About Me

Hello, and welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere!

I am Emmy, a writer, a reader, a teacher, a runner, and a lover of fitness and good food.

For as long as I can remember, I have been athletic.  I started playing soccer in first grade, made a select team shortly thereafter, and started traveling across the Midwest to various tournaments throughout middle and high school.

To condition for my club team, I participated in the Olympic Development Program (sounds a lot more impressive than it actually was), ran cross country (for a summer and decided I hated running), and joined the swim team (until I realized that I was getting schooled by eight-year-olds).

Needless to say, I was athletic, I was muscular.  I most definitely was not a chubby child or teenager, but I was never the thinnest of my friends either -- which of course made me feel ├╝ber fat.  In addition, there were two boys (who just happened to be in nearly all of my classes) who fed into the low self-esteem that was beginning to develop regarding my weight.  I would eat my breakfast (generally a granola bar) in second period statistics, and they would make oinking sounds, tell me that they could just "see me getting fatter," etc.  While I laughed it off in order to protect my dignity, it really hurt me and has stuck with me still today.

During my junior year of high school, I had horrible IT-band tendonitis, and that, coupled with my dislike for the school coaches and their politics, made my decision to quit soccer much easier.

After I quit soccer, I didn't do much in regards to working out, other than whatever we did in PE (weight-lifting, kickboxing, swimming, etc.).  In college, I went to the gym every now and again, and for about a year, I went to water aerobics and Pilates fairly religiously.

I gained a lot of weight.  And,  I started Weight Watchers because I thought that 159 pounds was absolutely ridiculous.  It didn't help that my roommate, my best friend, was a constant dieter, claiming that she was way too fat, even though she was much thinner than I.

After college, I continued gaining weight and did not necessarily exercise a whole lot.  In fact, my mom says that she was shocked when she realized that "the chubby girl in the Drake sweatshirt" approaching her at my brother's soccer game was actually me.  (Note: my mom would have never told me that at the time; she mentioned that to me after had lost weight a few years later.)  Clearly something needed to change.

But it didn't.

Throughout my early days as a young professional, I ate what was cheap and easy and didn't really cook a whole lot.  I played sand volleyball or soccer here and there, but I was not working out like I should've been.  Nor was I watching my nutritional intake.  At all.

In January of 2009, I started Farrell's Extreme Body Shaping (round one).  It was an amazingly hardcore workout, and because I never skipped exercising and followed the meal plan to a T, I lost 13 inches and gained a whole lot of muscle.

I signed up for a year of Farrell's -- but did not go as often as I should've.  I then quit Farrell's and joined the YMCA.  And then I gained back all of what I lost -- and more.

Throughout this time, I was also playing soccer in an adult coed league.  In October 2010, I severely sprained my ankle and was out of exercise for far too long.  (It was so bad that the doctor said he wished I would've broken it instead, and it still acts up from time to time.  Like now, for example.)

In March of 2011, I decided I was going to run a marathon.  (Yes, this is coming from the girl who hated running.)  I decided that I needed to get my butt in gear and that participating in a mentoring program for students would help.  Likely because I was so out of shape, I was quite prone to injury and was unable to run the full marathon due to horrible tendonitis.  Instead, I foolishly completed my first half marathon in October 2011.

Yep: I was in tears because I was so badly hurting.
I continued running as soon as my injuries would allow.

In May, I ran my second half marathon -- in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I signed up and trained for this marathon by myself, which was really tough; for my prior 13.1, I trained with a group, but for this one, I was on my own.  But I did it:

Memorial Stadium -- GBR.
Just a couple weeks after that half marathon, I ran the toughest race of my life up to that point: the Gladiator Assault in Boone, Iowa.  This was only a five-mile course, but it was running up and down ski slopes and through/over/around/under more than 30 obstacles.  I was bloodied, bruised, and muddy beyond belief at the end, but I felt oh-so accomplished:

Me and Mags.
After all, my body was capable of a heck of a lot.  I felt strong.

Two weeks later, I ran the country's largest 20k -- Dam to Dam.  This was the first race where I ran the entirety, without walking.  That is, I ran the entire thing up to the last 200 meters, where I would've vomited had I not been in the middle of thousands of people.

It sucked, but I finished.  And, the fact that I ran nearly the whole thing felt like quite a huge accomplishment.  Maybe I was in better shape than I thought.

I ran a series of smaller races over the summer and ran in a variety of places: on the beach in Key West, along a river in northern Illinois and alongside Lake Michigan in Chicago, in downtown Denver, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean aboard a cruise ship, along the Pacific in Long Beach, through the woods in Des Moines, and more.

In August, my students and I ran yet another half marathon in the Twin Cities:

It was rainy -- and much hillier than we thought.  But we had a blast taking photos at each mile.

And then came the big one: in October 2012, I ran my first full marathon.

My mama ran the half -- so proud of her!
This was by far the toughest race of my life.  It was killer.  It was slow.  But I finished.

And after the hours upon hours upon hours and miles upon miles upon miles of training for that race, I was both physically and mentally exhausted.  So, I took a break.  And that break lasted five months.

In that five-month period, I ate like crap, I worked out hardly at all (maybe a run/walk or a trip to the YMCA here or there), and I did nothing but sit on my couch, sleep, watch TV, etc.  In that five-month period, I gained close to 20 pounds.  My pants started getting too tight, my shirts started showing fat that I didn't know existed, my bras started cutting off circulation, and I did not look good.

Most of all, though, I did not feel good.

My mental health was deteriorating at a rapid pace, and it was entirely due to the fact that I was not working out or eating well.  Interestingly (and quite obviously), healthy living is a key component to solid emotional well-being.

I knew something needed to change.  On March 23, 2013, I started Farrell's Extreme Body Shaping (round two).  I started eating better, I started working out and strength training again, and I immediately started feeling better.

I kicked butt during round two of Farrell's and lost 14.25 inches and 13 pounds in ten weeks.

Holy baby oil.
I was so motivated after my ten-week session that I immediately signed up to coach.  Even though it was the summer time (and therefore I was not working), I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to hit the gym.  Because I was not as strict nutritionally as I was during my ten weeks, however, I gained back much of the weight and quite a few of the inches.

As the school year started (and as my relationship became more strained than it already was), I became extremely stressed, extremely anxious, extremely exhausted, and as much as I hate to admit it, extremely depressed.  I literally had no extra energy to devote to working out or to eating well, which in turn caused a vicious cycle (as I know I feel better if I eat well and work out).

I slid further and further into Lack of Fitness & Nutrition Land, so I set some major goals for myself: I finished 50-some days of Whole30 programming (and looked and felt amazing) and ran several half marathons:

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Dam to Dam Half Marathon

Market to Market Relay

Lincoln Half Marathon

Then, I started powerlifting. I found a great love for heavy weights and spent hours in the gym at the benchpress, the squat, and the deadlift. With a little help at first, I quickly began creating my own lifting programs, setting my own goals, and killing it in the gym.

In 2016, I made great progress and looked (and felt) incredible and strong. I was confident and learned to love my huge-ass thighs, and I rocked some booty shorts and super skinny jeans as a result.

I ran my butt off and had a 19-minute PR on a half marathon (the Garry Bjorklund Half).

And I mistakenly signed up for a Ragnar (long story) but ran 17 miles of it and had the best (and only) 2 a.m. run of my life.

But then my body broke. It had had enough, I think. That aforementioned ankle sprain (yes, the one from 2010) reared its ugly head yet again, and I finally went to the doctor in October 2016. After two X-rays, two MRIs, two cortisone injections, two rounds in the boot, way too many unproductive physical therapy sessions, and absolutely no working out, I had surgery in June 2017. There was a bone spur on my talus, and my fingers are crossed that I'll be able to start lifting and running again soon.

The last eight months have been extremely difficult as far as physical health goes -- which in turn has carried over into mental health. While running is not my favorite thing in the world, I have found that I need it in order to keep a strong, clear, refreshed mind. I may never run another half marathon again, but I really, really need to be able to run a couple of miles here and there. I also really, really need to be able to pick up a barbell, press a shit-ton of weight, and feel like I can conquer the world.

While I don't know when I'll be able to lace up the Brooks or step in the squat rack, I do know that there are some things I can do to get my pre-injury body back, and those things all have to do with nutrition. My plan now is to get back to the Whole30 / Paleo mindset -- but perhaps track macros instead of completely limiting certain food groups.

I just know that I'm not happy with how I look or feel right now, and something needs to happen.

Please follow me on this journey -- support me, encourage me, and keep me accountable.

Thanks, friends!