Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kindness is Magic

Things I should have done, yesterday: run, strength work, shower, eat well, cook healthful food, clean, help kids with homework.

Things I actually did, yesterday: sat on couch, watched Rush videos, ate cookies, read a Sherlock Holmes story, napped.

But that's OK.

As you might have detected, from my previous post, I have extensive experience in being a jerk to myself. I have a habit of setting myself up with loads of lofty goals. Go back to being 100% vegan. Lose weight. Run a Boston qualifier marathon. Earn my BSN. Become a certified neuroscience RN. Declutter/clean/organize the house. Be more present, less anxious, more Zen. Don't sweat the small stuff. Stick to a budget. Be more crafty. Be a better parent. And so on, and so forth, etc.

All of it. Now.

That's how I started this blog, three years ago, all fired up, ready for a career change, going back to school, and qualifying for Boston. All at the same time. Didn't take long for it all to fall apart. Stumbled, in the new job. Dropped out of school. Posted my worst marathon time. And the self-loathing kicked in. Every few months, I mix up the lofty goals a bit, try again, fail again, loath again.

I'm going to Massachusetts for a solo vacation, next week. My plan was to be fifteen pounds lighter, by now, six weeks into marathon training, in peak condition. I thought that by switching from night shift to day shift, the end of June, everything would fall into place, and I'd finally have energy to accomplish everything.

I was wrong. I'm still plagued by fatigue. The constant zombie/ghost feeling I used to have has disappeared, but co-workers who have made the night-to-day shift transition have told me that it takes at least six months to start feeling "normal" again. And yet, I still managed to latch on to the belief that it should only take a few weeks, and promptly signed up for a November marathon. Can't imagine why I don't succeed, with reasoning like that!

Recently, though, I've ben thinking about how I can be kinder to myself, less judgy. "Be the change you wish to see in the world," questionably attributed to Ghandi, is still a great concept. If I wish for more kindness in my world, I need to start with myself. If I'm perpetually hateful to myself, that negativity is going to flow outward, to my family, co-workers, patients, and community, no matter how much I try to contain it.

There is a growing epidemic of self-lothing, surrounding us. So many of us are kicking ourselves for not being successful/fit/thin/healthful/youthful/crafty/organized superpeople. With all of that hating on ourselves, it naturally spills over, onto others, and drags us all that much further down into a swirling vortex of negativity. This is particularly toxic to those of us who struggle with depression.

Crazy concept time, here - what if we just started being kinder to ourselves? Will that kindness radiate out, like warm beams of happy sunshine? Why not? People are yearning for positivity, in their lives. That's what fueled the whole ALS ice bucket challenge, until all the Debbie Downers started crapping on it. People just want something to feel good about. It doesn't take much, and yet it seems so pie-in-the-sky, at the same time.

I worked overnight shifts for most of the past nine years, often sleeping only 3-4 hours, at a time. It's going to take time to get over that kind of extended fatigue. No, I should not have signed up for a Novermber marathon. No, I'm not going to BQ, this year. I'm tired. I need to rest and recover. And that's OK.

I don't have the perfect vegan diet that I once had. It's OK. I've made a lot of positive changes, in the right direction, and I continue to make positive changes. It's OK.

I dropped out of the BSN program, after one course, three years ago. It was too hard, at the time. I will go back to school, eventually, but, for now, it's still not a good time. I'm not quite ready to face the CNRN exam, either. I will be, eventually, but not right now. And that's OK.

I'm very far from being a perfect parent, but I'm more present, now, than I used to be., in my zombie/ghost state. My house is still a bit of a cluttered mess, but we keep taking on projects, to improve it. I still let anxiety get the best of me, in stressful situations, but I'm learning to control it, a little better. I haven't lost fifteen pounds, but I have lost three. I'm not as toned as I'd like to be, my hair is graying, I have wrinkles and age spots, but I'm 46, and I'm trying to take on this whole aging thing with grace. And it's OK.

It's good to have goals. It's good to keep striving, always working toward something better. It's not OK to berate yourself for not doing everything, all at once, now.

I've had a couple of very stressful weeks, at work. I'm an introvert, in an extroverted profession. I need recovery days, and beating myself up for not living up to self-imposed standards only wears me down, more. Kindness is restorative. I need to use that oxygen mask on myself, before I can help anyone else. Such a simple concept, yet so hard to internalize.

But that's OK.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Letting the Light Shine In

Dusting off this long (and quickly) abandoned blog, to come out, publicly. I am living with clinical depression.

There. I said it.

This is frightening, for me, because I've always been wary of the effect it could have on me, professionally. Yes depression is protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, but, let's face it, management has plenty of ways around that, no matter where or who you are. So, I've always been reluctant to make a permanent, public statement, regarding this private matter. But, it shouldn't be that way, which is exactly why I need to do this. Now.

I've never been a big Robin Williams fan. Oh, sure, I loved Mork and Mindy, when I was ten. I enjoyed several of his films - Garp, Dead Poets, Fisher King, Awakenings. Most of the time, though, he was just too over the top, for me. I respected his talent, however, and related to his struggle, so the news of his suicide evoked a sense loss, of a comrade in arms.

And then, the inevitable flood of new stories, tributes, and comments. Oh, the comments. I knew I should have stepped away from social media, for a while, but, for whatever fool reason, I didn't.

"Suicide is selfish."
"I don't understand."
"How could he choose to throw away God's most precious gift?"
"I don't understand."
"He had so much to live for, always bringing joy. How could he do that to his family?"
"I don't understand."

I understand.

I understand that it is not a choice, and it is not a selfish act. I understand, because I have struggled with intrusive ideations for over twenty years, a steady, flowing stream of irrational, negative thought.

"I am worthless. I am a colossal fuck-up. I am a burden on everyone I know. I am a waste of space. Worthless. Fuck-up. Burden. Waste. Worthless. Fuck-up. Burden. Waste."

Most of the time, I can filter the stream. When I'm relatively healthy, I can identify the irrational thoughts, and counter them, keeping the stream contained, living my life, outwardly appearing normal. "Not worthless. I have value. I make meaningful contributions to my world." But the stream is always there, flowing steadily through my mind.

Inevitably, storms come along, in varying forms. Sometimes, I can see it coming, and brace myself for it. Other times, it blindsides me. Sometimes, I don't recognize it, until I'm already engulfed. The storm floods the little stream, turning it into a raging river, overwhelming my filters, and I get sucked down into the vortex, where the irrational thoughts swirl freely.

When a storm blows through, it doesn't matter how successful I am, how happy I am, how much my family loves me, how smoothly my life is going. Everything becomes impossibly dark. I feel like I'm wearing an iron suit, heavy and impenatrable. Making a cup of tea is overwhelming and entirely too complex. Talking on the phone is unbearable. And the intrusive ideations become gospel truth, unchallenged.

Worthless. Fuck-up. Burden. Waste.

It's not a matter of being sad. It's a matter of being swallowed up by darkness, unable to see a way out.


This is what people can't understand, unless they've experienced it, themselves. It's not rational thinking. It's not something that can be snapped out of, by will. You need a lifeline, dropped into your hands, to pull back out. The problem is that the lifeline is always changing, differing from person to person, episode to episode. There's no way of knowing what it will take.

Sometimes, it's a kind word, from just the right person, at just the right time. Sometimes, it's a bowl of ice cream. Sometimes, it's a crisis, happening to someone else. Sometimes, it's going for a run. Sometimes, it's a good sleep, or a change in weather. Sometimes, it's all of this, and more, or none of it.

Therapy and medication can help, but not always. They are tools you can use, but they can be difficult to access. Finances, insurance, availabilty, transportation, time, employment, childcare, indifference, or even just picking up the phone can become insurmountable obstacles.

So, I have multiple tools in my toolbox. Cognitive behavioral therapy. Meds. Clean diet. Journaling. Mindfulness meditation. Running. Sleep hygiene. Church. Work. Volunteering. Family. A trusted friend. But, I never allow myself to think that I am safe. The storms are always looming, always a threat, and I know there is the possibility that all the tools I have won't be enough, that the right lifeline might not come in time.

Depression is not an attitude problem. It is a disease of the brain. It can be fatal. It affects an estimated 10% of the population. It is a major cause of disability and lost productivity. How is it possible that it is so tragically misunderstood, undertreated, and stigmatized? Why do those of us living with recurrent depression fear exposure, face blistering criticism from the ignorant, and endure so many challenges to getting any meaningful help?

This. Must. Change.

Change requires awareness. Awareness requires exposure. And so, I am exposing myself.

I am living with clinical depression. Every day. Let the light shine in.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Frustation - the Career Edition

Gah!!!! Ok, so this is exactly what I didn’t want to happen, when I started this blog - a few entries, and then, BAM! Nearly a month has gone by. I made a few lame attempts, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

What I have been working on is changing jobs. I had many sources of frustration at my place of employment, euphemistically referred to as “The Science of Hope,” (in reference to the ad campaign that we are relentlessly bombarded with, every time we have to wait on hold, on the phone. Which is to say, a lot.)

It’s a challenging environment to work in, as it is the county hospital, meaning we treat all, regardless of ability (or desire) to pay, including inmates from the county jail. It is also a major teaching hospital. On the plus side, I learned a great deal in my three and a half years, there. On the negative side, a lot of what I learned was how to survive in a toxic, hostile environment. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger, eh?

Working in a county hospital during an economic crisis, when health care is a political hot potato, was feeling less and less of a sure thing. It’s one thing, to put up with a lot of crap in a job. It’s another thing, to put up with said crap, while taking a pay cut and facing deep budget cuts, which guarantee more heaps of crap will be piling on, shortly.

The writing was on the wall, with the state cuts giving management the excuse to gut nursing compensation. I started looking for a second job, to supplement my soon to be diminishing income. In the process, I discovered that my dream hospital was hiring. World-renowned, US News & World Report top ranking hospital, 22 years in a row, and one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” 8 years in a row. I felt the universe prodding me. In a pique of frustration, I fired off an application, knowing full well this was not a sensible time to be making a career move, but also aware that, when the universe beckons, even if the timing seems bad, it’s best to heed the call.

I had an interview scheduled, within a week. From the moment I stepped into the building, I felt it was where I belonged. The Chihuly chandelier spoke to me! I tried to contain my giddiness, during my interview, but I was freaking floating on air, I wanted the job so bad. I kept thinking of Bull Durham - I had been toiling around in the minors, and here I was, with a chance to move up to the Show!

Thus began my seemingly interminable week in purgatory. I was certain I had it in the bag. That is, until I didn’t hear anything for seven, agonizing days. In the grand scheme of things, I’m sure that doesn’t seem like a long time. When you’ve glimpsed the promised land, and then the door slams shut and you have to go back to toiling in misery, however, it’s simply torturous. Then, once I got the offer, I started in with the two weeks’ notice paranoia, fearing that somehow, something would get horribly screwed up.

In the meantime, by the way, I’m also struggling with the desire to lose weight, (but making no progress, whatsoever,) trying to prepare for marathon training, to begin in August, (but doing so too aggressively,) getting ready for my return to school, in pursuit of my BSN, also to begin in August, (trying to pretend I don’t have a large tuition bill coming due, for which I will now receive no reimbursement) and worrying whether I’m going to be able to take a week off in October, during my probationary period at this new job, for the cruise we’ve been planning for the past year and a half (with the deadline for refunding deposits coming before I can secure any kind of confirmation.)

And, of course, I’m not sleeping, and I’m pretty much completely neglecting my family, while wallowing in my own private hell, (which isn’t really that private, because they have to put up with me.)

But here we are. The Science of Hope is behind me. Orientation starts Monday. I know this job will have it’s own set of frustrations, as they all do, but I am hopeful that it will finally be a position in which I can flourish. I have my textbooks, and I’ve started dieting, in earnest. I have my supplemental home health job lined up. Pieces are coming together. I think I can breathe, again.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Frustration - Running and Otherwise

Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t expect any significant improvement in my times, during the heat of summer. I know that, if I do the work, when the temps start to moderate in the fall, I’ll see my times drop. Emotionally, however, I’m looking for that jolt of gratification from incremental improvement.

I should be thrilled with the progress I’ve made, so far. When I first started running (and I use the term loosely,) less than two years ago, I started out with 14 minute pace 5K. I can now run a 9 minute pace 15K, fairly comfortably, 8ish minute pace 5K with effort, and a 7ish minute all out mile.

But it’s not good enough! My completely unreasonable goal is to run a BQ (Boston qualifier) by the end of the year. Currently, my marathon PR (personal record) is 4:24, from the Walt Disney World Marathon, this past January (after running the Half Marathon at an easy pace, the previous day.) I need to knock a good 40 minutes off of that. By Christmas. Absurd? Yes! But it’s a goal, and I’m going to work toward it. While going back to school, making some career changes, and losing at least 10 pounds.

If only I could figure out how to sleep. *sigh*

Realistically, I know this is going to take time, consistent effort, and a sticking to a sound training plan. I also know that a sub-4 hour marathon is a slightly more reasonable goal than a BQ, for this year. If I want to be completely reasonable, I could aim for 4:15, which I think I could knock out with my current level of fitness.

The “sticking to a sound training plan” part is going to be key, for me. Left to my own devices, I pretty much choose to run every training run at tempo to race pace, which is way too fast for regular training. I’m just wearing myself out. The past few runs, I’ve finally started making good use of my Garmin 305, using the heart rate monitor feature to keep my heart rate below 150. Even that is a bit high, for easy/long runs, but it’s better than the 160-170’s that I’ve been hitting, regularly.

I’ve settled on the “Run Less, Run Faster” FIRST training plan, with one modification. (I really wanted to try Hansons’, but, no matter how I crunch the numbers, I just can’t run 6 days a week, with my work schedule.) My main issue with the FIRST plan is that it calls for two days of cross-training, specifically in the form of cycling, swimming, or rowing, in addition to three high-quality runs, per week. Let me just say - not gonna happen. If I had access to a stationary bike and a rowing machine, I might be able to make it work by switching between them for 10 minute intervals, but I don’t.

Bikes take too much maintenance, for my taste. I commuted by bike, year ’round, for several years, when I lived in Minneapolis. I did my time. And I just plain hate swimming. I tried to learn to like swimming. I failed. What can I say? I’m lazy, that way. My compromise is to make use of my collection of aerobic workout videos, instead. For me, that’s a lot more doable. The point is to get in a high quality aerobic workout, equivalent to running, without taxing the major running muscles. I think they’ll do the trick, and I won’t be hating life on my cross-training days.

Which brings me to the weight loss issue. After losing 10 pounds, last fall, and then gaining most of it back, over Christmas vacation, I’ve been struggling to make any progress. I’ve knocked off about 3 pounds, and have been stuck there, forever. Appearance-wise, another 3 pounds would do the trick, putting me at my comfy weight, where clothes fit, and my face looks just right (at 5‘1“, three pounds makes a big difference!) Training-wise, though, I could stand to lose another 10, to get to a true, lean racing weight. It’ll make my face a bit on the Skeletor-side, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay, for Boston.

I think that sticking to a reasonable training plan will help, here, too. I need to mix things up, on a regular basis, a la CrossFit/P90X. Also, I’m eating pretty well, but there’s definitely some unnecessary garbage that I can cut out. Time to kick the all the simple carbs to the curb, again.

These past few weeks have been very frustrating, on many levels. It’s been hot and humid (welcome to summer in Florida,) so I just don’t want to leave the house. We’ve also been dealing with the smoke from all of the wildfires, although that seems to have eased off, the past few days, since we finally got a little rain. Kids don’t seem to know what to do with themselves, out of school. We’re all just crabby and snapping at each other.

And then there’s the work stuff going on that I’m not in a position to discuss, publicly, at the moment. Honestly, I think that’s the root of a lot of our frustrations, right now, and it’s just manifesting in myriad ways. I’ve already taken some major steps in trying to fix this situation. Just waiting for it all to play out, now. Feeling stuck in an impossible situation is incredibly stressful. Waiting for results, once you’ve taken action, is almost as stressful. Just like with my running, I have to work the plan, and have faith that the results will come.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Inspiration - Part 1: How I Started Running

My first running inspiration was my brother, Alan, who joined the high school cross country team, when I was around 5 or 6 years old. One of his teammates was local high school running legend, Dan Dillon. New England, in the 1970’s, was pretty inspiring, in general, for an aspiring runner. I was fascinated with the Boston Marathon, and idolized Bill Rodgers. I was thrilled with Joan Benoit’s out of nowhere win in ‘79. I marveled at the Hoyts, and I was glued to the television for the Salazar/Beardsley “Duel in the Sun.”

Unfortunately, even with all of that inspiration swirling around me, I had nobody to guide me, and didn‘t even think of actually running, myself, until I was 12 or 13. I managed to get my hands on an issue of Runner’s World, and read through it, religiously, pouring over every detail of every article and ad. I registered for a 5 mile race, and just did it, without any clue of what I was doing. I have no idea what my time was (although I know it was dismal,) but I took home an age group trophy. It didn’t really matter to me, that I was most likely the only one in my age group. I signed myself up for a race, I ran it, and I got an award. Magic!

There was no girls’ cross country team, my freshman year of high school. I joined the track team, in the spring, where I tried various events, sucking at all of them. Fall of sophomore year, however, there were a handful of girls who showed interest in running cross country, so they let us form a “team.” We shared practices, meets, and the coach with the boys’ team. The boys’ team was very good, with a Western Mass champion, so they were the real focus, for the coach. I didn’t care, though. I was ecstatic, just to be there. I knew I didn’t have any real talent. I just loved running the trails and being part of it all.

My utter lack of talent did lead me to give it up, shortly thereafter, however. I didn’t really see the point to continuing to pursue something I didn’t think I could ever be good at. I lacked an understanding of running just for the sheer enjoyment of it. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that I had “bad knees,” and couldn’t run.

Fast forwarding twenty-plus years, to late August, 2009, my friend Wendy issued a challenge. She wanted to train for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and wanted to know if anyone would be willing to join her. Intrigued, I considered it, but decided I would walk, because of my “bad knees.” My initial 2 - 3 mile attempts were promising, in that I could easily stay below the 16 minute/mile pacing requirement. I was comfortably within the 14 minute range.

After a few weeks, however, I started getting bored with walking, and just wanted to finish faster, so I thought I’d throw in a little jogging, to speed things up. It was disheartening to discover I couldn’t even jog a full block, without getting completely winded. I didn’t give up, though. I decided I would jog a half a block, and then walk a block and a half, or two, until I could muster another little jog.

And I kept doing it. I didn’t knock myself out. Just a little bit more, each time I went out, 2-3 times per week. Within a month, I was stunned to realize that I was jogging more than walking! I realized that I never had bad knees - just bad training! After two months, though, I hit a major setback - bronchitis. I live in fear of bronchitis, because, when I get it, it tends to linger for up to 5 weeks, and running with bronchitis is a big no-no.

Around this time, I started developing delusions of grandeur. I started thinking about marathons. Specifically, my mind traveled back to those years of breathlessly watching the Boston Marathon, and how I would dream of running in it, someday, never truly believing that was something I could ever accomplish, without God-given talent.

In a fit of utter lunacy, I registered for the 26.2 with Donna - National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, a local race that runs right through my neighborhood training route. Going from no running at all, as of August, 2009, to run/walking a half marathon in March 2010, was intimidating, but well within the realm of possibility. Going from no running at all, as of August, 2009, to run/walking a FULL marathon in February, 2010, a mere two weeks before the Princess Half, (with a forced break in training due to bronchitis,) defied all logic.

As it turned out, though, there was an inadvertent touch of logic in it. After recovering from my bronchitis, I had a hard time getting my sorry butt back into training. I developed a mental block, regarding running seven miles. My usual route was four miles. I worked my long run up to six miles, and got stuck there. For several weeks, my long run kept repeating at six miles. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around running seven!

By this point, it was December, and my commitment started flagging. Before I knew it, I had gone two weeks without running, when Todd started gently nudging me, “You know, you spent that money on registering for a marathon that is coming up in eight weeks…”

It was exactly the kick in the butt that I needed. If I hadn’t registered for the full marathon, I believe that I would have continued to blow off my training, and eventually just given up. Instead, I got out there, powered my way through seven miles, and wondered what the hell my problem was, since it wasn’t really any harder than the six miles that I kept running, over and over again.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon, I worked my way up to a 14 mile long run. I had convinced myself that I could just run the first half, and then walk the second half, and still easily maintain the 16 minute required pace. I recognized, though, that my ego would not let me stop running, and I would, in all likelihood, continue pushing myself to the point of injury. I didn’t want to risk not being able to run the Princess Half with Wendy, so I dropped my 26.2 with Donna registration from the full to the half marathon, three weeks before the race.

The 26.2 with Donna Half Marathon was an amazing first race experience. It completely spoiled me, for all races that followed. I marveled at the huge expo, with loads of freebies. We came home with bags and bags full of stuff! The morning of the race, I arrived way too early at the runners’ village, but it gave me time to soak in the race atmosphere, and enjoy the free coffee, fruit, and muffins, and eavesdrop on other runners‘ conversations.

I made the classic rookie mistake of getting swept up in the adrenaline of the start, and took off at a much faster pace than I had trained for. By mile 6, I knew I was in big trouble. I added in more walk breaks, and drew strength from the amazing spectators, the sea of pink, and all the messages on my fellow racers’ shirts. I’ll never forget the shirt on a young boy - he had to be 13 years old, with the message that he was running for his mom, with her birth and death dates listed, as he ran past me. It brought tears to my eyes and power to my legs. I thought, “no pain I am going to experience in this race can compare to what that child has been through.”

I saw Todd and the kids, as I crossed the finish line. Todd had tears in his eyes, and the kids were pumped with the excitement of the race. As he handed Charlotte over the barrier to me, in the finishers’ chute, he told me, with certainty, “I’m running this next year.“ That’s the power of it. After experiencing the race, Todd started training, and he did, in fact, complete the 26.2 with Donna Half Marathon, this past February. I was a little sad that I wasn’t there, at the finish line, for his first half (I was struggling my way through the full, thanks to yet another overly ambitious mistake -too many races in too short time with too little recovery,) but next year, I will run along side him, as he runs his first full marathon. And the kids can’t wait until they turn 13, so that they can run it, too!

As long as we can, we’ll be running with Donna, every year. It will always be my favorite race and continuing inspiration.

And, yes, I did successfully complete the Princess Half, two weeks later. Learning from my mistakes, I started the race at an easy pace, worked my way up to a proper race pace, and finished strong. I’m forever grateful to Wendy, for starting me on this path, which has changed my life, and my family, for the better!

Coming soon(ish) -Part 2: Inspiring Myself, and Others, Along the Way

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sugar Dreams

I have a problem with sugar.

I keep admitting it, over and over again, but never seem to truly internalize the concept. I give up processed sugar for periods of time, and feel great, when I do so. Then, I'll convince myself that it's ok, in moderation, so I'll have a doughnut. Or a piece of cake. Or some other innocuous sugar-delivery device. Inevitably, I fall off the wagon in spectacular fashion, and thereafter experience new levels of feeling crappy. Sounds like an addiction, doesn't it? Yeah, it does.

I stand in awe of people who do things like baking, or buying treats and actually having them in the house, because I know that stuff wouldn't last a day in my house. Did I mention I have a problem?

I've been struggling, lately - not completely off the rails, but not in that blissful, flow state I get into, when I'm completely abstaining from sugar. Stress at work, with looming pay/benefit/staffing cuts, isn't helping.

Part of the problem with jumping on and off the wagon is that I am now keenly aware of how much sugar messes me up. When you eat sugar on a regular basis, at least in my experience, you don't realize how it affects the way you feel. When I get off of it for a while, detox, if you will, and then start eating it, again, I notice the effects immediately. I can go for months, happily, ingesting no sugar, at all. As soon as I indulge, however, I want more. Right now. Lots.

I also particularly notice how it affects my sleep - probably because I have such a huge insomnia problem, as it is. I wake up, after too little sleep, dehydrated, flushed, and shaky. Hung over. My already challenged energy level plummets. I get logy.

Recently, I read this excellent NY Times Magazine article by Gary Taubes, about the toxicity of sugar. Generally, I tend to be on the polar opposite end of Taubes, who is more of an Atkins-esque, anti-carb, pro-saturated fat kind of guy, while I'm much more of a Michael Pollan-esque "eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants," holistic person. But I am in complete agreement with him, here. There are a lot of problems with the American diet, but processed sugar is way up there. It's a low-grade, yet omnipresent, toxic scourge on our society.

I have to yield to both my scientific knowledge (I was less than a year away from becoming a registered dietitian, before eventually switching to nursing,) and my personal experience.

Hi. My name is Maureen. I'm a sugarholic.

Friday, June 10, 2011

No Limits

I can do this.

I have a nasty habit of limiting myself. I think, “I could never do that. Not possible. Can’t.”

Todd is the opposite. He truly believes anyone can do anything. He’ll tell the kids they can be anything they want to be. Olympic athlete? Sure! Why not?

In the meantime, I’m shushing him, telling him not to get their hopes up, for an impossible dream.

Can’t. Not good enough. There will always be someone better.

I’m trying to come around, though. Maybe I can.

I have a precedent. I had always wished that I could sing, but never believed that I could. Working as a stage manager, in Minneapolis, in the early 1990’s, I was encouraged by the theatre folk, surrounding me, to take voice lessons. They hooked me up with a wonderful teacher, and guess what? I learned how to sing! A taste of success!

Oh yeah, there was also that graduating from nursing school thing, too. Didn’t believe I could ever do that, either.

Now, in my 40’s, I’ve rediscovered running. I ran, in my teens, but really had no idea what I was doing, no guidance, and no innate talent, so I gave it up, by my senior year. Now, thanks to the running boom and the interwebz, I have all the info I can stand.

As usual, though, I limit myself. Sure, I managed to run a marathon (three, actually,) but I’m slow. I could never be fast. I could never qualify for Boston. I’ll never be as good as “those people.”

Or maybe I can. For once, I’m going to try.

After a year and a half of running, I’ve run two 4:44 marathons, with a 4:24 PR sandwiched in between them. To qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2013 (I‘m not going to run a qualifying marathon before the 2012 registration opens in September,) I’ll need to get down to at least 3:45. To actually have a chance at getting registered, I probably need to get down to at least 3:35. For 2014, I’ll move up to the 45-49 age group, so I’ll be able to add an extra 10 minutes to those times. Woohoo!

Matt Frazier, of No Meat Athlete, lowered his PR from 4:53, in his first marathon, to a BQ 3:09:59. Sure, it took him 8 years, but he did it. Can I do it, too?

I think I can.