Open Letter to Runners

Dear Runners (of all abilities)

This is an open letter to all runners, because at the end of every run we cross the same finish line. So it doesn’t matter your abilities, but this letter is being wrote from the back half runner.

So here we go: 

I’m starting this off with just thinking:

When you cross the finish line with crazy pride, feeling the victory high and you’re on cloud 9 for being super happy because you crushed it, you proceed to get your medal, you only grab one, correct? 

So now we have our medals we move on to the next tent, or transition station which is usually the food stations. This is where it becomes tricky. Remember this is still all about just you.

So you’re in line and it comes the time to get your food. You want to quickly get through because your own cheerleaders are waiting for you. 

Are you consciously aware of what you are grabbing? Are you taking only one of everything? Or are you taking multiple items? Do you exit the food station with an arm full and not enough hands to carry it all? Have you grabbed for a cheerleader waiting for you? We are being honest here, we all have done it over the course of our running careers.

Well after thinking about everything I’ve asked about, what you might not realize is, the extra(s) you’ve grabbed and what someone else has grabbed it adds up.

When you finish did you stop and think: are there other runners out there still doing their best? Did you think that maybe someone might not get food?

Race Director’s do their best to budget food, but if everyone takes extra here and there is leaves a sour finish for those in the back half. 

So here I am telling you runners if you ever take extra, you are actually leaving zero food for the back half. It adds up if you take basically someone else takes share. 

So for an example; the Army Run there was zero food left in the first transition zone for the Commander’s Challenge. When I finished my half marathon I was offered just a half a banana. For the Lululemon Waterfront 10k, there was nothing. 

I’ve busted my ass just the same as you have regardless of your time, your place. I don’t take 2 medals because I worked extra hard and nor do you. So why do people continuously take extra food?

The people of the back half of all runs deserve more then a medal, they’ve worked up an appetite, they have the same pride and sense of accomplishment as you do, so why not leave them some food?

There are more runners out running, doing their best, chasing their own personal goals, we may not all have the same time as you, or the person who crossed behind you, but I truly believe we deserve the same as you when we do cross.

We put in the same effort and just have a longer time, we are out there not giving up, but regardless if you’re first or last we as equal runners deserve the same.

I do not deserve to be told “sorry we ran out”. 

So fellow runners, run family, next run you do, run these thoughts through your head. Are there more people still out on course? Am I taking away from others?

I’m getting tired of crossing finish lines to empty food bins/stations. 

Race director, you do have a wee bit of responsibility to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. Other races have “food vouchers” which avoids this whole disappointment.

So if you take anything from this I hope it’s just the awareness for your next run.

Thanks

Jodie

Leader of the back half. 

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Lean Fit Brand 

When I was told to become a plant based eater with no soy and rice, I was left scratching my head. 

I started reading labels on everything from bread to my go to protein powder with everything in between. 

On my IG I follow an amazing athlete name David Freake, who randomly posted information on a protein powder that was plant based along with information.

I researched the company as I’ve tried other plant based products and I couldn’t do it, get passed any of the taste and how it made me feel.

I reached out to the company with a couple of questions on basically where can I buy the vegan soy free powder as I’m currently living in a small town Ontario. I also asked other questions, as I wanted to make sure I was going to try the best and this would work for me.

After a few emails back and forth I received this amazing care package in the mail.

This totally took me for a surprise. I’m completely grateful to this company. The part that made it amazing and heartfelt was the personalized note offering encouragement and support. That note sealed the deal for me with this company which is a huge, yet someone took the time to write me a note.

So this is my review (not asked to by the company);

I love it. 

I love the taste of it regardless if it’s mixed with water, almond milk and or made with fruit and veggies.

I had zero tummy issues. I didn’t feel bloated or heavy. I didn’t have any side effects.

I had energy. I was able to use the product before and after a run as fuel.

I had no after tastes and I didn’t have those “repeat second time around” tastes. You know those ones you get. I didn’t have anything.

I’m completely sold on this product. I will be using Lean Fit because of the benefits that it’s not filled with garbage. The energy and fuel was there.

I highly suggest you take your protein powder more serious. Read labels, ask questions including where and how it’s made. This is all to benefit you, help you in your journey which is all helping you to continue on the path of success.

This company and product are going to get me to my Marathon and beyond. Because there is going to be another goal when my Marathon is done, we all know it. 

So do me the favour, check out Lean Fit Brand on Social Media, their website and educate yourself. Find what works for you. 

Lost Control & Mental Health 

In the last few months, I’ve had many changes, some for the good and honestly most out of my control.

Fast forward to the now. In the last 2 months I’ve been hospitalized (taken by ambulance), seen doctors, new specialists, been to the hospital for testing, had my food choices taken away and entered a whole new unknown. Which I’ve embraced head on as you’ll see. 

This is not a pity party, because no one should ever pity me or feel sorry for me. I’ve taken every set back and totally made the best of it.  Found the positive, because whether you believe it or not there is always a positive in a storm or road block.

I am not a control freak by any means, but I live for a structure (which I am sure 98% of us do) and planning. Please don’t get me wrong I am all for last minute road trips, changing plans and just doing random things at a drop of a hat. But I am totally a planner or like to have control over some of the things going on, so with the last few weeks it has mentally been a struggle.

Becoming a forced plant based eater on such short notice has been completely overwhelming. I’m a repeat eater, I don’t go too far off my “regular” foods, meal prep and mix things up. I’m not creative, I don’t need to be, as I am a repeat eater. I’m that country kid where all I need is a meat and a veggie. When your options are striped from you, that is mentally tough right there. I didn’t become a plant eater because I am against everything to do with animals etc. I did it because talking to my specialists it was decided we are taking me back to the bare minimum for food for my anaphylaxis. So I’ve mentally struggled with new foods to eat that are not meat, dairy, soy and rice.

BUT I am trying, it’s reading labels for a totally different reason, it’s going to learn that I soak something for how long and why. It’s a new learning curve and I’ve embraced it head on, because that is what a strong person does. This is for me, learning and hopefully finding an answer for my anaphylaxis. I’m thankful to every person who sent me messages, whether it be a movie to watch, a book to read or information on where to find some cool recipes and mostly I’m thankful for those who have supported me.

Now added in that dangerous poisonous insect bit I got on my body with a crazy infection, I haven’t been able to work out, run or do anything but heal. This has been hard on my mental health with everything. I’ve been struggling a lot lately.

With being on the bench from running, considering I have a plan, something that in all of my life’s chaos it was permanent, set in stone and can’t change or bend, it was controlled. It was something I knew had to be done on the days coached and I agreed to. Even if I missed one day I knew I could make it up in that week of training. My plan was designed for me.

Running is not my “alone” time or a time I use to think, mostly I am thinking of random things I see along the run, or just singing to myself. I don’t use running to escape anything.

Running is the one thing I can control in amidst of everything right now in my life. I follow the plan, I am in control. Right now the rest of my life is not in any control and I’m struggling.

Running I am in control, I pick and choose the time I am going out for my run. People who know me know that I am a robot, but lately I’m not a robot. I’m all over the place, taking what is being tossed at me, falling back on this mountain I am climbing. Everyone has a different reason as to why they run, besides the important factor its excellent for our health, but my reason as I said it was one of the last thing I can control right now in my life and always been able to control.

I can’t control when my body rebels, or if I get a bit from some bug, or my veins in my leg act up, I can’t control any of that. Having this marathon training schedule set in black and white, I can control this.

So you add all this up and you have a mental health upset. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Yes I just admitted it again, so let’s end the stigma while we are at it. There is no shame in this. This is me.

When I get overwhelmed which I have been for the past 3 weeks, I have a 1000 thoughts running through my head, I get anxious when control is gone, when I don’t know what to do, when I feel like I need to know it and try to plan. Add in worry and it’s a perfect cocktail for a bad mental health day. Which are ok to have, but you don’t stay down. I work my way out of them and continue on. The sun always rises and will always set. So I work with what works best with me and I get through those tough days.

But when I look back over the last few weeks I lost the last thing I could control, maybe losing this control is a life lesson and afterwards I’ll be able to be thankful for the lesson, but right now I am still confused, but I know that I will be able to run soon again, the infection is clearing. I will be able to control and plan and have something in each day that I controlled. 

I am learning better ways to cope with my anxiety and my panic attacks. I’m learning how to talk through them, not to be alone when I am down and also acknowledge I do need alone time to be me, and just settle.

Running right now in my life will be the only control I have, this makes me stronger as I haven’t given up, when things go bad, when my body rebels etc.

I am climbing this mountain to show my body, that it can’t beat me, mentally and physically. To show others your journey is worth it, never give up, that you just find a way around road blocks in your path, and you will climb your own mountain in the speed you’re meant to climb it at.


I’ll be back running it’s just a matter of time, I will be back in control again of something and feel a relief. I will be back on my marathon training plan, making up lost kms, following the plan, having fun while at it, smiling and knowing come October, this marathon will not beat me, I will finish. Because this journey is too important not to love and be successful.

I want to thank everyone again for their support, checking in with me, your friendships are golden to me. I’ve had bad mental health moments and sometimes you folks pop in just at the right time. Again there is no shame in admitting you have a mental health issue, the stigma needs to end. We are humans. 

🍍

3 Year Anniversary – Sorta


Today I have an anniversary of sorts; it was 3 years ago today I was admitted to the hospital for being in anaphylactic shock. 

I waited over 36 hours before seeking medical help because I didn’t think anything was wrong or basically I didn’t know what was wrong and just assumed it was nothing. 

I’ve been on a journey these past 3 years with many more anaphylaxis attacks; ambulance rides and stays in the hospital and numerous treatment tries. As well as being tested for everything imaginable including working with doctors in the US. (OHIP cut backs)


Most of you don’t realize that I live daily in a state of anaphylaxis. Somedays my meds work; other days I have to decide if I’m “gone too far” and need 911. There are days I struggle. There are days I’m fed up and over all “this shit” as I always say. There are moments when I get a wee bit of fear in me that I’ve waited too long for my epi and my airway is closing fast. 

I’m thankful for the team of specialists who will not give up on me and this invisible illness. Who work with me to continue to live a “normal” life and let me run and follow my dreams. 

Today I celebrate being alive. 

#ThisIsMe #IdiopathicAnaphylaxis #FaceItDaily #DontWearMyShoes #ThankfulDaily #LiveLife #MeVsMe #IDontGiveUp

Transformation Tuesday #MeVsMe

There is always a time you forget why you even started or what made the change happen, to me I look at these two versions of me and I first off see beauty. Regardless I’ve always been beautiful. 

The picture on the left is a version of me who was just a beach bum. Take me south, let me have drinks and just sit. I was “that can go to the back burner” sort of thinking.

When I hit my 30’s I took myself more serious, I started to realize my doctors just gave me the answers I wanted to hear. I started to push back, demanded more. I joined the gym to be serious. I started to focus on me. 

Many don’t realize this but it will 3 years in a couple of months since I had my last sip of alcohol. I gave it up for me. To be a better version of me. It was not a need for me to be me. 

I took control over foods entering my body. I learned to say no and realize that I don’t need to feel guilty saying it. I cut my food enablers off, told them all no more. I pushed further with my health and learned and got answers as to why on a lot. I tossed away plates and bought smaller plates. Small things lead to big changes. 

I took up running. Yes both versions of me ran but I learned to fall in love with it. I learned to be the voice for the back half. I learned I can do anything if I push myself. 

I made my own transformation when I took back my life and decided to quite hiding behind the “fat Jodie”. I left the safe zone.

My journey has included hills, valleys, mountains and straight stretches, but this is life. My story.  

I’m beautiful. I’m me. I’ve never changed, but my back bone has grown tougher. My confidence is soaring within the clouds. I’m me and this journey as bumping, windy and curvy roads it’s far from over.  

Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle and that includes your determination and goals. 

iRun 

I was never anticipating, thinking in my wildest mind that I would even make this list just because I’m me. 

I am honoured to be in this magazine, to be acknowledged and let the world see that you don’t need to be a perfect to be a runner. You don’t need the perfect body. Your weight doesn’t define you. Nothing defines you, the only limit you have is yourself and your mind. 

I am taking this to heart that being a good person, honest runner and mostly being true to myself in turn gives you recognition. I truly believe that I’ve inspired just one person. One person to try, to not be afraid of running in the day light, not afraid to start their own personal journey. 

I believe that running never discriminates, which I never felt when I started running at well over 300lbs. I never felt people were looking at me, judging me or looking down at me. This community is full of nothing but supporters, cheerleaders and behind the scenes people. 

I would and wish more people understand that there is no reason not to start. I am not a perfect runner, as you will see from previous blog posts that if you run with me be prepared to walk. I’m not a perfect but I’m damn well trying my best. 

By being showcased in this magazine across Canada, I’m hoping it shows that perfect is just a state in your mind, its not a status, not a thing, its just a word, we all are perfect in our own ways. Just showing up to the start is the victory and that makes you a runner. 

Don’t let fear stop you from trying. Don’t let fear being the excuse. 

I am still humbled and still speechless I even made this magazine, but I’m truly thankful to be given this opportunity. 

Please have a read of iRun magazine and check out the other amazing people who are in the 150, along with myself. 

Those “fat pants”…. 

Sometimes when a person starts a journey to change their life, whether that be to find inner peace, happiness, a dream job or weight loss, they don’t often realize how far they’ve come until something happens, they do something minor and the change is there, more or less the victory. 

I’ve always kept the pair of jeans, I was in love with, when I was at my heaviest. I remember we had to drive over to the US to get them as they didn’t have “cool jeans” here in Canada in my size. I lived in these jeans, loved them and just loved how they made me feel, like I fit in, I was just like everyone else with the “cool jeans”.

As I started my weight loss journey many moons ago, I always kept these pants as the “reminder how far you’ve come”. I’d try them on every once and awhile and see the change. I tucked them away and haven’t brought them back out, until this weekend when I discovered them again.

 This is me trying them on yesterday.

I can’t tell you I see a smaller version of myself when I look in the mirror, I can’t tell you I go right to the size M/L on a rack in a store over the 2X (or higher). I still have trouble looking in the mirror and seeing this version of me. Nothing on the inside has changed. I am still me. But the battle is still real of #MeVsMe.

When I started running at over 300lbs, I never thought it could and would end up changing my life. I never thought (please ask one of my former gym teachers, Mr. Larry), I’d learn to love it. Love the life and feeling running and even working out at a gym brings me. Running does not discriminate, what you put in it gives back. I train and follow a plan, I may not post my pictures daily of it, but I do it. I give and it gives back, it tests me daily and in every run I sign up for.

The advice I could give anyone is never doubt yourself. Never quit on you and only ever do it for you. This change is mine and it has been done for me. Not for me to be more accepted by a society that still has labels, because really, I still have the label attached to me as being plus size. Do this for your own happiness, to have these small victories that just make you sit and cry. Remember no scale ever defines your worth, no time in a run defines your ability as a runner.

I am me

I am a runner

 

Confidence. Break the chain.

Confidence. Break the chain.

Just over 3 years ago, I participated in a bully awareness photo shoot and video, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had to acknowledge and let the world know just how bad it was. I ask before you continue reading this you read my Bullying Story here:  http://swelin.com/jodie/mystory.pdf

So how did I take the weight of bullying off my shoulders? How did I rise above the bullies including those memories of my youth as well as those moments now as an adult? I broke the chains.

When I look back on how I became strong, it was a bunch a little things that just made up a big thing. I learned to look at bullies and see past the “charade”, the words spoken and realized bullies are just playing a part, a mask, insecurities taken out on others, the list goes on.

But the biggest and best thing I did; I took up running. It became and always has been a Me vs Me. It was by doing this I learned that people can stare, look and snicker at a very plus size runner out trying. It was with this I learned, they can judge all they want from the side lines because that is where they exactly are: the side lines. I learned by looking and viewing these people just as bystanders, I had no fear in running in the daylight, running runs and coming in near and basically last. I was running for me.

I had to grow confidence in myself, which is a grueling task all on its own, especially when you are not the best of the best, but you’re the best version of yourself. Loving yourself is the best thing you can do.

Learning to be confident in myself after years as a child, young teenager and an adult I was constantly put down, made fun of and just tormented was not an easy task to do. Even in recent years I’ve worked in toxic work environments, it was here I learned even adults can be bullies.  It took me years to realize those words said and typed are just that words. They do not change or define my worth.

Some people have the focus in stopping bullying, which is a great, but my focus is learning to rise above it, build the shield to know that they are just words, they don’t change anything about you. I can’t stop an adult from being a bully, I can tell them the words they say are hurtful, but at times, it doesn’t change them.  In the end the words said to me by a bully are just useless false words.

I learned to break the chains. I learned to break any hold a bully had/has on me. I have learned to control my life, my thoughts and mostly I’ve learned a bully can’t keep my mind hostage, because I broke the chains.  I had weights chained to me that I was allowing control over me. It was as if my bullies were my puppet masters; not anymore. I broke the chains. I turned my life around to it always will be Me vs. Me.

I went back to Pam, who was the original photographer of the bully pictures and video campaign and asked her to help me show those words from years ago mean nothing. They are just words. Pam captured me with the biggest smile and truly happy. I’m in that happy place. I have zero chains. I cried when I saw these pictures. I have better words I use when I describe myself; it is happy thoughts, no negatives.

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I have positive thoughts about myself, yes I’ve lost weight, but I can look in the mirror and I no longer see a “whale”, I never was a whale, those were just words. I was and always have been beautiful.

I am a runner, I may never make it to the podium, but I cross the same finish line as those running greats.

I have resilience; I’ve survived being bullied, attacked and worse.

I have goals which are dreams, but made with a plan.

I have pride in myself, pride in everything I do.

I have confidence that anything I do, I can do it. No one can stop me.

I have love; my heart is full of love.

I am and have success in my life, which is something I earned, and worked for.

I have habits that keep me healthy, I’ve learned to love the gym, and love running which are excellent habits.

I am strong and I have the strength to endure and survive any storm I walk through.

Lastly, I am happy. This is something no one can rob me of, take from me or dilute. I am happy with who I am. Who I’ve fought to become and the person I was yesterday. I am happy. Life is waiting for me each day.  I have so many more words that I can use to describe myself, but I don’t need to flood this. Each of you could use a different word to describe me. It would be accurate.

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Now back to running, it is a community made up of people who never judge, you are going to meet people who are in the “elite” level, who will volunteer to run beside you, push you and make you realize that finish line is achievable.  Over a year ago, I signed up for my first half marathon, when I started running almost four years ago I barely could get across a finish line of a 5k, but I did it. Last October I finished my first half, with such a huge amount of supporters both in person and virtual.

A year ago, I took a huge leap of faith; I applied to be an ambassador for a hydration company called Nuun. I had zero hopes in becoming an ambassador because there is a stigma attached to companies of an “image” that needs to be fit, fast runners, runners who look like runners (but really anyone who starts is a runner, regardless of anything). I had no confidence that I would be selected.  To my huge surprise I was selected to be a member of Team Nuun, an athlete, which is actually on the web page.

This company made me fall in love further with them, not just the aspect that nuun hydration is the best electrolytes out there (I’m bias), but the people who work under the nuun family umbrella, are just amazing people. They took the time to learn about me, support me, and are my virtual cheerleaders (some of which have showed up to running events).  They are my family.  Nuun gave me confidence to believe further in myself, so that I really had no choice but to continue to believe in me. I turned 2016 in to Me vs. Me.  Nuun believes and stands behind their athletes, those of us who represent the back of the pack as well as those who are elites. When I had a company standing behind me, supporting me I knew failure never would happen.  I will always be forever grateful for nuun.

Running changed me for the better. It changed me to allow myself to free the weights holding me down. It allowed me to take control of my life. To be proud of myself for doing something not many that are (was) my size would do, I was over 300lbs and running 5ks.

With that last little bit of confidence push which I needed to set my dreams bigger in running.  Again this year nuun continues to believe in me, just as I believe in them and the product. I’ve set my eyes on running my first full marathon. 3 years ago, I would have laughed if someone suggested this. A year ago, I never thought my body could endure a half marathon, but my mind, it’s a pretty strong part of me; I knew I was going to do it.

With my confidence, I have been able to believe in myself, I have taken leaps and applied to be run ambassadors, which this year I am representing Run Like A Diva series which is coming to Toronto, as well as I am a member of Team Awesome with the Ottawa Marathon.  Without this extra confidence, I would have never applied.

So I can tell people I was bullied growing up and as an adult, but the one word you never will hear me say is “victim”. I am not a victim. I am me. I no longer have chains holding me to words, to actions of others. I have come to 2017 being proud of myself. I have empathy for those who have been bullied; we need to teach people rise above it. Focus on positive and see the good within. Change your patterns.

These pictures capture how you can rise above. Be a better person and allow nothing to hold you back and down from dreams.  I wanted to do this photo-shoot to show others words you hear in dark times don’t make it to the light. I wanted to show everyone, chains can be broken.

Always believe in yourself.

I’ve broken the chains and so can you.

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2k17

I’ll admit I was happy to close the book of 2016. I ended Chapter 12 (December) with having emergency surgery on my birthday of all days. I had many personal challenges from unemployment to health in 2016, but you know what?! I survived all 366 days of 2016. 

In 2016, I hit all the goals I set for myself at the start of the year: 

– Get my health on track (still a work in progress)

– run a 10k-run a half (21.1km) and

-obtain a new PB in my 5k (which I did)

I reached my goal of losing over 100lbs just before Christmas, I truly know that hard work does pay off and if you love yourself enough it’s always will work out. 

I truly did reflect the last day of the year and realized dreams became wants and wants became a goal, so I chased the goal down. So I can say I’m proud of myself for achieving my goals in 2016. 

So here we are in a new book, 12 blank chapters and over 365 empty pages. 

First off, I don’t do resolutions. I do goals. 

I’ve set a few for myself already and because I’m a work in progress they get changed and new ones will be added throughout the book of 2017. 

So far my goals for 2017 are as follows: 

-Continue on track with my weight loss

-Find answers for my idiopathic anaphylaxis (this point I’m just remaining positive)

-Run my first ever full marathon (yes that’s over 42kms!) and this run is going to be a runcation event

-Run 2 new runs

-Learn to love the weights at the gym. 

As I said, I change my goals constantly and I do many things spur of the moment. 

I will be running 4 half marathons in this year. A big change from just one last year, but I’m over the fear. I know I can do it. My first half in 2017 will take me on a road trip to Alabama in February. 

2016, I’ve learned a lot about myself and this year I’m going to continue to keep loving myself, improving this version of me and being my own person. My path in life is mine to make. 

So bring on 2017. I’m ready for you. 

Top pics of 2016