More Than Just Sports

I know a lot of people who think sports are just a game. A thing that people take way too seriously, and allow to control too much of their life. To them I say, “Poo poo on you.” Sports are so much more than just a game, just a contest, just men in tight pants (here’s looking at you baseball pants oww owwwwww). Let’s have a look at a few examples of how sports have affected people in ways deeper than JUST a game.


When we were children my parents always made sure that my brothers and I were involved in sports. We all played tennis, Softball/baseball, basketball, and almost all of us were on the swim team. Putting us in those situations molded us all into strong, hard working, social, well adjusted adults with irritable bowel syndrome. Okay, that last part is unrelated…or is it? Sports cause IBS – someone do that scientific study and get back to me. See below for adorable pictures of my brothers and I becoming semi decent human beings. Unrelated…should i start bringing the bows back?


However, being involved in all of those things did teach us interpersonal skills that have been invaluable to our successes as adults. It built in us an ability to create relationships and take on leadership roles. It taught us it is okay to strike out because that is going to happen in life – you will have failure. The question is how you approach the next at bat. Do you step back up to the plate frustrated, shoulders tight, and mind already checked out. Or do you step back up to the plate loose, positive, and not worried about the fact you struck out last time? Good Lord baseball/softball is ripe with encouraging metaphors!


In middle and high school playing sports teaches you time management, and how to prioritize your responsibilities. It strengthens your ability to communicate and work as a part of a team, and in some special cases it allows our precious young adults to blossom into the leaders they were born to be. In some cases during these years the coaches of these teams become a strong, sometimes the only, positive influence in their lives. Some find the structure and support they don’t have elsewhere in their lives. Some find a confidant or father/mother figure they may not have at home. For some it is a haven in the storm; a safe place to be when everything else in their world crumbles. A place it is okay to take out aggression in a controlled and focused way. For some it is all they have to keep them moving.


Going into college sports can mean a person actually getting to go to school when they never dreamed it financially possible. It is a stepping stone for the few hardest working and most dedicated to really hone their craft before they take the next step onto the big stage. It teaches people to rely on their teammates and trust that they will always have their back.


In life sports can be a gathering. My family gathers every Sunday to watch Green bay together. I know many other families that through tough times (here’s looking at you teenage years) a mutual love of a pro or college team has been the thread that held a relationship from falling apart, or the stitch that started to bring it back together. Memories of going to your first stadium – last forever. I know fathers and sons who have gone to the same stadium and sat in the same seats for decades to cheer on the ever changing lineup of the same team. Watching sports gives you a common goal, a shared passion, a band aide during times of trouble. It is so much more than a game.


I vividly remember getting the news that my aunt had taken her own life. We drove straight through from Chattanooga, TN to Cedarburg, WI for the funeral. It was a flurry of events seeing family we hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t get to know my aunt as well as I would have liked, but I know my dad and I know her children and my heart broke into a thousand pieces for them. That weekend we decided to stay in Wisconsin upon the request of some of the family members to watch the super bowl all together. It was such a beautifully broken moment for this to be what brings us all together. That night in my aunt’s house we watched the Green Bay Packers win the super bowl.  That night football was more than a game.


So to anyone who thinks sports are just a game. Sports are a magical unicorn that can take many forms, and serve many purposes. Take a minute to remove yourself from the hooplah of the huge business industry that college and professional sports have become and focus instead on the little kid with the foam finger and their proud parents.

Comfort Zone or Happy Fat Zone

I had an entirely different blog almost completed and maybe I’ll finish it one day, but today I have something much more urgent I need to get out. Comfort zones. Comfort zones have ALWAYS led me to grow stagnant. In my case growing stagnant means….getting like maybe a little pudgy. When I say a little pudgy I mean like I can pack on 30 pounds in 4-5 months. That is a skill I am not super proud of. I have started to think of what pushes me into these comfort zones. Or what about these comfort zones lulls me into a state of making excuses for myself and rationalizing the terrible choices I make with food.


I got into a comfort zone in high school. I stopped playing sports because I wasn’t the best at them anymore.  Drinking and hanging out with people who probably weren’t the best crowd was my first comfort zone. I had a car and they didn’t, I had a job and they didn’t, and I felt wanted because they needed these things. I also lived on a diet of fast food and beer. My personal favorite was when I would eat – JUST – a bag of chips. For those of you who are like a bag of chips isn’t the worst, and is only 100-200 calories. Well I am offended by you because you assume all I can handle is a snack bag. HA! I would eat a family size bag one serving at a time throughout the day, but I rationalized it by saying I only had one bag and it was only 120 calories per serving. I don’t want to shock anyone, but I didn’t lose any weight. However, I did lose all of those friends who when I ran out of things to give them disappeared.


After deciding to get out of that comfort zone it was clear to me that it needed to involve exercise, and possibly cutting bag to half a family size bag of chips (…you know…everything in moderation). So in true Liz form I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I joined a gym started working out, and then celebrated each workout with a Wendy’s frosty and sometimes some nuggets if I had worked extra hard. YOLO. I was losing weight though because I had so much to lose so I got comfortable there. Work my ass of and celebrate with Wendy’s. At some point as any athlete will know you hit a plateau and have to shake things up. Small issue, shaking things up is uncomfortable. Unless you’re shaking up a cocktail, and then that’s totally cool.


Here we are again, all comfy and safe and happy…..and fat. Time to get out of my comfort zone again. This time it is at the hands of Tobe Taylor. I started seeing him for personal training and a little more accountability. You don’t actually know fear until you are paying a person to train you and you have to step on a scale in front of them weekly. Then the excuses you can come up with for why you didn’t drop x number of pounds get nuts. Whooping cough, west Nile, the plague, death, my mothers brothers cousins fathers cousins made me a pie and I couldn’t not eat it because that would have been rude, I tripped and landed in  bath tub of ice cream and had to eat my way out to survive, I got jumped and instead of robbing me they forced me to eat pizza at gun point. Somehow this guy got through to me and I dropped down to 139 pounds. I was motivated and dedicated and I was comfortable there. Until I wasn’t anymore. Then I slipped backwards and packed on a few more pounds and found a happy balance.


That lasted for a few months until my comfort zone became more comfy and less exercisey. Oops. I vividly remember realizing I had done it again. I was sitting in my bedroom floor in my parents house and I had just stepped off the scale and was crying. When my mom asked what was wrong I told her I had done it again. I weighed in at 155 pounds. I had thrown away months and years of hard work and self control down the drain, and I knew it only gets harder to lose it the older you get. Here we go again.


A dear sweet friend of mine thought it would be a good idea for me to do an ironman triathlon. I was drinking so I agree’d. I trained my ass off for the next year and made that ironman my bitch. I finished in 13 hours and 15 minutes I think and I took second place in my age group, which was quite a feat considering there were only two people racing in my age group. I pretty immediately signed up for the next same race the following year…..but I didn’t really start training for it….like barely at all. Spoiler alert…the weight crept back on.


I lost the weight….again….and then I met a boy. My workouts became less frequent because I was having dinner with him, drinks with him, seeing movies with him, and definitely not exercising with him. I slipped into a comfort zone there that as long as he loved me as I was I would learn to love myself even if I was a little bigger than I was comfortable with. Another comfort zone, another rationalization of less than my best.


When he moved away it shock me yet again out of my comfort zone. I had three jobs and was still fitting in workouts but too busy to stop and eat. I dropped down to 135 pounds and didn’t even try or realize. I did not get to this weight in a healthy manor – let’s just go ahead and cover that. I was having cucumber soda (shout out Mr. Q) and two brownies for dinner at 4PM and then working a 5 hour serving shift and having cocktails after work (hey their cucumber cooler at 1885!). My body I think just gave out on me.


I moved to Philadelphia and was reunited with lord Voldemort (he who was not be named), and I fell effortlessly back into the comfort zone. Working out less an going out for food and drinks with him more. I slipped back down the mountain, we broke up, and I just powered through it by eating every feeling I had for a solid year. Hear a song that made me think of him? Shove a cheesesteak on top of it. Have a thought about him with a new girl? Drown it with a bottle of wine. Start feeling worried that you don’t feel that sad? Better order a pizza just to be safe.


That became the new comfort zone. Eating my feelings. Folks….that’s not a good comfort zone. I’ve been floundering. The double whammy for me is the bigger I get the harder my depression and anxiety are to control. Fat Bastard said it best, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy Because I eat. The best therapy for me is sweating out and pushing myself. When I’m not sweating it out and pushing myself I have a lot more feelings to eat. Vicious cycle. So here we are. Well here I am….at 166 pounds. For those of you who struggle with math…let me take the guess work out of it for you. I have gained 30 pounds since I moved to Philadelphia. If that doesn’t slap you in the face I don’t know what will!


So over the last few months I’ve struggled with finding a way to shake myself out of my comfort zone. I let a friend talk me into doing another tough mudder. I have avoided this since my first tough mudder in 2012. Side note – When your doctor tells you that you should not do a race because you have a 103 fever and you are very sick. Listen. If you decide you can still do it and drive to the race, but it ends up being 20 something degrees and multiple obstacles require you to be submerged in ice water…GO HOME. Naturally I ran the race and it was the worst day of my life…. but, I digress. I accepted the challenge and bullied another friend into joining me. I went into it scared I would fail at everything because I’m like maybe a bit chunkier than usual. I was worried that I would be th weak link on the team of people that I really didn’t know or they would judge me for my big ol beer belly.


I was terrified, though you would have never known it. I could not have been further from the truth. These people welcomed me with open arms. They were genuinely beautiful people inside and out. We laughed, we peed in obstacles surrounded by other people, and I think I have some new friends. In the least they are definitely invited to the wiener dog race.


Moral of the story. Never get comfortable. Never settle. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Push yourself, and never allow yourself to settle for less than. You’ll always struggle and worry and second guess, but take the leap and see if you fly.




Run Forrest, Run!

How many of you love running? How many of you hate running? Let’s Discuss!

Running is great exercise and we all know it, but it sucks. Then I sucks some more, and sucks a little more and then it REALLY sucks. Then one day it’s tolerable. Then a few days later it has become part of your routine and if you skip a run or miss a few days you are bummed that you are not running. That was my story.

I hated running in school. I thought people who ran cross country were nut jobs. Who would run miles when you could get in a car and drive!? Running sprints and conditioning work were my least favorite part of every sport I ever played. Then as you may know from my previous posts….i got fat. Like really fat. See Below:


So I started running little by little. At first to run a mile was a huge challenge, but soon enough I could run 3 miles and I fell into a habit of not pushing for more. Shortly after I got bored with it and quit. I started gaining some weight back and had to do some soul searching. I realized I wasn’t going to stick with anything running or otherwise unless I was working towards something. Liz needs goals – this is a fact. I ran a 5k, and it was heaven. I actually have a selfie I took while running my first 5k. The fun fact about this selfie is that it was taken with an actual digital camera. As in I was running with an actual digital camera taking pictures of my self. Not something I’m proud of….but definitely something I did. See Below:

runing selfie

Slowly I started running longer distances and entering longer races. I joined the Chattanooga Triathlon Club (Holler!) and found the most supportive home for perusing a healthier lifestyle I possibly could. More importantly, I found some of my closest friends. It’s amazing the difference being with genuinely amazing people will take your mind off of the terrible thing your legs are doing. So without further ado, Here is my “what running is to me”.

Running to me is so many things. Running is therapy. Running is communion. Running is a challenge. Running is a ugly. Running is beautiful. Running is undefinable.  There are some runs where I process all the anger I have pent up from the stresses of work and life. There are others where I literally cry while I run because there are emotions I don’t know how else to let out. Some times I’m just smiling like a fool the whole time I run because everything seems to be right in my world for just that moment. Sometimes I have particularly grey days where I feel nothing so I force myself to run to make myself feel….something, to make myself cope. Running is a chance for two people with very busy lives to catch up, laugh, and share in life’s highs and lows together. Sometimes you’re running and your stomach is like hey you have a choice to make….poop yourself or poop in the woods. Spoiler alert, I have done both. Sometimes you plan to go out on a 3 mile run and all the sudden you have finished 9 miles. On the flip side sometimes you plan to run 15 miles and all the sudden you only ran 2 and you’re at Dalessandro’s taking a cheesesteak to the face without stopping to breathe. You win some runs, you lose some runs, and sometimes your run will give you the runs….but I digress.

One of my new favorite things to do is pose the question of the blog to as many people as possible with very little direction. So I asked some runners I know to give me a little blurb about what running is to them, and their favorite songs to run to.

I run with no music, headphone or even my phone, it is my time to be away from everything and enjoy the rhythm of feet and pavement and sights. . . to unplug for a bit.  It is truly mental vacuuming.
Male – 46

I HATE running. There I said it. When I was younger, someone told me they felt closer to God while running. I want that, but I don’t have that. For the approximately 40 minutes I “run” my 3.1 miles (yea, I’m slow), all I can think about is not stopping or how much longer I have. I’ve regretted many things in my life, but going for a run is not one them. I don’t feel magically better, I’m not super skinny, and it’s not any easier 2 years later than when I first started, but for those minutes while I’m running, I don’t have room to think about anything other than finishing. The stress of life, the constant reminder of regret, the overwhelming sadness in the world, none of it matters while I run. Those minutes of peace keep me sane, so while I hate every aspect of running (almost), I’ll continue to run
Female – 29

When I’m running I don’t worry about anything but running. I’m not thinking about what I should be doing or what I’m doing next. I just think please don’t die, just breath. I guess running is MY time to myself.
 I don’t really have a song that I listen to when I run but anything from Yelawolf or Ritz are on the top of the list.”
Female – 31

Running changed my life. I started running sophomore year in college. I didn’t like it at first, but no one does. I decided that I needed to make a positive change in my life. I was a really big partier and a huge pot head. I was always good with school and got good grades so I never really saw a problem with my college lifestyle. Until I noticed that I was getting depressed, overweight and just generally feeling unhealthy.
I started by running one mile and as time went on I added distance and increased speed. Over the summer of 2010 I was fucking awesome at running and loved it. That fall I completed my first half marathon. I finished it about an 1:45. Which was very unexpected and a huge morale booster. I continued running and in 2011 I completed the same half marathon from previous year (Virginia Beach Rock n Roll half). Finished in 1:32 which is a little under 7 min miles. I felt awesome. Today, I mainly do CrossFit but still love going on runs. Running made me realize that being healthy and active is part of being a happy, productive human.
My favorite song to run to Firestarter by Prodigy
Male – 27

Running began as a stress outlet and has evolved into something I can no longer live without. No matter how horrible or unmotivated I feel, going for a run turns my day around every single time
Female – 27

Running means finding my inner voice and seeking challenge (since it is my weakest link in triathlon). My favorite song to run to is DJ got us fallin in love
Female – 49

Running. I HATE running, but I still try to force myself to do it because I know how important it is to my health. In every sport I played growing up, running was a form of punishment so I was conditioned to hate it and have never really been able to shake that. That being said, when I do run, I find slower rhythmic rap and rock music really help me keep pace and control my breathing. As for a specific song, I usually start with Glycerine by Bush as I build from a slow jog to my running pace.”
Male – 30

Things I love about running: being in nature, being with my friends, the feeling of accomplishment, and discovering new trails that you’d definitely never find while sitting on the couch. With running there are so many ways to challenge yourself. If i’s beating a time goal, climbing a mountain, finishing a race, or completing a section of trails you have never gotten to experience before. There’s always something new. If i don’t run i just plain feel bad mentally, physically, and emotionally. To put it simply… without running sucks! I’ve never regretted going for one, but i have regretted missing one.”
Female – 38

Running used to be the worst part of exercising for me. When I was in high school I was known for getting sick when I ran long distances. Now I try so hard to convince myself to run each day or a couple times a week, because I know it’s the only consistent way to alleviate my back pain. Now I see running everyday as a necessary healthy habit.
Female – 26

Running is great because it can be whatever I want it to be. It can be relaxing, or it can be competitive. I can use it to clear my head, or to give myself uninterrupted thinking time. It’s nostalgic (I’ve been running since I was 8 years old), but it also helps me stay current with what’s happening around town. I don’t run with music. But I always get songs stuck in head. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon and “Little Secrets” by Passion Pit both pop up pretty frequently.
Male – 29

Again, it’s amazing to see how people can have such different views and approaches to the same things. I would jump off a bridge before i could run without music. Yet for some people being alone with their thoughts and nature is a must. For me that is terrifying. Whatever running means to you – keep doing it, and encourage others to. Run with slow people, challenge yourself to run with fast people, push yourself out of your comfort zone and strive to be your best. Or take up cycling and be gentle on your joints. Your call.