A Letter to my 15 year old Self

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Dear 15 year old Jackie,

I look at a picture of you and I remember being you like it was yesterday, not 17 years ago. There are days I look in the mirror and I still see you, I joke that my eyes are broken, but you are ingrained in my memories. Jackie, I have so many things I want to tell you, but as I look at this picture of you at 15, I want you to know that you are beautiful. You will come to learn, many years down the road, that beauty has nothing to do with the physical appearance. Beauty is the heart, the love, the concern and caring. You are all of these things. You are a giver, a loyal friend, a joyful spirit. You are God’s precious daughter, created in His perfect image. You are not a mistake, Jackie. Hear me again, YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE. You were never overlooked, you were never forgotten, you are living through each and every day for a specific purpose.

Sweet girl, do not listen to the words that come from ill meaning peoples mouths. The taunts, the laughs, they are not about you ultimately, I know it seems like it at the time, but they are coming from people that probably harbor more insecurities than you do. Wait 15 years, you will learn that hurt people, hurt people. I wish you could block out those voices that haunt you and realize that everyone is walking their own struggling path, each hard in their own ways. We all need to give one another grace. But also, do not be afraid to let it hurt, hurting isn’t bad for you. You don’t have to stuff your emotions and turn to food to make it through. It’s okay to cry, to be hurt. Growing up is hard, teenage years are hard, shoot, life is hard and when someone looks like they have it “all together” they are putting on a mask, because we all struggle.

Many years from now you will look back at this time that was hard and appreciate the struggle that you are walking through. You will see the woman you have become is better and stronger because of it. She’s more loving, more empathetic, and more determined than someone who may have had an “easier” path. You will dig deep in the hard times and remember where you came from and what you are made of. You will learn to rely solely on God for your strength. Sweet girl, He carried you through when you couldn’t even walk some days and He has never, and will never abandon you.

Life doesn’t get easier just because you move out of the adolescent years, it just takes on different, more adult problems. You have a strength that you didn’t know you had. God had His hand on you from the very beginning and even when you didn’t see it, even in the darkest days that felt like they would never end, He brought you out.

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Just wait, Jackie, many years down the road you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, concerning your eating disorder. You will have defied the odds, been one of the lucky ones that made it through and by God’s grace you were able to have children. Two precious, amazing, spunky little girls that want to be just like their mom. You see redemption each time you look at their faces. You see His grace that brought you through what you thought would be the end. You see His face, shining on you, pushing you to be better than you would be for yourself, for those 2 girls. He knew best…He picked the perfect ones for you.

Jackie, you will learn you possess strength you never knew you had. You will set goals for yourself and surpass them. You will still struggle, we all do, but you have learned that the struggle is part of the journey. Without it, the victories are never as sweet. Be brave. Every. Single. Day.

Jackie, you have become someone you never thought you could be, you are doing things you never thought you’d be able to do. By His grace you keep going, just as you did when you were 10, 12, 15, 23….you have never given up. Hang in there…it will be worth it.

and PS….You are going to CRUSH your FIRST Half Marathon in a little over a week (yes, you, the one they called un-athletic your whole life)….try and hold it together 🙂

Love,

Jackie (at 32 yrs old)

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My Training for my First Half Marathon

I’ve had several people ask me what my training looked like as I decided to tackle the half marathon. I researched online for several days and had a few criteria for a training plan as I did so. My biggest priority was finding a training plan that I could fit into my current lifestyle/schedule without taking away from my time I am home with my kids. My youngest is in PreK 3 days a week so I knew that I could always run on those days and then I could always take off for an early run on Saturday before my husband went to work or before the kids were up, so I ideally was looking for a 3-4 day a week running plan. I read great things about Hal Higdon’s training plans and looked into those and decided that would work best for me and my family. I started the Novice 1 plan back in November, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and it gave me exactly 12 weeks to half number one.

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I have 5 weeks between my February and March half races, and 4 weeks between the March and April races. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll tackle the weeks in between, a lot will depend on how much recovery I need after the first race. I will wait and see. I’m hopeful that with a few days rest, then a few spin classes, I’ll be ready to go again within 4-5 days to jump back into running. I am so excited to see how my body performs on race day. I have put in the time, the training, the sweat, and yes, even the tears these past 10 weeks. 12 weeks seemed so far away at one point, but I have made good use of each week, never missing a run on any given week, even when traveling in NYC. Thanks for traveling this journey with me.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

I have two children and a busy schedule, so I am always looking for good fix it and forget it healthy recipes for either the crock pot or that I can make and serve in 30 minutes or less. Usually all I have to do is throw together a side or a vegetable and we’re ready to eat. This saves my life and my sanity most days. Most of these make enough for leftovers for another dinner or a lunch as well. 

 

My favorite recipe is the easiest and one of the moistest chicken recipes in the book.

-Grab a bag of frozen chicken (or use chicken breast)

-Place chicken in crock pot

-Cover with salsa (I buy mine from a local Mexican restaurant, but store bought works too)

-add optional ingredients (I love to throw mushrooms in mine and sometimes pearl onions)

-Cook on low for 6 hrs (frozen) or 4 hrs (thawed)

That’s it. So easy. The aroma is delicious. I usually make rice or qunioa with it and sometimes I just throw the chicken over a salad. This reheats really well too.

Leading By Example

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This morning as I am getting my girls ready for school my oldest daughter, Sara, randomly said to me, “Mom, I like it when you run.” I was making her breakfast and I turned around and laughed, thinking it was a funny comment. Then I asked her what she liked about me running and she said “it makes me really proud of you and I like a mommy with big muscles.” I laughed again, but it hit me hard. For once I am setting a good, healthy example for both of my girls. They are watching my every move, mimicking my behaviors, both good and bad, using my life as a baseline to navigate their world. I have commented so many times in recent years that my youngest daughter, Kate, is my clone. She acts like me, looks like me, and talks like me. I see myself in Sara a lot of times too.

I have prayed since the day my girls were born that they would not follow my footsteps into the unhealthy world of an eating disorder. I have always been hyper sensitive to body comments, weight, etc. in my household. I try to mimic behaviors that I want my girls to follow, and avoid them seeing behaviors that I think can be unhealthy. I make it a cognizant habit to talk about the Lord with my girls on a regular basis, read the Bible with them and to them, pray with them. I want to set an example of faith for my girls, I have always known this, but I never thought I could set an example of health for them as well. As we were driving Sara to school, I said to my girls, “do you know why mommy runs?” Kate says, “to get sweaty?” We all laugh, then I tell them that I run to be the healthiest mom that they can have. That I want to be here for years and years to come and this helps me be healthy and keeps my heart strong. It gives me energy to chase them through the park, jump on the trampoline with them, and take them on bike rides. They both agreed this was a very good thing. 

My girls are beyond precious to me, they are the most amazing gift God could have given me, second only to my salvation, and I smile when I know that He gave me two girls. Two strong, independent, and very different little girls for a reason. This mommy had to get healthy and be an example of not only a godly woman, but a healthy, strong, and confident woman to help these two navigate this crazy world they are growing up in. They suggested that in a few years we could all run a race together, whether that happens or not, it doesn’t matter to me, they don’t have to be runners just because I am. They will each find there own way in life and walk their own path, but what I do know is that I will be there to watch them, guide them, and set the best example I possibly can for them by God’s strength and with MUCH grace. Running is changing  me from the inside out, each step, each mile, I am gaining a new understanding of myself and seeing new strengths each day. 

3 1/2 weeks and counting…..13.1 bound

The day I run a half marathon has been on my mind and my bucket list for years. This actual race date (February 9) has been on my calendar for only a few months, but the journey to get here has been years in the making. If you have known me for awhile, or maybe even in recent years if I’ve shared it with you, you know that I have spent all of my teenage years and a majority of my college and adult years struggling with an eating disorder. There was a time that I thought I would never get to be “normal” in terms of eating. That every day would always, for the rest of my life, be a constant struggle in my eating. I never stopped trying, never stopped giving up hope that one day it would all end. But truthfully, deep down I wondered what would be the after effect of such a long struggle with an eating disorder. Would my body have long lasting effects, would I be able to enjoy my later years or had I damaged myself beyond repair?

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Today I am healthier than I have ever been, happy with the strength I am finding in my body and in each new obstacle I throw it’s way. When I cross that finish line, I will be standing in victory. I will have defeated the odds, I will have earned every single mile through tears, struggles, and so much more. The Lord sustained me when I couldn’t hold my own, He held me in every moment, and never let loose of His perfect grip on me. Every step is a miracle to me. I never thought I had it in me, and I never thought I’d be given the chance to find out.

I’m not afraid of failure. If I don’t try, I will never know what I am capable of. The journey is the miracle. I am the miracle. I overcame what I thought would be the end of me….and not only am I surviving, I am thriving. God has placed in me a strength that I didn’t know existed, and we are journeying to places I never thought I’d go. I am a fighter, I am determined, and when I cross that finish line, I can guarantee you I’ll be a different person than I was when I started this journey. I am learning a lot about myself, and I’m loving every second of it.

Training My Mind and My Body

I never knew that running was such a mental game. I knew that I had to train to become physically able to run, increasing endurance and stamina. I didn’t realize that my mind would quit on me long before my body did. Each run starts out rough, no matter how many miles I’ve run…mile 1 is always like I’m starting from scratch. It seems to take my body about a mile to figure out what we are doing  and get on board, then I’m good to keep going. However, my mind seems to think that I should turn towards home and go back some days. 

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The battle between the two is so similar to our battle everyday here in life. It reminds of Paul when he said that he knew what he was supposed to do, yet his body did the exact opposite of what he wanted it to do. That inward struggle surfaces for me often in training. I have to mentally get myself in the run and push aside all the negative thoughts that insist on pushing their way into my head. I am learning a lot about myself on this journey of running. But the biggest thing I have learned, by far, is that I am capable of FAR more than I ever knew I was. Running is good for me. 

Because sometimes we need a goal on the horizon

I have always been fully motivated in whatever my heart is into. I love fully, give fully, I exist in black and white, I’ve never excelled at doing things halfway. In some ways this is great, in other ways it’s a downfall. But be what it may, this is me…its just my personality. So when I re-joined a gym this summer (after a 6 year hiatus-ouch!) I found some new goals quickly as I dove head first into working out. I quickly re-gained the thrill I used to have from lifting heavy, I’ve always loved the challenge of increasing my weights each week or so, so as always, I went all in. I made major gains at first, as I had lost pretty much all my strength (and muscles) and I was loving it. I would throw in some cardio, a little elliptical, a bike ride, or a walk on the treadmill for good measure. I was satisfied with my progress. After some prodding from my best friend I decided to try out the boot camp group class and I convinced her to try spin class with me. I was hooked. I loved the challenge, the change each week, and I could do a LOT less than I thought. I had no endurance. As I began to go regularly, week in and week out, I noticed I could do a little more each week.

Fast forward a month or two. I have always wanted to try to run, but every time I got started it looked like this: lace up shoes, decide I am going for a run, head out and start running, less than 2 minutes later I am panting like I’d just finished the olympic sprint event and swearing that I’ll never run again. This same scene has replayed year after year. My knees would scream, my hips hurt, and my lungs were on the verge of bursting. I was fully convinced I couldn’t be a runner. They were an elusive athletic type and anyone who knows me knows that Jackie and athletic are laughable in the same sentence. I’ve always secretly harbored a jealousy for those who could just pop on shoes and go. It seems so freeing, so stress-relieveing, so unattainable for me. So, here I am spinning away several times a week, attending boot camp 2-3 times a week and building endurance. On the prompting of a friend who asks “let’s go for a run” one day, I decided I’d join her, but made her fully aware that I not only didn’t run, but I couldn’t. Well that day I made it 4.6 miles. The LONGEST I’d ever run in my life. Now, to say it was easy or enjoyable, I can not. I was sucking air and cursing my legs the whole way. BUT, I made it. Thus began the brewing in my head of MAYBE, just maybe I can learn to run.

And so it began. A few days, a few runs (at my own pace) and I was finding pure pleasure in the abilities of my feet and legs to carry me. Since I’d already passed of a 5K distance, I wanted to find a challenge, a goal to work towards, so I picked a 10K. Then upon realizing that was within reach I signed up for a half marathon….and true to Jackie form, that I can do nothing half way, I might have signed up for THREE of them…one in February, one in March and one in April.

So here we go….this begins my new journey. One I never thought possible or within reach….and now it is mile by mile becoming a reality. I have reached a point where I crave the run and can’t wait for the next. I’m still 10 weeks out from my first 13.1, but each week, each mile covered is getting me closer. I’m crazy, I know, but at least I’m only HALF crazy 🙂 We won’t talk about what might be next….I don’t need any ideas!