There is No Finish Line

I’ve crossed many finish lines in my day, both literal and metaphorical.  But there’s one race that even though I’ve already won it, I’ll never cross the finish line.  I might not ever see it in the distance or even know what that finish line looks like.

I’m talking about health of course.  I will forever chase and have to re-evaluate what healthy means to me.  I now know that food and the balance of life and activity will follow me till the end of time.  Sometimes people ask: What keeps you motivated? How do you keep going?

While there is a definite ebb and flow to motivation (even mine) there has never been a time when I felt “off the health wagon”.  I’ve made poor choices here and there but I’ve never thrown in the towel.  Why? Because it’s only now that I realize what was actually happening to the inside of my body while I was morbidly obese.  Some of you have read on this site in the past that I never thought it was all that bad.  Now that I’m on the other side, IT WAS THAT BAD.  I got winded and tired from walking the dog.  I woke up most mornings with ‘sugar yack’ or ‘carb cloud’ and I thought it was normal.

Definitions ala Kim:
Sugar Yack: That feeling in the back of your throat that causes you to clear it over and over and over because you ate too much sugar the day before.  Or it seems like your saliva it’s self is part sugar?

Carb Cloud: Much like a beer hangover, it causes you to feel sluggish and just can’t quite get going during the day, until you’ve had enough carbs again.  I know you’ve been here!

These used to be daily occurrences to me.  I didn’t realize that most people don’t spend their morning getting over their diet from the day before and breaking through their carb cloud.  I didn’t even realize that I only felt like that BECAUSE of my food intake.  I didn’t even know what I SHOULD feel like. It’s those feelings that keep my food in check.   Some of you laughed out loud or knew exactly what I’m talking about with “sugar yack” and ‘carb cloud’ and I can tell you, it’s not supposed to be like that.  Now I fuel my body to get it to do the things I want it to do.

I stay motivated because whether I like to admit it or not, I was staring an early death in the face.  I wrote last week about choices if you haven’t checked it out, and I guess this week is too.  It’s not one choice.  It’s a million.  Every choice I make either helps me feel proud and motivated or sad and defeated.  I choose proud.  I choose to do things that others can’t because that’s who I want to be.  That’s what I want for myself.  I know I won’t always look like this.  I know I won’t always be able to deadlift over 200 pounds.  I know I won’t have biceps forever and if we ever have a kid, things are likely to drastically change.  However, this is who I am today, and I’m pretty proud of her and I know she will never go back to where we used to be.  When you’ve been there, you know.  You know there is nothing that would make you want to go backwards.  I honestly don’t worry that I’ll ever be over 200 pounds again.  The difference I feel now makes that ghost scarier than any horror movie I’ve ever seen.

 

 

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A million tiny choices

When people in my new career hear my weight loss story, the first question is almost always “How did you do it?” Depending on the audience, I tend to tailor my response to what they are expecting to hear or maybe what they need to hear.  Lately, I’ve been playing a lot with the idea of choices.  The truth is, it was a million tiny little choices that brought me to my life now.

My hubby first started sparked the idea in me.  Recently he’s been ordering new things at restaurants we go to all the time.  The other day he waited patiently for someone to turn instead of cutting someone off and then the whole lane opened up.  He waits patiently for a older lady to cross the street and the parking space we need opens up. He says “Change your choice. Change the outcome. Let’s see what happens.”  Lately, both of us have been rewarded for small choices that change our course.

When it came to losing weight, it didn’t wake up one morning and decide “Today is THE day!” I didn’t start officially on any single day.  It was 100 choices over three weeks and then I noticed my pants are a little too big.  Then I decided to keep making those choices and add more to see how I could change my outcome.  And 1-2 MILLION choices later, here I am.

It’s making the same choices day in and day out to focus on your health.  It’s choosing health over whatever else may come. Example: My friend recently joked about me being the energizer bunny.  Trust me people, I’m just as tired as the next person. I also want to sleep in late and skip the gym.  I also want to eat stacks of pancakes instead of hard boiled eggs. I just make it a priority and hold myself accountable.  I don’t let myself get away with excuses.  Excuses lead to me being 300 pounds.

 

It’s making new choices, risky choices that might be uncomfortable. For example: I’m about to run the Tough Mudder for the third year in a row.  The first time I went, I ran it with strangers and didn’t even really know what I was getting myself in to.  Instead of backing out, I chose to be uncomfortable and I’ve been running that race ever since.  It’s the best race I run all year.  Another example, recently chose to share my story with someone at the gym and now they are turning into a weekly client, which could blossom into years of revenue.

 

But it’s also about forgiveness. You’re not going to make the right or best choice all the time.  And you have to learn to forgive yourself.  I still eat crap sometimes!  I skip a workouts! (really, I swear!) I scream at the car in front of me instead of waiting patiently.  But I try not to dwell on those choices.  I try my best to forgive myself and move on.  You can’t change the past because it’s in the past.  What’s the point of being sad or mad about it? Let. It. Go.  Make better choices today.  Be awesome TODAY. 

No one chooses how you feel.  No one is going to make the choice for you.  No one will be there when you have to hold yourself accountable.  You could work with a whole team of fitness experts (I know a great one if you need a card…..) but in the end, you choose what happens. Trust me.  If I could make the choice for everyone, we would all be happy and healthy and running a mountain somewhere.  We would all feel what losing 160 pounds feels like and you wouldn’t be here reading this blog. I can’t make that choice.  But you can.  What choices will you make today?

I’m a Dirty Girl!

So word is apparently getting around that I like to lift heavy things, climb like a monkey and run in the mountains, preferably while covered in dirt. Two or three weeks ago my friend/colleague/trainer Matt asked me if I would fill in a place for someone who had dropped out for a Mud Run.  Matt is my weightlifting coach at the gym where I work (still weird to say….) and lets me come to his class and disrupt the men in their routine by adding sass and slowing everyone down. 🙂 He’s also the size of a refrigerator. So when he pulled a pink tutu out of his bag, I could hardly contain my excitement.  Matt’s girlfriend, Sarah, had someone drop out of her team for the upcoming Dirty Girl Mud Run.  The tutu and matching princess socks were the required costume.  He was willing to take over my shift so I could go run in the mountains covered in dirt.  What a guy!

So of course I agreed to the race without even considering it much of a question.  I signed up; put on my tutu and met up with the girls.  I was running the race with Sarah and Krista, each of us in our required tutu.  I felt like I knew Sarah through Matt but I was meeting Krista for the first time.  The last time I agree to a race without looking it up and ran with strangers, (Tough Mudder 2015) it was the most fun I’d ever had on a race.  So I figured it was worth the risk. AND WE HAD A BLAST.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a 5K course in Copper Mountain with 10-12 obstacles.  It was attainable for all levels and a great race for newbies.  This was Sarah and Krista’s first obstacle race and I knew that I was agreeing to go their pace and be a supportive team member.  To be a total cocky jerk, the race was really simple for me.  I tried to focus on being patient, encouraging my teammates and having fun with racing.  Check check and check.  It was a great day.

I almost got emotional a few times on the course.  I’d never run an all female race before.  Also, I’d never done one with so many of my ghosts along the path.  Again, to be a total jerk: Most races that I run now, I NEVER would have been able to do before.  I rarely see someone the size that I used to be in a race and never anyone bigger than that.  Most races I run, my old self wouldn’t have even knew existed. This race is attainable for everyone so I saw so many versions of myself along the course.   I remember one girl in particular.  We were coming up to a climbing rig with: a cargo net climb to the top, horizontal traverse across a cargo net and then slide down a fireman’s pole; then crawl through the bubble pit to the other side.   The whole thing was maybe 12-15 feet up in the air.  Ahead of me I saw someone who was larger than my past self just giving everything she had to get to the top.  But down below I saw my old self.  She was standing to the side and wasn’t even going to try.  Both my teammate Sarah and I tried to encourage her to try and offered to help her.  It was clear she was just going to watch.

I wanted to encourage her more and fill her with a sense of inspiration and rigor to give it a go, but she was so defeated before she began.  I saw myself in her eyes.  I knew she would never try; no matter what I said.  I watched so many women that day accomplish something they never thought they could.  One woman was frozen at the top of a long slide and my team spent a long time trying to encourage her.  Eventually she told us to go.  She had the biggest smile on her face when we found her at the finish line to tell us that she had done it!  But to the girl at the cargo net, she wouldn’t know.  She wouldn’t know what that was like.  I don’t know that woman.  Maybe just walking the course was her goal that day.  Maybe that brought her more joy than the obstacle would have anyway.  But I saw it in her eyes.

Defeat. Not defeat from fear of the height or the obstacle.  But defeat from even trying.  I’d been in that place so many times.  Here’s what I think she was going through her head:

I’m to heavy for that.  Will the obstacle even hold me? I’m not supposed to do those things.  What if I fail in front of everyone? I know I can’t do it.

These phrases kept me from even trying to lose weight so many times.  “I know I can’t do it.  I’ve tried already. What if I fail?” Fear of failure is something I deal with everyday of my life.  Its something that I struggle with in everything I do.  But I keep trying.  I keep failing and trying to be ok with it.  I’m trying to be ok with not being able to do EVERYTHING.  But it’s hard.  My fear of failure made me miss out on so many things in life.  I’m not letting it rob me anymore.  I almost missed out on the most beautiful Saturday on Copper Mountain with the most beautiful of ladies! 🙂

UPDATE: BIG CHANGES!

Anyone visiting the site lately would see that I have been quite remiss at keeping you up to date on my struggles and accomplishments but this time, I have a really good reason.

I’M NOW A PERSONAL TRAINER!

For the past 9 months I have been balancing Teaching Full Time, Working at the gym as a club assistant part time, Interning as a personal trainer part time, studying for CPT certification, maintaining my marriage and fitness level, and trying to be an adult.  Whew.  That was a long sentence.  It’s been an even longer 9 months.

Last week was my last week of teaching for the forseeable future.  While I could turn this post into a long list of reasons of why I left teaching, that’s not what you’re here for.  I am officially unemployed in education.  That feels weird to say.  I’ve been teaching for 10 years and this year, I finally made the switch. I’ve been considering becoming a personal trainer since first getting bit by the fitness bug in 2014.  I used to think, “How cool would I be to be at the gym all day, working out and helping people…..but that would be way too hard and nearly impossible to do while teaching……”

Similar to my obesity, I found every excuse in the book not to switch careers or follow my dream.  Here’s what’s REQUIRED to become a personal trainer:

  1. Certification
  2. Get hired

Some gyms require a bachelors in Exercise Science but a lot don’t really care.  I always made excuses of why I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t take time off teaching! (Turns out I didn’t have to) There’s no way I could balance all of that and not let my health slip! (Check! Done!) There’s no way I could ever leave teaching because I love it so much! (False.  I didn’t have the confidence to believe I COULD do something else.)

It’s been my dream to be a personal trainer for years.  This year I had the opportunity laid out before and every door opened through my journey.  This was the year that I switched my life and changed all over again.  People say “I could never do that” when I talk about three areas of my life: losing weight, moving across the country and now, changing careers.  But the truth really is: if you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.  Those three changes have completed changed my life and made me happier than I thought I could be.  How cool is that?

So over this summer, look for lots of changes on the blog.  I want to update the homepage, new photos, the works!  I can also now (legally) give workout advice and routines with some confidence that I know what I’m talking about!  What an exciting journey!

Summer Subjects to look forward to:

Mud Runs!

Least favorite/Most favorite exercises

What’s a Macro?

A runners body…..

Summer Recipes

Quick Tips

LOTS OF NEW INFO!

 

 

Infectious Fitness

For the past 2.5 years, I have been running a Fun Run club at my school.  Truth be told, it has sometimes been really discouraging.  It seemed like no matter what I did, no one was interested in running next to me, behind me or in front of me.  Running helps keep me sane and able to do my job.  It de-stresses me and relieves anxiety that can be devastating in the teaching profession.

I tried several different ideas to get people excited. Different days, different lengths, different routes, incentives……nothing seemed to work.  I eventually got a trusty group of walkers.  While I enjoyed spending time with them, I knew they weren’t receiving the mental benefits that running brings.

Still I persisted.  Every Friday, I ran my miles.  I knew that someone was always watching.  Students would see me run by at their after school program.  Teachers eager to start their weekend would see me on their routes home. Parents would see me and honk.  And then finally…..I started getting some real members.  This fall, I started offering boot camp after school.  At first, it was just a reason for me and my friend Nestor to work out together at school.  Then someone joined us. And then more and more.

One of the beauties of working out with your colleagues is that you are all under the same stresses.  You would think that this leads to an hour long complaint session but it ends up being the opposite.  Now, every Wednesday AND Friday, I have a steady group of 5-9 people that show up to sweat.  Even though we finish sweaty and smelly, it’s so rarely about the calorie burn.

I look forward to boot camp days all week long.  We have administrators and teachers, all struggling with the same exercise or interval.   Everyone is at their own level and doing their own thing.  It usually takes some convincing of new members that we aren’t so tough.  But most importantly: WE LAUGH.  I have gotten to know my colleagues in a brand new way because of this.  Everyone leaves smiling and feeling good.

I used to hope that just one person would join me on a run, that I could infect just one person……..this past Friday we held a Boot Camp 5K and 10 people ran.  My heart was so full! I have so many proud moments as a teacher but this one is definitely going toward the top of the list.

Change Your Perspective

Don’t worry: there will be NO ‘glass half full’ references in this post.  In the past 8 weeks, I’ve gone through a lot of life changes.  Instead of dwelling, I’m doing my best to just push forward and look ahead with confidence in the unsure.  It’s actually quite bizarre. But as I spend time shifting my perspective, I realize how many times this habit has helped my in the past.

When I was still 290+ pounds, I could NEVER think about the fact that I had over 100 pounds to lose.  That goal was insurmountable.  There was just no way.  No one loses 100 pounds.  So I decided that I didn’t want to lose 100 pounds, I was just going to lose the first 50.  After losing 50 pounds, maybe I’d be out of plus size clothes? But how cool would it be to say I’d lost 50? And then I did.  When I looked at the BMI Chart, if I lost just another 50 pounds then I would be in the ‘Overweight Category’ and not the ‘Obese’ category anymore……   (****this was before I realized how craptastic BMI is and that it doesn’t actually mean anything)

After I lost the first 100 pounds, I had fallen in love with fitness.  Then I just set goals for what I wanted to be able to do and my body responded.  I set several goal weights along the way and reaching eat one felt great and every fitness goal and finish line made all the work worth it.  It was easy to keep going when I loved it.  That’s how I lost 150+ pounds: in small chunks because losing an entire person is completely ridiculous.

Honestly, I don’t think any one is more surprised that I lost all of the weight than I am.  I’m the one that heard every negative thought and still had to continue forward.  If I had focused on losing 150 pounds at the beginning, I never could have done it.  But when I focused on one goal at time, it seemed easier.  Sometimes it was 10 pounds away and sometimes it was one race away.  But shifting my perspective is what lead me to success and more happiness than I thought possible.

I can count several different times in my life when I did this and had the same results.  So I’m depending on it now.

Recently, I had to quit boxing.  It doesn’t mean that I love boxing any less or that I’m ungrateful for the lessons it taught me.  At first, I was really sad that it wouldn’t fit in my schedule any longer and what I had been working towards was longer important.  But instead of dwelling on it, I’ve shifted my perspective.  I realized that most of the goals I’d had in the last year, ( a PR 5K, completing the Tough Mudder….) didn’t even have anything to do with boxing. So I decided to shift my perspective and get excited.  Boxing was creating a whole avenue of anxiety that I didn’t even realize was there.  I now find it EXCITING to train myself.  I love that I can train when, where and how I want and not report to anyone.  I can change my body in anyway I want!  After 8 weeks, not only have I been getting to my goals quicker, I’ve changed my body composition fairly dramatically.  While I’ve maintained my weight, I’ve exchanged 6 pounds of fat for 3 pounds of muscle.  Pretty awesome.

Also, a month ago, I got laid off at my school.  I was devastated for a few days.  As a specialized teacher in Drama, (and music before that) I always knew I was at risk for being cut when the budget goes down.  I’ve been fortunate enough to always be ahead of the curve when that’s in question.  But this time, I didn’t see it coming.  I had just come back from a weekday getaway with Dan for his birthday when I got called to a budget meeting.  10 minutes later, my job had been cut.  I. Was. Shocked. After a few numb days, I saw the sliver lining.  There’s only been one thing stopping me from going into personal training full time: the love of my students.  I have been 75%ish…maybe sure… that I was going to try to get into personal training next fall.  But I kept coming back to the kids, my guilt of leaving them, my colleague family and the program that I’ve built at my school.  Now, there’s no program to ‘abandon’.  I’m being forced to leave my position, so I’ve decided to just jump ship all together and try something that I want and I know that I’ll be good at.  And for what seems like the first time in my life, I’m sleeping through the night again.

So here’s the moral of this chapter of my story: when you shift your perspective, your goals seem much more attainable.   In the past two months I had to quit the sport I love and lost my job OR I have all the time I want to train myself and I can now dive into a new career distraction free.  It does feel a lot like losing the weight, like standing at a starting line, and maybe when I cross this finish line it will bring me even more joy and success.

How the Universe Works…..

January Sucks.   I mean sucks. It’s cold.  I can’t run outside.  I hate my job, my house, my car, my………..I always want everything to change in January.

Every year you think it’s going to get better right? A clean slate!  A new year!  Everything resets……..right? The real truth is, if you keep making the same decisions you’ve always made, you’re life will always be the same.  The real truth is, if you don’t change anything, nothing will change.   The real truth is that January 1st is no different than December 31st.  I was just as morbidly obese at the end of 2011 as I was at the beginning of 2012.  But for the first time, I was willing to do something real about it.

5 years ago, I was standing on my bathroom scale mortified.  I had ALWAYS promised myself that I would never see a number on the scale that started with a 3.  NEVER would I see 300 pounds.  Well, that day, or shortly after, I hit 285.  What was I going to do? How was I going to get things going in the right direction? It was then that I made a commitment to change.

I first looked at my life and realized I had  no goals, no direction.  Of course I had a career path but I was really just ticking the hours away, day in and day out, with big macs in the middle.  Nothing in my life was inspirational or motivating me to better myself.  The first decision that I made was to change my location.   I looked at my life in the Midwest and realized it did not fit my ideal lifestyle.  I wanted my life to be filled with adventure and excitement and I was heading for death via cheeseburgers and having my skin attach itself to a couch cushion. That’s when I made the decision to move to Colorado.  When I say ‘I made the decision’, that’s what I mean.  ‘We’ (my hubby and I) didn’t.  I did.  I told him he could come if he wanted to but I was going.

I know how that sounds.  I know that seems selfish.  BUT, I knew I could love him better.  I knew I could offer him more.  I knew that I was holding him back, even if he never would have admitted it.  I also knew that if I didn’t change, our lives together would be cut short and full of…….nothing. I think it was that decision that got me to where I am.  Now, I made the decision in 2012.  That summer we moved to Colorado.  It would still take many years for me to lose the weight and get to where I am now.  But that decision, standing on my bathroom scale created a domino effect that has now saved me life.  So………

 

What decision can you make today that will set you up for the future?  Even if you can’t advance toward that goal or change very much in this moment, what decision will you make? The clock is ticking.

2017: Big Announcement!

I would start this blog with a bunch of excuses about how long it’s been since I’ve written…..but let’s be honest.  You’re here because you want to know the announcement, not hear excuses.  Fortunately for you, they are kind of one and the same:

I have been interning with a personal trainer for the past 8 weeks 🙂

 

For those of you that follow this blog, you’d know I’m a full time Drama Teacher.  Since November 1st, I have been attempting to balance two jobs, internship, marriage, workouts and life.  While it has had it’s challenges, I’ve already learned SO much.

I think I’ve been saying “I’m thinking of becoming a trainer” for……….two and a half years now.  So I was thinking maybe I should actually give it a try 🙂  People always dream big when they hear about my weight loss.  They almost always say “You should write a book!” Well, that’s easier said than done.  I don’t really want to wait that long and it seems like a ton of work for something that might not work out.  I want to start changing lives right now!  For the last two years of my fitness journey (of which I’m still on by the way) I’ve been coaching people here and there with handfuls of tidbits.  I feel like I’ve been an inspiration and motivation for a few people at tough moments.  But now I want to be there for the change. I want to help guide others though the WHOLE journey that I’ve been on.

What trainer would you rather have if you were looking to lose weight?

Option A:  Joe Schmo who was a college athlete and has never counted a calorie in his life.  He is highly educated and certified and regularly completes Ironman races without bothering to stretch beforehand.  

Option B: Kim G who struggled with morbid obesity her whole life and knows the personal struggle of losing weight.  She conquered obesity through a healthy diet and exercise and has the same certification as Mr. Schmo. She understands both the mental and physical aspect of weight loss. While she couldn’t run a mile 5 years ago, now she completes half marathons.

You’d pick me right? Right?

So far I am LOVING working at the gym.  During my paid shift, I am a Club Assistant.  I do lots of things: clean, get towels, get water, yell at kids running, show people how to use machines, help trainers……my position changes based on the day, hour, even minute sometimes.  I get to chat with members and attempt to build a client base for when I’m training. One of the best parts is seeing my friends while they work out! (Shout out to Natalie who recently completed Yoga Teacher Training at our facility.  Can’t wait to start taking your classes!!! )

Lately, I’ve been weighing in people for our new Fitness Challenge which is so fun and I’m excited to see how everyone changes over the next 6 weeks.

But my favorite thing by far is my intern training.  I feel very fortunate to be working under Victor Spatola as he leads me through my trainer’s course. We talk about biomechanics, recovery, progamming…….mostly he talks in words I barely understand and then have to study later. 🙂  He assigns me homework and I somehow find a few hours to nerd out and study before the next lesson comes. In a few short weeks I can see my future changing and shaping.  My goals are resetting and my life is being fulfilled in new ways.

I’m in a bit of a life crisis.  I’ve had to totally switch up my fitness (I’m no longer boxing….more on that later), my schedule is nuts and I’m just not quite sure where I’m going……but I have a partner who is supporting my insanity and giving me the space and time to figure it out.  I only know one thing right now but I think it’s the most important thing: it’s exciting!  So here’s to 2017 and whatever that’s going to mean.

Everyday: I Beat Her

Somedays I wonder if there will always be two of me.  There’s the new me: confident, fit and outgoing and then there’s always the old me: overweight, uncomfortable and failing.  In my overweight life, I had a good career and an ok marriage.  I was mostly happy and pretty outgoing but part of me always knew there was more.  I knew there had to be more to life: more to see, more to do and more to expect from myself.  I always felt like a failure but I couldn’t figure out why: I was failing at life. I was so happy with living a half life.  Part of me wonders if I would have just stayed that way…..and for how long.

Now I feel like my life is FULL.  My relationships with everything are better.  My marriage is better. I have so much more to give to my husband and we get so much more out of life and our time together now.  I feel like my friendships are deeper and more meaningful because I have more value for myself now.  My job is easier and keeping up with day to day tasks of life are easier.  I feel more connected to nature and humanity as a whole.  I feel like I’m doing life right now.

But somedays I think about how easy it would be to go back.  Of course I have cheat days and rest day but what would it be like to give up? What would it be like to wake up as my old self? Part of me thinks this will never happen and the other half of me fears that it will. I have lived in two different worlds.  I have had two different marriages.  (To the same man!) I have had two lifetimes in one.  So each day I still fight.  I still fight that girl who wants two cheeseburgers and a side of mozzarella sticks.  Some days I don’t want to go to the gym and just get it done as quick as possible. I still beat her every single day.

The easiest way to not go backwards is to remember where I came from.  I 100% believe that if anyone could drop the weight and feel the difference in their body, they would do it in a heart beat.  Every calorie, drop of sweat and running mile was worth it.  Every. Single. One.

I wouldn’t give up anything for the person I am now or the lifestyle that I lead.  Notice: I didn’t say this body.  I didn’t say, I wouldn’t give up being skinny for anything.  I know my weight will fluctuate as my life continues to change. I know I won’t always see this number on the scale. It’s not about being skinny.  It’s about meeting my life goals and being the person I want to be, skinny was just a result.  So every day, every damn day, I still beat her.

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Healthy Friends

Well I did it again already, I tried hiking and had a much better response!  This week I had scheduled to hike the Manitou Incline with my friend and colleague Nestor.  Nestor has also lost quite a bit of weight in the recent past and loves Crossfit.  He taught me how to climb ropes and I’m looking forward to many more fitness related excursions!   Nestor had done the incline countless times and it’s a very popular place to visit but there are people that live near Colorado Springs that incorporate it as a regular routine.

The Manitou Incline is in Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs.  It’s known for Pike’s Peak and the incline.  The ‘trail’ is less than a mile but climbs 2000 feet in elevation in that short of a time.   (7,000 – 9,000 feet for those curious) I was feeling great and thought I would knock it out and leave him in the dust and maybe even go for a run later.  While Nestor is very fit, I know my cardio is more advanced than his but with his experience, I fell behind by 20 – 30 stairs.  For flatlanders, this hike feels like it’s straight up.  When you have hiking experience, you can tell when it’s not as steep.  I finished the incline in 40 minutes which is pretty advanced for my first time.  I think I could cut off a few minutes easily, just knowing the course now.  While it was hard, I never felt like it was impossible.  I didn’t cry or get too frustrated.

I have been wanting to do the incline for 2 years now but it was undergoing some renovations after recent flooding and I forget about it because of it’s location.  Without Nestor inviting me, I might not have gotten it checked off the list this summer.  It’s so important to find friends that help support your journey.  Fitness and health have brought so many people into my life that I might not have otherwise known.

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Off the top of my head, I can count 7 friends (there’s probably more… ) that I now have in my life because of how I live my life.  When you make a change in your life, it attracts new kinds of people.  As I have changed, so have my friends and who I spend my time with. I don’t consider everyone a friend and I don’t use that word lightly.  I’ve found it difficult in my adult life to make TRUE friends when we moved to Colorado but fitness opened that door for me.  I have cultivated so many positive relationships and experiences with people I have met in my gym life.  One of my closest friends I met at my first gym, and although I no longer go there, we still see each other all the time.

Healthy people attract healthy people. Broken people attract broken people.   Now, that’s not to say we don’t all have our problems or my friends and I only go out for salads.  We drink beer and pizza too but I feel like our relationships are focused on health and well being.  We constantly discuss bettering ourselves and our society through various ways and not just fitness. We hike, climb, run, box and laugh.  We don’t sit around and count calories together or compare waistlines.  But there’s an underlying thread in all of my relationships now: How can I be better?

It’s so important to surround yourself with others who are on a journey.  Even if it’s not fitness related, someone who is trying to better themselves, as you are, is going to be much better support than someone who isn’t.  A stick in the mud is a stick in the mud.  I had to let a few friends go over the last few years because they just didn’t match my new lifestyle.  They would constantly complain about a situation they were in but would never try and change it.  They would claim to want x,y and z for themselves and then sit around and do nothing for two years.  I know not everyone can have the self determination that I do.  I know I am mentally strong and I can’t expect that from everyone I know but I also can only try to support and motivate another person so much. So watch out for these types of people too.  When you start to change, other people that want to change will flock to you.  Give them the support you can and give every friend a chance but over time you’ll see who is happy being unhappy and who is really wanting to change.