Friday, March 30, 2012

Wubby Weekend Wonders & A Run for Fro Yo!

Where have I been you ask?  Remember when I blogged every day?  This week has not been that kind of week.  I have lacked serious motivation for blogging or for anything for that matter...

I had some better pictures but my phone is not cooperating so this will do..

But it is time to start to get motivated because tomorrow is the BIG day - W day!  Tomorrow, we pick up the Wubster so it is absolutely time for me to step up my game and to stop being so sleepy as we welcome our new bundle of furball joy into our lives.   Whose excited?

The Wubster!!!

We plan to pick Wubby  up around 4 tomorrow and then if he (and the weather) are well behaved, head over on Sunday morning to Colleen's virtual race ending in a frozen yogurt party.  Clearly, Wubby is going to love fro yo since he is part of our family (o.k. don't worry I am not really going to feed him fro yo, unless he begs). Colleen is hosting the Fight Forever Virtual Run this coming weekend and she has pulled out all the stops.  This virtual race is part of her fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society as she runs for them in (only, what less than three weeks?!?) the Boston Marathon.  You don't have to participate in person but if you are in the Massachusetts area a few of us are getting together on Sunday to run.  You can do a 10k, 5k, or a mile fun run. You can bring your kids or your pets.  As long as Wubby can contain himself, him and I might walk or, maybe walk/run who knows.  And even better afterwards Yeh is sponsoring our little get together with free frozen yogurt, cookies, and crepes!!! Pretty good deal if you ask me.  Colleen will have medals and prizes and all.  Don't miss this!  If you are interested,  check out Colleen's site for more details or feel free to contact me.

Never ever say no to Fro Yo! 

That is all for now.  Happy Friday.  Hope to see you at the race on Sunday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Courageous Runner

On Sunday, I ran a 5k with my two sisters-in-law, Shira and Rea.  Shira and I were mainly running to support Rea in first 5k.  This race was serious business.  It was a small race one town over that attracted maybe less than 100 people all of which looked like they would finish this 5k in under 20 minutes.  To make matters more challenging, Sunday was not the most beautiful day of the week.  Rather, it was one of those days where you seriously contemplate a DNS (I know I did).  The course while mostly flat had one bitch of a hill that would stop the best runner in his tracks.  In my cousin's words, "No medal in the world could get me to run up that hill."  And my cousin really I mean really likes her medals.

Yet, despite all of this, my sister-in-law Rea was determined to run her first race ever, her first run outside ever, and her first hill run ever.  For me, I got to witness the magic of someone conquering what they never would have thought was possible. Anyone can be a fast runner start at the front of the pack and then make a mad dash for the finish.  It might hurt like hell and take months and months of training but in many ways there i something simple about that.  But not anyone can have the courage and perseverance to run a race knowing that you will not be even close to Number 1.  To have the confidence and charisma to be one of the last runners on the course, but still find the ability to keep going because she or he know that this is his or her race.  It is not about who else finishes in what time or how long it might take them to finish.  Rather, it is about completing their journey and their race that they set out to complete whether it took 20 minutes or an hour.

Go Rea!

Rea is this person.  She began her journey a few weeks back with Couch to 5k.  Honestly, I did not believe she would do it.  But she proved me wrong battling through each week to complete the training requirements and successfully making it to the starting line.   I was and am so proud of her.  While she may have been nervous, intimidated, or even embarrassed, she rose to the occasion with a smile on her face and took off.   As Rea put her game face on, Shira and I started our job at being the best cheerleaders we could screaming at the top of our lungs.  O.K. so maybe I was the only one screaming  and Shira and Rea were thinking how they desperately wanted me to shut-up.  People pulled ahead of us quickly until it was only us and one walker behind us (who by the way had done over 62 marathons but then his knee gave out so he took up running).    No matter to Rea or any of us though, we were on a mission.  It did not matter if half the group was already finished before we got to Mile 2 - we were out there for  Rea and Rea's journey alone.  So Rea continued to run and I continued to scream.  The course was lined sporadically with the town's middle school cross country team who sort of just stared at me like I was a screaming lunatic although some cheered with me and others told me that they had seen my other half (referring to the fact that Aaron in his Crazy shirt had whizzed by before us).

Soon enough though, we were almost at the end.   The last part of the course, the part that always seems the longest.  Rea wanted to give up, to walk, to rest.  But she did not.  We kept telling her she was almost there.  That she was so close, to leave nothing on the course and she kept going like a champion.

And then we were there, we could see it - the finish.....

Rea finished in about 40 minutes.  In a normal sized 5k, she would not have even been close to last, but today where only the "elite crazy" runners came out, she was almost last.  However, in my book she was one of the strongest runners on the course that day.  Most of the other runners may have felt nervous or exhausted or like they wanted to throw up (a sure sign of a good 5K), but most of those individuals were just doing the same old, same old - a thing they had done most of their lives. Not that these people are not amazing (they are don't get me wrong) but there is something truly spectacular about someone who takes a chance.  Who is strong and confident enough to complete her goals no matter how long it takes.  To persevere and do something and accomplish something for one's body and mind.

It only took one race by the way, it seems as if Rea is addicted with the rest of us already dreaming about 10Ks and a half marathon - who can blame her.

And I have to give one final note, Aaron CRUSHED it with a new PR yet again coming in with 29 minutes in change.  I ran 3 miles today on the Treadmill (apparently it is winter again) and it took me 32 minutes.  How the tables have turned...

Aaron's comment - are you all really that short?!?

How was your first 5k? Who do you believe are the courageous runners?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going Organic

I have always been one to say that there is no such thing as good foods and bad foods.  Poptarts?  Sure.  Fruit loops?  Why not?  By the same token yogurt and my beloved Chobani and Go Lean Crunch abso-freakin-lutely.  Lately, however I may be admitting defeat to my dear friend Samantha and my extremely wise brother who have been telling me all along that some of these foods are just down right bad for me.  It is not because of the calories or the fat - nope that does not make a food "good" or "bad," but rather it is the processed ingredients, pesticides, and other toxins that are placed into or sprayed onto our foods.

Could not resist putting up Aaron's favorite picture

Ok so where did this come from all of a sudden?  The other day, while home in NJ, I was reading through my Fertility Forum, and some of my very strong, awesome lady friends were discussing the dangers of soy (e.g., soy lectin, tofu, soy protein, soy milk but not soy sauce) and how not only can certain types of soy cause specific types of cancer, but it can also wreck havoc on female hormones.  In particular, it can cause women to not have their period or to have irregular cycles. That is pretty much all I needed to hear, as you can imagine.   Check out this video here for a more thorough explanation.

The whole revelation pretty much led to me freaking out and looking at all the ingredients in the products in our home cabinets only to realize that everything, I  mean everything has soy lectin in it (o.k. not everything, thank goodness for Chobani).  My brother explained that the scene unfolded as the following.  "I (my brother) was sleeping and all of a sudden Steph goes into this panic that soy is going to kill us all thus disturbing me from getting a decent night's sleep."  And yea that is pretty much how it went.

I had this awesome picture of my brother and I, but I decided he would not love me so much for posting it, so you are stuck with another "Stephanie Freak-out Picture"

Anyway, once I calmed myself down and got over my anger about soy (which side note apparently my great uncle helped to create decades ago),  I had a good heart to heart conversation with my friend Samantha.   We talked about the dangers of processed foods and how she just tries to look at the labels and buys things with real ingredients.  Good rule of thumb is if you don't know what it is, probably not such a good sign.  She also explained how she tries to just cook a ton of things from scratch which eliminates a lot of the problems right then and there.  So we quickly set up a date for a cooking/baking extravaganza and I went on my way to the grocery store to find something, anything without SOY and other processed ingredients which are apparently going to kill me or at least mess with my hormones.

Now, I know what you are saying because I have said it too.  Everything can kill you.  Nothing is perfect.  Organic is just a fad.  And I used to really believe that.  But these days not so much.  After doing some more research and thinking, this is something I really want to try for now.  First of all, I want to be pregnant, I want to have a baby and maybe I can withstand all those toxins on my fruits and veggies, but I am really not so game on subjecting my future son or daughter to those things.  Second of all, through this whole amenorrhea process a lot of what I have defined as "healthy" has been sort of, well taken away from me.  This gives me just something to grasp to.  To allow me to feel just a bit healthy again, especially on those non-fiber days.  So there you have it.  I am going to have a go at it.    Try this whole organic thing and see what happens.  An experiment of sorts to see if I feel better, stronger, "healthier."

Plus what can be better than these cute looking Bunny-shaped snacks

Do you eat organic?  How do you feel about organic v. non-organic foods?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Selfish to Selfless Running

I don't know about you, but I have always been a bit of a selfish runner.  I would like to tell you that I feel bad about this fact, but honestly I do not.  Running is something I do for me.  It is my time.  I get to go out and push the limits and see what my body can do or spend hours chatting away with friends as the miles tick by.  On race day, I am really no better.  It is kind of all about me.  My husband has always been an awesome, willing participant carrying my bags and cheering me on.  I really could not ask for more.

Aaron a.k.a our pit crew at Mile 11 of Marine Corps Marathon

But life happens and it does not always go your way and it is not always about you.  In fact, I have been told that once you become a mom it is actually never about you.  So I guess it is suiting that even before I am pregnant I am putting my future little one first and saying no to selfish running for right now - you know the kind of running where you go balls to the wall and attempt to run so hard that you want to throw up, pass out, and scream for joy all at the same time.

This face screams all of the above, right?

Instead, it is time for my running to be put on the back burner.  To run but slowly.  To run a mile and to walk a mile.  To just relax as people keep telling me.  But more importantly it is a time where I can help others fall in love with and excel in running.  Lately, Aaron has been a running superstar.  He ran his first 5K on January 1st and has run 6 other races since then.   I have been lucky enough to run with him in some of these races, cheer him on, and allow the day to be about him (although I am sure he will tell you that I still make it about me).

Go Team Aaron!

I am thoroughly enjoying the phone calls and text messages I get from my sister-in-law as she is about to embark on her first 5k this weekend.  I hope to also be able to run with her and support her in this endeavor. And just this past week I had to smile from ear to ear when running with my cousin and pushing it just a little bit harder so that she would keep up and have a great run which I knew she could do, and she did.

So you know what?  It is not all bad here on the other side of the fence.  Life has not come to an end. I am still running albeit not the running I am used to but I am O.K. with that. I am not saying that I do not cringe with jealousy and may get a little teary-eyed when others discuss their marathon plans and goals with me, but I know that I have bigger plans right now and so for now I will sit on the sidelines and cheer my heart and I would not have it any other way.

This season is not marathon season for me.  But it is for many and I will be thankful for the time I get to put others first, to support them, and to watch them thrive!

In the zone!

How do you support other runners?  Do you find it hard to be a selfless runner or a selfish runner?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIAW: The Infertility Diet

I am not usually one to partake in What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW).  Although WIAW is a pretty great game that allows me to come up with all new and improve food ideas, I just have never jumped on the bandwagon.  But since I have been literally surrounded by food during this shivah period, I began thinking about WIAW and how I could partake in the fun.  First I thought about showing you all the shivah foods, but then I decided that I would take a different spin on it because most of my food lately seems to revolve around infertility in way or another.

Ok maybe a few pictures - Greek Food Galore - fresh cheeses, pita, and dips!

Edible Arrangement! Need I say more!

If you Google Fertility Diet, there are a ton of links you can look.  I did Google it and I tried to read the articles, but it just made my head spin so I have been kind of just doing this thing on my own.  I have gotten a good amount of advice from everyone and anyone and have been picking and choosing what has been right for me.  I am not saying it is going to work.  I am no success case, not yet anyway, but, hey, this seemed like a good topic to expand upon so take it for what you will.  I am by no means an expert in this field.

By nature, hypothalamic amenorrhea is generally caused by lifestyle choices one of which is . Women who suffer from amenorrhea generally are not getting enough proteins and fats in their diet to allow their hormones to grow.  Additionally, they are underweight and/or have too low of BMI.  My weight and BMI were actually fine, and the recommendation to gain weight was not necessarily for me says my nutritionist Nancy Clark.  Yet the combination of medications I have been on plus a few extra bowls of ice-cream have allowed me to add some pounds quickly, and I honestly feel like a little extra fat could not hurt so what the hell.  It is just "pregnancy weight" anyway.

Some added ice-cream or fro yo never hurt anyone

I would like to tell you that these few extra pounds have been all fun and games.  Just have milk shakes and french fries was a recommendation I once received if you recall.  But I have taken this a bit more seriously.  I want to get those good hearty fats and proteins that will help my hormones to grow.  This means that almonds and eggs have become my new best friends.  Yogurt was already my best friend as well as ice-cream but I have been making sure to get my fair share of these treats as well.   And I am just hoping that these things will make a difference.

Ok maybe some fun and games - fresh homemade scones

Will these things make a different?  I am not sure.  I do credit my massive egg eating with my great response to my first round of Clomid but who really knows.  I guess at least I feel like I am doing something, being somewhat in control, and making some sort of head way.

The part about the fertility diet that I despise is one that apparently only my doctor adheres to.  The "no fiber for 48 hours prior to an ultrasound diet."  She says that fiber makes it hard to see the scan (which does seem to be pretty true) because fiber creates gas pockets (fun fun).  What does this mean for me?  Every time I have a scan, I have to go the prior 48 hours without fiber that includes - cereal, anything whole wheat, all fruits and veggies,  and all nuts and nut butters.  What else is there you ask?  Let's just say I eat a lot, I mean a lot, of string cheese.  Although I am cheating a bit today because I have awesome friends who made me an amazing dinner and honestly I just can't take this no fiber thing.  Its pretty much impossible.  But it is pretty well worth it if you ask me.

So that is it for my WIAW.  Not the greatest one in the book but I guess it will do.  Do you have good fertility promoting foods for me to try out?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The No Skinny Model Law

I honestly was not sure how I was going to transition from my last two posts to a different one or set a different tone.  I am still in mourning but felt ready to blog about something else.  Normally, I would easily write about running.  I am actually doing some running today so maybe tomorrow I can write about that but since I have not been doing much running I have not had much too say about it.  So there I am sitting in bed this morning wondering what to write about when Aaron wakes up, says two words, and all of a sudden I have a blog post.

So what did Aaron say?  Actually I had no idea at the time and had to get him to repeat it.  But when he did, he said Israel passed a law banning skinny models in advertisements or more specifically no models with a BMI under 18.5 to be included in advertisements on advertisements in Israel.  Additionally, any ads that use airbrushing, computer editing, or any other form of PhotoShop to create a slimmer image of the model must say so clearly in the ad.  As soon as I heard this, I knew I had found the inspiration for my next blog post.   The idea behind the law is too prevent individuals, especially young girls, from falling victim to the belief that skinnier is better.  Or maybe more eloquently put by this article the law "will send a message to teenagers that being thin is acceptable, but slimness has its limits, and there is such a thing as being too thin."

As someone who has too think a TON about her BMI these days and who has struggled with the desire to remain tiny while having to accept that I need to be a bit bigger right now, this law excites me to no end.  Is it  going to eradicate eating disorders?  No.  Will it go a long way in helping young women to begin to change their perspective and outlook on what is healthy?  Yes.

In struggling in my new "no running, eating more fats" body type, I have had my harder days.  For the most part, I just feel uncomfortable in my own skin.  I am not used to sitting around so much, to feeling so bloated, to being so much less hungry and then starving all at the same time.  But besides that I have also had what I would consider an irrational fears of what others might think of me - that those who do not know that I am trying to get pregnant will think I have lost control.  Instead of worrying about whether or not this drug will work or what is going on in the here and now, I am contemplating if others are thinking that I have gained weight, which is something I am not too proud of.

In the past weeks and most especially in the past week since being home, I have had to face this more head on as people compliment me on how I look after having not seen me in weeks or tell me I don't look any different as I stare at them in disbelief. Can't you see how much bigger I am I think?!  But they can't and they don't. They are not looking.  They think I am beautiful.  Thus I realize it is up to me to accept I am beautiful.  I used to be extremely scared of what my "ideal" body type was that it would gravitate towards a higher unwanted weight, but these days I am moving beyond that.  Realizing that my body may have different plans for me.  That a few pounds heavier might be better for me and this is not the end of the world. That those few pounds can give my body life and allow me to create it.  That the images I engrave into my head of what I "should be" are not so set in stone.

Thus instead of worrying about what others think and what my body type should be I will allow my body to find its own way and be satisfied with that.  I am not saying that this is an easy task, and goodness knows I have my bad days but I try and will keep trying.

I find hope in this article.  Hope that others will not have to struggle as much as I have.  That this will teach young women and men that being thin does not mean being happy and how important it is too be healthy mentally and physically and to honor your own body type.

What do you think of Israel's law?  Do you think it will make a difference? Can you accept what your body type is?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Honoring My Mother & My Memories

Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments.  It really means a lot to me.  Everyone has been extremely supportive and absolutely wonderful. I owe a lot of thank your and messages, but this will have to suffice for now.

Right now, we are in the 7 day mourning period.  A time when you, well, mourn.  In Judaism, there are a number of rules that accompany this mourning period everything from not showering to not exercising for the first few days to covering your mirrors  - all with the hope of letting you focus on mourning.   My family is not the most religious family, but we do O.K. and want to honor my mother as best as we can by sitting shivah for her.   In the beginning of this process (a mere four days ago...crazy time is going so slow right now), I tried to take in as many of the rules as I could.  I am often quite the "rule" girl, I want to be the best, do the best, and this experience has not been much different.  I have wanted to be "the best" at honoring my mother, to follow all the rules to the T.  And there is a laundry list of "rules" to keep me busy

-do not shower
-wear your funeral clothes throughout shiva
-sit shiva for 7 days
-do not serve your own meals 
-do not work
-cover your mirrors
-do not exercise

I was all gung-ho about abiding by each rule except then I accidentally thought I was allowed to shower and did.  And then I may or may not have had a little mental breakdown yelling ridiculously about the most meaningless things as my brother tried to calmly rationalize it out for me.  Instead, of being rational, I grabbed Aaron, and you guessed it, went for a walk and when Aaron suggested we run a little, I tried to say we did not have to (who am I?!?) but he insisted so I sped off and Aaron is really beginning to give me a run for my money.

There are lots of rules in Judaism and they all have a purpose and I respect them and try to follow them to a degree that makes me comfortable.  So back to the point of this post - honoring my mother.  I want to follow the rules of shiva because I want to honor my mother.  I want to honor her life and respect her.  Shiva is actually about letting yourself mourn in the Jewish religion and the burial was actually the last act that I could do for my mother.

At first, I felt pretty unjustifiably guilty over the fact that I was not following every rule to a "T."  Good old Jewish guilt for you.  But now I am beginning to realize that for me, honoring my mother does not necessarily mean not going for a walk or not showering, but it is about honoring her in my own way.  

So I will honor her by remembering her - by bringing forth as many memories of her as I can and celebrating the parts of life she was able to live and mourn the fact that her illness took too much of her life away from her and us.  Last post, I mentioned I would share my speech at the funeral with you all.  My speech was about honoring my mother through memories so it seems fitting to share it here.  Some I have already expressed to you but some other points are different and are about her and my memories of her.  So here we go.....(P.S. be gentle with me on the grammar here folks this was a speech that I have not edited through so gracefully)

 Today we are here to honor and remember a very special woman, my mother.  In the Jewish religion, you bury your loved ones and then you have 7 days of mourning.  During those 7 days, referred to as a shivah you sit and remember your loved one.  No matter what religion you may be, a death is a time to a celebrate a life.  It is a time to remember them and make certain they are not forgotten and their memories live on.   In many ways, I do not have the same memories of my mother as others may have of their own.  The illness took a lot of that from us.  

However, in the little time that has gone by since she passed away, I have recounted some of my memories and realize that even though I cannot remember as much as I would like to and even though I may not have the typical memories of events that a mother-daughter may have together, my mother lives on inside me in the many lessons she taught me and the traits she passed on too me. 

It is these traits that make me proud to be her daughter and that I will smile at and look up to the sky and thank her for them each time I notice them.  Some are little things, but they are mine all the same and I feel honored that she passed them on to me.

And because I think we should smile at her memory (as my mother would not want us all here crying she would try to comfort us and make us feel better), I wanted to share some of these traits that my mother gave me

First, my mother gave me my beautiful big blue eyes and thus she gave me my husband.  He will tell you that is the first thing he noticed about me, my eyes.  I have her to thank and likewise I have her to thank for still getting carded at R rated movies and never having to dye my hair because not only was my mother young at heart but she also had the glow and radiance of a young woman throughout her life.

Second, my mother taught me never to share.  Yup, you heard me NEVER.  O.k. well maybe sometimes but not with the important things like desserts and Egg Foo Young.  I learned from her quickly that those were things that were not meant for sharing except of course if it were a situation where she and I would spilt a black and white cookie (which only worked because she liked the black and I the white).

Third, she introduced a new holiday into my life.  She gave me her love of fall and showed me that hey it is o.k. that our birthdays both come in May because she was wise enough to create her own second holiday conveniently 6 months from her birthday to “celebrate” the beauty of fall oh and to get gifts, cards, presnts, and of course, cake.  Did you get that mom and I love sweets?

Fourth, about those sweets.  She taught me the importance of a good dessert, especially icecream. I can tell you what day my favorite icecream stand opens for the summer.  It is no accident that my mom had marked on her calendar when Frosty Freeze opened for the year.  Even when she grew sicker, and even when she could not eat anything else, she still perked up for Frosty Freeze.  I often stopped and brought her some Frosty Freeze before visiting her or if in an off season I stopped at Friendly’s for old times sake.

Those are some of my memories and while some may seem silly they bring a smile to my face.  Smiling, smiling is my favorite memory or rather trait of my mother. My mother and her smile and unwaining happiness lit up the room.  She was a star.  But it was more than just a smile.  It was when and how she smiled, which was ALL the time.  She smiled through thick and thin.  She had a strong, courageous face on.  The smile was her game face.  This smile, a memory and  a trait, is a lesson she continues to teach me. To smile.  To be strong no matter what comes my way.  Her passing has reminded me of her unspoken lesson to me - smile, stay strong, and the rest will follow.

For those memories I do not have, I hope that this is a time that people recount their memories of my mother to me.  Having been to too many shivas already in my life,  one of the things that I recall are the stories.    I do not remember the grief I felt day in and out, but rather the love and support from people that arrived with stories in hand to tell us all who were grieving.  It is these stories that I cling to, that I will carry with me forever.  It is not easy to hear stories that make us sad and happy all at once, but it is what helps us remember and how we continue to grow and make those people a part of us.  I know my mother will be a part of me. I know I will see her in dreams and still speak with her as I do to others that I have lost (only those who have lost can agree that this is not a crazy statement).  I hope you all will help me and others build on these memories and celebrate her life.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

It is 4:35 a.m., I have been up since 4 a.m.  Don't ask me why I am up.  It could be the fact that I may have eaten too much pizza and cookies and drank too much wine last night or it could be the Clomid (like how I blame everything on Clomid).  But more likely it is the fact that today I will bury my mother.   Yesterday I was not too much in the mood to blog about this one honestly.  There is something that screams "pay attention to me, feel bad about me" when you blog how  your mother died today.  However, it is early and I got the urge.  While this used to be considered a pure running blog (hey, remember when I talked about running? I ran yesterday, there I spoke about running, that counts right?),  I have begun to use this blog as an outlet for multiple parts of my life.  That may mean that no one cares to read this blog anymore, and that is O.K. too.  Thus this morning I wish to write to you all (whoever you is) about my mother as a means to remember her.  Additionally, I know that many friends and family members read my blog so hopefully those we did not get in contact with yesterday will see this - if you are one of those individuals and would like the funeral and shiva information, please contact me because I am still eh on broadcasting that live over the Internet.

My mother's death was not unexpected but it was a surprise.  She struggled with Multiple Sclerosis for the majority of her adult life and in her final years she had lost most of her cognitive abilities.    But one thing I have decided is not to focus on the disease.  I learned a long time ago that one must separate the illness, disease, or disability from the person.  So in honor of her life today when I think of my mother and when I speak this morning I will talk of the woman who was my mother and not of her illness unless to say that she fought MS with all the grace, courage, and smiles that I could ever imagine possible.

In the Jewish religion, you bury your loved ones and then you have 7 days of mourning.  During those 7 days, referred to as a "shiva" you sit and remember your loved one.  No matter what religion you may be a death is a time to a celebrate a life (just my opinion).  It is a time to remember them and make certain they are not forgotten and that their memory lives on.   In many ways, I do not have the same memories of my mother as others may have of their own.  The illness took a lot of that from us.  For those memories I do not have, I hope that this shiva is a time that people recount their memories of my mother to me.  Having been to too many shivas already in my life,  one of the things that I recall are the stories.    I do not remember the grief I felt day in and out, but rather the love and support from people that arrived with stories in hand to tell us all who were grieving.  It is these stories that I cling to, that I will carry with me forever.  It is not easy to hear stories that make us sad and happy all at once, but it is what helps us remember and how we continue to grow and make those people a part of us.  I know my mother will be a part of me. I know I will see her in dreams and still speak with her as I do to others that I have lost (only those who have lost can agree that this is not a crazy statement)....

Maybe tomorrow I will share my words to you all that I shared at the funeral.  Or maybe i will just go back and finally talk more about running because that can be easier can't it? But for now I will share one trait of my mother, my favorite memory.  It is not so much a memory as a characteristic trait. It was her smile.  My mother lit up the room.  She was a star.  But it was more than just a smile.  It was when she smiled, which was ALL the time.  She smiled through thick and thin.  She had a strong, courageous face on.  The smile was her game face.  And here I see her teaching me a lesson.  To smile.  To be strong no matter what comes my way.  I have been struggling a bit lately if you have noticed.  Unfortunately, it has taken these events to remind me of my mother's unspoken lesson - smile, stay strong, and the rest will follow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life Beyond Running

Sorry I was MIA yesterday.  I was still busy wallowing in "the ugly" phase and as much as I love being honest with you all, I just felt maybe I would spare you a day of wallows and be a little bit more like the "Run for Fun" Stephanie that we have all grown to know and least I hope.

So now that I am feeling a little bit more normal (and since I have approximately 24 hours of feeling normal before I go back on Clomid and feel all types of crazies), I figured best blog it out while I still can.   Lately, as you know, I have had to find a life beyond my normal running outlet.  Yes I am still running a bit here and there (although that is always up for debate - see maybe tomorrow's post if I get inspired), but for the majority of the time I am not running and when I am running I am not doing my usual type of running.  Instead, I am taking it slow, not breaking a sweat, and pretty much stopping to smell the roses type of thing.  In those moments, I am very happy to get out there and just go, but it is still like a major void in my life is missing.  After some wallowing  intense soul searching, I began to think about why this was such a BIG deal.

What have I lost from running beyond, well just running, I wondered?  Running gives me my competitive, Type-A release.  It allows me  to excel at something.  It is my hobby and a hobby I share with a number of great friends and something I like to talk about ALL the time.  It does keep me fit and in shape, which is one of the reasons I do run, but honestly nothing is really going to do that right now.  Finally, it puts a smile on my face when I start the day with moving my body - as I have said many of times it is my caffeine.  Lately without my "usual" running routine, I have felt that I have lost most of these things to my dismay and have been trying desperately to find something to replace running.  This is a pretty tall order because running gives me a lot - I mean A LOT.  Maybe nothing will ever truly replace the running I know and love but I will continue to experiment and try.  This post is a commitment to do just that.  To take this time and try new things - to see who else I can be beyond just a runner.

See I am so happy when I am running!

So what else is there beyond running?  I quickly realized that if I am going to find something beyond running it is not just ONE thing but I need multiple things to replace running - at least for right now.

1)  A hobby - running was my primary hobby.  Swapping running for another type of exercise is fine but it does not seem like that will be my hobby per se.  I need a different hobby.  Something different to challenge myself with, to grow, and to allow my competitive self to come out in full force.  This can be challenging with neck problems that do not allow me to look down for long (e.g., it is hard for me to read a book, play video games, do puzzles) etc.  But I am going to try some things anyway, things I used to love - knitting, tennis, and cooking are first on the list.

 New hobbies means these delicious treats

2)  Exercise - I just feel better when I exercise to start my day. Yes I am redefining what  I mean by exercise but that does not mean I still cannot do it and still cannot excel I just cannot get hot or get my heart rate up.   Thus I have been trying to find something, anything that will fit that definition.  I have thought about joining a gym or signing up for yoga.  The gym seems expensive as does yoga and honestly I have never been a fan of yoga but I am going to try I think.

 Where does this leave me?  Enjoying short slow runs with friends and the husband is on the list for now as well as Jillian.  I am extremely excited to try my new Jillian Michael's DVDs.  I expect to have the fittest pregnant belly out there with 6 week abs.  I was lucky enough to try one of Jillian's DVDs this weekend when Jenny brought me my very own copy and I cannot wait to dig into the other ones that I made Aaron go out and buy yesterday.  While I have only done one of these DVDs, it was challenging!  Also I did not get too hot, but really felt the burn over the next two days. It was no joke!  I also loved how Jillian reminded you of certain techniques.  It was like she was talking to me, she would say don't forget X and don't do this and I would be like "Ooo Jillian, how did you know that is exactly what I was doing."

3) While the exercise areas and hobbies may let me get out the steam of my Type A personality, there is one more place I can put that fire into - this whole amenorrhea thing.  What better place to excel or work hard at?  Tomorrow we start again. Another round of Clomid and I intend to kick but at it.  And so the question remains, to excel does that mean no running at all for this next cycle?  Not sure yet, stay tuned for further thoughts on the issues tomorrow.

 It may be a long journey but I've got this

4)  Wubby - I can't wait for him to come so I can throw my time into being Wubby's mom. The countdown to 3/31 is on!

And the good news is when I get him, there will be lots more pictures than just this one. But he is too cute anyway...not biased, no not me...

What other outlets do you use besides running?  Any good yoga DVD suggestions for me?  Running v. not running for this next cycle?  Jillian Michaels - yay or nay?  Happy Hump Day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hi all! I feel as if it has been an eternity since I have blogged.  I guess it was just a very long week followed by too quick of a weekend like always.  So for this Monday morning let's play a rendition of  "Stephanie's Weekend - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"  because why not.  I promise I will try to keep it to only a few tidbits per category.    Will you please play along?

The Good - 
This weekend, we had a visitor.  No not Wubby (check the bad for that portion)

Jenny is just as cute as Wubby and pretty darn sweet.  I miss you already Jenny, come back soon please!

She drove 5 hours to come cheer me up and I am so glad she did we had a blast making these

Aaron apparently has a hatred for scones but he may or may not have eaten three of these wonderful scones from Smitten Kitchen.  We used dried blueberries YUM!

Eating this

Jenny and I decided you can NEVER, NEVER eat too much pizza, NEVER!

and shopping for things like this

Jenny demanded we stop at Trader Joes so she could stock up.  I was never a huge fan, I know I know.  But I take it back wandering the aisles with Jenny I officially am a Traders' fanatic.  

Should all this be going in the "bad" category? Never!!! Do not worry we also got some exercise in.  Jenny brought me my very own copy of a Jillian Michael's DVD.  As you all know, I am trying to find different forms of exercise as running cannot be the top of my list.  I have been seeing the buzz on Jillian for weeks on Twitter and I sort of laughed at it.  I am sorry Jillian, forgive me you are no joke.  The dvd Jenny got me was a really good workout for strength training and it fit all my needs - it was not too long about 40 minutes,  it did not get my heart rate up too high, but I worked hard and felt I was actually doing something and BOY did I feel it the next day.

I cannot wait to try out the other DVDs but not today, today it is going to be 68 degrees

We also did some running.  Yesterday, we ran Aaron's 5-miler race with him.  I was not sure I could complete it as Thursday I could not run more than a mile.  But I felt good and Aaron rocked it.  Two months ago, I do not think Aaron could have dreamed that he would be running 5 miles straight let alone with the heat (it was hot yesterday) and the hills!

Janine's husband (whose name is Aaron too!) got this great picture of the three of us.   Thanks Aaron! And thanks Jenny for running with us one week pre-marathon!!

He absolutely deserved this medal.  I am demanding that he do a race recap soon!

How bitchin', yes bitchin', is this medal?  Three medals combined to one big one!

Ok, one more very very very good.  Being upset means Aaron feels like he wants to make me happy and thus he gave me a 2 hr, yes 2 hr massage complete with my own favorite music selection (Bruce Springsteen, who else).  I am a pretty lucky girl..huh?

The Bad-

You may have noticed above, no Wubby this weekend!  I am so so bummed about this.  I cannot wait for him to get here.  Unfortunately, he will not be making an appearance until March 31 when the next transport comes from Indiana.  I am trying to convince Aaron that we should just go to Indiana to pick Wubby up.  I cannot grasp why Aaron feels this is a bad idea.

The Ugly
Before I present this,  I just want to mention how good an exercise this is (writing down the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly I mean).  I may or may not have been wallowing for the past day.  All "woe is me" like. Looking at this, I realize there is a lot more good than bad going on.  Yes for me the bad or the ugly seem really bad and really ugly, but perspective Steph, perspective.  So the ugly,  and this is the fun girl talk Secondary Amenorrhea stuff as usual - feel free to skip over.

The 12 yr old girl who blushed at telling her parents this fact is now saying public that yesterday she got her period.  Now, I know this can be a good thing because I was not getting my period at all and the fact that I responded to the drugs and got my period is actually great news. The big bummer though is that clearly I am not pregnant and that I got my period with the help of drugs not on my own (but again still a victory really).  Additionally,  the other problem is my period came too early which means there are some other hormone issues to work out.   Your period is supposed to come about 14 days post ovulation (all women are different though) anything under 10 days is too short even 10-11 may be troublesome for some.  I am in that 10-11 day range and the thinking is that likely I do not have enough progesterone - this hopefully will be an easy fix though through some pills.

So more on the ugly - I was pretty sad yesterday.  Totally bummed that I was not pregnant that it seemed EVERYONE around me is, that I have no control over this, that I am sitting around on my butt not running, gaining weight and for what?!?!  I am scared that I am going to have go through another round of hormones and as shallow as this may be I am scared of gaining even MORE weight.  The body image stuff is tough right now and sucks and while I have tons of great supports and places to vent (so don't worry about me), this is also a place for me to vent so excuse me for some venting here.  I am nervous about Clomid making me get larger just as it did last time.  I am nervous about how I will look and what people will think.  I am even more nervous that Clomid will not work again and that I will be on this endless cycle and people will get pregnant and have kids around me and I will still be sitting on my butt downing Clomid.

O.K. I promise that was the ugly, that was yesterday.  I find it very important during this process to celebrate the victories and grieve the losses.  Yesterday, I grieved.  I cried, I got mad, and I was sad.  Today is a new day, a new week, and the sun is shining, literally.  I am challenging myself to get back into the fight.  To learn from our mistakes and to trudge forward.  One way I am trying to help myself to do that is to look forward to something every day.  Something to take my mind off things.  Today, I am excited because it is supposed to be beautiful out and after work Aaron has agreed to do some power walking with me (well I will power walk and he will stroll with his long legs hehe). I am also excited to talk to the doctor about next steps and get right back on track.  I am debating whether maybe I might also spend the weekend visiting in New Jersey (opinions people? votes?).  As for the weight gain, the body image etc., everyone can kiss my ass!  This may not be the year of "Stephanie being Tiny."  I may gain more weight.  I may not love how I look.   People may talk, but screw them.  People may not talk and it will be in my head.  So I will work on being more positive to my body just like I promised, staying out of my head, and putting a smile on.

It is a new day and we are moving forward.  As my friend Beth says "One Day, One Way."

How was your weekend? Tell me the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional. None of this should be construed as medical advice and are just my opinions and stories.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

We have been through a lot these past few months huh?  It has in no way been easy lately and although you are trying your best, I have not been your biggest fan nor have I been easy on you.  I have criticized your looks, your abilities, and how you make me feel.  Despite the fact that you have held strong for years upon years and tried your best with what I have given you, I am still making things difficult.  I am still not working with you so that we can come at it from a team point of view, working together to get we want.

I would like to tell you body that I have given up being mean to you.  That we will always be a team from now on and that we will work together as one.  I cannot tell you that unfortunately because I know there will be times in the future where I tell you that I hate you, that I feel uncomfortable around you, and that I don't like the way you look.  What I can offer you, however, is a promise to try.  To try and understand where you are coming from, what you need, and what you are asking.  I will try to be a member of our team, to play fair and to work with you and not against you.  I will work my hardest to honor you and your requests, to give you compliments and to be thankful for all that you do for me.   I also want to ask you for your acceptance and forgiveness.  Like I said, I have not been so good to you.  I know you are trying your hardest, I am sorry that I may have made it more difficult than you would have liked.   Please forgive me and know that I am working to change this around.

Today body, I will look at you and marvel.  Marvel at what I have put you up against and the changes you are so willing to adjust to.  As you change and prepare yourself for the next phase of life, I thank you for giving this a shot, a chance - a glimmer of hope.

Today body, I promise to be gentler, to be kinder to you.  To look in the mirror and notice all the things I love about you - the fact that you have a more "womanly figure" these days; that sometimes, just sometimes, I can wash my hair and never do anything else and get beautiful curls, and that I have beautiful skin.  I will remember all the times I put you through hell training and how you screamed in pain (ankle, knee, IT Band you name it) and how I never stopped. I will recognize that today  the pain has been silent as you finally have the much needed chance to recover.

So today body, lets make a deal to look forward and be friends helping one another along the way.  I will try if you will. Ok?


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On "Feeling" Fat

So I guess this blog has taken quite a spin off lately from just running for fun, and I would love to talk to you all about how much fun running is and it really is - see yesterday's post - but unfortunately today you are just going to get me and how I am doing with this whole "I have amenorrhea so am on medications that make you crazy" thing.  My husband is probably screaming at the computer screen right now saying do not subject them to your craziness so you all have every right to stop reading here and to go on to a more perky upbeat blog for the day.  But I guess if you want the real deal, here it goes.

Last Wednesday, so almost a week ago, my doctor gave me a shot of HCG, a medicine meant to induce ovulation.  That is all well and good.  A little shot and that is it, right? Hmm...if only it was that easy.  Since then, I have had the joy of riding the emotional roller coaster of life including everything from crying over dropping my perfume bottle (this morning) to sulking in my bed because I could not figure out what to eat for dinner but was starving (yesterday night).  I have been extremely hungry and craving everything and anything (cue a ton of grilled cheese and two big bowls of ice-cream last night).


 I am also extremely exhausted, moody, and crampy  (fun information right?).  O.K. so I am the first one to admit that some of this may just be in my mind and that it has nothing to do with the medication but just everything else that has been going on.  There is another part of me, however, that believes it is partly the medication and finds it extremely cruel that such a medicine imitates pregnancy symptoms while you are in a two week waiting period (the time between ovulation and having an HCG shot and the day you can test to see if you are pregnant or not - think of waiting to see if you passed the biggest test of your life and the teacher keeps delaying your grades now multiply that my 1000 and you have the 2 week waiting period).

Possibly my utmost favorite "feeling" (can you detect the sarcasm in my voice) is the "I feel fat" feeling coupled with a continued need to eat even when I am full.  This morning, for instance, I woke up feeling "fat" from all of the food from last night but extremely hungry at the same time.  I used to never wake up with the need to eat as soon as I woke, but these days I cannot wait!   It is not so fun to feel as if you are blowing up like a balloon but cannot stop yourself from stuffing your face.

Regardless of who you are or what medications you have taken, how many of you have uttered the words

I feel fat.

 The phrase is almost engrained into our society.  The phrase comes with a pack of emotional turmoil - anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, depression, lack of self-worth etc.  It is demeaning to ourselves and unnecessary.  Yet we utter these words so often.  The interesting thing though is "fat" is not a FEELING.  You cannot feel fat the same way you feel anger or happiness.  Using this phrase, I have found, only leads to trouble.  So this morning when I felt that ugly phrase sitting on my tongue, I challenged myself to reframe my thoughts.  To think about what I was really feeling - scared? tired? alone? angry? anxious?  Yes, all of these were possible.  And if I am honestly I also noticed that I felt uncomfortable in my body - a mix between fullness but massive hunger which is a situation I am not used to.  I tried to observe and describe my situation without emotion.  I  made myself think of things about my body that I loved, I took a moment to do some deep breathing, and then I marched out the door and let it go - well sorta, still working on this.

The point is this stuff is HARD.  I am on medication that is throwing me for a loop and dealing with changes that I don't want to have to deal with.  But it does not mean I have to be cruel to myself or forget to honor my emotions or mask it with "feelings of fat."  So today, I will try to sit with my emotions, notice how my body reacts, and look at my ultimate goal of having a baby.

In the meantime I will remember I am down but not out, Wubby to come on Saturday!

How do you honor your body and keep away from the "feeling fat" dilemma?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Privilege of Running

You do not have to run, you get to run!

The first time I heard this phrase, it really stuck with me because it embodied who I used to be, who I became, and who I am right now.  Many of times when we run to lose weight or to burn off that big bowl of ice-cream we ate the night before, running becomes a chore - something that we must do in order to counteract previous actions.  And once upon a time, this is how I viewed running.  It was something that I had to do.  I did not a community of runners to share running with, I did not have a running partner to spend hours talking with while pounding the pavement, and I did not view my workouts as a means to improving race times and reaching race goals.  Instead, it was about keeping my weight and whatever magical number I needed to be at for that day, and honestly I hated running because of it.  I would dread running the night before, be elated when it was over - not because I had accomplished something but because it was over - and just ran because something told me I had to do it.  Running, in short, was not much fun.

Then things started to change.  Not all at once, but over time a series of events made me realize this and made me even stop running altogether.  I proclaimed to many that I was done with strict running schedules, running when I did not feel like it, and pushing myself to the point of countless injuries and unhappiness.  Yet, just as I made these "proclamation"  something happened, I fell in love with running.  I started running just for fun as I have said.  I thought about joining a relay team, not worrying about my times or particular races and just did what I wanted.  And as strange as it seems, within months, I was back to where I started - running races, pushing for different time goals etc. - but this time it was different.  No longer did I hate running or dread a long run.  Instead long runs became the highlight of my week - a privilege timed for me to go out with my friend and run miles upon miles.  I no longer looked at running as a way to allow me to eat the extra bowl of ice-cream but saw food as a way to fuel my runs.  Schedules were important because I had goals - I wanted to hit my speed and hill workouts to become a better runner not a skinner person.

I promise I really am having fun here..

When my doctor and I started discussing taking a break from running and training as well as possibly trying to gain some weight,  my reaction made me doubt myself.  Do I really run for fun if I am this upset about losing my speed workouts and long runs or do I still just use running as a way to remain "trim?"  I was nervous and ashamed that what I had boosted as an activity I did for all the right reasons were actually the wrong ones (I am not saying that there is something wrong with using running to lose weight, but the way in which I personally used and did it was unhealthy).  It took weeks and a conversation from a very wise friend to realize that this was not the case.  That yes I do run for fun but that means something different to me than just running without a care in the world instead it is the place where I allow my Type A personality to shine through, where I focus on goals and training, but also socialization and that all of this is ok.  When I realized this, it became a lot easier for me to be gentle with myself and mourn my break in training, the loss of races and endurance, and changes in my life.

I have such wise friends

Thus, once again I am changing my outlook on running for now.  I am still allowed to run but it has to be at a pace that does not get me too hot or my heart rate elated.  It also cannot be more than 5 miles at a time 10 miles max for the week.   At first, I felt as if what was the point.  If I cannot train and run my way, why bother.  I listened to Aaron and others talk about training and their races and felt sad and left out.  Yesterday, however I realized something just because I cannot run like I am used to running does not mean I cannot still be a runner and part of the running community.    With this in mind, I joined Aaron for his 4-mile race yesterday.  I found a new way to enjoy running.  I wore my fun skirt from this lady and I ran side-by-side with my husband cheering as other runners ran past us and a strange thing happened - I still felt that great "runner's high."  Not because I just PR'd or because I hit my goal but because I was out there running, screaming at the top of my lungs (to Aaron's dismay), and enjoying the moment.

Who things Janine needs to start selling these skirts - they are amazing!

Maybe there is something to this "running for fun" thing after all. Tomorrow means 2 miles with my husband and Friday a few miles with a good friend and I could not be more excited.

I think this is Aaron's "why won't she shut up face"

What is your relationship with running like? What does running for fun mean to you?