Monday, March 6, 2017

Continuing On My Journey

It's been awhile since I last wrote on my blog. Sorry about that to those of you who enjoyed what I wrote. So much has happened since I last wrote that I couldn't possibly tell you everything, but I can tell you I am still exercising six days a week and trying my best to eat properly. I always strive to be honest so I will admit that I did gain about 20 lbs from the lowest weight I reached (140 lbs). Some of that can be attributed to the fact that I became more diligent about doing strength training twice a week. I have worked myself up to being able to use 20 lb weights for most of the moves I do, but there are a few (like overhead presses) that I use 10 lbs for. I do know I still struggle with snacking a little too much because I have a real sweet tooth, but I knew when I began losing weight in 2013 that this was going to be a lifestyle change. When I was aiming to lose 100 lbs, I got stuck around the 150 lb mark for awhile before I finally broke through that plateau and hit my goal of 145 lbs. I was thrilled to lose another 5 lbs, but I gained the first few pounds quite quickly when I began doing strength training that I just attributed it at first to building muscle. I wasn't surprised to hit 150 quickly and fluctuate in the 150-155 range because I figured "maybe my body really is most comfortable there". When my weight slowly got closer to 160, I realized I did NOT want to gain much more weight and started to be more careful. So I'm currently trying to get back to the low 150s and maybe try to get back to 145, but I really do like the way I look now so I'm not going to be upset if I stay in the 150s because my body may just be telling me this may be where it is easiest to maintain my weight and I'm ok with that!

The biggest accomplishment since I last posted was I completed my first official half marathon in Nov. 2016! I had never entered a half marathon before because they cost way too much money. The only race I ever do is one in our town and they don't hand out medals to the finishers. I started to have a desire to do ONE half marathon just to get a medal, to PROVE to others that I really could do the distance. I had done 13.1 miles on my own a few times. I had mapped out a route in town that equaled that distance and had done it a few times over the last few years, but I just couldn't see paying $75 to run the distance just to get a medal. Well, one day in 2016 I decided to share my story about my weight loss journey on a website for runners. I mentioned in it that I hadn't done an official half marathon yet because we just couldn't afford it, but that I had done the distance on my own. I was shocked a few days later when someone from the website told me they were going to print my story AND they wanted to pay for me to run in the half marathon of my choice!! I posted about it on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to join me, and I tagged a friend of mine who has been running a lot longer than I have been. She said she had been thinking of doing a half marathon (she had never done one either!) and she said she'd be glad to do it with me! I had a goal in mind to finish in 2 hrs. 30 min., but I set my estimated time to finish at 2 hours 45 min. when I registered because I normally quit running outside in early October when it begins to get too cold here in PA. My lungs don't like breathing in that cold air! So I wasn't sure how fast I'd be able to run and wanted to give myself some extra time. My husband didn't help when he kept reminding me that there could be snow on the ground by the day of the race. I kept telling him it was NOT going to snow, and I was right! Thank the Lord!! I didn't sleep well for 2-3 days before the race. Pre-race jitters I guess. LOL! The weather the day of the race was gorgeous! It wasn't windy, although it did get breezy a few times during the race, and the weather got up to 50 degrees! That morning, I wrote names of people who had encouraged me during my weight loss journey on a piece of paper and I place that paper in my fanny pack so they would all be "with" me. I had enough names on that list that I knew I could think of 2 or 3 each mile and say a prayer of thanks for them. I wanted to run the entire half marathon, but my tired legs had other plans. There was only one hill on the entire course and it came at mile one. I was able to run up the long hill and I was proud of myself for that! I saw the 2:30 pacer go by me between mile 3 and 4 and somehow I knew I wasn't going to finish in the time I had hoped, but I didn't let that bother me or deter me. I just kept running and being thankful I was out there! As I neared the 10th mile, I knew for certain I wouldn't finish in 2 1/2 hours, but I literally said to myself "at least it doesn't have to be my worst time!" Within seconds of thinking that, my right calf muscle cramped up. I have never had it do that before, and I hope it never does because IT HURT! I had to walk for a little bit and then I tried running again. Every time I ran, my calf would cramp and it felt like it would go into a spasm too. I took a deep breath and realized satan was trying to discourage me, and I wasn't about to let that happen! I had been praying and thanking God the entire time up to this point for people who had encouraged me when I was losing weight and for the change that had taken place in me during the last few years. The thought came to my mind, "You started out your journey walking, and it's ok if you can finish it the same way!" I told satan I was NOT going to quit so he could leave me alone, and I continued to pray and be thankful and walk as fast as I could. As I started the 11th mile, my left calf decided to join my right calf in cramping up whenever I tried to run. Yes, I was still trying to run whenever the pain let up, but I was running less and less because I knew it just wasn't working and I didn't want to cause a severe injury by being stupid. In the 12th mile, satan was still trying to discourage me by telling me I was a failure because I was walking and couldn't run the whole thing. That's when I began to think of my older sister Wendy and my grandma, both of whom are in heaven. I had this thought of "I can almost hear them...'Come on, Tammy! You can do it! We are SO proud of you!'" I glanced up into the sky and there in front of me was a heart shaped cloud!! I had to fight back those tears that formed in my eyes because I didn't want to trip over something because I was crying! LOL! As I reached the homestretch and started to hear the music playing, I prayed, "God, I want to run! I want to finish this race running." I felt this gentle voice say "Go ahead." I started doing a slow and very gentle jog/run because I didn't know whether my calves would allow me to run and I sure didn't want to fall this close to the finish line! I couldn't help but smile as I was able to run the rest of the way and cross that finish line without having any pain! After I finished, my legs were killing me and they hurt for the next 2 or 3 days; but it didn't matter because I had finished a half marathon! My time? 2 hours 43 min.!! I smiled when I saw it because I realized that I had "beat" the time I estimated I'd finish the race in when I registered. No, it wasn't my best time. Yes, I think it probably was my worst time for a half marathon distance. No, it didn't bother me because I hadn't quit. I had kept going and I finished in spite of the pain!

Check out that smile on my face as I was running toward the finish line!

The two friends from church who decided to run the half marathon with me. They actually finished in 2 hours 7 min, but they stayed at the finish line to see me finish!

My family. I was so thankful they were at the finish line. They all encouraged me all along my journey, so it was very fitting for them to be there!

Showing off my one and only medal. I wore it the entire rest of the day! LOL!

Close up of my bling. LOL!

The sticker I bought for the back of my car! LOL!

The official photograph of me crossing the finish line!

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