Sunday, June 21, 2009

Measuring Success

Week 6

Completing the sixth week of my running program has left me on top of the world, and my endurance abilities have most definitely progressed more than I have hoped. Although I haven't seen a lot of change in my body, I can only assume the inches are melting away because the measuring tape doesn't lie.

When I began the program, I was becoming more and more discouraged because the needle on the scale wasn't moving. I had to remind myself that the numbers may not change right away, because as my body strengthened, my muscles would weigh more. That's when I got out my measuring tape. I figured if I wasn't going to see change standing on a spring loaded scale, I might notice more if the circumference of my body changed. Well, it has. Everywhere. Bust, waist, hips, thighs, arms...all of it. It only makes sense to measure my shape since my goal is to get into shape.

I did, however make my first boo-boo in the course of my workout...I got a little cocky! heehee. One, I decided to listen to different music, and because I HAVE to run to the beat in the song, I messed up my pace by running to different rhythms.

First lesson learned: Don't mess with the pace.

Two, I cranked up my running level...oh boy! (This is where I got cocky). Sure, I can run faster now than I have before, it's just that I can't maintain a much faster pace for the long stretch. So, running faster wore me out quicker and I had to cut one of my running times down by 2 minutes. I realize that 2 minutes isn't that big of a deal, but for me it is. Most of my life I feel like I've cut corners, or just plain given up when things around me got hard. To some degree, I felt a bit disappointed in myself because I didn't want to feel like I was doing it again. Cutting my run short by 2 minutes was tough, but I knew that I had to do it. Instead of quiting, I just walked it off, and picked right back up with a second sequence. That was a small victory for me.

Second Lesson Learned: Slow and steady wins the race.

I have one more workout in this week's regimen, and then I start running 25 minutes without walking for all three workouts of week 7. It's all downhill from here!

Meanwhile, here's what I've run this week:

Week 6:
Workout 1:

- Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk
- Jog 5 minutes
- Walk 3 minutes
- Jog 8 minutes
- Walk 3 minutes
- Jog 5 minutes

Workout 2:

- 5 minute warm-up walk
- Jog 10 minutes
- Walk 3 minutes
- Jog 10 minutes

Workout 3:

- 5 minute warm-up walk
- Jog 25 minutes with no walking!

With a little more than 3 weeks left in my program, I can honestly say that I have loved every sweaty minute as I've inched closer and closer to my goal. I've learned that to stick to a difficult goal, and accomplish more than you set out to, is the way one can truly measure success.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moving On

In a previous post , I illustrated the difficulties I'd been having with some neighbors living upstairs from us, in our apartment complex. Aside from dealing with these individuals, our stay here has be fairly pleasant.

Until one day...

I was thrust into an uncomfortable situation where I had to act quickly. I overheard the father upstairs beating his 4 year old son. This was no ordinary spanking...this was heart breaking. I could hear every slap as his fathers hand landed on his little body. I could hear the little boy running from one side of the apartment to the other attempting, at no avail, to escape his father. I could hear the whimpers and pleas coming from this child, begging his daddy to stop.

For someone outside this situation looking in, it may seem like a no-brianer to know what to do at this point. But for the first time, I wasn't sure. I can honestly say that I know how people feel when they claim that they don't want to get involved in situations like this. I knew that if I called the police or CPS, there would be many consequences for this of which would be eviction. I knew first hand that their previous living arrangements was a shelter, and I knew that if they were evicted, they would return there. I also knew that if I called the police, the neighbors would assume that it was me who reported the incident, and therefore I felt like I was setting myself up for future confrontations. It took me all of 10 seconds to realize what I should do.

I called 911.

I realized that no matter the consequences of my phone call, I had an obligation to protect any child that can't defend them self. There has been so much death here in Indiana in the last 9 months, and I couldn't, and wouldn't, be responsible for not reporting this abuse. In 6 months time, 10 children (I believe, I may be off a little bit) have been killed at the hands of their parents. My only question to myself before hitting the "send" button on my cell-phone was, "How could I NOT report this?"

Since then, life has been a little more difficult. As soon as the police left that day, the mom upstairs stomped down to the leasing office to file a complaint against me for calling the authorities. What a joke! Later that day, she was ranting and raving to other neighbors about me calling 911, calling me horrible names, and threatening to beat me up if CPS came knocking at her door. I just had to laugh because, for a waisted 10 seconds, I was worried about her and her family being thrown to the streets. So I filed my own complaints. She's lucky I didn't call the police about her threatening me...I didn't think I had a leg to stand on since she didn't speak to me directly...that's the only reason.

Needless to say, I haven't been the only one to complain about this family, and me filing formal paperwork detailing the events that transpired, was enough to start eviction proceedings. I'm not proud of the fact that I was a part of her being kicked out, but I am not the one who beat my child, threatened a neighbor, allowed my child to pee on her air conditioner, left a loogie on her doorstep, allowed my boyfriend (with a larceny felony) to live with me and therefore commit fraud (their apt. is a government assisted unit), ...etc. I finally came to the conclusion that they evicted themselves.

Life has a way of presenting difficult situations, and I think that it shows the depth of a persons character depending on the way they deal with these dilemmas. By all means, I am not tooting my own horn, I just feel like I've learned something about myself that I didn't know before. My loyalties in life are to my family, my good friends and to those who can't protect themselves. This, I've learned, is not up for debate.

I don't know what will happen to the family upstairs. I don't know if their children will be taken away. I don't know if they will be homeless next month. What I do know, is she put herself in this situation, and although I will still worry about the welfare of the children in her care, I did everything in my power to protect just came down to me protecting my own family, and that was higher on my list of priorities.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Think I'm in Love With my Radio

Today's run was seemingly, and unexpectedly simple. I was a little surprised to finish my workout without feeling like it was taking everything in me to balance myself as the rotating belt moved beneath my feet. I'm still a little shocked that I completed the regimen with more ease than I anticipated, especially since this was the beginning of the 5th week in my program. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the gradual, weekly progression of the running program that has allowed me to strengthen my legs and heart muscles, which, in turn, has attributed to my successful workout today. But I think it may have to do with something else.

Since I can remember, I've loved music. I've loved singing and dancing and writing my own lyrics. I think music is a powerful force that penetrates deeply into our bodies and brings out feelings that would otherwise smolder in the bottom of our soul. The harmony, the beat and the rhyming passages can soothe our countenance or light a fire under our butts. The melodic words can move us in ways that speak only to our hearts as we relate to the sounds vibrating in our ears.

Today I, one by one, fit my ear pods snugly in place, and scrolled to the song I would run to...that's when I realized something. Although the song isn't one that I would have thought would effect me, it turned out to be my driving force as I encourage myself to keep going. The beat itself has been my motivator. It's just the right pace for me to run along with; stepping in time with each pump of the base drum. Radio by Beyonce has been my reason for pushing myself further and further each time I step onto the treadmill. It's funny how even the simplest things can keep our heads afloat when we think we're drowning...or in my case, keep my feet moving, one in front of the other. And believe me...this week I'm gonna need the motivation.

Check out what Beyonce and I are running to this week:

Week 5
Workout 1
5 minute warm-up.
Jog 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes
Repeat 3x

Workout 2
5 minute warm-up
Jog 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, and jog 8 more.

Workout 3
5 minute warm-up
Jog 20 minutes with no walking!

It's a little nerve wracking to think that by the end of this week I'll be running 20 minutes straight...without stopping...oh boy. No worries though, my girl B and I will be rocking it out together, and honestly, I can't WAIT!~

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fresh Slice

Crow Farm
Photo by: John Schauss
~November 2006~

Crow Patio
~May 2009~

One of the hardest things I've had to adjust to not living out in the country, with a large garden, is not having fresh produce. I guess I took for granted the fertile land we lived on, and planted on, year after year. Although moving away from the many responsibilities of farm life seemed to relieve a lot of pressure on our family, I miss picking and eating fresh green beans right off the plant. I miss running to the garden and retrieving plump, juicy tomatoes to slice for supper. I miss watching the seedlings grow from little babies to full grown adult plants. I miss the satisfaction of loading my pantry with canned tomatoes to add to my chili in the cold winter months. And I also miss the feelings that accompany the gratification of being just a little self-sufficient.
I hadn't brought up my yearning for a garden to JB because I didn't want him to feel badly about our choice to down-size our home and simplify our lives. The truth is, although I long for a garden to sew and reap from, I wouldn't have our lives be any different than they are right now. Our move was a necessary step in the progression and strength of our family. I appreciate the courage it took for us to come to this conclusion and put our dreams on hold as we've strived to replace the proverbial strings that were holding our family in tact, with the thick cables I now feel binding our lives together.

Sometimes making the hard choices are the ones that benefit us the most.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to see these planters on my porch filled with three of the most beautiful tomato plants I'd ever seen. JB and the kids had done all the work, while I day-dreamed about the future where more than just tomato plants and gardens lived. I saw a life that contained more than I ever dreamed of before...because everything that I love is in it...including fresh tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baby Steps - Week 4 Couch to 5k

After completing the first day of my fourth week in the Couch to 5k running program, I can look back at my first day of week one and smile. It kinda makes me laugh when I think about how hard I thought it was just to run the first weeks regimen. Well, it was hard. It's just that it's not hard now. I never thought I would say that, but it's true. It reminds me of a baby learning to walk, and how wobbly the first steps are. It seems as though the baby is walking with ease within a short amount of time, after spending what seemed like forever on the floor traveling by knees.

I think that was me...the baby crawling everywhere and not getting very far while doing it. Now, I feel like I'm wobbling my way across the room (treadmill), trying to get a grip on my bearings as a runner. I'm not quite "walking" yet, but I think with time I'll get stronger and my feet will pad the street in no time without a second thought. For now, I'm taking baby steps, and slowly working my way up to my ultimate goal...running.

Today was exhilarating! I ran more than I have ever before, and I got choked up doing it. Even through the pain in my legs and the deep breathing, I managed to stifle my tears as I almost started to weep. I know it sounds silly, but for me it's a victory. Doing something hard, not giving up and feeling a sense of accomplishment in the meantime is a feeling that's becoming addictive. It's like my body is loving me...loving me when I didn't have the strength to love it first. Participating in this program is more than me wanting to get into shape. It's more than me wanting to be just like my little sister. It's much more than that. It's me proving to myself that I can do anything I want. I can run a 5k if I want. I can learn to play the drums if I want. I can be a better mom, wife and woman...if I want. I can even go to school, get straight "A"'s and become a nurse...if I want.

And you know what?
I want. I can. I will.

Here's what my baby steps look like this week:

Week 4
Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2 1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
As I look at the weeks I have ahead of me in my program, I still wonder if I can do it, even knowing how far I've come in the meantime. Then I remember the baby steps I've already walked, and I look forward to seeing and crossing the finish line.