Running Wild

Last week, I told you about a book I’d just finished, called Big Girls Do It Running by Jasinda Wilder. I’m going to chronicle my journey to get more fit and healthier over the next eight weeks right here, every Wednesday. Wilder Way Wednesday!

In BGDIR, Jasinda challenges us to sign up for a 5K. I laughed a little, because it reminded me of my first ‘real’ running experience.

Running pic 1In 2008, we had been in Florida for about a year. I had gotten involved a little bit with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as a way to raise money to fight the disease that had killed my parents. At the end of that summer, I was contacted by Team In Training, a part of LLS that organizes teams to participate in races around the country and raise money to benefit LLS. They were putting together a team for the Disney Marathon Weekend, and they wondered if I’d be interested in being part of the half-marathon team.

Now, I wasn’t athletic. Never had been. (I’m STILL not.) I love to WATCH football, baseball, soccer . . . and I’m a decent softball player (my high school friends are probably skeptical, but it’s true!). I grew up a dancer, and I still love to dance. But run? Oh, I think not. My mother had always told me that running wasn’t good for women. She said it shook up our insides and caused problems. I listened and believed.

But now . . . after my parents died, I’d purposed to do something new and challenging every year. InRunning pic 2 2008, I’d snorkeled in the ocean in Maui for the first time ever. 2009 seemed like a good time to try a half-marathon, right? After all, I had almost six months to train. Easy-peasy.

Except I really didn’t train. Oh, I half-heartedly did a few short runs. I walked a lot. But I was busy writing my first novel and homeschooling my kids and dealing with life. Time marched on, and before I knew it, January was upon us. Suddenly, I was terrified: what had I been THINKING? I couldn’t run. I didn’t run. I was going to be the lonely, pathetic person at the end of the race, dragging her heels before the dreaded sweeper bus picked me up. I had nightmares about running pic 3running the race in my heels.

I would love to say I kicked ass in that race. Honestly? I finished it in under 3 hours, and I called that a win. I wasn’t the last by any means, and I even RAN much of it. Not all, but some. There was something about being among runners that made me want to do it, too!

For about a year, I did a bunch of races. I completed two more half-marathons, a couple of 10Ks and a 13K. I didn’t do too much training between times, though. I had a lot of excuses: Florida is hot. Outside training was HOT. I ran on a treadmill at a local gym for a while, but not with any real consistency.

About a year and a half after my first race, I was coming home from a long road trip one day when my knee began to hurt. Not just a passing ache, but a real and deep pain. I ended up at an orthopedist, who told me running was destroying my knees. I didn’t necessarily buy that, but my life was changing at that point, and races were becoming less appealing (and more expensive!). I did my last Disney race that fall and could barely walk afterwards–so I decided my short and illustrious running career was over.

Since then, after a long hiatus, I’ve slowly returned to running. I’ve done some 5Ks with my kids, and earlier this year, I did the Princess 5K with my girls and my sister-in-law and niece. It was fun to be back there, and I actually got my best time ever in a 5K. I don’t need to do half-marathons anymore; I’m perfectly happy to perfect the art of the 5K.

Next Sunday, I’m doing another 5K, and this one I’m counting as the Jasinda challenge race. And I can’t wait! (See the report next Wednesday, or follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more instant news.)

I’m going to be chronicling my journey over these next eight weeks right here, every Wednesday. We’ll call it Wilder Way Wednesday! I’d love to hear if you’re participating, too, and how you’re doing. We’re in this together, right? I’ll be there for you. And I’d love your encouragement!

I’m reading Big Girls Do It Running by Jasinda Wilder

I’ve been posting quite a bit lately about a book I’m reading. It’s called Big Girls Do It Running by Jasinda Wilder, and it’s created a pretty big buzz in the indie community. Jasinda has changed her lifestyle and possibly changed her family’s life.

The book is great, and I’ve enjoyed it. Jasinda tells her story honestly and openly, and she shares what has worked for her, for her family and for her beta team of the Wilder Way. There’s a story, an explanation, a plan and recipes. It’s well-laid out and easy to understand and follow!

But I have had a few people message me and say, “Uhhh . . . why are you reading this book? You’re not heavy. You don’t need to lose weight!” While I appreciate the sentiment, I think this misses the point.  And it’s made me think about my own journey.

(This is long. Sorry, but I’m a storyteller, and this is part of my story.)

Food has never been important to me. I was a picky eater as a kid, and it didn’t improve much as I got older. My mom, a true housewife of the 1970’s, had embraced the convenience food culture, and we rarely saw food that wasn’t pre-packaged or canned or frozen. If it could be made in the microwave, so much the better. I survived on peanut butter and Pop Tarts, mostly, until I went to college, at which point I began to expand my palate. A bit.

But before that happened, I had struggled with an eating disorder while I was in high school. I had never been heavy–okay, I was a chunky baby, and I had a little baby fat until I was four or five. But beyond that, I was pretty average. In high school, though, I had several experiences that caused me to feel out of control in my life, and that resulted in anorexia. I stopped eating, which wasn’t that big a sacrifice anyway. Controlling my weight was a way of controlling my life, or so it seemed.

Happily, I had parents who watched out for me and got me help. I met my husband during my senior year in high school, and he never made me feel anything less than beautiful, smart and fabulous! I eventually had four wonderful children, and even though I gained sixty pounds or more each time, I lost the weight right away. I was almost always on the underweight side of the charts.

To this day, weight is still not my issue. But health is.

I lost both of my parents within a year of each other when they were 63 years old. Both died of blood cancers, even though cancer didn’t run in our family. But it was a wake-up call to me that I needed to be prepared, to keep my body as healthy as possible so that if something happened, if cancer or some other disease struck, I’d be in the best shape to fight it.

We moved to Florida the month after my mother died. We made a whole new circle of friends, and among them were people who had this wild and wacky way of eating. They shared with us their research, their methodology and a way to make it work for us. We embraced whole foods, fruits, veggies . . . crazy things like kefir grains and komboucha. We bought a half a cow to have grass-fed beef. We found out we liked this way of living.

My family has changed its way of eating dramatically over the past eight years. We’ve studied and researched and experimented. We eat as much organic as we can. We prefer vegetables and grass-fed meat. We don’t do processed if we can help it.

We’ve cut back on sugar, replaced much of it with honey–but we haven’t cut it out entirely. And here is one place where Jasinda’s book was another nudge. We know it–but now we need to DO it.

I’ve also noticed that since I’ve become an author, my life is more sedentary. I used to be on my feet almost all the time. Now, I’m at the laptop at least 70% of my day. Exercise happens . . . on occasion. Not as frequently as it should, even though I know how great it makes me feel. I have all the excuses, but I also know the truth. Time to make it happen! (More on THAT next Wednesday!)


Monday starts the Wilder Way challenge, and I’m excited. I’ve finished the book, and my family is on board. Some of the changes won’t be that hard for us. Others will be. But we’re doing this as another step on our journey toward better health, taking control of our bodies and choosing a more active way of life.

I’m going to chronicle my journey over these next eight weeks right here, every Wednesday. We’ll call it Wilder Way Wednesday! I’d love to hear if you’re participating, too, and how you’re doing. We’re in this together, right? I’ll be there for you. And I’d love your encouragement!