Friday, April 27, 2012

...uh...the BIX?!

I mentioned recently that I am in training for a 5K in early June.  My plan:  to ratchet up from 3 to 5 mornings a week, for the next 5 weeks or so, crossing all the way over the Centennial bridge and back home again, a journey of 2.6 miles.  Sure, it's a little shorter than a 5K, but I figured if I push myself, I'll be in good enough shape to at least FINISH the race, and that's really the only goal at this point.  

I had been considering doing something else besides the bridge, 2 mornings a week - more specifically, I had been thinking of running up my mile-long Main Street hill instead.  Just for further conditioning on hill running.  

This week brought an unexpected turn of events that have made me certain about the need to focus on the hill:  a friend talked me into agreeing to run The Bix in late July.  For the uninitiated, The Bix is a 7 MILE hill-infested run in the hottest part of summer. 

Oh.  Em.  GEEE!!!

Over my objection to the fact that this race is more than TWICE as long as the one I've been training for, my friend simply pointed out that we can walk part of it.  This is the same friend who (unsuccessfully) worked on me about doing a triathlon, and then asked about doing I think 90 days of my T-tap program for another sort of competitive event (I didn't bite on that one either), and truth:  I'm out of resistance.  LOLOL  

So part of me is filled with fear, dread, loathing, and general confusion about how I got roped into this.

And part of me is kind of secretly excited.  

I shall start the hill training next week, cuz I'ma need to work on over to the Brady Street hill (in my mind a.k.a. The Hill of Death) in the next 60 days or so, if I'm going to stand a prayer of not collapsing in the heat on race day.  PEOPLE.  I run at 5 AM.  Do you KNOW how nice and dark and cool it is for running at that hour?!  The air all kind of just goes out of me when I imagine running in 100 degrees and sunshine - and it seems ALWAYS to be that hot on race day. 

Meanwhile, it turns out to be a very good thing indeed that my friend has coerced me into this, as I had a big epiphany this morning while running:  the weekend of the Rhubarb Run - that 5K out in my hometown that I've been training for - HEY, I won't even be in Illinois that day!  I'll be on vacation, states and states away.  I can't DO that race.  Ergh.  So the Bix shall be the new driver of my goals.

We'll see how this goes.  I've already noticed that when I run 5 mornings a week, my knees are sore by Friday.  Last weekend I noticed it, and thought how I should rest my knees for the weekend...and then I went out and rode my bike 64 miles in 2 days.  Which just meant sufficient pain on Monday morning that I had to skip the run.  It's Friday again, and I only got 3 runs in (skipped Wednesday morning, too, after a rather late Tuesday night)...and somehow my knees are sore again (maybe it's more the length of time I'm running than the frequency - it takes me 40-45 minutes to accomplish that 2.6 mile run...see, still not anything like speedy - many walkers could probably pass me at that rate).  

And...I'm NOT planning to stay off the bike this weekend.  

So, how's this gonna go?  Not sure.  If anyone reading this has any great tips for strengthening knees and/or dealing with that pain (other than "stay off the bike," that is)...I'd welcome them!  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

adventures in chia gel and bike path connections

Two weeks ago I did some research on chia seeds, after my food-wise JPUSA friend had mentioned them.  Among the things I learned from the website about chia seeds include:

Chia seeds are said to have:

  • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain,

  • 5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that
    helps transfer calcium into your bones,

  • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas,

  • 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries

  • 3 times more iron than spinach

  • copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids...

    They are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fibre.

  • So I picked up a big container of them (to the tune of $14.99) and almost immediately forgot I had 'em.

    On Thursday I remembered, and read up on what to DO with my wonderful chia seeds.  The best suggestion I found was making "chia gel."  This involves stirring 1/3 cup of chia seeds into 2 cups of filtered water and letting them sit at least 10 minutes (with a suggestion that letting 'em sit longer releases more of the nutrition.)  Chia gel, I learned, is essentially flavorless and can be stirred into lots and lots of things, where it "distributes" the flavor rather than "absorbing" it.  Why would I add chia gel?

    • for all that wonderful nutrition as listed above
    • it helps fill one up for fewer hunger pangs between meals
    • chia seeds hold 9 times their weight in water, helping the body with hydration and stamina
    • they are supposed to have a detoxifying/cleansing effect on the body as well
    So Friday morning I had a much lighter breakfast than usual, and then created a chia gel/fruit smoothie.  

    Here's what the tiny chia seeds look like in their container:

    I made the gel in a quart jar, as it keeps up to something like 3 weeks in the fridge.  Canning funnel came in handy for working with those tiny seeds, which are all staticky and want to go everywhere.
    Here's what the gel looked like the next morning;

    And then I added a lot of frozen fruit, and let it sit for about 45 minutes while I got ready for work before hitting the "on" button:

    2 bananas, a bunch of mango, some blueberries, a few cherries, a few mandarin oranges, and a few strawberries.  YUMMO.  When I first started blending, there was a lot of black and I thought the smoothie might come out looking nasty.  But it's pretty, don't you think?
    I took it to work with me and it lasted for a couple of hours.  Really, REALLY good.  I'll be happy to use the chia gel some more.

    On a non-food related front, today I did the Duck Creek bike path again, and at the spot that I thought was the absolute end, another cyclist passed me as I climbed a particularly steep part.  Then she disappeared around a corner I hadn't seen, so I followed her...and found more bike path!  Eventually I came to the end of it, at a sign announcing that I was in Riverdale.  

    At that point I had a few minutes that were reminiscent for me of my many great bus adventures in Chicago.  I had a pretty good idea that I was somewhere near the river front path (as in, along the Mississippi River) but I didn't know how to get there.  I've studied the maps online repeatedly, but have just never been able to quite work out how or where the 2 paths might converge.  I used my iphone but the map was confusing.  I debated...might be better to just turn and go back the way I came.  But instead I turned on my bus adventurer skills and did the basics:

    1. Trust that all will be well, and don't panic.
    2. Look - watch - allow time to really SEE.  (It's easy on bus or bike adventures to miss important details, if one gets in a hurry or doesn't pay intent attention.)
    3. Listen intently, trusting that hearing will come.
    4. Try - don't just stand there forever - and know that backtracking and trying again is acceptable and often necessary.
    After a bit of fumbling and kind of walking in circles at a corner, I saw a little skinny bike rut in the ditch, and I followed.  Within about 2 blocks....I figured out where I was!  And found my way to the river front bike path.  Stuff like that makes me laugh like a little kid.  Makes me feel like Christopher Columbus.  Makes me feel like a badass, especially when it happens in the rain (as was the case tonight).  JFTR, I like feeling like a badass.  LOL

    Great stuff.  And my ride rounded out to 26 miles.  Not bad for a ride squeezed in at the end of an otherwise busy day.  

    Hope your Saturday made you smile as well!

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    training for rhubarb, and great big happy thighs

    I am now officially "in training" for the Rhubarb Run put on by the Mercer County Family YMCA out in Aledo, which is in roughly 6 weeks, I think.  I've relaxed a bit over the winter with the run - have stopped trying to run faster or further.  My excuse was that it's hard enough to run in winter.  LOL  But lately I've noticed that since the move, I'm not running quite as far as I used to, which means I'm also not running quite as fast.  

    I had meant to find the tiny running book (haven't seen it since the move, though I know it's here somewhere) and see about re-starting intervals.  But instead I'm taking a different tactic this week.  It's supposed to be rainy all week, so I'm not counting on biking to work (she says as she frowns at the gorgeous morning and remembers that there are too many errands today for biking anyway.)  So I'm taking advantage of not needing to leave at 7:15, by adding distance to the run.  I've been running "most of the way" across the Centennial, but always turning around in time to limit my run to 30 minutes.  This morning, I just went ahead and ran "all the way" across it (and back, of course) which added about 10 minutes to my run.  

    If you're more alert than me, you might notice that I just said I ran this morning - on a TUESDAY - which is very much NOT a run morning for me.  I'm a MWF runner.  But that's the other part of this addition to running further, I'm planning to do 5 mornings per week for the next 5 weeks or so, to crank up the volume.  And yes, I also shall find the tiny running book so that in the next week or two I can get back to intervals, which should increase my speed again. 

    It felt good, going all the way across.  I do enjoy the parts of my runs that make me feel like a hero  Yesterday, that was running in winds that just about knocked me over.  This morning, it was reaching the other side.  This is a fun change in me, in this 16 months of letting God teach me to love my body:  I actually derive real enjoyment from physical challenges.  I am encouraged.  I feel good.  It is FUN, not just "a challenge."  

    The hilly parts of the bridge really work my butt and the fronts of my thighs.  I don't spend a lot of time checking out my butt in the mirror (I remember obsessing about it as a teen, mostly because of course that was where all the boys' eyes were, so you wanted it looking as good as possible, you know? LOL) but my thighs are right there in front of me.  I keep noticing that though they are still pretty fatty, there is also quite a bit of muscle building there. When the cellulite clears, that's gonna be fun!  

    And that's a way I'm really, really growing in loving my body.  I acquired my "thunder thighs" at puberty, and immediately started experiencing deep shame about them.  I was so bothered that my thighs weren't all tiny like my ectomorph-body-type friends.  I just wanted very small thighs, and no future that didn't include that looked like a happy one.  

    Today, I understand that I am NOT an ectomorph body type, and never will be.  If I get fully fit, especially by running and biking, I'm gonna have big thighs.  They will be big muscular rather than big cellulite, but they will still be big.  I'm not gonna have that wide space between the tops of my inner thighs that the other body type enjoys.  And...drum roll, please...I am fine with that!  I am actually ENJOYING watching the muscle build, and yes, loving my body, even while it's still fairly well encased in a major layer of subcutaneous fat.  

    That's a God thing, baby. 

    May you find it, too, if you haven't yet. 

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    shutting up the lizard

    Seth Godin writes a blog I really like...little short bits of really wise stuff on all manner of subjects.  A couple of months ago, he wrote briefly about "the lizard brain."  I wanted to post a link to that blog, but as I googled it just now, I discovered he has spoken and written rather extensively on it, actually, so I can't find the little bit I read without digging harder than I'm willing to do in the 10 minutes I have to blog here.  The gist of it that day was that the lizard brain in us kills productivity in frustrating little ways like this:  you've locked the door.  YOU KNOW you've locked the door.  You're sure you've locked the door.  And you need to get going.  But the lizard brain keeps insisting that you might have actually forgotten to lock it, and so you waste time and run yourself late by going back to check the locks again.  (This appears to be not the "main" way that Godin explains it, but this was the thing I saw that started the little train down the tracks of my brain.)

    Remember road trips as we grew up?  What does mom say to you before you head out for many hours in the car?  

    "Do you need to use the bathroom?  Are you SURE?  We're not stopping 5 minutes down the road.  You'd better just TRY."  

    It's just a conscientious thing moms do, trying to smooth the drive.  My mom did it.  I REALLY did it, once I started hauling around 6 or 8 daycare kids.  It was just flat MANDATORY that everyone "try" the bathroom before we left.  

    That habit has held on, though I haven't had daycare kids in something like a decade now and my own kids are full-fledged adults.  I've jokingly complained to my daughter about my "well trained body" that insists:  if we are going somewhere, we MUST potty first.  And then when I get there:  I have just arrived, so I MUST potty first.  It was funny when I lived in Aledo and worked at City Hall, 5 minutes away.  I was irritated but also amused that my body insisted on both ends of that equation.  It has followed me everywhere I've moved.  This past winter, living in the SAME BUILDING where I worked:  still true.  Use the restroom 5 or 10 minutes before leaving work.  Walk the 2 minutes or so it took to get to my end of the building.  Step inside my door, and stand there crossing my legs and unable to move, cuz I had to go so bad.  Only to find when I got there that it was like A TEASPOON of fluid that had so plagued me.  Dumb, dumb, dumb, and I muttered LOTS of irritated things at my body along they way.  

    So when I read that Seth Godin blog a couple of months ago, I recognized IMMEDIATELY that this was a "lizard brain" function in me.  I didn't really know what to do with that, so I just found myself muttering "stupid lizard brain" as I stopped again for the potty on the way out the door.

    It has kind of cranked itself up since I started biking to work.  On those days, sometimes I hit the restroom 3 times in the last 10 minutes before I leave.  My bladder is just frantically screaming, "You're about to go out for a ride!  DON'T WE NEED TO POTTY FIRST?!" And then there's that half a teaspoon and me grumbling about the fact that I interrupted my routine for THIS.

    Well late last week, I had an epiphany.  When that urge hit me, I just said (ALOUD), "Shut up, lizard brain."  I wasn't being malicious or angry, just calm and dismissive.  And I ignored the screaming bladder, walked by the bathroom out the door, was fine all the way to work and didn't even have to go when I got there.  

    Now here is the completely FASCINATING part of this for me:  that night, for the first night in a long time of memory, I didn't have to get up in the night to use the bathroom.  That's just been a part of my reality for YEARS now, the one trip (sometimes two) in the middle of the night.  I just figured it was part of aging.  And it's not such a big thing...I'm not one of those people who can't get back to sleep after getting up in the night.  So really not a hardship, though I've thought more than once that it sure was nice to be younger and not have to have the midnight potty run.  

    Every night since then:  no midnight run!  AT ALL!  It seems even THAT was a "lizard brain" function and it seems to have been shut off at the same time as this "potty before we walk out the door" phenomenon.  

    HOW WEIRD IS THAT?!  I mean, I LOVE IT but it just absolutely the MOST unexpected development for me.  

    Freedom comes in strange ways.  God is good.  I'm gonna keep on pressing in to letting Him teach me to love my body.  It's crazy awesome, watching it unfold.  

    And no, you can't get your money back for a blog that was all about Karen's potty life...that's what you get for hangin' around the naked blog.

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    hill climber woman, and first time on duck creek bike path

    I've been looking and looking at bike maps online, trying to figure out how to get on the Duck Creek bike path here in Davenport.  A couple of coworkers assured me this week that if I'd just ride up Main Street (which goes right past my house) and keep going in a straight line, I would eventually intersect with it.  So that was this morning's objective!  

    This meant first of all biking up that mile-long hill that I mentioned recently.  The LAST time I tried to bike that hill was on the Rafiki Ride last fall, and I was on Lulu, and I definitely had to get off and walk for a portion of the hill.  My hope was that with Wilma under me, fewer pounds attached to me, and my improved fitness level, I might just maybe be able to bike up.

    I DID IT!!!  Now mind you, I had to do A LOT of downshifting, and I was barely moving by the time I got to the top, and I almost threw up from breathing so hard, and my nose gunked up so I had to breathe in through my mouth, which meant my throat was raw for the next 10 miles of the ride, causing continuous coughing and throat I'm not exactly a rock star yet...but...I DID IT!!!  I felt so good about that accomplishment that the only "sit down and rest" break I took for the whole  25-mile ride was there at the top of the Main Street hill.  I got off a few other times to take pics, but I was still all, "Hey, I'm a crazy awesome hill climber," so I didn't feel like taking breaks.  LOL 

    The Duck Creek bike path is GREAT.  I love the riverfront path, but riding it allll the time gets old, you know?  I just wanted to have a bit of variety.  This path is really beautiful, set beside the winding Duck Creek, lined with grounds that are left unmown for conservation reasons.  Lots of trees and plants, constant running water, lots of little highly-arched bridges (I giggled with glee every time I crossed one without my stomach clenching or my body tightening up),  

    It sports tons of hills.  Once upon a time, this would have been a negative for me, but at this point I am grateful for the conditioning...every time I struggled my way up a long hill, I could practically FEEL the fat burning, the muscle building, my heart growing stronger, and my lung capacity increasing.  This should be excellent conditioning for this year's century ride and next year's Ragbrai.  

    Fun things I saw along the way included:  little league practice, really tiny kids playing soccer, lots of dogs playing catch with their people, robins and other pretty, brightly-colored birds, more than the usual ratio of smiling people of all age and sort who returned my "hello," big burly guys playing a highly competitive game of frisbee golf, Mallard ducks fishing and preening and paddling around in the creek that bears their name, and more women (in my age bracket, even!) than I ever see on the riverfront path.  I rode every bit of path I could find and it was exactly 25 miles from leaving my building to returning.  There could be more path...I can be kind of oblivious and miss details along the way, but what I saw was GREAT.  And oh yeah...there were also quite a number of public restrooms along the way (don't see a ton of those along the riverfront) and lots of neat places to sit down and rest, if I had been so inclined. 

    Came home and treated myself to a lovely gigantic plate of sauteed vegetables (cabbage, green beans, carrots, portabella mushrooms, and purple onion) with a bit of brown rice and lots of soy sauce...mmmmmmm....

    ....pretty nice start for a Saturday.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    looking down...yippeee!!! and some contextual pictures

    Just a few happy thoughts to share before I rush from one thing to the next...

    1.  This morning, I joked about maybe "looking down" while crossing the bridge that so terrified me before this week.  Then I thought about Peter (as in, New Testament Peter) and how he looked down at the waves and immediately stopped walking on water and started drowning.  So I thought...maybe not!  But then this morning as I was biking across it, I really felt the Lord saying clearly to me, "Go ahead...exercise the freedom I gave you," and so...I looked down!  And I'm still not afraid!  And on the way home tonight crossing it, I looked down A LOT.  Admired the rushing water to the one side.  Looked under the bridge on the other.  Looked, and looked, and looked some more, the whole time I rolled across the bridge.  And didn't get even the tiniest bit afraid.  FREEDOMMMMMM!!!!

    2.  I think it's time for just one pictoral celebration.  While I still have A LOT of weight to lose before I'm anything close to what is medically advised, here is a shot of me in July 2009, as I was leaving for my trip to Switzerland...and a shot of me today after work (my jeans are on their 4th wear since the dryer, so they are NOT sucking anything in or "shaping" me in any way, just for the record.)   (I can't figure out how to make blogger put them beside each other, darn it...)


    **This message brought to you by intentionally grateful living.**


    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    another miracle healing story by the gushy onion

    I experienced another miracle healing this week.  

    It proved to me that miracle healings don't all work the same.

    And it has left me pondering the question, "What is prayer?"

    You might recall that I've been terrified of heights my entire life.  Like, not just scared of being at the top of the Sears Tower (yeah, I know it's now called the Willis Tower, but I don't have to change with that), scared when I stand on a chair.  The fear has been strong, visceral, a physical sensation not just in my stomach but in my entire body, combined with a whole lot of mental/emotional baggage. 

    You might also recall that the Lord has been doing a work in me, where that is concerned.  First I crossed that bridge along the Chicago bike path near downtown without fear.  Then I moved back here and have been running on the Centennial Bridge (a place high enough that it was once bordering on debilitating for me to walk it) without fear.  

    Still, there has been one holdout:  the bicycle bridge that connects Illinois to Arsenal Island.  It sort of hangs off to the side of the regular road bridge where the cars cross.  It is made of light silver metal grating.  Light passes through it easily, meaning no matter how intensely I stare forward, I get constant flashes in my peripheral vision of how high I am.  The bridge also makes this whole series of crazy noises when I cross it.  A banging and clanging.  A rattle.  A jingling sound.  It basically sounds like it's about to collapse under me as I ride.  

    That combination of factors has brought out an intense physical reaction in me.  My stomach clenches, my entire body tenses, and I feel a little dizzy.  I've been combating that by singing old hymns aloud as I drive across (and staring fiercely ahead, trying hard not to see out of my peripheral vision).  I was just telling my mom on Monday night that this has not gotten better with time and repeated practice.  In fact, I noted, sometimes I find it getting worse.  This, despite my concerted effort to think rationally, to refuse to surrender to panic, to intentionally force my body into unclenching if it can at all, while I cross.  I have now fought it long enough and hard enough to be sure:  I cannot practice my way or talk my way out of my fear of heights as it exercises itself on that awful bridge.  

    But God.

    I love that phrase!  

    But God apparently heard my sharing with my mom as a prayer, a request.  And ummm... HE ANSWERED!  I was stunned to find on Tuesday that the bridge bothered me exactly zero.  I noticed in the morning, and thought for sure the fear would be back in the afternoon.  

    But it wasn't.

    So this morning as I rolled up to it, I was both excited and nervous.  Was I REALLY healed?  Only this test would tell.  

    Annnd...NO FEAR!  It was like a little crowd inside my head went wild this morning as I crossed, just cheering, celebrating, in awe, in wonder.  Saying to God, "Did you read my conversation with my mom as a prayer?!  TOO COOL!  THANK YOU!"  

    Again today:  in the morning, in the evening, it all didn't matter.  That visceral physical fear in me about that high's gone.  Dead.  History.  I was so tickled that I exited the bridge, literally laughing aloud.


    I guess...just because He could?  Just to teach me another unexpected thing about His ways?  

    How about, just because He is good, He loves me, and He's willing to keep peeling back my layers and redeeming them from darkness, one at a time.  And maybe, too, because of doors in my heart and mind that are propped wide open to His voice, His ways.  I'm not getting it perfectly, by a long shot...but tonight...I am very grateful that He answered my little prayer that I didn't even know was a prayer.  

    Nifty stuff.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    precooking, yearning for juice, and not hitting the hundred

    I'm dragging a little this morning, as I let the weekend get away from me and suddenly last night there was laundry to do and all of my weekly pre-cooking as well.  So I'm slightly sleep-deprived this morning, but well-armed for the week.

    Pre-cooking - yes, I do it pretty much every week.  It's an important part of keeping food manageable throughout the week.  Items I do pretty much every weekend include:
    • a batch of good oatmeal (either old-fashioned or steel-cut oats) and I go ahead and stir in the brown sugar as I make the batch (and this week I've started adding coconut oil, as well, as I've been reading how crazy awesome it is for mental function) - then all I have to do on weekday mornings is dump a huge tablespoonful into the bowl with some dried fruit, nuts, and almond milk and microwave for down-home goodness in minutes
    • 6-12 hard boiled eggs (from a local farm) - those suckers are awesome little weapons against the mid-morning hungries at work
    • a batch of brown rice, just to have on hand to quickly stir up with sauteed veggies and/or beans for yummy supper in less than 10 minutes
    I used to have "kombucha production" on that list as well, but my poor kombucha mother has been stuck in the fridge since I moved.  I need to get it out and get going again on it...I was just a little tired of drinking that so I took a break (MY homemade kombucha is just not even CLOSE to as good as the $4 per 16 ounce bottle stuff from the store).  

    I don't pre-wash or pre-chop my veggies for the week, though I have seen at least one website that recommends doing so.  The reason I don't is that I was taught many years ago that pre-washing and pre-chopping way out far ahead in advance can compromise nutritional value - better to buy frozen, I believe I heard, and I'm all about getting maximum bang for my buck.  And anyway I find the repetitive routines of washing and chopping nightly kind of soothing and enjoyable.  

    I haven't juiced much in a couple of weeks as the budget was distressingly tight for a bit.  I THINK I should maybe be able to get back to it now, but I'm taking my time and making double-sure I'm not making some financial omission that will come back to bite me in the butt for having been forgotten.  I miss the juice.  It's so good, and my body appreciates it so deeply.

    Didn't make my 100 miles this weekend on the bike.  Instead I enjoyed a very full day yesterday with family, and only 4 miles of bike time.  That's okay.  This is the glory of just loving my body and not racing the clock to get to some magical size or weight by some deadline - there is no guilt in just taking a day to love my life differently.  

    Happy Monday, all.  May the day bring you unexpected smiles!

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    a kick-butt ride, some extra room in the butt, and a holiday-appropriate thought

    I have been aiming to ride 100 miles this weekend, split up over 3-4 rides.  It's not looking too promising that I'll make it...I headed out later than I meant to on Friday morning and only had time for 15 miles, and then today I got 33 in, which means tomorrow would have to be a 52-mile day (just 2 miles shorter than my longest ride to date) on a day that I plan to spend mostly in church and with family.  

    I'm okay with that.  I've realized that the way I'm rolling lately is setting very high goals for each weekend.  While I haven't quite been making them, the goals have pushed me beyond what I'd do without them.  And in the end, all I'm doing at this point is training for this August's century ride and August 2013's Ragbrai, so as long as I keep pushing, I'm doing what I need to do.

    The second half of today's ride was a challenge - I turned around in Rapids City only to discover that I was driving directly into quite a was like pushing into a wall.  Then the raindrops started, and I stopped to put up the hood on my new (cuuuuute) raincoat, but the wind wouldn't let it stay up.  So I rode the last 16 miles of the trip pushing into the wall of wind, spattered by rain and occasionally treated to gusts that nearly blew me over.  Weee HAAA!  Truth:  my need to think I'm amazing provided sufficient motivation for me to have a heck of a lot of fun throughout the struggle.  And:  I made it home!  I'm amazing!  LOLOLOL  WhatEVER.  

    I am having the recurring happy problem of clothes not fitting me.  I pitched part of my underwear collection this weekend; I generally have about 3 sizes in stock and I generally always go for the biggest ones, being an all-about-comfort sort of girl (especially since my undies haven't been ummm "display items" for more than a decade now...).  I went to tuck in a shirt on Thursday and realized there was sufficient excess material uhhh *behind me* for an entire other butt - definitely time to ditch the biggest size.  YAY!  I'm pretty sure this whole paragraph was TMI...sorry...I'm just excited to share success.

    Earlier this week, I almost fell twice (once on the stairs) because my running pants have gotten too big.  Until now I've been able to just keep hiking them up, but suddenly they are so loose that my phone and keys in my pockets keep pulling them down, making them too long.  And they are extra-wide legged, because I've been so ashamed of my legs for so long and I hoped they would work for camouflage.  Those too-long, too-wide legs caught the toe of my shoe twice in 2 days and I nearly fell both times, so for safety's sake I picked up a smaller pair today.  I'm hoping to gift my old ones to someone plus-sized who wants to get fit (they're still in surprisingly good shape after a full year)...if you know of any such someone, please let me know.  I think they are size 2X.  There will be more fitness-wear available in days ahead, as well (some of it quite pricey, like the UnderArmour stuff).  

    I've enjoyed riding in my jeans, but they bag just enough in the butt that my seat catches them and then causes my pantlegs to rise and rise.  So today I tried a different tact, which failed miserably:  I wore my winter running tights with a pair of loose cargo bike shorts over them.  The tights were GREAT.  I only wore the shorts because the tights displayed my cellulite a bit too prominently.  I'll figure out a different approach; the shorts are even baggier in the butt than my jeans, and they kept getting bunched up by the bike seat and progressively shortening my shorts until they were hiked clear up to granny-panty fit.  Ergh.  Not sure if I'll work up the nerve to not care about the tights, or try something else. 

    Lately, I've been thinking about the quote from Christ in Revelation 20:  "Behold, I make all things new."  I feel like I'm living that on countless fronts, including this whole changed relationship with my body.

    I like it.

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    sharing as i learn more re: fasting

    My church is amidst church-wide fasting prayer for several days.  The pastor made a point when challenging us to this fast to leave interpretation wide open:  some are doing a "full" fast, as in water only, some are maybe doing a juice fast, or fasting from sweets, or fasting from Facebook or television...whatever.  We have services daily at noon and 7 PM for the duration.  

    The fast I have chosen is strategic (and let's just stop here and insert:  in general, scripture directs us not to go around bragging about our fasts - it is best to do them in secret, so all motivations are just between oneself and the Lord - but I've come to a teachable moment and I can't just walk by it, so I'm trusting the Lord is okay with it).  Today I am able to attend both services, so my fast started after breakfast and will end after the service today.  Tomorrow I am only able to attend the noon one (and I'm going to a birthday party that night), so my fast will be from after breakfast until supper.  I'm still working out how Wednesday will go, as I get the details of what's up that day.  

    Maybe you're wondering what the point is of fasting with prayer (I wondered for a long time before I learned).  There are 2 short answers:
    1. It's hard to understand fasting prayer AT ALL until you just step out in faith and try it, so don't think you're learning *everything* about it by just reading my blog.
    2. One of the important elements of fasting, for me and many others, is that somehow it brings one into a more spiritually sensitive place.  
    Hence my strategy.  I want to lean into "the secret place" in prayer in a way that I can't do without fasting, but at the same time I need the mental sharpness and physical stamina that I get from eating.  So I'm focusing my "hungries" into the prayer zones of the next few days...more or less to get the most bang for my buck, without compromising my ability to do my job along the way. 

    Here's the thing about that "spiritually sensitive place" business:  it's NOT a foregone conclusion.  I mean, there are 2 possible places to focus during a fast:
    1. I'm hungry!  My stomach is growling...hurts...won't leave me alone.  I feel shaky or woozy.  My head hurts. My body is screaming for food!
    2. I'm listening, Lord.  
    Focusing on the first possibility brings me quickly to a crabby mood and a whole lot of self-pity, not to mention behaviors that I need to repent of.  

    Focusing on the second possibility turns up my "spiritual hearing."  

    I've done some fasting over the years; very often I spend some portion (sometimes ALL) of the fast in crabby hungry mode.  This time, I am discovering another growth point in my 16 months of letting God teach me to love my body:  the way I talk to myself during a fast.  It's a much nicer conversation this time around.  I am not hushing the "hungry" voice sternly.  Not angry with my body for talking to me about the lack of food.  Mondays, as I have mentioned here before, are a very hungry day for me - I think it's because I mess so much with all my routines over the weekend.  So I started out hungry within minutes after breakfast this morning, and stayed that way all day. 

    Because I've been learning to be as gentle with myself as I would be to any other, there is no irritation in me.  I think of my very fussy body like a child that doesn't feel well but still has to move through the day.  I wouldn't dream of being angry with such a child - I'd feel and express compassion, and I'd quietly let the worst of the fussing pass by without comment or judgment.  Hey!  Turns out I can take that approach with my body.  Yes, it's hungry.  But I just think lovingly, "'s going to be okay..." and then turn my attention to listening for the Lord.  

    In that mode today, I found that I was indeed spiritually much more sensitive - the place I most noticed it was interacting with others.  On the way home, I pondered that.  Being a little hungry can open me to increased spiritual sensitivity and compassion, if  I stay tuned into "the God frequency."  I found myself processing others' pain in much more WWJD ways than usual. 

    Well, that really convicts me of the times I walk around happily stuffed, full of food and full of myself and  safely blunted from feeling others' pain.  It drives home a point I've been learning over and over along this journey:  my entire adult life pattern of extreme overeating/poor nutritional choices was in Very Large Part driven by an urge to dull that sensitivity.  To turn off the pain of the world, to shut down the pain inside me, to avoid thinking through and working through and - hey, here's a crazy idea - PRAYING through my feelings and issues.  Why go to all that trouble when I can stuff it under with a dozen hot homemade chocolate chip cookies, or 8 slices of peanut butter toast (lots of jam), or 3 donuts with a quart of chocolate milk, or an entire bag of Sterzings potato chips?

    As I have learned and practiced appropriate eating this past year, there has been immensely less emotional/spiritual numbness, and the Lord has been able to use that enlivened state in me to peel away layer after layer after layer of pain.  The healing work He has been doing in me is really a miracle in its magnitude.  It has been a good thing, stepping away from constantly shoving myself too full of food (and all the wrong foods, at that).  

    Today as I fast, I'm noticing an important next step, and beginning to truly understand why more regular fasting SHOULD be a part of my life:  it's not only about my healing.  It's about those around me, whose cries of pain I can't even hear very well as long as I'm always contentedly full.  I am an intercessor!  (If that word doesn't make sense to you, insert:  prayer warrior.)  So fasting is an important part of honing that craft, methinks.

    Here's to pressing in. 


    living more gently with me

    I didn't quite make the 75 mile goal on my bike this weekend.  Yesterday, even with compression gloves, my carpal tunnel was out of control within the first mile of riding.  And my butt was still sore from the day before.  This was not the scream-inducing bike seat pain of old, but just soreness where my thighs and butt meet.  Still, it meant I spent even more time than usual standing on the pedals and adjusting myself to deal with the discomfort.  

    So at mile 23, I was done.  They were fun miles!  I headed up the river on the Iowa side, riding as far into Bettendorf along the river front as I could find to go - all new territory to me.  It's a wonderful thing, having many bikes out there.  It meant in spots where I lost the trail, I could stand still a minute and watch for other bikes, and pick it back up again.  

    A benefit of having let the Lord teach me to love my body all these past 16 months - it wasn't defeating or crushing to quit at 23.  I talk much more nicely to myself these days, encouraging instead of condemning, and it comes from the heart, not just from doing what *I think* I should do.  So there was abundant grace when I stopped at 23 miles.  

    Later I put on my running shoes and went for a walk.  I live on a hill...walking the rest of the way to the top is 1 mile.  I've been meaning to tackle that hill since I moved in.  Yesterday, I did (which means I kind of technically DID complete 75 miles, if it matters...not sure it does.)  My Rock Island hills have prepared me well for this 1-mile wonder - it's long, but it can't compare to the steep of 21st Avenue or 17th Street.  It couldn't even make me short of breath.  Take that, mile-long-hill!  HA!

    I won't be biking to work for the next 3 days, as there is stuff happening at my church on my lunch hour that I want to attend.  Kinda bummed about the not biking thing.  That stuff is addictive!

    Happy Monday, all.