Loving My Way To My First 5k (A Life Saving Running Transformation Story)

12:21 PM

2018 was really good to me. Or I guess I should say I was really good to me in 2018. So many big and unexpected things happened to me and my family in 2018 but the biggest thing I made happen in 2018 was going from never running ever to training like a beast and running my very first 5k in my life.

The Health Crisis

It all started at the end of February of 2018 when I had a major health crisis with my liver leaving me desperately in need of losing 40 plus pounds. I had been in acute liver failure several times in the last two years and would go yellow and jaundice from a simple cold. I developed Cholestasis of the liver at the end of my recent pregnancy and had to deliver my baby early to save both our lives. My little extra weight was just too hard on my liver and I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease.  I wish I was diagnosed with something that didn't sound so lame and preventable.  But there you have it. My liver was too chunky. Most people who develop fatty liver disease are severly obese. But I only needed to lose 30 to 40 lbs and yet here I was with an angry tired liver trying to kill me.  I was at high risk of full liver failure at any minute. I have never consumed alcohol in my life. It was simply from being fat. It's shocking how being a little overweight can do so much harm to your body in so many ways. My doctor told me I needed to get to a healthy weight STAT.

The Plan

After ignoring my doctor for a year and risking everything, I finally woke up. Strangely it wasn't the health crisis that made me jump to action but it was definitely a motivator. I was waiting for something to naturally click where i'd wake up one morning and finally have the inspiration and motivation to change my life. But that never happened. After a year of waiting around for inspiration to kick me in the butt I thought to myself "well the least I can do is make a doctors appointment."  The first step and the first appointment is the hardest. If you wait around for an aha moment where a light clicks and your body is filled with life changing affirmation you will be waiting for a long time. Just break it down into tiny steps and do the first one. Even if its halfway through the day and you have already blown your diet go for a run/walk and have a lighter dinner. You don't need anything more than this moment and just yourself to choose to love yourself a little bit more and to take care of yourself a little bit more. It is not dependent on anyone else but you. From that first doctors appointment I worked with my doctors to create a weight-loss plan. Part of that plan was monthly checkups to monitor my liver levels and other vitals to make sure I was losing weight in a healthy way, and the other part of the plan was that I was to start running. My doctor said the people who lose a bunch of weight and keep it off are the ones who make exercise part of their new lifestyle so I want you to try running. What? Running?! I don't run. I haven't ran in my adult life. I thought my opportunity to ever be a runner was long gone. That it was something you had to do in your teens or early twenties and then try to maintain as you got older. People in their mid thirties don't simply become runners. I was so wrong because that is exactly what I did. Like so many people do I had told myself so many lies and misconceptions about running and 5k's. Anyone with halfway decent working legs can be a runner.

The First Run

The first time I went "running" I barely made it one block. It was winter and my lungs were on fire! I set a goal that I was going to attempt to run a 5k at some point come summer. I was ok with failing that goal. In fact I didn't think I would actually get to that point and I would end up walking a lot of my first 5k but dang it if I wasn't going to try my big butt off. I was determined to a least put in the work, results be damned. I can do the work. I can do hard things, heck I can do all sort of levels of things. I can't control the outcome but I sure as heck can put in the work.

So three days a week I ran/walked three miles. No matter how far or little I actually ran I always made sure the distance I did was a 5k distance. That moment when I ran my very first mile without stopping. Nothing beats that moment. It took me two months to hit that first one mile milestone. I was so out of shape. But when I hit that first goal I felt all the feelings. Triumph, vulnerability, blessed, humbled, strong, fierce, a winner. I caught the running bug. After running for three months I hit two miles without stopping and then I suffered an accident.

The Injury

Nothing scares you more when you are trying to transform your health than an injury. Just in the height of my momentum, a few weeks away from hitting my three mile goal early, I fell off a sidewalk from waving at someone while running. I sprained my ankle bad time. I wish the moment of my injury was more epic to match the pain I was in mentally as well as physically. Apparently jogging and waving simultaneously is beyond my skill set.  I was terrified. My mind spiraled out of control that all my hardwork would disappear and I would have to start all over again. That I would miss my 5k deadline I had set for myself. This is the moment I had to really learn to trust myself. Trust myself it was not the end even if I had a long recovery ahead. Trust myself that I would not just give up everything. Trust myself to take care of myself and continue to do workouts in other safe ways for a while. Of coursed I cried and panicked the first few days and I also had some great friends on my side coaching me through my mini crisis. Then I had to lean on my own trust in myself. I started swimming a little and then biking and within two weeks I was back to gentle careful running. That first run after my injury was the happiest run I have ever felt. When I made those first few strides I felt like I had wings and when I realized my ankle was holding up and not hurting I cried a little because I suddenly felt so much gratitude and joy for my body and my ankle for getting me through so much. That injury taught me to not be afraid of unexpected roadblocks. It taught me that I can take a break and take time to heal. Bad things will happen to me. Life will happen. There will be things that get in my way and stop me. But it never has to be the end. That injury taught me I can trust myself to have my own back. That I don't have to be afraid of spiraling out of control and that one set back won't ruin everything. That I am in control of myself and when I am ready I just make another step. There is always an itty bitty step to take, that is easier than you think.

Just Skin Deep

We live in a world that worships skin. And when the skin isn't magazine worthy we tell ourselves we are not worthy, we are less, we should hide the imperfect skin. Skin is just a shell that is meant to stretch, break, peel and be well worn out through the beauty and journey of life. Skin is not supposed to sit perfect on the bones over the course of a well lived life. Skin wasn't made to sit and look pretty. It was never designed for that. We let media and silly trends dictate what skin is supposed to do and to look like instead of what skin has always been meant to do. Let's take care of our skin and then let it work for us like it was always meant to do. We are not used to looking at regular bodies with skin that has been hard at work, working its butt off for us to give us the full life we are striving to live. Skin was only ever meant to be skin deep. Skin is a tool just like all the other parts of our body working equally to get us to were we want to go. There are so many other tools in our body that are equally working hard for us and deserves equal focus. This is where we find balance in our bodies and balance in where we see our beauty. If we only focus on the skin we miss seeing the whole picture of beauty. There is too much focus on the skin of a person instead of the whole. We can change that by changing where we put our focus and where we put our gratitude towards our bodies. Skin is just one of the hundreds of parts that make each of our bodies amazing. Skin is not supposed to stay magazine picture perfect. Picture perfect cannot be defined by shallow magazines. Picture perfect is a well loved and utilized body and soul full of meaning. I get to define that. No one else.

The Mental Transformation

The mental transformation happened way before I ever started running. Before I could ever run or face losing the weight I had a lot of work to do upstairs... in my mind. I worked hard on forgiving myself for not being perfect after having four kids. I worked hard on letting myself enjoy my life. I worked hard on letting myself love my life and not feel guilty for good things happening to me. I worked hard on seeing my beauty no matter what my size was or how utilized my outward skin was. I worked hard on finding meaning and choosing joy before I was ever ready to face the pavement. So when I ran for the first time I ran because I loved my life and wanted to have more of it. I ran to celebrate my body not to punish it. I ran out of happiness not regret. I happy ran. I didn't know that was a thing. It's totally a thing. When I run i'm yelling in my head and sometimes out loud - I love my body! Look what I can do! I'm strong! Look what I am capable of! I love myself! I'm so grateful for this body that can grow to do so much! I've got this! I love my life! I'm so grateful for this life and this body! Yes!

You should try it. You will run further than you ever have.

This is the key to real health transformation:
You cannot hate yourself to healthy. 

Until you treat your body with the love, kindness, and compassion that it deserves nothing will truly change. I've lost weight before. But it always came back and then I was only left in darker places than before. I was trying to punish myself with health and was confused why this method wasn't working.

Loving My Way To Healthy

Love yourself to true health. It's the only way. Love your kids enough to only serve healthy family meals that aren't oversized or overloaded with unnecessary calories. Love your life enough to carve out daily exercise. Love your family enough to make your health a priority even if they don't understand and are put out because mom is carving out exercise time. As a mom making my new lifestyle a priority was such a challenge. My family had bad eating and exercise habits and I felt guilty for a long time every time I went running in the evening or if I served a meal that they were less than excited about. Over time I pushed through and held on to that new lifestyle goal and that guilt faded and I was left with so much more goodness than I could ever imagine. Pushing through the guilt and making room for the essentials paid off big time for everyone.

The Win
There were so many wins. The running my first 5k goal turned out to be one of the smaller wins in this journey even though it was epic. I lost 45 lbs before the 5k and 62 all together this year. My liver levels were finally testing at a normal level for the first time in five years. My teen boys and husband started running with me. I bought a jogger so we could take our toddler girls on runs (and 5k's) with us. We run as a family now... all six of us and sometimes our dog comes to. My stress and anxiety levels are more manageable. I've made so many new friends. And my best friend from childhood drove from out of state to run my first 5k with me. And I finished my first 5k in 32 minutes (my fastest time yet)

That first 5k was harder than I thought it would be. There is a lot that goes on mentally in the first 5k. It wasn't the physical part that was hard it was the mental. My body was ready. I had trained for this. But there were hurdles still yet to be had. I didn't sleep the night before and when I started the race I started crying like a baby, which makes it hard to breath and then I panicked for a second and then it was ok. And then there was this giant hill that even experienced runners were walking up... and I ran the whole thing... and then puked at the top. Then my kids surprised me by waiting for me at the two mile marker. So I cried again. Then I thought the finish line was just around the last corner and gave it everything I had... then realized the finish line was still a good way off. I barely jogged across the finish line. Then I didn't even hug my family because I had to run to the water station because I thought I would die without some water right that very second. And then I celebrated and I cried some more cheering for the rest of the people as they crossed the finish line.

After all that I wasn't sure I had the emotional room to run any more future 5k's because it took so much out of me but I'm glad I signed up for a bunch of 5k's before I ever ran my first. It's important to keep a 5k on the schedule so you always have something to train for. Also you need to know each 5k gets easier and each 5k is different. And each 5k is worth it. I still get emotional at the beginning of a 5k because they are just so dang inspiring. But they are so much fun and the best way to get in a run. I also found out I really like the swag and getting a medal. lol!

New Goals, New Fears To Lean Into

So now what?! Well I'm a runner now so now I run. There is a 10k on my horizon that I need to get busy training for this 2019. Im scared of the 10k but I have no doubt I can do it if I just put in the smaller steps. Remember there is nothing wrong with being afraid because without fear there cannot be opportunity for courage. Don't be afraid of fear especially the kind of fear that is generated from you trying to better your life. That is the very kind of fear that is meant to be leaned into. That is the fear that great triumphs are made of.

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