April’s 3-day Experience – The Hard Part

When you walk 52 miles in 3 days, you expect to lose weight.

Before the 3-day breast cancer event began, I recall having a conversation with my sister and our 3-day alumni team mate, Aubrey. As my sister and I joked about how much weight we should lose despite all the snacking we would do, Aubrey sat with a big smile on her face ready to burst our bubbles. “Actually,” Aubrey said, “Unfortunately most people gain weight on the 3-day because it basically is a 3-day buffet.”

Aubrey was so right. After three days of continuous munching mile after mile, I ended up gaining six pounds. SIX POUNDS OF PURE MUSCLE. Hah. Or six pounds of calluses.

While accepting my weight gain and dealing with my calluses were some of the less positive moments revolving around the 3-day event, they certainly were not the hardest part of it.

One of the hardest parts of  being part of  this walk was dealing with the people who chose to use the opportunity of  my eager participation to quickly bash Susan G. Komen for whatever reason they had previously heard before.  From the very moment I started to share my involvement with the 3-day with other people, I constantly found myself in a debate over the controversies that have faced Komen over the past years. Friends and random people I would interact with in public found it easy to quickly turn my attempt at doing something positive into a chance to completely make me feel like crap for what I was doing. Yes, Komen has dealt with some pretty gnarly accusations and on another blog, I might be comfortable enough to open up the debate but my overall feeling is this:

If an organization exists and successfully helps a massive amount of people, then why is it OK for someone to verbally  tear apart a person for being involved?

I also found it interesting that all the people (as far as I knew) had never themselves tried to do some sort of major fundraising challenge. Yet it was so easy for them to instantly bring up all the negativity around something that I was just trying to be optimistic about.

But through all the controversy and debates, the real hard part was the reason I was there.  After losing friends and family over the past few years to an assortment of types of cancer, I was walking because I wanted to walk and honor the people that had been effected by cancer in the past.

I had made a simple banner that said “Always in our heart” and on the last day during lunch, my three teammates and I circled around it armed with a Sharpee and way too many names to write down.

Standing proud.

The Double Chin Divas standing with honor and love.

When we were done we had over 100 names of people we were walking for who had battled cancer.

As Monique, Aubrey, Alyssa and I walked into the closing ceremony at Petco Park in San Diego, we carried the banner with so much love for the names on that pink piece of fabric. It was definitely one of the saddest but most uplifting moments of my life as I walked with my eyes full of tears towards the finish line. Behind the thousands of us in our white-for-walker Komen shirts, a group of beaming breast cancer survivors stood ready in their special pink shirts for their moment to walk across the finish line. Finally, when all of us in our walker-whites were across the line, we were asked to lift one shoe for the “One Shoe Salute” as the survivors crossed the finish line.

As soon as that group of women (and some men) started across that line, a flash of memories stored in my mind came over me as fast as my eyes were pouring out tears. Like every single person there at the event, we all came to honor someone who has faced cancer. The 3-day walk was EASY compared to what people face through cancer. All the pain I was feeling in my feet didn’t matter as my brain shifted into an extreme moment of reflection of why I participated in the first place.

Lucas in the snow of Germany.

Memories of blog posts that my friend Lucas Brooks had written about his colon cancer treatments…Happy smiles of him in the snow in Germany during his last couple months alive…The sunset our town had the night he passed…

Flashes of  my friend Scott Schipper playing his saxophone with one of his favorite bands, Less Than Jake, months before he died… The impact Scott was able to make by starting  the cancer organization “Thrive!”…

The moment my family was told that Alyssa’s mother-in-law Shirley had liver cancer… The way she smiled months later as she told us that her perfect blonde hair was actually a wig during a night we had dinner.. and then the way she was glowing the night I said goodbye to her before she left us for the heavens above.

Smiling Shirley and her son, Matt (Alyssa’s Husband)

The 3-day walk was such an incredibly fun experience and through all the blisters and tears, the absolute hardest past of the event was the overall reason it exists in the first place.

Cancer has taken millions of peoples lives and continues to be the second leading cause of death after heart disease.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, “In 2014, about 585,720 American are expected to die of cancer – almost 1,600 people per day.”

With so many people hurt by cancer, besides hoping and fighting towards a cure, the best we can do for the people we love who are facing cancer today, or to those of you who may be battling cancer right now, is to use every single day as a gift. We are fortunate to be here. We are fortunate to be able to wake up every morning, hopefully in good health, and to be able to see the sky show off its daily sunrise and sunset. We are fortunate to have friends and family to hold our hands and keep the faith strong, even when our own faith has dwindled.

For everyone we have lost, their memory lives on in all of us who are still here today.

 

A gift from Lucas Brooks.

 

With so much love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

PS: Special thanks to the awesome people at Chia Warrior for graciously providing us with delicious chia fuel through out our 3-Day journey!

 

 

 

Obese, morbidly.

 

Greetings, readers! I’m back with my attempt to blog at least once a week and this week I want to talk about something that I’ve known but never really thought too much about. I visited the doctor this week and we did a check-up on my blood work  with my discovery of food allergies and such. My blood ended up being just fine but there was something that came up on my lab reports that disturbed me.

 

My doctor had officially noted me as obese, morbidly. I was well aware of what the medical world calls people with high weights but I like to live in my happy bubble where I can just consider myself as an obese person working towards better health. Unfortunately the medical way to describe my weight, specifically with the use of the word “morbid”, makes it seem like I’ve got one foot on the gas and one foot in the grave. I just don’t agree with the word morbid. Obese, fine. Fat, whatever. But morbid? It makes me feel like I should start dressing like Morticia Addams and never smile again. Why not just call it, “super obese?” Like, you’re fat, but you’re also SUPER! It’s bad enough to just BE obese, but why does it still have to sound so harsh? It’s like the only expression that hasn’t been sugar-coated over the past few decades.

I know the amount of fat on my body isn’t healthy but I don’t feel like I’m one more soda away from immediate death. The doctor also tested all sorts of things like cholesterol, calcium, sodium, thyroid, potassium, and glucose levels. Everything was perfectly in the normal range. I also was weighed and had lost seven pounds since I found out about the food allergies. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve been walking more at night and forcing myself to attempt to jog. I set up little goals of amount of blocks and it’s been pretty cool to see how quickly I’ve improved over the past couple of weeks.

According to my training walk schedule, I’m a few miles short of the suggested amount I should be doing every week to prepare for the 60-mile walk. I have been thinking about ways I could fund raise as I still have $1,800 to go and am stoked that I’ll be getting the pink in my hair done today! I still want to do a “Brews for BOObs” event so I hope I can do that to help raise money. I also have been thinking of a way to craft together a promised “training walk sponsorship” where maybe I could ask people to “sponsor” my training walks – They give me a goal for a month during my pre-training, say 50 miles – and they’ll promise to donate $50 when I achieve it. I log all my walks on a fabulous app called Runtastic so it would be legitimate to track my progress… and hopefully everyone who promises to donate will follow through.  What do you all think of that idea? Would any of YOU sponsor my training walks?  😉

I hope you all have a super spiffy Thursday and if you’re looking for some good laughs, check out my hidden link coated in sugar.

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

Click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Please click my picture to get to my 3-day page!

Guest Post: Why Aubrey walks the 3-Day

Friends: I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Aubrey, the co-captain of the Double Chin Divas! I have the pleasure of working with Aubrey on the 3-Day, and she’ll be walking 60 miles with me and April and Monique in San Diego in November. I wanted you to know why this walk matters so much to so many of us. To read more about Aubrey and donate to her fundraising, visit her here. Can’t donate but want to join us? Consider joining the Double Chin Divas team! Take it away, Aubrey!

Aubrey's the one holding the sign!

Aubrey’s the one holding the sign!

I registered for the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day in January of 2010 with the idea of doing something bigger than myself. I had heard about the 3-Day once or twice before in passing. This time I was sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser and saw the 3-Day commercial. My mind was made in an instant. I knew that I was going to register to walk 60 miles over the course of three days and raise $2,300. I had never done something like this. And to tell you the truth, I hadn’t done anything in my adult life that was noteworthy.

My grandmother had beaten breast cancer twice by the time I was born, I lost two of my aunts to cancer (breast and ovarian), my great grandmother had passed away from stomach cancer when my grandmother was a small child, and if that wasn’t reason enough, I believed that it was the right thing to do. I’ve always been the type of person to be all in or not at all so I jumped into the biggest, boldest event facing breast cancer out there with both feet.

I remember walking my very first 3-Day anxious to find out what was ahead, and I didn’t mean on the route. I meant with my mom. Just one month before my first 3-Day she had been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. All throughout my journey I remember wondering what was to come. Would I lose her? She was my only parent, and she fought long and hard to give my brother and me a good life. My mom’s cancer forced me to look at this event in an entirely new way. I realized there is a difference between the feelings that are conjured up when you hear about a diagnosis. If you’ve never known someone close to you with cancer, you feel badly for the person with cancer. If you’ve ever watched a loved one fight cancer, the word “cancer” chews up your nerves, pulls on your heartstrings and launches you into advocacy.

Aubrey and her team

Aubrey and the San Diego Camp Services Team

So why this event? Why walk 60 miles and raise $2,300? I do it because it is essential. It is the single thing that I can do about breast cancer. When my mom was diagnosed I was called to action. I knew that signing up for this event meant a level of commitment that I had never encountered. And to be completely honest, I had no idea what kind of time would be involved, but I did it knowing I would not give up because cancer patients don’t get to give up. The walking part of this event is important but also symbolic to what a patient goes through. There’s a huge difference between symbolic and the same. We, as able bodied people, have to push ourselves to take every step. We have to force ourselves to get up and train when we don’t feel like it. We have to try out different techniques until we find the right training gear or walking speed. Compare that to what cancer patients go through and you’ll quickly realize you have nothing to complain about. One foot in front of the other.

The money. Why is there a goal? It’s simple.  If the goal is to fund a world without breast cancer then a certain number must be set in place in order to fulfill the purpose of what we are doing. So why $2,300? Because people don’t work for free and cancer research is labor and time intensive. Why $2,300? Because mammograms for uninsured women aren’t free so we need to raise enough to share the hope that a free mammogram can give. Why $2,300? Because there are women losing their hair and can’t afford a wig or a scarf, but if you go to your local cancer resource center you can usually get one for free. Why $2,300? Because families should not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for treatment.

What about the folks who can’t physically or financially commit to this, but still want to help? Consider joining the 3-Day crew. They are a wonderful and dedicated group of individuals that donate four days of their time working behind the scenes during the event to ensure that the walkers have a seamless event. You can also share posts on social media, or come out to cheer walkers on.

If you have ever had a question about whether you can do this or not, I am here to tell you that YOU CAN! You cannot fail when you put your mind to this. I never once had it in my mind that I couldn’t do this even though I am a plus sized girl who had never done anything physically challenging in my life. The 3-Day is not just about pink ribbons, walking, and fundraising. The 3-Day is about living, dreaming, achieving, and loving in every aspect of your life. The confidence and relationships that you develop within yourself and others because of the 3-Day is only the beginning of what you are capable of.

Going at full speed

Hello wonderful blog followers!

The month of June is nearing the end.  Can you believe 2014 is already going to be half over?   Time goes by way too quickly and lately I have been finding it hard to do anything that includes sitting down. Unless it is when I am sitting in traffic during my new rush hour commute.

Summer camp is in full swing at the humane society I am now working at and so far,  this job is incredible.  My first two weeks of training brought me all types of new experiences with animals and filled my head with dancing bunnies, barking dogs, and climbing kittens. It has been AWESOME. This week we have our campers, all fifth and sixth graders full of questions, enthusiasm and opinions.  Today I was introduced to the wonderful large group game called “Kelp Help” (a revised version of “Elbow Tag”). Since I’m an awesome camp teacher, I played with the kids and ended up getting a quick workout that even got me sweating!  I had to sprint around a circle playing the role of a shark-dodging seal, as one of  the campers would try to tag me before I latched on to the “kelp” to be released from my role. It was nuts. But the kids were impressed with my short bursts of swiftness.

komenwalk

Last week marked the first week of the Susan G. Komen 24-week training guide.  I managed to walk eight miles last week and this week I have done five so far, thanks to the first official training walk I hosted on Monday. Another 3-day participant, her daughter, my mother, and my two friends joined me to walk through a five mile chunk of my town. I was grateful that the weather was gorgeous and not too hot as we spent our evening chatting about what fitness meant us, weight loss, the effects of cancer on the world, and other random conversation pieces. My feet were about ready to fall off by the end of it as I was still sore from three miles I had done the day before hiking around the Santa Cruz mountains.

All my mileage I have racked up so far has certainly been making me feel all sorts of soreness. However, I also have been quickly feeling much more in shape than even just a month ago. I was down another 3.6 pounds last Saturday at Weight Watchers and am (ideally) another weigh-in away from being down 10 pounds officially since I began the program. It has been a challenge to take off those ten pounds but some progress is better than none. I have a feeling with the walk training and my new lifestyle of change of working to eliminate all the foods I am allergic to, I have faith I’ll be able to continue to drop the pounds.

This week I have been surviving off of yogurt, quinoa mixed with salsa, lettuce, cheese sticks, and grapes.  Mmm, grapes.  ::moment of Napa Valley appreciation::  I am looking forward to finally getting my first pay check so I can grocery shop for more variety! I went to Whole Foods and was saddened by the lack of products that are gluten-free but not made with rice or oats instead.  I did see some corn bread mix that inspired me to research recipes so I have faith maybe I will be able to find some other variety of carbs. Coming up with quick breakfast foods has been my biggest challenge but after some facebook friends made some suggestions, I have some ideas I could do.

Do you have any breakfast ideas for me that don’t include wheat, oats, rice, apples, bananas or oranges?  Thank you 🙂

I hope everyone had a glorious  rest of their week and an even better weekend.  I’m aiming to walk another eight miles before next Monday, I’ll use this blog as a commitment to do it. 😉

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

PS – I’m brewing up some great ideas for fundraising for my 3-day walk but once I hit 20% of my needed $2,300 – I’ll be working with my friend and stylist, Ashley Blanchard of Lauthr, to create a “pink hair color” fundraising meter – the more money I earn – the more pink my hair will become. So far I have 12% thanks to donations from lovely people (Tommy, my Mom, my sister, Shannon, Audra, and Linda!) and I am VERY EAGER to get that pink in my hair.  If you have it to spare, please consider even donating $5 to my fundraising!  Thank you so much!

 

Visit my personal page here:   http://www.the3day.org/goto/aprillofgren

 

 

 

My 3-Day Walk Training Progress

Hello friends, I hope you had a great weekend. I just finished a delicious dinner of roast chicken, potatoes, and grilled egg plant. Super yum! I’m relaxing with a hard cider before settling into the couch to watch Silicon Valley, one of my new favorite shows. This weekend was pretty laidback; hanging out with my grad school girlfriends, lunch with the hubs, recipe testing for the California Avocado contest at Fitbloggin’, and lastly, a nice 3.5 mile training walk today with my husband.

I’ve been squeezing in walks here and there whereever I can, and this weekend marked 24 weeks until my event. Eeek! I have many miles to go between now and then. I’m happily almost to the halfway mark of my fundraising goal of $2,300, and so far have been blown away by people’s generosity. It’s alarming how many people’s lives cancer has affected, and fundraising and walking is just one small thing I can do to try and prevent cancer from stealing another person’s life. (Want to help? I’d be so grateful. I will happily carry the names of a loved one, in honor or memory of, on my 60 mile journey. A $35 donation ) A few weeks ago I bought myself some Snazzy New Walking Shoes, and I just learned today on my walk app (Map My Walk) that I’ve put 30 miles on my new kicks. Nice!

I think back to a year or so ago when I hated walking a 5k distance (3.2 miles), and I’m happy that now I’m doing 3 miles with no real challenge. I’m definitely not a fast walker, but the nice thing about the 3-Day is that it’s not about the time. It’s about the commitment. I did 5.5 miles last week on one walk, and I’m hoping to get in another 5-miler this week. It’s really going to be crazy to me when I start walking distances of seven miles and above. You’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles, so that doesn’t seem as extreme to me as choosing to hoof it seven miles or more. (I’m lazy when it comes to exercise. True fact.) My friend Monique, who’s walking with the team Double Chin Divas, will probably walk with me next week, and then in July, I’m hoping to attend my sister April’s official 3-Day training walk in San Francisco! I also need to get in more cardio, as my awesome endocrinologist reminded me in a very friendly but matter of fact way that walking nice long distances just ain’t gonna cut it for me for weight loss. (Darnit.) Hold me accountable, peeps!

Taking nice long walks has some perks, besides being relaxing — you get to see things you never knew existed, like these awesome body weight exercise machines at Lake Balboa. I definitely had a good time screwing around on the foot elliptical and torso twister. You’re never too old to play!

Lake Balboa Foot Powered Elliptical

Lake Balboa Foot Powered Elliptical

 

I’m feeling good about the event, and am hoping I hit my half way mark really soon here with fundraising. The next few months are going to be critical for my training success, so now, I just need to make an effort to do the work. I don’t have to walk fast, I just have to walk often. That said, if anybody is in LA and wants to go on a walk… hit me up! Do I have any other walkers for exercise out there? Have an amazing day!

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

 

 

 

Interested in walking 60 miles in San Diego in November? Considering joining the Double Chin Divas team. We’re kicking cancer’s ass, one step at a time.

Weekly Recap, Double Chin Style

Hello, hello! Sorry for the tumbleweeds blowin’ around here lately…I’ve been on the road living life, and sometimes living life means my little dusty corner of the internet gets neglected for a few days. Here’s what I’ve been up to!

1) I got really POed last week at my weigh in when I gained a pound. I was mostly POed because I *mostly* refrained from eating carbs (except for some delicious Scotchmallows on Easter), walked over 10 miles total, and did a horrifying Jillian Michaels Shred class at the gym. In my mind, all of those efforts should have meant I got skinny right away, because you know, of course eating mostly right and exercising for seven days should automatically result in a 70 pound instantaneous weight loss… I had to talk myself down from my unreasonable yet totally realistic-in-the-moment musings of “I should just accept I’m always going to be heavy and move on with my life”. I actually made a pretty funny comparison now that I think back on it, and I’ll share that one in a few days when I have time to summarize, but it involves everyone’s favorite new movie, Frozen, as shown below.

Coming soon on the DCD: Why Alyssa's weight loss struggles parallels Elsa, a queen with a frightening magical power.

Coming soon on the DCD: Why Alyssa’s weight loss struggles parallels Elsa, a queen with a frightening magical power.

2) I’m meeting with my endocrinologist next week for a follow up, and I can’t wait to switch medication versions from a normal Metformin to Metformin XR, which is extended release and will hopefully make me less nauseous after taking it. After two weeks of feeling constantly urp-ish, I summoned Dr. Google and discovered this PCOS medication can “hit you” five-six weeks after a dosage change, when levels increase in the body. I’m not a doctor of course, so don’t quote me on the accuracy of that, but it made sense to me. You’d think that constant nausea would translate to weight loss, but nope, not this week. Next week, hopefully. Ironically, whenever I eat too many carbs, the gastric distress is enhanced, making me wonder if I do have some sort of gluten intolerance. Maybe I should look into that. Oh carbs. Why do you have to be so delicious?

In honor of Mean Girls 10th anniversary.

3) Fundraising! Thank you SO much to everybody who has donated to my journey towards 60 miles. I’m currently at $669 raised out of $2,300, and my teammate Aubrey has challenged me to raise $200 by Sunday evening. Can you help me get there with a donation of $50?     I have been enjoying training, and today did my longest walk in awhile, clocking in 4.80 miles with my friend Amy. I’m a little bit sore now and am kind of like “Oh, crap. I’m going to be walking four times that in a couple months?! THREE DAYS IN A ROW?!” Scary, but awesome. I can do it. You can do it too. Wanna walk 60 miles with the Double Chin Divas? You can join us on our quest to end breast cancer by fundraising $2,300, walking 60 miles, and then enjoying a fun-filled weekend of walking and glamping. Let me know if you’re interested; I have a special coupon code I can share. Cancer sucks, and this is something we can do to help kick its butt.

Let's leave breast cancer out in the cold. Besides, who doesn't love penguins? Please support me on my journey towards walking 60 miles with a donation.

Let’s leave breast cancer out in the cold. Besides, who doesn’t love penguins? Please support me on my journey towards walking 60 miles with a donation.

4) My bestie got engaged this week! I flew to Northern California to celebrate her birthday and engagement. She and her soon to be hubby are a lovely couple, and I had so much fun at their BBQ and catching up. I also got to squeeze in a nice dinner with all my parents which was lovely. I’m so grateful for an awesome job that allows me to work remotely, as it gives you such a nice flexibility. I can work anywhere that has wifi and cell phone reception — so rad. Now to actually try and work standing up one of these days. Has anybody done it? Any tips?

 

Checking out the ring!

Checking out the ring!

5) I got a haircut. It’s fun to have a change. 🙂

Ok, that’s all I got, because it’s 11:28 p.m. and this chickadee should be asleep in bed by now. Tell me what’s new in your world, and have an amazing Thursday!

Alyssa