Here’s to 33

Hello 33. Nice to see you!
It’s hard to believe I’ve greatly surpassed the 30th mile marker. It seems like I just turned the big 3-0 yesterday. The proverbial time has flown, that’s for sure.

Although my 32nd year was bittersweet, my 33rd year will definitely be something unfamiliar, yet exciting; different yet memorable; empty yet overflowing. I have many amazing things happening in my life right now, and I plan to cherish all of those good moments, while learning to balance upcoming holidays, annual camping trips, and life in general without my mom. I almost feel like this is a 1st birthday of sorts. I feel like I’m learning to live this new life from the very beginning. Life certainly changes in a blink, but takes so much longer to adjust to.

Turtle beach was one of those family camping trips we’d make sure to squeeze in every summer since we discovered the place about 6 years ago. We weren’t able to go last year as my mother was in the middle of her chemo treatments all throughout the summer of 11′, but we were able to rent a small beach house in Indian Shores for a week in late July, so I was able to experience one last summer beach vacation with my mom. She lovedthe beach. The saltwater was in her soul. We were always convinced she was a fish in another life. She was fearless in the water. Scuba diving, water skiing, jet skiing, swimming; you name it, she did it. I remember mom telling stories of when she was learning to scuba dive and getting her certification. She told tales of dark waters, pilings and shadows under the old SkyWay bridge as she braved the depths for a little piece of paper that would take her through amazing adventures exploring coral reefs, lobstering and so much more throughout her life. I always envied my mother’s fearlessness. As many of you know I’m not a fan of deep water. Guess mom’s liquid loving genes weren’t inherited ones!

As my birthday approached, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t want it to turn into a wallowing session. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of birthdays and didn’t want to lose that spark. I knew my birthday would never be the same, after all, the person who gave birth to me is no longer here. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I decided that I wanted my mother’s spirit to be there with me on this special day, so I went ahead and booked a weekend at the Turtle Beach Campground, one of her favorite spots in Florida.

Little did I know Ms. Debby would be making an appearance, raining out our trip, but we made the best of it, and lived up the weekend, just as mom would have wanted us to. We fished, played in enormous waves, and ate, drank and were definitely merry (and soaked most of the time).

Walking around the campground and beach brought memories of my mom flooding into my brain. Everywhere I looked, my mother was there. Smells of bacon cooking at campsites made me think of my mother standing there in her swimsuit and black shorts, sunglasses already on, black hair flapping in the sea breeze cooking waffles and bacon on the griddle outside. It’s those memories that I want to hold on to for dear life, which is why I write them down here.

On Saturday night, dad and Brian were pretty exhausted fairly early on in the evening from long hours of fishing and wave jumping and decided to crash early. Just like my mother, I’m usually full of energy, even after a long day. On nights like that, when everyone in the camper would head to bed, my mom and I would stay up until the wee hours of the night playing board games. We’d sit at the dinette table engrossed in Scrabble and Uno until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. I have vivid memories of her sitting across from me in her reading glasses and pajamas, looking down at her Scrabble letters, tapping her nails on the table as she thought of words. I can still hear that tapping. I can still hear her ask me to pour her a glass of chocolate milk. I still have “M vs. S” score sheets of ours saved in my mom’s memory box. I can still see my mom’s mischievous smile when she looked at the score sheet and realized she was winning. As I climbed into bed early that Saturday night, with no one to play games with, I couldn’t help the sobbing. It flowed out like my soul was trying to escape my body. As Brian held me in the bottom bunk bed I couldn’t control my thoughts; I just pictured her at the table and wanted that moment back more than anything else in the world.

We returned home on Monday and had a little get together with my family for cake.

I shared the memory box I made with my family, and knew I would make this a birthday tradition as a way to have my mom’s spirit there with me. I’m lucky to have so many people in my life who care about me. I’m grateful for those family members and friends who made my day special. I appreciate Brian and his family, who have welcomed me into their family as if I had always been there. I consider myself to be a very lucky girl, even though I have an irreplaceable piece missing from my world.
Here’s to 33. Here’s to family. Here’s to friends. Here’s to life. Here’s to love.

1 year

A year ago today I had dinner with someone.
We ate, watched the Rays game, talked, laughed. It was a perfect first date.

A week later we met again. This time for happy hour.
We stayed out talking, laughing, having a really great time until the wee hours of the night.
We stood in the parking lot, talking, laughing, enjoying each others company until we finally parted ways.
He called me on the way home.
We talked on the phone for hours.
We wanted to see each other again, so we met for breakfast that same morning, where we talked and laughed some more.

On the Sunday before the fourth of July we met for an early Rays game. We met in a parking garage, and rode together to the Trop.
After the game came dinner.
Then coffee.
And just when I thought the night was over, we went to a movie.
We drove back to our cars, and before I knew it, before either of us got out of the truck, we were pulling out of the garage and heading somewhere. Anywhere.
We drove to one of my favorite spots- Davis Island.
We sat by the water, we ran, we watched sailboats, planes, and shared our first kiss.
We hung our legs off the tailgate of my truck for hours and hours; talking, laughing, being together, enjoying each others company until the early hours of the morning.

By the following week, we were inseparable.
By early August came “I Love You”.
The fall brought fun times, memories, and unforgettable moments.
We we raced, vacationed, stargazed, made plans.
We camped, had adventures, and spent time with our families.
He helped with my mom as we took her out to places.
He was caring. He was kind. He was loving. Two people became an us.

December brought a new house, a cat, and new memories.
We painted, cleaned, organized, and decorated.
We had a place of our own, filled with love, ready for new memories.

Spring brought many changes.
Waking up together, building a home,creating a life together.

In April, my heart broke.
He put it back together.

A year ago I met someone special.
A year ago my life changed.
A year ago I didn’t believe in love. I thought I wouldn’t get a second chance.
A year ago I found a best friend, a soul mate, a person that I truly love, and who loves me back, unconditionally, passionately, honestly.

Happy Anniversary to an amazing person. A man I couldn’t imagine life without. A man who showed me what it means to be happy, loved and fulfilled.

I love you times a billion.


Operation Booty Shrink, Part 2

Yesterday I filled you guys in on my big secret (read about it here: Operation Booty Shrink, Part 1). I know I’ve been teasing you guys with cryptic posts and texts, but I didn’t want to reveal any news until I got the facts. (I’m a science teacher, you know. It’s necessary to collect all data before coming to any conclusions!).

After the initial contact from Chris, and a few emails back and forth, we decided we’d schedule our meet-up for Tuesday at 3:00. I’m working half days all summer (with Fridays off, woot!), so it worked out perfectly.  I changed at school, sipped a SimplyFit chocolate protein shake for lunch on the way, and made it downtown in no time. Plaza Fitness is one of the sites that Chris works out of. It’s actually conveniently located inside the Bank of America building.
What I didn’t realize, however, is it’s also located inside the ground. I certainly didn’t expect to be inside the basement of a skyscraper on a regular Tuesday afternoon. ::shudders::
After climbing down a few sets of stairs, passing scary dungeon-like signs such as this one:
I arrived here:

(Not too shabby for a basement!)
I was a little early, and the gym was empty, so I let myself in and started to snoop around and scope the place out. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how gym inept I truly am. I didn’t recognize or even begin to know how to use most of the equipment there. And I as reflect on my gym experiences of  the past, I usually gravitate toward 1 machine: the treadmill. Strength training is going to be a whole new world for this girl. 

As soon as Chris arrived, he didn’t hesitate to start gathering some information from me. He asked me about my health and fitness history, what started me on this adventure and what I hope to gain out of this experience. I told him about my upcoming 3rd sprint triathlon (and how I’d LOVE to shave some time off last year’s race), and my insane awesome decision to sign up for my first 1/2 marathon which will be in March. Gasp. 

Not to sound like a baby, but it’s hard being a plus sized athlete. I know I’ve talked about this on here before. I’ve heard demeaning comments about my abilities, how I couldn’t have possibly done a triathlon, nonetheless two, and how no matter what I accomplish, I’m still just a fat girl. I didn’t feel that way when talking and working with Chris (which of course was my concern because of all those darn models he’s surrounded by with Modelfit) 😉 But in all seriousness, he spoke to me like an athlete, understood and worked with, not around, my limitations, and assured me that over time I would be able to do much, much more. 

Basically, the first meeting with Chris was all about analyzing my capabilities, where I want to be, and how I will get there. We discussed basic strength exercises, stretches and how to gradually create more challenges with those moves as I increase my strength. Even though it was just a physical analysis, I was totally breaking out into a sweat, and could feel the soreness the next day. (Oh boy. My muscles are in for a surprise!)

So what’s the next step? Chris will be working on a personalized program for me over the next few days, that includes a nutrition plan, which will definitely be my favorite part because you know what I’ll be doing…. NEW RECIPES

I’ll also be an active contributing member of the Modelfit forum, tracking my progress at MyFitnessPal and adding content, including blog posts, vlogs and progress pictures/measurements to the Facebook Fan page. All of these websites are free, so please check them out and follow me along! It’s going to be an awesome ride. 

What new fitness adventures would you like to start?


Race Recap: Spring into summer 5k 2012

And I raaaaaaan, I ran so far a-wa-ay.
And I raaaaaaan, I ran the whole damn thiiiii-iii-ing.

Yup. I actually ran the entire race this morning! I guess I got a little inspired from writing my 2010 Gasparilla 5k recap last night. I know, I know. A little late on the pickup, but I guess back in 2010 blogging wasn’t big on my 2-do list. Gasparilla was my first official 5k race, and the first time I truly felt like a runner. It wasn’t the bling (although I wore it proudly for weeks after), and it wasn’t my finish time. It was the fact that I had run the entire thing without stopping to walk until I had crossed that finish line. Remember, no matter how slow you start off, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch, so be proud of your speed, whatever it is!

I met a few people from my Beginner’s 5k Group for a pre-race dinner at Chipotle. We talked about goals, experiences and had a great time chatting up all things 5k (and dating websites, but that’s for a different post)! We parted ways with the intentions of meeting up at Al Lopez Park; rain or shine!

The alarm went off around 6, but I physically didn’t get out of bed until 6:30. Luckily, we don’t live far from the park, so we made it there only a few minutes passed the time I had scheduled everyone to meet. Eight members of the 5k group committed to doing the race, and all 8 of us showed up ready to cross that finish line! Alyssa, Anna, Brian, Jennifer, Kaley, Nicole, Sarah, and I spent the 45 minutes before the race stretching, warming up and just enjoying the rain-free morning (the first in 4 days!). Some members of the group had never completed a 5k prior to this morning’s race and some of us had a few under our belt already. Even with those differences, we were all there for the same purpose- to say that we did it, to improve our health, and to inspire others into realizing that they can do it too!

We lined up at the (very) small finish line and waited for the gun airhorn. The race only had about 300-400 participants which made for a really nice experience. No major crowds, lots of space on the course, and awesome goodie bags (hello yummy!).

We all started off strong, but eventually I stopped focusing on the group and started concentrating on MY race. I lined up the morning’s goals in my mind and focused on my game plan:
Goal 1- finish (this is ALWAYS goal 1 for me in any race.)
Goal 2- pay attention to my form, my footing, and breathing (and give those Asics out for a real spin!)
Goal 3- cross the finish line in time to cheer on at least 1 of the group members. I feel like I’m always on the other end of the cheering (although there’s nothing wrong with being dead last, I wanted to experience being able to do the cheering for once!)

I had a tinge of calf tightness as I rolled into mile 1, but by mile 1.5, I was loose, feeling good and had a pretty good pace. Occasionally I’d catch up with Brian (who I can hear snoring as I type this) 😉 and then he’d push a little harder and gain some speed, pretty much leaving me in the dust until the next time.  I lost sight of most of the girls along the way, but at around mile 2, a woman caught up to my side and began chatting it up about what a great job I was doing, how many races had I done, etc. etc. She literally stayed by my side until the last quarter mile and we talked about everything from Weight Watchers to dog parks- basically keeping my mind occupied through the last leg and really pushing me to finish strong! I don’t know why I always end up talking to people, but sometimes the “luck” comes in handy!

As I crossed the finish line, I had an enormous smile on my face. Not because of my finish time (which wasn’t a PR, but that wasn’t today’s goal anyway), but because I met every single one of my goals:  
I finished, I really listened to my body, and I cheered 2 of my meetup members across their own finish lines.

What an amazing group of people! I’m so proud of each and every one of them.  Creating this 5k group has created opportunities for new friendships, has given me a way to monitor and motivate me into new fitness adventures, and most important of all, it has been an inspiration to so many people who thought they would never be able to call themselves a 5k finisher!

So- NOW will you be joining us? Don’t put YOUR wellness, YOUR goals and YOUR life on hold any longer. Come and see what we’re all about! 🙂



Summer Bucket list

Last Saturday my chica Monica, from SweetBites gathered up our men (and their little man), and trekked out allllll the way to Dunnellon, FL to visit Rainbow springs. Siri (and I) got us lost, twice three times, so when we finally saw the water, we were more than ready to jump in and relax!

We tubed, we snacked, we snorkeled and enjoyed a great day on the crystal clear waters of the Rainbow River.

As we were floating along the river, Monica totally had a brilliant idea. She suggested we create a “Summer Bucket List” of all the places we should visit and activities we should do this summer. I absolutely LOVED this idea, and got to work on it as soon as we got home!

  • tube down the rainbow river
  • camp at turtle beach (going there for my birthday 6/21-6/24)
  • a fabulous Monday night birthday dinner somewhere awesome (hint, hint… wink wink) 🙂
  • canoe down the Alafia river
  • weekend down at the Keys
  • Florida caverns state park
  • camp at Manatee Springs
  • lunch at The Barn
  • Bok Tower Gardens
  • buy kayaks (ok, so this might rollover into next summer too)
  • Honeymoon Island
  • Crabbing (and more shrimping too!)
  • Mote Aquarium and lunch at the Salty Dog 

Any suggestions to add to our list? 



Hey Fat Girl

One of the most inspirational bloggers that I’ve come across has been Emmie, from SkinnyEmmie.com. She has lost over 100 pounds and started her journey at 455 pounds! That is an amazing, and VERY brave, feat and I’m so proud to know her through the blogging community. She even completed a 1/2 marathon, which gives me the motivation to know that I can do mine too. 

Yesterday Emmie posted about an article she had come across on another blog. The article seriously blew me away, and I knew that I would have to share it here too.

Hey Fat Girl,                                                                                                                                                                Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe. You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home.  You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you. You are awesome

(Read the entire post).

I can completely relate to this. 
I am that Fat Girl. 

I was once a Fatter Girl.
 (Here I was at my highest weight).
I started my journey 2 years ago at a shocking 368 pounds. I know what it feels like to be out there at the park, or at the gym as a fat girl. I feel like everyone is staring you down with disgust instead of giving you kudos for doing something about the issue. I understand that most of that is nonsense manifested by my own self-consciousness, but it’s still there nonetheless, and at times it’s crippling.
There have been more than one occasion where I’ve almost turned around and gone home. I’ve cried, I’ve hated myself, I’ve been embarrassed, felt defeated, been harassed by passerbys and have had my share of ripped workout pants, stumbles and falls. I’ve developed rashes because my thighs rub together, making my gait look funny and yes, while I’m running my breathing isn’t as dainty other lady runners. But like Emmie and the writer of this post said: for every negative remark, smirk, eye-roll or horn honk, there have been five times as many people in my life who believe in me. They’re out there watching me on the course, holding signs, taking pictures, and telling me that I CAN finish when I feel like quitting. 
 (Kristin and I at Purplestride 2010)

These people are by my side trying to get healthy right along with me.

 (Mr. KKM and I rockin’ it on Bayshore)

(Lindsey and
I crossing the finish line at Tarpon Springs Triathlon, 2010)

They’re with me in the water, on the pavement and in the gym. They’re commenting on my blog posts and encouraging me to keep it up. They’re family, friends, co-workers, blog friends and sometimes complete strangers contacting me via twitter to tell me how awesome I am. For every idiot out there with something negative to say, there are superstars cheering me across my finish lines and patting my back through my successes, and that’s what keeps me going in spite of those who are waiting for me to fail.

What keeps you going? How do you stay positive?

Tampa Tri Monsters

We all have an Inner Athlete.
Deb Peters from DPFitness and Wellness has instilled that into all of the minds of the clients and people she works with. I first met deb back in the summer of 2010 when I joined her beginner triathlete meetup. You can read about our first meeting here, when I attended my very first triathlon training. Two years ago, Deb and the Tampa Tri Monsters training group changed my life. They introduced me to something I never, ever, in a million years thought I could do, and have given me the courage to be able to publicly call myself a triathlete. Deb has taught me it’s not what you look like, how much you weigh, or how little experience you have. If you have the desire, the heart, and the motivation, you can do anything… including a triathlon. Deb, her husband Gene and all of the other Inner Athletes and Tampa Tri Monsters I have trained with have held my hand through 2 triathlons, a 15k, multiple 5ks and soon, my first 1/2 marathon. I cannot wait to see what happens next, and can’t thank them enough for adding this into my life.

Today I joined Deb and the meetup for my first open water swim of the season. My 3rd triathlon (Tarpon Springs Rotary Sprint) will be in September, so training needs to start ASAP! I dragged encouraged two of my favorite newbies out to test the waters this morning: Anna (from marrymetampabay.com) and Brian (Mr. KKM). Both of them have been absolute rock stars with their new fitness endeavors; completing 5ks, and kicking up their training to notches that I’m super proud of! After today’s training, they’re even pondering the idea of possibly signing up for Tarpon too!

We woke up bright and early on a Sunday morning to trek out to Ft. Desoto for the training. Brian and I had met up with Monica (from sweetbites.com) for a day of tubing and snorkeling out at Rainbow Springs the day before (post coming as soon as I develop my underwater disposable camera- gasp!), so needless to say, we were a tad on the exhausted side, but I was determined to not miss another OWS opportunity. He knew how much it meant to me, and wanted to give it a “tri” as well, so before we knew it we were both up, dressed and shoving toast down our mouths before meeting up with Anna to carpool over.

The weather was beautiful for a morning swim, and aside from some choppy waves, the water was cool and welcoming. We met up with Deb and Gene and about 6 other members of the training group. I love when a lot of people show up for these things. The camaraderie and support you get from like-minded people is worth it’s weight in gold. And like I’ve said a million times before, triathlons are all about competing with yourself, and triathletes know this. Nobody is out to be better, stronger or faster than you, especially during trainings. Tris are all about you. What YOU can do, and the inspiration you get from other triathletes is like no other. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of this athletic community.

We headed out to shore, slathered up some lotion, threw on our matching bright green Inner Athlete swim caps, then headed into the water- ever so slowly. It. Was. COLD! The purple flags were a-flying, which could only mean one thing- SHARKS stingrays, so we did the shuffle until we got passed the point of the waves breaking.

We discussed some strategy, techniques and goals, then set off on a warmup swim to loosen up a bit, giving Deb and Gene (both awesome swimmers) time to watch the newbies and give some starter tips. I was impressed with both Anna and Brian and how much they already knew about swimming. Brian had great form, and Anna had a lot of endurance for a newbie. As someone who was once in their shoes and totally overreacted to both the water and the swimming (remember this?) I was happy that they were starting off better than my first swim!

After the warmup, we started talking about the next goal for the day- the mile swim. I reiterated the fact that the newbies could do as much or as little as they felt comfortable with, but as they saw everyone else begin to take off, they tried it too.

Yes, there were lots of pauses.
Yes, there was heavy breathing.
Yes, there was saltwater swallowed.
Yes, there were moments of “what the hell am I doing out here” comments.
But all in all, Anna and Brian did a phenomenal job listening to direction, following tips and trying their absolute best! And you know what? Worrying about their first experience made ME a better swimmer. I didn’t think about deep water, sharks or all of those horribly deadly thoughts that usually infect my brain during OWS. I actually kept focusing on them- watching their progress, checking up on Brian, and giving him tips along the way. It was a nice feeling being on the opposite side of the swim training, and really helped get my head in the right frame of mind.

So what’s the verdict? Are they going to sign up for Tarpon? You’ll have to stay tuned. Even I don’t know yet! Oh, and are YOU interested in joining us? You don’t know what you can do until you TRI! 🙂



Putting My “Feet First”

I have gone through my share of running shoes.
When I first toiled with the idea of “running”, I literally started in a pair of $20 sneakers from Target.
Now while they were super cute, they definitely weren’t cut out for what I was attempting.

I decided to kick things up a notch and got rid of those in exchange for what I thought would be appropriate: the cheapest pair of Nike sneakers at my local sports store.

How did I choose them?
1. They were on sale.
2. They had a size 11.
3. They weren’t hideous.

You know, I don’t even recall actually trying them on. I’m always excited to find shoes in my size (it’s hard having skiis), so back then, before I knew any better, I would just buy.

Now I must say, I did complete my first 5k in these. I did change from walking to running in these. I did earn my first medal in these. But…. it wasn’t easy. In fact I got my first stress fracture from wearing these shoes, and spent a few months off my feet while it healed.

After the Nikes came a pair of New Balance, which again, I do not recall trying on, in fact these were on clearance.
After that was a pair of Reeboks purchased through Amazon.
Then came the whole barefoot/minimalist running movement, so I decided to try my hand at a pair of Nike Free 5.0s which I bought off eBay.
And when I finally completed my first 15k in these, and had blisters on the pads of my feet that lasted almost a month (worst. pain. ever.), I finally decided (and with a little push from a friend) that I would finally take myself over to a real running store and get fitted for a proper shoe.

At the same time, I received a tweet from Feet First on Twitter asking me if I’d like to come in to the shop for a shoe fitting. Well, of course! So on a rainy Sunday I found myself flip flopping my wet feet into the store to see what they had to offer.

When you first walk in, it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s not like other shoes stores where you browse different styles then try on what YOU deem fit. As soon as you arrive you’re greeted by one of their VERY knowledgeable employees who basically ask you about your goals, your history, and if you currently have any pain or discomfort while exercising. I was then asked to take off my shoes and walk across the store. As I walked (and by the way- knowing someone is staring you down as you walk is intimidating! Just walk normally!), I tried to be as natural as possible so they could take notice of my gait. After my little stroll down the catwalk, I plopped myself down and relaxed as he brought me a tower of shoe boxes for me to rummage through. Apparently I’m an underpronator, which means with each step, my ankle and side of my foot rolls outward- falling on my small toes as a run. The shoes he brought me to try on help to correct this, and I could instantly feel the difference with the first pair I tried on. Most of the shoes he brought me were actually men’s. Like I said- I have skiis for feet and typically wear an 11-11.5. (I’m a 9.5 in men’s, in case you were wondering!). As I tried on shoe after shoe, I felt important.  The employees at Feet First never make you feel rushed or criticize you for your (my) indecisiveness. They are extremely patient and want you to find what’s going to make YOU the best runner out there. As a plus sized athlete, I never felt like I wasn’t taken seriously. This is a difficult thing sometimes because there ARE people out there that will make you feel like less of a athlete because of your body size. Not here. I felt like a seasoned runner the entire time.

In the end, I fell completely head over heels in love with these:

This will be my first time running in a pair of Asics, but between the extremely cushiony heel, lots of space in the toe box, and the ankle support for correction, these seem like they will be the perfect shoe for me!
I took them out for a spin last week and although they need breaking in, I already feel faster, shins were feeling fine, and calves weren’t fatigued. I think we have a winner, people!
If you’re looking to find YOUR perfect shoe, head down to Feet First and meet with the amazing people that work there. With locations on both sides of the bay (South Tampa and St. Pete), there’s one close enough. You’ll be glad you did!
**The opinions written are solely my own. I was not monetarily compensated for any of the content in this posting.