Independence Day

On this Tuesday, July the Fourth I’ll be running with 60k+ of my peers in the 48th running of the AJC Peachtree Road Race. It’s a pretty epic event. If you’ve never done it, even if you’re not a native, I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not a runner, you should do it. It’s a 6.2 mile party with some folks who happen to like to run it. Some who actually race it! I happen to love to do running events on holidays. Mostly because it gives me an excuse to eat whatever I want the rest of the day (haha).

I’m a food motivated individual. I always have been. Even when I was a bigger girl and had no idea how to fuel my body, feeding it what it needs, but only how to feed my emotions and whatever I craved at the moment. I live to eat, I do not eat to live. And I have (a relatively new) passion for cooking too. Recipe for disaster (pun completely intended). That being said, when I had my second child I knew something had to give. I was sick of what I saw in the mirror. It had nothing to do with exterior pressures of pleasing my husband or criticism elsewhere. This was 100% me. I was newly into my 30s and had never taken care of myself. I was on autopilot with little exception. Hungry? Feed. That was it. I yo-yo’d around losing some weight for my wedding but nothing stuck. Plus nothing ruins your physique like a healthy relationship. You’re happy and no longer feel the pressure of trying to impress someone so you both eat really well. A lot. But that honeymoon period wears off, life settles in and that mirror doesn’t go away. So what do you do? What did I do?

I changed.

My journey into triathlon is a separate story I will post another day. Right now I want to focus on the nutrition aspect. Because that’s what food is- nutrition. Not just some tasty stuff you shove down your gullet. So I slowly began to educate myself. Any good plan of action for drastic change should come with a significant and well rounded education. With the interwebs we have a thousand different opinions and studies but I believe you should read a sampling of all of them. In the interim, I started incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my daily routine. This was easy because I was already buying produce like crazy with two small kids I was making baby food for, and homemade popsicles, smoothies, etc. For myself I figured, we all know salads are good, right? So I started there. Salad every day. That was a start. Then smoothies for breakfast. Every day. I became a salad shooter (true story). Now during this time I was also exercising 5 days a week for about an hour or so. It was glorious! I had finally found my outlet. Ran my first 5k! Goal checked. Onto the next one! (10k?) And changes were happening. Slow and small but changes nonetheless. Then people were noticing. I sank deeper into sport, finding it was finally the outlet I needed to deal with the stress of motherhood without turning to a bottle for relief (that’s a post for another time).

Then I plateaued.

As most people do on any plan. So what gives? Why does this happen? And what in the fresh hell?! I was doing all the right things, I thought. I was eating well, and my training was ever ramping up. So why the sudden halt? WTF? I was pissed. This was when the education aspect went into hyperdrive.

Weight loss = 80% diet + 20% exercise

This. Is. Accurate. When you plateau, don’t kill yourself in the gym. Change your dietary habits. Now I loathe referring to diet as “a” diet. It’s not a ride. You don’t “go on” a diet. It’s something you practice everyday, like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Sure some days we don’t do as well or fall off the wagon but it is something that should be worked on every day. Don’t punish your body with exercise when you eat like crap and don’t punish yourself with (or lack of) food because you missed a workout. That’s ludicrous. Don’t be a dumbass. Care for your body even when you slip up.  But strive to continually improve. Don’t accept a plateau as failure or simply a dead end. You can keep going, moving towards your goal making small changes when things stagnate. It’s ok! Taking better care of myself was what I realized I wanted over anything else. That began with a change and a goal.

Coming back full circle to the P’tree Road Race…

I’ve lived in Atlanta all my life. Was born at Dekalb General Hospital (it’s no longer called that). I knew the PTRR was a race but no clue how far or what it really was. Just that it was a big event of Independence Day. Well with my new found love for running, I knew I had to go. I (illegally at the time) bought a bib from a friend and went. The experience was beyond elating. I was so thrilled to be part of such an event. This was less than 3 months after the Boston Marathon tragedy (another life altering event I’ll discuss another time) and I went downtown to run with Boston Strong written under my eyes Tim Tebow style. It got me on TV. Pretty exciting for little ole me in a crowd of 60k at my first PTRR. It was a rainy day and the finish line at Piedmont Park was a mudfest. But I’ll never forget it. I didn’t run with a crew of friends or meet anyone down there. I ran alone for me. I just hung out at Piedmont Park for a short while after, standing at the top of the hill watching my fellow finishers in awe. My first 10k. My first PTRR. Another goal reached. On to the next one...

You can change. You can decide. You can choose. But you have to commit to the change, It’s not going to fall in your lap. It requires work and dedication. Some days will be epic wins. Some days will fall apart. But you don’t walk away when the going gets tough. You dig deep and remember WHY you’re doing this. Why are you making these changes? If it’s not for you, then why? Don’t do it for a number on the scale. Don’t do it for the finisher’s shirt or medal. Don’t do it half ass either. Always go full ass in. And don’t stop till the job is done. Then start over! New goal! New journey! New changes! Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop. And learn something along the way. You can. You should. It’s worth it. I promise.

“Don’t give up on your dreams because of the time it takes to reach them. The time will pass anyway.” 

This will be my 4th PTRR. I hope there’s many more to go.

Carrie Giordano