Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This Is The End!!!!

Calm down, I'm not talking about the rapture, just the end of my blog. I am on the fence if this thing will continue on in the future, if I will start a new blog that will be a little bit of this and a little bit of other stuff, or if I will be done for good. No matter what happens, it won't be weekly as it was, because I am not that disciplined, and this summer is already filling up with summer classes that I need to take and causes that I would like to volunteer for.

Since I am not sure the exact fate of this blog, I wanted to take a second and just write a thank you to everyone that has followed it. To be honest, I didn't expect to get all that much out of this experience, but thanks to all of the feedback I have gotten from those of you that keep up with my blog, it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. As I work on this week's post I see that I have had over 1,000 views on this little blog. I know that in the grand scheme of the world wide web, that number means nothing, but to me it means the world. I have had many people tell me that I have inspired them to start working out, start running, eat better, and to just get more active in general. For a lady that has been heavy since her tweens, it is completely insane to think that I am inspiring anyone to do anything physical.  SO, thanks for reading, thanks for laughing, and most of all, thanks for making me feel like I am making a difference, in even the tiniest of ways. I didn't realize how much this assignment would mean to me.

Now, this is my last post for my class, and this blog is supposed to be about being active, so I guess I should do what I came here for. Besides, I was getting a little too mushy. In the spirit of what my first post was about, I feel like it would be cool to round this baby out full circle and tell you all about the 5k I ran in on Sunday. The Mother's Day 5k took place in picturesque Prospect Harbor. It didn't boast a lot of participants, but it was a good crew, and a lot of familiar faces. The coolest thing about this race is that you get to run right out by the ocean, and up to a lighthouse, then turn around to head to the finish line. Freakin' Maine. Am I Right?! The next coolest thing about this particular race was that I was able to demolish my old time. I am still kind of wondering if it is possible that they forgot to start the timer and remembered after a few minutes had passed, but hey, I'll take it. It's great to see that I am getting better at something that I am totally cool with never being good at. I am still not comfortable doing the whole before and after thing with my pictures, but I did think it would be neat to look back and get a picture of myself from my first 5k, the Color Run at the end of September, to the Mom's on the Run 5k from May 10th and compare the two.

I am only smiling in the second photo because the race has just started. If this was a finish line photo it would be possible that it would just be me, dry heaving.  

Both of these versions of myself should be, and were, proud of their accomplishments as I crossed the finish line. I cringe a bit whenever I see a camera pointed my way during one of these races because I know I am not going to be happy with the image I see later. It's frustrating to feel so proud, and empowered about reaching a goal, only to let some stupid ideal of what is beautiful screw it all up after the adrenaline dies down and I am scrolling through the tagged photos of me.

This is so accurate it's eerie.

I think that when I was at my heaviest, I assumed that losing weight would turn me into some supermodel version of myself. Now granted, I still have a lot left to lose, but I can tell already that this ideal Jenn, doesn't exist. There is no magic wand that will erase 3 pregnancies, my frizz prone hair, the "Friend Family's Bingo Lady Arms" or the "Freeman Family's Big Nose". At some point you have to realize that you just can't make yourself into something that you aren't. I will never be skinny, but I can be fit and healthy. I will NEVER have a beachbody. It's impossible. I don't have the genes, or the jeans, no matter how little I decided to eat, or how much I work out. I'm just not built that way. I may never see myself as beautiful, but I can look in the mirror and be proud of the changes I have made. The greatest part of this whole journey is that I am finally starting to believe all this stuff, instead of just saying it.

I could go on and on about all the things that I hope to see you all do, and all the changes I hope we have made in the coming months, but I'm running out of time. I think that this means that somewhere down the line, I may have to do this whole blog thing again because clearly I have more to write about.

Why Mr. Rogers? Because that man could wear the hell out of a cardigan and tennis shoes. That's why.   
Thanks again for reading my silly little blog, and making me feel like I had something worth reading.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Damn You, Governor's!!

I know that this is supposed to be a blog about me being active, but I also like to think that this is a bit of a blog about my journey of becoming a healthier person too. I have a lot of friends who have started reading this, and some of them are encouraged by what I share, while others are there to encourage me to continue to push myself. It is because of this support that I feel like it is only fair to be 100% honest when I post these, and for these past 2 weeks, if I am going to be honest, it would be that I did next to nothing. The last really active day that I had was when we climbed Cadillac Mountain. I went up that mountain full of motivation and determination, and it seems as though I left all of it at the top. I knew that the week would be rough because we all had the week off together, and I knew we were using this time as a "vacation" which would mean we were out and about a lot more, which always means eating out a lot more. So, long story short it wasn't a great week for being active, or eating sensibly.

It all started with a damn coupon to Governor's Restaurant for 1/2 off a slice of their chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. First of all, the word "slice" really doesn't describe the triangular hunk o' diabetes that you get there. Don't get me wrong, it is a glorious thing, but one of their "servings" could probably feed a 3rd world village. It's a behemoth of disgusting beauty, and I was getting it for half price, baby!

This is not an actual picture of the cake, as the real cake wouldn't fit on this blog page.       

It was all downhill (or down-mountain) from there folks! The weather never really materialized to be nice enough to run, and I have been trapped inside the ball of stress that is the last 2 weeks of this spring semester, sitting at a computer writing papers, while my butt ever so slightly starts to resemble what the seat of my chair looks like. My vice has never been alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, but I could freebase a fresh load of bread or a pan of brownies like I was Keith Richards. This is not a good combination.

By the way, THIS is about how blissed out I was after eating that piece of cake.

Last week I eased myself back into better eating habits, and at least got in my hoop class, and it was HARD. It's almost comical how hard it is to get yourself back on track after you have messed up for a week straight. What I had to keep reminding myself of, was that the whole week that I took off from watching what I was eating, and not exercising, I felt miserable. My body knew I was giving it more junk than fuel, and it wasn't happy. The thing is, you never remember that stuff after the fact, because you are so focused on the mental anguish of feeling like you are depriving yourself in the here and now. These moments can make or break your success. They can completely derail you, and they will. So, I focused on what I really wanted. I wanted to feel good again. I wanted to feel proud of myself again. I wanted to keep wearing clothes I hadn't been able to before. I had to, and will continue to have to, remind myself of these things.

Please know this is from and SNL sketch and not my real-life daily affirmations.

Some people can be the kind of people who go all out, shakes for breakfast, lunch, and a sensible dinner. Some can do the paleo/Atkins no carb/low carb thing. Some can do the whole raw food thing. Some can eat next to nothing and workout like a fiend. I am not these people. I LIKE carbs, I LIKE cooked food, I DON'T want to drink my meals, and if you are going to tell me that my world cannot have the occasional cupcake in it, then I don't want to live here anymore, and I will probably stop calling you a friend because, cupcakes.

I can't sustain myself on one of those diets for the long haul, and my friends, I am in this for the long haul. For me, there has to be a balance to all of this. So, sometimes I am going to screw up and have a week where I do terrible, but when I compare that to the months of doing well, that have helped me lose almost 80 lbs. and more importantly become a healthier person, I have to know that what I am doing for me is right.

Why am I bothering to write all this down? Because we all mess up. So many of us feel like when we do, that's it, we are done. So what if you have gained back what you lost? So what if you have gone backwards and can't run, bike, lift, as much as you used to? It feels terrible when that happens and defeating to know that you have to go back before you can get to where you once were, but these moments are a test. It's great to reach a goal, or a milestone, but to me, a real measure of your strength is when you screw up and then fight your way back instead of letting the defeat take you down for good.

Don't give up. Keep going. We'll get there. And we will celebrate, maybe even with some cupcakes.

Monday, April 27, 2015


This week was pretty amazing because our family had a week off together. I can't remember the last time the 5 of us had our vacations line up. I still had coursework to do, but textbooks will travel, and they did! Derek and I are kind of sappy in the sense that we really, genuinely enjoy doing things together. For 20 years he has been my obnoxious best friend, and probably the only person who I never doubt really likes spending time with me. So we were stupidly happy to have the week together.

19 years ago. Just a boy in a dress, singing an ABBA duet with his girlfriend. You know, typical 90's stuff...

We aren't in the position to go on a real vacation, at least not for a few more years, but my husband and I decided that we weren't going to let that stop us from acting like we were on a real vacation. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Millionaires have their second (and probably third) homes here! The middle class spend thousands of dollars to come see our rocky shores and pine-y trees!!

Tourist: "Look at these Maine trees, Honey! They're so darn piney!"

It's easy to forget that we living in mother-effing Vacationland! After surviving such a miserable winter, it can be even easier to forget how lucky we are to live here.

I won't bore you with everything that we did this week, but I figured that I would highlight the coolest thing we got to do. WE CLIMBED A FREAKING MOUNTAIN!!! Cadillac Mountain, to be precise. Well, full disclosure, we walked the road that lead you up the mountain, and that was only because the road was closed and we couldn't drive up it...It was still quite the accomplishment though, especially with a 4 and 6 year old keeping pace with us.

This was how excited Max was about climbing the mountain after 2 1/2 hours.

The first thing that I learned is that you should never try to walk up a mountain with your children unless you know how long of a walk it will be. I won't lie, some stretches were BRUTAL! There was some crying, and whining, near fainting, and a lot of "I'm hungry!". And all of that was just coming from my husband! I'm kidding! Mostly... There were more than a few times we considered turning back. Derek didn't want to head back with the kids without me, but I really wanted to say I made it to the top. So, being the super awesome husband that he is, he pushed the kids (figuratively, jeesh!) to keep going. We took turns carrying Owen on our shoulders, and carried Max a few times too. He engaged the boys in conversations about anything and everything, just to keep them moving without realizing that yes, they were indeed still climbing up the same mountain. Every time we would think, "Ok, were done!" We would see some amazing site and it would spur us on further. The heavy amounts of snow that we got this winter were taking their time to melt off of the mountain. This gave us the incredible opportunity to see massive waterfalls, just a few feet in front of us. It was stunning. We couldn't hear ourselves talk because it was so loud. We were all in awe. This was a last minute climb, so we didn't have the camera, and though Derek brought his iPod, he didn't realize his finger was in front of the camera lens for almost every. single. picture. If we could have just got one good shot of those waterfalls!! Luckily we have these gems-

And here we have the least impressive photo of a waterfall, ever taken.

Derek's finger photobombing, yet again.

The whole thing took us about 3 hours, and though some of those moments within that time span were less than stellar, the feeling after we had climbed it, made up for every complaint. For the rest of vacation, my husband and our boys would yell, "On the first day of vacation, WE CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN!!"

This was before all hope was lost and they truly believed that the summit was "right around this next corner".

 I hope that we gave them a memory of doing something challenging. At the very least they will have a story to tell about how Mom and Dad made them climb a mountain and 3 out of the 4 of us had to go to the bathroom while we were out there.

True story, bro.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hoop Dreams

This is an accurate representation of what I thought I would be like at my first hoop class. I'm pretty hot in this picture.

So, I went to my first hula hoop dance/fitness class on Wednesday. It was much less picturesque than the above photo, but that was because we were in the school gym. I was feeling pretty confident walking in there with my hoop on my shoulder. I looked the part with that hoop with me. I was going to kill at this! The first thing that happened was my instructor told me I couldn't use the hoop I had brought. Fail #1. It just wasn't going to work the way that we needed it to, especially for a newbie like myself. Sigh.

I kind of assumed that the rest of my class would be filled with a lot of other women who were as inexperienced with hula hooping as I was. Fail #2. Almost all the women there were returning members from the previous class, and it was just myself and one other person that were the new kids. Luckily I knew the other person that was new, and that made me feel at least a little better because I knew I would be safe to use my best defense, self-deprecating humor, to defray from how horrible I was about to be a this. Of the entire group I only knew 2 of the ladies there, and one of them had been a part of the previous class. She made hooping look like it was the easiest thing in the world. She barely moved her body, yet that hoop just moved around her like it was it's job. It was impressive and intimidating. I figured out immediately that I could not look at her and attempt to hoop at the same time. Where her moves were so fluid that you could hardly tell she was moving to keep the hoop a-spinin' I looked more like a fish being electrocuted. My method didn't seem to be all that effective either. My hope was that full out effort and blind ambition would make me good at this hooping thing. Fail # 3.

For the love of all that is holy!!! A freaking bear can do this!!! Why can't I?!!!

Eventually the instructor brought me one of the biggest hoops available, which I kind of think might have been the hula hoop equivalent to a dunce cap. Apparently the bigger the hoop, the easier it is to spin it. Luckily she was right. I felt silly with this behemoth of a hulu hoop, but it really did make it easier to keep it going. It was pretty incredible just how much effort it took to keep that hoop where it belonged. I could feel everything in my body working to make sure that hoop didn't hit the floor, which of course it did. A lot.
I thought that you needed to spin your hips to keep the hoop spinning, but quickly learned that actually works against you. There are a few rules about hooping that help you get the hang of it.

-First rule about hoop club, you don't talk about hoop club. Wait that's not it. I think that's from another club I am a part of. Anyway...

The things that were the biggest keys to being successful at hooping were making sure you had a nice smooth spin to the hoop as you spun it around you, and to make sure that you moved forward and back, propelling the hoop with either your backside, or your abdominal area as you felt it spin around you. Ultimately after I got that down, I did get better. Not good mind you, but better. We can't all be like that damn bear!

The class runs for 6 weeks so I still have a chance to get better at it. I don't know that I will ever completely master the fluid motions of my classmates, or advance to the dance moves that we are supposed to be getting into in future classes, but I will be happy if I can continuously keep that hoop up for an extended period of time. Heck, a full 5 minutes of hooping without it clanging to the floor would make my day! Even if I never get much better than what I am now, it was a good challenge, and a good workout. My arms, abs, and hips were sore from that first class, so there was no doubt that I was working hard for each and every one of those sweet, sweet rotations.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Do You Know What This Blog Needs? More Cowbell!!

Christopher Walken, you know how to make everything better!

So, I successfully completed the Bridge the Gap 5K that took place in Bucksport this Sunday. The coolest part of this race is that you actually get to run directly across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Well, I thought that was the coolest part, but when my friend went to pick up our bib numbers, she saw that the swag that we got was so much better, cooler, umm...more different (sure, lets go with different) than the medals that we got from our last race. My friends, behold the almighty COWBELL-

You know you're jealous. These things are SWEET!

None of us could quite figure out the reasoning behind the cowbell swag. My best guess was that should one of us fall off of the bridge, we could ring the bell to get aid faster. As a "more-to-love-plus-sized-girl", I immediately thought of the jokes that could be made should I be seen wearing this around my neck like I did my medal. Self-deprecating humor is kind of my thing so I almost threaded one of these bad boys on to some twine and wore it to the run. Ultimately I figured the noise and the bouncing would annoy the crap out of me and chose not to wear it. In the end I gave mine to my children because when you have something loud and annoying you should always give it to your children. In all reality you should give it to the children of someone you really want to punish, but I guess I am a masochist.

In all seriousness, it was the most beautiful race I have run. After the longest, most soul crushingly long winter I can ever remember, being out in the warm sun, with beautiful views, and in the company of my friends, I was pretty blissed out.

My best friend signed up to do this with me. She just so happens to be terrified of heights and have a phobia about this particular bridge. Mand, you're a freaking superhero!

At least I was until I had to actually run. I think I have mentioned here before I that I don't enjoy running. At every race I have run in I find myself having this moment in the middle where I question why I am out there. I know I have mentioned how slow of a runner I am. Painfully slow. I never really seem to get any better at this, but I just keep signing up for more 5Ks. It makes no sense really. At least it doesn't make sense until this EXACT moment...

If I could add the audio of people cheering you on, it would make a much larger impact.

Maybe it is the feeling of accomplishing something that you aren't good at, maybe it is the cheer of the crowds, maybe it is just the rush of running through that line and knowing it is over, or maybe it's because I have had 3 children and at the end of running 3.1 miles, my body is more excited to see a porta potty than a human being should ever be. Whatever the reason, it feels soooo good. It's that little spark that you carry with you and makes you sign up for the next one, and the next.

Aside from the cowbells, the coolest part about this race was that I ran it exactly 3.04 minutes faster than my last 5k. Don't get me wrong, small children and the hobbled elderly are still leaving me in their dust, but I beat my own time damn it, and it was awesome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No money, no problem!

So I have been on this quest to find ways to spice up my exercise routine. It's frustrating because there are a lot of different types of exercise that I would like to try, but cost is always an issue. Gym memberships cost a lot of money, and even weekly Zumba classes are often close to $10.00 a pop. Then you figure in the cost of driving to these classes and it adds up. Quickly. So what's a cost conscious girl to do? Head to the internet of course! There is a plethora of workouts that you can find for free on YouTube. I have done a few different ones that are just straight up walking videos. They aren't exciting, but they are effective, and even better is that they are free!! The last one that I did was the best though, if for nothing other than the entertainment value of it. Keaira LaShae has some workouts on there that made me laugh, and pray to all that was holy that my husband wouldn't walk in the room while I was attempting her workout. I thought that it was just some fluff and silliness, but I couldn't move the next day because I was so sore. There were a few possibilities for this, 1.) I was actually coming down with the flu, so... 2.) This was a more difficult workout than it appeared to be 3.) *This one is probably the MOST likely*  My body is not meant to do anything that even slightly resembles a twerk.

 There were a few pieces that I swear were stolen from movies though.  If you are a child of the 80's, you should know the movie, "Can't Buy Me Love". If you are a child of the 80's and don't know that movie, we can no longer be friends. I'll fight through my disappointment in you to tell you that there is a scene in the movie where everyone does this African Anteater dance. I SWEAR this is somehow a part of her workout!!!

He went from totally geek, to totally chic!

And then, just when you think that you have recovered from that, she moves straight into the Pop and Lock from the movie,  "Legally Blonde"!

I could seriously care less if you have seen this movie though.

Regardless of where she got the moves from, I did sweat, I did get in a decent workout, and it was free!!

Another source that a friend of mine told me about  is right on your television! You can find workouts on your On Demand service if you have cable through Time Warner. There is a whole section devoted just to various workouts. I have done a few and they are pretty good. Not as funny as the 1 MILE WALK/DANCE with Keaira LaShae, but come on, we all can't be her!

The one that I am most excited about, but that I haven't started yet is a weighted hoop class. This one is not for free, but because I am signed up to take the class through Adult Education, the cost is less than half of what it would be. Normally the class is $10 per session, but signing up through Adult Ed, same class, same instructor as the other class I was interested in, and the class is $29.00 for the 6 week duration. How cool is that?!
The class doesn't start until the week after next, but I assure you I will tell you all about it. I am told that I will be able to actually hula hoop no matter how impaired I may be at this practice. That is worth the $29.00 right there! My little oompa loompa sized body has never been able to get hula hooping right, so I am pretty freakin' excited, and I am pretty sure that somewhere 8 year old Jenn would be pretty excited too.

And really, if it's good enough for Tyrion FREAKING Lannister, it's good enough for me. 
So there you have it, just a few tips on how to save a few bucks, and still get in a good workout. Just a heads up though, if some stranger walks up to you in the parking lot of a Target and offers to give you a free workout, you should probably just walk away. Or run. Which would in all honesty be a pretty good workout in and of itself.

Monday, March 30, 2015

We Came, We Ran, We Were Pretty Sure We Were Dying...

The way every race for me starts and ends, with a trip to the Porta Potty.

This Saturday I ran the "Flattop" 5K Roadrace in Lamoine. I will be 100 percent honest and say that I did not want to do this. Well, I did want to at first, but then I got the Stomach Virus From Hell, and I felt as if I were dying for the days that followed all the glitz and glamor that go into having a stomach virus. Seriously, if the people in this house could stay healthy for more than 2 days at a time, it would be fantastic. I am starting to think we have a slow gas leak somewhere. So, long story short, I wasn't feeling my best by the time race day came but I had posted on here that I was going to run, and I am nothing if not a woman of my word. Also, I told my friend, Dotty I would run. Dotty is a cop, and though she is smaller than me, I find her intimidating in the nicest of ways, and I didn't want her to see that I didn't do it. My last reason for going was that my best friend and I had made a pact that if one of us didn't feel up to it, the other wouldn't go either. It's the best kind of buddy system really. Neither of us were feeling up to it, but neither of us were willing to call "uncle" first, so we both went. Thanks for that, Mand!

This is us starting out. Don't we look warm? photo credit: Richard Small

When I ran my last 5K of 2014, it was in December and I really thought that by the time I ran my first 5K of 2015, it would be spring, and it would be much warmer. Ha! Not so much. Why? Because, Maine. That's why. It was a balmy 30 degrees and boy oh boy was there a biting wind that day! I actually had an older gentleman run past me (as everyone does, because I am s-l-o-w) that had a 4 inch spitcicle attached to his chin. I don't know if he knew it was there, and I didn't really feel like pointing it out to him. I'm just sorry there is no photo to show you, because it was disgusting and impressive all at the same time. But I digress...

The whole point of this post is that I did it. I ran. I was not great. It would be arguable to even say I was good. I know that about halfway into the race, my body started screaming profanities at me in German (Side Note: My grandfather rarely got drunk, but when he did, he would call his friends and swear at them in German, the only actual German that he had picked up while fighting in the war, was apparently obscenities. You're welcome for that tidbit.) and it took all of my effort to just get across the finish line. It is no exaggeration to say that I had an old lady pass me. Like, Sophia from the Golden Girls, old. I mean good for her and all, but damn it!

She was pretty kick ass.  

I seriously considered not posting my time on here because of how terrible it was, but really what is the point of this blog to begin with? I'm never going to be a great runner, and might not even be a good one, but I did it. If I did it, while recovering from the flu, on a blustery March morning in Maine, than you can to. Who cares if it takes you 47.11 minutes (yup, THAT slow) to run a 5K? Just do it! If nothing else, you might get some bling to show off to your friends.

No, I am not having a seizure, but thanks for asking!

 The day after the race I was dead. Totally dead. My body refused to do anything, including eat because I had pushed it way too soon after being ill. Overall though, I think it was worth it and I am glad that I have plenty of chances to redeem myself.

Here is a link to some upcoming 5Ks in Maine. The first few have already happened, but there are many more on there. This is by all means not an exhaustive list of all that is out available, so use our friend Google, and find a race near you to try. You might find that you get oddly addicted to it as I have, in this strange love/hate relationship I have with running.