Strength begets strength.

Tonight's dinner: chicken, brussel sprouts and broccoli.
It's officially been a month since I started running and tonight I was supposed to run for 28 minutes. Non-stop. No walking. On my way out the door, I made a scared face at Chris.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I'm a little scared," I said.

"But you know you're going to be great."

"Yeah. I'm always a little scared though."

It's amazing; here I am, having run 48 miles so far this year and I still feel nervous every time I get on the treadmill. It's not like I'm afraid that I'm not going to make my run... it's more that I'm afraid of the moment when I feel short of breath or when my legs are tired. And the reason I'm afraid of that moment?

I'm afraid I'll take the weak way out.

You can't be weak if you don't put yourself up to a challenge (well, you can... but that's a deeper sort of weak) and by merely walking up to a treadmill, I have to acknowledge the possibility of disappointing myself. I guess I kind of feel the same way when it comes to having junk food in the house. Someday I might be cool with having chips or cookies in the cabinet, but today I just can't handle the temptation. For now, we have those things on special occasions... and we send the leftovers home with someone else.

I want to tell you all that, by confronting the possibility of weakness four times a week at the gym, things have really changed for me.

When we came home from Thanksgiving at my parents' house, I felt gross. I felt like I'd eaten too much and I knew the Christmas holidays were on the horizon. Christmas means cookies and chex mix and pie. And I just knew that I'd feel like crap if I was feeling that gross on January 1, about to turn 30, about to have a wedding. So right after Thanksgiving, I started following some healthy living blogs. I started buying more produce and less stuff in boxes. I started paying a lot of attention to snacking and though I wasn't yet exercising, I felt good when 2011 rolled in.

On January 1, I added the exercise component and started running. And I'm so happy to say that since Thanksgiving, I've lost 10 pounds! I dropped a dress size and I feel awesome. Last weekend I went to Banana Republic and had a blast trying on clothes.

That's a big deal for me.

Here's what it took: a simultaneous change in the food I cook and the way I exercise. A more consistent sleep schedule (roughly 11pm to 6:45am) and cutting down on eating out (or at least making better choices when I do). But I won't downplay the importance of adding healthy blogs to my RSS reader and following runners on Twitter. Having a constant stream of healthy recipes and hearing about others' workout challenges has been so supportive. This, my friends, is the power of the Internet. We have the ability to engage with the kind of content that will help us achieve our goals. Tools like Twitter and blogs and Facebook messages form the structure of that support.

Here are some of my favorite healthy sites in case you're interested in adding a healthy influence to your lives too:
Daily Garnish
Daily Mile
Kath Eats Real Food
Kara Goucher's blog
Run, Life, Chant, Breathe

I killed my 28-minute run tonight at the gym, by the way. I just steamrolled through it, as if I'd been running 28 minutes for the past month. There is nothing better than making a strong choice and shoving weakness out of the way. After I finished running, my old personal trainer from last year came over and told me I was looking tough! I did my push-ups with a new energy and held my plank for longer than I ever have before.

Strength begets strength. It really does.

Do you have any healthy blogs to recommend? Leave them in the comments!

P.S. You guys, do you even know how much I love your comments? You made my day by commenting on yesterday's Soul post. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate it and how it makes me feel less like I'm writing in a vacuum. Community happens, even on the Internet... and I'm very happy and appreciative that my blog is a small part of that for some people out there.


Anonymous said...

Felicitations Jen!
Happy to see that you keep up with the good resolutions and that it is paying off!

Tara said...

Congratulations! I'm also trying to do some healthy changes in my life and actually lost 5 pounds since January. I will definitely check out some of these links you've posted.

And I hear you on the comments! I *love* getting comments on my blog. It's why I tend to comment a lot on other people's blogs. Rock on, my friend!

LK said...

Great Job Jen!!! And thanks for the shout out...I have not posted to RLCB in FOREVER but I am hoping to fix that soon!

Mer said...

so proud of your running! don't you just FEEL better? you are probably sleeping better too! we have a treadmill in the basement and sometimes Matt even uses it :) Hope the wedding planning is all going well!