The Chronicles of a Chubby Girl

Yep, I got this!

What Bootcamp is All About

This is me just before I started Outer Banks Bootcamp on July 9, 2012.  250 pounds.

 

Overweight, down and out and just flat out miserable about myself.  I felt that I would always be big and that there was no hope.  At 33 years old I had written myself off.  I no longer believed in myself or my abilities, I was a lost cause.

 

I was encouraged to join Outer Banks Bootcamp by a friend.  She was in the middle of the first session and was always talking about how much she liked it and all of the changes she was seeing in herself.  I thought, “good for her”.  After a few weeks of hearing this I decided that I would give it a try.  I had no expectations for myself.  I thought maybe I could lose a few pounds and that would be the end.

 

Little did I know what was about to happen and how much it would change my life.

 

You often times start an exercise program to lose weight, this happened to be my reasoning.  You are in it for yourself.  It’s all about you, what you can do and what you feel.

 

I will never forget my first day.  I arrived early to register.  There were people everywhere.  People from all walks of life.  Some were fit and some were like myself, overweight and out of shape.  I was so completely overwhelmed.  I despised exercise and despised working out in front of others.  It would have been easy to walk away before I even started, no one would have even missed me.  But there was a small voice deep inside that told me I was where I needed to be and that I needed to stay and see this through.

 

I did just that.  I made it through my first workout.  A workout that started on land and took me into the sea.  A workout that started in fear, hit a point of frustration and ended in a feeling that can’t truly be described.  I felt like a different person.  Through the sweat and a few tears I made it through the most awesome workout experience.  I was never left alone or left behind.  No one made fun of me because I was slow.  Everyone cheered each other along every step of the way.  EVERY step.  Words of encouragement, hugs and pats on the back.  EVERYONE was equal.  No one was better than the other.  We were all here for ourselves, but at the same time, we were all here for each other.  We are apart of something so much bigger than just ourselves.

 

For a girl with few close friends I knew at this moment this was exactly where I needed to be.  Right here among the most awesome, caring, giving and truly amazing group of people.  For me I walked into the unknown, stepped out of my comfort zone and was rewarded by stepping into the biggest group of friends that anyone could possibly imagine.  There was no turning back.  There was no backing down.  I could finally see a light in my future.

 

Suddenly things that I thought were impossible, I was realizing were right within my reach.  Within in a few weeks I was running (slowly).  In just under a month I participated in my first ever 5k.  I will never forget the feeling of crossing that finish line and thinking about what I had accomplished.  For a girl that never ran and was out of breath after running ten steps, I had just run/walked my first race.  It was amazing.  And I was amazingly exhausted and sore.  But I finished.  I accomplished something that not only I thought couldn’t be done, but something that others thought couldn’t be done.

 

I finally learned to run without stopping.  I braved the early Sunday morning runs.  One Sunday as I was walking far behind everyone I started to jog.  I told myself I was going to run to the next stop sign (one block) and walk a block.  I got to that stop sign and said, “wow I made it this far so I’m going to go to the next stop sign”.  I ended up running a mile without stopping or walking.  This small single mile was a huge accomplishment.  I couldn’t believe that I could do it. 

 

It was then that I began to believe in myself.   I believed in myself and because I believed in myself others could also believe in me.  From there it snowballed. 

 

I ran an eight mile race in September and then a half marathon in November, just four months after I started Bootcamp.  There was no stopping me now.

 

Setting goals and meeting them, eating right and staying motivated.  Outer Banks Bootcamp has taught me just that.  There is no way that I would have gotten this far without the encouragement and support.  A coaching staff like no other.  A group of people like no other.

 

This is my second chance at life.  I am doing things that I have never done before.  I have run countless 5k’s and some 10k’s.  I have run 3 half marathons, a triathlon and in just under a month I will run my first full marathon and participate in my first Spartan race.  I can run and jump.  I am able to enjoy my life.  No more hanging my head in shame.  I walk with my head held high, proud of who I am and what I have become.

 

I have more friends now that I have ever had.  Friends that are always there for me and inspire me to continue to make myself a better person.  Friends that are more like family than just friends.  We all look out for one another.  Through the good times and the bad, through the tears, they are ALWAYS there.  They help to make me who I am.

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And last but not least a coaching staff that is top notch.  There to push you and always there to help.  Prepared with a fresh and challenging workout, no two workouts are the same.  Coaches that are always there for you and right in the middle, doing the workout with you, whether it be doing push-ups, burpees or running. 

 

Thank to you ALL.  I encourage EVERYONE to believe in yourself.  Take that first step, yes it is the hardest, but I promise there will be no regrets.  

And so this is me now…

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Day #1 – New Year, New Day

Finding the courage to start a new diet plan is hard.  Well at least for me it is.

I absolutely despise the word diet.  It makes my skin crawl.  I know it all depends on the way you look at the word, but when I hear or see this word I just want to roll my eyes or go bang my head into the wall.  Diet makes me feel like I am about to eat cardboard and starve.  I just hate it, truly.  So for the sake of my sanity I’m going to call this plan healthy eating.  Plain and simple.

For the last two weeks I have done nothing but eat junk.  There I admit it.  I knew that this day was coming.  I knew that on January 1st, 2014 I would have to give up all the crap that I love… JUNK.  For two weeks I piled the food on my plate and went back for seconds when I was already full from the first round of food.  I ate out.  I had burgers, fries, fried chicken, ice cream, candy and donuts.  Two or three times a week I would stop at Harris Teeter and buy two donuts and a huge bottle of water, because you know that water would help even out the 800 calories that were in the donuts.  OK, no I didn’t actually think this but in the back of my mind I’m sure there was some sort of justification process going on.

December 31st, 2013.  The last day of the year.  More junk food.  By the time I finished supper I was done.  I felt like a bloated pig just lying on the couch waiting for that stupid ball to drop on New Years Eve.  Midnight finally came and that was it.  No more eating cookies and candy and loading my plate down with junk.  I thought I would be sad, but I wasn’t.  I was more ready for healthy eating than I had thought.

I was up by 4:30 on the first day of the new year.  Well maybe only sort of awake, for the most part I was conscious.  Off to Bootcamp and off to start my new healthy eating plan.  After a three mile run we were ready to learn about our task at hand.  I was ready.  And placed before me was this (minus the runners log book and water bottle).

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I won’t lie this was overwhelming.  So much to figure out and do.  But with some help and encouragement from a very awesome support group I have figured it for the most part.  Supplements and meal plans and I was on my way.  I can do this.

Now if only there had been a video of me fixing supper on this first night.  Yes, it would have been amusing.  I don’t cook.  I have no desire to cook, none what so ever.  But I know Stouffers frozen dinners are not on the approved eating list, time to suck it up.

Time to make some stir fry.  I put the pan on the stove and went to grab the olive oil.  Yep, the olive oil that I apparently left sitting on the shelf at the grocery store.  Great now what?  I see a big bottle of Canola Oil.  Can’t use that.  So I head to the fridge and find a bottle of Italian Dressing.  I pour a couple tablespoons of that in the pan and then threw in the chicken.  I chop up some onions and green peppers, start cooking brown rice and then I sit down on the stool with my Kindle Fire.  I check the chicken and stir it a bit.  Check again a few minutes later and nothing.  I didn’t realize chicken took so long to cook.  Whatever.  So I went back to what I was doing.  After twenty minutes of the chicken sitting there I knew something was wrong.  I was stirring and stirring and waiting and waiting and nothing.  It was only then that I realized I hadn’t turned on the stove.  I mean REALLY?  Who goes to cook and forgets to turn on the stove?  Needless to say I won’t be hosting a dinner party any time soon.  Or ever for that matter.

After another twenty or so minutes, with the stove turned ON, it was finally ready.  It turned out OK.  Which is a good thing because there was no back up plan tonight.

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Day one done.  I lived to tell about it.  I didn’t break down and have any sweets.  I watched my portion sizes and didn’t starve.  So over all day one was a success.  Here’s to day two, which is technically already happening.

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Day #1 measurements:

Chest: 43.25″

Biceps: 14.75″

Waist: 39.00″

Hips: 49.50″

Thighs: 28.25″

Weight: 232.4 pounds

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Thuy…

I have been friends with Thuy for a one year, four months, 12 days and a few hours, but who’s counting?  😉  I have watched her struggle to keep up with the group.  I have been there with her.  I have watched her succeed and acomplish things she probably never thought she could do.  I have never heard her say she gives up or that she couldn’t do something or finish something.  I have heard her yell to others that they can do anything the put their mind to it, always encouraging everyone to go the extra mile and supporting them along the way.  Thuy has scraped me up off the ground, looked me in the eyes and told me to, “suck it up,”  or “come on now, you got this,” on more than one occasion.  She is always there for me.  Through words or encouragement, facebook messages and texts.  She is ALWAYS there for me.  I couldn’t imagine this journey with my best friend Thuy.  I am so very grateful to have her in my life and to be able to call her my best friend.

I received a text message from Thuy that read as follows:

           “I would love to run my last miles (however many that will be) with you Wednesday after work.  Would you be able to complete              this journey with me?”

UH YEAH!!!!!

Well yesterday at 6 pm along with Amy and Thuy’s son Darron we finished the last few miles of her incredible journey.  One foot in front of the other.  Through the wind and cold she finished her journey.  100 miles in six weeks.  The journey ending at the top of the Wright Brother’s Monument.

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I cannot begin to describe her determination.  The guts this woman has to dig down very deep and overcome the odds.  She never gives up, she never says never.  She asked me to buy her a black shirt weeks ago before the store closed for the season.  I did just that, because there was never any doubt in my mind that she wouldn’t finish.  And not only finish but do so in such an incredible fashion.

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Incredible ladies!  Honored to share this moment with them!

 

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So awesome that Darron wanted to be with his Mom for her final few miles!  He was a trooper as it was chilly!

 

The last week of her journey she had 30+ miles to go.  For some this would have been to much, but not Thuy.  She ran in the morning in the afternoon and at night.  INCREDIBLE!  

Thuy my friend, you are a true inspiration!  You know I love ya and I am so thankful and fortunate to have you in my life.  Thank you for sharing your journey with me and including me in at the finish!  You know there was no place else that I wanted to be.  I expect nothing but greatness out of you!  HUGS!  And a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to you!  You earned that black shirt and your dog tags!!

 

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FOOD vs MIND

My biggest weakness, my biggest fear, the thing I seem to lean on most, in all the wrong ways… Food.

I could sit here and tell you that it’s the food itself. But that would be a blatant lie. It’s this mind of mine that lies beneath this thick skull. It’s the voice I hear between the walls of my thick skull that say, “yeah, don’t worry about it, we’ll start eating healthy tomorrow.” Yeah tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Or hey Monday’s a good day to start because that’s the first day of the week.

I wish I didn’t see food as my enemy. But my mind keeps telling me it is. “Hey, go ahead and have that hamburger. You worked hard this morning. In fact you worked so hard you deserve some fries to go with that shake.” And that’s it. Right there, that’s it the end. Hamburger gone, fries devoured. I’m left to sit in a pool of shame. No ones fault but my own. No one to point my finger at, but thank goodness I have two thumbs because they are pointing right back at me, shamelessly.

It’s not that I don’t know how to eat healthy. I know what to eat. Making healthy choices should be easy right? Fruits instead of cookies, veggies instead of French fries, water instead of soda. If only my mind thought it was that simple. If only my mind would shut the hell up I wouldn’t be writing this blog at 3:30 in the morning before Bootcamp graduation. Why can’t this be easy for me? Why can’t I just make these easy choices? These aren’t hard choices, they really aren’t. But I make bad choices and then I feel like a criminal. A criminal in my own body.

I walk into the grocery store and I’m bombarded with things on sale. Soda, candy, chips, cakes, you name it, it’s there and it’s calling my name. I grab some of these items and glance around me to see if I see someone I know. Don’t laugh! I bet you’ve done the same thing too. I go to check out with my cart of healthy foods and that cake hiding underneath the chicken. I glance around again to make sure I don’t see someone I know. It’s then that I spot the candy and the sodas. Really? It should be a crime to put that crap up there. They wonder why Americans are so freaking overweight. Well here’s your sign! “Uh yes, I’ll take a Reese’s, a Pepsi and let me get the Enquirer magazine because my mind isn’t already full of enough crap.” I know I know, it’s that impulse buying crap. I get it. And get this, I hope those who contribute to the impulse buys can’t sleep at night knowing the help contribute to the problem. Rant over.

Long story short it’s not anyone else’s problem but my own. I know what it feels like to lose thirty-six pounds. It’s great. I feel accomplished. My goals are being met. I also know what it’s like to stand on the scale and see that I’ve gained twelve pounds since July. Shame, I’m drowning in my pool of shame.

I hear, “oh you look great!” But I don’t feel I am deserving of those compliments. I can’t work hard at running, cycling and swimming, then bomb the nutrition aspect. But I will never win the battle if I don’t conquer my horrible eating habits.

I eat fast. Very fast. I mean if there was an Olympic event for eating fast, I just might hold the world record. Don’t be jealous.

Eating fast bites me in the butt all the time, no pun intended. Example. In the time it takes most people to eat half a hamburger I will have eaten an entire one. I ate so fast that my body clearly thinks I’m still hungry and I inhale a second one while you’re finishing up your first. You’re full and I’m beyond stuffed. Just now realizing that two hamburgers later. Congratulations Amanda, another epic food failure. GRRR.

How do I make this better? I know the answer to that. Everyone does. Hey even my mind does.

So why did I write this blog? To embarrass myself? To throw myself under the bus? To maybe let you know that you aren’t alone? Yes, all of the above.

Today I’m holding myself accountable. Today you know one of my biggest weaknesses. Today is a new day. It’s not a Monday (THANK GOODNESS), the beginning of the week, it’s a Thursday, smack dab in the middle of the week. It’s not the first of the month, it’s the middle. I recognize my problem. I recognize the need for change. I am an honest person. You can ask me at any time what I have had to eat that day and you will get an honest answer. We all need to be held accountable. We all need help to stay motivated now and then. So next time you see me with a cookie or hotdog in hand tell me to put it down. Unless I just finished a triathlon or half marathon or something worth of a hotdog. 😉 Hold me accountable. Call me out, you have my permission.

Hopefully in a few weeks this story will have a happy ending.

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The Pride is Forever…

Sometimes you begin a journey and the only thing you know is where it begins.  Where you go, what you see, who you will meet and where your journey ends all remains to be seen.  You take that first step blindly and hope and pray that your journey will be successful, full of adventure and something that you will never forget.  Mine has been just that.

In January of this year I received an email for the Outer Banks Triathlon.  I read it and reread it and reread it.  I thought to myself, “Can I really do this?”  The answer I gave myself was, “Hell yes you can!”  I signed up.  The only training I had under my belt was running.  It had been a while since I swam and I didn’t have a bike.  I told myself that I would figure out the bike part later, I had time.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

In February my awesome friend Terry told me that I could use her bike.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am to her for allowing me to use her pretty pink bike.  I was super excited, then she brought it to my house.  I had never seen tires so thin and became intimidated.  Even putting air in the tires seemed intimidating.  I parked the bike in our garage and there it sat… and sat.  My excuses for not riding?  It’s cold.  I’m to busy.  But finally I sucked it up.  I finally went for my first ride.  It was fast, by my standards.  I rode and rode and the more I rode the more fond I grew of this awesome bike and this awesome opportunity that I was given.  So began the journey of the pretty pink bike…

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I have never worked as hard as I did this summer.  I stepped up my exercise routine, more running, lots of biking and swimming.  Countless miles on land and in the water all with one goal in mind… to FINISH the Triathlon.  A simple goal it may seem, but one that I truly put everything I had into.   I even turned my car into a locker room!

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The last week of August I stepped out of my comfort zone completely and took on the Hell Week Challenge.  What’s this you may ask?  I think it’s for crazy people.  Which I guess that would make me crazy, but hey that’s ok.  I was talked into joining, by the way thanks Leslie.  It turned out to be a true test of what I was made of.  Five days of grueling challenges.  I wasn’t sure if I would make.  I was tested physically and mentally.  There were times when I didn’t think that I could take another step or even lift my arms up over my head.  But I finished.  I finished every task that I was given even if it meant going back that night to finish what I had started.  I learned the value of team work and that even if I was the slowest I still played a part on the team.  War wounds (which I am quite proud of) and all, I survived Hell Week and I swear it toughened me up.  Just what I needed before the Tri…

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As the triathlon grew near the more I found myself in a whirlwind of emotions.  I doubted myself and even doubted my abilities.  Many nights I would lie awake staring at ceiling not know if I could do this. I had trained in each different sport, but never put them all together.  The transitions plagued me.  I had no idea what I was doing.

Thanks to Terry D. for explaining in detail what happens during transitions and what to do and not to do as well as how to lay my stuff out.  And thanks to Tony P. for the awesome list of all the stuff I would need.  Finally my mind was more at ease.

So of course the day of the race it poured down rain.  But no worries, I was ready.  Thanks to Outer Banks Bootcamp for all of those times we trained in the rain.  It was no big deal.

The realization of the race didn’t actually hit me until I was in the water for the swim. As I stood there looking around at my wave it hit me like a ton of bricks.  After I swam I had to get on bike and then RUN after that.  Goggles on and the countdown being done in the background my mind began to race and all those crazy thoughts flooded my mind. Then the horn blew and we were off.  I ran a bit and then hit the water swimming.  I forgot everything I had done in training in true Amanda fashion.  I was holding my breath and lifting my head up every stroke to breathe.  UGH!  I was panicking, good grief.  Um, how many races have I swam in my life time.  Get a grip girl!  I got it together, sort of.  I rounded the first buoy and I felt like I was in a swarm of feisty hands.  Never in my life has my ass been grabbed as much as it was during this swim.  I moved off to the left to get out of the way.  Those that know me know how much I don’t like for strange people to touch me.  I must say I saw some crazy stuff in the water while I was swimming.  Amazing what some people do to get through the swimming portion of the race.  They probably turned right around and said that about my running.  😉

I rounded the last buoy and finished the last leg.  I felt good.  I was finally warmed up and it was over.  That figures.  Out of the water I went.  I glanced at my watch 13:15.  I’ll take it.

Photos courtesy of: Sweetpea

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Transition to the bike.

I get there and had a total lapse of what I was supposed to do.  I put on my shirt and then my helmet.  I reach for my first sock, put it on and go to put on my shoe.  Crap, I need to put on my pants first.  I’m standing there in the rain soaking wet with one sock on my foot searching for my pants, everything is wet at this point so it’s not like it mattered.  I wiggle into my pants somehow.  Put on my belt with my bib, grabbed the bike off the rack and I’m gone.  It felt good to ride down the road.  I’m proud of what I have done so far, happy with my swim.  I get about two miles into the bike ride and my legs are aching.  They’re tired.  I hit the bridge (great to see Amy W cheering) and I feel like my legs are lead. Great.  I keep trudging along.  I do believe the whole biking group passed me, but I didn’t let that get to me.  I kept telling myself that I was doing great.  I’m here for myself, I’m here to prove that I am very much capable of finishing this race.  But the further I got into the ride the more my mind began to play it’s tricks on me.  My mind and body were telling me that it was too much.  Maybe it was the thought of the dreaded run after the bike ride.  I kept hearing just stop its ok.  But it’s not and it wasn’t.  As cheesy as it sounds I blocked it all out and listened to my heart.  I had worked too hard for this day to give up or slow down.

I sloshed through the puddles, dodged numerous “craters” along the road, cussed every time I hit a big bump and hoped with all that I had that my tires wouldn’t pop (don’t laugh this was one of my biggest fears).  In just under an hour I made it back to the transition are.  I passed no one.  Ok except for the girl that had just passed me.  I hauled ass past her in the transition area, that counts right?!?!  Bike went up on the rack, helmet to the ground, belt with bib turned around and I was gone like flash of lightning.  Or may more like a turtle out of its shell.  It worked whatever it was.

Photos courtesy of: Sweetpea

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On to the run.  Oh lord let the whining begin.

My weakest point and that may be an understatement.  I don’t know why.  I dreaded this run, dreaded it with every ounce of being in me.  Through the mud and the rain I trudged.  Pain with every step.  I tried to run but my feet felt heavy.  Maybe it was because they were so water logged.  I suddenly realized I had for gotten to take off my bathing suit (I had a bikini on underneath it).  Oh well. *Sorry random thoughts*

This was it, this was all that stood between me and the finish line and running the biggest race of my adult life.  I ran and then I walked.  It wasn’t even a speed walk.  But I kept going.  I rounded the second corner and thought that the halfway point was right there.  I saw a water station and knew the turn around was just beyond that.  But it wasn’t and I rounded another corner and another and another.  I finally made it to the halfway point.  Only a mile and a half left.  I can do this.  I can make it.  I fought back the tears.  I made it almost to the end and started to see my friends.  One by one they appeared cheering for me.  Lots of positive vibes and words of encouragement.

The last tenth of a mile of the longest three mile run I have EVER done… EVER.  I felt like a different person.  You know that feeling when everyone is cheering for you and telling you that you’re almost there.  It was that moment on the straight away that I could see the finish line.  It was there, I was there.  I heard the announcer call out my name.  I’m almost there.  I keep running, amazed that even when you are drained and exhausted you get to that point, the point where you are about to finish, you feel this overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment.  I crossed the finish line in tears.  I did it, I finished my first triathlon.  I didn’t set a record and I wasn’t lightning fast, but I finished.  I did what I thought I would never do.  I finished something that I’m sure a lot of people, including myself, never thought that I would even attempt.  I proved to myself that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind too.  It doesn’t matter how big or how small.

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Today I earned my finisher medal.  I gave it everything that I had.  I laid in bed last night and cried.  It’s hard to believe the person I have become over the last year.  I stand a little taller.  I walk around with a sense of pride.  I’m not afraid to try new things.  I also finished second in my age group in the swim!  😀

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This should have been a sign!  😉  This girl…

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TURNED INTO THIS GIRL!  WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!

Photo courtesy of: Terry

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Photo courtesy of:  Christina

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All of this would not have been possible this weekend if it wasn’t for my awesome friends.  ALL OF YOU!  Thank you for the encouragement and support and the photos!

A special thanks to Elly.  I love you girl!  You were my rock this week when I thought that I couldn’t do this.  You were there through every text message with nothing but love and support.

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And I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE my bucket!!!! THAT ELLY MADE!!!!

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And finally I was able to put this sticker on my car.  FINISHED!  There is no sticker that could better describe what this event means to me.  The PRIDE is FOREVERImage.

Photo courtesy of: Elly

Never doubt yourself.  So many times I am my own worst enemy.  I keep trying.  I am determined and hard working.  I continue to dream big and have so many more things that I know I will accomplish.

This race, this moment and these feelings are something that no one can ever take from me.

Thankful for every day I have to enjoy my second chance at life and the journey that lies before me.

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One Year, No Regrets

Today marks one year.  On this day one year ago I made a life changing decision that I have not regretted.

As you all know I joined Bootcamp last year, July 9, 2012.  Since then there has been no slowing down and no going back.  My life has completely changed; physically, mentally and spiritually.  I have gotten my life back, I have taken control of what I do.  I am amazed at what I have done.  For a girl that never ran I have participate in 11 – 5k’s, 1 – 12k, 1 – 10k, 1 – 8k and TWO half marathons.  One of which was run just 4 months after I started Bootcamp.

Through most of my life I have always worried about what other people thought.  To be honest that was something that almost kept me from joining Bootcamp.  The fear of rejection and embarrassing myself weighed steadily on my mind.  Exercising with a group of men and women who I didn’t know scared me.  What will they think of me?  I can’t run, will they laugh?  I’m going to finish last, will they laugh some more?  I quickly learned what it meant to be an adult.  HUH?!  Yep, an adult.  No one was there to judge me.  No one was there to laugh at me or make me feel inferior.  Just caring people with hearts the size of the universe.  Cheering one another on, lending a hand and always encouraging you to never give up.  I remember the first group of Bootcampers that ran back for me and ran with me to finish the run.  Covered in sweat, sand and tears and surrounded by strangers who I could instantly call my friends is overwhelming to me, even after a year.  It is amazing how so many people have made an impact on my journey.  Every cheer, every high five, every word of encouragement.  These things leave you wanting to come back for more. They’re the things you never forget.

For a fat girl running down the beach in search of a way to fit in and make a few friends, there was no better place for me.  I was truly given more than I had ever dreamed of.  I have made more friends in the last year than I have since I was in school.  I now have a second family that sees me through the good times and helps me through the bad.  Too bad that fat girl running down the beach is no longer with us.  Although I hear she’s doing well!  😉

Coach Jay asked us the other day why we were at Bootcamp.  My answer is simple.  I want to take advantage of my second chance at life.  I want to do things that I thought I could never do.  Honestly at first I just wanted to lose weight.  That was all I wanted.  It has taken months, but I have finally figured out why I am really here and why I continue to come back for more.  I have been given a gift and that is life.  I took that life for granted for many years, making not so great choices and being lazy.  One day it hit me, if I continue down this road at this rate, I may not see 50.  I may not see my kids grow up.  So while I wanted to lose weight I had to dig a little deeper than that to understand why I continue to be a part of the Outer Banks Bootcamp.

I can’t thank my Bootcamp friends and family enough for taking a chance on me and believe that I could be so much more than I was when I started.

To all of the Bootcamp coaches that I have had the honor and privilege to work with, thank you.  There’s not a finer group of men and woman around.  Each coach brings something different to the table and that’s what makes OBBC what it is.

Jay – I will never forget my first day of Bootcamp and you saying the words, “Today, July 9, 2012 is a day you will NEVER forget”.  I have NEVER forgotten that day.  I remember looking out over the ocean and hearing you say, “look at this place we live!”  You’re words are always inspirational Jay.  Especially those words you spoke when doing the army crawl the other day, “THAT WASN’T FAST ENOUGH DA, DO IT AGAIN!”  It’s ok Jay, we can’t all be perfect, I forgive you!  😉

Matt – Scared the crap out of me.  Let’s be honest the man is tough.  I remember starting my second Bootcamp and Matt standing before our small group and saying, “I’m going to be your coach for the next three weeks!”  I think I gasped out loud.  But, I learned a lot over the next three weeks.  For one he’s not so scary.  He pushed me to work harder and taught me that what I thought were my limits were merely just the beginning of what I was capable of doing and accomplishing.  It’s an honor to call you a coach.

Adam – To me is the king of the track.  Those that know me know how much I dreaded track days.  And every track day I could hear Adam behind me yelling, “I’m catching up with you Amanda Allen, don’t let me catch you, don’t let me pass you!”  He could some how get me to sprint to the finish.

Betsy – I will never forget my first Friday Bootcamp run.  I was the slowest in the group.  I struggled.  I walked, I jogged, I cried.  You stuck by my side for most of that long three miles.  I remember getting within sight of our finishing point and you told me to run all the way to the end.  And that I did.  All the way to the end where I remember seeing Adam and a few other Bootcampers there cheering me on.  I know at that point I was in tears.  Thanks for sticking by me.

Christine – YOU TOTALLY ROCK!  You are always making me laugh and can turn around in the next sentence and set my ass straight.  You are the queen of ab work.  Many a mornings I have left Bootcamp with my abs screaming.  You’re not only a coach but a friend, kind of like a big sister to me.

Todd – Who talked me out of quitting Bootcamp whether he realized it or not.  I will never forget the morning we ran that REALLY long run.  I was dying inside and totally deflated.  He listened while I sobbed.   He taught me that we all have good days and bad days.  Thanks for not giving up on me.

I have made so many new friends.  So many WONDERFUL people who have shared their stories with me and have allowed me to be a part of their journey.  I LOVE YOU ALL!  Each and every one of you is truly AMAZING and an INSPIRATION!

But there is one friend that I have grown especially attached too.  Thuy has been with me since the first day, July 9, 2012.  She has always been there.  We have waited for each other on runs, inspired each other, laughed together, cried together, talked each other out of giving up.  We have been there for each other’s ups and downs.  We have been there for milestones accomplished over the last year.  Through the sweat and tears I know that Thuy will always be there.  No one could ever ask for a better friend!  Here’s to another successful year!

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Thanks to my family and friends for the support and encouragement throughout this journey!  Thanks for listening to my relentless Bootcamp stories as well!  😀

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Throwing In The Towel

No, for the record I’m not throwing in the towel.  But I had my moment.

We all have that moment, the moment when we have had enough.  One step further would be too much.  Your mind is racing and has you convinced that you have nothing left.  That you aren’t good enough, you aren’t strong enough.  That voice tells you that you are done, face it you will never be fast, you will never be able to keep up with those fast people in front of you.  It’s time to give up, it’s time to throw in the towel.

But not so fast there mind, not so fast.

We all have our bad days.  We can’t all run like the wind every day.  Some days are slow and grueling.  Some days we wonder why we even bothered.  We hang our head, we have been defeated. 

This is how I felt after Bootcamp last Wednesday.  I remember hitting Bay Drive, just over halfway through our run and thinking, this is it.  I’m done.  This isn’t for me.  I watched as my fellow Bootcampers slipped further and further away from me.  The only thing I could hear was the sound of my cinder block feet hitting the ground and the sound of the tears rolling down my face.  I was defeated.  I felt deflated.  My mind was telling me that my run as an Outer Banks Bootcamper was over.  This was it.  Done.

I have never felt this way before, this was new low for me.  Through the tears that were streaming down my face, I told myself that I would finish this run, but there would be no more.  No more races, no more Bootcamp.

And then there was coach Todd who was waiting there at the bottom of the hill on Bay Drive that takes you to Tateway.  It was there at the bottom of that hill that I hit my lowest point.  I don’t remember what I said to Todd, I just remember crying.  Oh and there’s nothing worse than crying to your coach.  Good grief.

He told me that he wasn’t going to let me give up and that we all have bad days.  He was right.  DUH! 

Todd pushed me to the end.  He told me I wasn’t breathing hard enough and he pushed me to sprint to the end.  It was hard.  Everything hurt, but I finished in a blaze of glory.  In my version of a sprint.  😉 

I went to my car and cried some more.  I looked over at a group that was standing in the parking lot and thought to myself, “What a fool!”  I was ready to give up, throw in the towel.  I was ready to be a QUITTER   What was I thinking?  I had let my mind control what I thought, instead of listening to what my heart was pleading.  

I let my mind convince me that I was not worthy of being this awesome person.  Because hey we are all awesome whether we lead that pack or support the pack from the back of the line.  We can’t all be first.  But what we can ALL be is super heros.  Yes super heros.  Because no matter how bad your running day may be or how slow you think you are going, there is someone out there that admires you for what you are doing.  There is someone that you are inspiring.

So I picked myself up off the ground.  I took a step back and looked at what I have accomplished.  To see how far I have come breathes new life into me.  I can now run for miles instead of just a few feet.  I can run, yes me run.  I have run seventeen races since July of last year.  Two of those races were half marathons and one of those was four and half months after I started Bootcamp.  I realized that I have NOTHING to hang my head about.  I have nothing to cry about unless it’s tears of joy.  This time last year I was vegging away on my couch.  I had given up on losing weight and more importantly living up to my potential.

I can’t imagine leaving Bootcamp behind.  I can’t imagine leaving my BC friends and family.  Life is too short to let these days pass us by.  I thank every one of you who has come back to get me during a run or waited for me at the end.  I thank every one of you who has cheered me on.  I love to run in a race and see the infamous red BC shirts and the smiling face of those wearing them offering a high five, a smile or words of encouragement.  It’s this moment when you realize that you are a part of something so much bigger than just yourself. 

Remember giving up should never be an option.  Throwing the towel in just because you had a not so fast day, should never be an option.  Choose to take the road that offers a challenge, the road that keeps you on your toes and wanting more.

Photo courtesy of Jay Bowman.

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There Comes A Point…

There comes a point in time when you have to stop envying those around us, those who have found success.  The success you wish you could find.  

There comes a point in time when you have to start believing in yourself, in order for others to believe in you.  

There comes a point in time when you have to say enough is enough.  We are only here once.  We have one shot and maybe if we are fortunate enough one second chance.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror before my first Bootcamp and thinking, who in the world am I looking at?  Who is this person in the mirror.  I had no idea who I had become.  I truly had no idea that was me looking back.

For years I envied others who had lost weight.  Oh they’re so lucky.  Oh it’s so easy for them.  Oh I CAN’T do it. Oh… OH GOOD GRIEF ENOUGH WITH THE LAME ASS EXCUSES!  So NO, those who lose weight aren’t lucky, NO it’s not easy, and I’m sorry but YES you CAN do it!  I know this first hand.  I have worked my butt off.  I have sweat bullets, cried, laughed, smiled, yelled, gotten angry and even pissed off.  But I have found success.  Not through a pill or some extreme crazy diet, but through hard work, dedication and determination.  I have worked through aches and pains, through the ups and downs.  At times it has drained me both mentally and physically.  But I always come through.  There is no GIVE UP in my vocabulary; no one finds success by throwing in the towel.

I learned early to believe in myself.  To believe that I am worth every ounce of my being and that I am worth this time, this effort and this sacrifice.  I truly believe that no one can believe in you if you can’t find it within yourself to believe in YOU. 

I am very self-conscious.  I had a hard time exercising among my peers.  I didn’t believe in myself, that I could work hard and succeed.  I felt alone.  But then I started running further and doing new things, things that I had never done.  Suddenly I began to believe in myself and it was then and only then that I was able to let others believe in me.  People tell you they believe in you, but you have to find a way to believe in yourself, before you can let them in.  In my case I had Bootcamp and when you have Bootcamp you are not alone.  Yes you are an individual but you are working with others.  You are a team, you are a family.  And how awesome is it to have a family with so many different family members, from all backgrounds, but each offering support and belief in themselves and one another.  It’s at this moment when you realize you are a part of something so much bigger than just yourself.

No more excuses.  Excuses are for those who don’t have the will to try something new, to go out on a limb and take a chance.  Excuses are a way of hiding behind the truth.  No one is perfect.  We all have something that we want to improve about ourselves, something that we may be self-conscious about.  I don’t care how good you are, how fast you are, there is something that you want to improve on.  We are all human.  We are only here once.  Maybe this is your second chance at life as it is mine.  I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity to be the person I know that I am meant to be.  I decided several months ago that I have a chance to lead a better life for myself and to be a role model for my children. 

Today I think everyone should take a few moments and reflect on what you have accomplished in the last year or two or three.  I do this every so often, especially when I am feeling down.  I find comparing pictures of myself helps too, you look at yourself every day in the mirror and I swear I look the same, nothing changes.  But a side by side comparison is an awesome way to see how far I have come.  Hope everyone has a wonderful day!  HUGS!

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How Bootcamp Saved My Life

It was easy to let my life spin into a downward spiral.  It was easy to sit on the couch watch TV and snack.  It was easy to watch people around me exercise.  It was easy for me to come up with a plan to lose weight, get out and exercise and just feel better about myself.  But I chose to sit on the couch.  And I sat there to the point that I was obese.  Walking up stairs winded me, fitting in my pants with out bulging out the sides was never going to happen.  I had given up… I had written myself off.  This was it, this was me.  There was nothing I could do.

Everything changed July 9, 2012.

I remember one of the coaches telling us that we would never forget this day, July 9, 2012.  So true.  I certainly have not forgotten this date.

I started Bootcamp with no ambitions, no hopes of losing weight, no dream of becoming the person I knew deep down that I could be.  I hadn’t planned on sticking with the program.  In fact I had written the program off before I even started.  There was no hope.  I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t stick with it.

I remember arriving at our meeting spot just after 5:00 in the morning.  Dressed and well just there.  I was nervous.  I only knew a couple of people there and I felt so very out of place.  At one point I almost left.  I knew I couldn’t do this, I knew I couldn’t handle what was about to be dished out to me.  No way.

Our first task was to run around the building… twice.  I thought I was going to die.  I came up with a plan to just run to my car as I rounded the corner after finishing my first time around.  But I didn’t, I kept running.  I finished my second time around.  I hadn’t died, I was still very much alive.  My lungs were screaming at me, my heart was saying, “What in the hell are you doing?” my body ached.  We then headed over to the beach.  I jogged most of the way, but wondered how I was going to get back.  On a stretcher?  In a body bag?  No, I would make it and it would be on my own two feet.

That morning I sweat like I have never sweat before.  I crawled on the beach, I rolled in the sand, I swam in the ocean and I found a little piece of myself that had been missing for so many years.  I found the piece that says that I am worth the breath of air I take and I am worth taking the time and the energy to do something for myself.  This was my time, this was all about me.

I left Bootcamp that morning feeling rejuvenated   Yes, I was I was exhausted, my face was red and I could barely pick my feet up off the ground, but I finished.  I did push ups, sit ups, squats and I ran.  All of this in one hour.  This is the one hour was the hour that changed my life.  The one hour that has me hooked on Bootcamp.

In just six short months I have run in ten races (with the eleventh happening this Sunday).  I ran my first race, the Sandbar 5k, just shy of a month after starting Bootcamp.  I ran my first ever half marathon five months after starting Bootcamp.  I can never explain to anyone what it’s like to cross the finish line.  I know that it means different things to different people, but for me it is the most uplifting experience.  Each time I cross the finish line I am reminded of how far I have come and how wonderful it is to have a second chance at life.  It may be seen as just a great big inflatable tube, or a line on the ground, but it is so much bigger than that to me.  There are just no words.

Bootcamp has saved my life.  Now I can walk, I can run, I can do sit-ups, I can do push-ups, I can even do those stupid burpees.  I can run in a race, I can run a half marathon.  I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT!  I have my life back.  No one is going to rob me of the years that I have left.  I am only on this earth once and although I can’t do much about the past I plan on making the most of my future.

Thank you Bootcamp, for saving me life.  Thank you to all of the Bootcamp coaches who have believed in me.  Thank you to all of my wonderful new friends, who have been there to run with me to the finish line and pick me up when I feel like I won’t make it.  Thank you to my family for put up with my endless talk of how wonderful Bootcamp is, because I know that’s all I talk about sometimes!  A special thanks to my Uncle Dave who is keeping my Bootcamp journey a reality.

There is no finer program on this beach or any where for that matter.  I am thankful each time I am able put on my red Bootcamp shirt or jacket and to be a part of the “sea of red”.  There is an overwhelming sense of pride and honor.

THANK YOU BOOTCAMP!

 

 

 

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When the Impossible is Made Possible…

I started Bootcamp in July with absolutely no ambition.  I had written off ever losing all the weight that I had gained over the years.  I accepted the fact that I would be “obese” for the rest of my life.  For some reason I found peace with that.

On July 9, 2012 I entered a new world.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into and no idea what was in store for me.  I was just there, standing in the parking lot of Knuckle Up surrounded by people I didn’t know.  I was nervous.  I didn’t want to be there.  The thought of exercising in front of strangers made me sick at my stomach.  But I stayed.

I will never forget the first thing we were asked to do, run around the entire building two times.  DO WHAT?!  The whining in my head began.  The voice saying, “HA!  There’s NO way you can do that!”  Yeah I ran ten feet and thought I was going to pass out.  I somehow finish and somehow made it over to the beach where we all took to rolling in the sand.  OK, not literally, but we were right down in there doing push-ups, sit ups, jumping in the water, then doing more sit ups, etc.  I was exhausted after the first fifteen minutes.  I struggled to run down the beach.  These tasks seemed so impossible, but I didn’t give up.  I watched my group running far ahead of me.  I struggled to walk let alone run.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it, my very first hour of Bootcamp quite literally kicked my ass.  But I can’t put into words how I felt when I was done.  I was wet from head to toe, covered in sand, my face was beat red and I couldn’t remember the last time my heart had beat that fast.  But I FINISHED.  I didn’t give up and man was I HOOKED!  There has been no turning back since then.

I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would run in a race.  NEVER.  EVER.  But here I am on November 13, 2012 reflecting on just how far I have come in the last four months.  Some days I have to pinch myself to make sure this is real.  In just four months I have participated in seven races ranging from the one mile “Fun Run” to the half marathon.  This amazes me, I can’t believe the person I have become.  Not just physically, but mentally.

I made a promise to my children this summer after I started Bootcamp, that if they signed up for GO FAR I would run a race with them.  My daughter Kylee has been participating with GO FAR for over a year now and when she first started she asked me if I would run the race with her.  I felt deflated, there was no way I could walk let alone run that far.  Not this time though!  I kept my promise and this weekend I ran the 5k with Kylee and the one mile “Fun Run” with Gracie.

Thanks to my wonderful Mom for taking photos!

Just finished my 5k!  Thanks for the photo Mom!

On Sunday I added a whole new milestone, the half marathon.  I have never been so nervous in my entire life.  My stomach was rolling, I had terrible headaches, I was wreck.  At one point I looked at my husbands and said, “I’m an idiot for doing this!”  OK, so I know I’m not an idiot, but I couldn’t get the thought of running all the way to Manteo out of my head.

But let me back up for just a moment to Election Day (no political speech just keep reading).  I met a truly inspiring man while waiting in line to vote.  I caught his first name, but not his last name, but thanks to Brooke for letting me know that it was Pete Barranti that I spoken with.  I told him a little bit about my background with Bootcamp and that I would be running my first ever half marathon.  I quietly told him that I was very nervous and asked him for advice.  For the next several minutes he gave me advice and told me what to expect.  I took his advice to heart and thanks to him my nervousness faded.  I can never thank him enough for the advice and words of wisdom.  He was very inspirational to me and dead on with his advice and what to expect!

The day of the race I remember standing in my corral waiting to start.  I had a million things going through my head and as I was standing there I had one of those moments when the world around me fell silent.  I looked up towards the start line and saw the Bootcamp flag waving proudly in the air.  I took a deep breath and a calming feeling came over me.  It was that moment that I knew I was ready.

As I crossed the start line I could hardly stand myself, this was it, this was the moment I had been working so hard for, there’s no turning back.  My husband Shane was there to see me as I took off from the starting line.  He stood there with a huge smile on his face and giving me a “thumbs up”.  I really think that all of my worrying was for nothing.  I felt great and it was so awesome to see people I knew along the way cheering me on.  I loved seeing the little kids with their hands out waiting for high fives from the runners, didn’t matter if they were fast or slow, they were just excited to see everyone!  What an awesome feeling!

                       Taken on Sound Side Road in Nags Head during the half marathon, yes I had to stop to take a picture!

I enjoyed my run and seeing my Mom, Chuck, my girls Kylee and Gracie and my sister Ashley cheering for me.  I loved seeing my friends at mile 6 handing out drinks.  Thank you Missy for the big hug!  You will never know how much that met!

I remember making it to the top of the big bridge and looking over my right shoulder towards Jockey’s Ridge and thinking, “Oh my gosh, look how far I have run”!   I thought about how far I had come that day and how far I had come since July.  Four months ago I would have told you that there was no way running a half marathon was possible for me.  No way!

But thanks to Outer Banks Bootcamp, my wonderful awesome coaches; Jay, Matt, Adam, Christine and Todd who have helped me believe in myself and pushed me beyond what I thought were my limits, you have helped to make all of this possible.

This half marathon has been a reflection of my journey and how far I have come.  One foot in front of the other, digging deep and believing in myself and above anything else learning to trust myself.  I have learned that you NEVER give up and of course you NEVER say “CAN’T”.

So when I hit the turn towards Manteo on my final stretch I hit a brick wall.  My feet were killing me and it was all I could do to lift them off the ground.  I truly thought there was no way that I could possibly make it.  But I wasn’t ready to give up.  Not when I had come this far.  I kept pushing and telling myself, “LOOK HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME”!  I will never forget hearing the crowd get louder as I rounded the corner and the finish line was in sight.  I had made.  I had exceeded my expectations.  The impossible was made possible.

After my husband had worked all night, worked the start of the half marathon and met me along the way with water, support and encouragement, he was waiting at the finish line for me still in uniform with a big hug.  I will never forget this moment, I just wish I had a picture.  And waiting there beside us was Jay, with a huge welcoming smile, a hug and my medal.  Such an honor to know such a wonderful man.

I have never worked so hard for anything.  This medal means a lot to me!

Thanks to my husband for this photo!

Such an honor to be apart of a group that offers so much more than just a fitness program.  Without out all of the wonderful Bootcamp coaches and my newly found Bootcamp friends I never ever would have made these strides in my life.  I would probably have been on the couch this last marathon eating junk food and watching the Lifetime Movie Network.  I could never thank you all enough for what you have done for me, lifting me up when I’m down, celebrating with me when I reach a goal or make my way to a new milestone.  You will never know how much this really means to me!

And thank you to my family for putting up with me talking about Bootcamp ALL the time and for all the encouragement and support you have offered along the way.

And yes, I am already looking forward to my next half marathon!

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