Monday, June 24, 2013

HALF MY SIZE - After 10 years without Mom

My sister Rikki, Mom, and me.

It was a sunny day in the spring of 2003. I asked my mom to pick me up after school so I could see if I had been selected for any of the broadcasting leadership positions. My teacher posted them on the classroom door at the end of the school day. I don't remember looking at the list, but I do remember crying when I got into my mom's blue Dodge Neon. The news must not have been what I wanted. My mom was quick to console me, "I'm just proud of you for going for it. You're just a sophomore!" 

I snapped at her. I didn't want her telling me how great I was, when I obviously wasn't.

"Well I guess you're not as mature as I thought. I'll just keep this I guess." She kept one hand on the wheel, but held up a box with a beautiful ring in the other. Of course, I quickly apologized and looked at the ring. "You'll get it next year Kate and you won't have to worry about all the nerves. You know how talented you are. Just keep doing what you're doing, sweetheart."

It was less than a month later that I was standing outside a hospital room, waiting for my "turn", my turn for them to tell me, Mom was sick and this time...she wasn't going to make it. I knew it before I walked in the room, but I'll never forget hearing those words. I stood at the end of the bed, lifeless. She reached for me and I joined her at the side of the bed. 

It's weird, the things you think of, when you hear that news. For some reason I kept thinking about all her lasts. She'd never sleep in her bed again. What would be the last Royals game she would watch? Was the day before she went into the hospital be the last time she'd see her cats? Would this be the last thing she would wear?

My mom reached my hand to my heart. 
"I'll always be here," she said. "I'll always be in your heart." We cried together...for the last time.

That night we all spent the night at my brother's apartment. It was close to the hospital. I slept on the floor. I felt sick, afraid to close my eyes, worried that I'd wake up and she'd be gone. But there we were, at the start of a long month of painful goodbyes. We were all together for once though, waiting...waiting for Mom to die. 

That next morning I sat with my mother at the hospital. A preview for a new episode of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" came on. 

"We should watch that together," I told her. She smiled at me, without a hint of sadness she replied,
"If I'm here, sweetheart."

If I'm here.

I've replayed her voice saying that a million times. If I'm here? She said it so matter-of-factly. She came to terms with dying. The fact of life was that she just might not be here. I was heartbroken. I couldn't process how life could continue without her. It was possible, even probable that they would play that episode, even if my mother wasn't around to see it. How can life just move forward like that without her?

I sat next to my mother's bed a couple weeks later and turned on that TV show. She could no longer stay awake long enough to watch anything or process what was going on, but I turned it on anyway. I held her hand and tried laughing, but couldn't help but fall asleep. It was the first time I slept in weeks. When I woke up, she was still there, but not many days after that- she wasn't.

It was a sunny day in the summer of 2003 when she left us. I was 15 years old and my younger sister was only nine. It was one of the worst months of my life, but it started what could be described as one of the greatest love stories ever told. We were a disjointed and distant family. My mom passing brought us together. My siblings are my dearest (and wisest) friends to this day. My dad, is my hero. It's in our darkest moments we learn what we're made of. I honestly believe that.

Fast forward to 18 months ago. Losing Mom was hard on all of us. I spent a lot of the years she was gone feeling miserable. I lost my drive. I lost my will. I lost me. But 18 months ago, I started the journey to find myself in this whole jumbled up mess. I started thinking about what she had said to me so cavalierly, "If I'm here."

If I'm here.

I know that sometimes we leave this Earth before we think we're ready, and most certainly before everyone else is ready for us be gone. 

Well, if I'm here, I'm going to live. I mean, really live. We honest-to-God have no idea when and where our end will be here. That's what started this whole thing for me, and that's where I am today. If I'm here, I'm going to fight. I'm going to live outside my comfort zone, hold the people I love, work hard, play hard, learn things, post pictures of my cat on facebook and drink wine. If I'm here, you'll know I'm here. And when I'm on my deathbed, watching a preview for a show I might not make it to see, I'll just tell you I'll watch it, "If I'm here." Because if I'm not, I'll know that I tried the best I could to be the best person possible for not just myself, but my family and my friends...while I was here.

Today, I am half the size I was when I started this process. I'm down to 184 pounds from 368. So far, I've gone from a size 32 to a 12 in pants and a size 4X shirt to a Medium. More importantly, I've started living. 

10 years without Mom. It's been hard. Every day she drives me. Her memory has been a powerful force in my movement to better myself. I wish she was here with me right now to celebrate how far I've come. I wish she was here to tell me to just, "Keep doing what you're doing, sweetheart." I'm forced to settle for a memory. I'll forever be grateful. I'll always miss her. This milestone for me, is most definitely...for her.

This used to be a shirt. Now, it's a dress!

I could fit two of me! 

All the weight I've lost in the past 18 months.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Miles for Mom

Tuesday will be 10 years since my mother passed. I have plans that day to remember her, but I know with work and everything going on that day, I won't get in a big run. The memory of my mom has played such a huge role in my journey the past 18 months. I decided to spend today adding some miles to my shoes in memory of her.
Got in my first five miles around 8:30 this morning. I jogged the first 4.5 and gave my knees a rest for the last half. I can still do it! I haven't jogged more than two miles at a time since my 10K. I've been working intervals so I can build up my endurance.

I added another 1.5 to the shoes when I joined my aunt and uncle for a walk before lunch. I hadn't seen them in awhile and I was able to hear about their anniversary cruise this past week!

I headed over to my brother's after lunch. We walked three miles while my nephew rode his scooter.  Chase told me about summer school and showed off his mad scooter-riding skills. My brother got to tell him the story of me crashing on a sled when I was five years old. Not one of my mother's finer moments, but always a fun story to share. :)

I had already completed 10 miles for the day but I decided to get a 2-mile jog in at sunset.

A final three miles with my Dad, and that's a wrap. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Today is one of those days.

I just have a whole bunch of crud I have to take care of today. Cleaning, laundry, and work on beautiful summer days sometimes makes me grumpy. Most days I'm thankful that I have a great job, clothes to wear, and an apartment to live in. Today though, I really just wanted to punch everyone and everything in the face.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, not feeling the greatest. I had just a couple pieces of toast instead of my protein charged breakfast like I usually have. I realized that was a mistake. By 11 A.M. I was starving. I actually felt hunger pains which I never feel. Then it was back home to eat lunch, but I realized I had no groceries to prepare my meal. Not only that, but I needed to swing by the office. So I set out for the office, knowing I could grab my groceries on the way back. Well "swing by" turned into a little over an hour, and by the time I was finished I had to go pick up my roomie to do laundry.

I was so angry and grumpy that I couldn't smile at anything. I had to make a detour to the store and pick up something to make for lunch. I made a sandwich and ate some watermelon. I can't really explain to you the difference food has made in my day. I didn't realize just exactly HOW hungry I really was. The second I ate that last piece of watermelon I felt a calm take over my body. Seriously, our bodies are amazing and I need to learn to listen to mine.

Learning the difference between being hungry or being bored, sad, happy, excited, etc. has been my biggest challenge. I've avoided in the last couple weeks by eating on a fairly strict schedule. I guess my body was content with that and doesn't like the idea of me coming close to skipping a meal.

All I can say is, God Bless my turkey sandwich and watermelon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I hit the scale yesterday and weighed in at 186.4. That was another three pound loss. Although I think I gained some back today. It was a big breakfast, steak & potato, dessert kinda day. I didn't get my workout in today like I wanted to and here's why...

That's me before my first big trail ride! I've been giving serious thought to trail running, but when the opportunity came up to ride the trail on my good-as-new bike, I jumped at it. Seriously, nothing sounded greater than that this week. I love riding my bike. It's not the same feeling as running. It's a different kind of high, and I was stoked to take in the scenery of a beautiful trail in Smithville. I look upset, but that's really only because I wanted to grab a quick picture to capture the moment before Eric saw me taking a "selfie" for no-good-reason, outside the car...before we even hit the trail. Smiling would have been too obvious.

Eric gave me some quick tips and off we went. I was a little nervous at first. The trail was narrow and the obstacles were a little different than I had imagined, but it wasn't long before I was comfortable, taking the turns faster and approaching the obstacles with less hesitation. Eric got in front of me by quite a bit, which I was expecting. I came upon the first set of bridges about a half mile in. I passed over them and hit the next set a little farther down the trail.

I don't really know what happened when I hit that one bridge. All I know is that one second I was up and the next I was down. Man down! I hit my head...hard. Even through my helmet I felt the impact. I looked up and saw Eric about 20 feet away, turned on his bike looking back at me.I put my head back down. I thought to myself,  I just hit my head kind of hard. I can probably keep going. I can see still. 

Eric finally got to me and asked me if I was okay. I looked up to say yes, but that's when the blood came.
Eric decided to "wash off" the bridge before I could snap a picture. It's amazing that amount of blood that can pump out of a small wound on your head. We couldn't decide if I needed stitches, but since neither one of us are doctors we decided we better get it checked out. I had to make the 3/4 mile trek back to the car, walking my bicycle. Once I got to the car, I realized the emergency room was actually what I most likely needed. 
The ER in Smithville was a treat. After I got checked in, I went to use the restroom. When I came back Eric was gone. He had left his phone in his chair shoe. I browsed the room. Where did he go with just one shoe? The other person in the waiting room motioned to outside. There he the tick removal process. Double bummer.
They took me back. I waited for an eternity for my three stitches. 
Doctor: What happened here?
Me: I fell off my bike
Doctor: Don't people stop doing that when they're about 10 years old?
Me: Well I was riding the trail at Smithville and something caught on a bridge and I fell off and broke the fall with my face.
Doctor: Oh. You CRASHED your bike. Don't tell people you fell off your bike. That's embarrassing.

A couple hours and about 14 only half-way amusing doctor jokes later, I was out of there. I left with blue stitches. "Blue is your color. I can tell," the doc told me. I also left with injured pride, confirmation that the puncture wound on my head  (that he couldn't stitch) WILL scar, and...a tick. But the truth of the matter is, I also left with yet another story I could write about. Every day can be an adventure if you let it, and although this turned into a "misadventure", I'm still glad I tried something new. I can't wait to give it another spin, when all the blood rushing to my head from riding doesn't make the stitches pop out of my head. Five days is what the doctor told me.
In the meantime, I'll try to remember that sometimes things just don't go as we plan. It could have been a lot worse. I'm glad I was wearing a helmet and I'm glad Eric was with me for the little ordeal. He was a good friend for staying with me, even after I ruined his day on the trail with my face plant. He reacted quickly, even though he admitted that at first when he looked back he thought I was "planking". Because I always stop in the middle of a trail ride to lay on a bridge and plank. :) 

But maybe I do? That was my first ride and maybe I'll add random planking to the routine next time. A voluntary plank is always better than an involuntary one where you're supporting your body weight with your face.
Cheers to misadventures!
The glasses didn't make it...
Good Friend Award!


Thursday, June 13, 2013


I can't really tell you how amped I am about how my quest for 30 days of happiness has been going. Not every moment has been incredibly happy, but it sure has been close. Today my sister let me know that she signed us up to do a race together for my birthday! "Four on the Fourth" will be another race for the books, and get this...I get a medal! Who would have thought that we'd ever be running together? She has been such a constant inspiration for me throughout this whole journey and I'm super psyched to have some quality sister time.

This news came on top of another mini-victory for me today. If you look to your left, that's me sporting a brand new UMKC shirt. It may look like your normal college tee, but to me it's more than that. Just 18 months ago I was squeezing myself into a 4X shirt.  That shirt I'm wearing today? That's a MEDIUM.  I checked the tag twice to confirm. 
After work today, it was time to hit the gym. Kayla and I take pictures every couple months to track our fitness progress. Today, I was cracking myself up. I scare myself in the photo below, but that is the legitimate face I make if I try to smile while lifting. Hardcore.
After lifting, it was time for a run. I really didn't want to. My mind tried to stop me several times over the course of the run, but I got in almost three miles before turning in for the day. I'm exhausted and ready to sleep. I guess you could say I had a pretty happy day. So far June is shaping up to be a pretty good month!

Post-run. It was a hot three.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How I survived my first 10K and even laughed

 A bum knee, an emotional collapse, and a car breakdown.
The world did NOT want me to run my first 10K this morning, but God willing...I did.

It was one of those "I miss mom weeks." I found a lot of happy the past five days, but not enough to keep me from tears the entire week. In fact, I managed to cry on the way home from work earlier this week. Car crying is my favorite because you get to face the awkward walk from the car to your apartment with cry-face. No sir, I haven't been crying. I just have really bad allergies.

Being independent for the past ten years has made me dependable, self-motivated, and fairly confident as of late. But sometimes I face, what seems to be, unfathomable loneliness. It always takes me over when I get hung up knowing what my mom is missing and the moments in my life that she'll never share. I get stuck thinking; No one will ever love me like Mom did. Everyone else has someone they love more. That feeling can hit me like a ton of bricks, even when I'm surrounded by family and friends.

That said, I ran twice this week. I did two short 20-minute jogs. The knee felt fairly good after staying off of it for nearly two full weeks and finding some antiinflammatory drugs that actually work. I did some strength training during the week, and although I was "bummed" about my "bum" knee, (See what I did there?) I actually got excited thinking about overcoming it to finally finish my first timed run.

Last night when I laid out all my gear for this morning, I got REALLY excited...and nervous.

New running top, shorts, knee brace, running pack, bandana, headphones, magic jellybeans. For the first time, I felt like a runner. I felt more like a running tool that was over-prepared and slightly obnoxious, but a runner none-the-less.

I wanted to sleep by 8 P.M. but phone calls and text messages kept me up well past ten. My 3:30 A.M. alarm was an unwelcome sound.

I hopped right out of bed, ate my breakfast and jumped in my car. I could only get a bagel down. I brought other food with the intention of eating it on the way or before the race, but I was too nervous to eat. I was shivering from the cold and nerves when I walked to my car. I popped off a quick text to Eric to let him know I was on my way. About ten miles outside of town, all that loneliness left me. I had forgotten how incredibly happy I was to be able to do this. A year ago I struggled to mostly walk a 5K. Eighteen months ago, I could barely walk around the track once. This opportunity to run was a blessing, and to not embrace it fully, with the best attitude possible...would have been a waste. I felt silly for being sad all week. Wanting my mom there wasn't going to make the run any more special. I miss her, but conquering this is another step in my life and I needed it to happen for me, regardless of who could be at the finish line to celebrate with me.

I made it past St. Joe and then it happened.


I heard a pop and my car started smoking. It started "steaming". Let's be clear about that my dad would tell me on the phone. So there I was; excited, happy...and stranded. I called my sister, Rikki.

"Did your car break down?" she asked. She was on her way up to Maryville to meet me to run the half-marathon and had just passed me when I was getting out of my car. She circled back and picked me up. And thanks to my dad, I got to continue on to my run without worrying about my car. "I'll take care of it, sweetie. Get to your run."

We made it to Maryville. I was in a state of "pee-emergency" by this point from all the water I had been drinking, but I grabbed my race-packet and waited for Eric to get there. By the time he and his girlfriend arrived, it was only 15 minutes before race time. We peed, lined up, and off we went!

Mile one was difficult. The second was worse. Hill after hill after hill. But miles three through five were great and I couldn't believe we were almost finished. We kept a pace that let us chat throughout the run. It was great having someone to run with. Eric's girlfriend met us at mile three with lots of cheers and at mile five some man was hitting a giant drum aggressively to keep our spirits up. Worked for me! Eric was less impressed.

The last mile was hard. My knee began to hurt and my hip started giving me trouble, but and hour and a little over 12 minutes after we had started, we crossed the finish line (not last I might add). All this build up, and then it was over. Even with the knee pain, all I could think was...I can't wait to do this again.

We waited for Rikki to cross the line after her half. She ran 13.1 miles with bronchitis. Damn. That's either awesome or crazy...or both. We all got in a good laugh as Rikki searched for her medal. "Where's my medal?! That's the reason I do these ya know?!" We took some post-race pictures, hit up some yard sales and headed home.

Things like this don't happen in my life. I don't run races. My car doesn't break down and I get to just go about living my day like nothing happened. But my dad answered his phone at five in the morning and arranged a tow so I could do my run. My sister picked me up, showed me the ropes, and drove out of her way to take me home. Eric ran with me the entire time, even though he could have gone much faster than me. They all told me they were proud of me.

I survived my first 10K.
Bum knee, emotional breakdown, car trouble and all.
But I think the most important thing I realized is, I'm not alone.

Bring on the next one!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Where you'll find me

Over the next 30 days, I'll be blogging a little bit differently. If you want to see all the happenings in and around my fitness journey, look to the "30 Days to Happy" tab here at the top of my blog. It will also include stories, triumphs, and struggles from other people who each have a journey of their own.

Move forward with us!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

30 days to happy

It has been a while since I posted. I've been busy being "bad". Whenever people write me about their fitness journeys, they always say things like, "I've been bad this week." I hear it and read it so much that I've started using it myself. The short version of the story the past couple weeks is that my knee continued hurting, I stopped running, I got busy and I started eating poorly. I even binged a couple days. It's the first time throughout this whole process that I really felt like, I've been bad. 

But I can't believe I let myself fall into that mentality. It's the bad feeling that really catapults you into continued "bad" decisions. I know this is true, but I just let my attitude shift to negative anyway. Bad quickly shifted to sad which shifted to unhappy. This complete change in attitude happened in two short weeks. I went from feeling like I had the best life ever to feeling completely hopeless. All I know for certain is that I'm not staying here in this awful mindset. I've got too many things I want to accomplish and too many goals I need to meet.

Realizing that my knee was not going to let me run a half-marathon next weekend, I changed to the 10K. By golly, if I have to walk it, I'll finish it. My friend reminded me that it wasn't me that couldn't run the was my body. There will be other runs. I need to let go and move on. This is not the end.

So, I'm ready to kickstart what it sure to be another great summer. I've got a challenge for myself and a challenge for you. I'm calling it, "30 Days to Happy".  Being happy isn't a right or happenstance. If you're not content, change something.

"Don't let a bad day make you think you have a bad life."

Several of my friends are spending a month focusing on their own start to healthy lifestyles. They're all doing different things and changing their lives in different ways to reach their goals. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to reevaluate my journey and reestablish some really great trends in my life this past year. I'm going back to basics.

Things I won't do the next 30 days:

-Eat out
-Drink anything other than water
-Go to bed sad
-Skip a workout
-Dwell on mistakes
-Sleep less than six hours a night

Things I will do in the next 30 days:

-Take Hip-Hop classes
-Lay by the pool
-Meet a goal everyday
-Eat as little processed food as possible
-Plan a vacation
-Find new and exciting things to do

I'm going to share this journey here, but mostly I'm interested in what you all are going to do the next 30 days to find your happy again. Since I started posting about my struggles and triumphs, people have really opened up to me about their own problems and their own victories. I have found that so encouraging. I would love to not only hear your stories, but share them. I've got one friend starting a juice diet with her fiance and one who's trying out Advocare. I'll share the types of things I'm eating and what sort of exercises I'm rocking. I also hope to just share all the awesome things I want to do to step outside my comfort zone over the next 30 days.

What will you do to find your happy? Maybe it's not fitness or diet related. I like to stress that because although that's what I need to focus on, that isn't the case for everyone. Want to join my team here and take on this challenge with me?  It's time to get your happy back! We could all use the support...and just a little more happy.

E-mail me at if you want to be a part of this. Let's do this together!