Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 23

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Weigh-In Wednesday Weekly Stats

Weight Watchers Week Number: 23

Lbs Lost this Week: – 3.2

Lbs Lost Total: – 14.0

WW Stars Earned this Week: None

Food of the Week

apple

 I’ve been eating more raw vegetables and fruits this week – like a salad or fresh apples. I am not sure if it is what helped the weight loss or not. If I’m hungry, I grab a fresh-picked from the farm Honeycrisp apple!

Activity of the Week

Yesterday I had my 16-month follow-up appointment with my hematologist (medical specialist who treats diseases and disorders of the blood and blood-forming organs – sounds scary, right?!). I talked to him about my lack of motivation to exercise ever since I ran the 5K in June. He thinks I may have done too much, too fast and my body wasn’t really ready for that – even though I did it without outwardly hurting myself, even thought it was over a year after my blood clot. I told him I had to do something, but the motivation wasn’t there and it was feeling more like a burden than anything. I told him it wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do or how to do it because I did – it is just a matter of making the commitment.  For some reason this time, either my heart or brain or both isn’t into it. He told me to commit to walking at least 20 minutes a day, even if it is on my treadmill while I am surfing the internet (he showed me how to fashion a desk for my treadmill) or watching TV at night. He asked, “Do you work on the computer for at least 20 minutes a day?” I said, “Oh my gosh yes!” He does the same with his dictation notes every night before he goes home. Just gets on the computer/treadmill and types them up/walks. He said, “Add some running in here and there as you feel like it, but don’t set out to run if it’s stressing you out, just walk and see what happens.” I have made the commitment to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, starting tomorrow. Time goals worked really well for me the very first time I started running to help me weight, health and run a half marathon. I would run for seconds then minutes then miles at a time. My hematologist also agreed to following-up with my other doctors about the current status of my thyroid, which I already have planned.

Personal Weight Loss Goals (crossed off when reached)

I want to lose…

10 lbs
20 lbs
30 lbs
35 lbs
40 lbs
45 lbs
50 lbs
55 lbs
60 lbs
65 lbs
70 lbs

Personal Fitness Goals (crossed off when reached)

I will…

Run a 5K  Read all about it here.
Run a Quarter Marathon or 10K
Run a Mud/Obstacle Race
Run a Half Marathon
Start Strength Training (again)
Backpack (more)
Start Biking

Reflections

Thank you a thousand times for all of the kind things you said last week. It helped more than you know. I feel infinitely better not only having lost this week, but having spoken to my doctor and come up with a set, doable plan in my eyes.

Reader’s Recap

Don’t miss my Pepper Palace Fall Hot Sauce Review. It’s divine.

Blog School Update

I’m in Blog School with Rita over at Blog Genie and for the next six months I’ll be working really hard to make this blog the best it can possibly be. I’m really excited about this, especially since I was the recipient of one of the Fall Scholarships (for which I am extremely grateful). This week’s update: I switched my subscription manager to MailChimp (it’s free too!) and have to rebuild my subscription list from the ground up. If you like reading my blog (or you just like me or want to humor me with my practice at putting a form in a post!) and never want to miss a post by having it delivered weekly to your inbox, please subscribe below:


Photo Recap

sunflower

Just because it is fall and I love this.

Question of the Week

How did you first start exercising? What kind of goals did you set?

Until the next mile marker,

Racing to Stop the Clot

Racing to Stop the Clot Cover

If you’re a Facebook fan, you may have seen my recent posts about athletes who are racing in upcoming events to help Stop the Clot. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA), aptly named Stop the Clot is a non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and clot-provoked stroke. NBCA works on behalf of people who may be susceptible to blood clots, including, but not limited to, people with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation, cancer, traumatic injury, and risks related to surgery, lengthy immobility, child birth and birth control and accomplishes its mission through programs that build public awareness as well as educate doctors and patients alike.

Blood clots can affect anyone, of any age, whether they are active and healthy or not. I was running regularly and eating right when a blood clot in my leg that I thought was a pulled muscle traveled through my heart and lodged in my left lung, causing a massive pulmonary embolism that nearly claimed my life. If you don’t know the signs of blood clots – particularly those in your leg or lung, read about them here. It could save your life or the life of someone you know. No one is exempt from the possibility of a blood clot.

Over a year later, I am still on the road to recovery – although I am much better than I was. I have found numerous resources and support groups through Facebook and other activist groups which inspired me to begin my own awareness site and blog called Blood Clot Recovery Network. One of the groups that I was fortunate to find and join is Running After A Pulmonary Embolism – a must-join site for any runner or triathlete who has suffered from the devastation of a blood clot.

I recently found that several members of this group are running, swimming and/or biking their way to raise awareness for Stop the Clot and further promote blood clot awareness.

Even if you can’t donate to the cause, please take a few minutes to read each of these athlete’s stories. Every one echoes my own in some way and remind me of how easily a blood clot can happen to any of us, without us knowing and completely change our lives. If you can, please share among your pages, profiles, feeds and blogs and of course, if you are able, please consider donating to help these athletes Stop the Clot.   

Chris will be racing Ironman Canada (swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles in less than 17 hours) on August 25, 2013.

CHRIS

As some of you know, I suffered multiple bilateral [both lungs] PEs in July 2009, and again in March 2010, resulting in a lifetime of anticoagulants to prevent another occurrence.  I was one of the lucky ones, as evidenced by actor Dennis Farina’s death from PEs.  I will be wearing a Stop the Clot jersey and racing in honor of those that have suffered from clots, those that have passed away, and those that will suffer in the future.  Most importantly,  by finishing this 140.6 mile race, I hope to set an example that being on anticoagulants does not mean you cannot continue to do the things that most inspire and challenge you.

Please read Chris’ story, share and/or consider making a donation HERE.

Crystal is racing the NYC Marathon on November 03, 2013.

crystal

Late last July my husband and I had just got back from a vacation in Utah when I noticed extreme tiredness, lack of energy and rapid heart rate.  After brushing it off for a few days as jetlag, I finally went to seek medical help and was diagnosed with bilateral PE with infract. My lungs were completely riddled with blood clots.  All of this seemed like a bad dream. I had just turned 30 a few months before and didn’t seem possible that someone that ate relatively healthy and exercised a great deal could be faced with this problem.  My lifestyle went from running marathons and double workout days to barely being able to walk up the stairs. Read more about my story on my blog.

Please read Crystal’s story, share and/or consider making a donation HERE.

Roland “The Clot Buster” is racing the NYC Marathon on November 03, 2013.

roland

The Clot Buster’s polka-dots will be running across the streets of NYC and I hope you get come along with me on this journey that I am about to undertake.  I am taking with me the many stories of blood clot survivors who will drive me each and every stride of this race. Please read more about these inspiring blood clot survivors on my blog.

Please read Roland’s story, share and/or consider making a donation HERE.

Eric is racing the NYC Marathon on November 03, 2013.

ERIC

For those who have asked why I run as much as I do or have even called me crazy: In 2011, I had DVTs in my leg and Pulmonary emboli (PE) in my lungs. DVT and PE = Blood Clots. I could barely walk around the hospital floor. 100,000 people die in the US each year as a result of DVT/PE. Or, to look at it on a smaller scale 1 in 3. This easily could have been me. he emotional and physical pain and fatigue I have felt running marathons is not in the same realm as what I experienced after blood clots. It has been a long 20 months but I have battled back. I’m a lot slower than I used to be but I can run again!

Please read Eric’s story, share and/or consider making a donation HERE.

So, there you have it! These people have all inspired me in one way or another. From Roland’s feature of my own blood clot story on his blog, to Eric, Crystal and Chris all supporting me as I ran my first steps and my first 5K since I was hospitalized – these individuals already make a difference in the lives of a blood clot survivor like me. Please help them make a difference to thousands more!

Until the next mile marker,

Writer for Hire: Why I Need a Blog School Scholarship

Writer for Hire

I feel like the last two years of my life have been mostly a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some good times, but for the most part, I wish to declare a do-over and wake up in a different reality. I wish I could open my eyes one morning and find out that Mom isn’t really gone – just returning from her four mile run at the park and sending me an excited text to tell me how it went. That the pain in my calf and then side wasn’t a blood clot that broke lose, traveled though my heart and lodged in my lung almost costing me my life – just plantar fasciitis and out of shape lungs. That the job I had tried for two years to land wasn’t the one I also lost less than three months after being discharged from the hospital due to my inability to handle what had happened to me and an intense career – just a trial run in what would be the real thing down the line after I was on my way to recovery. Now here I am, almost a year after losing my job, trying to find my path not only in a career, but in life – a writer for hire, which is why I need a Blog Genie Blog School Scholarship.

I’ve been blogging since 2009 when I first started running. I remember my first post (click if you dare) vividly. It was a welcome-to-my-life post and I fervently refreshed the page every five seconds waiting for someone to read it. No one did. For a long time. I read blog after blog after blog that impressed me with its style, design, content and comments. I would comment when I read something I liked, that inspired me or made me think. And then one day, one of those bloggers commented on my post and I felt like a million dollars. Slowly, my blog began to grow and I gained a small but loyal group of followers. These people, who are still with me today, are the ones that helped shape my blog into what you see now.

I’ve earned ambassadorships like that of FitFluential where I learned on a near daily basis (and continue to learn) how to be a better blogger and influential fitness leader – even when I feel anything less than that. I’ve earned several blogging awards, which have all helped my blog to grow over the years. I have received numerous products and books to review as well as developed some amazing relationships with brands, race directors, and fellow runners and bloggers. I remember when I used to think none of these things would happen on my blog.

I’ve gone through a transfer to Word Press and two design changes, all thanks to Rita at Blog Genie who brought my blog out of the bland, flat, cookie-cutter look that so many blogs have in the beginning. She helped capture the essence of Words to Run By and built a beautiful site where I could continue to talk about running, writing and remembering, part of my re-brand with my most recent design change. I began to focus on writing good content – without a full-time job to consume my time, I could write freely and compose posts with greater attention to detail and composition.

My most treasured accomplishments are those I have made in writing, including guest posting on other sites and a (albeit small) paid writing opportunity involving blood clot awareness. I felt like my content suddenly mattered, which inspired me to begin a second blog totally devoted to blood clot awareness – Blood Clot Recovery Network.

I’ve put countless hours, sleepless nights, significant amounts of money (self-hosted is not free after all) and even tears (okay, a lot of tears sometimes) into making Words to Run By what it is today.

And yet, I know it can still be better, which is why I am applying to Blog Genie’s Blog School’s Scholarship Giveaway. Blog School is an intensive six month program designed by Rita to make your blog the best it can be – and it starts soon! This is the part where I am completely transparent with you – and even now, that’s not always easy – I want this scholarship because no, I do not have a job yet and let’s face it, life is expensive. Blog School is a luxury I can’t afford right now, but would love to participate in the program to build even better content, improve SEO marketing, gain readers, page views and comments and maybe even make money writing on my blog or through my blog.

Even more important than needing the scholarship due to financial hardships, though, is what I believe Blog School can do for my blog. I want to make my writing – and I write primarily on my blog – my business. I believe I can do it, I want to do it, but I also know I need the tools to be successful in building an even better blog. And, I also know I just don’t have them on my own, which is why blog school is of vital importance in helping me reach my blogging goals. What I do have is the time, the commitment, the devotion and the passion to get the most out of what Blog School has to offer. I’m not afraid to work hard and at this point, there’s nowhere to go but up right?! I’ve had a lot of setbacks – and I believe Blog School can be the launching pad into what will be the next – and hopefully greatest – chapter in my life.

Until the next mile marker,

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Commit to Be Fit 5K Race Report: My Second First 5K

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Event

Commit to Be Fit 5K

Date

June 28, 2013

Location

Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Finish Time and Pace

45 minutes 18 seconds; 14:35 minutes per mile

Why It Matters

This was my first official race since I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) just over a year ago. It took me 363 days to run again and 13 months to race again. My second first 5K.

 

I’ve had a lot of firsts when it comes to running – and a lot of firsts I would have never experienced without it in the first place. There as my first 5K, my first half marathon, my mom’s first 5K, my sister’s first half marathon, my first marathon and my first attempt at the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World. For all of these first have come many rewards – I gained self-confidence, patience, a new appreciation for myself, health and happiness. I also gained friendships that, while based in running, have pulled me through some of the worst times in the last two years of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others – both positives and negatives.

Through running, I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was and even so, it was not until I was gravely injured by a blood clot in my lung last summer that I realized what true strength was. While I survived against the odds – partially in thanks to running and the shape my cardiovascular system was in – the thing that helped save me was also the think I could no longer do no matter how much I wanted to. I was ready to give up. For all running had given me, it hurt too bad to know things would never be as they were.

It took me 363 days to run again since my blood clot. From a distance, I watched people I used to run with continue on in their training and accomplish their goals. People would ask me from time to time “When are you going to run again?” And then later, tell me, “Get out there and try, go for it, you can do it, you did it before.” For me, it was never about that – it was about recovering from something that nearly claimed my life, damaged an eighth of my lung, and left me on oxygen, completely devastated and unsure if I would ever live a normal life again. There were days when I was convinced I wouldn’t make it one more second, hour, or step and days when it didn’t seem so bad. I started training slowly – very slowly, even for me – and with the support of my family and a core group of friends, I started run-walking.

And today, against what truly were all odds, I ran the Commit to Be Fit 5K – my second first 5K.

Honestly, I was dreading this race. I couldn’t sleep the night before, wasn’t hungry and had to force myself to at least hydrate. I’m training for a Quarter Marathon in August, but that seemed so far away – the 5K was not at all far away and I felt not at all ready. I knew in my mind I could cover the distance, but I was also afraid it would be painfully slow. Once change in the humidity or air quality would cripple my still healing lung and put me at a slow walk at best. I was dreading it – more than any half, more than any marathon.

It seems to me there is always more preparation that goes into a 5K than a larger race. I always find myself rushing around to get ready and get to the start line, only to start running and be done before my body even had time to warm up. The morning of the race was no different. Even though I had done everything right – laid out my clothes the night before, got my bib ready and packed my bag – I was running late and suddenly drew a blank of where to park in a town I have lived in all my life (okay, I struggle with directions, but it’s not like I ever raced here before).

Still I met up with my friends and we made it to the start line with about 10 minutes to spare. The field was small – like really small – and I wasn’t feeling any less nervous at the prospect of standing out in a too small crowd. I tried focusing on the perfect weather – 60’s for temps, no humidity, blue skies and plenty of shade. We were off right at 7:00 a.m. and I was feeling pretty good right out of the gate.

I ran that first mile at a 13:26. About 3 minutes faster than any of my training miles and I know I took it too fast out of the start. I felt myself get caught up in the excitement of the race and really pushed it. With such a small field, it was more than easy to do. We were across the finish line in 5.8 seconds and I was off! By the second mile I was definitely winded and having trouble talking when my running partner, Duane, asked me how I was doing. We slowed down considerably so I could catch my breath and re-group. But damn, it felt good to run that close to a 13 again (until the second mile at least).

Miles 2 and 3 were a 15:15 and 15:08 respectively, which is still quicker than I have been running in training. Duane kept me going (not to mention laughing) when I wanted to give up, which was at mile 2 when I realized I couldn’t breathe. He constantly reminded me to think about the fact that I was out there doing it when I almost didn’t have that chance. No matter how slow we went, I knew we would finish, but I was surprised to finish in under an hour. I told myself I didn’t have any expectations and just doing it was enough – that was a hard goal to set for me, but one I am glad I did. My body felt good, a little tired and my breathing is still horrible. I have a long ways to go to be able to build up the cardiovascular endurance I once I had. I am hoping that comes with time and continued healing.

The magnitude of this race didn’t hit home for me until I ran down the finish chute. When the race director saw me he raised his hand to give me a high five and said over the announcer, “Is that Sara?! Sara, if you don’t mind, I’m going to embarrass you a moment and say a year ago at this time you were on oxygen and now look where you are.” I kicked into [my] full speed to finish and burst into tears the moment I crossed the line – promptly forgetting to stop my Garmin as I had planned.

I was immediately surrounded by my training partners – Duane, Judi and Jay. The people who have truly supported me in my recovery and return to running. It was an amazing feeling and I am truly grateful to be able to not only call them training partners, but friends.

Here we are at the finish line:

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And I couldn’t be happier to have earned a medal:

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I know, in terms of healing and especially in running, I still have a ways to go, but I am confident I will get there. There will be setbacks, I’m sure (as with anything), but this race gave me the confidence I need to keep trying. I hope to have many more second firsts in my future, starting with this one.

Until the next mile marker,

 

I wish I had plantar fasciitis instead of a blood clot

I’ve been staring at a blank computer screen for just about four and a half hours now, and all I can think of to describe the last year is, “I wish had I plantar fasciitis instead of a blood clot.”

Yes, you read that right. I wish I had plantar fasciitis. I wish I could say that’s all it was, better luck next season, you’ll feel better after some PT.

Why would I wish that? Because at this time last year, I thought I had plantar fasciitis and then I almost died when it turned out to be a blood clot in my leg that broke free, traveled through my heart and lodged in my lung as a pulmonary embolism instead.

The truth is the last year has been nothing but a roller coaster ride – not to sound cliché – of emotions. I have felt angry, alone, confused, scared, betrayed, depressed and been in more physical pain than I ever thought possible. It is said the pain of a PE trumps child birth and while I can’t compare the two, I wouldn’t question it if someone ruled in favor of the PE. Now, I am dealing with the emotional trauma of facing a year (or more) recovery period and lifelong treatment of a condition that will never really go away. To some degree, I will always live with the expectation – and fear that goes along with it – that I could, more than others, develop another clot, and I question whether or not I would make it through a second – or third, or fourth – one.

It took me 363 days to run again – without pain or fear or gasping for air in four and a half seconds. I ran a successful two miles for the first time, two nights ago. Successful in that I finished standing on two feet, breathing and able to walk the next day. It’s funny, for all I read about competition and beating the other gal and making it faster, stronger, longer – the only thing that truly matters to me now is that I can run, or walk or breathe or think for that matter. I spent 12 long months not being able to walk very far some days, breathe without pain and unable to remember simple things like why I got in my car or what I was supposed to do with my time that day, let alone which highway would take me to my Dad’s house or that I had to be told something a minimum of 56 times in order to remember it. There are parts of the last year which have completely escaped me.

It was hard and it's not pretty, but I feel a gigantic feeling of relief 363 days after my last run.

It was hard and it’s not pretty, but I feel a gigantic feeling of relief 363 days after my last run.

I set out to write an angry post – because I am angry – about what happened to me. It doesn’t seem fair. And yet, 1 in 3 people don’t survive a PE. In the last two days, I have received two private messages from readers who have lost a friend or family member to a PE. I’m the third one. Why me?

From anger, I move on to complete grief and sadness. Many days, I am overridden with guilt that I am alive when so many others cannot say the same thing. I want to know why, how and when things will return to normal. But for me, there is no returning to normal, there is only a new normal, which I hope someday I can adjust to.

In speaking with a friend this weekend, I said, “If only I had known, I wouldn’t have had this happen,” to which she responded, “How were you supposed to know?” And she is right. How was I supposed to know? So many young, active, healthy people do not think a DVT or PE can happen to them and that simply is not true. It can. It will. And more people will die because most people simply do not know.

From anger and sadness, I turn to sheer determination to spread the word about what happened to me. I tell everyone. I have started a new site dedicated to Blood Clot Recovery, although I still plan to talk about my experiences here because it will always be a part of the new me.

I almost gave up on this blog and running, until two nights ago when I ran those two miles and realized running doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve been gone for 363 days and it wasn’t easy and I did (and probably still will) think I would be better off not having to deal with anything that happened to me – the pain, the anger, the grief. But, then I think of one thing, there is someone else out there, going through where I have already been and I want to be there to say, “Don’t give up, because it does get better, little by little, day by day.” And you may take seven steps backwards to every one you take forward, but one day you will look back down the road and think, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come.”

It may take years for me to ever gain a sense of peace about what happened to me. I am often fearful of what happened and what is to come. Right now, I know I cannot face the pain of another PE. But, I also know, my life is more meaningful than it has ever been – because I have this life. I don’t know why and I don’t know where, when or how, but I do know I am here for a purpose and in the coming months and years, I hope I find that purpose, because I was not given a second chance without one.

Me & Judi on the day I threw my blood clot, one year ago.

Me & Judi on the day I threw my blood clot, one year ago.

Until the next mile marker,

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