Giveaway

Wedding Updates: I have a Planner

As promised I will do a few more wedding posts.  In all honesty, although Tim and I have been engaged for nearly 2 months, we barely have anything set in stone.

We have a lot of ideas and appointments but nothing is exact at this point.  Both of us are laid back and we don’t want to feel rushed planning a wedding.  Plus I (personally) think part of the fun of being engaged is actually being engaged and planning the wedding.  Not rushing, stressing and trying to get it all done in one night.  If you finished planning a wedding in a month, then you have a few more to do nothing.

We plan to get married sometime April 2015.

While I haven’t found a venue I love yet, we have found a wedding planner (person) that we do.  Hopefully between her and an actual book we will be good to go.

When I worked in Oswego, I used an Erin Condren Design planner to keep track of appointments, work and running.  It was perfect for doing that.  When we got engaged, the one thing I did want to do was order a planner to keep on track.

I was ecstatic to work with Erin Condren and they provided me a $50 coupon code to buy a wedding planner.  (my planner ended up costing 65 with shipping so I payed 15).erincondrenweddingplanner4

After receiving the planner, I immediately noticed a 10 off coupon (good because I’ll need a life planner when they come out in June), as well as sample stickers and some great quote stickers.  All of which I like a lot.

erincondrenweddingplanner5

There are a few things I look for in any planner:

  1. A monthly calendar (more important then weekly for me, I like to see long term and things as a whole)
  2. Space for a lot of notes and writing
  3. A spiral binding
  4. Thick paper because I write in pen

Again these are things I like…maybe you don’t.

Here is the question I received when I had the life planner from coworkers:

Is it worth the price?

So much space for note taking.

So much space for note taking.

For an Erin Condren planner with shipping, it will be about 50-65 dollars.  Honestly, it is worth the price.  The planner has everything you need and it built for function.  I got so much use out of my life planner that I won’t go back to a target planner.   I have a feeling the Wedding planner will be the same way but I’ll let you know after I’m married (that is a scary thought).

A to do list.  I need that.

A to do list. I need that.

I don’t review a lot of products on my blog and I don’t review any products that I don’t feel strongly about.  I feel strongly that Erin Condren planners are worth their price tag.

That being said they have also offered me a 50 dollar coupon code for you. 

Because my blog is not self hosted I’ll have to do the commenting version of entering the contest. 

Here are all the ways to enter (please leave a comment saying you did so.  If you already follow me or Erin Condren just leave a comment for each entry):

  1. Leave a comment saying how you keep organized.
  2. Like LOLZ page on facebook.
  3. Follow Erin Condren on twitter and like on facebook
  4. Follow LOLZ on twitter.
  5. Share on any social media platform (you can tweet, share on facebook, or whatever just please comment you did so.  You can do this however may times you want).  You could get 10000 entries if you are that into sharing contests.

A random winner will be chosen and announced on June 6th.

 

I bought my original life planner for 65.  I received a coupon code for 50 dollars for a wedding planner.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Lake Effect Series Final Wrap Up

I am sad this is the last post regarding the Lake Effect Series.  I have had nothing but a great time fundraising and spreading awareness for Eating Disorders.  The support I received from friends and family as well as strangers has been overwhelming.  I will truly never forget this experience.

Before the race Ophelia’s Place shared that this race contributes 10% of their annual budget.  Every single dollar and donation truly does make a difference.  It is so hard for me to believe that together we raised 2500 dollars. There were over 70 donors.  Wow! 

Left to right: Heather, Laura, me, Brittany

Left to right: Heather, Laura, me, Brittany

 

If you haven’t already please go read some or all of the incredible stories.  These stories are truly amazing and show the incredible courage and bravery of the authors.  They will always remain on my blog under the “reads” section.

After adding everyone into the giveaway (donors, story sharers and those who shared the link to the giveaway or stories) I came up with 3653 entries to the giveaway!  I drew the numbers from random.org and ended up with these.

The race director and I

The race director and I

Without further ado here are the winners and thank you again.

KIND BARS: 2912 The Writer of the post “Binge Eating”(anonymous)

Pocket Fuel and Energy Bits 2355 Package 1: Jacqueline Klayman

Pocket Fuel and Energy Bits 1037 Package 2: Mike Post

Lindsay’s Healthy Bites: 962 Alex at Runwithin

Allie’s Hearty Handful Granola:  1202 Ashley Fincher

**Please email me and I will connect you as appropriate.

———-

Summary:

This whole experience was eye opening for me. It truly made me realize that we do possess the ability to make a change or a difference.  Every dollar donated, whether it was 1 dollar or 100 added up to 2500 dollars.  I can honestly say this was one of my biggest accomplishments in my life. I truly cannot thank the support of family, friends, readers and anonymous donors.  It was a great experience for me and I am truly glad that I ran this race.  To answer your question: I do plan to run the Lake Effect Half Marathon every year I am close enough to Upstate NY.

lakeffectwin

No questions today.  I just want to express how truly grateful I am for all the support from every single person. 

Lake Effect Series: I’m Healthy Now

Note from Hollie: Today is the day that I run the Lake Effect Half Marathon.  It is hard to believe this is the result of three months of fundraising and eating disorder awareness.  We did it though.  We raised over 2500 dollars and we raised even more awareness about eating disorders.  Thank you everyone for your support.  It’s not too late to donate or enter the giveaway.  I will be doing a final post sometime this week to recap the campaign as a whole, announce giveaway winners and provide a final closure.  It has truly been an incredible experience and I never would have dreamed we would have raised 2500 dollars together. 

The final story is the most emotional and the most graphic.  Thank you for sharing.

———–

When Hollie asked me to share my eating disorder story, I jumped at the chance. Of course I’d help. After all, having a distorted relationship with my body and with food is all in the past. I’m healthy now. I’ve moved on. I’m recovered. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mindset of someone who has an eating disorder, even if that someone was just you at a younger age. Luckily, I happened to have kept an online diary during some of my darker years, and the entriesserve as a constant reminder of what that life was like, and how miserable it was. Some of the entries are truly heart breaking, and are hard to read, but I’ve included a few passages to paint a better picture of just how distorted your head can get when you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

Like so many others, my issues with food evolved over many, many years. At age 8, I determined that my thighs were too fat, and by age 10 I was trying out my first fad diet (Cabbage Soup). I’ll never forget going to McDonald’s with my friend’s family and passing on French fries. I felt triumphant; as if I belonged to a special society of people who were too good to put such trash in their bodies.

“I like going to bed with my stomach empty. Makes me feel…less like a failure”

During my adolescent years, I slowly started on the downward spiral towards food obsession. I went on numerous fad diets, counted calories and fat grams, skipped meals, went on fasts and eventually even tried to make myself throw up. At first I considered vomiting only as a last resort. Something I’d do in “emergency” situations where I had eaten something unplanned and “bad.” Most days I’d restrict my calories to practically nothing, only to binge on whatever I could find once I got home from school. Then, as I could feel my stomach churn at the presence of food, I’d rush to the bathroom in a panic, intent on removing as much of the offending substance as I could. But I hated puking. It was logistically difficult to manage while living with parents and it was just plain gross. There is nothing glamorous about vomit. I kept hoping that if I could just get a control on my diet, then I wouldn’t need to throw up anymore. If I could just get my weight low enough, then I wouldn’t need to diet at all. But the weight didn’t drop off like I wanted to, and instead, primarily due to my horrific eating habits, it increased.

“I want to see skin hanging off my bones. It’ll make me feel like my skin is more like a large sack and I can hide in it” 

My downward spiral continued into my first year of college. Surrounded by thin, beautiful, attractive classmates, I became painfully aware of everything that I was not. My body image plummeted, and I found myself increasingly turning to food to numb how I lonely and depressed I felt. I’d go to the dining hall and pack a to-go carton FULL of food. Starches were my favorites. Garlic bread, pizza, cookies, hot dogs, cakes, bagels. Not to mention drink containers filled with frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream. I’d sit in my dorm room alone and eat and eat and eat until my stomach literally couldn’t distend any further. Then I’d head to the bathroom where I’d wait until I knew I was alone and I’d vomit everything out. Over time I learned which foods came up the easiest, and which ones were difficult. I learned how to be quick and how to be quiet. I concealed my secret very well, but to my despair, my weight refused to drop, and instead, continued to increased.

“I feel like I’m falling apart. I’ve really come to detest what I’ve turned into. Physically, I’m really gross. I can’t even describe it. AHH! I can’t handle myself anymore! It’s like I’m teetering on the edge of this huge cliff. If I let myself go then I’ll plummet back into the world of extreme depression and unattractiveness. If I can manage to get myself on stable grounds then I’ll be okay but I’m just sort of handing there, my fingers grasping at the rim. But they’re losing their grip and I see it all just slipping away. My face.My hair.My ideal body.My grades.My friends.My future. I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m too far gone. It’s too bad they can’t put me into solitary confinement for a month so that I can just slowly wither up and die. Or at least get thin.”

A couple of months into my sophomore year, I hit a breaking point. I couldn’t say exactly what changed, but something inside me snapped. I stopped eating.  I lost all focus on school or relationships and instead became entirely fixated on my weight. I weighed myself almost hourly, making sure that I didn’t magically gain a pound when I wasn’t looking. I hardly ate anything and what I did eat I immediately threw up. My hands couldn’t stop feelingmy hips, stomach, thighs, and collarbones, searching out for areas that felt thinner or bonier. I’d try on and retry on clothes to see if they fit any looser than the day before.

“I hate the way I can’t think about food normally. I hate how I can’t stand the way it feels inside me. I hate the way my mood is so dependent on those three digits the scale reads. I hate how throwing up doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. But I couldn’t imagine living any other way. This way of thinking is too infused with my way of thinking. So throwing up food isn’t particularly good to a number of my body systems, but it gives me some sort of mental comfort, like some sort of accomplishment. Sick? Yes. But I can’t stop. If I did what would I do?”

By that spring, I had lost about 30lbs over the course of 3-4months. I was feeling good and in control. I just wanted to lose a little bit more.If I could just lose a little more, then I could give myself permission to be happy, because only then would I be worthy enough.But while my weight was still well within the normal range, the weight loss began to attract attention. My parents became suspicious and shortly thereafter figured out what was going on. I would like to say this was the point at which I finally got help, finally started getting better, but that was still a long ways off. Instead, I was forced to see a social worker and then a therapist. I know my parents were only doing what they thought was best, but I was not in the right mindset to receive help, and instead I resented them for it, and quit going shortly after only a couple of sessions.

“I have so much emotion stored up in me and I HATE having it come out. Crying is weak and therefore I am weak. I detest weak people. I want to be strong and resilient and independent and not need anybody but I’m nothing like that. But food helps me pretend. It gives me a focus. By constantly focusing on weight and good I can take my mind off everything else that I hate about myself. Because if my weight was perfect, then I’d have to find some other part of me that wasn’t and try to fix that too. Because there has to be a reason I’m so messed up. There has to be something wrong with me. But I can only fix one problem at a time because otherwise I’ll get so depressed and frustrated I’ll just give up and succumb to the sadness.”

Over the next year and half, I continued to struggle with my eating. I frequently found myself in debt after spending entire paychecks on food that would be gone in a night. I isolated myself from friends and avoided social situations, but I also became increasingly frustrated and angry with my situation. I hated that I had become so controlled by food, and gradually I tried to release myself from its grasp, which was of course easier said than done. I’d start off Monday promising myself I’d eat healthy and nutritious and in moderation, but by Friday I’d be consuming an extra-large pizza by myself. It seemed hopeless. I was hopeless.

“I’m sick of this. I’m sick of binging. I’m sick of throwing money in the toilet. I’m sick of wondering when I’ll get my next “fix”. What it will be, when and where I’ll do it. I’m like a drug addict.”

However, I did make tiny steps towards progress. With graduation looming, and threats from parents, I finally decided to commit to getting better. I bought myself a book on recovering from bulimia as well as a few books on intuitive eating. Despite appearances, I was still a somewhat rational person and knew that I needed some nutrition. So I started there. In between my massive binge/purge sessions I’d force myself to have an apple, or maybe some carrots, and let that sit in my stomach, repeating to myself over and over that while uncomfortable, the nutrients were necessary. Using the books as a reference, I relearned how to eat and how to recognize fullness. Once my eating had somewhat stabilized, the real work began. My eating disorder was an excuse for me to ignore some very painful emotions that I had hidden from myself. For years I had believed myself to be unworthy and incapable of so much. Identifying and confronting those beliefs as false has taken years.

“I’m slipping. I can feel my thoughts changing. I’ve been trying to stay so positive and so on top of things but it’s getting too overwhelming. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. It’s like standing on a point and being told by a million different people that in order to reach your goal you should go this way or that way or no this way over here. So you pick one, hoping it will lead you in the right direction, but now you’re feeling even farther away than you started and you being to think you chose the wrong path so you start to doubt everything you’re doing and try to backtrack or maybe hop on another path. But how far do you try out one path before you give up? How long do you go without your goal in sight before you try a different strategy?”

My recovery from an eating disorder, like my descent into it, was a gradual process. I still have days when my demons rear their ugly heads, attempting to lure me back into the darkness. Luckily, I’m stronger now than I once was, and I know how to face them. I still occasionally worry about weight, but I try not to let those worries consume me and my former obsession with food has even evolved into a loveof all things cooking and baking. I guess that a silver lining?

A big thank you to Hollie for letting me share my story with you all. Hopefully you gained a better perspective of what it’s like to be in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. If you have, or are currently suffering from, an eating disorder or eating disordered thoughts, my heart goes out to you. You are worth so much more.

Lake Effect Series: You can’t “not eat” and train for a marathon.

Note from Hollie: Thank you for sharing as always.  It’s such a reminder that even those who appear healthy often times are not.  Appearance does not tell the whole story.  
Only a few more days to donate.  We are 40 dollars from 2200 and I truly believe we will reach that goal.  Please feel free to share any or all of the stories and enter yourself in the giveaway.  A single donation or share is all you have to do! 
—————-
I was always bigger. Not necessarily overweight – but everyone in my family is German and 6+ feet. I’m not quite as tall, but still have the same bone structure. I was very active in high school, but I still had that ‘nagging’ feeling that I just wanted to look like everyone else.

When I went away to college, I realized I could reinvent myself. I’ll diet! I’ll workout even more! What started off as good intentions turned into skipping class to spend hours at the gym and adopting a strange, extremely strict food regiment.

It didn’t take me long to start realizing that I was headed down a slippery slope. But, all the girls on my hall were so IMPRESSED with my dedication and discipline! “Oh, how I wish I could be like you!” “Oh, you’re so diligent, that’s awesome!” How can you possibly start breaking a bad habit when everyone applauds you for it?

I’d strategically eat one piece of wheat bread with a scoop of trail mix on top of it and consider that most of my daily food. Healthy fats, good carbs, protein…who cares that its only a total of 200 calories? It’s well-balanced!

My behavior continued all through college…each year brought new challenges. Engineering classes were hard, I joined a sorority…every new challenge drove my perfectionism harder and harder. I figured that once I graduated college, it would all go away. I figured that “adults” don’t deal with these kinds of problems! I’d just wake up and be normal.

Well, I graduated. And I got a good job. And the behavior didn’t stop. I’d spend all day at work just chugging water hoping I didn’t pass out. Our company did a free health screening…and mine came back bizarre.

My blood work was all over the place. I was lacking tons of nutrients, had wild levels of certain horomones, had stress on my kidneys. Not to mention my hair was falling out by the lock, and I developed awful insomnia. I finally realized – “adulthood” wasn’t going to solve my problems.

My main vice in my times of disordered eating was over-exercising. I’d run for hours and hours just to watch the calories on the machine count up. I’d skip meeting friends because I had to burn more calories. Would get up and run in the middle of the night because I had to burn more calories. Would go to the gym with the flu because I had to burn more calories. I decided to apply for a cognative-behavior therapy study taking place at a local university. I was accepted, and entered into a therapy person.

As my therapy went on, I realized that I really liked to run, when I wasn’t using it as self punishment. My therapist helped me channel my ‘perfectionism’ a little bit into my running. Okay, great, I can stay on a treadmill for hours…but can I run a fast 5k? A 10k? How about a marathon?

Here’s the catch: You can’t “not eat” and train for a marathon. I think this was my saving grace.Towards the end of 2012 I became focused on completing the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013, and I did. Properly fueled and all.

In 2013 I ended up running over 15 half marathons, the marathon, and a half trail ultra…plus a sprinkling of local 5 and 10ks. And get this, I WON some. I finally started realizing that being proud of my body’s physical strength and power is a lot more impressive than my jean size.

I’m gearing up for the marathon in Pittsburgh again, and have already started setting my sights on a BQ sometime in the future. Who knew running could save a life?

I’ve come a long way, but still seek therapy help and suffer relapses. Recovery isn’t a mark in the sand, its a constant forward-and-backward and up-and-down. Kind of like running a marathon.

Question for you:  What nonphysical aspect of yourself are you most proud of? 

Lake Effect Series: Giveaway!

As part of the final week leading up to the Lake Effect Half Marathon I will be having a giveaway.  I am so lucky that so many people and companies have decided to send awesome gifts and prizes for you.  I am honestly overwealmed with support from people and companies towards this campaign.  I will never be able to thank people enough.  From the bottom of my heart thank you for everyone’s time, donations and positivity towards this campaign.  It truly means a lot.

Without further ado here are some of the gifts you could potentially win!

A 12 pack of KIND Bars. 

kindbars

 

KIND BARS are very well known and I was happy to have them on board.  The box of 12 contains multiple flavors.  They would like emphasize being kind to your body and fueling correctly for any exercise and life!  Kind bars are actually a personal favorite in my household (when I get my coupon on).

Two different Energy Bits and PocketFuel gift packs.  Energy bits is a well known and great alternative energy source for athletes and anyone in general!  

energybits

Pocketfuel is a new to me fueling but I have found since recovering from the marathon and starting runs that need fuel, they are completely awesome.

Included are my personal favorite (and more) Java!

Included are my personal favorite (and more) Java!

 

Healthy Bites from Lindsay at Cotter Crunch

Let’s face it Lindsay is an awesome and very well known blogger.  To have her sending a lucky winner some of her Healthy Bites is completely awesome.  Her Healthy Bites are delicious.  Since she is a kickbutt athlete (as well as her professional husband) how could you not want to win some?  She will be providing a box!

vegancookiedough

Here is a small excerpt she wrote about her Healthy Bites:

 

Healthy Bites is a company dedicated to providing healthy snack and fuel options for all people. It was started by myself (Lindsay Cotter) and my husband (James Cotter).  I am a certified Nutrition Manager and Fitness Consultant and my husband James is a professional triathlete. In the past, I struggled with a lot of health issues which resulted in a drastic change in my diet and my husband’s diet, but for the better. Since 2009 we have been gluten free. And in an effort to help James (and myself) have a healthy gluten free pre and post recovery snacks I started making him healthy bites.  Realizing, that I was onto something I enlisted my friends and colleagues to help me expand my idea into a small business.  All of us worked hard to create different flavors and break down nutrition for each Healthy Bite. James and I are grateful for the hard work and direction we received from our friends and family. They are our best supporters! Now about our Healthy Bites……..

We’ve created 4 standard flavors: Apple/Peach/Apricot Cinnamon, Muddy Buddy Mocha, Whey Good (Vegan Protein available), and Cookie Dough/Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie dough. Each flavor is unique in its taste and function. All are made with mostly all-natural, gluten-free and organic ingredients. The mission is to offer the most minimally processed bites proving to people that eating healthy can taste really good while still being really good for you. Each box comes packaged with the ingredients and nutritional information so that every customer knows exactly what is going into their bodies.

Hearty Handfuls Granola made by Allie

heartyhandfuls

Allie has been one of my good friends for a very long time.  She is an amazing baker, foodie and women in general.  She recently opened an etsy shop where she is selling her healthy and minimal ingredient granola.

She was nice enough to write me a small excerpt about healthy handfuls!

“I created Hearty Handfuls as a way to connect with others and share my love of baking. I chose the name Hearty Handfuls because I bake with my heart, and it makes me so happy to see others with handfuls of something I created for them. All of the varieties of granola offered in my Etsy shop are healthy, and made with simple ingredients like whole grain oats, honey, and raisins.”

So in summary the prizes up for grabs are:

1.       A 12 pack of KIND Bars

2.       One gift pack of Energy Fuel and Energy Bits

3.       Another Gift pack of Energy Fuel and Energy Bits

4.       Healthy Bites from Lindsay

5.       Two bags of Hearty Handfuls Granola Package from Allie

Now how can you enter?

  1. The ways to enter are very simple.  For every dollar you donate (or have donated), it is a single entry.  For instance, if you donated 100 dollars, you have 100 entries.  I am truly grateful for all the support for Ophelia’s Place I have gotten and I know we can raise more and spread more awareness.
  2. If you have shared a story, I have also thrown your name into the mix.  I actually have the rest of the stories scheduled and I cannot thank each person who shared enough.  They have all been truly inspirational.
  3. Finally if you share the link to the fundraising page or the the Lake Effect Series page (facebook, twitter, however you want you want to share and support) you can receive an extra entry.  You can do that as many times as you want.  Please just comment here each time you share, so I can add you to the list.

So in cliff notes version to enter the contest you can donate to Ophelia’s Place or share. I think we are capable of reaching 2200 dollars before Sunday!   

I just wanted to re-thank each company and individual for donating to this give away.  I’m very excited to see how far this campaign has come and I know Ophelia’s Place will put the fundraising to good use. 

*Each company has provided these for this giveaway. 

I will draw the winners randomly sometime next week and include it in the series wrap up.  

Lake Effect Series: Five Years Lost

Note from Hollie:  This post is extremely heartbreaking.  Often times eating disorders are associated with being very thin but there are so many people suffering that are not underweight or do not looking they are having inner battles.  

There are exactly two weeks to go before the race.  I’m very very excited to see how far this campaign is going.  I am surprised, excited and overwhelmed by the support from donations and sharing stories.  I cannot believe together we have reached over 2000 dollars!  Thank you friends and family for being so supportive.  

I need 4 more stories for the final week before the race.  If you are interested in sharing your story please do no need hesitate to email me! 
———————
Bertha

That’s what my 8th grade teacher called me one day. Middle school kids can be harsh and sadly things like that stick around for far too long.

When you like eating disorders what comes to mind? Let me guess, the “thinspo” or pro-ana websites that are sadly all too prevalent thanks to the internet? Skin, bones, hair falling out? Probably not 200+lbs right? But in my case, that’s where the disordered habits began. I was never dangerously underweight or the “stereotypical” specimen, yet there I was in High School eating a few bites of chicken and baby carrots for lunch to make my sudden weight loss look relevant then going home and binging on whatever I could find at night. It didn’t start out this way, and the downward spiral began without me even realizing it.

In my first year of High School I took up rowing and went from well over 200lbs to a healthy and very active 150-ish lbs. I was eating better, I was exercising and competing in both rowing and Dressage. I was happy, much healthier and life was good. I took a year off rowing to focus on my horseback riding and suddenly my activity level went from extreme to…. non-existent. Needless to say, the weight came back on and it came back on fast. I’d go back and forth joining gyms, trying to “diet” and generally just getting nowhere. I got back into rowing and my weight evened out.

In my last year of high school I was aiming to finish my year competing at the Canadian High School Rowing Championships. My coach sent in the entries the week of Christmas and he casually mentioned he entered my teammate and I as lightweight, which was 138.6lbs and under (Yes, a number that will forever be burned in my brain). At the time I was going to a small women’s only gym and remember going into the locker room that week and stepping on the scale. 216lbs and my race was 4.5 months away.
And so began the bites of chicken and baby carrots.

No breakfast.

Cardio.

Twice a day training.

May came and I stepped on the scale in front of the race officials, my weight class was sharpie’d onto my arm, and this is where life should have gone back to normal. Work on my eating habits and continue working out, the beginning of my new healthy lifestyle, only this is where I started eating even less, training more, and binging at night. I hated myself, my body, my inability to quit binging.

Eventually the restricting led to a doctors appointment. I was frequently lightheaded and on the verge of passing out, but on the outside I looked like an average weight high school kid. I remember the doctor asking very vague questions, after all I didn’t LOOK sick. The outcome was no tests, no concern. Low iron probably, pick up a supplement and get on with it.

I wish someone had seen something in that time and expressed concern or that there was more resources available. I spent years of my life yo-yo dieting, hating myself and my body, starving, binging, taking part in a never ending vicious cycle that maybe could have been cut much shorter with proper education and help. Someone to listen, a place to feel safe to share my struggles, the knowledge that I wasn’t alone. Reading the stories that Hollie has posted have broken my heart and while I know my story is nothing in comparison I think supporting this cause and bringing eating disorder awareness and resources to more people is so very important.

Maybe being diagnosed would have changed my life, had I got help sooner I often wonder what would have changed in my life. I wasted 5 years of my life to stressing over my body and eating. Five years of ignoring real life and just existing in my disordered habits. Those are 5 years I’ll never have back and want no one else to lose.

Why I Think I Would Represent ZOOMA Well

I sat here for a while contemplating how to write this post.  I should have done it earlier but never in my wildest dreams did I believe the ZOOMA Napa Valley contest would take off as it has.  Never in my wildest dreams would I believe I would be a contender for such a large prize.  It’s not a secret that I have never wanted to win anything more in my life.  My heart is really into this contest and I’ve always wanted to run on the West Coast.   Every day I work my butt off to harass people to vote and while I apologize, I promise after February 24th I’ll be done harassing for a while.  Before I even say anything about myself I wanted to thank every single person who has stood behind me and voted and promoted me daily.  Each of you has helped so much.  Every single vote is amazing.  Each share, retweet, vote and LOL (even it’s a pretend LOL) at my bad jokes and art makes me smile.  

The reason I entered the ZOOMA contest is because I felt like I embodied the true values of ZOOMA. 

The ZOOMA mission is “To inspire women to live healthy, happy, & active lives.”

I personally think I have come to terms with living a healthy, happy and active life.  One of the most important factors to me in life is balance.  It’s important to balance your social life, your friends, your family, personal time as well as training time.  Throughout my three and a half years of blogging I think I have learned that.

I have learned that sometimes it is okay to skip a day of working out to hang out with a loved one.

I have learned that sometimes it is okay to say that you can’t hang out because you need some alone time, some workout time or need to do what’s best for you.

I have learned that while you should never strive to make anyone feel guilty or bad, only you can make yourself truly happy.  You must love and accept yourself before others will do the same.

Honestly despite all of my moves (2013 in a nut shell: NY->VA->Tx->NJ) and the rest of lives curve balls I have come to terms with being more balanced…  I am at a point in my life that I am truly happy.  As I sit here and reflect about that I realize how far I have come since college.  If you were to ask me “Hollie would you be happy living in NJ, eagerly awaiting job callbacks while sitting indoors while it’s 20 degrees?” I would have laughed.

I probably would have thought I would be stressed beyond belief.  I probably would have thought I would have fallen deeper and deeper into my social anxiety hole from early college but I have not.  I have risen and combated my social anxiety.  I have risen and done what makes me happy.  I have taken care of myself by making time for me.  I make time for my workouts, my personal life and other relaxation.

The fact is, I’m not stressed in the slightest and I can truly say my friends and family have been there for me.  I learned that first hand this fall when I was going through so much turmoil during marathon training.  I learned how supportive my friends from Hampton Roads, Potsdam, Oswego, Texas and from honestly all across the world are.  I don’t have to have met you in real life to realize how important each of you is to me.  Without everyone’s constant support, I probably would be stressed out.  I have realized that it is okay to ask for help in order to achieve that balance.  I can truly say that my life is healthy, happy and active.

A big dream of mine has always been to race on the West Coast.  Not just to update a new state to athlinks but because who wouldn’t want to race on the West Coast?  (I’m sure all West Coasters want to get out on the East Coast sometime…just not now it’s cold).  I was born in San Diego and have always dreamed of going back when I was little older.  The races always look so enjoyable.  When I found out ZOOMA was going to send a lucky blogger to race their Napa Valley Race I immediately wanted to win.  The moment I read that announcement was the moment I knew I had never wanted to win anything more. I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis race in 2012 and enjoyed it so I would assume I would enjoy the California one too.  (Plus it’s Califonia). 

I truly appreciate each person’s vote and support.  Do not vote for me because I am constantly harassing you or because I’ve never wanted to win something more in my life, vote for me because you believe I truly represent the ZOOMA mission well.  

If you are interested in reading my full running store…here is the link to that.  I haven’t always been a runner but I’m glad I decided to join this community.

In all honesty I couldn’t type up this post without tearing up and thinking about how special each person is to me.   Thank you all for your support and hopefully I can achieve this dream.  If not I will continue my quest to one day race on the west coast. 

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