Monday, January 31, 2011

Why is it easy to get fat and hard to get skinny?

Honestly, why can’t it be the other way around?  At some point every day I struggle with making the “healthy” choice.   This Sunday it was choosing to work out.  I had a mini meltdown on the way to the gym.  I’m hitting a plateau with my weight and it’s driven me flippen batty.  It’s so frustrating because I’m seemingly making all the healthy choices, drinking more water and less pop, making good food decisions, working out and journaling my food.  Yet my lovely number on the wii board isn’t going down.  My frustration is that I’m not to that point of loving exercise  or loving all healthy choices I make.  Yes, I’m glad I make them and I know they are the right choices, but they are still un-natural and somewhat foreign to me.  So Sunday morning, I’m crying, yes crying in the car because I’m mad.  I’m mad that it’s so darn hard.  I’m mad that I’m giving up time and things I love and not seeing results.  For a moment I just wanted to be fat and happy.  But when I thought about it, fat and happy isn’t what I was or am.  I’m not happy being overweight knowing I’m putting my health at risk and shortening my life.  I’m not happy that I change this and it took me so long to get real about weight issues.  My husband worked thru my melt down with me.  This whole working thru your emotions and talking them out, writing them, it’s new to me.  It works, but it’s hard.  It’s being vulnerable, it’s being honest with not only all of you, but honest with myself as well.  For years I fooled myself into thinking that even with my weight I was healthy.  I have guilt and feel ashamed but I know I can move forward and make it different.  I know if I stick with it, my lovely wii board will show me the results I so desire.  Better than those magic numbers is the fact I’m giving myself and my family the gift of life.  I’ll be here to see my daughter get married and have children.  I’ll be able to grow old with my best friend and look back at our wonderful life together. 

Unstoppable Wii board hater Mariah

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day and Night Difference

I got groceries tonight after work.  With our new food choices we end up shopping once a week to purchase our fresh veggies and fruit.  It's pretty convenient for me just to run after work due to the super target being down the road from my office.  We write our menu for the week and grocery list the night before shopping.  My first stop, the produce area, my second a few canned goods, then off to frozen frozen food and dairy.  My list made the shopping so much easier, while my cart yelled "take me down the snack food isle, take me down the baking isle, taking me down the candy isle" I calmly looked at my list and kept on task.  I control the cart, the card doesn't control me.   As I put my groceries on the checkout belt I felt myself smile, I felt so proud of all of my awesome choices.  I was smiley, happy and full of energy!  Then I noticed a woman behind me, she was frowning and looked very unhappy.  She placed her items on the belt with a thud and grunt.  I noticed the groceries she was purchasing everything was processed, salty, high in fat and calories.  Nothing looked even remotely appealing.  I then looked at my groceries and was proud and excited.  It was then it hit me, part of my energy and excitement came from the great way I now choice to fuel my body.  It's a day and night difference on how I grocery shop.  I never had a plan before, I purchased on impulse.  I used to feel that tried grumpy way when grocery shopping, I love the way I feel when I go shopping now.  I also save a crazy amount of time due to skipping so many other isles in the store.  I always thought grocery shopping would be so much more difficult if I would eat healthy, it turns out to be the opposite, grocery shopping is way easier now that I'm eating healthy.

I run my first official 5K tomorrow with Paul, Angela and Jason.  I purchased some running tights and a long sleeve moisture wick top.  It should be about 23 degrees when the race starts at 10am.  I'm so excited and nervous.  I'm thankful for having friends in my life that challenge me and that I can do healthy things with. 
I've made my drinking 100 oz all five days, two workouts in and writing in my good journal everyday.  Great progress!

Unstoppable Happy and Proud Grocery Shopper Mariah

F you cold weather, snowy road, big bad hills and . . . . .Angela

Okay maybe not Angela, but I was thinking that as I tried running up the first snowy hill on the 5K this morning.  That wasn’t my only thought.   I started wondering why in the HE double hockey sticks I would pay $25 dollars on a cold morning to run up snowy hills when I could be warm in my bed dreaming of warm and salty french fries.  Instead I’m dying trying to run up this stupid and unexpected hill.  If I had known there would be hills I highly doubt I would have agreed to sign up for the 5k, but I’m thrilled that I didn’t know and that I did sign up.
I’m not sure how many readers are familiar with the footprints in the sand poem (  This is one of my favorite stories.  Today it took on a whole new meaning for me.  I struggled during the 5K, while I have been training, this hills and snow threw me for a total loop and it was way harder then I anticipated.  My husband and friends Jason and Angela mentally and emotionally carried me thru my struggles.  Without them, I’m not sure I would have made it today.  I started slowly jogging in the beginning but ended up fast walking almost all of the 5K.  They encouraged me thru the hills and the icky snowy roads.  Instead of being worried about how fast they would complete the race,  they kept me going by staying by my side helping me along.  At one point I was worried about being last.   Jason being the amazing friend he is, told me I didn’t need to worry, if it came to that, he would run in behind me.  What at AMAZING friend!  To make my hubby proud I sprinted thru the finish line!  He always wants me to do that, but it scares the crap out of me, but I totally did it! I’m starting to appreciate and understand I’m worth it.  I’m worth the effort.  Jason and Angela know I’m worth the investment and I want to make sure I return on that investment.   I promise to pay it forward and will continue to get myself to the healthy and balance person I know I can be.  My cousin Pam is doing her first 5K this spring (not hilly, not cold, whoo hoo, I'll make it) I am so proud and excited for her.  I will keep training and be there for her if she struggles.  I will be there to carry her thru the hard times.  I will be there to run in behind her and let her shine in the glory of her accomplishment. 
We plan to sign up for the same race next year, I’m confident that I’ll be able to accomplish the goal of jogging the whole time.   My definition of success today is that I have amazing and wonderful people in my life that will continue to help me reach my goals.  I can’t even begin to describe how proud, lucky and happy I am to be so blessed.
Unstoppable "F those Hills" Mariah

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lunch Bag, oh Lunch Bag, I miss you!

As I left the house this morning I had the odd feeling I was missing something.  I checked my laptop bag, wallet . . check, work badge . . . check, laptop . . . check, cell phone . . . check, hummm why do I feel like I’m forgetting something.  I didn’t sleep well last night so I was guessing I was just a little crazy and tired.  I got to work and start getting excited thinking about my nummy veggie eggs and chicken sausage.  Lunch bag . . No check, son of a Bautch!  It’s on the chair at home.  Thankfully I work in a building with a cafeteria, but sadly they don’t have a wide variety healthy snacks.  I can usually get by fairly okay with meals by making good choices.  The hard part is making those good choices.  Breakfast was easy, egg white omelet with ham and cheese.  Lunch, not so easy.  The pasta looked wonderful, the pizza like heaven, the burgers smelled great . . but I settled on a chicken wrap with veggie sticks.  I even asked them to include baby spinach in my wrap, it was delish!  YUPPIE for good choices.  Now if I could only find those healthy snacks.  The darn mini chocolate bars on my neighbors desk look so naughty and happy.  They call to me, eat me, eat me.  Thank goodness there aren’t any almond joys in there or I just don’t think I have the power to say no today.

Paul and I walked/jogged last night.  We made it 2 miles with relatively minor pain.  The best part was being able to talk to him even when we were slowly jogging.  I ran longer that I have before and I felt great.  I also discovered something new yesterday afternoon.  As I was packing up my bag, I was thinking of all the excuses I could to get out of exercising last night.  I was feeling the same apprehension and nervousness that I do anytime I workout.  Since I’m now becoming aware of how much my emotions play into my weight and choices I began to analyze those feelings.  Turns out, I’m terrified of failing!  That’s what I was afraid of, that’s why I historically would always choose not to work out.  If I didn’t work out, in my mind, I didn’t fail.  So as my husband tells me, I redefined my outlook on success.  Last night success wasn’t that I ran at a specific pace or distance.  It was the fact that I got outside and made time to work out to make myself healthy.  That is a HUGE success!  As soon as I removed the fear of failing I was able to move forward.  I felt so darn free and lighter.  I should have weighed myself then J   So now I know when that feeling of not wanting to work out due to fear of failing, I just need to remind myself what failure is and what success is.  I define it, no one else has to define it for me. 

If you are keeping track, check off drinking my 100 oz for a second day, food journaling for a second day and one work out for the week.  I’m well on the way to meeting my goals for the week.

Unstoppable Lunch Bagless Mariah

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Day at a Time

I can check of one day of journaling and one day off for my water goal, a great start to the week.  Last night I tried hard to be outgoing and sociable, I let my fears take a backseat and my personality drive.  I found a new friend whom I’m going to partner with for my group paper and project.  She’s a friendly and smart.  I’m really looking forward to getting to know her more.  Her goal is to get an A and is committed to doing the work to achieve the A.   It’s a 6 weeks class so it’s pretty intense but I’m confident I can make it work with good time management.  Tonight I’m going to go running with Paul after work before dinner and then start writing down a schedule of everything we have going on.  I’m finding this to truly be a key to success.  I used to hate being on a schedule, but now I realize I can’t succeed without it.

My Wii board made me angry again this morning, for any guys reading this, this may be TMI but those who know me, I see the line and I jump way across the line.  Fellow ladies will understand my unexpected weight gain, it’s all about that darn “cycle”.  I know my weight is effect by my cycle but it still frustrates me.  So I need to stay off the scale for a few days and then weight myself again.  I think I’ll wait till Friday because honestly, I just feel devastated when I see it go up.  I know come Friday I’ll be down what I’m up and a little more so I just need to take a few days away from weighing in.

When I committed to the 5K, I really didn’t realize how fast it was coming up.  It’s this Saturday!!!  I’m freaking out a little but know I’ll power through it.    My cousin Pam and her husband Tim are watching Hannah Belle for the day.  She’s more like a sister then a cousin and I’m blessed to have her and her family in my life.   She sent me the best email this morning that brightened up my day and reminded me that this is a journey with many bumps in the way.  She at times has the same road blocks, they may not be at the same time, but she totally understands wanting to throw a scale out the window.  Pam reminded me that I have to keep moving forward and that it won’t be easy.  It was perfect timing after my second day of having breakdown about the Wii board. I love being on the journey with her.   I’m still healthier today then I was before.  I’m more mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically fit.  It took me 8 plus years to gain the weight, it will take me years to take it off.  One step at a time, One day at a time, One triumph at a time.

Unstoppable moving forward Mariah

Monday, January 24, 2011

I curse you Wii Fit board

Welcome to Monday!  I jumped on my Wii Fit board this morning and almost threw the darn thing out the window.  It obviously didn’t understand or have sympathy for the fact I worked out both days this weekend.  It didn’t care that I found muscles I didn’t know I had and they ached as I got up out of bed this morning.  Nor did it care that I totally rocked running outside in spite of my burning lungs.  Damn you Wii fit board!  Okay, I feel better now after getting that off my chest.  I was only up +.08 of a pound, but that still enough to leave me a bit frustrated.  Looking back at my eating this weekend I do notice I’ve had more salt then usual and I didn’t drink as much water as I should have.  I’m sure that has contributed weight gain that caused my Wii melt down this morning.  I will not let this SMALL setback stop me from moving forward.

My goals this week are as follows:  1- meet my 100 oz water goal 6 days this week, 2- get 3 workouts in this week, 3- to journal my food everyday this week.  These goals are realistic (eating that elephant one bite at a time) and achievable.   I’m learning the key is to make it simple. Scheduling things makes it simple for me.  So Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday are my workout days this week.  If I get Sunday in, that will be a bonus!   

Today to help build my confidence for school tonight, I wore my cute skirt, boots, my new necklace and curled my hair.  I’m  feeling rather spunky.  I printed out my class materials from online and have them neatly tucked away in a folder.  While this took extra time for all of these preparations, it also makes me feel good and more confident.  I feel prepared and ready to take on the world.  Silly how clothes and printing some papers out can do that for you, but hey it works for me so I’m sticking with it.  I used to hate wearing skirts, but since I found my cute boots that go up to my knees I love them.  I hate my legs and the boots cover them and the boots are so darn cute!  I have visions of more skirts being purchased as I continue to lose pounds.  I find myself wanting to dance around and twirl when I wear skirts . . .I wonder what my co-workers think of my odd behaviors.  Guess they are probably starting to get used to it as my husband and daughter have.

Unstoppable Confident (and not wii fit board throwing) Mariah

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Burrrr, It's cold outside

Whooo hoooo, I did it, I made it, I'm still ALIVE.  I ventured outside for my first run out in the cold MN winter.  With windchill it was below 0, BELOW 0!!!  It was so cool both figuratively and literally.  I actually enjoyed myself a little bit.  My lungs are still recovering because they burned in the cool air.  It's almost 90 minutes later and my chest still hurts some. On Tuesday I'll bundle up a scarf around my neck tighter.  I'm ready to keep plugging away and getting used to running outside in the cold.  I'm so proud of myself because I overcame the fact I really didn't want to go today.  I just told myself it was less then 30 minutes out of my day and I just needed to suck it up.  Change requires commitment and I'm committed to change.

Paul and I did our Sunday night routine in  preparing for the week and getting our meals in line.  This week was much easier then last week.  I think we are getting the hang of it.  This week it didn't seem like such a chore.  I think after realizing how much it helped us be successful I have a different view of it. 

I start classes again tomorrow night.  I'm always get the before school jitters.  For fellow people struggling with their weight, they understand some of the feelings I have before meeting new people.  I walk into a room full of strangers and often feel like all they see is my extra weight and not the person I really am.  My inner voice tells me, why would people like you, your fat.  I'm working hard to change that inner voice to be a positive influence instead being so negative.  Tomorrow night, I'm going to work on being the confident person  I know that hides underneath those fears.  I will remind myself that I'm a loving, caring, funny individual regardless of my weight.

Unstoppable FREEZING Mariah

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Eat That Elephant

You can't eat the elephant all at once, you have to do it one bite at a time.  This analogy fit well for me today.  Paul and I headed out this morning for a nice long workout at the gym. I tend to overshoot my goals at the gym and then feel very disappointed when I don't live up to those expectations.  I know to set smaller goals, but sometimes I just get overly excited and think I can do it all without building up to it. 

Today about 1 mile into workout on the treadmill I began to feel tears in my eyes.  I hate that stupid treadmill, I hate the feeling of running as my "junk in the trunk" bounces.  Honestly most of my frustrations with the treadmill is how all the fat on my body wiggles, it's my butt, my chest, I swear even my arm fat moves when I run.  All of my fears come back into my head telling me I can't do it.  I felt like a failure and then I thought about what my husband tells me, I define success.  Someone else doesn't have to decide what success is for me, I can decide what it is.  So I scaled down my goal for the day.  I would stay on the treadmill for 30 minutes and push as hard as I could for that 30 minutes.  Somehow putting a time limit on it made me more confidence.  I think it was because it was a goal I knew I could achieve.  After that, I stretched out and made the goal to bike for 6 miles.  Again, another achievable goal.  So my lesson today for myself, I will eat that darn exercise elephant one bite at a time.  I will put one foot in front of the other and continue to move forward and not let the thought of the whole elephant stop me. 

I've scheduled out a workout routine for me this week.  I knew it was important with starting back with classes.  It's been difficult making sure Paul gets his workout time in (he loves P90X), Hannah gets her homework, violin and gymnastics and my working out in.  To think of adding school in the mix overwhelms me, but again, a schedule is key to making this successful.

My girlfriend Angela challenged me to a 5K at the end of January.  She's said I told her I was unstoppable and I think I better live up to that.  I'm nervous as I've never ran outside in the winter and told her I didn't know how much running I could do.  She's let me know she was okay with that as she has some limitations with running outside due to asthma.  Together we should make a great pair.  I enjoy spending time with her although we don't get to spend as much as I would like due to always being so crazy busy.  Her and her husband Jason are such great supporters of me being healthy and I'm thankful for having them in my life.

Tomorrow my bite of the exercise elephant will be trying my first run outside.  I'm actually a little excited to see what it will be like.  It's looking warm enough for jog around the block.  Wish me luck!

Unstoppable Elephant Eating Mariah 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Temptations, I ignore you

On mornings like this I think it’s not so bad I have a little extra junk in the trunk.  It’s one of those morning were your nose hairs freeze when you take the slightest breath through it.  I figure a little extra insulation helps keep me warmer then all those skinny people.  It could all be in my head, but it makes me feel good anyways.
Today is filled with temptations.  We have a department potluck and Hannah’s kidstop was selling donuts for a fundraiser for KS95 change for kids .  I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable due to some disturbing news last night.  Previously this would have been enough of an excuse for me to throw my diet out the door.  Then again, it really didn’t take much for me to find an excuse before, it would have been, I’m feeling frustrated about the news, I’m feeling tired and want a break , it’s Friday and I shouldn’t have to worry about a diet on Friday, I start school on Monday and need a boost, the list goes on and on.  But today, I make different choices.  It’s a lifestyle change, and as Jen from taught me, it’s about decisions and not restrictions.  So this morning instead of putting my stretchy potluck pants on (you know the nice elastic happy ones) , I put my a little too tight potluck pants on.   They are a little tight around the waste to help remind me when I’m full and what my goal is.  Seems silly and little, but I’m confident this tool well help me succeed today.  I will not make excuses today, I will make decisions today.  

Unstoppable Tight Potluck Pants Mariah

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Giddy on Chocolate

I just broke down and I don’t feel guilty at all.  I just had the most amazing snack sized Almond Joy bar.  First I goggled how many calories . . . 90.  Oh yes, imagine the amount of cauliflower I could have eaten instead.  However, the chocolate, the coconut, the almond . . . it was dreamy.  It got me thinking, previously I would have eaten a whole Almond Joy without taking so much as a breath.  Now I take one bit, savor it, taste it and totally enjoy the experience. 
Now if I could only find a way to make Almond Joy bars be as healthy as cauliflower . . . . . . .

Unstoppable Almond Joy Loving Mariah

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh yes, I eat veggies!

Okay, so yes, I know you are supposed to eat vegetables.  But I have to be quite honest with you.  I was never a vegetable or fruit eater.  Just ask my Mom, she made me promise if I was ever famous I would give her the credit due to not making me eat those nasty veggies.  However on my new quest for health, I'm diligently trying new vegetables.  It may take me 20 times of eating the same one to find I actually may like it.  In fact, don't tell anyone, but I think I might be starting to like cucumbers and tomatoes.  Me liking vegetables is like saying pigs fly,it just doesn't happen and yet . . . magically it's seeming to.  Today I found out you can eat 1/2 cup of cauliflower for 14 calories.  SERIOUSLY 14 calories.  I'm in love!

Today was a little more of a struggle with food.  I've been doing good since Sunday,but felt frustrated with having to make good decisions today.  I think part of it was being tired.  I kinda felt like a 2 year old and just wanted to say, I don't wanna.  I went out to lunch with a good friend who has breast cancer and will be starting chemo this week.  One of her other close friends was there who had lost her husband in a quick and unexpected death this past summer.  Talking to Priya and Sari helped me shake my funk and reminded me what we have control over and what we don't.  I choose the grilled chicken tacos and only ate one.  Not bad considering my old choice would have been a deep fried chimichanga smothered in happy cheese and goo (darn it, I think I just drooled).  The grilled taco was so good and I didn't really feel like I missed out on anything. 

When I get overwhelmed I keep reminding myself what Jen ( told us this weekend, one bite at a time, one decision at a time.  I take one food decision at a time.  The other day I was offered a cupcake what seemed like a bazillion times, I kept saying no thank you.  I don't have to worry about all the times I'll turn down sweets, chips etc.  I just need to work thru one day at a time, one event at a time.  This makes it seem so much simpler.

Unstoppable (Veggie Eater) Mariah

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sabotage No More

Good Afternoon-

I started this blog to help me talk thru my emotions.  I figured since my emotions got me here maybe in turn they would take me out.  Instead of dealing with my emotions I would stuff them deep down side by stuffing my face full of food. 

Figuring this all out leaves you vulnerable and naked, but at the same time, it feels good to shed the layers and find myself.  Those who love me unconditionally thru this journey will be there in the end, but it's also hard parting with those who don't.

When you start losing weight, while you think everyone will be supportive, you will also find those who quietly try to sabotage you.  It's easier for them to do that so they feel less guilty or bad about who they are. 

I went to a seminar this weekend and it really opened my eyes to finding who those saboteurs are around me and how I allow myself to be open to them.  Today I choose to be different and stand tall and strong against them.  I will no longer allow myself to be distracted by them.  Please remind me of this when I am feeling weak.

Sunday morning I started a new breakfast routine.  Veggies in my eggs.  Oh yes, I never liked veggies as a child.  Slowly I am learning to like them.   I figured if I eat them often enough they will grow on me as my other new food choices did.  I'm happy to say as of this morning, I'm down 42lbs from my biggest weight.  I know if I keep making the right choices I'll be able to keep adding to that number.

Unstoppable Mariah



This is my first attempt at a blog.  I began my weight loss journey back in July 2009.  I'm learning I must be more open and honest with my feelings and thought this would be a great way to start.  For those getting to know me let me share how my story started by training for the Trek Triathlon. 

My journey started back in July of 2009 when my friend Heather came back from the Woman’s Trek Triathlon.  She was full of life, amazing energy and looking to recruit new triathletes.  If you've ever met Heather you know right away, she's a unique, wonderful and amazing individual.  In my eyes, she's one of my angels I met along my journey.  She sent me pictures and a little bit about her Triathlon and asked me if I was up to the challenge of joining her next year.  I had always wanted to do a Triathlon and was coming to terms with my unhealthy lifestyle.  I had gained more than 100 lbs since my son was stillborn back in 2002.  Eating was the only way I knew how to deal with his death and all of the dreams I had for him.  My mother had been diagnosed with kidney cancer the Christmas before and I knew I had to change.  For anyone that has the pleasure of knowing Heather she is so immensely compassionate and believes whole heartedly in people.  I found myself asking, if Heather believes in me so much, why don't I believe in myself?  With that thought, I made the commitment and signed up.  I knew if I paid the registration fee, I would do the triathlon.  My husband, daughter and family were extremely supportive.  My mother herself who has struggled with her weight, was understandably concerned with mine and was proud I was working to change it. 

I started training for a triathlon at 306 pounds.  Yes, all 306 pounds of me started training.  At first it was embarrassing working out, wondering what others thought of the fat girl trying to lose weight.  Finding gym clothes was challenging.  I found humor in that, so I’m overweight and need to lose weight, but can’t find any gym clothes to do it in.  Ironic?  What I didn't expect to happen, my whole body hurt.  Oh yes, not just the muscles hiding deep within but apparently when fat bounces, it hurts.  I had a choice, to stop . . . . or to keep going.  I choose to keep going; this theme became very prevalent during my journey.  Working out and changing your life is a choice, it doesn't come "easy", it's not automatic for me.  It's a choice and I keep making that choice every day of my life.  I posted that I was doing a triathlon on facebook to ensure I could stick to my goal and not chicken out.  If everyone in your life knows your goal, it makes it very challenging to back out.  Heather kept checking in to see how I was progressing and offered encouraging words.  My friends helped keep me track with making good food choices and always helped me in celebrating my new healthy lifestyle.  My husband and daughter also empowered me when I had set backs as did so many other wonderful people in my life.

A co-worker who was an avid cycler helped me purchase a used beginner bike and I started biking outside.  I'll never forget my first 3.5 mile bike ride; I came home bawling barely able to make it up the stairs at my house.  My first thought, there is no way I can do this, what did I sign up for?   My husband Paul came to talk to me, he encouraged me to keep going.  He reminded me that he, Hannah, Heather, Mom, Jason, my cousin Pam and everyone else knew I could do it.  He told me that I had to come to terms with knowing that I could do it.  He reminded me that I had to believe in myself and that I had to CHOOSE to keep going.  As I continued to work out, it got better.  I must admit, I still don't love working out, but I did fall in love with the way it makes me feel.  It’s strange how people start noticing you.  This part was more difficult for me, it seemed like I was more likable just because I lost weight, but yet I was the same fun loving person I've always been.  Suddenly everyone started noticing my body and it made me more self-conscious then ever.  I did love buying new clothes.  For anyone that's shopped in the plus sizes, we all know they think we are all old ladies who have no taste in clothes.  It was so great getting to shop in misses sizes.  For the first time in a long time, I found myself actually being okay looking at myself in the mirror and watching the changes in my body.

Heather helped me with my swimming.  She took me for my first real swim with her at the YMCA.  I realized I was a little off in my definition of swimming, splashing around in the pool with your child isn't swimming.   To say I was terrified to swim would be putting it mildly.  The thought of having to swim 1/2 mile with not touching the ground in a lake was absolutely mortifying.  Heather gently got me going, starting one lap at a time, giving me advice and telling me things to expect.  She has a gift of challenging people to reach their potential.  The first day we swam, we did 1/4 of a mile, not bad for a newbie!  I again found muscles I didn't know I even had.   The thing about swimming it's a total body work out and you don't even know when you sweat because you stay cool in the water.  I could have a cardio and muscle workout in a short period of time.   As you can probably tell, I've fallen in love with swimming.  I tend to zone out and just think when I swim.  Sometimes I think about why I'm on my journey, sometimes I pray for people, sometimes I just count my strokes and other times I just tune out the world and feel the water.

I found running to be my biggest challenge.  I dislike running, I’m hoping one of these days it starts becoming natural to me.  Maybe in time it will and maybe it won't, but again, I will choose to keep going.  My husband was amazing, he never complained about me taking time to train.  He took on more duties around the house because I was not only working full time, but also a part-time student as well.  He never once made me feel bad for making Mariah time.   If I came home and ran before dinner, he would have it waiting when I got back.  If I ran after dinner, he would clean the kitchen and help Hannah with her homework while I was gone. 

On an early morning in July, Heather came to pick me up for our drive to the Triathlon.  We planned to go a few days early to get settled and have girl time.  We drove to Winona, MN to pick up Michelle.  Michelle was my second angel I met on my journey.  She is another AMAZING woman.  She is welcoming, heartwarming and her smile lights up a room.  She embraces you as if she's known you for years.   She, like Heather, makes you believe you can do anything you set your mind to.   On our drive to Pleasant Prairie WI we shared stories of joys and sadness.  We bonded and made friendships that will last a lifetime.  I feel so lucky to have met both of them and feel honored to call them friends. 

The day before the Triathlon I got to meet Sally Edwards, the first female triathlete and share part of my story with her.  I got to listen to amazing stories of cancer survivors who were triathletes.  They had talks on what the next day would bring, how to change a bike tire, etc.  They set you up for success.  If I had any doubts if I could accomplish crossing the finish line they were completely melted away.

On July 11 at 7:15 am I was standing on the beach with my wave listening to Sally Edwards inspire us thru her bullhorn.  She gives each wave a phrase.  My wave . . . . I am unstoppable.  It was so fitting with the theme I had found while training, I choose to keep going.  I am unstoppable was the phrase I told myself in the middle of the lake while I was struggling with a Charlie Horse.  The day before my Mom had told me, when I couldn't swim anymore to feel for her angels help carry me.  Those angels were with me as I chanted out loud to myself "I AM UNSTOPPABLE".

When I made it out of the water, I staggered, yes staggered, to transition and jumped on my bike.  I smiled as I heard my husband and daughter ring the cowbell Heather loaned them.   They stood holding a huge sign with huge smiles.  I was struggling on the bike as I hadn't trained on hills, but I kept chanting "I am unstoppable".  I remembered everyone that believed in me . . . Paul, Hannah, my family, Heather, Michelle, Jason, Brianna, Pam, Sari and the list went on, and then I remembered I believe in me.  The amazing thing about Trek, as people pass you, they tell you encouraging words.  They told me this hill is yours, you can do it, keep going, you are almost there, and you got this.  It was empowering.   They have great volunteers that jump up and down; they clap, cheer and encourage you as you go.  Here are people you don’t even know and here they are helping you along your way.   At mile 6 of the bike, a switch went off and everything changed, I fell in love with being a triathlete.  If you've ever watched the Biggest Loser, you've seen those light bulb moments.  It happened; I'll never forget the feeling.
I returned from the bike and was thrilled to be off of it and on to the 5K.  There were Paul and Hannah cheering me on.  At this point, I was exhausted and wished I had trained more but was ready to take anything on.  I of course had to jog past Hannah and Paul but quickly fell into a fast walk.  I was alone for most of the walk and began to think about what I had accomplished.  I found myself during this journey.  I learned how to cope, and I learned how to be happy again.  After I lost my son, Joey, I had lost myself as well.  I finally felt I could let him go and be at peace with it. 
Another moment I will never forget and still brings tears to my eyes is near the end of my 5k, my 2 angels Heather and Michelle were waiting for me with smiles, a sign and words of encouragement.  The sign read, “You Inspire Us”.  For two amazing woman to tell me I inspire them, for me that was priceless.  They ran with me for the last part until they saw Sally Edwards.  I got to run my last part of the triathlon with thee SALLY EDWARDS!  She put the medal around my neck.  Paul and Hannah were there to cheer me in. 
I finished this triathlon at 272 pounds.   Now I could have come up with 1000 reasons why I couldn’t do a triathlon, I work full time, I have a child, I go to school part-time, I’m not a good swimmer, I’m too heavy, I hate running and the list goes on and on.   I’ll give you the one reason I can, I am unstoppable.  This has become a theme in my life.  When life gets me down or problems come my way, I remind myself, I am unstoppable.  My journey didn’t end that day and continues to move forward.  You yourself can probably think of 1000 excuses not to do a triathlon, but I’ll give you one reason to do it, you can be unstoppable too.

A full fledged unstoppable Triathlete
Mariah Bautch