Sidelined

I have been dreading and procrastinating writing this update.

 

Partly because I am so upset.

Partly because I am embarrassed.

Partly because I do not want it to be reality.

 

All this is to say my dream of running a marathon is not completely dead, but is paused. The pain in my legs is not going away. It is not shin splints, and I might go crazy if one more person asks me or tells me that is the pain I am feeling. I have tried everything from compression socks, foam rolling, stretching, and building up muscle in my calves and shins. None of these things are helping.

It is going to be almost two months before I can get into the doctor to see if they can figure out what is going on. I am still hoping for it to magically just go away. Even if it would vanish and I could run today, I am 10 weeks out before my scheduled marathon. It would not be realistic for me to think I could get myself ready in time when I have not been able to run in 5 weeks.

I am embarrassed because I put my goal out there for everyone to know and now I cannot complete it when I want to. I was so sure this year was going to be the year I was going to make this goal a reality. It still could be this year but at a different time, however this does not take away the feeling of self-consciousness that everyone now knows I could not complete the original goal.

Many people have told me not to feel this way because the reasons are out of my control. I understand this, but it does not help the way I feel.

I do not like feeling out of control. Right now that is exactly how I feel.

The last 5 weeks have been killing me slowly. Running is my stress reliever. It is also my time to dream and get my creative mind going. I love a multitude of workouts, but running is the only way I can really let go of the stress and take a mental time out. I’m sure many other runners out there would agree.

I apologize to anyone who has had to deal with my crabby mood, crying, or venting through the last few weeks. Thank you to my husband who has helped me try to keep a positive attitude through it all and who has been doing other kinds of workouts with me.

This is not the end of my marathon journey, just a pit stop on the way. I promise to keep you updated on what happens

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How Sorority Recruitment Prepared Me For VBS

I am standing in a line with college freshman girls in front of the white double doors of a beautiful three story white and brick house listening to chanting women inside. I am nervous and excited and do not know anyone else in my group. This is the 3rd house on our stop of  6 houses. I did not have that real sense of ‘home’ in either of the other houses so far, but I am hoping this one is going to be different.

If you have not guessed it yet, I am talking about sorority recruitment.

The whistle blows and the chanting halts to a stop. The double doors open and two women walk out of the house, introduce themselves, then open up the double doors all the way. Inside the doorway the rest of the sorority women are in rows and start to sing:

“Gamma Phi Beta welcomes you here!

Come in and join our fun and our cheer

We’re on the MSU campus, sorority row

A Gamma Phi shouts a welcome! Hello!

Oh would you like to be another gamma phi?

And wear the crescent and pearls oh my

So come along and we’ll show you why

All over the land number one is Gamma Phi!”

As the song ends, our line begins to move as we walk into the entryway.  Each girl is introduced to a woman who is already a member of the sorority.  We are then taken on a tour of the house and chit chat about the qualities of the sorority, the things the girls do for fun, the community service aspect, etc. During my time in the house I talk to 3 or 4 members. It seems like a small interview process.

Walking through the house I know that these are my people. It feels as if I am talking to girls I have known for a long time. Over the next three days I come back to this house and eventually I am offered a bid to join the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.

I have many memories of my three years at Missouri State University as a Gamma Phi. While those memories are not all great, the vast majority of those three years are memories I love and miss. My sorority helped shape me into the person and leader I am today.

 

Now, I know what you are thinking, Emily what does this have to do with Vacation Bible School?

 

I am so glad you asked!

 

Not only did I go through sorority recruitment, but I was eventually part of the other side of recruitment. I was the one singing in the door, chanting my lungs out, and getting to know the potential new members.

Likewise, I have also been in charge of organizing Vacation Bible School for the last two years, and let me tell you, VBS and sorority recruitment have many things in common.

The first thing they have in common is energy. There is an indescribable excitement that floods the whole house during recruitment. Do not get me wrong, recruitment is LONG days, a lot of standing on your feet for hours, and hangry moments when you don’t get to eat between parties. That being said, it was one of my favorite times of year because recruitment is the process of helping women find a spot that they feel at home in. I probably would have transferred back home if it were not for the friends I had in Gamma Phi.

VBS is the same way. The amount of people working together to make everything flow seamlessly during this week is incredible. Everyone is so happy to be together sharing their love for Christ with the children in the community. It’s impossible not to feel joyful. There is a lot of stress that goes into planning Vacation Bible School.  When everything starts on the first day you can see that the kids are having a great time, singing about Jesus, and building relationships with other kids, it makes all the stressful times worth every second.

The second thing they have in common are the songs that get stuck in your head FOREVER. Literally. I can still sing every song we sang during recruitment. Some days I still wake up singing them. Vacation Bible School has catchy songs too. Weeks after VBS has ended you can be sure all of us in the office will randomly start singing these songs, because we cannot get them out of our heads. Not that this is a bad thing, I mean we are singing about Jesus!

The third commonality are the relationships that are being built. During recruitment we only had a few minutes each day with the potential new members, but when you click with someone it forms a bond.  You hoped to continue building that bond as the days of recruitment went on. During your time in recruitment you get to tell all these women why you love your sorority so much. Passion and love light up members faces as they recall all the reasons they wanted to be in their sorority.

At VBS we have much more time with the kids, but it is still a short amount of time to be truthfully honest with you. By the end of the week the adult crew leaders have formed little families with their groups and you never know how that relationship might stick with someone. I still remember some of my own VBS leaders who really took the time to get to know me when I was that age. While recruitment is awesome in so many ways, Vacation Bible School is a time where we are getting to spread the good news about the most important thing to each of us; Jesus! It does not get much better than this.

One of my goals for Vacation Bible School is to show these kids that they are an important part of God’s family in heaven and here on Earth. I want those kids to have that ‘home’ feeling I remember having walking through the doors of my sorority house and at my church. Everyone should have a place where they feel welcomed and know they belong.

So thanks to my time in a sorority for helping me learn leadership skills to use in the real world.  For helping me to come out of my box. To be free to open up and be silly with others, and for preparing me to have fun with my job!

This VBS has gotten off to another energetic start and I have no doubts it will continue that way. Until next time my friends. Peace and love.

3 Reasons to Stop Participating in Diet Culture

Sunday night is grocery night in the Schatz house. I am a list person. That means grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do, because I can check things off my list and feel like I accomplished something. The past few weeks at the grocery store I have noticed how many things have labels like sugar free, gluten free, soy free, dairy free, organic…you get the picture. It deviously gives the message that there are good foods and bad foods. Then there is the health and wellness aisle that is loaded with weight loss pills, protein powder, protein shakes, bars and the like meant to help aid you on your weight loss journey. Before a person has even made it to the check- out line they have been bombarded with countless messages pertaining to living the “healthiest lifestyle”.

Before I go any further I want to say that I truly believe there are real health problems that cause people to need dietary restrictions. I do not have a problem with that. I do have a problem with diet culture and the messages it continually conveys about what a healthy lifestyle is.

I want to talk about the three big reasons our society needs to put an end to the diet culture mentality.

  1. It puts you in a dangerous mindset

The idea of foods being good or bad can lead to an eating disorder. Eating disorders are complicated and different for each person. The idea of restricting certain foods can spiral out of control very quickly with the right set of circumstances. What starts out as an innocent diet of cutting down on “bad foods” like sweets, can then turn into cutting out whole food groups, such as all things dairy, and it only continues from there. How can it not when we are constantly being sold the message that sugar is bad, dairy makes you bloat, and gluten is not to be eaten?

This is not the only problem.

Social media has a large role in diet culture too. A few years ago pro-ana websites, sites that promote anorexia nervosa as a lifestyle, and #thinspo were a big problem. Don’t get me wrong, these are still a huge problem today, but now the problem has expanded. We have moved into a time where #fitspo #bodygoals and #fitnessmotivation has taken over social media and promotes the same underlying messages that #thinspo and pro-anorexia websites promote.

The message that thinner equals healthy, beautiful, and desirable. Right now on Instagram there are over 44 MILLION pictures with the tag #fitspo, 22 MILLION with #fitnessmotivation, and just over 2 MILLION with #bodygoals. How many hours a day do young adults scroll through these pictures and compare their own physical bodies with touched up, posed, and filtered bodies? This is mind blowing to me that we do not see this as an issue.

  1. It is full of mixed signals

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and “Never miss a Monday” are probably two of the biggest sayings that are meant to inspire you to go workout and restrict your food. Then two seconds later you might also hear, “treat yo self” and “splurge! You deserve it! You are perfect the way you are!” Umm…What? You cannot have it both ways.

Society tells people it wants them to be individuals and to love their bodies, but only if they fit into the acceptable mold of what society expects you to be.

These kind of mixed signals can start a cycle of restrict, splurge, and guilt. How many of us have experienced this cycle? A person starts a diet on a Monday, by Wednesday that person is so hungry from restricting food they throw their hands up in defeat and give into eating everything they said they would not eat. After this the individual is overwhelmed with guilt that they then vow to try harder next Monday. It’s a vicious cycle. Trust me, I get it. I am still wrestling with feeling the same guilt after meals.

  1. It tells you that losing weight and having a small body should be your life ambition

It all boils down to this one simple idea that smaller is equal to better, more successful, more beautiful, and the answer to everything.

Losing weight should not be your life goal.

If we took all the time and money we spend trying to attain this smaller body and put our efforts into other causes we have passion for, we could make a huge change in the world.

I am not saying that people should not eat healthy. I think we should all be doing what we can to live a healthy life. Working out is great. It can be fun and an excellent stress reliever. Eating a balanced diet is key to living long lives, but this obsession to attain the perfect body is dangerous.

Thinking that only one body type is healthy is dangerous.

Thinking that an entire food group is bad for you is dangerous.

Restricting yourself from food is never healthy. We need to stop prescribing unhealthy rituals with food to people society deems as “larger bodied” that we would diagnose as disordered eating in “smaller bodied” people. This mentality is why people who do not fit the mold of being extremely underweight have trouble getting help for their eating disorders. The world does not see it as a problem until you are suddenly “too thin”. The double standard has to go and we need to say goodbye to the diet culture mentality.

Not Enough.

Smart enough, thin enough, athletic enough, creative enough, etc…

The list could go on forever.

I believe the majority of people at one time or another has felt as if they weren’t enough of something, and I am no exception.

I have been thinking about this frequently and I have come to the conclusion that this feeling of not being enough _____ comes from one thing, success. What is success to you? Is it money…followers…friends? Is it finally getting to the top of your company? For many people who work in ministry, success can be seen as the number of people attending worship and church events. This is the easiest way for people to “measure” your success.

This past year I have been a part of a continuing education class called the Leadership Initiative.  One of the key discussion points we have covered this year is focusing on the wins.  Wins are not numbers.  A win is when I see the youth I work with put together the ideas we have been discussing all year.  A win is seeing them step into leadership positions and be a Christ like example to their friends and family. A win is seeing these kids open up to each other about the real issues occurring in their lives, and seeing trust grow between them. Wins are not things we can measure. Wins are passed on by telling others about the growth, trust and faith that are building within the group.  Numbers do not equal success.

When I start looking at numbers or comparing what I’m doing with my youth compared to what other youth directors are doing, that is when the “not enough” feelings come up. Not creative enough…not doing enough…not good enough.  Not as good as _____ at _______. I don’t have the same gift sets as others, but others might not have some of the same gifts that I have. God gave each of us different gifts for a reason.  It would be so boring if we were all good at the same things. You could have 5 different people work with the same group of kids and they would get something different from each of the 5 leaders. How awesome is that?

Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing  to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8). We are made uniquely!

Whenever we start having those “not enough” feelings, remember that success is not a dollar amount. Success is not the number of followers you have on Instagram or the amount of the people who show up to an event. Success is the way we are using the gifts that God has given us and having the confidence to be our own unique selves. No one can impact the world in the same way you can. Don’t ever feel like your gifts aren’t enough. They are.

Trudging Through Fear

Have you ever reached the point of frustration where all you feel like doing is crying because you don’t know what to do with all your feelings? Is that just me?

I have been at that point for about two weeks. This pain in my lower legs just won’t go away. It has spread from my shins to now encompassing all of my lower leg muscles.

At first I thought it was because I was wearing heels too much. By too much, I mean I wore them to work two days in a row and then had some serious muscle soreness the next day on my run. I know, I know, what a rookie, right?

I thought the new shoes had fixed it, and yet here I am three weeks later with only a handful of runs that had no pain. The most frustrating part about this is that all the pain hits me at once. It’s not a slow build up of aches, it comes in full force like a fireball. Worse than that, is it hits a tenth of a mile in to my run. A. TENTH. OF. A. MILE friends! That’s not even a minute into my run.

In all of the frustration during my last run I have come to grips with the fact that what this brings up in me is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of being told that I won’t ever be able to hit this goal. Fear that I just put myself out there to all my friends saying I was going to do this, and then not following through. Fear that once again that little voice in my head telling me I’m not talented enough to do this, is right. It is a vicious cycle.

BUT…

Fear is fickle. Fear is a liar. It usually comes up when something great is about to happen. I was afraid when I transferred to a new college, and that ended up being the best thing for me. I was afraid moving to Seattle, and there have been countless things that wouldn’t have happened if I would have listened to fear.

So, fear not friends. I am not setting up camp in the struggle. I am not going to give up. Fear is just false evidence appearing real. I have hit a roadblock, but I won’t let myself camp out with fear by my side; not in running, and not in life.

Hopefully my next post won’t be such a downer. In the mean time, run, sweat, and do something that will help you get closer to your goal.

 

To My Legs…I’m Sorry

I distinctly remember the first time I didn’t like the way my legs looked. Particularly, my thighs. During dance class in 7th grade I remember looking around the room and really comparing my body to the other girls in my class. The gut wrenching feeling I had in my stomach as I looked at my legs and realized my legs didn’t look as long and thin as some of the other girls.

I remember being in the dressing room at JC Penny trying on shorts and having to go up a size because they wouldn’t fit over my thighs. My mom kept telling me the size didn’t matter, that it was the fit that mattered, but I remember trying to hold in the tears because of this moment.

Once I started I didn’t know how to stop the comparison game. Looking back at pictures now it’s so hard to believe that I thought I was so huge. I wasn’t a stick by any means, but I had no sense of what my body truly looked like.

In college, I lost a pretty significant amount of weight. I spent many hours at the gym pounding away on the treadmill and the elliptical trying to make my body fit a standard of beauty that I was never going to achieve.

Ah yes, that ever dreamy thigh gap. The image of “perfection” that we see daily. Hundreds of times a day in fact, and I wanted it. And I tried and tried to get it. The smaller I became the more compliments that poured in.

“How are you doing that?”

“Have you been losing weight? You look great.”

“Yes thank you. I’m just eating healthy and working out.” I would smile and reply.

It fueled my fire. It fueled my thought that beauty and weight are equal. After all isn’t this what we are selling to every woman in America?

Get your bikini body in just two weeks.

Lose weight fast!

Buy x,y, and z to make your skin look flawless.

I’m calling BS. The American standard of beauty is BS. Diet culture is BS.

The world says we can attain these standards, but in reality the models who portray this standard can’t even attain it. They are photo-shopped and posed in certain ways to make us see this impossible perception of beauty and make us believe that we can have that body too. What’s funny to me about this is that we know those things. Almost every woman knows that advertisements are photo-shopped and yet we still strive to have that body that doesn’t exist!

My legs will never have a gap between them. I’m not saying if you have that body structure that it’s wrong, I am saying for my body that is something that I will never achieve no matter how much weight I could lose, because my hip structure isn’t meant to be that way.

My heart is heavy for the girls who are having those first moments of the comparison game. It has so much power and can suck you in tightly. Please don’t let it suck you in.  People have gone through life thinking that their weight, identity, and worth are all tied together and that breaks my heart. It could not be further from the truth. Our weight has nothing to do with our identity and worth. Our identity is that we are children of God. An all knowing, loving, and merciful God. He loves us no matter what number shows up on that stupid scale we have in the bathroom, and that is worth more than anything I can think of.

God gave me these legs. After many years of negative words to them, I think it’s time that they deserve some love. These legs are strong. These legs have run multiple half marathons. These legs have played with little kids at the daycare. They have stuck it out through trying to attain the “perfect body”.

So I want to say I’m sorry to my legs. I can’t say that I don’t have days where negative thoughts creep in, but it’s a lot better than it was.

Part of the reason I am running this marathon in September is to show myself that I don’t need to have a typical “runner’s body” to succeed at running marathons. These strong legs will help me get to the finish line. However, while all of this may be true there are so many other things that make a person beautiful other than any physical appearance. Kindness, humor, authenticity, love. Those make a persona beautiful.

So, next time you hear that little voice in your head say something nasty about a part of yourself, remember your mind and body are strong and can do a whole lot more than you think it can. Treat them with kindness and it will be kind back to you.

Run. Sweat. Do something that will help you reach your goal.

New Shoes = New Woman

A few weeks ago I set out on my first run with the marathon mindset. My actual training starts on the 29th, however, I have been trying to keep up a solid base of miles so I’m not starting from the ground up come day 1 of training. I was feeling great this day. The thought that I was going to run a marathon in a couple months didn’t scare the jeepers out of me like it has in last few weeks.

Let me set the scene for you.

It was a Thursday afternoon with beautiful blue skies and this big bright beautiful yellow ball of sunshine. This was the first day in a LOOOONNNNG time here in Seattle that the sun was out, so naturally my first thought was to put on my running shoes and hit the trail as soon as I got home from work.

I was so excited to be in the sunshine that I had to take a picture…

shoes 3

It had been over a month since we had a day like this so obviously I had to selfie it out. #noshame

I’m not joking when I say not even 5 minutes into my run that I felt the worst pain in my shins, EVER. They were on FIRE!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Worst. Timing. Possible.

I started to think about what the possible problem was. Well, I did just kind of run out the door without stretching… maybe that is the problem. I pull off to the side, stretch out the legs, and make sure to really stretch the front of the shin.

2nd time is a charm, right? Nope. Not even a tenth of a mile later, the pain is back. Are you serious? Why couldn’t this happen on a day where it’s raining? Maybe I just need to rest a day. I rest up. Next time I ran the same thing happens.

Fast forward two weeks and nothing changes. The pain was coming quicker with each run. After many frustrating painful runs, I remember that my shoes are over a year old, meaning they are pretty much dead. This means one thing…NEW SHOES!!

Cue nerding out…

shoes 4

My love for shoes is a little out of control. Throw in the fact that I’m needing running shoes and I get waaaayyyy too excited to buy new ones. Phillip and I adventure to the only Fleet Feet store in Seattle (shout out to the best running store ever).  After working with one of their super friendly employees I got my new shoes. They are supportive, light, and fit my feet as if they were made just for me.

This morning I got up to try to run in my new shoes. I was nervous that the pain was going to come right back, but it never did! This was my first pain free run in over two weeks!! (imagine angels singing here). I was running on pillows all morning long.

Now I am officially ready to get training under way. Until next time friends. Run, sweat, and do something to get you one step closer to succeeding at your goals.