Author: jonibuck

Sausage Bake

This recipe has been a staple in our house for YEARS, we eat it at least every other week and for some reason I never seem to get tired of it.

It’s easy to prepare, a complete meal cooked exclusively in the oven, relatively healthy, paleo, and solidly fits in the toss-it-in-the-oven-and-go-running category. AND you don’t have to wash one. single. pot. My kind of dinner!

It even reheats well and is equally delicious as leftovers the next day.

I love eating it for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs on top. Seriously, yum!

You’ll need a large sweet potato, 4 large carrots, a small head of cauliflower, a pound of raw Italian sausage and two apples (I use Gala, they’re my favorite apple). It makes enough to serve approximately 4 adults.

(If you can only find the Italian sausage in links, you can remove the casing with a knife or scissors.)

Procedure

Chop the sweet potato, carrots and cauliflower in 1/2 inch chunks and place them in one layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste and toss everything in oil so that the vegetables are coated. You can use any kind of vegetable oil, melted coconut oil, or melted butter but I use leftover bacon grease.

Yes, bacon grease. I cook everything in it. Because it’s bacon and bacon is delicious.

Crumble the raw Italian sausage on top of the vegetables so that the chunks of sausage are about the same size as the veggie chunks and put the whole thing in the oven (do not combine!).

Let it bake for an hour at 350 degrees F.

While its baking chop up the apples in the same 1/2 inch sized chunks and toss in a little oil so they don’t brown.

After an hour, remove the tray from the oven, put the apples on top, and toss everything together, making sure the apples are well coated in oil (if they don’t get coated in the residual oil/grease/Italian sausage drippings they’ll dry out during baking) and return the sheet tray to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Done! Serve it with a small salad, fruit, or if you’re feeling festive sliced cheddar cheese, pretzels and ranch dressing to dip it all in.

You can switch up this recipe any way you want. If you want to bulk it up add another sweet potato or more carrots. The most important thing is that everything be chopped the same size.

If you’d prefer crunchier sausage, up your oven to 375 and reduce total cooking time to 1 hour (still adding the apples in the last 15 minutes).

Print Recipe
Sausage Bake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 75 minutes
Servings
adults
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 75 minutes
Servings
adults
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and the carrots. Chop them and the cauliflower into 1/2 inch chunks. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste and coat in oil.
  4. Crumble raw Italian sausage on top of the vegetables so that the sausage is also in chunks of about 1/2 inch.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let cook for an hour. While its cooking, dice two apples into the same 1/2 inch chunks.
  6. After an hour remove the baking sheet from the oven, put the apples on top of the sausage and toss everything together so that apples get coated in oil.
  7. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the apples are cooked but still slightly crunchy.
  8. Serve.
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Trail Running, Cross Training for the Road

Y’all, I’m running my first 50k on Sunday!! I’ve had this trip to Big Bend planned in my head for the last 4 years but for one reason or another (mainly Boston) I couldn’t get the timing to work out. This year it is finally happening! This is only my second trail race (Brazos Bend was my first) but I’m not new to trail running.

I started trail running a year and a half ago after stumbling across a group who met at our local trails every Saturday morning.

It’s fun. We run through the woods, in the dark, by the light of headlamps, dodging spiders, snakes, armadillos, and other unknown creatures. It’s very Blair Witch Project. After we’re done we eat snacks and drink beer…all before 8 am.

While we run we joke with each other, and talk about both the serious and not-so-serious aspects of life. I had no idea that first morning I showed up that I would meet some of my best friends that day. Running friends are like that, trail friends even more so.

There’s something about watching someone dive head first into a bush, do ninja moves to avoid a spider or slide down an embankment that bonds you in a way that’s hard to duplicate. My trail friends have seen me at my best – and undoubtedly my worst.

Every now and then I miss my Saturday morning trail runs due to training for a race (last week I missed because of the flu) but other than that I’m there. Ready for the spiders, snakes, random tree roots and attack armadillos.

But why bother? I’m not a trail runner. As much as I like to deny it, road running is what I do. It’s what I’m good at. Why waste training time doing something I don’t focus on?

Variety is the spice of life, y’all. Trail running keeps me healthy.

Our trails run through the flood zone of a local creek. They’re rooty and though flat (we live in Houston where everything is flat) the local mountain bikers have designed them to run through every creek bed they could find. Most of the climbs/drops are less than 20 feet but they’re steep and FUN.

That first day I was shocked at how much more difficult trail running was. I was surprised at how tired I felt and how SORE I was the next day.

It’s running, it’s what I do! Why am I so sore?!

If you think about it, trail running is a completely different animal than road running.

On the road every foot fall is the same. You work the same muscles over and over and over. 800 times per mile your body catches itself in the exact same way. You have the same cadence, the same footstrike, the same movement pattern for hours and hours and hours.

But on the trails no footfall is the same. The trails challenge your balance, agility, and mental focus. Your cadence is faster, you’re constantly changing your footfalls as you avoid tree roots, rocks and logs. Your body uses stabilizing muscles it doesn’t utilize on the road, including the oft over looked muscles in your feet and ankles. The varying terrain forces you to slow down and the softer dirt lessens impact forces.

What does this mean for you?

Trail runners have fewer repetitive stress injuries than road runners (though acute injury rates like sprained ankles are higher). Fewer IT band problems. Fewer shin splints. Fewer cases of runner’s knee. If you can keep yourself from face planting, trail running will keep you healthy.

Do you want to be a stronger road runner? Run trails.
Do you want to be less injury prone? Run trails.
Do you want to run happier? Run trails.

Trail running is cross training for the road.

Since I began trail running I’m more coordinated, stronger, more nimble, more agile and my ankles have become larger. Like noticeably larger.

Even during marathon training I never stop running trails. I do all my long runs on asphalt and speedwork on the treadmill but easy/recovery runs are done on the trails where the softer surface, curving paths and tree roots force me to slow down, allow my body rebuild, and help me remember why I run.

You don’t have to be an exclusive trail runner to run trails. You can be like me with one foot on the pavement and one foot in the dirt. I do road races because I’m good at it but I run trails because I love it.

2018, The Year of Good

Happy New Year!! I wish I could say that 2018 started with a bang but really it started with a whimper.

Friday morning (the 29th), I got on the trainer for my long ride and noticed that I had a little frog in my throat. By lunch time I was beginning to cough, and by 5 ‘o clock that evening I was running a low grade fever.

Rut ro.

Knowing that Texas is ground zero for the flu this year, first thing Saturday morning I hauled my sick self to urgent care. When I got there, a nice lady shoved a q-tip up my nose and, sure enough, 15 minutes later I was diagnosed with the flu.

I spent the next two days in quarantine in our master bedroom, occasionally chatting with the kids who would peek through the doorway and binge watching MythBusters.

On New Year’s Eve, around 5 p.m., I bid farewell to 2017 when I took a dose of Nyquil and promptly passed out. I even slept through the barrage of fireworks that inevitably happen at midnight.

My fever broke at some point that evening and I’ve been recovering slowly ever since. The epic cough, runny nose, sneezes, and horrible sinus headache are all gone. But I am VERY weak. As I write this, Monday afternoon, I’m out of the bed for the first time in three days and even just sitting here at my desk is making me dizzy. But it was either this or watching Paw Patrol….

…because guess what? Despite the quarantine, both of the kids are also sick, they’re in my bed, and they’ve hijacked the TV.

Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time to think the last couple of days about what 2018 has in store for me and what kind of year I want it to be.

Every year I set a goal for the year. Something to challenge me that I can focus on all year. This little tradition started in 2015 when I vowed to record every workout (including rest days) that I did that year. It was a great goal, writing down all those rest days completely changed my attitude toward exercise.

In 2016, it was spending all year building upper body strength so I could do a pull up. I have NO upper body so this was a serious challenge.

In 2017, it was those dadgum handstands – which for the record was significantly more difficult than the pull up.

But up until New Year’s Day morning I had no idea what the goal for 2018 was going to be. I toyed around with the idea of a back flip or learning to play the piano but with Ironman Texas this spring most of my free time will be spoken for, and it’s not going to leave much time for anything else. Whatever the 2018 goal is, it can’t be time consuming.

I tend to be a somewhat grumpy person. My husband nicknamed me “Crabby Crab” almost as soon as he met me. This may (or may not, as the case may be) come as a surprise to people who know me personally – I guess it depends on how well you know me. Most of the time I’m in a great mood but when life happens, which it inevitably does, I get nudged toward grumpy pretty easily.

I don’t like this part of me, I do my best to hide it and I try every day to change it. But it’s hard and I struggle with it daily. It’s part of the reason I love running so much. Running always helps me reset my mood.

I’ve always thought that some kind of gratitude log could benefit me but I’ve never had the discipline to follow though. This year seems like the perfect time to start.

2018 will be the Year of Good. My 2018 goal is to write down something good that happened every day. No matter how bad a day is, there is good in it, and my goal this year is to find it.

And I’m starting right now.

When he was outside taking down Christmas decorations, Jason mentioned off hand to the neighbors that I was sick. A few hours later, completely unprompted, they showed up on the front porch with a piping hot casserole and a cheesecake.

That simple act of generosity was the single nicest thing anyone has done for us in years. As I sat in bed eating homemade Chicken Spaghetti I couldn’t help but think that 2018 was getting off to a pretty good start.

What about you? Do you have a New Year’s resolution?

Year of Running 2017

This year has been insane. I’ve done more this year of running than I could have ever expected. But with the highs come the lows, you can’t win ’em all, right? This is a link up with Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC. I’ve done it before though it’s been several years so here we go!

Best race experience?

Is that even a question? Boston Marathon. The people over at the Boston Athletic Assocation have the business of coordinating a 30,000 participant marathon down to an art. From the timing of your arrival in the athlete’s village to the aid stations on BOTH sides of the road, this is easily the most well organized race I’ve ever run. Combined with the amazing spectators and the beautiful course, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Best run?

I could go with the obvious answer (Boston) but there have been some truly memorable runs over the past year that I haven’t already written about. Like the 10 miles of frozen hydration packs at Bandera or the hanunted park run. Or there was the run where we decided to explore a new area but couldn’t find the trail so we just ran through the woods, honestly it was more like a crawl (a.k.a. The Machete Run). What about the trail running in Missouri?

But I’m gonna choose the first run on the trails after Harvey. The trails are in the flood zone of Cypress Creek. During Harvey, that sleepy little creek that is normally 10 feet wide, was two miles wide and the trails were under 10 feet of water. After the water receded, I didn’t even know if the trails were still there. How could they have survived that torrent of water??

But, they did survive! They looked a little different, debris was everywhere, they were still a little soggy, and in some places they were nearly impassable but they survived. I was with a friend that day and I needed that run. The condition of trails were a great analogy for how I felt. Soggy and in some places impassable but still here.

That run was a celebration of survival, it was therapy, it was the beginning of a lot of things for me. Emotional rebuilding, you could say. It wasn’t long, 4ish miles, but I desperately needed something “normal” that day and that run was it.

Best new piece of running gear?

Nathan Hipster running belt. I love this belt! I bought it to wear during Boston and I now I wear it on most runs. It doesn’t bounce at all and holds a ton of stuff. I have two, one in a size small and one in a medium. They both fit me pretty well. I’m kinda between sizes (the story of my life). My only complaint is that they get very sweaty, more so than my SPI Belt and don’t dry very quickly so I’m constantly washing them. I wish I had more than two!!

Best advice you’ve received this year?

The last couple of months have been rough. I trained for two races and both of them ended in epic failure for different reasons. It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go the way you planned. After BCS I was ready to give up racing altogether but someone very wise sent this to me and it reminds me, that I need to get back out there and try again.

AFTER Ironman Texas though.

Most inspirational runner?

I could go with the obvious answer, Shalane Flanagan…I mean, who wasn’t inspired by her win in NYC? She personifies what you can do if you work hard and are persistent. But that’s too easy.

This year my most inspirational runner is anyone who does anything for the first time. Several of my clients are running marathons for the first time this year, THEY inspire me. They’re attempting something that they don’t know that they can do but they’re gonna try anyway. They’re nervous, scared, excited and passionate. Talking to them is like talking to the kid who just got his first bike. Terrified of falling but excited to try. THAT’S inspirational.

Favorite picture from a run or race this year?

I’ve looked through all my pictures from the year. I have a lot of pictures of my feet, quite a few pictures of snakes and most of the ones that could be decent are out of focus because the camera lens was covered in sweat.

Favorite picture from a run has to be this one taken in Huntsville State Park. I was running with two of my friends and we were in the middle of an 18-mile run. The awesome woman in this picture is one of my dear friends but she and I weren’t in the best mood that day. That run was awful. We both did nothing but complain for about 2 hours…until we came across this tree which I’d always wanted to climb. So instead of running past it like I had before, we stopped and took a few minutes to play.

Climbing up there was a little terrifying, we were close to 20 feet off the ground but climbing that tree changed our attitudes for the rest of the run.

From a race, it has to be this picture. I had just turned the corner onto Boylston Street in Boston and I was taking a video of the race finish with my phone so I could share it with my family (watch it here), but I was simultaneously taking it all in. The finish was overwhelming. The people were 5-10 deep the last part of the race and it was so loud I could barely hear the music in my ears.

The finish line was only about 1/4 mile in front of me. In that moment, I was staring at the finish line, a little sad that it was over but more proud of myself than I had ever been in my life.

(Yes, that’s a $20 bill shoved inside my phone case…you can’t be too prepared.)

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Just. Keep. Running.

What about those handstands?

Every year I like to set a goal for myself that has nothing to do with running. This year it was to do a handstand. I didn’t really have certain metrics for success, I think I originally said 5 seconds but it really was arbitrary.

Last December, I propped my phone against the end table in our gameroom and attempted to invert myself for the first time. I nearly fell on my face. My glutes were sore for three days afterward.

Between then and now, I’ve done thousands of handstands. I’ve done them at the Y, the beach, my house, and after Harvey, at my new gym, And I’ve had to explain myself no less than a dozen times (to mostly old men) in the gym why I keep flipping myself upside down.

“What are you doing? Are you a gymnast?”

Seriously, a dozen times.

I’ve done handstands for HOURS, to the point where I made myself sore for days. Handstands are hard, people!

But in the end it paid off! Here we are, a year later. It’s not pretty and they’re still hard, (it took about two dozen tries to get one good enough to share with you) but I can do a handstand!

Proof that you can learn to do anything given enough time and determination. It’s up to you to decide to try. Don’t think I’m done with this though.

BRING IT ON, 2018!

Ironman Texas Training – It begins…

Today marks the official start of Ironman Training. Not gonna lie, after BCS I have was having a bit of buyer’s remorse regarding Ironman Texas. A part of me wished I’d never registered so I could go run happily on the trails everyday and enjoy my race-less freedom.

But now that it’s time, I’m kinda excited about it. As odd as this sounds, I need a break.

Being that I’ve only ever completed one triathlon, it seems like a HUGE undertaking but everyone I know seems think I’m crazy I can do it. So it’s time to put on my big girl panties and get this party started.

Everyone says the hardest part about Ironman is making it through the training; training for three separate sports makes it a bit of a scheduling and time management challenge. So, I made it my goal last week to get everything together so I could start training in earnest this week.

Step #1 – Set up the trainer

I bought a used trainer from a friend several months ago and I have played with it in the back yard several times but haven’t done much with it since then. I’d originally planned on setting up the trainer outside but immediately figured out that wasn’t going to work. Riding needed to be convenient and inside the house is as convenient as it gets. I bought a cheap yoga mat from Target, got a TV tray from Wal-Mart, dragged a fan in from the garage, and hauled my bike up the stairs to our game room. Then I did a 10 minute test ride. Good to go.

Step #2: Set a schedule

I need three workouts per week in each of the three disciplines. That’s NINE workouts per week with one day completely off which equals two-a-days three days a week.

Day AM PM
Monday Swim Easy Run
Tuesday Interval Trainer Ride Interval/Tempo Run
Wednesday Interval Swim Strength/Stretching/Rest
Thursday Interval Trainer Ride  Swim
Friday Endurance Trainer Ride
Saturday Long Run
Sunday Rest Day

I made a weekly hourly schedule in Excel (yes, I’m a dork) and wrote in all my standing commitments. I added in my planned workout times for each of the three disciplines, then I blocked off time to get all the other stuff in my life done. (I am homeschooling Evelyn, so that made it on the schedule first, then I added in time to work, and time to get other stuff done.)

I sat down with my hubby and we worked through the schedule together. (For some reason, he seems to think this is a good idea, so I’m gonna go with it.) He looked it over, and he blocked off time for his stuff – he’s currently working from home, so making sure he has undisturbed time is paramount.

Step #3: Write a training plan

Once I knew what I was working with time-wise I sat down and wrote myself a training plan.

Yes, I wrote a training plan…because that’s what I do.

I’ve gone back and forth about hiring a coach. I’m indecisive like that. I’ve even contacted several coaches to get an idea of what training would be like but holy moly they’re expensive.

This sport ain’t cheap people.

I’ve already sunk $700 into IMTX registration, $1,000 on a bike, $50 on a trainer, $50 on a hydration system, $60 on a speed/cadence sensor, $400 on shorter distance triathlons (one of which I didn’t get to do because of Harvey), $100 on tri shorts/top, $200 on bike shoes/pedals…annnd I still haven’t bought a wetsuit, which I need desperately (another $200). That’s $2,800 and goodness knows how much more I’ll spend on stuff I don’t even know I need yet. I’d rather not throw another $600 on the fire by hiring a coach.

I think since my only goal is to finish before the cutoff, I can handle it myself. And honestly I’d rather spend the money on swimming lessons – I need those more than anything. I really don’t wanna drown in Lake Woodlands.

The same friend who sold me the trainer also sent me several Ironman training plans that he has used (he’s done 4 full IM without a coach). I looked at those, along with the free beginner plan from beginnertriahlete.com, the Ironman 101 plan from the Ironman website and made myself a Frankenstein’s monster of a plan.

If after a month I feel like I’m having accountability trouble or I don’t think the plan I wrote is working, I will hire a coach. That’s my agreement with myself. Hopefully, the motivation to save money will help me drag my lazy butt to the pool or upstairs to the trainer.

Step #4: Actually follow the plan

This morning after I got out of bed and drank a cup of coffee, I excitedly went upstairs to the trainer rig and spent 40 minutes torturing my poor quads then I went outside and ran for 10 minutes in a cold drizzle. Workout #1 of 159, DONE.

BCS Marathon Race Recap

I haven’t said anything about BCS. I know this. I needed some time to process the race before I talked about it. BCS was supposed to be my BQ for 2019. The weather looked good. I was well trained. All signs pointed to a great race.

Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t a great race.

My kids gave me a cold a couple of days prior and I’d been in frantic immune boosting mode ever since. Thankfully, the worst of it was a runny nose and a sinus headache, which was mostly gone by race day.

With the stuffy nose, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I didn’t feel bad, so I was hopeful. It was COLD that morning. 35 degrees. I was excited for the cold weather. Cold races are fast races, or so I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong, at least this time.

The lesson of the day is: 26.2 miles is a LONG way under the best circumstances, and a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LONG WAY under the worst.

BCS was the latter.

Miles 1-8 were great. I was staying close to the 3:20 pace group. My heart rate was slightly high but not significant, and not enough to be worried about. My legs felt GREAT. Loose. Light. Happy. The hills were noticeable but manageable. I got so excited. Today was finally my day!

Mile 1 – 7:43
Mile 2 – 7:46
Mile 3 – 7:33
Mile 4 – 8:03
Mile 5 – 8:02
Mile 6 – 8:19
Mile 7 – 7:57
Mile 8 – 8:01

The first sign of trouble came around mile 8, I started to notice some pain developing on the inside of both my ankles. Posterior Tibiliais Tendonitis. I know this pain and I get it occasionally after a tough speed session. I’ve never had it during a run though. It was still early in the race and definitely cause for concern. I kept pushing myself but was keenly aware of my ankles.

Mile 9 – 8:35
Mile 10 – 8:02

At mile 11, my pace slowed slightly and I began to struggle. The fronts of both of my ankles stretching from the middle of the top of my foot to about 2 inches above my ankle began to stiffen and BURN like the fire from 1,000 suns.

Mile 11 – 8:44
Mile 12 – 8:52

By mile 13, the reality that maybe this wasn’t my race began to sink in. My hip flexors on my right leg started to burn, the outside of both of my hips cramped. But I hadn’t lost hope. If only I could maintain that pace, I just might still BQ – barely.

Mile 13 – 9:06
Mile 14 – 8:55
Mile 15 – 8:42

But the further I ran the more things hurt. By mile 16, I was audibly groaning. My left calf was one giant knot, my hamstrings were frozen. My feet turned into concrete blocks. All I wanted to do was stop but I surrendered myself to a jog instead.

Mile 16 felt something like this…

I think he don’t know what a dead end is.

That’s when I wrote off the race. I spent the next three miles feeling sorry for myself. I questioned everything I did during training, everything I ate, every little run, every day of speed work. I questioned my ability to coach other people. It wasn’t pretty.

Mile 16 – 9:47
Mile 17 – 10:10
Mile 18 – 10:47

Sometime during mile 19, the outside of my left knee started burning. I knew that pain. IT band. My jog turned into a walk/jog.

Mile 19 – 12:33

But something good happened during mile 19, too. I realized that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to help any, and I needed to do what I could to make the best of a crappy situation.

It was a beautiful morning and the race route was nice. I took some time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Then I saw these two guys dressed as bananas and decided a selfie was necessity.

I mean, who doesn’t want a selfie with these guys?!

Mile 20 – 12:08

Then I saw Santa.

Shortly after I took this picture, I was walking through the A&M campus and came across a guy who was also walking and looking just as defeated as I felt. We had actually been passing each other for several miles, and it was only a matter of time before we both started walking at the same time.

I rarely initiate conversation with strangers (dang intorvert that I am) but I asked him, “Are you gonna make it?”

His repsonse was, “I think so.”

We chatted for a few minutes and decided that we would do the rest of the race together. His name was Ben and he’s a student at Texas A&M. Over the next six miles, we talked about running and I learned a lot about him and his family. What else do you do on a Sunday morning stroll with a stranger, other than talk?

My legs turned into bricks during those last six miles. Running became excruciating.

We did A LOT of walking.

Finishing the race with Ben was probably one of the best things that could have come from the disaster that was BCS. I probably walked quite a bit more than I would have if I’d I been solo and I think that is a good thing.

Mile 21 – 11:06
Mile 22 – 11:48
Mile 23 – 12:52
Mile 24 – 14:09
Mile 25 – 11:08
Mile 26 – 14:02

I have never been more happy to finish a race than I was to finish BCS. Maybe The Woodlands Marathon in 2016, but even that race with all it’s IT band pain wasn’t as bad as this one.

Official Time: 4:22.25

As it turns out, the race that I was SURE was my PR and my third BQ, was my second slowest marathon time ever.

If there’s anything that can be learned from the past two months, it’s that everyone needs bad races to appreciate the good ones. Everyone needs to be reminded how truly wrong things can go to appreciate it when things go right.

Respect the distance. It can be a beast.

When I got home, I was greeted by gigantic hugs from my kids who had been told by my husband that I came home without a trophy and was a little sad.

Alvy immediately asked for my medal which he proudly wore around the house for the next hour and Evelyn produced a trophy that she’d made just for me. They were proud of me anyway.

They reminded me that though running seems like a selfish act most of the time, I don’t just run for myself. I run for them.

I run so that I can be a good example of health and wellness, and show them that exercise should be a priority. When I race, they see that you can work hard to accomplish big goals. When things go as planned, they see that hard work can really pay off; and when they don’t go as planned, they see that you can be proud of yourself even in defeat.

This might be the best trophy I’ve ever won.

Weight Loss, the Body Image Aftermath

It’s been a year since I opened up about my weight loss (read the original post here) and I could never have imagined the impact sharing my story would have.  Over the past year I’ve been contacted privately by more people than I could ever have imagined who were simply saying thank you for inspiring their own personal change. And that silly swimsuit picture has been viewed more times than I care to think about.

But the story doesn’t end with a happy, YAY-I’M-SKINNY-NOW-ALL-OF-MY-PROBLEMS-ARE-GONE. Poof! Magic!

There’s a lot more to it than that.  Like everything else, it’s not what what it’s made out to be.

There’s an aspect to weight loss that no one talks about and an aspect to life that we all struggle with – a mental aspect that’s a lot harder to change than the number on a scale.

In the months following my weight loss I was surprised to learn my body adjusted to the change faster than my brain. For a long time I was genuinely surprised when I saw my reflection. Why? Because in my mind, I still identified with being a size that I no longer was. For months afterward, when I went shopping I looked for baggy shirts that would hide a pooch I no longer had. I refused to wear shorts because I didn’t want anyone to see my thighs. I kept my hair long because I thought it made my face look thinner.

It’s been EIGHT YEARS, and to this day, when I look at myself in the mirror I still don’t see myself as being thin. It’s not until I see myself in a photo that I see me as the world sees me, and I’m still incredibly self conscious of the size of my thighs. They’re the first thing I see when I look at my own reflection.

Eight years and seven marathons later, and I’m still adjusting to my “new” body. Up until last year, I wore running shorts that were a size too big because I thought the ones that fit me made my legs look fat. Then one day out of necessity, I bought a pair of spandex because I was having range of motion problems with my shorts when I did running drills. It took a week for me to actually wear them out of the house. When I did, I couldn’t help but think everyone was staring at me.

Y’all, the last time I bought jeans they were a size 0 and I still have a body image problem. Psychological issues are serious business. They’re strong and long lasting. Building yourself up in your own mind is a long process regardless of where you are, where you came from, where you’re going or what others think of you.

The change starts in the mirror. We all have flaws, pieces of ourselves we don’t like – for me it’s my thighs – no, I don’t particularly like them but I try to remind myself that my thighs are what help me run. They are strong. They propel me forward. They catch me when I fall. It’s something I fight every day.

Every. Day.

No one is perfect. Everyone struggles. Our struggles may be visible, or they may not. They can internally motivate you to change or they can suffocate you. In the end it’s up to you.

That piece of yourself that you don’t like, take it and use it. Improve yourself. But know that change doesn’t come quickly, it takes time. For some of us, it takes eight years…and counting.