{Giving Up My Stilettos…Sort of}

I’m giving up my stilettos. Seriously, I don’t wear them anymore.

About two years ago I first thought about the irony of my blog title and Instagram profile since wearing stilettos wasn’t and isn’t really something I do anymore except on rare occasions. This post has sat in my draft folder for six months waiting for me to finish it. For some reason, I’ve been hesitant to share my world lately.

Despite being adamant that becoming a mother wouldn’t make me give up the old me, that’s exactly what has happened. What is even more,  I don’t even miss it that much.  Okay…some days I do, but those are usually the “I don’t have to,” lots of whining and exhausted days. These kids just change you in so many ways. And, really, heels just hurt now.

Truth be told, I fall asleep most nights moments after I sit down (often around 9:00-9:30) or while pumping before bed.  I can’t handle late nights and wouldn’t want to imagine what the next day would be like after really getting crazy.  I don’t even really drink anymore.  I had less than 6 glasses of wine this past summer and have had no beer since my elimination diet began mid-June.  It has now been six months since I enjoyed a beer.  (I do miss that.) My one glass of wine a week works just fine for me now.

I can count on one hand the number of kid free moments the husband and I have had together in the last year plus, and it’s kind of okay with me for now.  After having my second baby I also learned, through much research, that all that heel wearing likely contributed to the abdominal separation that I am still battling. And battle it has been.

To think of how becoming a mommy has changed me is almost indescribable.  I’ve become much softer (literally and figuratively), think of myself less, consider what others might be going through more, and ask myself how every choice I make will impact my kids.  I find joy in much simpler things.  I feel like I need less and want less.  I make sacrifices every single day. I ride tire swings even though it makes me so nauseous just to see that big smile and hear that laugh.

I’m now a tea drinking, grain-free and sugar-limiting, La Croix drinking, bone broth making, collagen in my coffee, library card holding patron, hair pulled up most the time, baby wearing, head rubbing, one more story reading, momma hold me, kiss it all better mama.  To think kids wouldn’t change me entirely was crazy, yet you won’t see my blog name changing.

In a way the title still fits.  As a busy, and often overwhelmed, mom I still have things I want for myself even if they are different things or perhaps not actually “things” at all.  Although I really struggle when it comes to taking time for myself, it is a struggle I will always be battling.  How do I give my kids meaningful experiences, fill their cups full, teach them what they need to learn, run a household, work full time, breastfeed as long as baby girl is interested, and still have any time and/or energy for myself? How do I do that without taking away from the important things listed above and not feel guilty. When I figure it out I’ll let you know, but my guess is you might be waiting for a very, very long time.

Stilettos represented the social life I once had, and going out and having fun.  In a way, stilettos now represent the old me.  I am a Gemini.  While I don’t subscribe to astrology too much, I’ve always found myself to have two distinct personalities per say.  Part of me loves social time and getting out with friends and the husband.  Staying at home for more than one weekend a month used to send me into “I’m-going-to-go-crazy-if-I-don’t-get-out-of-here” soon mode.

On the flip side, I was also always craving my alone time. Just me and my sneaks on the pavement or the trail.  My mind going to a state that I never found anywhere but running.  Running made (and still does) me a calmer, happier and a better version of myself when doing all the other life things.  I was always trying to balance my social life with my running life.   Going out on Saturday night and having a long run Sunday…the two just don’t go together, but I was never completely happy settling for just one of those things, constantly going back and forth on my personality spectrum trying to make both work.

Now Sneaks and Stilettos represents a similar challenge in finding time to myself.  Those rare moments where I feel like my old self.  The pre-mom self who didn’t worry ALL the time about her kids about EVERYTHING.

Do they feel loved enough?  Will they like each other?  Like really like each other and be friends as siblings when they grow up? How can I help them form this kind of relationship?  Am I shaping them to be kind and generous people?  Are they learning what they should be learning? Should he be counting higher, naming colors, imagining more, playing with other kids his age more?  Are they going to have clothes to wear for that upcoming whatever?  Did I order more probiotic?  What will be our next food trial?  Is she reacting to my new vitamin? Should I be more concerned that she is not walking yet?  Are his ankles turning in when he walks?  Are they getting all the vitamins and nutrients they should?  Why is he so scared of bedtime?  How can I help him be less worried and scared of the dark? Are they happy?

How in the hell am I going to continue to survive the upcoming school year making everything from freakin’ scratch for my grain-free and sugar limited diet. How do I continue to accomplish my school goals and find time to pump at school?  Will this girl sleep through the night soon? How will I juggle all this and still be a niceish person?  How many moments will I miss while they are being taken care of by others?  Wait, did I change the diaper size on our next Amazon subscribe and save order?  Crap, I think that bill is due today.   My mind goes on and on.  So much noise.  So much worry.

Sneaks and Stilettos now represents the balance I try to find between being a mother and getting in time for myself.  It represents my effort to quiet some of that noise and worry in my mind.  I know after not having that balance for the past months that it is not good for me or for anyone when I don’t take care of myself.

Sneaks and Stilettos is about playing with my kids without distraction from my phone and giving them my full attention and later getting a solo drive to Starbucks and back for a little mommy recharge.  It’s about going out for a girls night and having a glass of wine after putting my kids to bed. Sneaks and Stilettos is about what brings me balance between mom life and still feeling like me the most-EXERCISE.

Exercise is a time to shut that worry off if only for minutes at a time.  It brings me a sense of carefreeness that is almost nonexistent once you become a mom.  You know, the before kids freeness.  I need to move my body to feel like myself.  I need to be outside and experience the simple joys of nature and sunshine to recharge. Exercise lets me forget that someone always needs something.  Someone is always sick or has some new thing just starting.  It takes me back to a time where there wasn’t always something that had to be done.  I maybe thought there was but, let’s be honest, there really wasn’t.

It’s a time where there are not meals to be planned, groceries to be bought, budgets to balance, new clothes to order, bike helmets to be replaced because someone left it on the trunk of the car and mom didn’t know and drove off and it fell into the road and got hit by a car (this just happened a couple months ago), and so on.

It’s just me and myself.  My shoes on the pavement.  My own breath.  The wind in my hair. Music I chose for myself (no Old McDonald).   Sneaks and Stilettos is now about letting me feel like myself again for small moments so I can be the best version of myself the rest of the time.  It’s about choosing me and doing what I need for myself a few minutes each day, so I can be more selfless and present for my family later.

Sneaks and Stilettos was always about finding balance within myself, and finding happiness between the have to dos and the want to dos. That hasn’t changed even though almost my entire life has.  Despite all the worry and life changing moments, I would not go back to my old life if I had the choice.  Those giggles, hugs, first moments, sticky hands, tender nursing sessions in the middle of the night, even my son’s endless “why?” comments these days are all worth it.

As I finally get back into running, training, exercise classes, blogging and finding an inevitable unbalanced version of balance in my life that brings contentment again, I feel like my blog title is even more symbolic of my life today.

While you won’t literally see me in my stilettos much in the future, you’ll still see me trying to fit in what stilettos now means to me in between chasing my two kids in my sneaks.

Sarah

{Adjusting Expectations}

At a yoga class I attended this summer the instructor wrapped up class with a quote about most of our anxiety coming from expectations we create. I couldn’t agree with this more. Summer was a first hand look at this exact thing.

I expected summer to bring less stress and chaos. I expected to have more family time. I expected to be closing in on the end of breastfeeding as my daughter neared her first birthday. I expected to have more time for myself and to get back to running more with some time off from work this summer. I expected to be starting to plan my daughter’s 1st birthday where I expected her to playfully smash her birthday cake.  I expected her to enjoy her first taste of the good stuff while covering herself in the sugary sweet frosting.  As I should know by now, life often has other plans.  Life often doesn’t go how we expect it to.

I’ve been silent on this blog for some time too overwhelmed with life to find time for it. Not running and training “enough” to warrant writing anything. In fact I was pretty sure I was going to give this blogging thing up, my Facebook page unpublished for months now.

The other day I worked on back to school stuff for my classroom all day. Despite not feeling ready and having the usual anxiety, it feels all the more overwhelming knowing I will be juggling more than ever before. Typically this time of year means eating less healthy because we have so much to do. We might have a take and bake pizza or grab some fast food to give more time to work and our kids.  Healthy eating takes a little bit less priority. Not this year.

Our family kicked off the official start to summer in my book, Memorial Day weekend, with what we thought was a really bad stomach bug for Aria. Beginning four hours after dinner, she threw up four times with the last time seeming to be the very last contents of her stomach. She was so clammy and up all night in and out of sleep and crying out often. Multiple times I said to my husband, “I’m taking her in to the ER,” as it was the middle of the night. I was pretty sure they would tell me it was a virus and send me back though, so I gave her until 5:30 a.m. for the clammy, crying out in pain symptoms to improve or I was taking her in. The next day Aria had diarrhea, but seemed better.

We gave her a few days break from solids and by Wednesday she seemed herself again so we gave her baby oatmeal for dinner which she’d had a few times before. Two hours later she was having trouble falling asleep so I got her up and she began vomiting again. After multiple times vomiting to the point of vomiting bile and dry heaving, I knew something else was going on. During the night she nursed and seemed ok, so I felt very confused.

The next morning she had the hugest, most disgusting diaper I’ve ever changed. It was completely filled with mucas and reeked of bile. She otherwise seemed herself. The poop was so concerning I immediately called the clinic when they opened. That morning she nursed and drank breastmilk fine and had a few more diarrheas. We saw her pediatrician early that afternoon.

As most moms do when something is wrong and they want answers quick, I turned to the internet for answers.  I did some research the night before and our pediatrician diagnosed her with what I had suspected. FPIES. Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. We were instructed to stop all solid foods and got a referral to a Pediatric Allergy Specialist. I felt relieved to have a diagnosis, but the more reading I did the more I realized this wasn’t really a diagnosis you want (for more info visit the FPIES Foundation website).

The day continued from there and after more diarrhea, Aria refused to nurse or take a bottle of pumped milk for hours. She went five hours without a wet diaper. I called the nurse advisor. I was told if she didn’t have a wet diaper in the next couple hours she needed to be brought in for fluids due to dehydration. An hour later she took in an ounce of milk, but Aria stopped being playful and talkative. She only wanted to sleep and still refused to drink anymore. An hour later, after seven hours with no wet diapers, she finally had a small, but wet diaper as I was packing her up to go to the ER.

Our appointment for allergy peds was set for two weeks from then. During this time she had a reaction to the Tylenol we gave her either to the dye or corn syrup ingredient. We still are not sure which and will not give her that again.

At our appointment the pediatric allergy specialist confirmed the diagnosis of FPIES.  I was instructed to remove all grains from my diet and bananas since those both triggered severe reactions. We were to trial new foods and keep a detailed record of when, what, how, etc. followed the food trials as well as keeping track of every bowel movement she had.

Summer began with a different start than we expected. Summer became learning about how to eat grain and sugar free and meal prepping.  For reference foods in the grain family include bamboo, corn, wheat (in any form), rye, barley, homily, millet, oat, popcorn, rice, sorghum, and sugar cane.

Being a teacher it shouldn’t be surprising I have a love of learning.  I love learning new information about topics of my choice.  This summer FPIES research, meal planning and “healing” my daughter consumed my life and became my passion.  I looked to people who had been through this journey before through the internet.  I read anything related that could help me create an action plan moving forward.  The tricky thing with FPIES is every case is different and it is considered a rare food allergy that is relatively new.  While there are some common trigger foods, any food can be a trigger a reaction since all foods are made of proteins (note: not the protein food group).  So where do you begin?

All this reading has led to a complete lifestyle change for my family. We had always taken probiotics although not always so consistently. That has changed. Each of us has a probiotic we take each day.  My morning coffee is now filled with collagen proteins. My soups contain my own homemade bone broths. I’m making my own yogurt in my new Instant Pot. We enjoy kefir on most days as well.  I feel like we stepped back in time and imagine life for Laura on Little House on the Prairie might have been sort of like this.  Okay, perhaps that’s hyperbole, but in today’s on the go, prepackaged, easy fix eating world it often feels like I live in a different world than my friends and family.

Meal prepping was not a foreign concept to me by any means, but meal prepping took on a whole new life this summer.  When you can’t fall back on anything pre-made you have to be organized.  When you can’t rely on eating out EVER when you don’t have a plan, you make sure you have a plan or you starve. Plan it is!

In addition to learning how to feed myself all over again, each week led to a new food trial that had to be carefully measured, timed and charted. I created and made entries in her poop journal each day. When introducing a new food, we gave the new food for several days increasing the amount each day. Each day what, the amount and the time given along with any symptoms was recorded in her food log.  We then took a few days off and retried the food. No reaction meant it was a pass. A safe food to add to her list. A reaction like her two prior and we were told to bring her to the emergency room for fluids and further treatment as the dehydration can lead to shock. We were lucky with her first two that she did ok without intervention since both reactions were severe.  We learned after the fact she should have been brought in, but we had no idea what we were dealing with at the time.

This summer as I immersed myself in everything about my daughter’s diagnosis, I saw my expectations for summer disappear. Each day was filled with all the usual requirements of being a mom to two young kids, but now I had to meal prep everything, research probiotics, and learn so much about the basic human need-eating!

I learned how to make bone broth and yogurt and kefir.  I learned where to buy things like collagen and stevia sweetened anything if I ever wanted something other than fruit to taste sweet. I learned how to make a latte I like with no sugar added or sugar cane. I learned you can buy almost nothing off the shelves in America without it containing sugar or some kind of grain product. I quickly learned that many foods you wouldn’t even expect to contain sugar or corn in some form or both.  I saw our grocery bill rise to crazy amounts to buy all the fresh foods and ingredients to try to enjoy some of the “regular” foods we enjoyed as a family on occasional such as pizza (now almond flour or cauliflower crust pizza with sugar free tomato sauce and cheese without added starches so it doesn’t stick together).

While people enjoyed the summer eats like s’mores, ice cream, popsicles, cookout food and fair food I stood by (often hungrily) and reminded myself what was really important was my daughter’s health. I drank six glasses of wine all summer and gave up all other alcohol. When your daughter is refusing all solids it makes you do whatever you can in the hopes something will help.

I delved into books about the microbiome and how altering steroids and antibiotics can be, along with our diet.  I read about gut health at least a thousand times in some format or another. All of this led to me developing my own theory as to what led us to this point.

All of her allergy related issues began after a steroid treatment she received at 2.5 months old followed by a vaccine a week later. The day after the vaccine she had her first bloody and mucas filled poop. Add on a dose of antibiotics in April and her poor gut is really out of sorts. I’m no doctor, but all signs point to a relationship between these events and her allergies. I’m not saying correlation is causation, merely that there seems to be a connection. Also, I believe vaccines are important so we are vaccinating our children, but that a child being healthy when they are given is so important. Not having a fever does not necessarily mean your child’s immune system is functioning the way it should be.

This brings me back to my point of adjusting expectations. On a recent podcast from The Minimalists they admonished the word busy because they said if you say you’re too busy you really are saying your life is so chaotic that you have no control over it.  Except that is exactly what life is like in my house.  Too crazy and chaotic to control or really dictate on most days outside of what has to be done i.e. keeping children alive, meal planning, prepping food, food trials, household chores, researching FPIES and reading about related information.  To accomplish all of the above means giving up some other things like fun with friends, running, time for myself, and time with my husband.

Something so simple as giving up grains and added sugar in reality is life changing. It means giving up convenience, going with the flow, lets stay a little later, and we’ll just grab something to eat. I also realized I gained a new perspective on healthy eating. I lost weight. I eat way better than I ever have in my entire life. I can have dairy again after all those gut healing measures. I truly believe we can have all those convenience foods, but they come at a cost-our health.

Adjusting my expectations for the summer has changed my views of food and nourishing my family forever. In a weird way it’s hard to be upset about this when I know in the long term it will be a good thing for us. I only wish I’d have come to this knowledge and thinking in another way. I used to think I ate healthy until this summer. Now I know I do.

Going grain-free had become such a part of my life I plan to share a lot more recipes and resources for anyone interested in how we eat, healthy results or our FPIES journey. Journey it will be as we learned at our last allergy peds appointment that Aria will be grain-free until age 3 or 4 when they will decide when she is ready to go in to the clinic for a food trial.

I’ve learned a lot about adjusting expectations and setting them in the first place this summer. I’ve learned a lot about what really matters this summer. I’ve also realized that my world and my family’s world has become quite different than others, and we are learning how to make life work for our family while we navigate these new waters while still trying to live life the way we want.

I expect this will be full of ups and downs, but we will adjust our expectations as we go.

Sarah

{More Mother, Less Runner}

Lately I’ve definitely been more mother and less runner.  It wasn’t what I had planned or hoped for.  I thought maintaining a healthy, active pregnancy would have me back at it sooner than later.  And I was initially, but it turns out that wouldn’t even be close to the plan.

On a 2.5 mile run at 35 weeks pregnant followed by a 3 mile walk and feeling great! 

Since about a month postpartum I knew my body didn’t feel “right.”  I felt amazing those first few weeks.  I was back in my skinny jeans with seven pounds to lose.  I felt eager to get back to exercising.  Baby girl was sleeping pretty well.  Life was just crazy enough I felt like I needed some time to take care of me.  It was the perfect post-baby storm to get back to running.  I walked when I could, did my pelvic tilts and kegels, and started easing into running very cautiously.

At my six week postpartum appointment I learned I had a significant abdominal separation (diastasis recti).  I was super disappointed, but kind of knew it was probably the case.  My back had been hurting.  My core felt off and not just the I just had a baby weak.  Still I kept running.  I wasn’t peeing myself running or having those types of issues.  I wasn’t having pain per say while running.  Everything I read along with my midwife said it was ok to keep running since I wasn’t having those issues.


I bought and read Katy Bowman’s book about DR.  Everything she said made so much sense.  I’ve never been a quick fix person.  I’ve always believed to get to the true root of the problem is key or else everything else is just a bandaid.  I’ve always had a huge issue with the number of prescriptions people are given for things without first trying to make lifestyle changes.  To have abdominal surgery or do PT for a set number of weeks would only fix the problem temporarily.  Once I returned to my old ways I would potentially be back in the same spot I am in now.

So I focused on my alignment and active sitting and standing.  Wearing flat shoes as not to throw my alignment off.  Core engagement as much as possible even when lifting kids and things and when sitting. I focused on reconnecting my body.  After a month of this, my gap closed by almost a finger (to just over 3 fingers), but it was still deep.  I still was feeling so much weakness and my hip had started to hurt on every run and after.

I knew and know that it will take much more than a month to undo a lifetime of poor alignment, pelvic tilting and ribs out.  It will take more than a month to undo over a decade of heel wearing, a lifetime of not dropping my ribs and walking, running and everything else in a non-neutral body.  I love Katy Bowman’s exercises, but it was hard to create a consistent program to go along with the lifestyle changes while taking care of two young kids.

After much research and consideration to my current life situation (two kids under two), I also purchased the MuTu System.  MuTu focuses heavily on alignment while also giving you set exercises to do in a 12 week program.  I don’t have time or money for PT appointments.  Any time I take off from work is unpaid.  With young kids and sickness, I can’t justify taking time off for PT, and outside of work hours are not an option either with daycare pickup and other demands of children.

I needed a program that told me what to do and could be done at home when I had time.  I started following the exercises and life was good.  I felt stronger and better after just the first week.  Then I went back to work and things kind of fell apart.  The exercises have to be done every single day.  Every. Single. Day.  With young kids and  going back to work it is just so, so, so hard.

The week I went back to work I ran my longest run.  Maybe it was all the emotions of going back to work and not feeling ready.  Maybe it had been a hard day at home.  Maybe it was all the nerves of being away from my baby girl for the first time. It might have been the discontent of not being where I’d hoped to be physically.  Perhaps it was the stress I knew I’d soon be under as a full time working and breastfeeding mama (i.e. prep and lunches pumping and scrambling) responsible for getting kids ready and daycare drop off and pick up every day on my own.  I honestly don’t remember.

What I do remember is my longest postpartum with baby #2 run was also my fastest postpartum with baby #2 run.  I pushed the pace and just wanted to run fast.  Feet turning over with quickness, pounding the stress and emotions into the ground with each step.  My body let me know for the first time it didn’t agree with this as I leaked urine for the first time.  

As embarrassing as that is to say, I’ve heard from many ladies who’ve messaged me and talked with me about similar issues.  This is a common issue post-baby, but it is not normal…meaning you’re body is trying to tell you something.  It likely won’t improve without specific work either.  Most women choose to live with it.  I will not.

Then my hip started to hurt.  It wasn’t just a little hurt either.  It was an I’m walking funny two days later hurt.  Two months later and no running and it still hurts anytime I’ve been sitting for a bit and stand up.  I feel it when I walk on occasion still.  Clearly my core was not ready for running like that or perhaps running at all.

I’m anxious to get back to running, but have not been successful at all in making time to do my MuTu exercises while being a full time working and breastfeeding mommy to my kids.  Some weeks I manage a few days and think ok, I’m finally going to make this happen only to be met with a setback (sickness, kids waking early, life demands, etc.) soon after that stops me for days or even a couple weeks.

I won’t try running again until I’ve seen improvement with my ab separation and my hip is no longer causing me issues.  I know to get to running I need to regain my core strength, improve my body alignment and connections, and work on strength and  flexibility in various places (like my hip).

A lifetime of poor alignment and only running (very little cross training and core work) along with two pregnancies close together and a two finger ab separation after baby number one that I did nothing to fix and here I am.  Right where I should be I guess.

Lately I’ve been focusing on that idea.  That no matter how crazy stressful and hard life is right now, I’m trusting that I’m right where I should be.  As fate would have it, I began to finish this post yesterday morning while my daughter napped in the car.  I took an Instagram “break” and came across a fitness blogger I follow had posted this to her account:


I just have to believe there is a lesson for me to learn from all this and that the struggle will teach me something I may not even be considering right now.

Had I even known what diastasis recti was before maybe I’d have done things differently.  Maybe someone can learn from  my experiences.  Cross train.  Stretch.  Strengthen.  Save heels for special occasions not daily wear.  Work to have neutral body alignment and core engagement.  Fix your small ab separation after you have a baby instead of ignoring it and then having another (and much bigger) baby.

I hope and plan to begin MuTu again later this spring or at the latest in June when the end of the school year will allow me some time to refocus, reconnect and rebuild my body.  I continue to work on alignment and core engagement as I want to change my body for the better for good.  Walking is what I do when I can.

After two months of mourning, misery and wallowing in the fact that I don’t know when my next run will be, I finally felt ready to share what’s kept me silent for so long.

Some might wonder why is this so hard to deal with?  It’s complicated, but running is so intertwined with who I see myself as a person and an essential to my well being way I cope with everything and maintain my mental health, it’s no wonder I felt so many negative emotions over it for a while.


If you’re struggling with any of these post-baby issues, hang in there mama!!  With time we will be ourselves again.  Our bodies will feel like our own again.  They have to.  I refuse to believe I’m stuck this way forever.  No matter how often I feel like maybe I should just quit this whole goal and blog, I just can’t.  I keep returning to it.  I still hold hope in my heart.


And that’s where I am now.  Broken.  Grateful.  Struggling. Surviving on coffee, the smiles of my babes and that glimmer of hope.  Right where I’m supposed to be even if I’m not sure for how long.

Sarah

 

 

 

 

{2017-The Year of Black Coffee?}

Could this Starbucks latte loving girl possibly learn to actually enjoy a black coffee in the upcoming year?  I’m nearly positive NO!  So why the post title?

While I may never find pleasure or enjoyment in drinking a simple black coffee, something strange happened this year.  I’ve always been a when I have more, then I will be really happy type of person. When I have more money, more clothes, more time, more this or more that.  Case in point, during Black Friday deals I had to get as much as I could for the best deals because surely getting that deal on the scarf and that shirt and so on would make me happy.

That’s the funny thing that happened though.  When the scarf arrived I found it didn’t really make me happy.  Sure it was cute.  It was warm.  It was a good deal.  But I wasn’t any happier.

Later when trying to find room for that new scarf amongst the dozens I already owned, I grew frustrated.  I quickly shoved it on the shelf to deal with the problem later.  A problem it was when, while in a hurry the next day, I grabbed the scarf and a whole bunch fell out without time for me to put them back.  Dozens of moments like this seem to happen to me each week this year.  I never put much thought into them until recently.

I mentioned in a recent Instagram post that I’ve started listening to podcasts while I walk to help me enjoy my non-running time. I’ve begun to find an enjoyment in these walks that was unexpected since it both gets me out (some days) and gives me a chance to listen and learn. My favorite podcast lately is called The Minimalists.  The Minimalists discuss just what their title implies; they discuss ways to minimize things in your life in exchange for living a life of intention.  A meaningful life means doing and owning only things that really enhance your life and bring it purpose.

After listening to their first few podcasts and thinking about an analogy they made with coffee, I related it to my own life.  They mentioned the simplicity of enjoying black coffee. Think about it.  Black coffee is uncomplicated, found in most places, cheap and quick to make.  There is no need to drive somewhere extra or special to get a cup.  No essential ingredients or person specific ways to order.  Simple.  Less complicated.   Less expensive. Less ingredients.  Less.  (ok tasty too, but stay with me.)

For some reason thinking about the simplicity of black coffee got me thinking back to the scarf situation in particular.  What if I had fewer scarves?  What if I had less?  It would be easier to organize and find the ones I was looking for.  I wouldn’t have a mess to clean up when others fall down because I have so many.  Choosing which one to wear would be easier because there would be fewer choices.  I would save time and money by not buying more.  I would always be able to find the one I was looking for.  Maybe there is something to this less thing.

After numerous scarf-like instances this year, I find myself thinking about life in a different way.  I’ve always known I didn’t want the biggest home we could afford. More to clean.  Less money for travel and experiences.  But that’s the extent of my less is a good thing thinking until recently.  

For the first time, in perhaps ever, I find myself wanting less in my life.  In 2017 my hope is not for more.  Most resolutions and new year goals focus on more.  Having more. Getting more.  Working for more stuff.  Having the best and newest version of what we already have.  Wanting less sounds strange until you think about it. Less things to clutter my home.  Less time wasted on things that don’t truly make me happy.  Less stressing about things that don’t matter.  Less not liking my body.  Less debt. Less of what is not important.

This canvas has hung in our entry way for seven years. I’ve always been drawn to it and often would pause in front of it to think about if I was living a meaningful life. I finally feel like I might know how to start to make that happen.


This year I’m going to get rid of the things I don’t need to make our day-to-day easier and more managable.  This year I will spend less time on what is not important to me.  This year I will buy less stuff and instead spend only on what makes my heart content or is a need.  This will lead to less debt (more money for those student loans) and less stuff.  I will work hard to get in the best shape I can to have less stress and weight.

While I may never become a black coffee fan, I’m going to be embracing the less is more lifestyle to help me live a life that is meaningful to me.  May the upcoming year be filled with less and full of intentions that make my heart happy.

Maybe more isn’t the answer for you either.  Consider a life of less in 2017.

Sarah

{Back to the Basics}

 

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I never planned to go over three years without running a marathon.  I didn’t know in 2014 that crossing the Missoula Marathon finish line, my second marathon in nine days, would be my last for a while. Two kids later and that’s my story.  With plans to cross another state off of my goal to run a marathon in every state coming in September, I’ve decided to use 2017 as a year of regaining fitness and strength. 2017 will be a year to return to the basics.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve trained for and ran 26.2 miles, I’m going to start small, build strength and endurance, and work up from there.  I’m going to train for a 10k first, something I’ve never done before (the training part).  I know I could run this distance without following a plan, but I want to slowly increase my mileage while letting myself recover from having a baby even more. I wanted a plan that would slowly add in miles and balance cross training.  After completing my 10k plan (8 weeks), I will reevaluate and select a half marathon training plan (12 weeks) and then a marathon plan (18 week).

The 10k plan has me running three days a week, which seems perfect for right now.  I will add in more days as it seems to be appropriate.  Hal’s plans are so customizable and adjustable for every runner’s ability level.  I’ve used many different plans in the past, but often come back to his.  His plans make it possible to adjust midway through to a tougher or easier plan if needed.

I’ve always liked the way a training plan simplifies the process of reaching a distance goal and have used many different versions. I like being able to look at my plan and know what to run and how without having to put too much into organizing these details.  There are so many training plans out there that I don’t need to create my own.  The plan I’m following lets me choose my cross training, which gives me plenty of personalizing (and I’m so excited to mix it up with some fun workouts).  Right now my life is chaotic to say the least so looking at a piece of paper and seeing what my workout is for that day is what I need. Being able to rearrange days is also essential as my days don’t always go as planned.

My 10k plan started last week and will last 8 weeks.  Because gaining strength all over and remaining injury free is my goal, I’m following a novice plan with cross training days being essential.  On cross training days I will continue my workout DVD’s (Knocked Up Fitness and Katy Bowman are a couple I use) and DR exercises from Katy Bowman’s book Diastasis Recti and several I’ve found online.  Cross training will remain a key part of my marathon training.  As I progress in strength and fitness, I will add more running and speed.  I also plan to change-up my cross training as my DR closes.

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It’s been nearly 4 years since I trained hard for a marathon.  I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 1:36 at the RnR Arizona Marathon in 2013.  Since then I’ve had two babies, which has made it difficult for me to remain committed to my training.  I plan to revisit this goal when I’m in better shape and have more time to devote to it.

Three years is a pretty large gap in marathons and my body is in no shape to be chasing after a PR.  My training will reflect that.  There will not be many speed workouts or tempo days.  You won’t see multiple high mileage weeks in a row.  I won’t be doing several 20 milers or more.  There will not be two runs in a day.

You will see rest days and a gradual increase in miles.  My training plan will in a way follow my baby getting older.  I like that this should prevent me from becoming too overwhelmed and make my small goals lead to accomplishing my big goal.  It really takes the pressure off and lets me enjoy being a mom while letting me do what I love.  It should also set the stage for advancing my training the next marathon cycle.  Why I thought jumping into a marathon training plan after my last baby was the only way to go I don’t know.

This time I feel so much more confidant in my ability to do this largely in part to the progressing plans plan I have.  When choosing a training plan the most important aspect to consider is how it will fit into your life and your current fitness level.  If the miles and workouts don’t match your current life (fitness level, demands outside of running, etc.), then you will have a really hard time succeeding.  Even with the perfect plan will it still be hard?  Yes!  Will balancing training, working, being a mom and breastfeeding still be overwhelming? I have no doubt!  Will some difficult choices and sacrifices have to happen? You bet!  Will it be worth it? Of course!!

If you’re returning to running in any capacity (new, former, had a baby, kind of been slacking) this is a perfect goal for 2017.  Join me in reaching your fitness goals by starting small and working your way to your big goal for 2017.  I will be documenting my training here and on Instagram (sneaksandstilettos) to help myself stay accountable and hopefully get some of you to go after your 2017 goals.

We have to start somewhere; let’s start small.  Baby steps!

Sarah

{Conquering the Midwest-50 States Plan Update}


A few days ago baby girl demanded to be held while she napped.  Of course I didn’t mind too much. As the end of the year approaches and people start setting their goals for 2017 it had me thinking about mine.  Her napping in my arms and thinking about goals at the same time was the perfect combination to do some race researching and planning.


I learned the hard way about setting goals that were too lofty for me post-baby the first time around.  I both underestimated the attachment I would have for that boy and overestimated the amount of training I would be able to handle while sleep deprived and exclusively breastfeeding.  While I wanted and even craved to run, I experienced a high level of separation anxiety when it came to leaving him.  This made long runs a challenge. On top of that he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 9 months old and breastfeeding and pumping was like a part time job on top of working full time.  I’m not saying you can’t make it work and manage it all, but I couldn’t and stay sane and not feel immense mom guilt.

I had planned to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon last fall as my come back from baby #1 marathon (I even documented my training in several blog posts), but as I mentioned above it didn’t happen.  This time around I didn’t make any definite goals while pregnant, but now that she is here I’m ready to do so.  Instead of planning to run a marathon at six months postpartum like last time I’m looking more at around a year.  This gives me much more time to get in shape and get strong, increases the chance for sleep and nears the end of my breastfeeding goal of one year for each child.

When deciding what race would be my first marathon since having kids I assumed I would pick the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon as originally planned.  It turns out it won’t be “the one.”  My husband has his masters class that weekend and it is almost a seven hour drive.  That’s also a lot of travel for our season of life right now, which means the kids would need to be at a grandparents for longer.

So what’s my plan?  My first marathon after baby is going to be not too far of a drive and on the way to a grandparents where the kids can be watched for one overnight.  The kids will be almost 1 and 2 and a half so I’m sure that’s all we will all be ready to leave them for.  A race happened to meet this criteria perfectly and, according to marathonguide.com (I love to use this site for learning about specific races), has really good reviews for 50 state seekers like me.  For these reasons the Sioux Falls Marathon in South Dakota will be “the one.”

The race is September 10 which is a bit earlier than the late fall target time I had planned to race, but a doable adjustment to my training.  Training for this marathon will begin in May hopefully right after a local half marathon.  This gives me 4.5 months before I begin marathon training.

Looking ahead to other races I know my plans must follow a similar criteria. During this season of life I must find a way to balance my goals and the needs and demands of my family.  Two kids under two and a husband working on his masters means I will not be able to just race whenever, wherever.

I’ve outlined my “Conquering the Midwest” game plan below.  I’ve already completed at least one marathon in the following states: Wisconsin (Madison Marathon and Wisconsin Marathon), Minnesota (Grandma’s Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon) , Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Kansas.  I have race reports linked to each state for those interested in reading or new to the blog.  Some are more detailed than others as I didn’t really blog in the beginning of this goal.

2017-South Dakota (Fall-Sioux Falls Marathon)

2018-North Dakota (Fargo Marathon-Spring). I ran the half a few years ago, but want to run a full in every state.  My Fargo Half Marathon race experience was a good one.

Indiana or Nebraska (Fall-Depends on the husbands master classes, but lots of options for races.

2019-Missouri or Nebraska (Spring-It’s a little far out to say for sure on this one.  St. Louis Go Marathon would mean taking the whole family.  If it’s the Lincoln Marathon in Nebraska probably just the husband and I will go.

Ohio-TBD ??

While my kids are young, the nights interrupted, the budget tight and the demands of me great, this is my plan.  I love this phase of life and know how quickly it will pass, so I want my priority to be family.  As my kids get a bit older and more independent I will feel better about leaving for a bit longer and my wallet will be able to afford flights and weekends away.  My training will also be able to target some back to back races.  Until then, I will be conquering the Midwest.

Stay tuned!

Sarah

{The Ugly Sweater 5k-2016}

   

Last Saturday the husband and I ran one of my favorite races to run.  It has become a holiday tradition for us most years and happened to be my first post-baby race at six weeks postpartum.  Since I have a significant diastasis recti and had been doing mostly run/walking intervals, I knew I wouldn’t be racing this race.  My goal was to run the entire thing at whatever pace needed to stay comfortable and I did just that.

  
Fresh falling snow was beautiful (and slippery) so maintaining a comfortable pace wasn’t too hard because slow going was needed.  It was a date 5k and the first time the husband and I had been kid free since early August. We finally got to have an adult conversation without a toddler or baby interrupting us or demanding our attention.  Two hours away feels like a long time when it’s been 4.5 months since it last really happened.  

  
This report had no mile splits or specific details as I just ran comfortable without a watch and enjoyed my husbands company.  Some of my favorite highlights of this race include the following:

-photos with santa and the Grinch before the race

-the course!  The race starts at Myrick Park and runs on the marsh trails (love this route) to Riverside park

  
-Christmas lights lit the entire route of the 5k

-a finish in Riverside Park in a light tunnel is pretty cool along with the millions of other lights

  
-hot chocolate in a heated tent after

-a drink chip for a free Pearl Street Brewery beer available at several local establishments included in race swag bag

-free hat instead of a shirt

  
My least favorite part: to save time the husband and I parked a vehicle at the start and the finish instead of using the shuttle that took racers back to the start. This was a great plan except…I brought the key to the other car on the run.  Post-run in the freezing cold we had a vehicle with our coats in it, but the key to the car at the start of the race. So wait outside in the cold for the shuttle we did instead of grabbing a post-race date drink.  We laugh about it now! 

  
This is a wonderful, festive and organized race if you live in the La Crosse area.  Plus it gives me a place to sport my Christmas Procompression socks I love so much!  I highly recommend both.

Sarah