Emotionally inducing memories

IMG_0248Right now I’m at the Women’s Coach Alliance conference in Denver, Colorado. There’s an incredible aura throughout this entire event. Amazing speakers, strong women from all walks of life and different backgrounds. Today, I lost it and I do get embarrassed about it. But what people view as vulnerable, in actuality it’s my strength. Vulnerability would be me hiding from the truth. The inability to accept what has brought me to this point in my life. Being widowed is my fabric, and it makes me strong. It is not my weakness.

We had a sports life coach come up this morning to give her presentation and she talked about living our lives as 10s. Always aiming to live in the 10 moments. At that point she asked the room what are some 10 out of 10 moments. People discussed winning a championship, impacting players lives, getting married, birth of a child, etc. And my brain flickers with a story board of moments. All of them landing on 1 specific moment and that was when I spoke in Time Square for the kick off of Cycle for Survival on 9/19/14. What would’ve been my first wedding anniversary.

My stomach clenched, my heart began racing, my palms were sweaty. I was back reliving that moment as I sat in the back of the classroom watching her ask if there’s any other moments. My hand ascended up and I began telling the story and then the tears dribbled down my cheeks and my voice became lost in my throat. I could only display the emotional effect of that day. The power, the value, the meaning and the importance of standing in Time Square talking about the greatest love story there ever was replayed behind my eyes.

I recently wrote an article for Hope For Widows Foundation, check it out:

http://hopeforwidows.org/triathlon-grief-fear-strength/

But I’m getting more and more of these memories returning back to me and evoking such a tremendous emotional response. Is it because of the returning loneliness due to the deployment? Am I beginning to process grief? Did I not process it well enough the first time? I don’t know what’s happening to me. It might be because I’m out of coaching and for once I’m taking time to myself. I have no clue. But it’s a weird mixture of sadness, excitement, power, and resolution. I feel invigorated, refreshed and prepared for the next grand adventure to see where it’ll lead me.IMG_0235

 

 

Return to Widow Groups

IMG_8075I recently have returned to the widow message boards. I do this every once in awhile. This time I didn’t do it to seek out assistance or to vent. I needed a reminder of the men and women who I share this tragic emblem with. I’m a part of a club, and I need to remember to offer support and guidance to my fellow wids.

I have been having trouble dealing with my boyfriend’s deployment, and I have been feeling lonely, but it’s nothing like when George died. Nothing could ever compare to that. But having an empty bed again does hurt.

I’m looking to put together a grief group here in Montgomery. It’s not just aimed at those who are going through loss of a spouse. I’m learning that grief comes in all different forms. I do think I’m having grief issues connected to the deployment. I also think the change of career is triggering some emotions too. And it made me think of all the other wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends who are going through deployment, or other life changes.

I also think this article I just wrote on berries triggered grief. Good grief that was a hard article to write. Har-har-har.

George would be proud of me, I know he would. So I keep that in the back of my mind. This hiccup will pass and I will learn another valuable life lesson when it’s all over. And then I’ll be that much better pushing forward.

Dealing with Deployment

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Feeling alone in a crowd

My heart has been heavy, like an anchor keeping me in a perpetual state of worry. I’m making a career change, and I’ve been offered a few jobs but nothing I can see myself truly embracing. I feel the most alive when I’m sucked into research, writing, and creating content. But there’s the deep sense of emptiness creeping up my backside and I’m unable to avoid it. I feel the jaws slowly penetrating my skin and digging deeper and deeper.

I’m feeling the absence. I’m feeling the weight of all the life changes hitting me from all angles. I am not okay. The thirst for control is bubbling and I’ve made necessary changes I know will provide me with that grip to hold on during this turbulence.

  • I remind myself there is an end point to this deployment, he will return in October. In October I’ll be able to hold his hand, feel his warmth, press my head into his clavicle. There is an end. But I cannot look up too soon because it will feel longer than it needs to. That’s a lesson I’ve learned from running. Don’t aim for the end too soon, save enough energy for that final push.
  • I’ve gone through far worse in my life than a 6 month deployment. There is an end to this.
  • I need to let go of what I cannot control
  • Don’t behave in ways you’ll regret– no alcohol.
  • Allow time for recovery– Keep my multiple work out days to a minimum.
  • Eat healthy on a budget– provides a mental stimulus to find deals
  • Track all receipts to prevent over spending
  • Take care of the dogs so they’ll take care of me

There’s moments in the day when I feel guilty for feeling sad. He’s in another country, sleeping on a bunk around other soldiers with little to no privacy, working 12 hour days. I’m here, in the comfort of our home, with a roof over my head, electricity running through the wires, and clean water at my expense.

The extent of my woes are I feel pressure to find a meaningful job, although all things considered I believe it’s my own personal pressure on the issue. Many who have been in a similar situation tell me I am in no rush. Enjoy this freedom. But it’s a lot to handle to be honest. I don’t want to make another mistake like I did taking the position at Huntingdon. It’s my best interest to separate from there because it was a poor professional decision. But it led me to him. And I need to shore up because I have 4 more months of alone time.

Returning to Food Writing

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I’ve always hated this picture

George and I used to maintain a food blog called George and Julia Eat Manhattan. We also transitioned to George and Julia’s Vegan Underground as we took on a new dietary lifestyle. Today I finished an article highlighting the health benefits of carrots.

It was weird reading about the benefits of carrots to treating cancers. Specifically liver cancers. I love carrots. I eat them often but I remember George didn’t like carrots. He thought they tasted bitter, so when we juiced he wanted sans carrots. As I’m reading all the benefits carrots do to liver I feel a little guilty. Like, I should’ve fucking known this already. I knew carrots has anti-inflammatory properties and help with vision, but I didn’t know vitamin A is converted in the liver.

Is it normal to feel this kind of regret and guilt? I couldn’t save him, his doctors couldn’t save him, so why do I think some carrots could’ve saved him. It’s so nonsensical but damnit. I miss him. When I come back to Connecticut, it’s hard to shake the void. I miss George and coming home sometimes reminds me he’s not here anymore.

I also really miss my boyfriend. He’s deployed right now and I think it’s stirring up some unresolved grief.

I’m really happy to be here in Connecticut though. I love spending time with my parents and hanging around the house. I fall into reclusive behavior when I’m home and don’t really tell anyone when I’m back too often. I guess it’s a force of habit.IMG_4546

Marathon Plans

This upcoming Saturday I have the Montgomery Half Marathon. Last year I was late to the start because one of my players was in the hospital. So this year I am excited to have the chance to run it again. I know the course, I know where the hardest parts are, so I’m ready to attack it.

I love half marathons, but admittedly I haven’t trained for one as much as I did the first 1/2 I ran. I’ve been able since November 2014 to maintain my fitness level to a point where I can run 10 miles pretty okay, but it is a struggle to get to 13. But with a little pre-work out and a couple weeks of training, I can get there. I tucker out around miles 11 and 12, and then pick it up for the ending.

I’m ready for this Saturday. I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago, and I know my body is capable of the push. I am looking forward to the run. But I’m starting to look long term too. I’ve hummed and hawed about doing a full marathon, but I’m starting to lean into it. I want to attempt the monstrous run. What’s holding me back? Is it time commitment to training? I have a sturdy base level of fitness I can build from. So what’s the mental gap? I need to sign up. It’s the next evolution in my routine. It makes sense. I know I can complete it if I tried. To go with ease, not worry about time. I worry about my time with half marathons. I want my splits to be better and better. Close to 8:00 mile splits or around there. But a marathon. The goal will be to complete it. Not to worry about time but to worry about pushing through the pain to achieve what few are capable of doing.

It’s time. Marathon is training will commence. I want to challenge myself mentally, physically, emotionally through the training process.

October 2017, it’s time to for a marathon bib to be incorporated to the stack.

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Back to basics

I feel like my life is becoming unhinged. I’m dreading the future. So I need to remember what makes me happy, things I’m grateful for. So here it is:

I’m grateful for my loving family who will listen to me cry and bitch about everything on the phone. And their ability to try to give me advice knowing I’m not really listening because I feel sorry for myself.

I’m grateful for my dogs who love me unconditionally no matter how disheveled I appear when I come home from work. They don’t weigh my value on wins and losses.

I’m grateful for the friends I’ve met throughout Montgomery because when I feel at my lowest, someone will say something or I’ll receive a text and allows me to remember I have to continue to enjoy living and not have one part of my everyday influence and affect the better parts.

I’m grateful for my boyfriend who makes me laugh, doesn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself for a long period of time, and reminds me of all the positive relationships I’m forming and how I’m a good influence on his and others lives.

I need my grateful buoys to keep me from drowning. I feel like there’s too much on my shoulders and I’m sinking. Sometimes a little inner reflection can make all the difference. I’m hoping this helps. I’m going on a night run to clear my mind, exhaust my body, and hopefully destress so I can get a full night sleep.

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Lacrosse without George

This is my fourth lacrosse season without George. Every preseason is riddled with anxiety and figuring how to deal with it. This season has been particularly difficult because there’s another sense of loss I’ve been trying to deal with.

My boyfriend is in the military. Once New Years hit, he was gone for training. He’s been away now for 8 weeks, and he comes back on Friday. I’m really excited to have him back, but in a short 4 weeks he is gone for 6 months. I know that’s what I’ve signed up for by dating someone in the military, but there’s a massive feeling of conflict has been weighing on me. I’m not going to air my anxieties for professional reasons, but know they are there will remind me when I look back at this post in the future.

I control my attitude toward things and I’ve been trying so hard to head to the office with a clear mind, positive attitude to practice, and be as understanding to the people around me and their needs. But I feel like I’m ignoring my own needs, and when I try to make time to take care of myself, something comes up. I took a personal weekend not too long ago, and ended up working the entire weekend with emails, scheduling, recruits, and relationships with other lacrosse coaches. It’s part of the job, I know. I also know I’m childless and alone too right now, so there’s a weird expectation I need to be on call all the time. I need to find a balance. That’s all this is about. I wrote a lengthy diatribe above to conclude I need a balance.

Adulting is hard. I think I deflect a lot and I need to just deal with the fact that I’m fearful of failing and worried about being alone again. That’s what is causing my emotional distress.image

Life Changing Suggestions

I’m coming around to the 3 year mark of when I made the commitment to exercising regularly. In two days, the 50 Mile Running Challenge begins, but what piece of advice will help newer runners achieve their goals? There’s a ton of different levels of runners in the group, and I’m so excited to see the advice, encouragement and support everyone provides. Such an eclectic group: we have people training for marathons involved, those who’ll be doing half marathons, some who are new moms looking to get back in shape, former college athletes, people looking to make lifestyle changes, and then some who are rehabilitating their injuries or coming back from surgeries. So much variation, and it’s going to be incredible.

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But back to the point: What kind of advice would you give to a new runner?

I’ve been scouring Runners World Magazine, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Active.com, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine for some suggestions, and here’s the top 8 most useful tips and suggestions for new runners:

  1. Join a Running Group, virtual or local— Many beginning runners go solo because they might feel overwhelmed, nervous or intimidated by running with others. But gaining a running partner or a support running group will allow for the run to be more enjoyable, help inspire and stay motivated. This is really important in the very beginning on a plan because having a partner or a group support can really help push someone to try new distances or activity level. (source: Runners World)
  2. Have a strategy— If you are going from running 0 miles to a new program, it’s so important you are mindful and are listening to your body. Many people get hung up on speed to begin with, but you need to focus on progression. No one is judging you and it’s so important you worry more about how you feel rather than pace. My personal suggestion is to set up a “running time.” For example, look to do a duration of 20 minutes total “running time.” As you are in your “running time,” if you run for a minute and need to walk to catch your breath, try to be mindful of your running to walking ratios. As the program progresses you’ll notice within that 20 minute “running time” you will see steady improvement after 2 weeks. And you’ll know by listening to your body when you can begin to gauge distance rather than duration. (source: Runners World/ Personal experience)
  3. Log Your Runs— Running is a introverted and solitary activity. You’ll recognize your mind will sort through lots of things and you’ll feel a lot of emotions too. Probably very difficult ones in the beginning because it will be mentally draining and add a lot of stress physically. Document your starting weight, some feelings during the runs, thoughts, distances, times, pace, etc. You’ll be thankful you did. It will also keep you on track. (source: Competitor.com)
  4. Buy a good pair of running shoes— If you are using old pair of running shoes, you’ll notice after a few first walks or runs your knees, joints, and calves will be incredible sore or painful. This can really hinder the running experience, and turn you off from completing the challenge and reaching your goals. Having a fitted pair of running shoes is actually INJURY PREVENTION. Running shoes have thicker soles for cushion and stability. Your feet may swell when you run, so trim your toenails. (Source: Runners World, Active.com, Livestrong.com, Competitor.com, Fitness Magazine, Personal experience)
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk— It is okay to walk. The fact that you’re outside, or on a treadmill and working is a huge accomplishment. If there is a big hill and you are tired, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk up the hill. As you progress and increase your cardio levels in time your walking will decrease, but in the beginning, do the program and style that works for you. (Source: Active.com, Fitness magazine)
  6. Be sure to get rest— You are putting a lot of stress and demands on your body when you are first starting out. Many new runners will start too much too soon, and because of it they’ll suffer from shin splints, sore knees, hip flexor pulls, tight hamstrings, etc. You’ll also feel your energy levels will take a dip too. It does get better, but as you feel run down take a rest day, recuperate and recover and before you know it, you’ll feel fitter, stronger and more energized. Rest allows for your muscles to rebuild from all the micro tears in your muscle tissues which occurs during any new workout plan. Body has to adapt and it does take 2-3 weeks. (source: National Academy of Sports Medicine, Runners World, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine)
  7. Proper fuel and hydration— I’m plugging something personal in here. I take amino acids an hour before every run and have noticed it keeps me energized through out. After I run I also take amino acids to help with faster recovery. Hit me up if you have questions.– What I’ve read from sources regarding fuel and hydration: As you start to get into the thick of your running regiment, you’ll notice you’ll be hungrier more often. It’s imperative you consume nutrient dense foods, because it will help heal your body, strengthen your bones, and replenish your glycogens storages. Which will also allow for weight loss. Try not to use running as a reward to indulge in bad food. It will be counteractive to your progress. It also will lead to your muscles getting more labored or fatigued the next time you run. Ladies, consume high-fiber and complex carbs 30-60 minutes after your run, Gentlemen look to consume more protein dense foods 30-60 minutes after your run. Our genders are not equal when it come to replenishing and how we heal. Replenishing electrolytes and minerals following a long run is imperative to your recovery. Runners World recommends Advocare Rehydrate as the best go-to recovery drink post work out. You can buy some from me here: Advocare Rehydrate (source: active.com, Runners World, personal experience, National Academy of Sports Nutrition)
  8. Set up achievable goals— When you make daily, weekly or monthly goals make sure they are achievable. Be proud when you accomplish them, brag about it in your group, to friends, and write it down in your log. Hitting goals will allow for this whole experience to be enjoyable and fun. Have fun, share your accomplishments, and load up on lots of memes to describe your running experience. (source: personal experience, Runners World, Livestrong.com)

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50 Mile Challenge

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My former college teammate and I have been doing this monthly challenge for years. We try to get 50 total running miles in a month. We will self report to each other and it was a way to help kick start our fitness regiment. It has helped me reach the fitness level I am at now. I feel healthier than I ever have before and I want to share it with others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

So many people want to get in shape, lose weight, get fitter but they might not know where to start. But with doing a challenge it provides a little structure, plus being a part of a group setting allows for greater results and has proven it allows for a higher percentage in reaching goals.

Setting up daily goals in the days and weeks after my husband passed away provided me with a purpose. It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day because I felt self-motivated and I knew if I hit those little milestones eventually it will turn into a habit. With this 50 Mile Challenge, I want to pass along the lesson I learned and gained. I want to help others reach their goals too.

How will I help you and others reach their goals? Well Facebook of course! It’s self reporting style, and there’s more and more joining the challenge each day. Do you want to start on your journey to bettering yourself?

Check out my 50 mile challenge! Begins February 16 and ends March 31. 44 total days to get 50 total miles running or walking.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

Also check out my Instagram at @flippingsteier

Cycle for Survival Alabama edition

So this past Saturday, January 28th, I organized the first Cycle for Survival in Alabama at the gym I teach spin at, Metro Fitness. It was successful and I was super pleased with the turn out of support!

I’m not going to go into detail about the event, but I want to discuss the importance of Cycle for Survival to me.

Cycle for Survival gives me so much hope, excitement, strength and focus. I truly believe in what they are doing for the developments in treating rare cancers, and I also like love the feeling it provides me leading up to the event and after. It gives me goosebumps knowing that in a day, so many people around the country are also supporting and raising awareness and funds for rare cancer research. It also gives me time to reflect and think about all the lessons, joys, and triumphs I shared with George. He too loved participating in Cycle for Survival. So when I’m on the bike, I feel connected with him, and on the days of Cycle for Survival, I feel like I am working for him. I am pedaling stronger than I ever had before, because I want to make him proud.

This year in Alabama, I didn’t have my closest friends around for support, I didn’t have my family nearby, but I did have a community there. I really appreciate the generosity of the people in Montgomery and beyond. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. We have neared the $3,000 mark and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that this money will go towards saving someone’s life and making a difference.

Each year around this time, I make new memories with George and it helps propel me forward. Allows me to feel stronger and I know the money raised is going toward something meaningful and will offer strength to others battling cancers.

I love Cycle for Survival.

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