move your body

it's more than the marathon

nyc marathon_cheering

The NYC Marathon holds a special place in my heart for so many reasons.  There is a history with my family that I am forever grateful for.  It started long before I showed up to the starting line.  In fact it started with my aunt and uncle, years ago, and the tradition has carried on. 

I am grateful for all the marathon has brought me:

  • Connection with my family
  • Inspiration to push myself further than I ever thought I could
  • Electric energy running through me -- as a spectator and a runner
  • Feeling like NYC was my city
  • Pride for humanity and watching people come together
  • Watching all walks of life making it happen
  • Learning that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was
  • Meeting like minded souls
  • Hours on the road
  • Cheers from strangers
  • A freedom that I never felt before
  • Pushing through really hard times
  • Watching the sunrise
  • Feeling that first rush of cold air hit my lungs
  • Running together
  • Running alone
  • Hearing the cheers from family and friends
  • One foot in front of the other
  • The feeling of pure joy and elation crossing the finish line

This list could go on and on.  The marathon has brought more to my life than I ever have imagined.  I am grateful for the strength in my legs, carrying me through not only 26.2 miles but the endless amount of training.  I am grateful for the hills I struggled up for they made me stronger.  I am grateful for my courage to say yes.  And grateful for everyone who supported me along the way.  

jennifer belthoff nyc marathon

The marathon is a solo journey.  For it is only you who puts one foot in front of the other and crosses the finish line.  Yet, you are never ever alone and you can't go at it by yourself.  You need the support of those around you to push you when you feel like you don't have the strength to go on.  I am grateful for that support.  

Live big.  Go after your dreams.  Know you can do anything you put your mind to.  I never thought I would or could run a marathon.  And yet I did.  One foot in front of the other.  One step at a time.  And somehow it all comes together and happens.  

choosing me

And the time came when you knew that you had to drop all of the balls you were juggling and you had to start taking care of yourself. Because no one else was going to do it for you.  Because now is as good a time as any to start.  Because even when you don't know where or how to begin you simply put one foot in front of the other and take that first step forward.  

It is time for me to show up for myself.  I have been making to many choices that don't feed my soul.  The cold winter months have left me stagnant and I haven't been moving my body as much as it craves and desires.  I know that I need to take time for myself.  I need to choose with intention and develop a new way of living.  

And so I begin.  One foot in front of the other.  Making conscious decisions and choosing with my whole heart.  I have Tone It Up to thank for the push that I needed to get myself into the game.  Their Bikini Series plan came right when I was struggling the most and wasn't sure how to crawl myself out of the rabbit hole.  

But here I am climbing out.  Taking time to shop for healthy foods.  Prepping them ahead of time so I have something to take for lunch and no excuses for not making dinner.  I am back to waking up early and moving my body.  It feels so good to be in motion again.  I am also drinking more water, journling more often, and remembering why I am choosing to live this way.

It's about feeling strong and having more energy.  Looking at myself in the mirror and being able to smile at the girl looking back at me.  It's about pushing myself to my edge and knowing that I can overcome the challenge.  It's about showing up day after day.  Seeing food as fuel and intentionally eating.  It's about setting goals and chasing after them.  It's about life and wanting to take care of this one body that I have.  

This isn't a sprint.  It is a life long journey. For me this journey is about balance and not completely restricting myself from the things I enjoy.  Will I still eat ice cream?  Of course, but not every day.  And will I slip up?  Of course.  I am human.  But that doesn't mean I can't get back up again and keep going on the path I am traveling.  

So here I am.  Choosing to move in the direction that I want to go in.  Taking my life into my hands and making the decisions that are best for me.  I am putting myself first and choosing to love myself on this journey.  I am giving myself space to bloom.  And I am showing up each and every day, for me.  

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How about you?  How are you choosing to show up for yourself?  What ways are you making space for yourself to bloom?

showing up

As I lay on my yoga mat before class begins the quietness envelopes me. This space is my sacred home. Where I can show up exactly as I am. I do not need to say a word to anyone.  I can quietly walk in, lay down on my mat and be right where I am. There are moments during my practice that I close my eyes and sink deeper into the movement.  I do not worry about what the person next to me is doing, I move the rhythm of my own breathing.  My mat is my sacred space. 

One of my most favorite things about yoga is there is no judgement.  You can show up and simply choose to lay on your mat and breathe, and that is ok.  You move your body the way it moves.  You can as far as you want, as far as you can go.  There is no expectation to look like anyone else.  Your practice is yours alone and it is called a practice for a reason. 

I choose to show up on my mat.  There are days my body doesn't want to move.  Moments when the pose feels to hard or my mind just isn't in the game.  But then their are those magical days when all the stars are are aligned and I move with grace and ease. Stepping into the room I never know how I will adjust and settle in.  But one thing I know for certain is that I must show up.  

I try to transfer this feeling of just showing up into my every day life. Just being as I am with no expectations.  It is not alway any easy thing to do.  But when I lose my way I remind myself to slow down and just breathe.  

just me

With the NYC Marathon behind me I have been feeling a bit lost.  My motivation to wake up at 4:30 and head out the door to run was driven by my training schedule.  In my mind I knew I had to follow it in order to be strong enough to cross the finish line.  So each day {well, almost each day} I followed what it said.  It felt good to be regimented, not have to think about what to do, and work hard towards my goal.  

But now with no schedule to follow and no big goal in sight it is hard to find that motivation to get out the door.  I have been moving my body due to Yoga Teacher Training but I have yet to lace up my sneakers and run.  My body feels tired, heavy, unsure of what it's next step is.  I keep searching for that next big goal, that one next thing to keep pushing me forward. 

But what if that next thing is just me, my life, how I want to feel?

What if it doesn't have to be a bright shiny object in the distance but simply putting myself first and doing it for me?  What if I showed up because I knew it made me feel good?  What if I made myself a priority?

My lofty goal is ME!  Making myself happy, choosing what feels good, putting myself first.  We must take care of ourselves in order take care of others.  We must be tender, kind, and do what makes us feel good.  It doesn't require following a schedule or sticking to a strict regiment.  What matters is following my heart and doing it just because I want to.

And so that is what I am doing.  Listening in. Moving my body.  Holding myself accountable.  Following my heart.  And putting one foot in front of the other.  What matters is that I show up, and that is exactly what I will do, for me.  

runbelthoffrun

It was the second best day of my life {the first was when I ran the NYC Marathon for the first time}.  A day I will remember forever. There are many stories, many memories, but for now this:

  • My friend finding me before the start. Seeing him calmed my nerves and got me energized to step up to the starting line.  
  • The electrifying cheers from the crowd.  When anyone said my name it made my day and energized me to keep on going.  I tried finding who said my name in the crowd and was so excited when I did.  It felt as if they showed up just for me, which was an amazing connection between two strangers.  
  • Seeing two feathers in the distance and knowing that my family and friends had made it.  And not only had they made it ... there was more of them than I expected.  I was elated. Seeing them filled me up in a way that cannot even describe.  And even though I wasn't able to see them at mile 26 thinking that I was going to helped get me through.  I am so grateful for the craziness they put up with to cheer me on.  
  • Spotting "the guy with the tray" who was just in front of me in 2014.  I couldn't believe I saw him!  
  • The incredible highs and intense lows.  There were moments when I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel ... but I kept going because pain is temporary.  I ran through it and kept on going.  One foot in front of the other.  
  • Seeing my friends wife and having her reach out and touch my arm. It was just the touch I needed to keep on going.  It is amazing what human touch and connection can do.  
  •  Entering Central Park and feeling the energy of the crowd.  I was depleted and struggling ... but they took me through.  It was amazing!! 
  • High fiving a little kid in front of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.  He was a patient at the hospital who had come out to cheer on the runners.  He and so many others is why I showed up to run.  Because I imagine a world without cancer and will do anything I can to make that happen.  
  • Seeing my aunts friend on the side of the road cheering all the runners on. She said my name and I saw here .... and didn't expect to see her which was beyond exciting. 
  • When the stranger yelled "I see you"  Because really that is all we want in life ... to be seen.  It was her words that kept me going.  One foot in front of the other.  
  • My father thanking everyone for showing up as we gathered after the marathon to celebrate.
  • Seeing my sister in laws and brother there cheering me on. It meant the world to me that they were there.  
  • The roar of the crowd as I came to the end of the Queensboro Bridge. When I ran in 2014 I thought the bridge would never end. This year it wasn't so bad which made me smile.  

I could go on and on.  For the day was amazing.  Beautiful weather, incredible cheering, amazing moments.  My heart is full.  I carry with me the light of my mom and I keep putting one foot in front of the other as I know she would want me to do.  I ran in her memory and felt her with each step cheering me on.  For it is running that has helped me heal.  And it is running that has made me stronger.  I am grateful!