Taking Time to Be Grateful

After doing this blogging thing for a few years now, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to me and how it’s changed my life. Which has caused me to get pretty introspective lately – in a good way.

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Back in 2003 I was miserable, but I hid it by being overly confident and brash. Think Samantha Jones from Sex & the City but without all the ridiculous sex stuff.

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but WITH the martini habit

I was in college, but instead of figuring out the balance of how to have a social life while excelling in school, I avoided going out almost entirely and threw myself into professional development instead.

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Taking extra classes, loading up on extra-curriculars, networking, building up my resume and getting an awesome internship with the NJ Devils. I took no prisoners and managed to do some amazing things. But my confidence was SO delicate.


At the end of every day, I was truly miserable. I would either hang out with my friends in their dorm rooms and watch TV and eat and drink to oblivion, or go back to my dorm room and do the same, but alone.

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, I knew something had to change. I HAD TO CHANGE. To beat the odds now stacked against me, I started to pay attention to what I ate at the dining hall. I watched an hour of Everybody Loves Raymond on the stationary bike in our dorm gym instead of on my bed. And wouldn’t you know it, I started to lose weight – and my confidence started to grow too.

Fast forward a few more years: I graduated, got a big girl job in the real world, and jumped into the dating scene. I reconnected with an old friend from my high school days and we started something serious – and I even convinced him to marry me! My friends started having babies and getting married. Throughout it all, I continued to lose weight and shape my new life along with my new body.

 

Fast forward even further, to when I discovered running. I ran my first race in 2010, started falling into a rhythm, and discovered the world of running bloggers. I would see them talk about all the progress they were making and all the opportunities they had and get all moon-eyed over just how awesome that would be, never expecting to do anything like that. But after realizing that in addition to these blogs there was a whole fitness and running community on places like Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, I decided to jump in too.

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My first race ever: a Pink Ribbon 5K with my papa and cancer-free mama ❤

Instagram was my first foray into the online fitness community. Then I started blogging, and soon Twitter and Facebook followed. When I started this ride I NEVER expected it to be as much of a blessing it has been, and that’s the truth. But I put myself out there in a few different – and scary – ways: offering to share my story, baring it all about my history with depression and anxiety, talking about the impact weight loss and running has had on my personal relationships, etc.

And then one day, those things I used to see the running bloggers talking about – they started happening to me.

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Shape Magazine interviewed me. I was asked to take over the Brooks Running IG feed. I was invited to run the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile. I’ve been selected as an Ambassador for the 2016 RWHalf and Festival next month. And as I get ready for what is shaping up to be an unbelievable few months, I have to take this moment to thank you all for coming along on this adventure with me.

I am TRULY grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that I’ve been given; I’m one of the luckiest people I know. But none of it would be possible without you reading, commenting, liking, following, and being with me on this ride. Whether I know you in real life or have only ever “met” you online – or even if you never say anything! – please know that I appreciate you taking time out of your day and reading and looking at the stuff I put out into the ether.

Thank you for being here – and I look forward to seeing where this road takes us in the future!

Happy New Year!

With only a few hours left in 2015, I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for coming along on this crazy ride with me! I would never have accomplished the amazing things I did this year without your support and encouragement along the way, and I am forever grateful for that!

May each and every one of you enjoy kissing this year goodbye with people you love, and I hope you welcome 2016 with open arms and an open heart!

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Behind the Instagram Curtain

I love Instagram – it’s the first platform I discovered when breaking into the fitness community, and it’s by far where I’m most active. So when Angela over at Happy Fit Mama posted a Behind the Scenes Look at her Insta feed, I was so excited to jump on the bandwagon!

But where Angela’s list is filled with beautiful, artsy shots with insightful backstories that involve cute details like her donut-crazy son, a long scroll through my photos made me realize that most of my stories center around the funny looks I get when taking my ridiculous mid-run selfies or the silly things I had to do to get the right lighting for a shot. So, in true Jess fashion, I give you my own (slightly twisted) take on a Peek Behind the Instagram Curtain:

Snow Fail

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After our umpteenth snowstorm this past February, I tried to embrace the “fun” part of winter and make snow angels with hubby. Little did I know that the snowdrift in our yard was about 3 inches of powder on top of hard packed ice and snow that I could stand on. I flopped backwards onto it and slammed into the ground, knocking the wind out of my lungs and snapping my head back. After catching my breath, I spent the rest of that day immobilized on the couch with a massive headache and slight nausea, undoubtedly due to the minor concussion I probably gave myself. But the photo is cute!

Circle Jerk

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While cleaning out my closets last spring I discovered a wealth of running shoes and wanted to show them off. But it was getting late and the lighting in my house just wasn’t giving me the results I wanted, so I decided to take my babies outside! After trying and failing to balance all 5 pairs in my arms, I found that stacking them all on the lid to a nearby storage bin worked marginally better. Do you know just how ridiculous someone looks trying to simultaneously carry a plastic tray filled with smelly old sneakers and an iPhone through the house, out the front door, and across the yard? Very. And do you know how many times shoes fell off the pile and caused me to stop, re-stack, and start again? Four.

Runners, Not Jumpers

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If you’ve ever tried to get a shot of yourself or a group of people jumping, you don’t need me to tell you that they take MUCH more effort than they’re really worth. Unless you’ve got perfect timing (or a photographer with unlimited patience), you’re pretty much guaranteed to never get it 100% right. Case in point: the still-not-perfect shot you see on the right up there legitimately took about 6 tries where we’d all line up, jump, the poor volunteer girl at the NYCM Expo would snap a bunch of pics, and we’d check them out only to go “One more time!”. It’s a miracle any of us had enough leg strength to run the Dash to the Finish Line 5K or the marathon the next day.

Frozen Feet

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Sure it looks like a cute shot where two girlfriends stood together for a fun shoe selfie after a race. But in reality, I was closer to being murdered than I knew. See, my cousin and I were shivering like we’d been dunked in the Arctic Ocean after finishing a rainy 5K and had to walk clear across Manhattan to get back to the train station. When I say we were cold, I don’t think words can accurately describe just hot COLD it was. And when I insisted we stop to take a fun picture like this? Let’s just say I’m lucky she didn’t whang me in the head with her purse and leave me in a puddle on the side of 7th Avenue.

Race Snafu

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Before each race, hubby has a habit of hanging out with me at the back of the pack where I start, and will take pics as we wait. In this pic, we were goofing off for a minute or two, and I figured I’d have a bunch of time to do the whole lace-tying, watch-starting pre-race thing. But I wasn’t paying attention. We showed up late, and while we were goofing off at the back, they were making the start announcements at the front; this pic was snapped exactly as the gun went off, and I almost got trampled. I spent the first half mile with an unlaced left shoe, waiting for my Garmin to find a satellite. That’s what I get for being a weirdo.

So there you have it – a slightly wonky look at what really goes on behind the Instagram scenes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; there are similar stories for about 80% of my photos, because I’m basically the worst. If you’d like to see them, head over to my IG feed and give me a follow – I promise to keep it just as weird and entertaining as I have here!

What about you – what goes on behind the curtain of your IG feed?