My Tough Mudder Experience

Before Saturday, Tough Mudder was something I had only dreamed of doing. It was something I had thought I would like to do, but never believed I would.¬† With the help of my trainer, my family, and complete strangers I finished that 10 mile course…and here is my story!

We arrived and met up with my trainer around 10am Saturday morning. Got checked in, got our numbers put on and headed to the warm-up area. Before we actually took off we listened to this talk one of the TM guys was giving at the start line. He said that it’s not about how fast you go, or how many obstacles you complete. It is about giving it your best, doing the very best YOU can do, and leaving no man behind. Now, I had heard about how helpful everyone was on the course but it was very different to experience it. When they said go Jessica and I ended up at the back of the pack. I am a slow runner but it didn’t matter to me We had about an eighth of a mile to the first obstacle and I jogged the entire way. Up first was kiss of mud 2.0. This was a fun obstacle. Lots of crawling and sliding on your stomach under barbed wire in the mud. It was simple enough but we came out covered in mud! Then we headed on to the next obstacle warrior carry. I carried my partner the first half and then continued to carry her for the second half. We were supposed to switch and she was supposed to carry me. But since I am about twice her weight I knew no way! After that we headed on to the Berlin Walls. I had joked with Jessica and said I hoped two really strong guys would come help me over the wall. And sure enough…two guys came and helped me up to the top. When I looked down at Jessica I told her I was scared! (heights are not my thing!!) so I looked back at the guys and asked them to please come catch me, and they did! Standing in front of that wall, I would have sworn it was 20 feet tall:) Really it was 10 feet!

The next obstacle was called balls to the wall. You had to climb up yet another wall, but all you had was a rope to help you. Where were these strong guys now? ūüôā I tried, but just did not have the upper body strength to make it up. But I cheered Jessica as she climbed it. Then we headed to Turducken. We waited in line quite a while at this event and met some really nice people. Being able to chat helped my nerves settle down. But when it was my turn I struggled to get up the mud wall to the tube. I kept falling and falling, and then all of a sudden everyone at that obstacle started cheering “Go Liz, Go Liz” and complete strangers came up behind me and helped me up to the tube. Once I got inside they all broke out in cheers and¬† I crawled through that tube with tears in my eyes. It was exhausting but I wasn’t even halfway finished with the obstacle! At the end of the tube I dropped into 6 feet deep water head first, thankfully the life guard caught me because I swallowed a mouthful of muddy water. Jessica and I then finished Turducken together.

The Liberator was the next obstacle. It was another wall with pegs that you had to use to climb it. I fell once but again complete strangers started cheering me on and helped me get to the top of that wall. My husband was able to video this obstacle and I am so glad I have this to look back on. Then we headed to mud mile 2.0. Mud mile seemed like endless hills of mud! That stuff is really hard to climb up! Thankfully, yet again, complete strangers were helping me over and over again. Halfway through I knew I was exhausted, so I climbed out and then started helping others. I figured if I couldn’t physically finish then at least I could help someone else. Next was the crybaby obstacle. I was so excited to try this! But as we approached the obstacle I started freaking myself out. Crybaby is where you crawl inside a box full of tear gas. I finally worked up the courage to do it. First you had to go full body under water to get inside the box. After holding my breath the first thing I wanted to do was breath deep but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even see in front of me and I started to panic. There was a small hill I had to pull myself over and I remember screaming help me..and someone pushed me over it thankfully. Then I army crawled the rest of the way. Once I got¬† out I was spitting and snotting and trying to remain calm!

The next two obstacles I was unable to do. King of swingers played too much on my fear of heights. I just couldn’t bring myself to jump into the 12 feet deep water, especially after drinking some mud back at Turducken. And at skidmarked (yet another wall) there were not any strong guys around to help me over:( So we headed on to the next obstacle the Underwater tunnels. There was a huge line we had to wait in. Jessica looked over and told me she was freaking out about this one. But it ended up not being bad at all. I even climbed the rope ladder up the side of the hill without any problems! I really was proud of myself this point! Funky Monkey was the next obstacle and because of my lack of upper body strength I knew there was no way I could do monkey bars. Then was arctic enema. It was a chilly day to begin with and after freezing in the lake water I wasn’t prepared to jump into 35 degree water. So we headed on to Birth Canal. That obstacle was a lot of fun. I chose to crawl on my knees and use my back/butt to push the heavy water up off of me. It was pretty exhausting, but fun. Our next obstacle was called Quagmire and that one was not fun! There was a girl rolling across the mud and I was wondering why. The minute I stepped in the mud and it came up to my knee I understood! My left shoe got so stuck in the mud, I had to slip my foot out and pull and pull at it. It easily took me 3 minutes to get it free from the mud. Then I had to crawl my way across the mud and up the muddy hill. Some guy came up from behind and put his foot on mine to give me some leverage to get up the hill. Thank gosh too because I don’t know how else I would have made it up.

I was exhausted at this point in the race. Not just physically exhausted but mentally too. But I was determined to finish. When we reached the beach whale event I just did not have it in me. So I cheered Jessica along and then we headed to pitfall. When we arrived at this obstacle everyone was crawling in the water on their bellies and I said not me! I started to walk it, and the first bit of slippery mud I hit knocked me on my butt! So I crawled the rest of the way:) After that we found ourselves at devils Beard. This was a cargo net that Jessica and I decided to bear crawl under. Bear crawling is something she has me do often during training and always while pushing an 8lb ball. So we joked along the way high-fiving each other about how I was well prepared for that obstacle! Then we came up to Everest 2.0. I knew there was no freaking way I could make it up that curved wall.¬† I stood there watching people run as fast as they could and reach out hoping someone a the top would be able to grab their hands and pull them to safety.¬† Our last obstacle was electric shock therapy. Here you run through mud hoping that these dangling wires don’t shock you. I stood there probably 10 minutes trying to get the nerve to do it. I saw grown men fall down, women scream as they ran through, and I freaked myself out. That is the one obstacle I skipped that I keep beating myself up over. Tough Mudder was tough on so many levels. I did not expect to be as mentally or physically drained as I was at the end . But I finished all 10 miles!

I had my name on the back of my shirt and during the entire course people kept saying “great job Liz, keep it up Liz”. That really helped me to keep going. At one obstacle this guys called out and said “hey, I was the one that had my hand on your butt.” And I thanked him very much for that help! I ended up with so many scrapes and bruises and swollen knees. At first I kept asking myself why I decided to do this! But now that I am almost back to normal I am ready to do it again. My goal next time is to do just one more obstacle than this time!

For any of you thinking about trying a Tough Mudder, I say go for it! I earned that orange sweatband and no one can ever take that away!

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Just put the fork down…

I know you have heard this before. Maybe someone even said to you “oh honey, its easy to lose weight, just put the fork down, eat less, move more.” Am I right? Those without a weight problem, don’t understand what its like to have a weight problem. If losing weight was as easy as “putting the fork down” don’t you think that we would all be skinny! I know I would!

I truly believe that there are always underlying issues that lead to weight gain, for me, that list is long. My mothers death, my dads second marriage 4 months later, my bi-polar hard to deal with step mother, the brokenness of my family, the longing to fill a void…I could go on and on.¬† And I choose to eat because it is my escape. While I am eating that candy bar, piece of cake, greasy cheeseburger etc, I am so focused on how good it tastes that I am able to forget all of that pain from my past.¬† I actually just learned this in therapy…and I found it very interesting.¬† When my mind is going crazy with stress and anxiety, the simple act of eating crap completely¬†CALMS ME. For just a moment I can relax and forget about whatever is bothering me.

It is a horrible cycle to be caught in.¬† Think of a never-ending merry-go-round. ¬†Wanting to lose weight but life is stressful. Stressed out so grab some crap to eat. Then wonder why you aren’t losing weight. Stress yourself out some more because you aren’t losing weight, so you eat more crap. Anyone else on this ride with me?

I am so tired of being told to put the fork down, to eat less, to move more! It is not that simple. I ran to the grocery store to pick up some vegetables for this week along with a few other items. I passed many other shoppers with baskets full of all the things I want to eat..chips, ice cream, cookies, etc. And again I felt so angry. Why is this my struggle? Why do I have to obsess about every thing I eat? Why cant I just be “normal”. I had to remind myself what we have talked about in therapy.¬† That its a privilege to take care of your body. I should feel proud for having my basket full of healthy foods. I admit it, I am just not there yet and I am not sure how long its going to take.

But I do know this…never ever tell an overweight person to just eat less. You have no idea how hard the struggle really is until you have walked in our shoes. I am trying everything I can right now to change and some days I feel on top of the world, but reality is that most days I cant see that light at the end of the tunnel.¬† But I am not stopping. I have come too far to give up.

Its just part of my journey…

I overslept this morning because I forgot to turn my alarm on. This has never happened to me before and because of it my daughter was late to school and I was late to zumba. I promised Emme that I would bring her lunch at school today which I always do once a week anyways.  I decided to pack myself a healthy lunch instead of eating the fast food that I normally would be bringing so I packed some chicken salad on a low carb tortilla and some grapes.  I was proud of myself for making such a good decision and even texted my friend to tell her what I did. But the moment I sat down to eat I got upset.

My daughters school has two tables to the side where parents can sit with their kids during lunch. At those two tables I saw, pizza, chickfila, arbys, subway, and McDonalds. And there I sat with my chicken salad wishing the entire time I was eating anything else.¬† I also sat there thinking about what I could go get myself after I left to make up for not having the “bad food”. I ended up eating a few of Emme’s French fries and then coming right home instead of stopping to grab crap. As much as I want to keep feeling proud, I can’t. I am miserable because I didn’t get to eat that crap food…because I am in a situation where I have to be careful of everything I put into my mouth and its just not fair.

Last week my therapist talked to me about putting myself in a box. He said I chose to put myself in this box by coming and asking for therapy and by getting a personal trainer. (check out my post on voluntary enslavement) And he told me that this is a good thing…well today I didn’t feel like it was such a good thing! It felt like more of a punishment I hate to say.

I am learning that this is just another day on my journey. This journey is full of struggles and today I was faced with one head on. It does suck! It is hard! But I have to move forward. I know that the end result will be worth it. I need to believe that these sacrifices are what is going to get me to that end result. I have to keep believing in myself and my journey. But I wanted to put it out there…because if you ever feel like this, know you are NOT alone. It would have been so much easier to throw in the towel and eat something bad, but what good would that have done?

voluntary enslavement

What comes to your mind when you hear those two words..”voluntary enslavement”? My therapist asked me that very question last week. My response was that I am enslaved to this dieting world by my own choosing. But I viewed it as a bad thing and he told me it was a good thing. He drew a box on the dry erase board and put me inside of it. That box is where I have voluntarily enslaved myself. That is the box I put myself in when I decided to hire a trainer and decided to start seeing a therapist. I chose to start making changes in my life….and I have become enslaved to that choice.

When you are surrounded by family and friends that don’t understand your journey it is so easy to fall back onto your old habits. Eating fast food, having dessert everyday, not working out consistently….as my therapist put it..you allow yourself to come out of that box. And that my friends, is not good for my journey.¬† He told me that being enslaved inside my box is a good thing, it is going to get me to my goals and I need to remember that! I have to stop allowing situations to affect my journey because they are interfering with my goals. I chose to put myself in that box and I need to keep myself in that box.

This was our topic last week because after allowing myself to eat out for my birthday and have some cake…I had a major meltdown. Having a slice of cake wasn’t the problem. The problem was that one day of celebration should have been that..just one day. I did send the cake home with my brother, but then the next day I ate two cookies, and the next day 4 cookies. And I found myself on Tuesday morning in a horrible mood. As I was running my last set of bleachers I was angry at myself…angry that I had allowed myself to get to this place where I have to run bleachers, where I have to work so hard to lose weight. I was exhausted because we were at the end of the session and it took every piece of me to get up those stairs and the tears were just coming. My trainer was so proud of me because she said she pushed me really hard…but I didn’t feel proud at all. I told her I was having a moment and I had to pull it together.¬† I left my training session and went straight to my therapy session and there I let the tears flow.¬† I keep looking at this lifestyle as a punishment…like its so sad I cant have cake every night, and its so sad I cant eat fast food everyday.¬† But my therapist quickly helped me realize that I have it all wrong. Choosing to voluntarily enslave myself to this lifestyle is a good thing. Choosing to become healthy now is something I will forever be grateful for.¬† It really just comes down to perspective.¬† And it is time I start seeing this journey for all the good it is doing.

Dieting SUCKS!

I don’t have it all together…not even close. I try to keep my page as real as possible and share the good the bad and the ugly with you all. There are so many people out there showing us how amazing this journey is and all the pounds they are losing and if you ask me they are just sugar coating the truth.

Dieting SUCKS! We shouldn’t even call it dieting because I know good and well that the minute you fall off the wagon you will gain it back. Changing your lifestyle sucks. I know that it will improve my health and make me feel better and live longer…but the process is so hard sometimes…actually ALL of the time its hard.¬† Every minute of the day I am faced with making the right choice. The minute I roll out of bed I can choose to eat some sugary cereal or some healthy oatmeal and eggs. After working out at the gym I have to choose whether to run home and have a protein shake or stop at the gas station for a diet coke. Let’s not forget lunch…I would much rather eat a big juicy burger than a low carb tortilla and chicken! In the afternoon when I want a pick me up my go to used to be a little Debbie snack cake but now I have to choose almonds or an apple. And dinner…no more carb laden meals…I have to choose healthy.

I don’t always make the right choice. As much as I may want to choose healthy, old bad habits are hard to break.¬† But if I have learned anything on this journey…it is that we are human and we make mistakes. We can’t dwell on those mistakes though, we must keep moving forward. When you have made the wrong choice it is¬†okay! Forgive yourself and make the right choice the very next time you eat.¬† No more waiting til Monday to start over, no more thinking that because you blew that one meal it’s ok to blow your entire day. My life changed when I started believing this.¬† Yes I still make mistakes and YES I still get upset with myself but tomorrow is always another chance to get it right.

And know that everyone struggles. You are not alone! Sharing my struggle is just part of my journey and when I decided to share my journey….I decided to share it all.

Just do it…

I didn’t sleep well last night. I was up several times because I drank too much water before bed. I woke up tired and cranky and not wanting to work out.¬† I managed to get dressed and after taking my daughter to school I somehow ended up at the gym.¬† It would have been so much easier to go back home and crawl back into bed..but I didn’t.¬† I didn’t even think about going back home because it just isn’t an option anymore for me. I met my trainer and 10 minutes into our session I told her I was having “one of those days.” When I am either mentally or physically tired it wears me down. And the last couple of days I had been battling with that devil of a scale and allowing it to get the best of me. So my trainer pushed me harder. Days like today I need to be reminded why I am here and pushing so hard.¬† I did plank walks pushing an 8lb ball, trx straps, balancing exercises, wall slams with an 8lb ball, running back and forth 10 yards slamming an 8lb ball, and some ab work. Halfway into my session my trainer started laughing because she noticed my ankles were sweating. My freaking ankles were sweating! Towards the end of our session after an ab exercise I asked my trainer if she could remember when I first started working with her and we did this move. She said she remembered how I couldn’t even lift my legs up off the ground. And not only am I able to do that now..but I felt strong..even stronger after realizing that.¬† At that moment I realized that I keep allowing myself to focus on the wrong things. The scale may not tell me that I am making progress…but my body sure is saying otherwise.¬† That is where my focus needs to be.

Going to the gym every morning has just become habit for me.¬†When I am not able to go I feel like my entire day is thrown off.¬† I could have easily skipped today but I didn’t. And I think working out when you really don’t feel like it benefits you more than you know. Had I skipped today I wouldn’t have noticed how strong my core has gotten and how far I really have come. I hope you will remember this the next time you are looking for a reason to skip a workout.

It is NOT a competition…

I find that the biggest problem I have on this journey is that I compare myself to others.  I follow a lot of fitness pages because it really helps me stay motivated to see others busting their butts. But at the same time I will compare my progress with their progress and it is never a positive thing for me.

When someone is losing pounds or inches faster than I am I immediately question what I am doing wrong.¬† When someone is losing weight and they are still able to eat cookies I ask what I am doing wrong.¬† I have seen people up their calories and lose weight, lower their calories and lose weight, lower their carbs, eliminate their carbs, go on crazy fad diets, stop drinking soda, not exercise at all, exercise hours a day….the list goes on and on. Every time though, I will drive myself insane wondering what I am doing wrong. I did It today actually….I allowed myself to be in a bad mood over something I saw on social media.¬† I spent a good half of my day sulking and questioning everything I have done recently…the amazing week I had this week where I said no to dessert every night, the mile and a half I ran without stopping, the 7 hours I spent working out, all of the good healthy food choices I made…I questioned what I was doing wrong.

Lucky for me I have an amazing trainer….I texted her about how I was feeling and she told me to call her. She always reminds me that its not a competition…that all of my hard work has not gone to waste…that I have come so far over the last 10 months.¬† I owe her so much more than she could ever know. Then after our conversation I was scrolling through facebook when I came across a post by Ripped Goddess. (If you don’t follow her you should) She says “keep in mind EVERYTHING you see is filtered. Look for messages that resonate with you because they make you feel GOOD- not bad about yourself. Life is challenging enough without competing with the magical filter that is social media, so unless you have unicorn dust give yourself a break.” I swear she wrote that for me…

This is my journey….some days are amazing, some days not so much.¬†¬† I have to stop comparing my journey with the filtered versions of others. Because the choices I make daily only affect me.¬† And I have the choice to be happy and proud of how far I have come…and how far I will go on this journey to Finding Me.