Just Be

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written anything and if you’re unfortunate enough to follow me on any social media, you’re probably aware why (apologies for all the photos). I was lucky enough to check off a couple bucket list travel destinations and spent the past couple weeks on the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand. It was easily the most incredible trip of my life and I’ve never felt more in awe of the world.

Got to spend half our trip visiting these wonderful people in Australia. Views ain’t bad either.

As we started to wrap up our trip, I️ knew I️ wanted to write something about it but I️ was struggling with what exactly. Over the course of the past 3 and a half months, I’ve taken a closer look at my life. Some has been difficult but most has been incredibly healing. The whole idea behind this Project No Zero Days was to shift the way I think and find the small victories that would hopefully lead someday to the bigger ones. But admittedly for a while I had felt a little stuck.

Fun Fact: It’s actually glacial water that makes these lakes this vibrant blue. Thanks, Earth.

I wanted to feel this major shift in myself as a result of this new life philosophy but as I patiently waited for this divine intervention, I couldn’t help but start to feel defeated. I knew I was making these small changes in my life and I could start to feel the weight of my past mistakes lift off me, but it still felt as if something was holding me back. It sounds strange to say but something about this trip feels like it shook loose a piece of me that I had been missing.

This is me literally walking away from my past probs

In our travels, we spent 4 days traveling around the Southern Island of New Zealand. If you ever get a chance to visit New Zealand, I️ can’t recommend it enough. We drove 700 miles in 4 days across the entire length and width of the Island and it was like driving through a fantasy land. It’s the kind of place you see photos of and think, “that can’t be real”. And then you go there and take photos and think “this doesn’t even come close the doing it justice”.

This is a real place. Oh and #nofilter

Each day, we spent a portion of our time driving through the countryside from place to place. Ordinarily spending 6-7 hours of a day driving (on the left) wouldn’t exactly be my jam but this was different. Every road wasn’t just a interruption to another breathtaking experience. It was the experience itself.

We are most certainly not in New England anymore

On our last day, we drove along a road that followed one of the biggest lakes I’ve ever seen. We were finally done with our carefully calculated schedule designed to see as much as we could and I️ could feel any stress melt away. The winding roads cut back and forth through beautiful green pastures on the right and to left, a cliff cascaded down to the glimmering lake. The sun was shining directly through my window onto my face and for the first time in as long as I️ can remember, I️ felt completely content. I️ wasn’t worried about where I️ was going or dwelling on where I️ had been. I️ was completely happy in that moment – at peace.

If there’s such thing as a happy place, this is it

As we drove that road, I remembered a quote I had read on the wall of a coffee shops a few days back. It said “If you want to be happy, be”. So simple yet so powerful. Never had I considered the concept of happiness to be so basic, and the notion that it is a choice felt so empowering. We think of happiness as this elusive destination that we’re all in search of but what if instead of searching and coming up short we could simply make the conscious decision to just “be”?

Coffee shop wisdom has been shown to be the most effective life advice

Perhaps being in the presence of so much natural beauty and feeling so small in such a humbling way helped to knock the perspective back into me, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I’m coming away with a bit of clarity. And a renewed faith in this No Zero Days concept. The idea that each day, each moment is another chance to get one step closer to where we want to be now seems somehow more attainable. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that in the minutia that bogs us down, but if you pan out to see the bigger picture, things seem to come into focus.


See, choice is a very powerful thing. It allows us to dictate our own destiny and eliminates the easy to fall back on excuse of bad luck. We may not always be able to choose our lot in life but we can always choose how we react to the cards we’re dealt. And how we react to the toughest hands determines who we become as people. I have a laundry list of things I’d like to be but right at the top of that list, along with a good person, is a happy person. And why not? Because the stress of where I’ve been or where I’m going holds me back? Nah. That’s not a good enough reason. I’ve seen the roads between and they’re something to appreciate in and of themselves.

New Zealand is 20% sheep and 80% views

So I’m going to try to take a piece of that beauty home with me. I’m going to focus less on where I’ve been and worry less about where I’m going and try to enjoy the winding roads along the way. And I’m going to remember that happiness is there for the taking and that it’s a choice. And after these 2 weeks, that’s a choice that feels a whole lot easier when you see the view from the top.


Facing Failure

The past couple weeks I’ve been struggling with what to say here. I find myself toeing the line between being this uplifting, the worst is behind me, wanna-be inspiration, and this car accident, can’t look away because I’m secretly interested to see if she lands on her feet, not-so-hot mess. And the reality is, I don’t really want to be either but I think I’m a little of both. So in the interest of honesty, let’s go ahead and get real personal.

Lately I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around accepting where I am both physically and mentally. When I look in the mirror now I don’t like what I see 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I think “how dare you criticize? You did this.” It’s the voice that reminds me that every step I took, every mile I ran, every food I avoided, led me to this injury and forced me into this body. But I’m trying to change the way I treat myself because in that regard, the voice is right. I did do this. I allowed myself to take them blame.

Who’s easier to blame than a cripple? Easy target.

See, the worst thing about all of this isn’t the things I did to get me to this point. It’s the fact that I still haven’t made peace with the part of myself that landed me here. I’ve never once said “I’m sorry” to my body for pushing it so far past it’s breaking point that it literally broke. I’ve never once said “thank you” for enduring the physical and emotional pain I caused myself for one more mile, or 1 less minute. And I’ve certainly never said the words “you deserve better.”
Namaste here until I learn to make peace with myself.

As much as this journey has taken me from a dark and scary place to somewhere in the direction of healing, the overwhelming emotion when I think of where I am now to where I was before is still failure. Failure is a tricky one. We’re told to embrace it, to learn from it, to be better because of it. But for so many of us the fear of it is so paralyzing that we never even get to those other parts. In my case, I let the fear of failure take over my life so much so that I didn’t even notice that I had inherently failed my own body.

For me, running had an innate way of preying on that weaker mindset. That mindset that wanted nothing more than to succeed, because anything less would be a failure. For years and years I let my self worth be completely defined by how fast I ran or how much I weighed and never once did I stop and ask myself, at what cost? There were no consequences for my actions that mattered outside of failing to meet my own or others’ expectations. The harder I pushed myself the more I started to feel myself breakdown, not only physically but also mentally. In my mind though, that was just another weakness that needed to be overcome. My mental game wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t enough.

The last long run before 3 hours. Have I sold you on marathons yet?

I can remember so clearly laying in bed on a vacation a month before the Boston Marathon and crying because I didn’t want to run anymore. My boyfriend at the time (God bless him for marrying me anyway) asked me why I needed to do it then. To him it seemed so simple. If you don’t enjoy it anymore, just stop. But that was never an option in my mind. The crushing weight of that failure would be far worse than any mental burnout. 
Here I am, on vacation, thinking about how I have to run 18 miles in the morning. In Florida.

But it was more than just a mental burnout. Over the next 10 months, I let this obsession eat away at the rest of my life. By the time I got an MRI report that said I had fractured my back, my mental state was so far beyond broken. And all I could see was failure. My first inclination was to blame running. But that blame quickly shifted to myself. And not in the cautionary, learn from your training mistakes kind of way. It manifested as a crippling feeling of inadequatecy and a fear of what or who I would be without running.

It only seems natural being that for so long I had lived in fear. I feared what would happen if I lost my death grip control of my body. I feared what would happen if I missed a workout and performed poorly on a training run. I feared what would happen if I missed my race goals. But I never feared what I was doing to myself along the way.

This photo was taken after my last sub 3 hour marathon attempt when I ran myself quite literally into a broken back and fell short of my goal by 3 min. It is the only photo that shows my true emotion that day.

When I look at where I’ve been and where I am now I can’t help but feel that residual feeling of failure. A failure to maintain control of my body despite all other factors outside of my reach. A failure to like what I see in the mirror. A failure to be able to fully put these feelings of inadequacy behind me. And despite the leaps and bounds (or more like careful, PT supervised steps) of progress I’ve made from where I once was, there are days I still feel the pressures and defeats I once did.

But No Zero Days means that failure is not an option because failure does not exist in this equation. There is no such thing as “not enough” and the only way to fail is not recognizing that. The only way to fail is believing you’ve failed to begin with. 

Scrolling… scrolling… scrolling… Trying to find a picture of myself I like right now… Perfect.

So, I think it’s time I made peace with that. I think it’s time I said those things I’ve never before said. Rather than simply accepting where I am as another failure, I’m going to take a step not backward, but to the side and say “I’m sorry.” And “thank you”. And “You deserve better”. I’m going to (try to) stop looking in the mirror and saying “you did this.” and start saying “you’re doing this.” And it’s a hell of a lot better than what you were doing before.

Running to Live

This past weekend I got served a beer with a side of perspective on running from a very unlikely source. We spent the weekend  in our hometown for a wedding and got to visit my husband’s family. I’m incredibly close with my inlaws and they’ve seen me through more than a decade of good, bad and ugly. I consider myself very lucky to have the relationship I do with them. 

Probably the best we’ll all ever look

My mother in law is a runner and I’ve run many miles with her, even done a marathon. A love/addiction to running is something we share so it didn’t surprise me when she brought up my recent blog post and talked about how she identified with many of the things I spoke about. 

We talked a lot about finding balance (easier said than done) and the quest to have a better sense of self outside of running. She’s one of the most grounding people in my life so to hear her empathize and actually share in some of my struggles with blurring the line between passion and obsession was a beacon of hope for sure.

The family that marathons together, stays together

But the most enlightening tidbit actually came from the least likely source at the table. My father-in-law, Dana, is an active middle aged guy. Not a “runner” (by his own identification) but always active and fit. He runs 3-4 times a week, a few miles here and there. Never to train, just to stay in shape.

For this to all make sense, I need to give you a little background on him. In 2013, we found out that Dana needed a kidney transplant. He had been dealing with hereditary kidney disease for years but  it was now making him sicker and sicker. He was on the list for a transplant and it became a waiting game.

Here’s where it gets good (Oprah, are you reading this?) It’s customary for family, if they wish, to be tested to see if they are a match to donate. My mother-in-law was a match. And where it gets even better, she was 100% game. In January of 2014, she gave her husband the ultimate gift – the gift of life. I like to think that now he has two of her organs – her heart and her kidney. 

I’m actually quite certain it doesn’t get any more heartwarming than this.

Both recovered amazingly and my mother-in-law has since run another marathon and hasn’t missed a beat. She’s the definition of selfless and her resilience still humbles me everyday. Dana is back up and functioning better than I could have ever imagined and on the surface their lives look totally ordinary (in the best way possible).

Fast forward almost 4 years and I’m having a beer, talking to Dana about my blog. He chats about how he can see that passion creep into obsession and while he’s never experienced it personally, he can understand. Then he says something that stops me dead. He says, “I think I’m just lucky enough to have a different perspective on it. Every day that I get out there I’m just trying to keep myself healthy enough to stay alive. See, I don’t live to run. I run to live.”

One of Dana’s favorite walk/run buddies. Definitely lives to run though.

I thought about that for a long time after he said it. I’m pretty sure I missed the next few sentences he said. For all I know he could have released national security secrets to me and I’d be none the wiser. I couldn’t help but be stuck on that phrase: “I don’t live to run, I run to live.”

For the longest time I did live to run. It’s what I defined as my passion and I think it still is. But in the midst of this forced break, I’ve been searching for some sort of clarity around what balance looks like. Here was someone sitting in front of me who had quite literally stared his fate in the face, and with the help of the person who loves him the most, said “Nope. Not me. Not now.” And meanwhile here I was complaining that I couldn’t run 873 miles today. 

This is me running a personal worst by an hour and 5 min. And not living to run.

Let me be clear, I don’t think I ever want to completely lose that passion and drive that running has given me. I always want to have goals because I truly enjoy pushing my limits and find a lot of excitement in seeing what I’m capable of. But I never again want to live and die by the number on the clock at a finish line. That to me is living to run and I think I’ve already missed out on a few too many things by not living for the rest of it.

I think the problem is that often we get so caught up in these things we pour our heart and soul into that they start to define us as people. “I am a runner”. “I am a doctor”. I am a mother”. We push ourselves so tirelessly to become the best and strongest version of our definition that we are forced to leave behind the other parts that make us who we are. But I am convinced that there’s a happy medium in there. A way to use those things that fuel our fire to come the best version of ourselves, and I think it comes from redefining purpose. 

Run to live and live to climb another mountain.

So today I’m taking a page from someone who’s lived almost 1,500 Non-Zero days. When I eventually (in approx 120 years) am able to come back to running, it will be with a new purpose – to live. To see the world around me on my own two feet. To find peace in the chaos that surrounds me. To enjoy the company of a friend, or stranger. And to challenge myself to be not only a better runner, but a better person. Because No Zero Days means more than one goal, one purpose. It means we get to live, and that’s something I don’t ever want to take for granted.

An Open Letter to Past and Future Me

Dear Past Me,

I want to start out by saying you did okay. Not great, but okay. You had some rough moments and some amazing moments and all in all you could have done better. But you also could have done worse. I’d give you a C+.

I’m not here to criticize you for what you didn’t do well though. I’m here to forgive you for what you could have done better and help you learn from your mistakes. I’m also here to apologize for everything I put you through, both physically and emotionally.

Room for improvement numero uno: you could have been a little kinder to yourself. Sure, you made some mistakes along the way but you’re here now aren’t you? (Yes you are. I’m writing this). You should have cut yourself some slack and been a little easier on yourself. You lost literally years of your life worrying about how much or how fast you were running and how much or how little you were eating. Guess what? You’re not running anymore and you sure as hell don’t look like a super model so was it worth it?

Hey, remember when you won a marathon and then untagged all the pictures because you thought you looked fat?
Second, and this may be even more important that the first, you could have had a little more perspective on how your actions affected the people around you. You sure are lucky your friends and family love you so much because I don’t know I would have stuck around to watch that all go down. You fell victim to the tunnel vision of an obsession and you let it tear down your self worth and worse than that, you let your relationships suffer as a result.

Probably one of the lowest points of your training spiral. Do you even remember anything else about that weekend besides that you “bombed” your race with a 2 min PR? P.S. your sister was pregnant and you just booked a wedding venue.
But like I said at the beginning, this isn’t about critiquing what you did wrong. It’s about learning from you. So forgive, but don’t forget. Forgive yourself for the less than perfect things you did in the past, but don’t forget the pain it caused you and the people that matter most in your life. Our memories exist for a reason and as much as we’d sometimes like to leave them behind, the reality is they shape our present and our future. So hold onto them and use them for good.

I also want to say I’m sorry for everything I put you through in the past and I’m sorry for all of the terrible things I’ve said about you over the years. I hate that I can never take them back. But you’re doing okay and you’re going to keep getting better.

So thank you for giving me the gift of hingsight (although that 20/20 thing is a real bitch) and thank you for not being too stubborn to learn from your mistakes. I just want to say, 10/10 for accepting constructive criticism. Future you will thank you one day.

Is that you with your shirt off and an imperfect body? Eat your heart out 2013.
Keep your head up. You did great. A few Zero Days in there, but we can fix that now. Present Me has got it from here.

Dear Future Me,

I want to congratulate you for making it this far. That deserves a “woo” in and of itself. I hope by now you’ve taken over the world and are living somewhere on a beach in an exotic place. If not, please see me after class and Present Me would like to have a serious talk with you on what went wrong.

We’ll keep this short and sweet because I’m sure you’ve got this by now, but I just want to say that I hope you’ve found some peace with yourself and your life since we last talked. I hope you’ve forgiven yourself for the things you could have done better in the past and I hope you’ve found a way to love yourself and the people around you with no inhibition. I hope that you’ve learned from all that weird shit that past you did and found a way to make it positive.

There will always be people and things in your life that are more important than running or how skinny you are or aren’t. If not, you’re doing it wrong.
The thing is, no matter where you are you have to remember that life’s not perfect. And I hate to break it to you but neither are you. Never have been, never will be. So get over it. Stop trying. Embrace the tough, painful parts but don’t be so hard on yourself that you miss the good around you. Past you could have used a few pro tips on that one.

So I’m sorry it’s taken you so long to get here but I’m proud of you for making it. One step and a time, one lesson at a time. But that’s not permission to stay where you are. This is just the beginning for you. You may be Future Me but you’ll never be done growing and evolving. So accept that challenge, appreciate how far you’ve come, and keep moving forward.

Never stop growing. Literally and figuratively.
So here’s to a few more Non Zero Days. You’re killing it so far. I can’t wait to be you someday. 

Perspective with a Capital P

Tonight was a life lesson in perspective. My husband and I had the opportunity to see the movie “Stronger”. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a movie based on the book written by Jeff Bauman, double amputee Boston marathon bombing survivor. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, cancel your plans for this weekend and grab a box of tissues. It’s amazing. 

Jake Gyllenhaal for President

I’m currently working on a project for the Arredondo Family Foundation, who’s founders and namesake actually played a big role in Jeff Bauman’s marathon story. Carlos Arredondo is the infamous man in the cowboy hat that saved Jeff’s life during the aftermath of that horrific day. Carlos and his lovely wife, Melida, have a foundation that supports military suicide awareness and conducts trainings to help military families deal with PSTD and aid in suicide prevention. The foundation does amazing work and I’ve been fortunate enough to be working with them on getting their charity marathon program off the ground. They invited us to a screening of the film and I’m incredibly grateful because it not only provided a chance to see a bit of the story from the other side, but it also afforded me a little perspective on my own life.

Check out their incredible work at Arredondofamilyfoundation.org

The Boston Marathon has been very bittersweet for me the past several years. There is much emotion wrapped up in that one single race, it’s hard sometimes for me to sort out exactly where I stand on it. 2013 was the first year I ever came face to face with the race as a spectator and that day changed my life forever. It catapulted me into this life of marathons and the path that’s lead me to where I am now, for better or worse. 

This race has brought some of the most emotional days of my life, both good and bad
 That day in 2013 was the most surreal day of my life. I can remember walking home through the back alleys of Boylston street after being ushered out the back door of the bar we waited in a block and a half away from the explosions. There was so much confusion and devastation around us it was hard to fully grasp the depth of what was happening. The struggle to communicate with family and friends or to get any information about what was happening only exasperated the panic on the streets of the city. 

As I watched the Hollywood depiction of the moments around the explosions tonight I felt waves of the same feelings. I felt a pit in my stomach as I braced for that moment. Regardless of how many times I see those images, it still feels crushing. But this time as I watched the story from the eyes of someone who arose from those ashes, it felt a little different.

The emotion of coming down this street will never become less overwhelming

To say that I can in any way relate to Jeff Bauman’s story seems almost like a discredit to him. I can’t. Yes, I was there that day but I was a block and a half away from where he stood, behind the safety of a walled off building. I didn’t come face to face with the same destruction and chaos that he did. I can’t begin to know what that was like. I will never understand what it’s like to be consumed by the terror of that day, or of the days, weeks, months and even years that followed.

At one point in the film they make mention of him leaving the hospital to finally go home 6 weeks after the bombing. As I sat there watching tonight, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for the way I’ve been reacting to my current physical setbacks. Friday marks 6 weeks from my minor, arthoscopic, licked on by kittens, hip surgery. I’m home. I’m walking. I have only minor pain and I will, in the grand scheme of things, very shortly be fully recovered. How could I possibly be complaining?

6 weeks later and all that’s left behind are some flesh wounds and frustration

Perspective is a funny thing. You have to have slipped down at least a little bit for your mind to find what could possibly lie beneath. That’s when perspective pops up out of necessity and sweeps you up before you get consumed with self pity. It brings brightness to the shady corners of your life and sometimes it’s the guiding light you need to find your way out of even the darkest spaces.

Jeff Bauman is perspective. But not because of his inspiring tale of heroism (I mean, theres that too), but because of his struggle. Because he fell down and he gave up and he got swallowed by self pity. Because he was fucking human. And despite all of that, he got back up. Again and again.

I cried this day. I walked. I fought for every mile. But if these people can keep going you better believe I wasn’t about to give up either.
Tonight I walked out feeling a whole slew of emotions, much like every other time I’m faced with the story of this day. Sadness and heartbreak, for the lives that were lost and shattered that day. Fear, for what this means about the future. Anger, for what two kids took from this city. But also pride, for what the city gave back in return. Hope, for all of the good brought out in the wake of destruction. Honor, for being able to run the streets of a city that could not be broken. Courage and determination, to keep moving forward. And most of all gratitude, for what people like Jeff Bauman and every other person touched by this tragedy have taught me.

This. This community is strong and lifts you up when you need it the most. This is Boston Strong.

Today is a gift and so is tomorrow. It’s a cliche needlepoint saying, I know. But it’s true. Every day that I catch myself thinking “I wish I could run today”, I need to stop and think, “maybe not today but someday, and that’s enough”. I wake up each morning and put my 2 feet on the floor and for that I am grateful. It may not be perfect but this day and this life is a something to be grateful for. As a wise soul once said, “Life is life”, and that my friends is the ultimate No Zero Days perspective.

Keep Calm and Friend On

Today was a weird day. It started out with a 2 hour commute into the city (guys, it’s just a little bit of rain) and was followed by a struggle with parking which landed me in a garage that cost me more than I care to admit here. As I circled the streets for parking, I could feel my anxiety level rising. After I had handed over my keys and a small fortune to the parking attendant, I walked out onto the street and started to recognize a vaguely familiar feeling as I struggled to take a breath in. Panic attack.

Those Boston views… Amiright?
It’s only happened to me a handful of times and most often in the wake of a very high stress life moment. Most recently, the night after I finally admitted to my husband how truly miserable I was in my last job I woke up in a mad panic at 3AM, unable to breathe. Fun fact of this post: having someone else panic during a panic attack is in fact not super helpful.

This time though, I was able to quickly recognize what was going on and calm myself down but it left me puzzled more than anything. Yeah, traffic blows, but that’s not news to anyone. Why now? It wasn’t until my sounding board friend asked me repeatedly what was bothering me that it finally came out. And to be honest, I wasn’t truly sure until it flowed out with such ease.

I’ve lost control.

And not just of my ability to control traffic patterns or the need to give my first born for a parking spot. Of the big things in my life. My job and my livilhood. My body and my ability to be active. My plan or any semblance of one I once had, and a whole host of other things I won’t get into. And yes, for the love of god, the amount of time I spend in my stupid car.

I’ve also apparently lost control of my personal space
Truth be told I should have seen this coming a long time ago. But I think part of me was so caught up in the transitions going on and that other hip thing that I’d failed to see my control slipping through my fingers. As I went through my day today in a bit of a fog, I kept coming back to this concept of No Zero Days. I thought about how to move forward and find some positivity in this loss of control.

In my search for a positive spin, I started to think about this past weekend. We attended back to back weddings of two close friends from each of our college circles. One of the perks of starting a relationship at the age of 18 is the obligatory induction into the college group of friends. My husband and I are both very lucky to have held onto a strong crew of college friends that have seen us through everything.

True love. And pizza.
However, one thing I hadn’t taken into consideration when starting this blog was bearing my most honest thoughts to the people I know. It’s one thing to share your less than perfect life with a bunch of strangers who don’t know or have any previous image of you. It’s another to share it with the people who do. This blog wasn’t meant to be a perfect snapshot of life like social media often portrays. My dog is the most guilty of that. This was meant to be real, honest, soul-bearing shit about figuring out how to navigate life and make something good out of the rough around the edges parts in hopes that perhaps a few people could relate along the way. But it’s admittedly a little unnerving to have a conversation with someone who is acutely aware of all your weaknesses, fears and struggles.

Dude, we get it. Your life is straight kibbles and bits
The officiant at the first wedding we went to was a friend (if you can call Jake that) and he said something that was uncharacteristically profound. He said that this group of friends is like a family and not just in the cliche way everyone says about their friends. But in the most literal sense of the word. There are actually families within the group – friends who have married other friends, and an entire support system built around them. Ironically, the next wedding we attended was exactly the same. Two friends marrying each other. And it was following closely behind another friend on friend marriage in this same group.

His point reminded me of something that I think serves as my positive spin on today. These are the people who have witnessed the last 10 years of my life. Along the way I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few more and I’m realizing that the honest truths don’t phase them quite as much as I had feared. They’ve seen the good, the bad, the unfortunate outfits and questionable choices. Despite all that, they’ve stuck around and supported me and I’ve done my best to do the same for them. Because as Dionne Warwick would say, that’s what friends are for. And that’s what family is for.

What is the point of all this? I know, get there in less than 1,000 words please. The point is, control what you can control. Right now I’ve lost control of the asthetic things about my life – my job, my physical body, my future plans. But I haven’t lost control of the things that make me intrinsically me – the people who shape and support me, the family I’ve made for myself, and my ability to write about the things that I can’t control in hopes it may help someone else find some peace.

Sometimes Non Zero Days feel like pretty zero days but those are the ones that force you to find the silver lining. They push you to remember the things that are worth holding onto even when the rest feels like its slipping through your fingers. At the end of the day, if you can find peace in knowing you’ve got people that will always pick you up, regardless of how inappropriate your outfit or how ugly your truths, well then you’re going to be just fine.


P.S. 998 words. Boom.


Confidence is the New Carb

When I was growing up, the Atkins diet was all the rage and carbs were under siege. Subway was serving deli meat on a plate for fear of going under despite the fresh baked bread scents whafting through their stores. Grown adults could be seen cowering at the sight of plate of pasta, and meanwhile, something called a “bacon basket” was being advertised as a healthy breakfast option. Fun fact about the creator of the Atkins Diet: he died of congestive heart failure at the age of 72. I’m not here to comment on the nutritional effectiveness of his methods, but it seems to me a 72 year life with no cake leaves a little be desired.

This is actually just a salad.

After carbs started to come back into style, saturated fat took the next hit. I have to imagine Dr. Atkin’s untimely death really didn’t do that food group any favors. These days, much to the horror of Buddy the Elf, there’s a lot of talk about how sugar is slowly melting us all. And heaven help you if you open up a menu without asterisk that says *Gluten Free Option Available. You need a CNN up to the minute report to keep up with the latest un-health trend.

Doesn’t care about carbs or gluten. Just wants a bite.

Before this starts to sound all “holier than thou”, I should tell you that, like most easily influenced individuals, I too have dabbled in testing or have at some point believed that consuming these things was the worst thing I could be doing for my body. I mean let’s be honest, people will buy into pretty much anything if they think it will ultimately help them achieve what someone else has. Hell, before Subway’s rolls were likened to downing a pound of lard I’m pretty sure at least 75% of the population wanted to be Jared the Subway guy. And all that guy ate was sandwiches. For 15 years. Fun fact about him: his net worth is over $15 Million, so actually probably not a bad guy to be.

jared fogle
This sure is an unfortunate photo for him given his more recent appearance in the headlines.

But here’s what I think we’re all missing. The things we’re putting into our bodies aren’t nearly as toxic as the things we’re saying about them and the way we value them. I’m an athlete, a runner. I see the value in a good diet and I see the repercussions of eating a bag of fritos and a diet coke for lunch everyday because it’s a “low carb diet”. But I also see a trend that’s becoming even more detrimental and it’s hitting at an even younger age than Type II Diabetes – Self doubt.

As athletes and humans I think its in our nature to be competitive. We want to get stronger and faster and I think the majority of people, athlete or not, want to see their body reach it’s peak potential. The problem is that there has become this overwhelming desire to always want just a little bit more. “If only I were a few pounds lighter or just a little thinner, then I would be happy.” And the most dangerous of all – #goals. “If only I looked like X”. We’re creating our benchmarks for happiness based on the unattainable goals of another body rather than working to become the best version of ourselves.

body goals
The number of picture that show up when you google #goals is alarming

Again, I go back to this is also me. I’m guilty of it 10 times a day. But I don’t think I’m the only one and that’s the problem. If I had a dollar for every time I watched the scene from Mean Girls play out I would probably be sharing a private jet with Jared Fogel. We are all so overly critical of ourselves and rather than looking inward at the things our body is capable of, we are constantly searching around us for the next quick fix. The next “fad diet” and this time I think it’s confidence that’s taking the hit.

mean girls
Welcome to a women’s locker room.

I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who read the first part of this post scoffed at at least one of those fad diet references. The idea that consuming one of those things could have such a harmful effect that they should be completely removed from our lives seems a little extreme. But while we may have graduated from the witch hunt for the next thing that will make us morbidly obese, I still don’t think we’re doing it quite right. We’re still missing a piece and maybe rather than taking more away, we should start by adding a little confidence and self love.

I started this No Zero Days project as a way to create a little good in the world not only for myself but for anyone else who cared to listen, so here’s my challenge to you. Take just one day – every time you look outside of yourself and feel that envy and self doubt, turn it around. Instead, replace it with one thing about yourself that you value or take pride in. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be something so small and seemingly insignificant (lately for me a shower a day is a big accomplishment). That’s the beauty of these Non Zero Days – it doesn’t have to be epic, it just has to be something. Just find anything that can replace the “I wish” with “I AM.”

I could give you 1000 complaints about this photo but I’m also standing on my own 2 legs two days after hip surgery so #nozeroday
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do for our bodies and ourselves is practice a little compassion. If we let confidence become the new thing we remove, we will never see our full potential. So as Marie Antoinette (according to wikipedia, may or may not have actually) said, “let them eat cake!” Bring back the carbs, and the sugar and by all means, bring back the confidence. The jury is still out on what a low confidence life style does but I’m not willing to chance it. I’d rather have a slice of cake on my 73rd birthday.

When All You Need is a Good Accent Pillow, or a Rainbow Bagel

Tomorrow marks week 3 since I had hip surgery to repair my torn labrum. Three weeks doesn’t seem very long in the grand scheme of things, a mere 21 days out of 10,000+ I’ve been on this earth. But they say a day in solitary confinement can feel like a week and I’m beginning to believe that.

That’s dramatic, I know. I can see the headline and I’m unimpressed too. “Unemployed Girl Forced to Lay On Her Couch and Watch TV“. Stop the presses. But if anyone has ever been forced to slow down, you probably know the madness that inevitably ensues.

Some of us are more into it that others

I’m admittedly a pretty fast paced person (not at the moment, I literally move at the pace of a turtle). I love to fill my days and I thrive in a high pressure, dynamic environment, so the screeching halt I came to 3 weeks ago was a little jarring. I expected the physical slow down and while that’s been an adjustment for sure, the more challenging part has been the amount of me time I now have and the battle of unpacking my life, in many ways.

Roughly 3 months before I had surgery, we bought a beautiful house south of the city. A mere 20 min during the hours of 10am-2pm M-Th… or 1hour+ any other time of the day/week. Boston traffic is the best. Commuting aside, I was struggling somewhat with the transition. On paper, our house was everything I could have wanted, but what I failed to account for was the complete shift in lifestyle I was thrusting myself into.

This was clearly before we went over the amortization table on the mortgage contracts

I should back up and mention that 4 days before we moved into our house, I left my safe (but toxic) 9-5 job. Sounds great, right? In most ways, yes, it was. It was a tough decision but I knew this wasn’t the path I wanted to head down in many ways and I decided to take a leap of faith and hope I would eventually land on my feet (still waiting to hit the ground). I was excited for a change and a chance to experience new opportunities. I was lucky enough to pick up a couple short term contracts and I threw myself into coaching and teaching more.

But shortly after we moved into our house and I settled into the non-schedule life of a self employed person, the rainbows and sunshine started to give way a bit. It became clear that essentially every aspect of my life had changed over night. I went from an insanely structured schedule of working 50-60 hours a week and teaching classes on the side to virtually no structure, large gaps in my day, and far less work to fill my time. I no longer had an office or an excuse to see another human unless I made the effort. I had left the comfort of my 6 year residence, where I had basically grown up from a 23 year old post grad newb to a wife and almost adult, to an unfamiliar suburban town full of moms in yoga pants having lunch and nice older couples who ate dinner at 5pm.

I realize this is an impossibly unfair portrayal of my life out here but in my moments of weakness, that’s exactly what it felt like. I missed the rigid schedule that made me feel satisfyingly tired. I no longer had the feeling of accomplishment after succeeding at a challenging project. My days felt lonely. I missed my coworkers. They had become some of my closest friends and confidants. And most of all, I missed my home. The routes I ran every day for 6 years. Waking up every morning and looking out on the ocean. The comfort of knowing that we were the old people that sat at the bar at 5pm at Lincoln before all the 23 year olds came in ordering rounds of fireball. I missed my life.

There will never be any better place in the world to run for me

Every day for the past 3 weeks, I wake up, say hi to my dog, hobble down my stairs and make a cup of coffee in my kitchen. I look at the mess of boxes that still litters our floor and think about how I wish we could just finally get everything unpacked. And I think that’s what I need. I think I still need to be unpacked.

My life is, by a lot of standards, in utter disarray. Everything that was once familiar now seems to clash with what I see in front of me. Remnants of my past life still clutter my new life and what I think I need more than anything is an accent pillow to bring it all together.

The thing I’ve been forgetting, though, is that the major pieces are all still the same. I have an amazing husband and our relationship is the foundation of this whole life. Our inspector assured us our foundation was sound and I think he was right. Beyond that, I have the most supportive family that provides more structure than I could ever wish for. And if I dig deep enough in the clutter, I still have all of the decorative pieces too. Running, travel, writing, my dog obviously. Some of them need a little dusting off but they’ll do just fine here.

Same humans. New dog

I just need to find that perfect accent pillow that will bring it all to life. Because here’s the thing, no matter where I go or what shifts in my life, these are the parts that matter and these are the parts that make it home. I may be missing a few pieces but I’ll find them eventually. It’s just a matter of nailing down the perfect fit to blend my old life with my new life. I hear it takes time, so maybe I should start with a clock.

In the meantime, I’ll use this medical hiatus from life to keep writing (sorry people) and keep checking google maps to see if it’s updated the new direction of my life.

And if all else fails, I’ll just make rainbow bagels and call it a day.

How-to video below and link above! I really need more to do with my life.


When a Nothing Day is a Non Zero Day

Today was, by most practical standards, a pretty zero day. As far as Labor Day Sunday’s go, not a lot of laboring going on. But today was a different kind of non Zero Day – a rest day. I realize this doesn’t sound like a huge achievement and to be honest it’s really more of a baby step but that’s what this project is all about, right? Figuring out the best version of your life one little tick at a time.

The road that lead me to my current physical state (newly repaired hip) was paved by over training and an obsession with running and exercise. If it was paved by these two things, it’s safe to say that the foundation beneath that road was laid on an already weak self image and questionable food relationship, but that’s a story for another post. As anyone who has ever struggled with an unbalanced relationship with exercise can tell you, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Addicted to working out? Oh, do you also have a tree out back that shoots off Benjamins every couple of days? Talk about first world problems. But I wouldn’t say those who struggle with this aren’t as #blessed as one might think.

I’m mostly upset my hair never looked like this.
I recently listened to an episode of the Ali on the Run podcast about this exact topic. If you haven’t checked out her stuff, it’s worth a read or a listen. She’s quite an inspiration and talks a lot about some very relevant and relateable topics, such as this one. In the podcast she interviewed Clinical Sport & Performance Pyschologist, Dr. Leah Lagos on the topics of performance anxiety and exercise addiction. She may as well have ended every sentence with “Amiright, Rachel?”. She talked a lot about not only the pressures of performance in athletics, which is something I struggled with greatly in my training, but also the slippery slope that leads to exercise addiction and how to recognize signs of it. The hardest part is that it’s most difficult to recognize these things in yourself. Self reflection can be a real bitch.

ali on the run
Check her out on her blog, podcast or instagram @aliontherun1 
For me, one played into the other and once I got caught up in the pressures of training at a high level and wanting to perform well, the addiction seemed to naturally follow. Drag into that a below the surface struggle with food and you know where this story ends – Just a girl, standing outside New England Baptist, asking someone to help her out of a wheelchair. One of the tell tale signs of exercise addiction is not taking rest days. This was and still can be something I really struggled with. I remember once counting back in my head and realizing it had been nearly 2 years since I had taken a complete rest day. Over 700 days straight. I know, I know, right now you’re asking yourself “How did she end up getting hip surgery? The mind boggles”. But that’s the problem with hindsight. No one ever needs glasses for it.

The face and the hands say everything in this picture.
Admittedly, going into surgery I had some anxiety about the amount of time I’d be recovering and how limited I would be compared to what I’ve become accustomed to as far as workouts go. I hadn’t been running much at all since Boston. Once a week if that and even that was the kind of run that made my dog patronizingly trot beside me. But I was determined to go into surgery as strong as possible which meant strength training and whatever else I could find that filled my running void. The first few days I came home I expected to be jumping out of my skin, fighting every urge to want to cheat the system and come back quicker. But I wasn’t. I took my time. I felt disarmingly calm for myself and started to wonder if perhaps they’d removed my cloven hoof while in there as well. But low and behold here we are, over 2 weeks post op and I have yet to attempt anything outside of the careful instruction of my surgical team or PT. Talk about “new hip, who dis?”

Actual footage of me doing nothing post surgery
It’s taken me a long time to get here and I would even say that “here” is generous. Some days I catch myself back there and have to work hard at pulling myself out of it. But the difference is that now I can. Over the past 2 weeks it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows (just ask my other half) and there have been days I wake up and feel like a prisoner trapped in this body. But I know where I’ve been and I know it’s not a place I want to go back to so I fight like hell to keep my head above the water and stay in the land the light touches.

Which brings me back to today. We took a little family road trip up to Maine on Saturday – 2 humans, 1 dog and a few drinks to celebrate our belated 1 year anniversary. When I woke up this morning I considered going to the gym. The old edition of myself would have set several alarms for 5 am, dragged myself out of bed and found the hotel gym and worked out before my husband even woke up. But this is the new and improved edition, the no zero days edition. So instead, I took my dog out. I went to breakfast and ate half the buffet with my husband. I did my PT prescribed 20 min on the bike to move my hip so half assed that I didn’t even plug it in. I layed on the couch with my dog. We got take out pizza and salad and I ate whatever I could get my paws on and you know what the best part about it was? It was great. I didn’t feel the crushing anxiety of what the repercussions of this utter carelessness would be. I didn’t think about how I could make this up tomorrow. I just embraced it.

PSA Maine is very dog friendly, which is great because we have a very friendly dog.
If you’ve had any interaction with my husband in the past 4 weeks you’ll know that he has recently latched onto a new phrase: “Life is Life”. He’s repeated it so many times it’s almost lost meaning to me at this point but I couldn’t help thinking tonight maybe he’s onto something. Life is life, so enjoy it. Eat a cookie. Drink a beer. Do something epic. Or for the love of God, take a nap. No matter what you do, own it. Because I can tell you one thing for sure: living in fear or anxiety of what you aren’t doing isn’t living at all.

Lincoln truly lives the “Life is Life” motto.
So yeah, today was a pretty nothing day but that’s a big Non Zero Day for this kid.

Day Zero

Write one sentence. Just one. That’s all it takes to start.

Today is day 10 of post-op life. And day I-don’t-even-know since I left my miserable job. To say my life has been turned on it’s head would be a vast understatement. To say I’m handling it with poise and grace would be an overstatement. But tonight, amidst that disarray that is currently my life, something brought a little clarity. 

I quite literally woke up like this. On a lot of drugs
A friend had shared a quote on Facebook that he had found particularly sage advice. It was instructions on how to, for all intents and purposes, “live your best life”. The writer offered 4 rules on how to succeed on your own terms. The number one rule was impossibly simple. “No zero days”. He said that a zero day is a day when you do nothing to make your dreams or your aspirations a reality. The most important part of this, however, is that it doesn’t matter how small. “Write one sentence. One push-up. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is a non zero”.

After reading it, I started talking to the friend who had shared the quote. He said it had completely changed his outlook. Maybe for a day, maybe for a week, maybe for a long period of time, but regardless it had a profound impact on him in the moment. Truth be told, this couldn’t have come at a better time. As I fight hard to avoid slipping into the negativity and frustration of being unable to move and operate as myself, I find I am drifting closer and closer to feeling like I want to do something great. 

But great is overwhelming.

I have wanted to write for a long time, I just wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. But this No Zero Days idea shed an interesting light on what it means to do something. Forget the great.

The biggest things we do in life always start out with the smallest steps. No one wakes up one day, rolls out of bed, throws in a kcup and changes the world. But I can also promise you that no one wakes up, wanders through life aimlessly, teetering on the edge of self pity, and changes the world. It takes baby steps and a lot of Non Zero Days strung together to make even the smallest dreams a reality. So what does this all mean, aside from the fact that my body has taken a back seat and as a result my mind is on overdrive? It means that today starts a new day and a new chapter in this unwritten story. 

This is my challenge to myself: 365 non zero days. One year of living with intent and taking what life throws my way and choosing to make it meaningful. Taking the bad with the good and finding happiness even in the smallest things. No more waiting for an opportunity or a goal to “work out”. After all, every day is another chance to get one step closer to the dream. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. It just has to be something.

Along the way I’ll share the little victories and the collosal failures. The lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn. The ups and the downs, the for betters and for worses (I’m writing aren’t I? Let’s let the grammar slide). This isn’t a running blog or a post eating disorder blog or a travel blog. It’s all of them because they are all of me and all of so many other people. It may be dull or uninteresting but if I can share even a few pieces of my life that help one other person, that right there is a non zero day in and of itself. I mean hey, that’s the point of all this, isn’t it?

365 days, 1 big project: Day 0.

My friend told me tonight: “write one sentence”. Well, I did. And this is where it ended up. It is 11:59 pm. No Zero Days.