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Anything & Everything I Feel Compelled to Share with the World!

Encouragement July 20, 2014

I first started brainstorming this post last Saturday while running, but as with many other times when I get ideas for blog posts, I get them when I’m busy or away from the computer, then when I actually have time I completely forget about posting and instead waste time scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest. Something made me remember to write this one out.

Through many previous posts, I’ve talked about running, and how it has been my main tool for losing weight and becoming the healthier me that God wants me to be, my way of taking care of His Temple. Through running, I have met a lot of other runners.  And one thing I can say about Runners in general is how encouraging they are to one another.

I mean I’ve read in Facebook posts and whatnots about snobbish runners, those who are after their PR, who are totally serious about this running thing and if you’re not as serious about it as they are than you’re not a runner. But I haven’t met any of them. Joining group runs where my pace is at least a whole minute slower than the rest, but still get a “You killed it out there, Anna.” that is some major encouragement. Not even really knowing all that much about me, except that I’m into running, they have welcomed and accepted me. For a sport that’s all individualized, I’m part of the team.

And it’s not just the Run Group. I was running the streets of Danville one evening (with the Run Group) and passed another runner, one I’d never seen before. There was the smile and head nod of acknowledgement, but then there was also a “keep it up” or “great job”.

Encouragement doesn’t have to be spoken. The Saturday that this blog post popped into my head was while I was running the Riverwalk Trail in Danville. Don’t let the name fool you. By trail it means paved path a little wider than one car would need. It’s a very happenin’ place, cyclists, walkers, runners, skaters are all out there Saturday mornings and most other days as well. I was running, bebopping along to my music. I had decided to smile and speak a good morning to those I passed. I didn’t want to be like the frowny walkers I’d been passing downtown lately. There was a lady coming towards me at a slow run. I don’t like the word jog. If your feet are moving in a running rhythm, no matter the speed, you are running, not jogging. A walk is still a walk no matter how fast or slow you are walking.

Okay enough soapbox.

She dropped to a walk still a few yards out from me, but when she looked up and saw me she started running again. Now I’m not going to say I’m an awesome encourager and that my presence alone encourages others to do more, to push themselves, to have courage to press on. No, but in running, that is often the case. Just the presence of someone else encourages us to push ourselves a little harder.

Working out yesterday morning with some awesome ladies, one of the leaders shadowed me for short bit, using words of encouragement, pushing me to squat lower, to give more, to work harder. And while I am sore today because of that, the fears that usually keep me from doing more squats, lunges, etc. did not come to fruition. My knee has not bothered me once today as it has in the past (even just a few weeks ago) after kicking up a notch or two.

And while I guess a lot of this post was about the encouragement of new friends, I have received a lot of encouragement from those I’ve known for years as well. Not all of them always get me, but there aren’t many who completely get me anyway. I’m one of those weird ones. But I definitely want to work on becoming a better encourager myself, to push others to do more, to give more. Because if God is for us, who can be against?

 

God Is So Good! March 30, 2014

There are many places in the Psalms where the writer reflects or calls the audience to reflect and remember what the Lord has done.  Remembering is key to moving forward.  I know so many say not to look back on the past to leave it there and press onward.  Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” but there are still times, most especially in the Christian life when we should reflect on the past, with a focus on what our Father in heaven has done for us.  By remembering what He has already done for us and all the ways He has proven His love for us, His provision and protection, whatever challenge may lie ahead seems so much smaller and easier to conquer.  Sometimes it takes remembering what He has already accomplished in order to believe and trust what He will continue to work in our lives.

I am writing this post with these thoughts in mind.  I have shared in past posts about my fitness journey, It’s Just a Number, but I think I really have tried to avoid writing about the topic.  Maybe because part of me was still afraid that I would fail and have the condemning eyes of whoever reads this blog looking down on me.  Maybe because another part of me is still embarrassed over the fact of being overweight for so long, and I really think at least part of it is because I really don’t want anyone saying ‘hey look at what she did’.  I do NOT like being in the limelight.  Some attention is nice every once in a while, trust me no one likes to be ignored, but I can only take small doses.

Why am I going to write about it now?  For God’s glory, not my own.  He has given me this story in order to show His greatness and His power.  So read the following if you like, but know that I had little part it in all.  I merely followed where He led.

I have been overweight most of my life.  To put it this way, I have never been skinny, slender, trim, etc.  Words like thick, solid, and chunky were always more fitting.  I was never very athletic, preferring to read or watch TV.  There have been many failed attempts at losing weight.  In college I did well, instead of gaining the freshman-fifteen, I lost it.  But after graduation I fell back into old habits, and so the cycle kept going.

In 2011, I started having problems with my knees, clicking cartilage and pain with excessive use.  There’s no telling how many times I’ve scraped and banged up my knees over the years.  Add that to the abuse of carrying around 200+ pounds for too many years = mild osteoarthritis.

That truly was my wake-up call.  It wasn’t anything major or life threatening, but at the age of 24 wondering about if and when I may have to have knee replacement surgery down the road.  It was scary.  August 2012 I joined the gym.  I went.  A lot.  That September I sprained my ankle.  Satan wanted to deter me early on.  After two weeks, when I could go with a brace instead of a boot, I was back to the gym.

Made to Crave Devotional has been one of my favorites.  I had heard the phrase “we all have a God-shaped hole” before, but this book made it more real.  God created us with the ability to crave.  He gave us cravings and desires.  He made us so that we could not feel complete or satisfied on our own.  It is an inherent need for HIM.  Only the signals get mistranslated and we think we’re really craving food, relationships, other substances, money, things, etc.  What we really need/want is God.

This fitness journey has been different.  Even my attempts before my goal was rarely to “be skinny”.  Most of the time it was to be healthy, to be not fat.  This time I wanted to serve God, to love Him and worship Him by how I took care of this earthly vessel.  I remembered that this body is a gift from God, a precious gift.  It is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, making my body a holy place.

How would we feel if someone filled our church building with trash and was never used for its intended purpose?

Taking care of my body is an act of worship. Not self-worship, a way to worship God, just as much as singing praise songs, sitting in church, and praying.  God wants everything we do to be an act of worship, a way of glorifying His name.

I think because of this attitude God has blessed me in this journey.  My knees still click, but there is rarely any pain.  My ankle is stronger than ever.  I have lost 63 pounds that I never want to see again.  It has not been easy.  I have failed in many ways.  God will pick you back up, but only if you’re willing.  He loves us too much to leave us where we are.  But we also have to want to move.

Praise God for helping me to be willing, for reminding me why I am doing this.

Exactly one year ago, I could only run 10 minutes before having to walk.  Yesterday I ran my first half-marathon, that’s 13.1 miles, in 2hours and 34minutes.

 

To God Be The Glory!!!

Left is from July 2012 on vacation to Niagara Falls.  Right is March 2014 before my half marathon.

Left is from July 2012 on vacation to Niagara Falls. Right is March 2014 before my half marathon.

 

It’s Just A Number April 29, 2013

I’ve always struggled with my weight. Since kindergarten, when a boy called me “slow-poke”. I’ve been through many failed attempts at getting healthy, though “healthy” was not always my goal. Many times I just wanted to be ‘skinny’ or at least ‘not fat’. But see, I’m cursed. I love to eat and I live in the South. And I grew up in a Baptist church. And my mother and grandmother are fantastic cooks. And I hate sweating and being hot, or at least I did growing up. And my favorite hobby was reading as opposed to athletics.

I admit, I cheated in P.E. when we had to run the mile every Friday. I usually only ran 3 laps instead of the required 4, but taking longer than 15minutes to finish meant running again on Monday. I didn’t like to run, not unless it was to get away from my brother or chase him down for some reason I felt was important then.

One of my biggest problems has been what I call ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. I’m really not sure if it’s a word or if others have used it as well or even claim a copyright on it, but I use it. I start something and do good for like a week then the motivation wanes and I fall back to old habits. The most I was able to stick to ‘getting healthy’ was in college. Oddly enough I didn’t have a problem with the Freshmen Fifteen, I’d already gained some from spending a summer as a missionary in Houston (those church people fed me well). Gym on campus was paid for by tuition, so I might as well get my money’s worth. By the time I had moved home Christmas ’07, I had lost 25lb. But being back home where their eating and activity habits hadn’t changed, those pounds slowly came back.

Moved out again two years later, was going to start afresh. Tried walking and running on the road, taking the dog with me. Beagles do not make good running companions. They always want to follow their nose, and plus my oldest (who was my only then) does great on the way out and most the way back until he realizes we’re close to home and then stops, refuses to walk. I thought at first he was just tired by then, but no. He didn’t want to be inside or on the chain. Can’t let him loose, too stubborn to come when called.

In September, I joined a gym that’s not far from the house and despite spraining my ankle and the typical overeating during the holidays, I’ve lost 29 pounds. Most weight I’ve lost ever. And I feel great. My right ankle is still weak, but it has come a long way from where it was. In November 2011, I started having problems with my knees, an annoying clicking sound when going up hills and stairs and pain after extensive use. Mild arthritis was the eventual diagnosis. I can’t remember the last time I took a pain pill for my knee, though the clicking is still there.

It’s different this time. I know it is because my focus for getting in shape is a lot different from just looking good or being ‘not fat’. My goal as I burn calories and push myself to run farther than I ran the week before is so that I will be ready and able to do that which God has called me to do. How can I be a wife and mother, taking care of others, when I can’t take care of my own body? There is no limit to what God may give me, to what He may ask of me. So if He asks me to take His love to the top of a mountain, will I be able?

It’s still a hard battle. Day by day. (step by step, day by day…..theme song to Step by Step from ABC’s TGIF, stuck in my head now) It’s a conscious choice every moment, and yes I fail. Still have failures everyday, but it’ll get better. One day I’m going to enjoy raw tomatoes, though I’ll always have to pass on that “mater samich” slathered with Duke’s mayo.

** Update July 31, 2013. I DO enjoy raw tomatoes now, though it is still better not by itself, and I have eaten a “mater samich” with a very small amount of Duke’s mayo.