all heroes need a backstory


Starting in the beginning is always best when writing a backstory 🙂 but I have culled this one from bits and pieces I have written in various and sundry places. (first written  08 July 2013)


I have ALWAYS had issues with my breathing. I remember as a young child sitting on the couch and reading drinking my hot tea and feeling my heart racing from the theophylline and unable to go and play outside because I couldn’t breathe. I was always a tiny bit chubby, but it wasn’t until high school that my weight ballooned.


My freshman year of high school I got very sick with my lungs. Out of a 45 day semester I was IN CLASS for 12 of them. It started with the mile test in gym, I had a VERY severe asthma attack and the school wouldn’t let me leave (even to go to the nurse) so I just left. It was my first time skipping school but I was turning BLUE and I figured my mom would be ok with it so I just walked home. It continued for months I was in and out of the hospital and on and off oxygen and in and out of a humidified oxygen tent and and and and and. I saw all kinds of doctors (even a shrink because they were CERTAIN I was faking – although I am not sure how I could have faked turning blue! and the low sats!).


Eventually I had a bronchoscopy and they determined that I had an aspergillus overgrowth in my lungs. This isn’t something that  HEALTHY people get and so I finally had a doc who diagnosed me with alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency. It’s basically genetic emphysema. I was on super ridiculous amounts of prednisone during this time and my weight BALLOONED. I don’t remember exactly what I weighed, but I know I was above 200 and probably near to 250 for the first time in my life. I have such bad tears for stretch marks 😦


They told me that I would need a lung transplant by the time I was 35 with the way my decline was progressing. And that I would never have healthy kids. And that if I didn’t need a transplant that I would be on some serious oxygen. (FYI: I have NOT had a transplant and I am NOT on oxygen 😉 )


My senior year of high school I lost like 80# by eating only peanut butter and applesauce. I was riding my bike all the time and hiking and generally being a mostly healthy kid.


And then I got married. And I stopped riding my bike everywhere. And I worked fast food and was working my way through college. I got pregnant and had a miscarriage in 1996. It was devastating. And I didn’t stop eating. Oldest boy was born in march of 1997. I spent 4 weeks in the hospital because my water broke at 28 weeks. I was on SUPER STRICT bedrest (the amount of times I could PEE in a day was limited because they didn’t want an excited uterus now!) and high dose steroids (baby’s lungs and all) and he was born a preemie at 33 weeks 3 days. He was fine. But, now I had a baby and was in college and hubby wasn’t very supportive, so I ate. Fast forward to 2004, three babies in 38 months. I never got back to “pre-pregnancy” weight. I just kept gaining.


So in April 2004 I had this cyst on my breast that I had to have removed, and when the cytology came back that it wasn’t cancerous I was relieved. However the doc said “this cyst had the makeup of something we see often in very severe diabetics, have you been tested?” which sent me to the lab for blood work and and and… long story short I was diagnosed with diabetes (my A1C was >14  which meant my average blood sugar was >350) I was 340#… and I was miserable… I had three toddlers (my youngest was about to turn 4)… I couldn’t keep up with them I couldn’t walk and run… I was *THAT* mom… the one who sat on the bench at the park and yelled at them…. the one who just sat there… if there was a problem they had to come to me… I had no energy I was in constant pain I was miserable

Growing up I had an “Aunt” (friend of the family really but we called her Aunt Betty) who had diabetes… her first amputation was her toes then part of her foot then partially up her shin and then her knee then halfway up her leg… by the time she died she had also lost toes and fingers… the gangrene had settled into her pelvic area and there was no more to cut off and she got very ill and died… we watched her children suffer with this… and in my mind it was all because she couldn’t give up her soda and her twinkies… I watched the resentment that we had for her because she wasn’t able to do it… I thought about how much her children HATED her and how hard that was on them… and I refused to do that to my kids!!

that was the beginning for me… I bought a pedometer… I stopped drinking *real* soda… I made the goal to be more active… I started by just logging and not making any changes… I have this belief that if you want to go anywhere you have to know where you are… so I started just logging my steps and calories without changing… the first goal I set for steps was something like 900… because at that point I was averaging 700 or so… and 1000 was WAYYY too much… so every two or three weeks I added 200 steps to my goal… I would call my mom and talk to her while walking in my driveway to get my steps… there were MANY MANY days I didn’t make it… but I slowly worked my way up… and now I don’t have a *daily* goal anymore… but I have a monthly goal… last month I logged 191.8 miles… it was insane (by bike and by foot)

I also started counting calories… I got a notebook… this was before I had a smartphone so I would use programs on the computer… I kept notes in a daily notebook and just tracked things… my first steps were to just log what I was eating…. I had NO clue but I knew that whenever I tried to do the 1200 calories per day (that my doc recommended) I felt like I was STARVING and I was ANGRY and HUNGRY ALL THE TIME… seriously… NOT GOOD!!! so I was eating like 35-3700 calories a day… my first goals were 3200 a day… and some days it was a struggle… then every 2-3 weeks I would cut that down

in 2004 my (now ex) husband decided it would be a good idea to move from AZ to VA… his kids from his first marriage lived here and he wanted to be closer… he told me that he had a job lined up (which I found out later was a lie) and that he had a house lined up (again a lie) so we packed up the three kids and moved cross country in our volvo… about half way here he tells me no house… and then later no job (but he made it out like they fell through)… this was the beginning of me seeing that the issues in our marriage were unsolvable…

I lost a bunch… .. got down around 280or so… and then gained… it was horrible… my first goals were so stupid… “lose 10# in a month” and stuff… I would fail (oh I only lost EIGHT pounds) and then binge as a way to express my depression over failing… and then I would be MORE Than I was at the beginning of the month which would set off this horrible cycle… my ex would bring home junk food and donuts and no matter how much I tried to change he would berate me… “just because you are becoming a sugar nazi doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy good food” “well maybe you are just never going to be thin so here have a donut” he would buy a 2# package of cookies and he and the kids would eat the whole thing in one setting… we would be lucky if they even made it home from the store… we went through about 20# of sugar every month…. and I can’t begin to express how much bad stuff we ate…

it’s been a BATTLE transitioning my kids to healthy eating since he has been out of our lives… but I can say SEVEN years later my kids now LIKE good food and healthy stuff and usually pick the good stuffs over the bad stuffs… they get treats now and then and just because I don’t eat it doesn’t mean I don’t let them… it just means that junk food is usually left for when we are doing a big hike (like more than 10 miles) or a big bike ride (like more than 30 miles)… and my yongest has issues with weight gain (as in he is 13 and 80# and TINY) so I am a little more lenient with him than the others because he needs calories… but he still has to eat the good stuff before he gets the bad stuff… (but he eats like 4000 calories a day so I don’t really worry about him getting too fat )

separated from the ex in 2006… went back to school… spent 4 years getting 2 2 year degrees… past nursing school/boards… got pneumonia once or twice… had sinus surgery… was unemployed for almost 3 months after school looking for a first job… got a job… was prematurely promoted… lost the job because of office politics (I asked to step down… there were issues with our state inspection… and I was the newest and youngest nurse and the director didn’t like me)…. spent 6 months unemployed then I got a job at the local university in intensive care… fast forward to last year and I was back up to more than 300… and I decided that I was ready to REALLY Get back to work… I had stagnated… and I wasn’t going anywhere (except up) and I wasn’t happy… I was very close to 320 and I NEVER wanted to see that number again… I started playing with carb cycling… sorta worked… played with IF…. sorta worked… played with restricting calories… sorta worked… yo yo’d from 290=310 most of last year…

started jogging… started long distance biking… it was awesome… I logged so many miles last year… amazing

then in august I broke my foot… I was jogging… and it just broke…. stress fracture… I got a boot and went to work (on doctor’s orders) and the third day I injured it more… somehow I caught the giant boot on something in a patient room and twisted it and tore the nerve… they told me NON WEIGHT BEARING for 8 weeks… the pain was terrible… torture… I didn’t leave my couch for six weeks… I could not even really shower (ewww) because I have no balance… I really wanted to not lose the gains I had made so I was doing knee push ups… I would crawl off my couch and then do push ups and then lay there because my foot was throbbing and then crawl back to my couch… I was out of work for 12 weeks

somewhere towards the end of that I found nerdfitness… (my 1 yr anniv is in oct)… I was like… oh well another thing to try…

I was getting more active… I was doing all the right things… and I broke my dumb foot…

I was not losing like I wanted… at least I didn’t gain anything when I was broken… I had a reaction to the lyrica (given to me for the nerve pain…. when they talk about psychotic depression… it is a possible side effect… PAY ATTENTION) I wanted to kill myself… I ate all the things and I didn’t care… it took me almost a month after being off of it to feel normal again… I have battled depression for YEARS and it has gotten very bad… but NEVER to the extent it was last fall… I didn’t even really tell people the thoughts that were going through my head because I KNEW it would get me put away… and I probably should have gotten help… but I did stop taking the meds and went back to neurontin which worked better for the pain anyway…

I was given the go ahead to start walking again in november… and it was hell… I had pain… I had no endurance… I was tired ALL THE TIME but I tried… and I did it… and I just forced myself…

in January I did a daniel fast with a church that I follow… basically you eat fruit and veggies and drink water… I did that for 19 days (was going to  do 21 but I got VERY protein deficient and sick after a large hike…. I don’t like almost dying… ) I LOVED it… I felt so amazing… the intestinal symptoms that I had for YEARS were gone… I had no pain in my guts… my joint pain was VERY improved… I felt awesome… the only thing I craved was MEAT (I seriously had dreams about meat…. like where I chased cows and just bit them… it was… unnerving) when I went back to “normal” at the end of the fast… the symptoms and pain returned with a VENGEANCE and it was like… I didn’t realize how much pain I had until it was gone and then it was back and I was so sick I wanted to die…

the 6 week challenge that started in feb… I decided that I would try “paleo-ish” (I eat beans and corn and don’t eat nuts)…. basically just fruit/veggie/meat… it has worked very well for me

I am back up to biking long distances (we did the greenbrier river trail in june 160 mils… just did 105 miles on the c&o trail last week)… am going to get back into hiking the distances… I have done a couple long hikes but no more than a couple days… am working my endurance back up…

I started this year at 285… I was 250 at the doctor’s last month and I have no idea what I am now… I had a challenge goal to not weigh this six weeks because I was addicted and weighing multiple times a day and it was horrid… it kinda scares me that I am coming up on a hundred pounds lost… I am shocked and amazed

until a few months ago… I think probably until may… losing weight was just something that *might* happen… even though I had lost in the past it never really occurred to me that it was going to happen… it was just like I was just talking… no amount of planning was going to make it happen because it was just words…

then I had this massive shift in my thinking while on my last trip (I wrote about it in my challenge thread… I am running out of time and have already written a book )


the paradigm shift

previously when faced with an idea of something hard to do… my first instinct was to think of all the reasons/excuses for NOT doing the thing… let me just story here… because it’s not making sense in my head…

so…. The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail offers 150 miles of hiking and biking between Cumberland, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA. In Cumberland, the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, creating a continuous 335 mile long trail experience to Washington, DC. (that was copy paste because I am lazy)…. on the trail we were talking about how it would be cool to do the C&O/GAP (out and back)…. previously I would have thought… holy cow 335 miles… that’s 670 I could never do that far… I wouldn’t be able to carry enough food and I would not be able to sit the saddle that long and it would cause me injury and and and… (I could come up with about a hundred things in 5 seconds)

the other day someone said “hey it would be cool to do the C&O/GAP trail round trip” my first thought was “ok I can average 30-40 miles a day how long would that take” and it took me a minute to realize… I actually felt capable of it… I didn’t feel the excuses… I didn’t feel the “I can’t do that I am not fit enough I am inferior” thoughts… I didn’t have excuses… I just thought of how to get ready…

and… this doesn’t even feel like it makes sense… but I don’t know how to word it… it was just…

for the first time in my life I feel like I am physically capable… I always like to compare myself to “high school Jenn” (who weighed in at 150 and went hiking and biking and stuff) but… she couldn’t do HALF the stuff I do… and most of what she could do she had to FORCE herself to do and it wasn’t EASY…. I did 14 miles today and it was easy!!! (after doing 90+ miles the three days before that) high school Jenn did 20 miles once and it made her cry for several days…. I did 20 miles the first day of our trip… She thought she was fit… I AM fit… even up to last year or so… I was not physically capable… (sure I did stuff… but it hurt me and it was hard…) I did 105ish miles and I don’t even feel like I did anything… I feel like I could go get on my bike and do 105 more…. “”

I don’t care if I NEVER win a challenge… I don’t care if I NEVER win a race…. I don’t care if I NEVER get down to my goal weight… I am an athelete… I am physically capable… it doesn’t matter what anyone says about me I KNOW I AM CAPABLE… I can do GREAT things… and I am AWESOME

I don’t have to win anything to know that

update on 24 may 14

so I have been plateaued at 240 ish (between 239 and 249) since august…. did a 2 week (like 11 days really) of super low carb to try and break it… I will NEVER EVER do something like that again… I did <10 TOTAL carbs for the first week and then <20 NET carbs for the next 4 days… I thought I was gonna die… I was SUPER crabby cranky and hated life and the world and had an INSANE headache… and it never got better until I had a LOT more carbs…

anyways… I did end up losing about 6# (and hopefully the stupid plateau is broken)

but I learned something about myself… being happy is a LOT more important to me than that demon liar scale!!

I don’t really give two whits what that lying beast of questionable parentage has to say about me!!

ok well yeah I do… and I came up with new rules of eating for myself… 1) full paleo (ish – I allow corn in moderation) 2) limit white potatoes (my nemesis!!) to once or twice a month (unless they are eaten on a day with a >10 mile hike) 3) sweets are limited to days with >6 mile hikes 4) no added sugar other than coffee (because the artificial sweeteners are bitter!!! and I only drink a cup or two a day) 5) limited cheese to once or twice a month… that I can live with that make me HAPPY … which should allow me to still lose… and not obsess and not be an idiot…

but I am at a point in my life where I deserve happiness… and obsessing over food and how many carbs/calories/whatthecrapever doesn’t make me happy!!

I also had no gains in the gym and whatnot while lowcarbingit…

and that’s what I want!! I want gains in the gym… I want faster miles!!! I am not gonna get those things unless I fuel myself!!! and if I keep making gains and getting faster I WILL LOSE WEIGHT!!!

it took me many many years to get into the outta shape shape that I was in!! if it takes me half that time to get into shape (realizing that I am like twentygazillionbillion percent more in shape than I was 10 years ago) then I am still doing awesome!!

I am training to do the apalachian trail for my 40th birthday (2017 start date) I am running again (got VERY sick this winter and the ice and weather… I feel I lost nearly everything and had to start from ZERO again)

I decided that I am unwilling to do that to my body… I am on a plan now




7 thoughts on “all heroes need a backstory

  1. You are great, I related to so much of what you wrote – not feeling capable, like you can’t rely on your body. I am starting to feel like I can too, and so wonderful that you do too!

    Liked by 1 person

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