Bless My Heart

the improvement of a southern girl

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What’s Up Wit Chu?

I miss my blog. I’ve taken quite a break from it. To be honest, it has everything to do with not knowing how to segue back into a less-serious issue than cancer.

But here I am.

After a few weeks of “breaking in” the leg again to exercise, I am now full force into a scheduled exercise routine. It feels SO GOOD to be working out again. The Man and I are doing the 5×5 workout we were doing previously… just much lower weight for now. I’m looking forward to developing my routine into something I can really progress at. Love feeling strong.

Also slowly working on bringing running stamina back up to a 5k distance. Slowly.

Exercise is only half of the equation to a healthier Juli, though. Let’s talk about food…..

I gained…. oh…..  let’s be honest here…  I gained about 20 pounds during the STRESSFUL melanoma-laced winter of 2010. You know, whether or not you can fit in your skinny jeans just doesn’t matter anymore when you are dealing with a life-threatening disease. Comfort comes in many forms, but my comfort has always been food. And I found plenty of comfort this winter, lemmetellya.

But then. Oh Then. Well, my skinny jeans didn’t fit anymore. Then my regular comfy jeans didn’t fit anymore. Then my roomy work clothes were getting uncomfortably tight. Then I didn’t hardly fit in ANYTHING in my closet except for sweat pants and I had to make a run to to the store for the dreaded…..    wait for it…..  FAT JEANS!

If you are female, you know what I’m talking about. And it’s not a good thing.

So I had enough. I felt miserable. My self esteem was at a very low point. My mangled scar on my flabby thigh wasn’t helping anything. I needed a solution.

So I looked at my friend that had just lost over 60 pounds and said “Gimme some of what you got, girl!”. Well, not really, but I asked for more info on what she was doing and she gladly told me. Take Shape for Life by Medifast. Sign me up.

Now, I was a little hesitant on doing this program at first, as I am moving very quickly into a “whole foods/clean-eating” way of life. Although this program promotes that to an extent, it also uses dry products that come in a package – not very “whole”. But you know what? The way I was stress eating in the months before wasn’t all that clean either, so I accepted it has what it is..  a stepping stone for getting to where I want to be.

It’s working.

As long as I don’t cheat…

Today marks the completion of the 7th week on Medifast and I have lost 16.5 lbs. I’m sure it would have been more if I had not relaxed here and there, but I am happy with the results so far. I have also started kicking butt on this thing and have gone “off plan” less and less. We even took a trip out of town last weekend and I didn’t cheat. Go me. I want to lose 40. 23.5lbs to go, and I’m expecting a little better progress with my greater self control and increased exercise.

I have big plans for myself. I feel awakened to life in a whole new way. A greater appreciation. Quite frankly…. less time for bullshit. I’m focusing on what matters. The people that matter. The events that matter. I have a renewed craving for knowledge and spiritual peace.

I make this journey public on this blog, not to brag, not to preach, but to give a perspective. I will be honest. I share my struggles. I share my joy. There is a great world outside. There are great people in it. I want to find it for myself. I want to help you find it for yourself.



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Eight Week Urgency


I’m on the home stretch to summer break. 8 weeks till I lock up the classroom for the summer and slide my toes in the white sand on Florida’s coast.

Give me a second here….



Alright. I am now ready to proceed.

In my nice little daydream I had there, I was tanned, toned, and at least 10 pounds lighter than I am right now. Or maybe 15. Somewhere around there. So that’s the goal now. Not a 5k, not a half marathon… just a measley 15 pounds. Sounds easy, right? You would think, but I’ve been plateaued where I am right now for about 2 years now. I have lost and gained the same 5 pounds over and over and over again. Even with all this running, nada. So I’m tired of that. It’s time to step up my game.


The game plan is to continue the weight lifting program that The Man and I are doing; continue the cross training cardio after lifting; add road running back into my routine on Tues/Thur/Sat. Rest on Sunday.

The biggie is that I will be strictly counting calories for the next two months. I haven’t wanted to do this, but it really is the only way that I can keep myself from eating too much during the day. I used when I did this before, with great results. It is a pay site though and I’m not planning on doing this for more than two months so I will be using and their free program.

Wish me luck!

Got to go make out my menu for the week now!



Alright. I’ve run a 5k and a half marathon this year and it’s only March. What to do now? I have discovered through this process that I function better as a human when I have a plan. I don’t necessarily have to stick with that plan 100%, but I do have to have a goal and an idea how to achieve it; otherwise, I pilfer away the days of my quickly disappearing youth with excessive TV watching and Cheetos eating.

I used to do that a lot – pilfer. Stealing away bits of my time with things that do not enrich my life. TV. I try not to watch that much nowadays. Lost, House, Biggest Loser, football games…  One or two hours maybe twice a week. Why waste your life watching other people live theirs? Whether in reality or make believe – it’s not YOUR life. Go make your own show. Cheetos. I freaking love Cheetos. Puffs. I admit to eating entire bags in one day. In one afternoon. They are just so darn easy to eat. But what the hell are they made of???  Cheetos didn’t grow from the earth. Cheetos don’t have a momma. Cheetos are not food. Cheetos are entertainment. Like TV. For your mouth.

They say there are three things you don’t talk about with other people; Religion, politics, and money. You usually are going to ruffle some feathers with one of those. I want to ruffle some feathers with food. I want to bonk people on the forehead and scream, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE EATING?”. I want to go back 10 years and bonk myself on the forehead. So many Americans have a messed up idea of what food is. Food is not a whole bunch of ingredients and chemicals mixed up together to resemble a food-like substance. That kind of “food” has been produced with some big corporations bottom line in mind. It has been processed, packaged, and marketed to the public as food for as long as most of us can remember. The problem is that we have now accepted this as the norm. Our taste buds and body are accustomed to eating these processed ingredients and sometimes become addicted to them. THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

Food should be natural. Food should come from the earth or have a mother. Food should have nutrients that no machine can “fortify”. Food is so much more than shape/taste/calories. It’s what it does to your body. How it fuels your body and helps it to heal and grow and maintain.

There is an awakening, if you will, of people that are starting to realize these ideas. So much more than the “granola-eating hippies” from before. This is a real problem, and real people are trying to bring change. I’m one of them.

Do yourself a favor and start doing some research of your own. Some good places to start would be:

Watch a movie Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry For Change?.

Read a book

Watch a TV show

Let me know what you find out. Or ask me any questions you might have. Just think about it.

So back to Intensity – the title of this blog entry. My new plan is to up the intensity of my health for a little while. The husband and I are starting a new gym schedule with some hard lifting, I am upping the intensity of my running with intervals, and I am channeling my food choices for maximum weight loss for 3 weeks. Basically, I am kicking myself in the big-ole-booty! Looking forward to letting you know how it goes 🙂

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Half Marathon Race Recap

It’s been a week since I ran my half, so I figure it’s about time to let you all know how it went :).

The Man and I put our little girls in the hands of his mother and headed out the door at 5:45am on Saturday morning and pointed the car to New Orleans. After a 5 hour drive and a few stops, we headed to the Expo at the Convention Center.


The center was packed with people buzzing around every which way. Along with the runners, there was some sort of cheerleader thing going on as well. I searched out and found a steady stream of abnormally fit people going in a certain direction and followed them into the correct hall. From the very first minute, I knew I was where I needed to be. This was where I should be. Not because I am abnormally fit, but because I want to be 🙂

As a steady stream of people passed by, I couldn’t help but observe the many different genres of “runner” that I saw. There were the pros, sleek and trim and cool as a cucumber. Another day at the office for them. There were the groups and teams, giggling as they huddled together for another photo-op. Leaning on each other for support and inspiration. And there were the rookies, with eyes and clothing sizes a little wider than the rest, lingering in front of every station. These were my people, and there were plenty of them.

After getting my bib and info packet, we were off to explore the chaos. I had to stop for my own little photo-op…

I have to say that we didn’t stay too long at the expo. Too, too many people for this chick. I tried to soak it in as fast as possible. A few free samples here and there and I signed up for a new magazine subscription so I could get a “free” tshirt 🙂

The rest of the day was spent grabbing some good food and visiting family and a Tulane baseball game. It was a beautiful day to spend in the city, but I have to say I was quite preoccupied through most of it. I suffered with an upset stomach through most of the day. Nothing dramatic, just enough to feel upset. Nerves, yuck!!

Around 9 o’clock I decided to call it a night and get myself ready for the morning. I laid out everything I needed for the next morning; this is the pic I took of it all before I packed for the trip:

The white fleece jacket is forever-old and needed to be retired. I chose to bring it to the starting line to ditch when we started. It was too cold to go without anything while waiting, but knew I would heat up pretty quickly. I give myself a +2 for that idea, as it worked perfectly. The waist belt was something I bought the day before we left town. Without my running jacket, I needed a pocket to carry my iphone in so I could contact The Man when/if I reached the finish line. Another +2. It was a great $10.00 purchase from Academy. I didn’t feel it the entire run, and it was nice to be able to text when I was reaching Canal St. to let the husband know I was reaching our checkpoint.

The bodyglide has been long-run staple ever since I had a sports bra incident that made me look like a had an underwire attack; and the shot bloks I would have really liked at about mile 6, but I forgot to pack them the morning of the run.

After getting all my gear ready, I read over my instructions a few dozen times and closed my eyes praying for sleep.

It worked. I slept like a baby.

Alarm was set on the iphone for 5am and it didn’t take me long after the first sounds for me to remember the monstrous task I had assigned for myself that day. I quickly went about getting dressed and ready and eating the peanut butter and banana sandwich I had made for myself the night before. I woke The Man up and we headed out the door by 6:00am. After a short drive in a sleepy town, we arrived at the shuttle set up for runners at the Superdome. After a sweet send-off from the husband, I closed the door and found myself alone on a tremendous journey. I loaded the shuttle bus and sat quietly, watching couples and friends walk by through the window.

A nice older gentleman sat down next to me and politely asked me about myself. He was from Atlanta and has done dozens of half marathons throughout the years. It was a nice ice breaker into another runner’s perspective. I felt better automatically.

After a short walk from the bus stop, I found myself at the starting area.

I had about 1/4 of a bagel and a bottle of water, and made my way to my corral.

I wisely went to the port-a-potty before the rest of the crowd filled in. There was quite a line at this point. You can see a line of blue potties in the background, right above the people. That was the main group of them, but luckily each corral had five or six in the start line as well. Everybody’s got to go before a race!

After about 20 minutes of waiting, we saw the front line take off but my corral took about 35 minutes to work up to the start line. I snuck out of the barriers to pee again 🙂 and barely missed a beat. +2 decision again for me. I didn’t have to go at all while running and every potty in the race course had a line waiting.

Finally, the start!

Mile 1 – went by in a flash. Just excited about watching everything and every body go by.

Mile 2 – trying to settle into a pace. I notice on my Garmin I’m a little faster than normal. Try to bring it down a bit to I don’t burn out too fast but it’s too easy a pace right now. Still excited.

Mile 3 – HOLY CRAP MY STOMACH IS CRAMPING!!! Where did that come from? I try not to dwell on it and inhale long and slow, breathing down into my belly. It works.

Mile 4, 5, 6 – Just cruising. Slowed down and staring at various butts as we all go along. Also start having routine water stations about every mile or so and decide to walk 30 seconds through each one so I can actually drink it and not splash my face instead.

Mile 7 – Yeah, I’m tired. Yeah, I’m thinking to myself, “a couple of weeks ago I did a 7 miler and it was long and hard and I was ecstatically happy with it. and now I’m just a little over halfway done… boo…“.

Mile 8 – I got to see my smiling husband as I went through the Quarter. He snapped a pic and then I promptly stopped for a second to talk and stretch. My back/hamstrings were getting pretty stiff at this point.

If it looks like those two ladies were walking, it’s because they were. 8.4 miles in, people were dropping like flies.

Mile 9 – Along with the water, they had energy gel (Gu). I have never wanted anything more during a run. I was way past empty on the energy scale. I took mine down quickly, and I admit, a half mile later I picked up an unopened discarded packet and had it as well. I’m telling you.. EMPTY!

Mile 10, 11, 12 – THE HARDEST 3 MILES I HAVE EVER “RUN” IN MY LIFE! Mile 10 had a donut shop and the air was the best thing I have ever smelled. Thoughts of beignets faded into the background as I smelled those heavenly donuts. Two runners actually came out of the shop and joined back into the race with a bag of chocolate cake donuts. I hated them instantly for taunting me. Taunting me with donuts, and taunting me with the fact they could joke about eating donuts after running so long. They had no idea I hated them, either. I observed it all in silence as I suffered along the live oak covered cracked pavement of Esplanade Ave.

The 13th mile  – We were teased a little by thinking we had to run down and cross a bridge and come back to the park. When we reached the bridge we realized the path went the opposite direction and then came back around, adding a 1/2 mile or so. That was depressing. My whole body hurt, but the last few miles I realized it hurt just as bad when I walked as it did while I ran, so I carried on. As we approached the finish line I was passing runners that were walking back from the finish line, already carrying their finisher’s medal. I was soo ready to be one of them.


There was no energy left to speed up for a strong finish, so I made sure just to finish in an upright position. It would be bad form to collapse at this point 😉

I quickly realized there was no one to greet me. The Man hadn’t made it to the park by shuttle bus yet (there was no parking for spectators, boo!). That was a little disheartening, but I tried to enjoy it all as much as I could. I was given my medal and grabbed up some free grub before finding a nice tree to crash under until my cheering section arrived (sister-in-law and brother-in-law joined husband).

That’s a pic of a very tired, but very satisfied girl. I just finished a half marathon! I went from huffing through my first Couch to 5k 90 second run, to running 13.1 miles!!! Granted, I was slow (2:55), but I was never in this for speed. I wanted to go the distance – and the distance I conquered 🙂

I really believe now that I can do anything I set my mind to. The body is an amazingly adaptive thing. If you sit on the couch all day, it will adapt to that. If you push it through exercise, it will adapt to that as well. It was my decision to get off the couch, and I’m so very glad that I did.

I don’t really know where I go from here. I am going to run a 5k in Portland, Oregon next weekend visiting family, and I have a few 5k’s scheduled for this spring/summer. The Man and I have got a plan to start lifting/running together to lose some poundage. Funny thing that I haven’t lost any weight during training. My appetite was as big as my training plan! I’m also pretty weak as well, so I’m looking forward to adding some weight lifting to tone up a bit for summer short season.

Sorry it took so long to recap! Work life is pretty busy right now and kids never let up (school kids or home kids!).

Night y’all – and I hope this inspires you to do something to improve your life. You don’t have to run 13.1 miles, but you should investigate that nagging thought in the back of your brain that pushes you out of your comfort zone.

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Tuesday I was scheduled to run 3 miles, but it was my Christmas concert day at school and that just wasn’t going to happen, so I missed it. Wednesday, well, lemme tell you ’bout Wednesday.

My sisters and I have been secretly planning a visit for them to come down from Oregon for a few days without my mom knowing. Their flight was yesterday and they were landing at 3pm. Before they got here, however, I had quite the list of things to do.

Clean the floors/bathrooms/laundry/dishes. Turn in a shirt order to the print shop for school. Spend the last of a gift certificate before it expired. Meet Jerod for lunch. Swap vehicles to pick them up. Pick up Abby at school. Run.

It would have been so very easy to tell myself that I was just too busy to run yesterday. I had a full days worth of running around to do. But instead, I decided to make it a priority. Just like scrubbing the toilets. It was just something that HAD to be done before the guests arrived. After sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the floors, I quickly changed into my running gear and headed out the door for a quick 2 miler. Got it done.

I was thinking the whole time while running… “this is what you have to do if you want to get this half marathon done. you have to make it a priority. it has to be done. like laundry. brushing your teeth. even peeing. one of life’s necessaries. get it done”.

It was cold and windy, but it’s over.

And I’ve got to do it again today. 🙂 3 miles.

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So….  as happens after I have achieved something I work so hard to accomplish, I took a break. After my 10k almost TWO WEEKS ago, I maybe have run 3-4 times. And don’t ask about my eating patterns. Ugh. I reminded myself of the Pillsbury Doughboy the other day after I squeezed into my britches. I poked my tummy, but I didn’t laugh 😦

This is my life.

And this is why I run.

Now that I have completed the 10k, the obvious step for me, with my personality, is to go to the next goal as quickly as possible. No more of this lazy potato chipping and cookie nonsense! And, by the way, WHAT WAS WITH my school having fresh hot doughnuts in the teacher’s lounge for TWO DAYS in a row!!???!!!  My mojo was weak. I succumbed multiple times.

Moving on….

I signed myself up for a half the day after I got back from Hot Springs.

Yeah. A Half.

As in, Half Marathon. Wow. I know, right? But it’s just the next logical step for me. Something to keep me focused and on-task. I’m doing this one….. The Inaugural Rock ‘n Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. It’s in New Orleans (duh) on the last Sunday in February. That gives me 12 weeks from this coming Monday to train. I think I can do it. We’re gonna see.

Hal Higdon and his training plans are pretty much where it is at for long-distance running. I’m going to give him a shot.

I really, really want to do this.


To motivate me and to keep me honest, I’m going to document the whole training process on my blog. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, you get to see it all right here. The WHOLE THING. The sweat, the tears, the food, the lack of sleep. This will be a tough three months. Wow. THREE MONTHS. Which, by the way, happen to be a very busy three months at work as well.

It’ll be loads of fun for all.

I’m actually wanting to transfer the stress energy I take from work and use this training as a way to release it. That’ll be a process in itself, I’m sure.

I’ll also have little moments like these to relieve stress as well…

See you soon 🙂 I start on Monday!