Growth through Change- The #5 Things I Learned in 2015

It’s been a year since the start of my blog and shared my 2015 Resolution goals. It’s been a truly eye opening year! Many goals were accomplished, but along the way I learned some things about myself. I was reminded about my inner strength and perseverance, but also had many old fears and insecurities rear their ugly head; leading to a fulfilling yet, emotionally challenging year.

Setting goals and publicly striving for more, it leads to growth and discovery. Here are the top things I learned in 2015!

#1- The Importance of Setting Goals and Making a Planning

If you’ve heard the saying, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail,” it is incredibly true. I had many goals I wanted to accomplish over the year; fitness goals, personal relationship goals, and organization goals. Many were accomplished, but many were not…. At the start of the year I made a monthly calendar that included all of my “To Do’s,” but I found that there really weren’t enough hours in the day (with 3 children to care for) to get to everything most days; so I needed to prioritize. At first I was discouraged when I wasn’t be able to get to everything, BUT I realized that having a schedule and planning when I was going to accomplish my tasks resulted in getting A LOT more done than had I not planned to begin with.

Until you get into a routine of setting goals, developing a plan and then sticking to it…. it can be overwhelming; but it’s worth the effort.

Admittedly, I slacked a bit on my organization goals. I was able to make some good progress and I will be making that a priority again this year. I was, however, able to meet my fitness goals for the year and, making date nights a priority with my husband (almost every month), was great since we had a crazy busy year!

#2- Only You have Control of YOU!

This has become my personal motto! Not just to keep myself motivated to stick to my workout schedule and nutrition plan, but also with helping me manage my anxiety issues. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s a struggle I have had to deal with most of my life and I’ve wanted to share about this more, but I haven’t quite gotten up the courage to let that heavy, dark side of me out.

Simply reminding myself that ultimately only I have control of me and my life has been a huge help. Life and circumstances are something that every person needs to deal with. We can get weighed down by outside negative influences, inner struggles or a hectic busy life; or we can remember that we DO have CONTROL! Choose to be positive, choose to take action (on your own personal goals & dreams) and choose to have gratitude for the things in your life.

#3- Technology and the Need to Disconnect!

I knew this prior to starting this blog, but after spending added time on a computer, on social media and researching now forms of social media (Twitter, Instagram and so on), I was often left feeling a need to detach and disconnect! One of the reasons I decided to stay home and leave my career was because I didn’t like being at a computer all the time. Now, as a mother, in a world that is packed full of technology distractions, I have found more than ever a need to disconnect. I want to try and show my children that we shouldn’t depend on technology in our day to day lives. It offers many benefits and is a necessity in today’s day in age for school and work, BUT it is a distraction from the world and people right in front of you.

#4- I am a Private Person

The biggest discovery for me during this year was to realize that I am really a pretty private person. This surprised me and probably surprises those of you who know me well! I’m the type of person who will talk your ear off and over share at times; but I do that with my tight inner circle. Sharing my life with the world, honestly, I found it is not something I fully enjoyed. It brought out old insecurities and made my anxiety levels sky rocket; It is a pretty one-sided medium. It’s been fulfilling to share, but I don’t know if it will ever be something I love to do in this type of format. I much prefer a face to face genuine connection.

#5- Very few things in life are easy, but the things that take effort are worth it!

Setting goals and sharing my successes and failures was a challenge. Going through my own day to day struggles with anxiety and depression battles most of the year was hard. But I didn’t use them as an excuse, I used them as my reason to preserver, and I can say that I grew in many ways. It was a year of hard work, self discovery, struggles and accomplishment. It was the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing all rolled into one! I’m glad I pushed for more and shared along the way. It was a great experience of growth through change!

Going into 2016 I have set new goals that make me feel excited, scared and totally out of my league. It will be a tough 2016, but I am going to make it another incredible year because only I have control of my success and my life.

If you want to live your best life, to be a better you (not a new you; but your best, authentic self), then I encourage you to push for more. Take on a new challenge or follow a dream. It will be hard and you’ll likely face negativity and doubt that you’ll need to power through; but making changes to live a more fulfilling life is worth it. And as I say to myself on a daily basis, “Only YOU have CONTROL of YOU!”

Until next time……Thea 🙂

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Don’t let your Opinion of your Appearance Affect your Physical Capabilities

I’ve spent countless hours critiquing myself in the past; picking out the things that were wrong with me or not good enough! Looking in the mirror and seeing my flaws instead of my strengths.

How many times have you done this yourself? I don’t think I’m alone with these negative lenses I look through. For some reason we live in a society that has a general level of superficial focus…..Do you have a nice big house? A fancy car? Are you thin? Are you attractive?  It’s sad, but true. I feel over the past few years there has been a bit of a change, focusing more on strength over being thin; but it still feels like a competition out there about LOOKS and SUCCESS and not about just being your best you.

After I had my children like many new moms I felt as though my best years (from a physical standpoint) had passed. After 3 c-sections, and complications with recovery on my third, I did feel as though maybe my body was just ruined in ways that could never be repaired. But I decided I wasn’t going to succumb to those feelings and I changed my focus to strengthening and challenging myself. I wanted to get back to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. I started taking pictures about 8 weeks postpartum and began training for a half marathon; which was just 5 months to the day after I had delivered my youngest!

I’ve written previously in Respecting my postpartum body about the physical and mental challenges and changes that training and accomplishment had on me. And recently, after completing two half marathons this year, I looked up those old postpartum pictures I took to see what progress I’d made.

Progress Collage-0915 text

Here is a comparison showing my progress. It’s humbling to see myself in the left pictures. I was 5 months postpartum and had just completed that half marathon I was training for. I used that training as my motivation to help me get back into shape. I had lost weight and was feeling good about the progress I was making. Looking at them now it’s interesting to see what perspective and self-appreciation will do to those lenses we critique ourselves with!! That body still needed some work, and the one I have now still needs some work! But I didn’t let my negative opinion hold me back because I started focusing on new motivations. It was no longer a motivation to be thin or look my best, it was a motivation to challenge myself and appreciate what I could do regardless of how I looked. This change in focus has helped me get 10 pounds UNDER my pre-pregnancy weight and has helped me have confidence in how I look for the first time in, well, I can’t tell you how long.

The best take away I can share from my experience is to stop setting weight loss goals, and start setting physical goals that challenge you in a way that seems impossible! Follow through with those goals and the weight will come off, you will appreciate your reflection, but most importantly you will find a real, true sense of self-appreciation and respect. And THAT is the best gift you can give yourself!

Until next time……Thea 🙂

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Half Marathon Results, Tips and What I Learned!

One of my first goals of the year has been completed! Today I ran my first half marathon in 2:06:05; a 9:37 pace! This is a personal record for me and roughly 18 minutes less than I ran this race last year! After a tough week of not feeling well and two chiropractor visits for an upper back/neck issue, I am so glad I was able to power though and accomplish this goal.

FC half Collage

Here are a few tips and things I have learned about running races I thought I would share.

  1. Watch where you are running! This may seem like common sense but when you are running for a couple of hours you tend to try to take in the scenery. BUT…
    1. I almost wiped out from a divot in the pavement on mile 3 chatting with a friend I ran into.
    2. Then around mile 7-8 I had to jump last second to avoid running over a USED condom…..for real….eek!!
  2. There are some awesome people who come and cheer racers on! I LOVE them for taking the time to support everyone!
    1. My favorite signs included
      1. “Smile, you’ll run faster!” Even though I know it wouldn’t really make me faster, it did make me smile and that took away any discomfort I may have been feeling then.
      2. “Tap here to power up!” This sign had a picture of a ladybug and this guy was holding the sign behind the ladybug so you essentially high-fived him through the poster. I had 3 power ups along the way; the last one with about ½ a mile left! Hahah!
      3. “Worst parade ever,” just because it was funny!
    2. The only sign I didn’t like that I kept seeing was one that said, “It seemed like a good idea when you signed up in January.” Ummm, for people who haven’t run a race that long before that would be annoying! It annoyed me for some reason just because I didn’t think it was motivational, LOL!
  3. Running a race is uplifting and humbling!
    1. I came across two women running who were tied together with a loose rope. They would periodically hold hands to stay together. One of the women wore a shirt about supporting and giving to veterans. One of them was a veteran who I don’t think could see, or at least not well, and the other was her partner, leading her. I got misty eyed and ran behind them for about a mile or so because I found them inspiring!
    2. Around mile 9 I started punching my right quad a little because it was tight after the middle hill section. A lady ran up next to me and asked if I was ok. She looked to be about 70 or so. We chatted a minute or two and I discovered this was her THIRD half marathon so far this year….and then she ran ahead of me! WOW…bad-ass!!

What do you need to do to run a race? Make a training plan, commit and adjust as needed. Below you will find a picture of my training schedule I kept on my refrigerator. As you can see it was changed and marked up regularly. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes baby steps and persistence.

Training sch postrace

I feel so fulfilled after running the race today. But I also know that if that 70-year-old lady can run 3 half marathons in 4 months and beat me; well, I can still do better! And so can you for that matter! We are ALL more capable than we realize!!!

Now off to drink a congratulatory glass of wine and kick up my feet now that the kids are in bed!

Until next time… Thea

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7 ways to Improve your Fitness and Lose Weight

I expressed my goals to lose weight this year in my 2015 Resolutions post. I’ve had a large number of friends and family ask me how I stay motivated to exercise regularly. I thought since I’ve yet to meet my ideal weight who am I to tell others the “how to’s!” But after hitting a new milestone this morning (I’m tipping the scales just inside the 140’s for the first time since late 2006) I thought, I DO have some good pointers I can share!

Here’s a little back ground on my fitness journey. Since 2007 I’ve either broken a bone, or had a child, almost every year. And I’m not exaggerating on that. Here’s a timeline!!

  • February 2007- Broken foot
  • June 2008- Broken Ankle
  • November 2009- Piece’s was born via c-section
  • October 2010- Tonsillectomy
  • September 2011- Mr. Man was born via C-section
  • January 2013- Fractured tibial plateau with severe MCL sprain
  • November 2013- Miss T was born via C-section

When I read all of that I think to myself it is a wonder that I was able to stay in any shape at ALL! During that time I went back to playing recreational soccer after I was cleared for activity and I ran 2 half marathons; One in 9/12 & 4/14.

I tell you all of this because I KNOW how HARD it is to get back into shape and stay in shape!!! I think the hardest part is getting into a routine and sticking with it. So here are my top tips to increase your fitness and lose weight!

  1. Set a goal and timeline; then share it with others– If you want to lose weight, if you want to run your first 5K. Set that goals and share it with others! It really does keep you accountable because most people want to support you in your circles. For example; I shared in January that I want to lose 15 pounds by April 26th, when I’m committed to running my first half marathon of the year.
  2. Give your goal a purpose!! This is very important. Just having a goal to do something won’t help you get there. It would be like setting a goal at your job but having no objectives to accomplish it. I recommend setting a goal to do something you haven’t done before. Say running your first 5K, doing 50 push ups, or playing on a sports team. All of these things require training that will support you meeting your goal set in #1 AND it will give you a motivation other than simply getting in shape and losing weight.
  3. Make a training schedule-
    1. Whatever your goal is make a training schedule. I typically make a weekly training schedule from my start date until my goal. My first half marathon I made a 20 week schedule which I hung on my refrigerator in the kitchen. I marked my workouts to see my accomplishments and I always knew my weekly plan. This also meant my family saw it as well, to support and encourage me.
    2. Use the internet for this! If you’re looking to run your first race, search for “training for a 5K, 10K, Marathon” and so on. If you looking to be able to do 50 push ups, search for a push-up challenge program. There is SOOOO much free information out there; take advantage of it!
  4. Use a diet plan/tool- It’s very difficult to lose weight if you are just cutting your calories. If you really want to get in better shape and see your body change in a positive way you need to eat right, not just less. Here are a few programs I have used and would recommend.
    1. myfitnesspal.com– This is a FREE online site/app where you can track your calorie intake, calorie burn and it guides you on the % of Fat, Protein, Carbs and so on you should be consuming each day. It’s simple and free!
    2. Weight Watchers– I have used this program 5 times (after college, before my wedding, and after all 3 kids). I used the online only option the last 3 times because I didn’t feel I needed the meetings. But they offer weekly support meetings and also track/add points for work outs.
    3. 21 day Fix/Clean Eating- I have to say after using the 21 day fix program for 2 & ½ weeks so far, I do feel a big difference and see it as well. The workouts are short, 30 minutes, and very effective. Also, clean eating has really made my body FEEL so much better. Cutting out most processed foods and eating healthy, balanced, REAL food is giving my body a leaner and firmer look. (If you’re interested in details let me know)
  5. Focus on a week at a time- If you look at the big picture and have a few hiccups it can be discouraging. This one change for me has made a HUGE impact on my health. In the past I would have an off week and it would spiral into a month. When we have goals we can be very hard on ourselves if we get off track. I found by setting a weekly goal and focusing on a week at a time, I would reset each week. If I had a bad week, well no biggie! A new week was starting and I had my plan already set for me to continue on. This kept me on track because my goals had purpose beyond just losing weight. I wanted to meet my fitness goals I set as well.
  6. Don’t go it alone! This one makes things SOOO much easier. I have gotten into a routine to doing a lot of working out and dieting on my own, but it took me a LONG time to get there. It is so much easier to have a support system. Be it a gym buddy, running buddy, training group, diet program support (like weight watchers or beach body programs) or just committing to playing with a recreational sports team, will give you a support system to help keep you motivated.
  7. Give yourself a break! Don’t be too hard on yourself! You WILL have off days, weeks, and slip ups. You may be injured and need to take time off. It happens; it’s NOT a big deal! Stop beating yourself up about it and put that energy into setting a goal, making a plan, finding support and reset each week! Stop over complicating things and being your own worst enemy. You are capable and CAN meet those goals. Just move on, get out there, and JUST DO IT!!

Running feet

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Feedback Needed: What type of posts do you like best?

Feedback needed

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and follow my blog. Your support has meant so much to me! Putting myself out there has proven to be challenging, therapeutic and humbling to say the least.

I’ve found that even though I greatly enjoy sharing my posts with you all, I am discovering it is VERY time consuming. Especially with all of the daily tasks of being a SAHM, and with my organization and weight loss/fitness goals. So, I thought I would “ask the people” so to speak; what types of posts do you enjoy the most? I’m going to try and stick to 2 posts a week and this will let me know what everyone is the most interested in!

Thank you so very much for your feedback!

Warmly, Thea 🙂

 

February’s Successes and Failures

I heard on the news that February here is the Rochester area was the coldest month on record! It was a doozy of a month…! It was so cold and snowy all month that it left everyone cranky and full of cabin fever! I tried to stay positive and did take some really cool pictures (below), but I am ready for warmer weather and some time outside!

The picture on the left is of Lake Ontario. Check out how frozen it is!! I don’t ever recall seeing ice as far as the eye can see, pretty cool! The other pictures are of my side and back yards.

Winter Collage

With all the cold and snow, well, I just can’t run outside safely. There is very little shoulder on the sides and snow and ice all over the roads. With my track record of injuries and the state of my back, it just hasn’t been worth chancing it. So my half marathon training really just started yesterday. It was a sunny, 20 degree day and the roads were pretty clear for the first time in a long time. It felt great to get out!

Here’s an overview of my successes and failures for February in regards to my resolution goals. (2015 Resolutions)

Health and Fitness:

  • Even though I got in limited running miles for the month I am still feeling confident I’ll be able to get in enough training for my half marathon in late April.
  • I did however do strength training twice a week, Yay! I am going to switch out my cross training to one day of yoga for runners and one day of Pilates. This will help me keep a focus on my core (which needs constant work to support my back issues; especially after 3 c-sections), but also keeping my cross training activities impact low and focusing on stretching and flexibility.
  • So far for the year I have lost 8 pounds. I’m actually at the lowest weight I have been in about 8 years!!! It’s crazy when I think of that. I’ve done the clean eating challenge three times since the New Year and I am also following the Weight Watchers program online. Well, being honest, I haven’t been as committed to tracking on Weight Watchers, but one thing I have learned over the years of having children, and losing weight, is that even following the program 75% of the time helps me maintain and lose small amounts.

Connections:

Vday me and Jon

  • The Hubs:
    • This month my husband and I were able to get out on Valentine’s Day for an afternoon lunch at Cheesecake Factory and then to see American Sniper! It’s been so nice to have one-on-one time, out of the house, two months in a row. I am definitely going to keep this as a priority going forward.
    • My sister also let us borrow all except the final season of Sons of Anarchy, which is really awesome! We’ve already watched two seasons this month. One of my favorite things is to just sit together and watch TV, I have no idea why, but it’s my fav. That being said, we don’t always like the same shows so when we find something we both enjoy and want to watch together it’s a total win!
  • Friends:
    • Weather and sickness really put a damper on seeing many friends this month. I had to cancel dinner and a movie with one of my best girlfriends because the roads were just terrible and it was about 2 degrees! Plus, we had to reschedule a family gathering because my girlfriend and her daughter were sick. Really, Spring, you can come now!!
    • I was able to see some good friends to celebrate their daughter’s birthday this month. Only Piece’s and I were able to go because our younger two were sick, big surprise I know! Our busy, growing families have made our get togethers limited, so we rarely see each other anymore. I was very happy that I was able to see them since they moved this weekend out of state.
  • Family:
    • We were able to have some great family fun this month. I went with Pieces & Mr. Man, my Mom, Sister, Nephew, and a few cousins and their child to Disney on Ice. It was SOOO much fun! I love to just watch them watch and experience new things. The look on their faces is priceless!
    • My big girl Piece’s got her hair cut yesterday! This might not seem like a big deal, but she cut off 10 inches to donate to Lock of Love, so it was indeed a big deal and so exciting! I think I was more nervous than she was. I am definitely attached to my hair! But man, I was so proud of her for being so brave and donating her hair to a great cause! (picture below)

Reese Hair cut Collage

De-cluttering:

  • Yikes, as usual this was my downfall! As I mentioned in an earlier post this month, (Little Victories), I did have some small successes but I didn’t come close to my 40 bags in 40 days challenge or make much progress with de-cluttering other areas of the house. This week however I was able to clean out the main floor bathroom closet. I couldn’t believe how much stuff was in there! I am going to work on this area in March.

March Goals:

  • Stick with my training schedule for the half marathon and follow the Weight Watchers program more closely. I have considered doing the Beach Body 21 Day Fix but I haven’t been able to come up with the money for the cost yet, so we will see.
  • Reschedule and have that movie and dinner night with my girlfriend G!
  • Date night with the Hubs
  • We have two family get togethers scheduled already for this month. Looking forward to them!
  • Make a cleaning schedule for each week on Sundays.
  • List the items I have been accumulating to sell on eBay!
  • De-cluttering; clean out the two other closets on the main floor AND sort through and get rid of some older, unused toys! We have WAY too many!

Hoping I can keep to these goals and really make March count after a lack luster February! I’ll likely be posting only 1-2 times a week because as much as I love it, it does take up a lot of time. Plus, I’m picking up a part time job once a week and with all the additional running I’ll be doing, I am going to need to cut back!

Have a great month everyone!!

Until next time… Thea 🙂

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Respecting my Postpartum Body

Picture 090

This is me! Full term, 205 pounds of swollen, ready to pop, hot pregnant mess! This wasn’t even my first time where I let myself go a little thinking the weight would all melt off after. This was my THIRD! Despite trying to eat healthy and stay active I still gained 50 pounds. I was working as a waitress a couple of days a week and I was a full-time stay at home mom so I wasn’t sitting around. I was always on the move and exhausted before Miss T even arrived. Sigh! Luckily, I had done this pregnancy thing twice before and I’d managed to lose most of the weight after.

Recently I heard a Mom say, “My body is ruined. Having kids ruined my body!” I could relate. After having my first I’d gained 50 pounds and had acquired stretch marked from my ribs to my hip bones. I felt as if I was “ruined” physically. I mean, it’s not like I ever filled out a bikini very nicely, but my two piece days were over and I was pissed off about it! One thing that men don’t understand is that during pregnancy you grow and grow, and regardless of whether you enjoy the process or not, it’s gradual.  Then many of us get home we look in the mirror and wonder what the hell we are looking at. I mean, over night we go from excited to meet our beautiful creation, to a deflated stomach, engorged throbbing boobs and typically swelling from all the fluids that were pumped into us. It’s like….

dude-wtf

I felt uncomfortable in my body most of that first year after having my first Miss Piece’s. I worked out, went back to playing soccer, and started running more. But it was never really the same as before. My husband and I decided to try for our second after our daughter turned one and two months later I was pregnant! Fast forward to Mr. Man’s arrival and I knew what to expect. I didn’t gain as much so I felt a little better after, but my body changed again. Someone told me before I had him that your body changes after every pregnancy and I was like, “Really!?!? Come on! I had just started getting used to that one!” And it was true. It was different again. Because when your body stretches to support a basketball sized munchkin a couple of times it’s taxing and takes a toll! After I had him I decided to train for a half marathon to get myself back into shape and lose the baby weight. It was during that process that I started to grow a deeper respect for myself and my ever changing body!

I look at the picture of my full term self and see how insane pregnancy is and how amazing the female body is to house and grow a human! As I stated in my post Learning to Run. I never used to like running. I LOATHED it really! So to set the goal to run a half marathon seemed like a fantasy goal. I didn’t know if I would even be able to do it. But in the process of training I was doing something I had never done before and I was fascinated at what my body could do after ballooning to have a child. I was losing the weight and I was definitely looking better physically, but it was the way I was developing an appreciation for my body and its capabilities that changed my perspective on things. It’s pretty amazing how a female body can expand and contract! It morphs into a massive beast (in my case anyway) and then if you work hard, it can turn into something new and strong and impressive again.

Me now 1Me now 2

Here I am now. I’m nothing impressive really and I know that. But I actually like this body now much more than my most fit and lean 18-year-old body; I think just because I appreciate it more now. I stopped focusing on the things I didn’t like and started looking at the things that I do. After nursing three children a total of about 25 months, my boobs are never going to be the same! And my stomach which will always have those tracks of faded stretch marks and a bit of a pop; they have changed to make my beautiful children and it was worth it! But now when I look at myself I see my legs again, which have always been thick and full, but also very strong! They are getting more defined than they have been in many years and can run further at 34 than I ever even thought I could run at 18. I’ve tried and will continue to try to look at things in a positive light because that’s the example I want to set for my children. I want my two girls to appreciate their bodies for what they are and can do, and not for how they look.

It’s a constant battle in life to keep positive as I referenced in the importance of a positive inner monologue. We see celebrities out there bouncing back and looking better than ever. Well screw them! We are the ones working hard to power through life without trainers and chefs or nannies to take care of our kids. We are the REAL deal! So be kind to your bodies; mothers and women alike, and give yourself a break! It’s so much easier to be happy in your life when you love instead of criticize; and I think that goes for the appreciation of our bodies as well.

Until next time….. Thea 🙂

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