I suppose this "Day One" really is more of a recap of the last 2 years and the journey that I have been on to get to where I am today- training for a marathon! In December 2009, I graduated from college. That sounds exciting, right? Well, for me it was a non-event. I was unhappy with where I was going with my degree, unsure of what I w
ould be doing next, in a relationship that brought out my worst qualities (ones I didn't even know that I had), and moving back home to save money. For those of you who know me, that last thing (having my 'rents as roommates) is actually one of my favorite things, but I think you get the gist that my life was in a holding pattern. I had had one of the hardest semesters of my academic career- 21 credits on campus and 6 online. I was coaching a girls basketball team from my former high school and I was still recovering from a bout of swine flu that tag teamed me with bronchitis. One of my lifelong demons has been my size/weight/health/whatever else you want to call it. I developed early (i.e. I was 5'6 in 6th grade, I am 5'7 and 3/4 now (I will take every last quarter or eighth inch that you will give me). I have also been blessed with the muscles of a man, so I can lift many a heavy object. Believe it or not, being taller and stronger than the vast majority of your classmates does not make you the desire of many a young man's heart in middle school/beginning of high school. My weight has always fluctuated, but I have played sports my entire life. And, I was not too bad, if I do say so myself. I received 7 Varsity letters in high school between basketball and tennis, won several all conference and all region awards, as well as an honorable all state in basketball. I played tennis for the club team at the
University of Colorado for a couple years, coached high school basketball for 5 years, and tenn
is for 4 years (coached a few state champs, btw, including my little sis!). Now that I am sure you are properly impressed by my numerous accolades, I think I probably have you convinced that when I say that I am athletic, I'm not just saying that, I have a trophy room at my parents' house to prove it. Overcompensating much?
Anyway, the point is that, despite
struggling with my weight, I have accomplished a few things in my day and have always been active. When I got to college, my schedule of tennis practice before school, class during the day, bball practice afterwards, and then running around with friends all disappeared. I crave structure and suddenly it was all gone. I still managed to get to the gym 6 days a week and transitioned from a vegetarian diet (read: I ate the exact same things except no meat, as in Chicken Caesar Salad minus the chicken) to eating meat once again. My mom (who is a cute, tiny little lady) had gained a few pounds over the years and was finding great success with the South Beach Diet. I was basically eating a South Beachish diet plan, trying to avoid the bad food in the cafeteria and doing a decent job. I was maintaining my weight at around 180 pounds (I know, I know, that sounds terrible for someone who is 5'7 and 3/4 but I promise, I wasn't a bad catch)
Anyway, I made my daily trek to the gym, ellipticized my butt off and did a pretty good job of maintaining where I felt comfortable. I was in a relationship that had not yet taken its turn into shipwreck town so things were going pretty well.
Sophomore and junior years, things went mostly the same (minus the relationship, that shit was burned to the ground) but I would say that I put on about 10 or so pounds. Every once in a while I would find some workout routine or diet that would work for me and I would lose a little weight, but I usually found it again (I know, I know, this may sound like something you've read or heard before, but I promise things are about to get so interesting and unique).
Second semester of junior year, I (surprise, surprise) moved home! My rule of thumb seems to be "when in doubt, move home with Mommy and Daddy". I was able to really focus on doing what I needed to do and ignore the other stuff (aka drinking my brains away). I was feeling pretty good about myself, felt like my life was a
little more in order. Had some dates, moved on from the relationship that taught pretty much everyone in my life what not to do, and changed my major (for probably the 2nd or 6th time). That pic was my profile pic for coaching bball, still looking not too bad.
That summer I decided that I needed to move back out into the
world so I turned to Craigslist for roommates (and didn't get murdered, yay!). For the first time in a long time, I had a new group of friends who I hadn't know since high school and who hadn't known me before or during the Dark Years (or months really). We were having lots of fun, but these people were less into sports so I didn't play any intramurals or any of the other athletic stuff I used to do with my old friends. I still hit up the gym about 5 times a week, but I was starting to notice that things were getting more difficult to do. My female roommates (who I love dearly and still spend time with today, stay tuned for their reappearance throughout this journey) were both dancers so they each weighed about 85 pounds and could eat for days. My eating habits started to change but I didn't realize how bad
they were because I would always justify that I was still eating better than they were (barely, but hey, a girl can rationalize). I also picked up a new boyfriend along the way... I'm not sure why we started dating. We were neighbors and it just sort of happened, I guess. He was a sweet guy but just couldn't stand up to me for the life of him, which apparently is something that turns me into a raving lunatic bitch. He did not deserve the deal that he got when he signed up to date me and I still feel bad about it. Any time I wasn't feeling great about myself (which was a good deal of the time), I took it out on him. Any time I should have been working out or taking a good long look at where my weight was headed, I somehow made it his fault and rationalized the whole thing away. I'm not saying there weren't good times, there were, but that was a relationship that I had no business being in. My weight had gotten up to around 230, I believe, and I can still
remember not really grasping that. That number should have shocked me, but it didn't. I remember one day weighing myself and thinking, I guess I am just going to be fat. I guess in my mind, I had always been bigger than most people I knew and now it was finite. When I think back to that girl, I am a little sad for her. I didn't accept that I could be taller, bigger, stronger than my friends and still be healthy and beautiful so at some point, I just let it all slip. It was like a dam breaking. This was me in the fall of 2008 and I still can't get over how uncomfortable I look. I saved up and bought a camera, which was kind of a big deal for me because it was the first thing I really planned and saved for and bought myself. I wanted one because I felt like I was going to finish college with not even enough pictures to fill an album and I wanted to remember college. However, once I started taking the pictures, I was ashamed at how I looked. I remember thinking, wow I really need to learn how to pose better (btw, if anyone has found a pose to hide an extra 60 pounds, trademark that shit).
My parents used to talk to me about my weight but it seemed that even they had given up. I really don't blame them, we had all gotten a little sick of their well-intentioned "interventions". I was happier in a lot of ways than I had been in the past, but I just could not get a handle on this piece of the puzzle. That summer we moved to a new house and it was just the girls this time. I was planning to graduate in December (see, if you just stick it out long enough, I will get back to
my original point) and I was resigned to the fact that I was going to be this size (and more) forever. I could still play sports, in fact, I was still more athletic (in the sports sense) than a lot of my friends and I could still jump in the occasional scrimmage with my high school bball team (for short spurts). I had discovered that Forever 21 had a plus size section and all my old clothes were relegated to bins in the garage. I was just existing. Existing through college classes, existing through my relationship (yep, I was still kicking that dead horse), existing through workouts, and at this point, just existing through coaching (basketball anyway). Take my word for it, this is not the best way to go through life. A lot of the pain that I had gone through a couple years prior
was gone but this was a poor substitute. Just when things were going average at best, I came do
wn with the killer combo sickness of swine flu and bronchitis. I came home for a couple weeks and decided that after the semester I would, everybody should be able to guess this one together, move home again! My mom had started to attend a group personal training class called Body Transformation at local gym and asked me if I wanted to start with her in January, after the holidays. Since the biggest thing on my docket after graduation was basketball and tennis practices for a couple hours each afternoon, I agreed. I should probably point out that I was planning to go to grad school to get my masters in Education in the fall so I was just waiting for that to happen, I wasn't just planning to spend my life on my parents' couch.
I sincerely wish that I could show you a picture of me at graduation, it was painful. Actually, just a couple weeks ago, my boyfriend (this is a new, upgraded edition) and I were at my parents' house and my mom was showing off her new photo software and how it groups all the photos of each person. She clicked on me and I nearly tackled my boyfriend so that he wouldn't see how terrible it was. I mean, he knows what I used to look like and the journey, etc, but he doesn't know know. There is a massive difference between hearing a number and seeing the living version on camera, yikes. After he left the room, it was like watching a train wreck and I was peeking through my fingers. I will post a picture in the future, but I don't have any of those pictures myself, I leave those for my mom. If she didn't want to see those, she shouldn't have gotten knocked up. I am pretty sure that I had almost completely stopped weighing myself, but I believe I was at 255 around graduation.
The holidays came and went, things with the old punching bag boyfriend were going just swimmingly as you can imagine. I literally spent New Years Eve, running from bar to bar, trying to avoid him... I'm sure you are all scrolling to the end to see how that one turned out. In my defense, I have never really broken up with anyone and I kept trying to talk him into breaking up with me, but no dice. Anyway, I moved home and got ready to start this workout class thing.
This is when things start getting good :)
Like I said, this class was called Body Transformation (http://btfitness.org/) and it is
run by a girl (woman? young lady?) named Ashley Ricklefs. She's amazing. Not sure what else can be said about her, except amazing.
She runs this business by herself and has a loyal band of clients to show for it. Our group w
as Tues/Thurs 6-7 am and Sun 9-10am. Our group was made up of 2 married couples, 1 incredibly fit and athletic woman who I only did one session with so she is less of a player, another incredibly fit, athletic, and strong mother of 2, and Sue Bird and me (Sue Bird is my mom, obviously). Sounds doable, right?
I was pretty pumped about the lack of mirrors and track that I saw around the gym. I was a little nervous because I had a sneaky suspicion that I was about to get shown up by these middle aged adults. I have a secret: I am fiercely competitive and absolutely hate losing. It is also somewhat impressive the things that I can turn into a competition. Thanks, Dad, for the man-like strength and the hyper-competitiveness. I was not so interested in being in a class with people who were all older than me and definitely way more fit than me. They had all been in class together before, except for my mom and me, so we were the odd ones out. I'm not saying they were mean or anything, but they all knew each other and here come the Moores, contributing the oldest and youngest members of the class, not to mention that I looked like I would severely hold everyone back. This is a picture of me about a month into this program.
Yes, it was worse before, I promise.
We ran, lifted, jumped, punched, kicked, dragged, pulled, pushed, and whatever else Ashley could dream up for 3 hours a week. We also had food journals, weigh ins, and measurements done. A big fan of The Biggest Loser, I liked to pretend that this is what their last chance workouts were like. *If anyone from TBL is reading this, first of all, YAY!!! I can't believe that a real celebrity is reading my story!! And second of all, I'm just kidding, I know that Bob and Jillian would destroy me.* Suddenly I was understanding what I should be eating and why (poor use of suddenly, as Ashley can testify, I was/am remedial at nutrition). I was starting to feel stronger, could feel muscle definition, and was noticing some changes in how my clothes fit. The numbers on the scale were becoming less and less embarrassing. Not that I would have told anyone besides Ashley and my mom what they were, they were just low enough that I didn't have to punch a mirror after stepping on a scale. After going to BT for a couple weeks, I started going with my dad to a gym that had recently opened up by my house called Streets Fitness (http://streetsfitness.com/). They did a lot of circuit training in The Grid as well as kickboxing, boxing and abs classes. I went from casually using the elliptical to doing these high intensity classes 7 days a week, sometimes 2 classes a day. I should remind you that this does not make me crazy, I didn't have a job, remember? Lots of my friends did a semester abroad, I like to call this my semester at the gym. Every day was a new challenge to do something that I hadn't been able to do for years. Instead of worrying about all the things that I couldn't do, I marveled in all the things that I was capable of. (Anyone who had an issue with my ending a sentence with a preposition can take my English degree and suck it. I have earned the right to play with the English language).
People really started noticing the changes that I had been making, but I still had a way to go. I was really starting to understand the damage that I had done and the low point that I had gotten to. I started being more outgoing again and really making sure that I went out with friends and focused on what I wanted to do. I was working my butt off so that I could enjoy life properly and it seemed like I owed it to myself to make that a good life. I got a job running a tennis camp for the City of Boulder and my summer was spent working out at 5 am and then heading over to the courts from 8-5 (I will try every summer to attain that level of tan again, but I don't think it's going to happen). I was having a great time with the new lifestyle I was living and I thought it was time to make the necessary changes to make the full transition. Step 1 can't be a huge shock to anyone- change in relationship status. Step 2 was moving to Denver with my BFF from high school. I am not great with directions, but I am aware that Denver, Boulder and Louisville are not that far apart. To me, moving to Denver was a big step though. This was a city that no one else in my family had ever lived in before and there wasn't a designated area to live in like there was in college. Megan and I blazed a trail together and moved to LoDo. I was nervous to see what would happen with my nutrition and working out, especially since my trusty workout partner had quit on me. That's right, apparently my mom does have a life of her own. Our group was mostly the same, one half of one of the married couples left to have a baby (she has since returned) and my mom left to tend to my extremely high maintenance little sister and her daily dramas (aka her vegan lifestyle, dropping off forgotten notebooks at school, dropping her off at school when she is just too tired to drive herself, the basics). We had some newcomers and things were just as tough and competitive as always. We moved gyms which was a bit of a transition because it meant being at class at 5:45 instead of 6 (believe me, those 15 mins count). On the bright side, there were no stairs at the new gym!
My life had made a complete 180 from even just a year before. I was independent (or at least what I consider to be independent), healthy, dating up a storm, partying like a responsible rockstar and most importantly, extremely happy. I was down to about 193 which was a far cry from where I had been, but not quite where I wanted to be.
I'm going to speed this up for everyone. The next few months went like this date, date, date, sort of a relationship, disappointment, date, date, repeat. After my latest round of getting dumped (I know, who would do that?), I was so over it that I spent the next week running. Any time I felt like crying or wallowing, I hit the trails. Keep in mind, I was in better shape, but I still was not a runner. The annual Bolder Boulder was my Everest every time. But all of a sudden, running was getting easier. Before I knew it, I was running 7-8 miles which was farther than I ever had before. I was turning a corner on the scale as well as in the group workouts. I dropped in the 180s and approached the other side within a month. My parents started asking me wh
y I was running so far and what I was planning to do with this new found party trick. I had been mulling it over in my head for a few days and I said, "I'm going to run a half marathon". My ears were as surprised as my parents were.
The healthier and happier I got, the better my hair started looking.
I was planning to move to Chicago for the summer for work (if you've been keeping track, I decided against going back to school and instead started working full time. That's not quite true, I went to one day of class and withdrew, on the bright side, I did get a student ID which means that until the fall of 2014 I get to enjoy student discounts) and I decided that the last thing
I would do while I was there would be to run the Rock 'n Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon.
Running gave me something that I had never completely had before- satisfaction. Even when I had a bad run, I accomplished something. Even if I ran 12 min miles, I still went out there and did 5 of them and that was gratifying. It also helped wear me out so that I was more enjoyable to be around. After I have beaten myself up physically, I tend to be much happier and mellow, which is better for all. I was making decisions for myself like moving (temporarily) to Chicago, training for a major race, and doing things besides just going to the bar like starting a kickball team. Megan and I were determined to find a group of friends in Denver and, for lack of a better idea, decided that kickball would be the way to do that.
St Patrick's Day is a pretty big event in Denver and it is an all day party in LoDo, starting with the parade and leading to tent parties, rooftop bar scenes, etc. I ventured out with some friends from high school who lived in the same apartment complex and ended up with another group of friends who were already out (see how many friends I had already been racking up?). That's the day that I ended up meeting my current boyfriend, who rocks. Another shocking lesson that no one has ever said before, when you are not looking, that's when you find someone. I was really happy with the way that things were going for me so I was more outgoing and friendly and less concerned with how things played out with him. *Spoiler alert: things are playing out quite nicely*
I had a great spring/beginning of summer (I should probably clarify that in my mind, summer begins the first nice weekend of April, even March if the weather allows) and then headed
off to Chicago. Naturally having a boyfriend and an active social life made running a little more challenging but I started to notice that I enjoyed the leisure time more if I had gotten a run in before.
Running has to be one of the best ways to explore a city (as long as there is a lot to see fairly close by and a reliable public transit system in case you overdo it). I moved into an apartment with one of my former Craigslist/dancer/metabolism for days roommates (see, I told you they'd reappear) and her boyfriend and his twin sister. I can honestly say that I am proud of myself for taking that opportunity to have an adventure like that. Feeling more confident and outgoing made being in a new city so enjoyable, especially when it's Chicago for the summer. There is so much to do and so much of it outdoors. I got to spend quality time with my old roommate and a got closer with our other 2 roommates as well. A girl that Megan went to college with that I had met once in San Diego was also living in Chicago, so I spent some time with her (very out of character for me, I would usually "try" to meet up and it would most likely never happen). I got to see the whole city from my training runs and I am now that annoying person who points out that I ran there every time I see anything on TV or a movie about Chicago.
Finally my stay was coming to an end and the race day was approaching. Ashley actually decided to come out and run the race with me since she had never been to Chicago or run a half marathon (side note personal goal: be fit enough that I can casually run a half marathon whenever I feel like it). I was nervous on the race morning but I also had a different emotion than I usually have before an athletic event- I was confident. No matter what happened, I
was out there and I was a runner. A year and a half ago, I couldn't have run a 1/2 mile without feeling sick to my stomach. I ended up doing the race in 2:20, not record breaking by any means, but 10 mins faster than my goal time.
I remember seeing a woman holding a sign on the course: "Some day you won't be able to do this, today is not that day". That has become my mantra. Some days when I am out on the trail and I just start feeling like I will never be able to run 20 miles, let alone 26.2, I try to take a step back and remember how far I have come. I definitely cried as I crossed the finish line and then cried again when my dad texted me. He had signed up for text alerts during the race and he was the first person I heard from afterwards, "Congratulation, Chelsea. First person in the family to finish a half marathon. I hope it was fun. Love, Dad" (For some reason, my mom thinks that texting is like sending a letter so she always signs off and now we all do it from time to time). That is a day that I think I will remember pretty clearly for a long time. I prepared well and was able to kick up the pace for the last 5K which was a great feeling.
I also signed up for the Rock 'n Roll Denver 1/2 marathon which was in October, after I returned home. This one was a bit more tough than Chicago. I was back in Denver, but didn't have a place to live yet. Most of my stuff was in Aurora at my boyfriend's house, but Megan and I were still looking for a new place to live downtown so there were quite a few transitions going on. I also felt like I had peaked at the Chicago race and training felt hard. I ended up leaving BT with Ashley because of the commute and added responsibilities for work. I did CrossFit for several months to fill that void, but nothing is quite like Ashley and our old group. I completed the Denver race in 2:35 (ouch), but my parents surprised me at the finish line and I did manage to finish it, which is still an accomplishment in itself. The following weekend, Shane (the boyfriend guy) and I did the Rugged Maniac 5K. It's like a muddy obstacle course that takes place on a motocross race course. It was pretty fun and made me really happy that these are the kinds of things that he can have fun doing too.
I had lost my way a bit in running and decided I needed to take some time off. After getting back from Chicago, I put on about 10 pounds and was struggling with motivation with both nutrition and exercise. The winter always does this to me. The best me wants to go to a work out class in the early morning, go on a nice job around 8am, meet up with some friends at the pool or something, go play games like volleyball, etc, and then barbecue. However, the winter and my parents' refusal to give me a trust fund get in the way of that good time.
Luckily, the spring (or my definition of it) is here. I decided back in January that I would run a marathon and chose the Colfax Marathon on May 20 (1 week before my 25th bday). I started training the 2nd week of January and have been going ever since. I also recently got a Groupon for a bootcamp class nearby. Class is MWF 6-7am and we get measured and do benchmark testing (sound familiar?). Today was my second day and it felt good. This Saturday marks my first training run that is farther than the 1/2 marathon- 15 miles! I have been really working on smart eating and not just to lose weight, but because of how I feel when I am being responsible and making good choices for myself. I think I realized how far I have come when I saw an ad for diet pills or something on TV the other day. In the past I probably would have at least paused to consider them. Or I would be jealous that people could go from "before" to "after" so easily. However, that day I felt a little bad for whoever would be buying the product. Sure, it might get them to their goals quickly, but it won't be sustainable. I like knowing that I have earned every pound, every inch, every new dress, every new pair of pants, every photo that I look like the new me, every PR that I set. I like knowing that I control how I will look and feel next week or month, not a diet pill that may or may not work.
I have gone to my rock bottom and have been at where I want to be. I am not at either of those places right now but I am close to where I want to be and I am learning how to balance all the moving pieces of my life and how to take and break and come back stronger. One of my favorite things about my new lifestyle are all the adventures that I am more willing to participate in, both big and small. I am always up to join someone's kickball game, sign up for a race, head out for a bike ride, climb a jungle gym with kids, or even head out on a weeknight to meet up with friends for happy hour. These are all things I was reluctant to do before because of how I felt about myself. Even if I did make it out, I was always determined to make the people around me see past my size. Now that I am not preoccupied with those insecurities and hang ups, I can actually enjoy my life.
I hope to keep posting about my training as well as the highs and lows that I have come to accept are a part of life. Maybe one day you'll even get to see a bikini shot!