pounds and probably had a good eighty on the instructor.

I clumsied my way through the class anyway and left feeling frustrated. The instructor didn’t give modifications for new students and I kept hearing “the higher your toes, the thinner your thighs” in a high-pitched perky voice echoing in my head. I didn’t want to go back. I sat down in my car and…felt completely awesome.

Seriously. The workout made me feel amazing. I was energized and super sweaty and felt great. It was so annoying. Even more annoying? I woke up the next morning and had no functional soreness. I was sore and could tell I’d worked, but I wasn’t dying and I didn’t spend that day or the next hobbling. I hate hobbling. In short, I felt exactly the way I wanted to feel. I even craved less crap.

Basically, I was going to have to go back. I had a ten class pass anyway, and I felt like it was wasteful not to use it. So back I went. It wasn’t until I was walking into my third class that I realized a lot of the issue was in my own head. I was so sold on the idea that barre wasn’t for girls like me, that is was a particular sort of environment full of “other” people. I was convinced I’d hate it, and I’d liked it in spite of myself. I decided it was time to switch up my mindset and really give the workouts a chance. The more classes I went to, purposefully trying to visit every instructor and lots of different class days/times, the more I settled in. I saw more and more people like me – new, not twenty, not tiny – and I realized how hard I was working. I pour sweat in that class and my average heart rate is in the 120s to 130s. There were tons of sections where I had to take breaks and some things I just couldn’t do at all.

By class seven or so, that was starting to change. I was seeing distinct differences in what I could do and how I was feeling. My body felt stronger. I wasn’t getting frustrated in class as often. By class ten, they’d changed up the moves and I was really enjoying the challenge. The focus on bodyweight strength and isometric holds and dance-inspired movement is sort of perfect for what I want for my body. The class structure keeps me motivated and also gets me out of the house.

In the end, I ended up with another month of classes thanks to the super supportive staff there. In the end I think most of them really want to see students keep coming back and getting stronger.

The benefits: After you get the hang of it (took five or so classes) the routines are easy enough to follow. I pour sweat without feeling nauseous or dizzy or horrible. The workouts aren’t based on jumping or running, so my temperamental legs are safe. I get some aches from the workout but am never so sore I can’t function. The ballet inspiration is genuinely fun for me. I actually like the horrible pounding pop music. The more I go, the more I find nice people – participants and instructors – who make me feel welcome. When I finish the workouts I feel like a SUPERHERO. It’s a tough, full body workout in less than an hour.

The drawbacks: The atmosphere is definitely intimidating at first, and the first few classes can feel frustrating since instructors don’t offer modifications or detailed instructions. The schedule is hard for me (any schedule would be) because the traveling husband means always needing childcare for the classes. If I had a more traditional situation I could go to the 6am class Tue-Fri and at least one weekend morning. Because I have kid worries, I can only make one weekday class without feeling guilty for missing time with her and/or asking someone else to watch her. Most weeks I can’t guarantee more than two classes a week. There is a dress code – no shorts, no midriffs exposed – that wasn’t an issue for me but could be tough for some. They also require grippy socks and no shoes in the studio. I’d suggest toeless ones since the regular sort I picked up in the studio leave me slipping when I try to hold a plank.

barreThe biggest issue though? Price for sure. The classes are super expensive compared to anything else I’ve seen and it’s super tough to manage. Honestly I don’t know if I’ll be continuing past this month despite my love of it because I just can’t afford it. Classes are upwards of $20 a piece, and an unlimited monthly pass (which requires more than two classes a week to really take advantage of) is nearly $200 a month. They have packages of ten or twenty or fifty classes that make it cheaper than purchasing them one at a time, but not by much. They have regular Groupons, but you’re not eligible for those after the first one. I honestly think they’re worth the cost, but that doesn’t count for much when you don’t have the money.

Conclusion: I took my eleventh Pure Barre class this weekend. I’m pretty sure I cried at the barre at one point, and there’s one move that continues to completely evade me (that one in the pic…no seriously, that’s the face I make). So frustrating. I feel incredible. I want to feel this way every day. Think you can’t do it? Think you’ll be the biggest one there? (I am)



Will Race for Beer

I can’t believe it’s already October. I can’t believe I’m scrambling to find Halloween costumes and book Thanksgiving flights and we’re starting to think about Christmas.

Now that we’re in Florida, fall feels pretty anticlimactic. All it’s meant so far is a little less heat and some slightly cool mornings. It’s kind if weird, honestly, but the heat backing down a little is making it easier to keep up with longer walks for my half training. It means I’m having a wonderful time this month earning my gorgeous Oktoberfest medals from Jost Running.

The October medals are gorgeous and have built in bottle openers that make perfect tools for a post-race beer! Registrations benefit Midwest Food Bank. I know people hesitate with virtual races because the race atmosphere isn’t there, but for me it’s a great way to reward the training I’m doing anyway. Plus it means never having to miss my limited family time because of a scheduled race. Still want a little race environment? Make it an event of your own! Get your friends and family together to make your own race. Rope in your church group, book club, parents group.

It’s well worth it. My Jost medals are by far the best ones I have. They’re bigger and better designed than most of my official race medals. Get in on it too and help benefit charity while getting your race on!


Walking & Medals & Bras, Oh My!

Oh hai. I’m sad today. It’s just a sad-iversary, and I’ll be just fine. In the meantime, I wanted to talk a bit about how my half marathon walk training is going, mostly because I actually think it’s going pretty well. Here’s a screenshot from the Training Peaks site I’m using, and the training is the Hal Higdon program.

TrainingSo that’s where I’m at. I’ve moved around some workouts and changed the order of things, but I’ve done every workout so far. The two red ones are ones where I was off the mark significantly for distance or time. The first was when I did 5 miles instead of 3, and the second was last night’s terrible, no good, very bad, super horrible training walk. I wrote this on Facebook after the walk:

Went out for the first fast training walk on the schedule today. I couldn’t come ANYWHERE NEAR the time suggested (10min/mi). Already frustrated, I decided instead to aim for the significantly slower minimum pace for my December race (16min/mi). I managed that for about .75mi before my shin pain flared big time. No way I can maintain that pace for 13.1 miles. Can’t find a half in FL with no time limit. It’s my own fault for registering for a time limited race, I guess.

feeling defeated.

Fortunately, my incredible friends rallied. I got advice, support, love, understanding. I began to understand that walking a 10 minute mile was ridiculous, and that whatever I could do was enough. I looked back at my calendar and realized I’d stuck with three weeks of training, and even added in my own other exercise on top of that. It’s the most consistently I’ve moved my body in a while, and it felt awesome. So now I’m planning to keep up with the training, and thanks to my awesome local friend Jenny I’ve gotten into contact with the race director, who says they’ll be able to accommodate me starting WAY early to finish on time, or finishing late. Either way, they’ll see that I finish, and that’s what matters to me.

I’m loving the walks themselves, as long as I don’t push for a particular pace, because they’re a chance to clear my head. I can think straight and things make sense. Stress goes away. I get up from my desk, which happens woefully seldom otherwise. I get to watch the turtles in the lake. If the time and light are right, I take the dog and the kid and the husband when he’s around, and we make it a family affair. Having a schedule to walk with has been super helpful because it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something versus sort of blindly trying to figure out what I ought to be doing…which was totally my plan when I first signed up for this race. Plus I’ll have the added benefit of earning my beautiful JOST medals along the way, which makes training that much more fun. The Octoberfest medals are AWESOME.

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have ENELL supporting me too (see what I did there?). I’ve worn an ENELL bra on every training walk, to every class, and even wore the pink HOPE bra all by itself on the kayak when the kid was cold. Hey, a mom sacrifices her tank top when needed… In short, I’m SO thankful to be involved with such an incredible company. The bras are incomparable – lovely and comfortable and hella supportive – and the company itself couldn’t be run by better people. I’ve never had this kind of open communication as an ambassador. I’m super proud to be one for ENELL. (Go buy a bra. I make no money from it, but your boobs will be happier, and that makes me happy.)

So what about those other workouts? A lot of yoga of course, but there seems to be a repeating pattern of something else on that calendar if you look. But how I got into, and then continued with, Barre classes (of all things) is another story for another time….