Sunday, July 23, 2017


So much of this journey has to do with confidence. 

When you are over weight for most of your adult life, you tend to not have much confidence when it comes to body image. I was never good at sports, so even though I can ride my bike 100 miles, run 5 miles and lift weights, I lack confidence with pretty much anything fitness related.
Fall, 2013
I am the head of the department where I work and have many successful and varied leadership experiences.  I write a blog about health and fitness.  Ha!  But I'm still insecure about my weight, and since I hurt my back this year, I have felt completely lost with my workouts.
Me, laying flat on my back during my recovery.  Uggh.  (Cool filter, isn't it?)
What's enough?  What's too much?  This is hard!  I want results... NOW!  Why bother?

After I wrote my last post, Breakthroughs, I got to thinking about my own lack of self confidence.
I am really starting to find my inner joy again.
Everyone has an internal belief system, built upon your own perceptions of what is true and real to you.  If you believe something to be a certain way, changing that belief system is not easy.  To do that, you have to recognize that your perceptions are faulty and you have to have the courage to replace them with a more solid set of realities.  This is complicated, but let's look at it from a child's perspective.

When my sons were little, they had to learn how to do a variety of different basic skills from walking to riding their bike and swimming.   We had a pool, so they were used to being in the pool with various flotation devices.  As they got older, we taught them how to float on their own, how to tread water, and ultimately how to swim.  One of my boys was terrified to swim without assistance.  We brought him to swimming lessons and he basically had a complete melt down.  He needed to have courage to face his fears and he needed to put aside his belief that he had to have a floatie (or a noodle or Mom / Dad) to swim.  Out of the two weeks of lessons, he probably only got into the pool half the time.  It was not what I would consider a success.  That summer, we focused on skill building with him.  The following year, he got into the pool with no problem.  He went on to join the local swim team and swam right through high school.  He had to have courage to replace his belief system.

The same holds true with the journey on this road to fitness.
Believe in yourself!  You CAN do it!  Smile!  Put one foot in front of the other.
Whether you are just starting out, are mid-journey, or like me, are have been on this path for the long haul, you will face obstacles and roadblocks along the way.  You are probably the biggest obstacle.  Yes, you.  What you tell yourself, what you believe.  Recognizing negative self-talk or messages that communicate defeat is essential.  It's okay for things to be challenging, you CAN learn how to work around or overcome your circumstances.  But, you have to tell yourself that.  AND you HAVE to believe it can be done.

Working with a personal trainer helps a LOT.  I started working with Ashley about a month ago and I am so please with how well things are going for me.  She has given me specific things to work on building both my endurance and strength.  The workouts she has me do target my specific weaknesses without causing further injury.  She's also been available in between our sessions.  I will send her a video of a workout and say, "Hey, this is how I'm doing with this, what do you think?"  Then at our session, she provides me with strategies to improve.  She also provides a lot of positive reinforcement, which I realize I need.  I need to know I am doing a good job, and hearing it from someone else, especially a professional, really gives me the confidence I need.  It's worth the financial investment.
My riding buddy, Erica
You may not have a personal trainer, or be able to afford one, but I do recommend you find a workout partner.  Someone to train with so you can encourage each other.  It helps with accountability too.  If someone is counting on you to be there, you're not as likely to let them down.  If you are working on the same training plan, you can provide each other with great feedback too.  Even in between workouts.  I've been riding my bike a lot with my friend Erica.  Even when we don't ride together, we send each other Snapchats of our rides - before, during and/ or after.  When we ride together, we talk about how we are going to tackle a particular hill or what route we want to ride to challenge ourselves.  Having a partner really makes it worth while.
Friday morning we both went out for a ride, but not together.  I sent Erica this selfie, taken at the top of a very aggressive hill I climbed.  It was a major accomplishment to get up that hill!
No one else can give you the self-confidence you need though.  You are the one who has to address your own fears and insecurities.  Recognize them for what they are.  Tell yourself, again and again, that you can do this.  Believing you can; refusing to give up; working around your busy schedule, your day to day obstacles; making your daily goals happen - this is key to long term success.  Believing you can is more than half the battle.  It's critical to achieving your goals, no matter what they are.

Stick with it.  It's worth it.  Give yourself positive affirmations daily.  Yes, daily.  This is not about becoming arrogant, conceited or self-indulgent.  It's about building your self-confidence, giving yourself the tools you need to accomplish your goals.

And remember, YOU do the hard work!  You do it!  You are a champion of every hurdle you cross, every obstacle you defeat.

Challenge for you:  If you accept the challenge, respond in the comment section below how you will do it.
Think about one thing you want to accomplish and haven't gotten around to it because   fill in the blank . Then, go out there and do it.  What is it?  How will you make it happen?  Check back with me periodically and let me know how you're doing with that goal.

Musical notes    
Now, this song should REALLY motivate you to get out there.  Don't let anything hold you back!
There's Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes
You take all my inhibitions.  Baby, there's nothing holding me back.
You take me places that tear up my reputation, manipulate my decisions.
Baby, there's nothing holding me back.  There's nothing holding me back.

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Friday, July 21, 2017


Ah ha!

Have you ever had one of those moments?  You know, when you've been struggling with something for a while?  It keeps you up at night?  You worry and fret about it?  And then, one day, you sort of "get it."  Well, that happened to me the other day.

It's strange how your brain works sometimes.

Something happened last year.  I haven't really gotten over it.  I can't really talk about it here because it involves people I care about.  My business is my business, and if I choose to make it public, that's one thing.  But I can't really write about my relationships with other people on my blog.  It's not meant to be a gossip column, or a place for me to vent my grievances.  This blog is about my journey.

So, anyway, the other day... I was working out at the gym and I wanted to talk to the manager about something.  I introduced myself and I said, "Hi, I'm Tracey.  I used to train with one of your trainers.  If you have a minute..."  He said, "Yes, I met you once a long time ago.  I know who you are.  You lost a ton of weight."  We talked for a couple minutes and he said to me, "I'm really impressed with your workouts.  You've done a great job keeping the weight off."

My and my Nanny, 2012
Over the past 14 months, I feel like I've been on a roller coaster.  I've had one physical / health challenge after another.  On top of that, I've faced some personal losses.  My beautiful grandmother died.   I lost a friend.  My heart has ached.  Loss.  I almost let it consume me.

I wrote a lot about this last year:  The Change Factor
I did a great job keeping the weight off.  Someone that doesn't even know me noticed and thinks I'm doing a good job.  

It was then that I realized, "Ah ha!"

There were signs.  They weren't even subtle.  I know them.  I've lived with them.  Short temper.  Being simultaneously present and absent.  Unreliability.  Feeling like you're walking on egg shells.  Silence.  More...  I didn't want to acknowledge it, but everything pointed in that direction.  

Egg Shells
I did see the signs.  And after a while, I knew I had to change the nature of our friendship.  I care deeply about this person, but I also have self respect and I just don't let people walk all over me.  I don't deserve it.  It was never my intention to sever our friendship entirely, I just had to put some boundaries up.  It was a very difficult decision.  Even though it was the RIGHT thing to do, I regretted it.

The Toll It Takes
Worse:  I did not anticipate the consequences.  Things did not quite go the way I thought and our friendship ended completely.  This hurt me deeply.

I'm impressed with your workouts.  You've done a good job keeping the weight off.  

But I finally realized it was MY decision.  I started the ball rolling.  I did it.  And it was the RIGHT thing to do.  I don't think I realized that until my conversation with the guy at the gym.

Weird how that happens, isn't it?

Sometimes we have to do that, we have to do the difficult thing, make a difficult choice, and then we have to live with it, even when it hurts.  Unfortunately, sometimes that happens in life.  Relationships end, even abruptly.  It hurts, it breaks your heart even.  But sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.
Where I've been
I think, no, I know, I am spoiled.  As an only child, although I had rules, I was more than just loved.  My parents doted on me.  I was probably the luckiest woman alive to have met and married my husband, Brian.  He loves me, he knows me, he gets me.  He tells me I'm beautiful when I feel gross.  He gives me space when I'm cranky and want to be left alone.  He is my number one fan.  I also have some of the best friends on earth.  People whose company I truly enjoy; who are there for me in thick and thin; who tell me the truth, even when it's tough to hear; who love me the way I am.
My heart
So, when I lost this friend, I was hurt.  Even though I took actions which communicated, "I've had enough of the way you're treating me," I was hurt.

Over the past year, through out my physical challenges and personal losses, I've managed to keep my head up, even though I've wanted to bury it in the sand and cry.  Tonight I will say yet another prayer for this friend, but I know I will sleep a little sounder.

I did what I had to do.  It's okay.  I am okay.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:18-19

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
Do you struggle with depression?  Have you ever ended a relationship with someone you care deeply about and not understood what happened?  How did you get through it?

Musical notes    
This spring I started posting my favorite workout tunes.  This is on my Christian playlist.  I don't workout to it, but the lyrics and the music are incredible.  Just listen....
You're Gonna Be OK by Brian and Jenn Johnson
I know it's all you've got to just be strong.  And it's a fight to just keep it together.  I know you think that you are too far gone.  But hope is never lost.  Hope is never lost.  
Hold on, don't let go.  Just take one step closer, on foot in front of the other.  You'll get through this, just follow the light in the darkness.  You're gonna be ok.

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Running for a Cause

Someone asked me, "Why do you run?"

The truth is, I really am not crazy about running.  In fact, most people I know who run say the same thing.  Running is hard.  Super hard.  Yet, runners do it anyway.

Last week, my husband, Joe and I ran the Bubble Run in East Hartford.  Here's a glimpse...

We were like little kids running through the bubbles.  It was sooo much fun!  

So, even with my history of knee problems, that's why I run.  It's hard work, but it's fun!  I actually sort of started running by accident.  Last summer I started by doing intervals on the treadmill.  This turned into running outside to doing 5Ks.
One of the most appealing things about running is doing the races.  Local charities and non-profits organize races to raise money for their organization or to raise awareness for their cause.  A lot of people sign up for them either as a training run or to push their record to do even more.  I can tell you, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as a pack of runners rallying together for a good cause.  There is a tremendous amount of group energy and inspiration when everyone is laced up and ready to hit the pavement.
Maria & I at the Boston Run to Remember
So exciting!!!
For me, that's the thrill of the 5K.  Some day, maybe I'll train for a 10K or a 1/2 marathon, but for now, I am proud do do the 3.1 miles.  I feel like I just started running, and like I said, running is hard.  Super hard.  So, again, why do it?

I do it for me.  For the thrill, for how I feel after the run.  But I also do it for the cause.

I've run six different races.  My first run was last December and that was my best run.  I ran my best time, I think I was super nervous and I just wanted to kill it.  And so I did.
Our running team... I'm in the front, center.  This was a fundraiser for autism.
After recovering from the severity of my back injuries, I started running again in late April.  
The Tarentino Strong race is in honor of Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr. who died in the line of duty in May, 2016.
When I started my blog, I started following other weight loss / fitness blogs.  RunEatRepeat is probably my favorite.  Monica Oliveras has a fun way of writing about running, food, health and life related concerns. She is a runner and she encourages her readers to get out there and run too.  Following her really motivated me to try running.  My husband has run for years and I've always watched from the sidelines.  It's disheartening to feel like I can't run.  Monica motivated me to try.  She's great for saying, "Just put on some shoes and run.  Yeah, that's all you have to do."

At first, I couldn't run very far at all.  I measured success by driveway lengths.  With each run, I tried to go a little further until I finally could run a mile, then 1.5, all the way to 3 miles.
I did a great little run in May to raise money for a Rotary Club scholarship.
Running can be hard on your joints, so it's important to have good footwear and stretch.  Flexibility is key to mobility, strength and endurance.  You want to take good care of your joints!

A little at-home yoga.
Races really help to keep your motivation up too and they are a great way to raise money for worthwhile causes.  Several years ago, a lady from my church started a ministry to raise awareness of human trafficking and to raise funds to provide care for its victims.  The name of the ministry she started is SHINE, which stands for Stop Human Trafficking In New England (the T in trafficking is not part of the acronym).  The major fundraiser they sponsor is a 5K run/walk.  As it is not just open to our church, it brings awareness of the problem to our community and raises money for partnering organizations involved with fighting the problem.  
My husband did the race in 2014, way before I was running.
It's a great event!
I realize I don't have to pay money to run.  It's probably the cheapest sport out there.  All you really need is a decent pair of sneakers.  But running for a cause does motivate me to improve.  It makes me happy to support local non-profits.
On National Sports Bra Squad Day, I ran the Westfield 5K to raise money for the local Boys & Girls Club.
It's rare, but you don't have to pay for every race you run.  The Tortoise and the Hare 3 Mile Run in Nahant is one such race.  You just show up, get your bib and run.
While on vacation in Nahant, we ran their annual 4th of July 3 mile fun run.
Like I said, the cause is a HUGE reason why I run races.  Raising money for scholarships, memorials, research and treatment for illnesses or just to support awareness - it's a huge part of why I pay that $20 - $30 to run a race.  If you are trying to raise money for a cause, think about sponsoring a 5/10K race.  I recommend making both an option to attract a bigger crowd.  It does take a little more planning, but if your purpose is to make money, you want to get as many participants as possible.  I have run races with under 50 runners and I've run races with hundreds, even thousands of runners.  It's a HUGE draw.  A well run, organized race will draw return runners who will bring their running friends.  You could even sponsor a few training runs in advance of the race, to get some new runners to participate.

So, what does it take to organize a race?   First of all, you need a cause.  What is it that you are passionate about and needs funding?  Then, get a team of people to support you in your efforts.
The Boston Run to Remember is in honor of first responders who died in the line of duty.
The most important part about planning the race is to get runners, so advertising is key.  I recommend using an online site, such as EventBrite to promote your race and help with your registrations. There is a small fee to these sites, but EventBrite is very reasonable and most of the proceeds go directly to your cause.
I wore old sneakers for the Bubble Run because I didn't want to ruin my good running shoes.  They were soaked by the time we were done!
To keep costs down, ask for donations for things like ... t-shirts, prizes, water and nutrition for runners.  See if you can get a local DJ to donate his/ her time and equipment for the event.  Contact local law enforcement agencies to inquire about the cost to keep your race safe.   You want to make sure runners have a safe path and do not have to run in traffic!  Many police departments will donate their time for good causes.  Or, perhaps there is a local park you can use with trails / roads for your runners.  Unless you have access to a facility with open restrooms, don't forget porta potties!!!!  Runners need to go!!!  And make sure you have enough of them!  There's nothing worse than running a 5K and then not being able to relieve yourself because there is a long line for the bathroom.

A couple things to consider....

Water stations along the run.  Runners need to hydrate and it's wise to have one or two areas where runners can grab a small cup of water or gatorade while they are mid-race.   You'll want a trash area close by because usually we quickly discard the cup after we swallow.

Fun activities.  Maybe you can have some prizes for costumes.  A good DJ will play great music at the start / finish line and adds a lot of fun to the race.   A pre- or post- race kids fun run is a way to ge the whole family involved.  Have some other related fitness contests after the run, such as a pull up bar, or jump rope / hula hoop contests.  While it may seem gimmicky, a lot of runners are fitness fanatics and love this kind of thing.  But, it's optional.
After the Bubble Run, they shot cannons of bubbles at us and it was so much fun!!  We were completely soaked in bubbles.
Professional photographers.  Your runners LOVE to see themselves run and it's great to have photographers stationed along the run.  Upload the pictures to your website and use a search tool to help runners find their picture (with the bib).
I kept every bibs from each race I've run.
Signage!!!  Make sure you have LOTS of signs for your runners.  Where to park, where the start line is, where registration is (day of and pre-registration), and MOST importantly, where to turn along the way!!!

It's not that complicated to plan and organize a race.  If you need to raise some money for your cause, DO IT!
Joe and my hubby, Brian.  My running partners.
If you want to run your first race, just do a google search for "EventBrite races" or "EventBrite 5K races" add your town to narrow down the search.  Don't be afraid to try!  There are new runners at every race I've ever run.  A lot of them walk along the way and that's perfectly okay.  The key is to stick with it.  Run a safe race.  You don't want any injuries along the way, so keep your eyes on the road, watch where you are going and if you have to walk a little bit to catch your breath, so be it.

For a girl who hates to run, I sure do have a lot to say about why I love it so much!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!

Questions for you (answer in the comment section below):
Have you ever run a 5K?  A 10K?  What was your most memorable race?  If you haven't run one?  Why not?  Are you interested?  Message me....

Musical notes    
This is one of my FAVORITE songs!  I just love Maroon 5.  And this video is the best one I've ever seen.  I LOVE how they crash all these weddings.  Add this to your play list today!

Sugar by Maroon 4
Your sugar, yes please.  Won't you come and put it down on me?  I'm right here, 'cause I need
Little love, a little sympathy.  Yeah, you show me good loving.  Make it alright.  Need a little sweetness in my life.

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sometimes You Need a Little Help

I've been neglecting the blog again.  Whoops.

I started a different post, which needs something to make it more interesting, so it got put on the shelf.  Then we went away on vacation and ... here we are.

If you are a regular reader, you know I have been struggling with a bunch of different health related things over the past 12+ months.  After I hurt my back in March, my doctor told me not put a time line on my recovery.  "Listen to your body.  It could take a year, it could take longer."  I've already been dealing with my shoulder for a year, then my leg, now this.  The setback has thrown my anxiety into full blown depression, which I battle nearly every day.  I can have three or four really good days, followed by a week of feeling down.  It sucks the joy out of life.  To look at me, no one would really know.  I put on a good face.  I had an amazing day yesterday.  I went for a long bike ride with my friend Erica, then I went wine tasting with my friend Katherine.  I ordered a pizza for dinner, so I didn't even have to cook.  But last night I couldn't sleep, I laid in bed for almost two hours, wide awake, feeling so down.  Woke up super early and laid in bed awake for another two hours until I finally decided to get up.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17

Unless you have struggled with depression, it's hard to understand.  How do you have a great day, and then feel so down?  Nothing is really wrong, so you don't really want to talk about it.  Sometimes you catch yourself feeling it, realize you shouldn't be, and then you feel guilty for feeling the way you feel.  That's kind of what happened last night.  Usually a good night's sleep will help, but when that doesn't happen...

I went to church this morning.  The message was the first in a series entitled, "The Cross of Christ."  Our pastor talked about how we don't really fully understand the cross...  Christ knew no sin, but he gave EVERYTHING so we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, adapted).  I left feeling encouraged.  My soul cries out, Hallelujah.  This song...
Man of Sorrows by Hillsong
Oh that rugged cross, my salvation, where Your love poured out over me.  Sent of heaven, God's own Son, to purchase and redeem..and reconcile the very ones who nailed Him to that tree.

In my last post, I told you I was going to start training with my friend Ashley.  Between my back and shoulder issues, I often feel defeated when I leave the gym.  It's one thing to have sore muscles, it's entirely different to push through back pain or to exasperate the tendinitis in my shoulder.  This is why I asked Ashley for help.  I've had two sessions with her and she's given me a workout plan, specifically to address my concerns about improving my strength and endurance.  

I have three different workouts, focusing on one of the major muscle groups each day and core strengthening each day.  She has me doing things I hate, like mountain climbers and burpees.  I hate burpees.  Really hate them.  But, she said, "It has to be uncomfortable for change to happen."  And I guess all my whining about my diminished strength and endurance means  I have to do things I don't like, even if it means doing burpees.  
Burpees are on for tomorrow.  Here are some messy mountain climbers.  I had to do 4 sets of 50.  I thought it said 5 sets of 50.... uggh.

It also means retraining my brain to muscle connections.  I've unconsciously been taking shortcuts to "protect" my back, while potentially putting myself in danger.  So instead of squats on the squat rack, it's kettle bells and focusing on depth and form...

I'm glad I have Ashley to work with me.  She's helps me with accountability too.  Today I wanted to stay home, instead I made sure I worked out.   I have to report out on how things are going at our next session.  No excuses.  No, "I was tired and feeling sorry for myself."  

Sometimes you just need a little help.  The trick is, asking for it.

Tonight I am feeling better.  I was able to accomplish a few things, grabbed a power nap, got to the gym, and even posted to my blog.  Breathe.

If you are interested in personal training, please contact me.  I can share with you my experiences and give you some guidelines for what to expect and how much it costs.

Question for you (answer in the comment section below):
Did you celebrate the 4th of July?  What did you do?

Musical notes    
Not only does this song have a super rhythm, which is perfect for longer runs, but it reminds me of my husband.  He is my superhero, my fairy tale bliss.  He's the one I want to turn to, the one I can kiss.

Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
But she said, where'd you wanna go? How much you wanna risk? I'm not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts, some superhero, some fairy tale bliss, just something I can turn to.  Somebody I can kiss.

Instagram:  @tracoleman99