Facing Myself

I’m simply telling a story of a girl whose greatest struggle was once that she couldn’t face herself… and look how far she’s come! 

I’ve always loved makeup. I admired the beautiful looks that I’d see people create. I loved to hear about different trends and products. I loved stories about how women would use it to enhance their features and their confidence. I could spend hours in the makeup aisle looking at all of the colors and finishes, even the packaging intrigued me. 

I’ve worn makeup since I was pretty young. At first, it was about wanting to look more mature, but eventually it became about hiding. I didn’t use makeup in the way I admired it from afar. 

I would pile on foundation, concealer, and powder. I wouldn’t add blush often because that would enhance my features and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. 

I would wear the most pale lip color I could find. Pale gold. Pale pink. Clear gloss. Nudes so nude that they merged right into the rest of my face. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and certainly didn’t want to have to spend any more time in the mirror facing myself than neccessary! The sooner I could turn away from myself the better. 

My eyes were my one feature I liked well enough. I always wore eye makeup and thought I was enhancing them but, in retrospect, I wasn’t doing myself many favors with the thick black rim of liner all around them and frosty white eyeshadow. 

One day, about a year before I started my fitness journey, I happened across a makeup group for moms on Facebook. I would mostly lurk at first. Then, every once in awhile I would pipe in with advice. Afterall, I’d admired makeup for many years. However, I’d almost never post pictured because my face did not in any way reflect the passion I had for makeup. These girls were gorgeous and confident. They didn’t cover half of their face with their hair, and filter their faces into oblivion like I did. They’d face the camera head on instead of having to angle to hide their insecurities. I wanted that so badly!

It took a lot of time for me to get there, but as I began my fitness journey and learned to love myself more, it became easier to face the mirror a bit longer. To spend more time playing features up instead of applying a mask. 

I’d ask for advice in the groups and spend time watching tutorials on YouTube and Instagram. I learned to actually try utilizing them instead of just admiring from afar. I learned not to be afraid of myself. 

I don’t know if the weightloss made it easier for me to love and embrace myself more in order to branch out with my makeup or not. Maybe the makeup increased my self confidence more and helped with my weightloss. I’m not sure, because it all seemed to kind of happen together. I’d like to think it was all just physical manifestations of my newfound self love. 

The time I spend on my makeup is really a time of self care. It’s how I show love to myself. It’s an artistic expression. It’s a time of prayer and meditation. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It’s challenging and rewarding. It’s now absolutely everything I admired about makeup so many years ago! 

I know there is still room for improvement in my makeup abilities. There is always room for improvement…I thrive on that in every aspect of my life!!!

I’m not saying that I am a better person because I can “do makeup” now. I’m not saying my confidence comes from makeup. I’m simply telling a story of a girl whose greatest struggle was once that she couldn’t face herself… and look how far she’s come! 

Recovery

I will run…

I am a runner. 

I love to run for stress relief, exercise, fun. I love to set goals. I enjoy taking my 3 year old out in the jogging stroller and spending time with him… letting him see his mama as a strong, fast and motivated role model. 

Alanna with Killian (age 3) after a stroller run.

 I experienced my first real running injury a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had normal running strains and aches and blisters that may have set me back for a few days before but nothing like this. 

I was about 3 miles into what could’ve been a very long run. I was feeling wonderful. I had my music going, my feet felt light, my breathing felt good! I ran off of the paved path and onto a trail near the lake. The trail has a lot of roots and one caught my foot and my ankle snapped. I was on the ground instantly. 

 I sat there for what felt like an eternity trying to decide if I needed to scream out for immediate help, call my husband to get me, brush the dirt off and jump right back into my run, cry, laugh….I was in shock.  I decided to slowly stand up and see how I felt. I put a little pressure on my foot. It hurt…but I thought “Maybe I can run it off…” 

In retrospect it had to be the runner’s high. They say adrenaline can be a powerful analgesic and this to me is proof! 

I ran home. I ripped off my shirt and sat to have a drink for a minute like I usually do after a run. I told my husband about my fall and said “It must not be bad. I ran home!” However, 10 mins later when I stood up to change there was excruciating pain. I knew it was a bad injury. I iced it and went to sleep and it was puffed up like a balloon by morning. 

Based on the pain I thought for sure I had a fracture, but my doctor told me no amount of adrenaline would allow me to run home on a broken ankle. She diagnosed me with a sprain and told me to take at least two weeks off running. 

It’s now been over two weeks and while Im at least off of the crutches now and walking, I am not yet able to run. 

I never knew how badly I would mourn for running! I have never cried more in my life than I have in these two weeks. Sometimes it’s actually because I want to run. Sometimes it’s for some other dumb thing that upsets me that running would usually make me feel better about.  Mostly, it’s all the stuff I’ve had time to hear, see and feel when I’m not busy running. 

I don’t know how long it will take until I can get back out there. It makes me nervous. I don’t want to be afraid and put it off too long. I don’t want to do it too soon and set my healing back. 

There is a race coming up in a few weeks that I really wanted to run but I can’t afford to sign up if I won’t actually be running by then. 

This sucks.

I will say, I am excited for a comeback. I know that this will make me appreciate every run and push me so much harder once I’m out there! 

You would think that a formerly obese couch potato turned athlete would already know better than to take her ability to run for granted, but I used to. 

No. More. 

I am going to run every run with purpose. 

I am going to run every run with a mission.

 I am going to run every run to improve my mind and improve my body.

 I am going to run every run to glorify God and thank Him for the chance to get out and see miles and miles of the beautiful world He created. 

I am going to run. 

Running Away

Nomatter how far I’ve come, I can never run away.

Nobody warns you about this part. Ok…maybe they do, but you don’t listen. 

You don’t listen because you think it won’t happen to you. 

You think that getting fit and slim will be all sunshine and roses. You know it might be hard to get there, but in your head you think that once you’re “there” everything will be perfect. 

It’s not.

That’s not to say it’s not good. There is so much good that has come from this! 

I will say without a doubt that if I could have felt the way I feel now for just one day when I was heavier, I would have started my journey so much sooner. Being able to go up a flight of stairs without getting winded, running with my kids, having a normal blood pressure for the first time in years and perfect bloodwork (and avoiding the morbid but warranted warnings from my doctors that I may not be around to see my kids grow up!) these are all amazing things. These and many other wonderful outcomes that I’ll save for a future blog post. 

It’s not all good though. 

I’ve noticed people treat me differently. I don’t blame them. I AM different. I’m a completely different person than I used to be. Sometimes they miss the old me, but I don’t. I wasn’t happy then. I didn’t like myself then. Not because of my weight…my weight was a by-product of a lot of self-hate. So while some miss the old me, I’m begging them to try and love the new me the way I do! Unfortunately, just as they are stuck on not wanting to get to know the “new me”, I refuse to hang on to the “old me”.  Therefore, we grow apart. That’s ok. It’s life. However, just because it’s ok it doesn’t make it easy. 

My body is still betraying me. How can a body that I’ve pampered and groomed and treated with such care still go against me?  I’ve fueled it with the right foods and the perfect amount of calories and macros. I’ve taken time everyday to stretch and strengthen each muscle. I’ve rehabilitated the organs I abused for so many years. I shed 110 pounds… I’ve done everything I could to show my body that we are not what we used to be and part of my body disagrees. 

Let’s call this part of my body Ms. Skin. She’s a bitch. 

Ms. Skin tries to act like she’s on my side. She claps for me when I run. She hangs from my arms and stomach and thinks she’s cheering me on. *clap*clap*clap*

Ms. Skin doesn’t realize how much it hurts. Ms. Skin doesn’t care about the rashes that could develop because of her clapping. She doesn’t know that I hate running without headphones because I need to drown out the sound she makes. Ms. Skin doesn’t realize that the faster I try to run to get away from her the more she holds me back. 

Ms. Skin doesn’t care that tucking her into my clothes makes me appear much bigger than I am. 

Ms. Skin doesn’t understand how embarrassing and uncomfortable it is to refuse to do exercises my trainer assigns that involve jumping because of how much pain she causes me. 

Ms. Skin doesn’t care about how my 3 year old tells me my stomach is “just like a monster”. 

Ms. Skin doesn’t care about the rude comments from strangers. 

Ms. Skin just likes to cling to me, reminding me of the “old me” that I hated….Reminding me that I can change and control so much but that nomatter how far I have come, I can never run away.

Miles Apart

Those runs took her miles apart from where she started.

Once upon a time, there was a mom. Her entire identity was just that. Mom. Nothing more and nothing less, because we all know that the title of “mom” is nothing to sneeze at.

Way back when, she used to have hobbies and interests outside of motherhood. She even worked outside the home and was quite good at every job she took! But alas, with the arrival of her 3rd child there also came mysterious health issues. Pain, suffering, anxiety, joint and nerve issues and way too many careless prescriptions from the doctors had her spiraling out of control and farther and farther from being the woman she once was. She almost lost herself entirely. She was sick, body and mind. She took the pills the doctors prescribed her as she was told not realizing how she was being poisoned. The pounds piled on, she missed out on time with her her family, her muscles grew weak, her soul weary until she physically and mentally gave up. She was using a walker to get around. She was a recluse in her room and people grew around her while she missed it all.

Eventually, something came over her…a power she’d never known before and wouldn’t see again for a long time. It was determination. She threw out all her pills and said “No more!!” they weren’t helping her and she felt they were making her worse. She was right. With the medicines out of her system she regained a little bit of her health…not all…but enough that she made a decision that since her family didn’t quite feel finished she wanted one more child.

This mom loved her 4 children with all of her heart. As these children grew, and needed her less she became panicked, for she knew not what to do if not completely submerged in them.

Her hobbies consisted primarily of “mommy groups” which she attended with her youngest. She made friends with other mothers of young ones through La Leche League, and Babywearing International and other such groups and really felt like she had found her place and her people. Of course, many of these friends were just starting these families and this mom was on her last child. She couldn’t keep her child from growing to maintain breastfeeding and babywearing as the glue that held these friendships together. She loved and valued the relationships she formed with these people but noticed and acknowledged that having kids the same age isn’t always enough.

By this point, her weight had gotten out of control. She wasn’t one of those moms that shed pounds while breastfeeding but, in fact her body seemed to store fat during this time. Her preemie child needed to be fed a lot and due to the time she spent focused on nursing him in the beginning, she grew roots into the couch where she remained for years nursing him into toddlerhood. Depression led to binge eating…which led to weight gain…which as it often does, led to more depression.

This mom was 260 lbs and lost. She hated herself and needed a change.

She joined a gym. It had a tanning bed. She loved tanning (spare the lectures, ok? This has a happy ending.) and so she told herself if she got nothing else out of this gym membership, it was a good deal for a tanning package. She just made a rule for herself that if she wanted to go tan, she had to do some exercise first. She’d walk slowly on the treadmill for 30 minutes. She’d sweat, and pant. She wanted to die. It was HARD and it was embarrassing, but she promised to do it before she tanned so she stuck it out.

Little by little it got easier, and eventually tanning wasn’t what got her there. It was that treadmill! She craved it. The fitness bug had bit her and there was no turning back!

She hadn’t changed her eating habits yet at this point but started noticing the “calories burned” counter on her treadmill. She wanted these to mean something, and so she downloaded the free MyFitnessPal app on her phone and began logging her food. She stuck with logging everyday and suddenly the pounds started falling off. She got more motivated and tried different activities. She enjoyed this and was seeing results!

She was finally beginning to find herself. Her confidence was growing, her waist was shrinking. Her kids were still her focus, but in a different way. She wanted them to grow and she wanted them to be inspired by her!

Before she realized it, a year had passed and she’d lost nearly 100 lbs. When you get that close to your goal weight the pounds come off more slowly and once again she felt a little lost. For this entire year she had shared her “weekly weigh ins” and was so encouraged by others. It kept her motivated and gave her purpose. Some weeks she wouldn’t lose any weight and she realized she needed to set new goals.

She decided she wanted to become an athelete. 36 years old is a perfectly reasonable age to start something like that, you know! 😉

She hired an amazing personal trainer and began lifting weights and even running! Running miles, and miles and miles….

Those runs took her miles apart from where she started. She went from using a walker….to placing in races. She went from 260 lbs… to 149.6 lbs. She went from wearing a 3X….to wearing a small. She went from wearing a size 20….to wearing a size 4. She went from resenting how her body failed her…to loving all it could do.