Cut Your Groove

You got a melody make them hear it. Shout it out loud and clear. Until you rattle the walls of the atmosphere, start right now, start right here. The world keeps spinning like an old Victrola, round and round, over and over. When the needle drops down whatcha gonna do? Life is a record baby cut your groove.” – Charlie Worsham

How many people have given up on something because it got hard? Or stopped trying because there were a few road blocks? Big or small please keep going. I’ve learned over the years that the pursuit of something can be a huge motivator. What is my dream? I’ve had various dreams and it turns out….I’m a big fat quitter.

In middle school I played volleyball, basketball, tennis, and softball. I was pretty good at each sport, but I would say I was head and shoulders above average in tennis and volleyball. That wasn’t without practice – my volleyball coach also went to my pool and knew me from a young age.

It was that coach – Shout out Coach Peigen – who took hard work seriously. I went to her volleyball camps every summer. One of the tee shirts from summer camp had one of the most thought provokingly terrible quotes in history on it, “Losers quit when they’re tired, winners quit once they’ve won, I never quit.” She was hard on me, not unfairly, but I use to cringe every time I heard her yell “REGNITZ!!”. She knew I was capable of more, and she would not settle for less then my full effort and concentration. She expected us to show up to every practice ready to work, but she was also the first person to make sure I was okay and my mom was doing well when she was diagnosed with cancer when I was in middle school.

As much as it pains me to say it; sometimes when I’m working on something athletically or just in life and I start to slack or try to quit early….somewhere deep in the back of my head I still here her yelling “REGNITZ!!!” and end up picking up the pace. She instilled in my some killer volleyball skills – didn’t try and break my unique service habits…spoiler my arm motion in volleyball looks a lot like my tennis serve. In high school I left my safe familiar volleyball home with coach Peigen. I made it to my new school and made varsity my freshman year, and did pretty well my sophomore and JR years. My senior year we got a new coach. Who told me that he could tell I was the heart and soul of the team, but I was short so he would probably just rotate me in to serve and then rotate me back out. I didn’t like that. I worked so hard to earn my spot and this guy thought he knew something.  So I quit.

Tennis – my parents spent A LOT of money on getting my brother and I into camps, private coaching, good equipment, and in my case the best tennis fashion a girl could have. Shout out Mom! We both got good. My brother I will admit, better than me. My brother played through high school and actually was on the state champion team. I played all through middle school and was undefeated all through middle school. I also purposely put my self in second seed on my team to ensure my ability to win. Thus, settling for less than the best from myself. I got into high school and had to choose between softball and tennis  – tennis won my first year. Unfortunately, I had stopped private lessons and consistent practice somewhere in middle school and apparently all the other kids at my new school….had not. So, I quit.

Basketball – my parents had my in YMCA leagues etc as a kid and I played all through middle school where I excelled. I got to high school and played for one season and hated it because I wasn’t the top dog anymore. My parents made a deal with me that if I gave it another season they’d get me a cell phone. I accepted the deal, and then quit. Sorry mom and dad.

Softball, I played as far back as I could remember and I was never the best, but my enthusiasm and leadership in team settings kept me in the game here. That and my willingness to dive and slide in dirt and play through pain. I got to high school and after I quit tennis after one season I fell back to softball. We were terrible, and after one season…..wait for it…..I quit.

Swimming. I am a fish. I think I was a dolphin in a previous life. I grew up spending my entire summer in the water. I swam competitively my entire childhood and had some success. When I got into grade school and picked up volleyball, basketball, and got more serious about tennis something had to give. Since very few schools in Chattanooga, TN had swim teams I quit.

I have always had dreams of being a singer. I wanted to be Shania Twain. I love singing, and writing songs is extremely therapeutic for me. I wanted to learn how to play guitar, and I learned how to play probably C, A, and G. before I quit because I wasn’t learning I over night. I continued singing and working with another guitar player. We played a couple open mic nights and people complimented me, but no secret talent scout showed up after two open mic nights and gushed over my writing and singing abilities while begging me to sign to their label. So, I quit.

There is only one thing in my life I have not quit on, Ironman triathlon. As I gear up for my 5th Ironman I am starting to take stock of my past decisions. It’s really easy to quit. It’s really easy to make excuses. It’s really, really hard to gut it out when it hurts, and you’re tired, and every muscle in your body says stop. That goes for all things in life. In sport, in work, in relationships, and in everything else you go through. It is how you handle it when things get tough that will define you. Do you quit or do you rise up to the occasion?

Which is what brings us back to that thought provokingly terrible quote. After I sat down and thought about my life, and all the decisions I have made it finally makes sense. “Losers quit when they are tired, winners quit when they’ve won, I never quit”. Now I look at this as a reminder to not settle. Never quit pushing yourself, and never settle for less than your best. If life was a record is yours skipping all over the place from all the times you have quit or given up? Or is it going to play a beautiful song with some pops and crackles from life’s challenges and successes? How did you cut your groove?



Finding the Happy Switch

Depression. I’m willing to wager that a lot of people either cringe or scoff when they hear that word. For some people it is an excuse for others to seek attention and pity because it isn’t a real disease. For others it is the monkey on their back that no matter how hard they work at breaking free from it, they are just carrying that little bugger everywhere with them. Sometimes that little monkey takes a nap and you are free to enjoy life, but you’re kind of always aware he is still there and could wake up at any moment and wreck you all over again. Anxiety. Reread the last couple sentences, #samesies.

I grew up not fully understanding the concept, not understanding that this was an actual diagnosable mental illness, and not understanding there wasn’t some mythical switch you could flip and “just be happy” like so many people advised. It seems like such a simple thing when you’re feeling low and blue to just….be happy. Unfortunately, for all the people who believe in the just be happy approach depression and anxiety are a little different from your everyday sadness or feeling the blues.

When I am in the thick of it I feel completely isolated and alone and like the only ability I have to communicate this is by weeping. To the point I have had to call a friend to literally lay on top of me so that hopefully the actual physical pressure would slow my head down long enough to catch a breath. I can’t communicate what is wrong and why I am feeling this because….I myself do not know why. Sometimes I am slapped right in the face with a nicely seasoned cast iron skillet full of overwhelming sadness with a side of no one loves you gravy for no apparent reason. Sometimes I feel so alone that I fully believe I am a burden on any path I cross and I just stop crossing paths. I have gone through periods of my life where I would go to school or work and then lock myself in my room the rest of the time. Sometimes that would last a couple days, sometimes it would last a couple months.

Lately it has been a little harder to stay a float than normal. I love to joke about my love of naps and sleep in general, but in reality a lot of times I expend so much energy pretending that I am all good in front of people by the time I get home and sit down I physically cannot stay awake. Blah blah blah sad stuff and more sad stuff, you get the picture. I am on a daily medication to help me manage and I am using exercise and this very exciting blog to help me stay focused on positivity and healthy things.

As I started thinking about this blog and hot to approach it I thought about the really amazing connection people had with my mirror image blog because you saw different points of view across different sexes and ages. So I set out to do the same thing here. Unfortunately, there is still this horrible stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. People are still scared to share, ashamed because of public opinion, or refusing to get help because of pressure from family etc. So here are the few, the brave, the beautifully strong masterpieces of people who were willing to completely open their hearts in the hope someone else who needed to see this would know they are not alone.

“I think I’ve had anxiety pretty much my whole life. Depression has only been in spats that were, on a whole pretty, depressing. I think if I had words to call what I was going through, it would have been much easier.
I have OCD. It’s mild, but one of the things that comes with the territory is called catastrophic thinking. I remember from a young age worrying anytime anyone was late. One minute late, and my brain immediately went thinking that the person was dead or in a car wreck. It has taken years on conscious effort to train myself to call that OCD or anxiety and tell myself a more likely scenario. Faith has helped a lot too because instead of anticipating bad  things, I pray about what I am worried about and know that even if the worst happens, God won’t abandon me. I won’t be alone. When I find myself going deep into the anxiety that one day when Jonathan or one of my boys might die (statistically, it’s likely I will outlive Jonathan), I start instead to focus on the gift of having them now. Life is fluid and I can count on it changing, so rather than worry about the impossible to know future, I fight to focus on now, to cherish now because it is fleeting. If I spend now worrying about the future, then I have missed the beauty of the moment. Not that it’s easy or even something I can always do or do without medication, but that is how I choose to fight it.

Female – 35

“I can tell you it can be dreadful and exhausting to suffer from anxiety and depression.  In November 2014 I attempted suicide because I couldn’t live with myself anymore, or so I thought. Luckily, with the love and support of my husband and family I was able to get through the nightmare and face my darkest fears. It was not an easy process. I had spent years abusing alcohol and marijuana, as well as making other poor decisions. At times I felt like I was completely alone and out of touch with reality. Now that I have dealt with and faced the underlying causes of my illness and realized that genetics play a part (I needed to accept it as an illness just like someone who has diabetes or epilepsy), I am able to acknowledge my triggers and deal with them proactively. I also realize that I need to take maintenance medication to keep me in balance. Once you accept it, it does get more manageable and easier to deal with.”

Female – 33

Depression is a strange thing. Sometimes you go weeks on end and you don’t have a “bad day”, but then all of a sudden there it is. This weight that you can’t explain. It makes you not want to do anything at all. It makes it hard to even get and go to the bathroom, much less get a shower and taken on the world. People are so quick to judge and not understand depression. When your depressed, it’s not that you are lazy or a flake, you literally lack the strength to get up and keep going. Your motivation is 0. On those “bad days”, what I personally do is start talking to God. I know, I know, here we go with the Jesus stuff, lol. Seriously though, I’m hear to tell you without the peace that God gives, I wouldn’t be here. There have been times where I have wrote a suicide note and walked out the door ready to end it all only to hear a voice say, “You are worth more”. Call it what you will, but personally I know it was God telling me that this to shall pass. Don’t let the depression win. In resent years, months and days, I’ve come to see why I’m here. There are so many people I’m able to relate to and empathize with people who are struggling. I’m able to look into their eyes and see the pain that is hid inside. The pain they keep away from everyone and I’m able to tell them that I love them and give a hug. It may not seem like a lot, but to someone who is on the edge of that ledge, it means the world. So the next time a buddy or acquaintance cancels on you or is distant from you, call or text them and tell them how much they mean to you and how much you miss them. You never know when you might save a life.

Male – 30

“I first had a “diagnosed” bout of depression at age 18 when I first was in college. Transition to college was tough–really tough, tougher than it “should” have been given my blessed, easy high school career and position in life. I ended up being hospitalized numerous times for my depression, seeing multiple doctors, being medicated beyond coherency, being told I couldn’t function in life ever without my therapist…having panic attacks in class to the point of it taking 6 years to complete my undergraduate degree. My brother and I aren’t close anymore…I guess it was too traumatic for him to see his older sister be hospitalized in and out and not know exactly what was going on. I wish we were closer. I got through it though…the persistent part of me kept believing there was hope, even when I had a doctor tell me at age 19 I should consider electric shock treatment because medications aren’t working. Perhaps the thing that kept me hoping were the friends and family that supported me. I may not be the best friend at times, but I do remember those friends who were there for me then, and that kept me going. I wish I could tell them how grateful I am for them now…because now, after a decade that has included numerous hospitalizations, over a dozen different medications, so many tears, multiple “withdrawals” in college, I am now about to get my own medical degree…people will call me “doctor.” But hardly anyone knows my history of depression in this new world, because I fear that if they knew they wouldn’t deem me capable of what I am currently doing in life and what I want to achieve. I still don’t share my story out loud because stigma is so great. But I do think that dark period in my life will make me a better doctor that could ever be.

Female  – 29

I have depression which I can usually tell when it is coming on and start taking my lexapro for 6-8 weeks.  After 6-8 weeks on it I’m usually good for a year to 19 months.  When I’m depressed I don’t want to be around ppl or even myself.  All I want to do is sleep and not adult. The depression increases if I’m stressed over any situation that I can’t control.  Basically I always need to know there is a plan b or c or if I’m in a depressed state it magnifies it x 100.    I’ve always had anxiety but never to the point I needed medication for it until recently.  I started having full blown cluster panic attacks and started taking vistaril when I need it.  I’ve always thought of myself as weak due to having depression and anxiety. Most days I just try to put up a brave front so no one knows.  I feel like if ppl know I suffer from both that I will lose my job or have my competency (at a career I worked my ass of to get) put into question

Female – 45

Thankfully my depression is more managed today than it has been in years past. It developed in my late teens but didn’t really manifest itself around 21 or 22. It got worse, like a lot worse, like I almost drove my car off the side of a mountain worse. And almost swallowed a bottle of pills worse. It wasn’t easy, but through a LOT of trial and error with doctors and meds, I was finally able to find the medication that keeps me most balanced. It doesn’t mean it’s gone; there will be waves that come that I can’t avoid and that will put me in bed for a couple of days. But I know now that those days will come, and they will also pass.”

Male – 28

Depression and anxiety can manifest in different people, different ways, and it’s very real. Do not be afraid to ask for help, do not be afraid to talk about it, and do not be ashamed. There are so many other people out there going through what you are and you’re only alone if you suffer in silence. Reach out, talk to someone, ask for help. You are normal and beautiful and complex. you are not alone.



Maybe the Answer is to Never Ask Why


When I was younger I always felt very alone, not in friendship and family, but in love. In my head I have always been alone, in the sense of being single, because I am not enough. If I was, someone would see me and know what I had to offer was enough.  It is because of that feeling that I have made some pretty questionable decisions. Some are funny and harmless to look back on, some dangerous to myself and others, and some make me disappointed in myself. While I’m not proud of all of them – it is the experiences they led to that have molded me into who I am today. Today I am a strong person who can get through almost everything. There may be a small intermission for me to cry and wallow for a little bit, but then I push that doubt back down with the help of a little ice cream and I get through.

        I remember feeling so inadequate to those around me because my friends all had boyfriends from an early age. They got to do valentine’s day things, get asked to the prom in super cute ways, and always have their person between classes etc. Being able to say the word boyfriend seemed like such an unattainable thing to me. No one I like ever liked me back, possibly because my liking someone looked a lot like Ron Weasley after he ate the whole thing of love potion spiked chocolate cauldrons from Romilda Vane #michiefmanaged. I once ran into a previous “crush” (we’ll call him Tim) leaving a gym with a friend of mine (we’ll call her Melissa) and made a complete ass out of myself. I realized who it was and started yelling “omg Tim I used to be obsessed with you!! Melissa did you know I used to be obsessed with Tim this is that Tim!! Tim omg do you remember when I was obsessed with you?!” This went on for an excruciating probably 45 seconds that felt more like 45 minutes after the fact. So through my younger years I took the obsess over a person and they will eventually break and love me or break and put out a restraining order. (that last part is a joke – I was never that bad.) None of these guys were ever mean to me, probably because they saw something in me I didn’t yet, and they felt bad for me.

        The next phase of me trying to be enough for someone was the drinking. I started working in restaurants and the age old way servers bond is by getting completely shmammered together. At some point it went from having a few drinks to ripping a couple shots before the shift and having mixed drinks in our employee cups as we worked. Then I started disappearing from home for days at a time. Sometimes I would tell my parents where I was, sometimes I wouldn’t. I just kept drinking and eating anything in front of me because people thought I was fun, I was the life of the party. My sobriety test was walking down a line of people while I was in heels and letting them push me. If I fell I couldn’t drive, if I stayed upright I could drive. It is a miracle I didn’t kill or seriously injure myself or, even worse, someone else. At that point in my life though that wasn’t even a thought in my head I was still miserable and alone deep down inside so I continued to roll the dice.

        I realized too late that almost that entire group of people who liked me and thought I was fun, were not really my friends. When I couldn’t do anything more for them they were gone. I decided to try and get my life together a little bit. During the last couple years I had ballooned out to 220lb’s and I hated what I saw in the mirror.  I started going to the local gym and really putting in work, and I was even talked into beginning to race triathlon. I met a man named Tobe Taylor who started saying hi to me every day at the gym. I wasn’t aware yet that this man would change my life. On a whim I went and ran a 5k he was hosting for his charity, and that was the first 5k I had ever run. I reached out to him about personal training, and he asked me to come in. Tobe trained me through the entire year I was prepping for my first Ironman Triathlon. I finished it and never felt more fulfilled. For the next few years I made some genuine friends who I still talk to today through hours on the bike and pounding the pavement. Chattanooga Triathlon for life.

        One weekend my dad brought my brother, my sister in law, and I to a family night for his company. Side note – everyone else had their newborns and toddlers – we were a class act. I was dressed in faded jeans a Nike tee shirt, and I had no makeup on and had not even touched my hair. I met a boy that night, who I tried really hard to ignore because he was short and I really like tall guys, but I couldn’t ignore him. The sparks were undeniable even my brother said so. He asked for my number in front of my entire family, which I would assume he is still proud of to this day. We began dating and quickly fell into a comfortable habit of me staying at his apartment with him, cooking dinner, and going out with friends. The only problem with all of this is, he was from Philadelphia, and had always been clear that is where he would live the rest of his life. Tennessee was just a one year stop over for training for the company. I fell hard. So hard that one night against my better judgment I told him I was in love with him. He said….nothing. Once I had fallen into full on hysterical tears apologizing for telling him he explained why. He had only told one girl he loved her and he didn’t mean it. He said it because it was what people did and he didn’t want to tell me until he was saying what he meant. I buried that feeling down deep and tried to never bring it up again.

       Soon enough the year was up and he was moving home to Philadelphia. I made the decision in my own head pretty quickly that I would move to Philadelphia, we would get married, and that would be my life. So I got to work finishing what was necessary at school, and started applying to any job I thought would get me to Philadelphia. During that time period I became a little withdrawn from my own life. Where I use to love watching Green Bay Football with my family I would instead hide in my room with my dog and watch alone in silence. I kind of shut down outside of work and trying to get a job in Philly.

        We were long distance for a year and a half, and the night before i was suppose to interview at my current company this boy freaked out. If I was sure this is what I wanted, that he was scared etc etc. So I asked a very straight forward yes or no question, “if I move here and I like it and establish my own friends and places, do you see me as someone you would want to marry and have a family with?” He said yes without skipping a beat. So I went on the interview, nailed it, and got the job.

My Best friends Lee and Katie helped me pack everything I own into the back of a UHaul and hugged me goodbye. The next day my mom and dad drove the truck we borrowed from my brother carrying the UHaul trailer full of all of my things. I rode behind them in my little two door Chevy with my best friend of 8 years Reggie White (dachshund) in the passenger seat and my new baby of 10 weeks Vince Lombardi (also dachshund, brand spankin new puppy variety) asleep in the back. I didn’t cry the entire drive, I was so sure of what i was doing. Then we arrived at my new apartment and my parents helped me get all my boxes up and set up my bed and TV, and then they left. The moment they walked out I fell on the ground, grabbed Reggie, told him it was just us now and we were alone, and then I cried like a baby. Don’t worry Vince was too young to understand what was actually happening, and too busy peeing on the carpet to care.

        I started my job and immediately bonded with a couple of my co workers. Those girls became my family pretty quickly. I made my mark in the company with my hard work, and willingness to help others, or crack jokes when needed. For the first year of me living in Philadelphia it was pretty good. I got to see my boyfriend all the time, spend time with his family and friends. He got to meet all the friends I had made and hang out with us. Then his lease was coming up and we had been together over three years and I moved across the country for him. So the natural next progression would be to take another step forward and move in together. He got very noncommittal when this subject arose. His exact words were “Ideally for me you would keep your place and just spend a lot of time at my new place, but we would still have our own spaces when we need them.” I very easily told him that I would not split my life in two and cart my dogs between two separate places just because he was scared. He needed to figure out what he wanted and just be honest.

        He landed on wanting me to help him apartment hunt because he wanted us both to feel at home. After the first couple visits it became clear to me he didn’t mean what he was saying.

       There were months between me realizing that and us actually breaking up, but our relationship was over. I was alone again. The one person who had finally thought I was good enough, didn’t think so anymore.

Over the last year and half I have floundered. I’ve lost touch with everything I knew about myself and loved about myself and found myself just constantly under a cloud. I am very good at not letting other people know with my outward appearance and actions that I feel dead inside. At the encouragement of a very good and genuine friend I finally broke and went to the doctor to discuss options regarding medications. This was a big step for me because during my upbringing anxiety and depression isn’t something that was ever talked about in a serious sense. It was very much present in my family, taking the lives of two of my family members on my dad’s side, but we still never really talked about it. So I made an appointment and showed up for it, and I cringed when the nurse announced to the waiting room I was here to talk about anxiety and depression. When I sat down with my doctor she had a list of very specific questions that I could not even complete because I was on the floor of the exam room in a ball weeping. Eventually I got it together enough to finish the exam and she let me know that I had severe depression and anxiety. She prescribed me a daily antidepressant and an anti anxiety medication for as needed use. I walked out of that office somehow feeling less than, like having this diagnosis made me less than who I am.

I began taking my daily medication and trying to make a direct effort to push myself out of my comfort zone, shake things up, and maybe break loose from this pit I was in. I Tried boxing which helped, I started lifting weights which has been fun and very body positive, and I tried to really focus on having a lot of fun at the bar I work at a couple nights a week. Laugh as much as possible. Even with all of these things I was still having more bad days than good and I was continuing to eat every single feeling I had. I was still alone, and maybe I needed to be that way.

There was a guy who came into my bar a lot. He was cute, hilarious, and understood my crazy work schedule. We hit it off and shared the same juvenile sense of humor. We had a discussion one day about anything being there and the term friends with benefits was thrown around. I died a little inside. That isn’t who I am. My number is VERY low because I take my health and heart seriously. I will not open myself up like that emotionally or physically unless I know and love a person. For some reason though, I got it in my head that this is the fun thing that would shake me out of the funk. Just do it Liz,you’re an adult and you’re allowed to have fun. I talked myself into it and without going into details….. it was a disaster. I came out of the experience having gotten no joy and absolutely ashamed of myself. It’s a scar I will carry on my heart for a while, but also a lesson learned.

Somewhere during all of this I met a girl who is an absolute inspiration. She is a veteran, has multiple life changing medical issues, and the happiest disposition I have ever seen. I have never seen her not smiling and happy, and she will help just about anyone who asks. It was this girl who stopped in to see my on my birthday and listened to me fall apart talking about wanting to start a blog about life and health and fitness. About seeing a ton of really strong superhero body types represented who are blessed with the time and ability to focus their life on every aspect of health and fitness. Seeing a ton of larger people who are on the frontline of the body positivity movement, which I think is absolutely amazing. Not seeing so many average people, as I referred to them before, not seeing may everyday superheroes. The people who are strong and putting the time in at the gym, but they’re also juggling work, school, kids, animals, and maintaining a quality of life. The people who aren’t big but aren’t small. Where are those people? Her response was pretty simple. Do it, be that person. So here we are.

        For a long time I have let the feeling of not being good enough stop me from doing things. I have let the sadness of being single dampen my light. I have ignored the feeling of having more to offer the world, and put the capability to do more on a shelf.

So here we are. I am 28 years old and single. I have gained 30lbs in the past year and a half and now half of my clothes don’t fit. I am a four time (soon to be five time) ironman triathlete. I have been doing two a day workouts 4 days a week for the last month and my arms are looking jacked. I still eat my feelings. I still sometimes feel like i’m not enough, but now sometimes I feel fulfilled alone. The feeling of fulfillment comes from finally being open and honest about things. From scaring the ever living shit out of myself by opening myself up to criticism by some; to hopefully be the light in the dark for others. So that hopefully if there is someone somewhere who feels not good enough, who is scared to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, who is alone in a city away from home because they moved for a relationship, and for anyone else who is lost….hopefully that person see’s this and says…..#samesies.