Summer of Fun

 

As I was looking at Facebook and going through some of my pictures I couldn’t help but smile. As a mother of active teenagers and then the wife of a game designer I am always busy. Running here… taking kids there… then adding in the normal stuff that every household has to deal with: groceries, dinner, cleaning, WORKING… but this summer, this summer was a little different. I took time to do things for me, and let me tell you, I loved it. Not only did I love it, but truly, I needed it.

When I started the journey of #becomingabetterme, I had to start out by figuring who and what I wanted to be. Sure, I wanted to weigh less, I wanted to be healthier, I wanted to be nicer, but honestly, I wanted to be happier.

That was where I had a problem. I have never really been in a place that allowed me enough time to stop and figure out what is that made me happy. Don’t get me wrong, being a mom and a wife makes me happy, but I needed to know what made HEATHER happy. What HEATHER wanted out of life. This summer has given me a glimpse of all of that.

This summer started off with my Journey concert at the track. Then Def Leppard/REO Speedwagon/Tesla at Klipsch. Then two concerts in one weekend Chris Young/Brad Paisley followed the next night by Gwen Stefani. Then last concert of my summer was Rob Thomas/Counting Crows all at Klipsch as well. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but music is a big part of my life and to get to see some of my faves belt out their songs live, well, that is epitome of happy in my book.

Let us not forget my birthday extravaganza… I realize my birthday was a singular day, but as a lover of my special day, I tend to drag it out for at least the month.

Now only was the summer music packed but (as always) we added Gen Con to the mix. (Did I mention I am a huge nerd?) Four days of nothing but gaming… the “four best day of gaming” to be exact. Never a dull moment there. Not only did I spend a lot of brain power winning over half of the games I played, but I got to enjoy the cosplayers in their personalized versions of pop culture, comic, or game character costumes.

To round out the summer, there was a Housing Conference in Detroit I got the privilege of attending. For those who do not know, my job is all rules and regulations and compliance and structure… and I love it. My part of the conference was learning more rules and how to figure  cash flow and net operating income (blah blah blah, right… wrong. I LOVE IT!). Yes, it was mind melting, but I love learning how to do my job better.

Needless to say, in a matter of three short months I squeezed in a lot of play time. Which by extension was time practicing being a better me.

Before I sat down to write this, when I was looking at my pictures I started to get a little down on myself. I ran no real races (yes I have done a couple of virtual 5ks, but no real ones), I haven’t been with Mr T (my trainer) since the beginning of May, and there really hasn’t been a week where I have gone to the gym more than two times, where I was going three to four times each week… but then I looked at what I had done.

I spent time with friends, I walked miles upon miles without flinching, I made my brain stronger, and even taught the noob gamers a thing or two ; ) I enjoyed myself and still did what I needed to do to figure out that I am more than a mom or a wife… I am a person and the happier I am, the more productive I can be!

Once I got past all of that, I also realized that I did put in some serious gym time, and even managed to keep my weight right where I left off in May!

I can honestly say, with the kids back in school and the summer winding down I am looking forward to seeing what comes next!

 

 

 

GenCon is Coming…

As I look through the memories of Facebook this morning, I realize that this day in 2015, we were at GenCon. Dubbed the “best four days in gaming”, it is truly a nerd girl’s paradise! There are plenty of costumes to admire (and yes, there is Wonder Woman shirt for every day of the con, buuutttt, this year I have my tiara to wear with them – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!), fantastic fantasy and nerd art, but my pull is the endless rooms and infinite piles of games…  it is a great place to let my geek flag fly!

Although I joke about being a nerd, or a geek, or gamer girl, I really do pride myself on my intelligence, and as you know, part of the campaign of #becomingabetterme does have to do with the full me, not just the physical… and gaming is a fantastic way to exercise your mind. I do not consider myself a strategic game as much as I do a tactical gamer, but by playing different styles of games, with a laundry list of different mechanics, I am getting better. That is not to say I am as good as the group of friends that we game with, but I can hold my own against them in several of the games we do play.

Just like with exercising your body you have to make sure that your brain cells are fully charged to keep the synapses firing… FOOD. Food in important. I did mention this was a convention, so by definition, it will be at a convention center, which is not the best place for food. Dried out burgers, greasy pizza, and “what is that really” chicken sandwiches, not exactly what one would consider healthy.

Knowing this is what we are looking at, I had a nice conversation with my hubs about how this was not going to work for me, we decided to make a trip to Fresh Thyme and get some healthy snacks to keep us fueled and alert. I am sooo ready! SO. READY.

I know this isn’t really like my traditional posts, but as this event gets closer for me, the more excited I get, and I am really just using this post as a reminder that I can still remain on my journey and enjoy all the nerdiness that life has to offer.

The After Photo

For those of you who do not know me all that well (or for those who do, but are not privy to this bit of information), I am a Pinterest junkie. Like, cannot get enough… I am always on there looking at crafty ideas, art projects, new styles (since my clothing size has gone down), tiny houses (my obsession) and of course inspirational quotes. Why am I tell you this? Well, let me back up a step or two…

Tonight at the gym, when I got there Mr T was there. He asked me what I was going to do and I told him that I was going to go kick the elliptical in the face. He laughed and I went on about my business. I wasn’t lying… that was, in fact, my plan. I decided that since my new found courage had got me moving on the elliptical, I was going to see if I could up my game. I upped my resistance to 3 (mind you, I had previously used a different -less difficult style – elliptical and upped the resistance, but on this one, a 3 was a big deal) and took off. Since I recently became an “i-People” I did not have the play list on my phone that once did, so I logged into YouTube and watched a few videos of my husbands band (Jon Bon Jovi, in case you were curious) and before I knew it I was at 3/4 of a mile and it was only 11’ish mins. I knew I was going to be under 15 mins so I picked my next video and kept going. At 1 mile I was looking at 14 mins and decided that wasn’t long enough so I just kept chugging away. More of that beautiful man to keep me going. When I got to 23 mins I realized that in less than 5 mins I would be at mile number two. I could do this. I really could. I smiled and sang along to Born to Be My Baby until the distance read “2.00”. I got off, went to go get my wipey for the machine and Mr T caught me, “what are you all smiles about?” I told him, “New record, 2 miles, less than 28 mins, with added resistance ANNNDDD it was on the elliptical, my nemesis!” “He shook his head, and said, “See, you got this! Progress!” He was right, I did have it and it was progress.

When I got in the car, I took my sweat post work pic… I mean how else are you going to know I did it?!?

Anywho, we are back to Pinterest now… I love adding quotes to my page, color me crazy but I do… so I searched “INSPIRATIONAL WORK OUT QUOTES” and right there at the top was “do it for the after photo”. It is what I do this for… the after photo. Not necessarily the one that shows my sweaty face and crazy hair, but the one that shows what I have accomplished. The one that reminds me that I really have made a difference… not just physically but, better all the way around. The whole journey of #becomingabetterme is to see #theafterphoto!  I may not be there yet, but I am feeling good about the path I am taking!

Life Without Mr T.

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Without going into detail, my house has been under some financial stress starting back in May. I realize it happens to everyone once in awhile, but it took a toll on us.

When we figured out the only way to get through it was to tighten the belts and just power on, we sat down at the kitchen table and made a plan. More dinner at home, less eating out, leftovers for lunch, date nights would be games at home or OnDemand movies, but even that was not going to be enough. We looked further into our finances and Hammy and Jarrett agreed that they would both put a freeze on their gym memberships. As much as I appreciated that from them, I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t. I use the gym as my sanctuary and might go insane if I tried to completely give it up, so I compromised and said I would stop with my trainer, Mr T, for a few months.

When I first signed my contract with Mr T, it was only going to be for six months. I knew that with my Spartan race coming up, I needed him to push me in a way I could not. I wasn’t really sure what that meant, but he figured it out rather quickly. As I have talked about in previous posts, getting the guidance of Mr T was eye opening for me. Starting out with him in September, I was not ready for what he had in store. Even though I had already been going to the gym for over a year, I had never put that kind of strain on myself. There were lots of squats, lots of lunges, lots of battle ropes, and even some bench pressing… I also believe there was some crying, some whining, and even some (sorry, but I swore this would be good bad and ugly) puking. Basically EVERYTHING my body was not used to.

It is now July. A little over two months since I have heard Mr T yell at me and tell me I could do it… but I think I have this. Last night when I went to the gym, I walked in and I was not sure what I was going to do. I stood by the water fountain as I filled my water bottle and chuckled as I literally said out loud, “WWMTD” (for those of you who don’t speak Heather, that was What Would Mr T Do). I decided the first thing he would have me do was some cardio, as he finished with the client he always had before our session, so I opted for the elliptical where I kicked out a mile. Then after that I stood in front of the mirror where we always called “home base” and looked around at my options… I knew that with the 12# kettle bell in front of me that is where he would have me start. So that’s what I did. Next I headed over to the machine I called the “crunch machine” (he told me what it was but stopped arguing with my Heather style names for everything.) where I did crunched until my belly hurt. What to do next?   I looked up and saw the medicine balls and knew that’s when he would have me do side bounces. From there I walked back to the “leg squeezer” where I did my push outs and squeeze ins and mixed in my lat pull downs. Doing the rounds of all of these exercises, just like he would have told me.

When I finished with my last set I looked around the empty gym and although he was not with me, I could hear him in my head making wise cracks, singing the music that the gym plays and teasing me.

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When I agreed to let Mr T go back in May, it broke my heart, but I have to say, he left a his mark on me. I appreciate everything he has done, and will continue to channel him when I need that extra kick in the butt! #becomingabetterme is so much easier when you have people on your side who understand and are good at getting you to the next step. Thank you Mr T!

Raising Healthy Kids

I am sure I am not the first parent to ask myself, “have I got them ready for the world?” and I know I won’t be the last, but either way, that question is swimming in my head as I type.

I do have to say that after the way I was walking around yesterday fuming over the Dani Mathers case, I learned something new about my daughter. Then today, when my son was helping his grandfather read tent-putting-up instructions, I learned something about him.Let me tell you what happened in both situations, so my above statements do not sound like the crazy ramblings of a wild woman…

I explained the whole situation to Katie and I spoke (even read my blog post to her before it went up), she nodded in agreement, and I could see her thinking through my words, carefully planning her response. When I was done ranting and reading she sighed and started, “You have read me several of your blogs, and I think this is your best. I know you have done a lot to be better of the last year or whatever, and when someone is mean on purpose like that and you think about how it would make you feel, well, I am glad you have been able to go to the gym and do your races, as they have made you become a great mom.” I was not really sure how to answer that, and I really didn’t have to because she got up, kissed my head, and went to her room.

Then today, Jarrett was helping my step dad work on putting up the tent, I yelled for him to come and talk to me. When he came running, the first thing he did was hug me. Not forced or awkward, just a heartfelt hug from a son to his mother. He told me that he was helping put up the tent and filled me in on his driving adventure now that he has a permit. After giving me the low down on his happenings he said, “Ok Mom, I gotta go, I gotta learn how to do this since it is going to be up to me to help put the tent up when we get to the campsite.” He hugged me again and ran back to my step dad and nephew.

What does this all mean? Well, I hope I means that I have children who are comfortable in their own skin.  I hope it means that I have taught them to accept responsibility and think for themselves. I hope it means that they know they are loved and having an opinion of their own is perfectly acceptable. I really should have know that they were going to be fine when they were both voted in as captains of their respective teams… but hey, maybe I am a little slow?

IIMG_20160711_193601 realize this isn’t really my typical exercise, gym time, or health food related post, but as it is time for the kids to go back to school and #becomebetterkiddos, I wanted to throw out the proud momma points that I have earned.  Maybe I am patting myself on the back here, but as I #becomingabetterme, I see that my kids are benefitting from it as well, and that makes this journey all the more worth it!

 

 

I Can’t Unsee That

A good friend and I were having a nice conversation today. We talk daily, so we are always sharing things we have seen. Somewhere in our conversation he pops off with a “Hey, did you see the article about the Playboy Playmate body shaming a woman at the gym?”  I had not seen or heard about it, so he sent me the link. Before I read it, I was a little annoyed, thinking that someone was getting shamed AT THE GYM, stupid – but then, I read the article. I WAS LIVID!

(To start I will say it was posted on TMZ, so feel free to give it a read for yourself)

The long and short of the story is this Playmate, Dani Mathers, is at the gym, in the “locker room” and took a picture of a naked gym goer taking a shower and body shaming her on social media. Her Mean Girl antics have got her into some seriously hot water (and I personally vote for jail time), but the kicker is her public apology that basically said, “I am not sorry I am a b*tch and meant what I said, I am sorry I got caught saying it out loud!”

After talking telling my friend I read the article, and finished practicing my swear words, we changed the tone of the chatter. We talked about the big what if…

What if that were me??  I have been going to the gym for about two(ish) years now, and am past the initial ‘everyone is watching me’ feeling that I had at the beginning of my visits… but what if I wasn’t… what if someone actually shamed me in my first visit… WHERE WOULD I BE??

The answer to that is sadly simple, I would be exactly where I was two plus years ago, unhappy, overweight, and unhealthy. Those thoughts alone make me tear up. More than that, I would not be where I am. I know that sounds like a “duh” statement, but there is so much involved in that. I would not have met my new friends (and family) on my Cornfed team. I would not have had enough self confidence to go on adventures without a responsible adult to be my security blanket. I would never had the belief in myself to finish – not one, but tw0 – Spartan races. I would not have been able to better myself enough to become a trusted and respected coworker to my team. Above and beyond all of these things, I would not have found myself. Yes, I found me. I am now the person I knew I could be… or at least am pointed in the direction of becoming that better person I am striving to be.

It scares me to think I would lose my sanctuary. I use the gym as my outlet for daily stress, I go and walk my negative thoughts away, I lift away the ugliness that I see going on in the world, and come out stronger and lighter. I need that.

What Dani Mathers did to that poor woman is the lowest of low, and I only hope that it does not turn her off from #becomingabetterher … and take away whatever it is that the gym does for her. I hope that she has the inner strength to give Dani the middle finger and go right back to doing her thang, and doing it her way!

When I thought about writing this post I was so mad, I was worried that I would just use this as a rant, and I finish up (I am still mad, don’t think for a second I am not) it shows me how lucky I am to go to a gym where everyone is friendly. Thank you for being awesome, AnyTime.

Keep it classy, Dani Mathers… hope orange is your new black!

Where Do I Find My Next Adventure?

It has been less than a month since I started saying, “I am 40” when asked my age… and I am still really not used to it.

The day of my 40th was definitely one for the record books…. quite the party, if I do say so myself, and definitely a highlight to the new decade of my life, but that wasn’t the last adventure I have had.

The week after my birthday we went straight into the NESCO Olympics (Near East Side Community Organization Olympics), which involved some kickball, some volleyball, trivia, cards, tug o’war, frisbee golf, and cornhole, just to name a few.

Then there was the REO, Def Leppard, and Tesla concert. Added in was a day at the waterpark with my mother, kids, and nephews just for fun.  Then as recent as yesterday, an (almost) 5k with my bestie  to enjoy a Saturday morning in the park.

There is not a single adventure listed above that would take back. I loved each and every one of them for what they were. What I will say is I miss pushing myself. I miss getting dirty. I miss my team. And I really miss the feeling of accomplishment.

After looking at the calendar, and the bank account, there is no way of running a Spartan this year. I haven’t found a 5k that has really struck my fancy. So creating my own track and getting a virtual 5k medal, has been what I have done. None of that is really sparking me. I need a new adventure, I need a new challenge.

The question is, what do I do??? I feel like I should be trying something new, but have no idea what that should be??? I don’t want to sound like I am whining, but I think I am… #becomingabetterme was started at the beginning of this journey to remind myself that this was all about doing more, being more, but now… now I feel stuck.

I guess the only thing left to say is, life might be knocking me down right now, but since Life hits like a b*tch, I will just get back up and keep searching for that next challenge, because afterall, I am #stilltrying.

Figuring Out Forty

IMG_20160605_233629I remember, as a teenager, thinking about how old my mother was. She never acted her age, or even looked it, but the numbers didn’t lie. My sisters and I use to tease her about her being an old maid. At that time she was only  close to 40. As I sit here and type this I AM 40. Not almost, not getting there, I AM 40. In the footsteps of my mother, however, I do not act, nor do I look it… but again, the numbers do not lie.

I made jokes and laughed about it, but under it all I was scared to death to be 40.

 

I am sure that most of you are asking me “Why??” in your head right now, and I will tell you the simple answer… because I am not where I wanted to be at 40. More specifically I am not sure where I wanted to be at 40.

Those of you who have known me for half of my life are probably laughing because you know that the person I am now is a far cry from where any of you thought I would be anyway (and you are right), but for those of you who have recently met me, well… the old Heather pales in comparison. Do not misunderstand me, I am not tooting my horn here,  I am just saying, the Heather of five years ago was not this go-getter you know now. She would probably try to hide under the bed if the new Heather even looked her direction…  Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is I am not done figuring myself out and 40 seems like a crazy time to start… or keep going… whatever… but that old Heather seemed to be okay with normal and hum-drum… the new Heather isn’t.

What else does one do at 40? What other adventures can be found?? The possibilities are endless and so in my desire to embrace them! But first, I gotta get myself out of this funk.

To start with I am going back to the “EAT ME” days and hitting my whole 30 and paleo diet again. Resetting my body (again) is an excellent way to get the ball rolling. Next, its back to the gym three to four times a week. I see nothing wrong with focusing on me for an hour or so every couple of days. There will never be a squat butt without squats, so its on the list too. Lastly, find a new race and sign up. Even if it is a virtual 5k, getting back into the swing of things is the only way to move forward. After all, I still have to achieve my goal of  being able to run around my block without stopping!

I can do this… I want to do this… I am going to do this! #becomingabetter me is just going to have to move into the new decade and see where it takes us!

 

Don’t Stop Believin’

 

As I started this journey I promised to always be honest. Honest about the ways I succeeded as well as the way I failed.

Friday was a success. I am sure there was some eye rolling, especially from those of you who know that I went to see Journey with a couple of friends. Like, “really Heather, a concert is a success? Haven’t you done that before?!” Of course the answer is yes, yes I have, but this one was different.

Let me back up a little. For so many years there were things I wanted to do, was even invited to do, but the fear of failure kept me from saying yes and tagging along. Things that involved physical exertion was always a no for me. I missed out on so many adventures for fear not being able to handle the activity, getting winded and tired, and then letting my friends down. Keeping them from enjoying their adventure was the LAST thing I wanted. So I respectfully declined, and then just lived vicariously through their stories later.

Since I have been working out and walking and just all around treating myself better, I have been able to enjoy life so much more. Friday was one of those days. Jennifer had gotten two tickets to see Journey (one of my all time favorite bands since I was old enough to have an opinion on music), and offer one to me. I did not even hesitate to say yes to her! It wasn’t until later that I realized the concert was actually at the track (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for those who didn’t realize I was a Hoosier) on Friday before the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. When I found out, I still didn’t get nervous or worried, I knew that there would be a ton of walking (and as a side note, a TON of people watching… including the Mariachi clown in the chaps who happen to ride a Harley, but anyway)  I was perfectly fine with that!

Jen and I walked all over the Snakepit (a rather entertaining section of the track, I might add), people watching and laughing at the distinct generational differences and later met up with another one of my favorite people, Emily with her family, by the concert section of the infield. It was a fabulous day. Laughing, dancing, and singing our hearts out! I am not sure of a time I was happier?! It was truly a dream come true, and this would have never would have happened just two short years ago.

When I began working out and doing all of this to become a better me, the tool I used to measure myself against was other people, Spartan racers specifically, but I don’t need to do that. I can measure me against me. Using the old me as a starting point, I have come leaps and bounds from where I was.

A friend recently told me, “I don’t think you are becoming a better you, I think you are becoming the you you were always meant to be.” and he was right. This is me, someone who isn’t (as) scared to try. Someone who has enough get-up-and-go to be able to see a concert where about 4 miles of walking could happen. More than that, someone who isn’t going to give up what she wants just for fear of failing.

Again, I say this was a success. I got to fulfill my dream of seeing one my all time favorite bands in concert. A small victory, but a victory none the less… and ya know what? Those count too in this journey of #becomingabetterme.

Mile Minus Minutes

IMG_20160523_210859On Monday May 23, 2016 I got two seconds closer to my goal.

To say that sounds absolutely silly, I know, but what if I say that those two seconds are being added to nine minutes. Whaaaa?!?!?! Yeah, I said it! Nine minutes!

Let me tell you a story.

When I started doing races and exercising I had NO idea what it meant to time a mile. I had only ever done OCRs where there were bottlenecks at the obstacles in a Spartan and then there were stopping points where you play in the mud at the Dirty Girl or fun 5Ks where you stopped to get sprayed with neon colored goo in the Neon Dash or even maybe a stop for hot chocolate at the Santa Hustle. There was never a time where I wanted to know how long I could do a mile in.

The more serious I got about exercise the more I learned, that like with anything, to get better you have to know where you start. So one afternoon last summer, I decided to go to park and walk the track and see exactly how long it took me.

Now I am not going to pretend that I went as fast as I could, or pushed myself as hard a could. I wanted to make sure that I could complete the full mile. I feel I should also say, (since I vowed to always be honest in this journey – whether it be good, bad or ugly) that although I had done 5Ks and OCRs, I got winded fast and was always glad for a brief breather.

Anywho, in that lap around the 1 mile track at Hummel Park I timed myself at a 27 min mile. Now, I know that is really a sad starting point, but it was the truth. Here I am, less than a year later looking at the timer on the treadmill thinking “HOLY MONKEYS I DID IT!!” I got under 18 mins! Now, as you all have figured it out, I always have another goal, and this is not an exception. I am still trying to figure out this whole running thing (still a work in progress), but I would like to see a 15-16 min mile, but that’s another story.

Before I put a nice little bow on this blog, just let me say that I look back over the course of the last year(ish) having pictures and comments and now even this website to look at, I take a moment to relish in the victories I have had and the milestones I have accomplished and even more than that how much better I feel mentally and physically. There have been so many of you who – without even knowing it – have inspired me to keep going. For that, I thank you all and wish you success in your journeys as well.

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