2016 was such an eventful year for me. It was one of healing, finding myself, and defining where I wanted to take my future. After literally “getting kicked off the horse” over and over between 2014 and 2015 and never really getting back on successfully, I realized that I had to take charge of the way that I reacted to negativity and change. No one likes change, right?
I started 2016 with broader resolutions that I had in past years (with the mind set of not wanting to fail at them again). What I didn’t realize was that 2016 was my comeback year, the year of the most emotional growth, and the year that I would start to accept things as they were instead of resisting and insisting for them to be the way that I wanted them to be.
Here were my 2016 resolutions:
Do more things that I love
- Hike more trails
- PR in the Marathon
- Maybe complete a ½ ironman
- Do a weekend back packing trip
Even though these are pretty long and lengthy, it took much evaluation to start realizing where I needed to be in my life at that point in time. I knew that my saving grace from going into a deep depression is the joy that I find in being an athlete. In 2016, I did achieve a PR in the marathon by almost 8 minutes. However, I realized that I was getting faster, but not happier. 2 things happened. During this time, I was training with a group of mostly road runners. I was comparing myself constantly to other people in the group, as there was a lot of internal competition and “click’s”. I also felt that I was constantly injured, sick, or tired. The training program was asking me to run at least five days per week, with speed sessions every week and didn’t give a specific prescription for cross training or weight lifting. I actually started gaining weight, especially in my abdomen. Being that I had just come off a knee injury prior to training for the Knoxville Marathon, I decided to take some time away from the group and try a different approach to training.
I started doing cross fit and functional workouts again after doing a lot of research of my own into nontraditional endurance training. I did the whole 30 challenge to get back into a paleo lifestyle and I started running with people who truly enjoy running rather than the competition between each other or talking about who has the best running clothes and shoes. I started running trails and I set new goals as an ultra-marathon runner. I started enjoying my sport again, actually, I grew to LOVE my sport again. After having to drop out of the 50 miler I trained for two years ago due to constantly being sick, I finally completed my first 50 mile race, as well as 2 50K’s and a 12 hour endurance run and 2 Spartan races. I managed to podium in 2 of these ultras and even had an age group finish (3rd place) for my first 50 mile! Coming into 2017, I feel stronger and more focused. I see food as fuel for my body rather than a treat that I need to reward myself. I challenge my heart rate in different ways and my metabolism/energy is increased due to the cross training. My training plans allow time for cross training and lifting and I have continued to hit PR’s this way. In November I set another PR in a road ½ marathon which proved that this method of training is doable for my life.
I did hike/run more trails. I did not do a ½ ironman due to deciding to focus on ultra-running, but someday I will. I also didn’t “back pack” per say but I did camp, a lot, while traveling for races.
- Pay off my car
- Pay of credit cards
- Budget better
This was a huge goal for me in 2016. Throughout my life I had always compared myself to others and normalized debt as just being a part of everyone’s life. That is until it seemed like all of my paychecks when to paying this bill or that bill. I decided that I did not want to live my life this way and actually see it as a source of depression and negative thinking now. I decided to live below my means and still am into 2017. I moved into an apartment that was 1 bed room, has the tiniest kitchen, and is in an area that most people do not want to live in. However, it was clean, has been safe, and it took up a very small portion of my budget. What I have realized is that I do not miss all the “things” I used to have. I am rarely home and having the extra room in my budget allowed me to pay of my vehicle loan, 2 credit cards, and make a huge dent in the remaining debt.
I read books and articles about budgeting and am using the Ramsey methods to pay down remaining debt. I know it will take a while to tackle the student loan, but as for everything else I will be debt free by August this year if I continue with my payment plans. I also leave room for some fun, but I reward myself now with trips and experiences rather than clothes and “things” for my home. It has helped me feel free and I have grown so much from this resolution.
- Become a corrective exercise specialist
- Become a certified weight loss specialist
- Work on LCSW hours
For those who do not know, I basically have two ongoing careers. I am a Licensed Master Level Social Worker and a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. As part of the financial freedom goals, I also focused heavily on career development to go hand in hand with financial freedom. I renewed my CPT and started taking personal training clients as a second job again at the beginning of the year. I continued my education and completed both certifications and it definitely shows with my client population. Most of them have had significant injuries that they are now recovering from and all lost many inches this year!
My LCSW will take a while, but I took on so many new responsibilities with taking a job in Mental Health. I have realized that both of my professions tie together and hopefully someday I hope to be able to work independently to creatively fuse the two together as one job.
- Go to church more
- Practice gratitude
Ahhh, the most precious of all my resolutions. So when I set this goal, it sounded simple in theory. However, looking back at where I was in January 2016, it was not a good place. I had failed relationships (a marriage), failed OCS, had a huge career change with a pay cut, had started over for like the 3rd time in two years, and was miserable. This was just two years of craziness, let alone multiple other traumas in my life that I had never really “dealt with”. I was in a place mentally where I truly did not feel like I had any purpose to my life anymore and that I was just constantly going through the motions. One day, I was driving and every time I drove over a bridge and saw the water below I could visualize taking my own life. Yes, that is a very scary thought to have.
I realized that day, after I came home and prayed and cried, that I needed to see a way to make things better again. I started reading scriptures and books about spirituality. I started praying again and meditating. I did go to church more, but it wasn’t just about sitting in a “building” with other Christians. It became a practice of taking every day one day at a time and waking up with gratitude. I prayed on top of mountain tops during my runs. Sometimes I would step out of my office at work and go walk and thank God for everything he has given me, even the bad things, because without them I would not be as understanding to my clients. I realized that I am not supposed to “understand” everything all the time and that we all have a purpose even if we haven’t found it yet.
I started to change and it showed. Other people started vocalizing that I was an inspiration to them. At work, I was able to help other see the light that I once was unable to see at the end of the tunnel. My boss even told me that I am a natural at therapy (something I was terrified of doing just because I’ve always thought I was too flawed myself to be a “therapist”). I realized that my problems very minuscule sometimes compared to others and that without struggle and I would never know how great life can be.
I also started seeing a therapist myself. I completed EMDR/Trauma Focused CBT to process multiple demons and traumas that I had pushed way down inside for many years. I realized that despite trying to ignore them, they had a sneaky way disrupting my life and relationships. They were a source of fear and at the same time kept me complacent and avoidant of taking risks. Through healing, my self-esteem improved and I was able to laugh when things didn’t go the way I planned for them to instead of viewing change and struggles as a catastrophe. While I would say that I still have some bad days, they are never as bad as that day on the bridge. 2016 was a beginning; a “new door opened”. I hope to continue to expand on this growth this coming year and I am starting it from a place of being thankful to be alive and present.