Let’s do this! (again…)

It has been almost a year since I updated this blog and over a year since I opened up about my break up and the abuse I had lived through for five years. There were several times where I thought “I should update the blog…It’s just sitting there” or someone would tell me “I love your blog! You need to post more!” I really wanted to, but I found it hard to be honest enough to open up about how I was coping, and more importantly how I wasn’t running or eating healthy.

“Make sure you’re working out. It will really help you feel better!”

I quickly lost track of how many times I was provided this, admittedly well-meaning, advice over the past year whenever I opened up to someone about the amount of anxiety I was feeling. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, it increases your endorphins, and as Elle Woods says “Endorphins make you happy!”

Runners often talk about the “runner’s high” they feel, the high that justifies running distances that non-runners find crazy. Once I started running, it was always a sure-fire way to improve my mood, that is, until it wasn’t. 

I have old posts about how running has made me feel emotional and, while rare, I’ve been known to cry after an especially strenuous workouts or races. However, those tears were rarely accompanied with feelings of sadness. Last year, that was not the case. Every run caused me to break down into, often uncontrollable tears, and a need to stop running catch my breath and inevitably end my workout to go home feeling more depressed and anxious than when I started.  I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that I dreaded my runs and very quickly decided to take a break from running.

I threw myself into other workouts. I was going to find something that worked! I joined my coworkers for a free introductory Crossfit class. But while they left the class feeling amped and ready to sign up for a membership. I went home, took a quick shower, and crawled into my bed crying for the rest of the evening wallowing in sadness and anxiety.

My therapist recommended Zengo, and while I truly loved the workouts, will probably do it again, it also left me in tears at the end. Yoga wasn’t any better for my emotions.

A quick Google search reassured me I wasn’t broken and it is actually incredibly common to feel this way after working out. Still that didn’t make me feel any better, and it’s hard to vocalize to people why you aren’t willing to try their fail proof suggestion of working out more in order to feel better. It’s hard to motivate yourself to do something that you know is just going to make you cry and feel crappy, so I didn’t.

I threw myself into anything that would make me feel better. I ate whatever the hell I wanted, calorie and carb counts be damned! I found a therapist knowledgeable in narcissistic emotional abuse and began seeing her weekly. I surrounded myself with friends and activities, became more active in my church community, and prioritized my alone time to help me recharge when necessary.

None of the above was easy. Every time I ate a piece of pizza or cake, decided to see friends instead of work out, or noticed that my clothes that once draped over my body were becoming decidedly tighter I heard my ex’s voice in my head chastising me. “Why are you eating that?” “You could be skinny if you wanted, you’re just lazy,” “It isn’t hard to lose weight you just have to do it.”  My therapist helped me work through silencing those voices. While I still hear them occasionally, now they are so quiet I can easily drown them out with my own positive mantras.

Running again and feeling great about it!

I am running again (and training for another half marathon!), and slowly resuming my health eating. This past year wasn’t easy and building my stamina back up was, at times, frustrating, but the end result was worth it. Mentally I feel better than I ever have with a more positive outlook on life than I could have hoped for. The hard work was worth it, so here’s to the next year!

Movement Streak Day 10

For a while it has felt as though my physical health has been on the same roller coaster ride that my emotional health has been. I mentioned that for the first month the thought of food made me sick and I lost a considerable amount of weight because I simply wasn’t eating enough.

Sick of all those pesky pounds? Step one: Have your heart broken.

I stopped running, and then once I began discovering that I had in fact been in an abusive relationship the anger came with a vengeance and with it so much emotional eating. It was like waking up from a fog, and then I started paying attention to the fact that every time I wanted to eat something even mildly unhealthy my ex’s voice was in my head reminding me how that piece of cake wasn’t going to help me get any more attractive. I wanted to take back my enjoyment of food and give myself permission to enjoy everything I ate. So I did. I enjoyed healthy and unhealthy food alike whenever the urge hit, and it felt so good.

During these past few months my consistency with running has been on and off. I trained for the Sole of the City 10k, and successfully completed it along with the Frederick Running Festival Relay! Then I got a new job and since then I have been trying to adjust to a new schedule and figure out where running fits in with the many changes in my life.

It’s been a challenge, and now with summer officially arriving the decision to put my runs until after work ends up meaning I won’t run at all because by the time I’m clocking out the temps have reached the upper 90s.

All this long, drawn out explanation, to say my waistline has expanded, my energy has plummeted, and my mood isn’t as positive as it could be. I’m also getting sick far more than I usually do. So last week after reading about my friend’s running streak  on her blog MC’s Many Miles, I decided to do a “movement streak.” I’ve committed to running or walking at least a mile every day for at least this month. So far, I’ve run more days than walked, and in just ten days I have noticed an improvement in my mood and my stamina is already slowly increasing from where it was.

Also forgot how much I love connecting with nature when I run

So why a movement streak and not a running streak? Simple. Injury prevention. Anyone who has read this blog knows I am prone to sprained ankles and injury. I deal with plantar fasciitis every day, and I want to ensure I am listening to my body and allowing it the rest it needs when I feel my muscles tightening up. In addition to all the movement, I’m making an effort to better incorporate yoga into my routine as well.

Mid-run selfies are also important to any fitness streak

Currently, my improved mood and increased energy has been enough to motivate me to keep me moving every day. While my goal is only for a month, I am (not so secretly) hoping I’ll be able to continue it past that.

What motivates you to keep moving and get or stay healthy?

 

 

Emotional Recovery

“I am just not as attracted to you as I could be”

I heard the words exit his mouth and my reaction was what any sane person would expect. Incredulousness, anger, shock. It took me a moment to process what he said. and then I expressed those emotions. I told him I thought he was being unfair.

He said he wasn’t. He said he had a right to express the things that displeased him just as I complained that he was always late to every event we went to.

I told him I didn’t think it was reasonable to call your girlfriend fat.

He said he didn’t use the word fat. I was twisting his words around. I was too sensitive and was overreacting

I said that for the first time in my life I was actually happy with my body and I hoped, that as my boyfriend, he would be too.

He said he didn’t think I should just be satisfied. I needed to stop eating sweets. It isn’t that hard to lose weight after all, you just ignore cravings and don’t eat things that are bad for you. I needed to stop making excuses.

I started crying. He barely reacted.

He said he didn’t need to apologize for his feelings. Didn’t I respect his feelings? Couldn’t I just accept constructive criticism? I was too sensitive (again) this is why he couldn’t talk to me about things because I always overreacted. Did I really want him to be walking on eggshells in our relationship?

He never apologized, I did. I apologized for being “too sensitive.”

***

That conversation was just the tip of the iceberg. I wish I could say that was the first time something like this had happened. I REALLY wish it had been the last. I allowed that, and every other unhealthy comment he made, to stomp all over the hard work I had made throughout the years to improve my fitness and be happy with where I was. My disordered eating came back with a vengeance. He knew I had a sweet tooth, so after that day he commented on every single bit of sugar that crossed my lips. I lied to him about when I ate a donut, a cookie, a piece of cake or candy at work.

I have gone back and forth on whether to share my experiences on this blog. To expose the fact that for five years I lived in an narcissistic, emotionally abusive relationship. I am lucky, I have opened up to friends, and acquaintances alike and everyone has believed me and has offered support. Some have even opened up to me about their experiences which has helped me realize, I am not alone. So many strong, intelligent, successful women have similar stories of abuse, and too many women stay silent.

In the past few months I have devoured countless articles and books on gaslighting, narcissism, and emotional abuse. Almost every article felt like it was written by someone who had watched my entire relationship. Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t crazy for feeling the way I had. I wasn’t too sensitive, I was just sensitive enough.

I am nowhere near fully healed (hell, I burst into tears this weekend because of everything). I am still working every day at finding forgiveness. Not for him, but for me.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive him, but I know I need to forgive myself for staying in the situation for five years, and for not realizing what was happening.

Ultimately, I decided to open up about what happened here, because if even one person finds out they’re not alone, it is worth it. I’ll continue posting about how I am recovering occasionally, sharing my own experiences, what I am struggling with, what I have learned, what has worked, and what hasn’t.

Below are two books that have been immensely helpful, and which I believe everyone should read at some point, whether you have dealt with abuse in your life or not.

Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare by Shahida Arabi

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

Last, if you think you’re in an abusive situation there are resources to help you including the National Abuse Hotline.

If you just want to talk or share your story, comment below or email me and I will be sure to answer and listen.

 

Is it finally spring in Maryland?

It seems the weather is starting to warm up a little here in Maryland. Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees and today it is supposed to get up to 74 degrees.

I’m just hoping it stays this way, and we don’t get another freak snowfall in April….

After seeing the forecast yesterday morning I decided it was the perfect day to go running after work. I brought my running clothes to work, because otherwise I will lose all motivation the second I get home and realize lying on the couch all evening sounds much more comfortable than three miles…I can’t be the only one who deals with that struggle. Anyone?

Anyway, since this past Sunday I celebrated Orthodox Easter, that meant last week was Holy Week. I spent every night in church, and while I loved it, it also meant I didn’t get to go running at all next week.

Did I mention I have the Sole of the City 10k on Saturday….Yeah I haven’t been feeling very confident about that run as a result.

My run today was great, the weather was perfect for it! I left my Garmin at home, which was a disappointment but based on the mile markers on my route I managed to run about 3.5 miles. Two of those miles without stopping to walk!

Check out that view!

After my hiatus from running I’m still working back up to the endurance I had before, which means all my runs involve walking and rests. Although, those walks are getting shorter and shorter each time I go out.

Then it was back home for home made beef and broccoli with fried cauliflower rice while watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Yumm….have I mentioned this is one of my favorite quick meals?

As long as you end the night with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime and you’re doing life right.

Seriously though, have you watched this show? If you haven’t you NEED to. Best show that is out there right now. Do yourself a favor, ignore the awful title and watch it if you haven’t already.

Did you go running or exercise this week? How did it go? 

Have you watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and are you as obsessed with it as I am? 

Let’s try this again…

Disclaimer: This post is going to be full of real talk.

It has been forever and a day since I last posted. Or, more accurately, almost two years. The initial reason? I was finishing my Master’s Degree. I had a capstone to work on, exams to study for, and to be quite honest, ensuring I was successful with all of that, while working full time, didn’t leave time for much else. But then I graduated!

Happy Graduation day to me!

Graduation gave a short break from stress, and then life decided I’d had enough relaxation and that was the perfect time to throw a ton of unexpected stressors my way that invited a whole slew of emotions including anger, frustration, sadness and loneliness.

The most recent curveball was the end of a five-year relationship. I was making plans for a future, and apparently, he was not. Many of my friends, who were as shocked as I was, commented on how strong I was for how I dealt with everything. I felt anything but. I felt crushed and broken, the future I thought I was going to have was no more.

I pep talked my way out of bed every morning. I felt like my feet were dragging each and every day.  For a while, I stopped eating because the thought of food made me sick to my stomach. I lost a ton of weight (at least two dress sizes), and for the first time in my life I wasn’t happy about it (although even I can admit I looked fantastic). I now know what full blown anxiety feels like. Anxiety attacks became something my body was bracing for when the next one would hit. I cherished the five second reprieve I got when I first woke up in the morning and my brain had forgotten everything that was going on.

I stopped running. Initially, for good reason, I had a bad ankle sprain that wouldn’t go away. But then I visited a podiatrist, started physical therapy, was given the go ahead to start running again…and still didn’t run for five months. Since I started running that may be the longest break from physical activity that I’ve had. I don’t even know how many people told me “You NEED to exercise, it will make you feel better!” Hell, I was telling myself that. But saying that, and knowing that, is a lot easier than actually putting on my running clothes, lacing up my running shoes and going out for a run.

I threw myself into social activities, which as an introvert was draining and exhausting, but that was the point. I was too exhausted at the end of each day to deal with all the emotions swirling in my head. I dove head first back into dating, making profiles on dating apps, swiping left far more than I was swiping right. I met someone fast. Someone great. He was nice, funny, cute. We had SO MUCH in common…and I couldn’t open up. I was honest with him, I ended it, he was great about it (which made ending it that much harder). I deleted all my dating app profiles and exited the dating pool as quickly as I had entered it.

I have made some major changes to my life, and changes are still happening. It’s possible some of them were rushed, but, overall, it has been for the best. The anxiety attacks have stopped (thank goodness!) and I have finally started running again. So far it’s been about one month, I’m training for the Sole of the City 10k on April 14. Saturday I had my first 5 mile run since October. It was slow, my legs hated me, and it felt fantastic.  In the past few months I have learned so much about myself. Who I was when I entered my relationship five years ago, is not at all who I am now, in most ways for the better. My strength and resiliency throughout this whole process has shocked me. It’s taken time, and so much patience to get the point where I am finally, truly, excited to see what the future has in store for me.

My 3 Mile Run!

The semester is almost over! I am way too excited about this fact. After this week my projects will be submitted and after next week my finals will be completed and then I have over two weeks of no school before my summer class begins.

I cannot wait!

via GIPHY

Last week I kept staying up too late to work on projects and utterly failed at getting out for a run. If I’m being honest though, this has happened every semester. I do a good job of maintaining my running schedule until the semester ends and work piles up and sleep starts to take a priority. So I’m not stressed about it.

I’m especially not stressed about it because. I RAN THREE MILES!!

Let me expand upon that. I ran three miles WITHOUT STOPPING!!

The proof!

This may not seem like a big deal, but this is huge.

Ever since I found out I have plantar fasciitis, I have been struggling to run a mile without stopping because of pain. Hell, I’ve been struggling with WALKING a mile without having any pain. This was despite physical therapy exercises and completely allowing my foot to rest for months.

I haven’t let it get me down though, and I’ve stopped focusing on my time and distance and am instead just happy to be out there moving.

I went running with a friend about a month ago and she managed to push me to run an entire mile without a break before my foot was screaming at me to stop, and at the time I was elated with just that.

As positive as I’ve been it has still been frustrating, because even though my foot won’t allow me to run any further, my body is wants to keep going. I’m not tired, I’m barely out of breath, and yet I can’t run any further, but positive self-talk is helping me get through it mentally.

Clearly it all paid off because when I hit 2.5 miles and realized my foot wasn’t hurting and I was going to be able to go the entire three miles without a break I was ready to jump for joy (but didn’t because we all know how that would have turned out)

via GIPHY

It’s been over a year since it felt like an accomplishment, and in a way this almost feels like a bigger deal to me.

The point of all of this? The fact that I am way less nervous about running the Baltimore Half in October. I have been incredibly nervous about being able to run that race, despite it being so far away, and this has seriously given me renewed confidence.

Now it’s time to start thinking about Half-Marathon Training Plans…

I’m BACK!

This post has been a long time coming. I haven’t written since I found out my foot wasn’t fractured, and I was instead dealing with plantar fasciitis. There were many reasons for the hiatus, the first being that I didn’t run for a couple months in order to fully heal, and so, I couldn’t figure out what to write about. Then grad school took over my life. I took two difficult courses this semester and finding time in between classes, work, and trying to maintain a tiny social life hasn’t left much time for anything else.

Then, last, but certainly not least, my relationship has been anything but stable these past few months, and finally culminated in the two of us deciding that it was time to end things a few weeks ago. Things ended amicably, but that didn’t make it any easier. As such, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind of just trying to make it through work, the end of the semester, projects and papers, as well as making sure I eat something, all without becoming a never ending bucket of tears. Because while I’ll be the first to admit that crying and expressing your emotions is healthy, normal, and at times necessary, it’s not exactly helpful when it’s midnight and you have a 25 page paper due the next day.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I ended up taking some time off to allow my foot to fully rest and heal. As a result I lost all the cardio I had built up and when I went back out to run it was not pretty! My mile is extremely slow, and I’m lucky if I don’t have to stop before I finish a mile because my foot has started hurting. Then if I do finish mile one without having to stop, I for certain won’t make it through the second mile without stopping. I may be too sensitive to the pain right now, but I’m really trying not to push it, so at the first sign of pain I’m stopping to walk. Still I’m trying hard not to get discouraged and I’m not focusing on my speed or distance. I’m taking the little victories as they come and I’m just happy to be out there running when I can.

There has been a lot of KT tape in my life recently…

Even with my slow progress, I can tell my foot is getting better and it’s being able to withstand more and more each time I get out there. Plus I’m improving my form and I can tell that it’s helping. It’s easier to run this way and I can tell it’s an improvement. As much as developing plantar fasciitis was beyond frustrating it has also opened up my eyes to so much, and I’ve learned a lot about running and my body.

For instance:

This is something I’ve dealt with my whole life and never had a name for. Anyone who has experienced plantar fasciitis can probably say that describing it as someone jabbing a knife in the middle of your foot is pretty accurate. I have experienced this pain since I was a child, and whenever I complained about it, it was never taken seriously. So naturally, I thought everyone experienced the pain of a knife in their foot when they walked for prolonged periods of time! It’s actually kind of nice to know that what I was feeling had a name, and that I wasn’t overreacting about the pain.

Wearing the right shoes, and taking care of your feet, even when you’re not running is super important. I got custom orthotics for my feet, and have spent I don’t even know how many hours (and money!), finding shoes that are plantar fasciitis friendly (and cute!) for the summer. Throwing out my, extensive (and unsupportive), shoe collection is going to be the next (painful) step.

For instance, these are not the right shoes to wear…even though they are bizarre…

Running really isn’t about how fast or how far you can go. It comes down to the fact that even if you’re in pain, your body is out there, moving, and it’s doing something pretty amazing. So it’s even more important to listen to the messages it’s sending and not get discouraged when it can’t go as far as your mind wants to take it. You’ll get there eventually, and celebrating the small victories along the way makes it an even greater journey.

I can’t promise the updates to the blog will be religiously regular, but I’m back for now, and ready to get right back out there running!

I Don’t Have a Stress Fracture!

Holy Stress! My first project of the semester was due last week and that meant two very late nights completing everything and a subsequent lack of sleep. That post about stress I wrote a little while ago. I’ve been utilizing it a lot plus wine.

So much writing!
So much writing!

 

I got an MRI done, which confirmed that I do not have a stress fracture (YAY) however my muscles and tendons? They’re inflamed, extremely inflamed.

When I went back to the doctor he told me I could run the half, I wouldn’t mess anything up, but I would be in extreme pain afterwards. After going back and forth for a few days, and getting the side eye from every non-runner I know for even considering going forward with the half, I ultimately decided to defer.

Which sucks, and to say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. However, I’m just trying to take this one step at a time and remain positive. I managed to run nine miles, my longest distance, something I definitely wouldn’t have thought possible two years ago, and that’s something to be proud of.

That same doctor who said I shouldn’t run the half, also made it quite clear he didn’t think I should be running any longer. I can handle being told to lay off the running long enough for my foot to heal, but I’m not going to agree to stop running permanently.

So I found a physical therapy office near my house who specialize in runners. My first appointment was Tuesday and I was so impressed! All I did was stand up barefoot and immediately my physical therapist pinpointed everything that was wrong with my posture and how I was probably running and why I got injured. The crazy thing is everything she said was spot on and she didn’t even have to watch me run on a treadmill first.

So what are my issues? Well I’m all out of alignment. My feet are flat, my tibial tendon is inflamed, my hips are too tight and weak. My body is trying to correct my running form with my feet, which is ultimately why I got injured. At the end of the day it was only a matter of time before this happened. She said I needed to get custom inserts which I’m really excited about, and then gave me a ton of exercises to do every day that are supposed to strengthen my calves and open up and strengthen my hips.

I’ve been doing those every night as well as making it to the gym when I’m not bombarded with homework to do some cardio that doesn’t involve the treadmill. I’m biking, and reading at the same time, multitasking for the win.

20151013_174453

And then to switch things up I’m using the rowing machine.

20151013_175338

And playing fun fishy games while I do that.

20151013_175330

My next physical therapy appointment is this Friday and I’m hoping that I’ll be told I can start running again!

What’s your favorite exercise to do that isn’t running?

My Longest Run, and Foot Pain

Saturday was supposed to be a great day. I woke up early, to go for what would be my longest run ever. Nine miles. I was nervous since my eight mile run the previous week had been so tough. However, focusing on strength training and yoga this past week meant that I felt great for pretty much the entire nine miles, and feeling plenty confident for my fast approaching half marathon.

Then I got home and quickly hopped in the shower so I could get ready to go to the renaissance festival with my boyfriend and some friends. I don’t know why it happened then but all of a sudden my foot started hurting. Mildly at first and then getting progressively worse.

At first I reasoned it was just the same pain I always get in my flat feet, and I could just walk it off and stretch it a little while blow drying my hair. If I wore some old running shoes to Renn Fest I’d probably be fine. However, it became clear, very quickly that I was not going to be fine. I could barely put my whole body weight on my foot. So what did I do?

I freaked out and began obsessively googling stress fractures, convinced that was what I had.

Logical.

My boyfriend was able to get me in to see his physical therapist for an emergency appointment at which point he confirmed my fears in saying it was either a stress fracture or plantar fasciitis, and ordered an MRI and no running until at least Wednesday.

I spent the rest of the day watching TV icing my foot and imagining all the ways my running career is over.

I can be a bit overdramatic.

The next day my foot felt so much better and it’s just been feeling better ever since, which makes me think this isn’t a stress fracture, I got the MRI done yesterday and have a follow up appointment on Thursday to get my results, and in the meantime I’m taking a break from running, with lots of rest, icing, foam rolling, and praying I’ll still be able to run the Baltimore Half Marathon.

Fall Weather and Hill Running

Monday I found out that summer is officially over and fall has begun when I woke up for my morning run at 6 am only to find that the sun was not out yet and it was a cool 45 degrees outside.

Let me repeat that, 45 degrees.

I know, that someone (probably most of you) are saying that’s not that bad, and it’s not bad running weather, but as we can see from this post from last year. I detest the cold, and any indication that this little corner of the earth is starting to move towards winter upsets me. I am a weird person that would prefer running in extremely hot temperatures over anything less than 50 degrees.

Ultimately, instead of taking advantage of waking up early successfully and going for the run anyways, I stayed on my couch wrapped in a blanket, because I did not want to go outside and risk being cold.

I am weak.

So I made up for it yesterday morning by waking up (a little bit later this time) seeing it was 50 degrees, which was only just bearable, and actually going for my run. Since I’m running the very hilly Baltimore half marathon in October I decided it was the perfect opportunity for some hill training.

I ran the third leg of the Baltimore relay last year so I’m aware of how hilly the course can be but my training really hasn’t reflected that. Unfortunately, where I run near my house is mostly all flat. My boyfriend’s house, however, has a lot of hills, and I’ve decided I really need to start taking full advantage of what he has while I’m at his place.

I found a steep, and particularly windy hill to run up and down and it was overall a great workout! I definitely think I’ll be returning to this hill before my half marathon in October for more hill intervals.

20150915_074650
At the end of all my running. And yes, there was a fallen tree in the middle of the path, just made things more interesting.

 

Now, if only I could get my warm weather back…