Friday, May 13, 2016

#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou

Earlier this week, a new hashtag trended on Twitter: #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou

It was used to highlight abuse and violence that goes beyond the physical, because while that's often the most obvious form, it's far from the only.

Women from around the world weighed in, posting devastating tales of abuse across the spectrum. They shared stories of emotional manipulation, social isolation, financial abuse and more, highlighting that abuse is rarely as obvious as we think it is.

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, there is help out there. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) is a good place to start.

If you don't need help, but would like to offer it to others, please consider donating to my fundraiser for the Run DV Team.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Donate to the #RunDVTeam this Mother's Day and help mothers who need it most

Today, I slept in, woke up to fresh homemade blueberry pancakes courtesy of my husband, spent time in our yard laughing and playing with my kids, then went on a casual 3 mile run in the warm afternoon sun.

The run was part of my training, preparing me to join the Run Domestic Violence Out of Town team in the Chicago Half Marathon this September. So before this day is over, I want to draw attention to the cause I am running for -- to the woman fighting to break the cycle of violence and leave their abusers, abusers who are often the father of their children.

These mothers, residing in shelters and safe houses across Chicagoland probably had a very different day than I did.

Today, in the U.S., it is estimated that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families and more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

If you are fortunate and have escaped domestic violence yourself, the statistics make it almost certain that someone you love has not.

On this day celebrating motherhood, I want to pull your attention to these families, the mothers fleeing violence, and the organizations that welcome them in.

The Chicago Metro Battered Women's Network is a consortium of 10 domestic violence service providers, including the South Suburban Family Shelter in nearby Homewood. Together, they coordinate the Run DV Out of Town team to help raise both money and awareness. The money raised is shared among member agencies to further support their missions and provide services for survivors and their families.

If you'd like to make a difference this Mother's Day, I'd love if you'd please consider making a donation to support my training and awareness-raising efforts. Last year, I raised $1,000 to support pregnant mothers worldwide. This year, I'd like to do the same or more for the mothers in my local community.

You can learn more about the #RunDVTeam here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I may live to regret this.

I did a really dumb thing earlier this month: I registered for a half marathon.

If you don't know me, you're probably thinking, "And?" But to anyone who listened to me complain through last year's 10k training -- which was, at the time, twice the distance I'd ever run before -- you're probably shaking your head.

Believe me, I am, too.

Why I Run


Growing up, I was an awkward bookworm. Not an athlete. Not surprisingly, at almost 36, I'm still an awkward bookworm -- just taller. I also have asthma, which is stupid.

But I run anyway.

I run slowly, but I'm proud of it because 11 and 12 minute miles are still better than no miles.

I run reluctantly because, I'm sorry, but who really enjoys randomly killing themselves running to nowhere in particular?

I run because I want my body to be strong and I'm not getting any younger.

Oh, and I run because the hell if I'm joining a team sport.

Between a full time job, two kids, extracurricular commitments and a husband I like to hang out with every now and then, I can't take on any more scheduled commitments. Also, I'm an introvert and suck at sports.

How you doing?


I started getting back out there a week or two ago, going on short jogs to see if I managed to hang onto any of the hard work I'd done all last summer. Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of a random asthma flare (I owe you one, lungs!) so it's hard to tell if I'm starting over or just facing a temporary setback.

My legs are like lead.

But I'm still out there, huffing and puffing through the neighborhood as best I can.

In coming weeks, I'm going to step it up as I advance through a quick-ish 10k training program. Because right after my June birthday, things get real -- and the 15-week Half Marathon training program begins.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Where's the top of the hill? When am I over it? My legs are tired.

I'm too lazy to dye my hair. Bring it.
Today, I turn 35.

I guess when you're in your thirties, you're supposed to start lying about your age and celebrating anniversaries of your 29th instead, but you know what? My thirties are good and I'm excited to be 35.

Gray hairs and all, I like it here.

What age has been your favorite?

----------

Yesterday, I had several things to do after work. Got a kid to her t-ball game, went to get a haircut, did a little shopping. I finally got home around dusk and I wanted to run. It was a scheduled running day, but life got in the way.

I put on my shoes and headed out the door anyway.

If you've known me for any length of time, you're probably afraid I've been abducted by aliens. Frankly, I'm kind of wondering that, too. Running has never been my thing. It's my husband's thing. And he likes to run really far because he's crazy.

But I want to be fit, I want to be a good example to my daughters, and I love being able to run for Every Mother Counts. I couldn't think of more effective motivators.

When I don't want to go out, I look at my asthma inhalers. Or I go hug my kids and tell them I'm going to go get some exercise and I'll see them in a while. Or I think of women walking much further than I'm going to run just to get basic health care... while in labor.

All of those things help keep me honest. Which explains why I was out at 9pm last night, running.

I don't go far and I don't go fast. But I go.

----------

Ok, now comes the part you'll hate -- I'm going to turn this post into a fundraising pitch without warning (aha, gotcha!).

It's my birthday, I can do what I want to. And all I want for my birthday are donations to my fundraising campaign.

If I can raise a bunch of money today, I'll probably end up weepy in gratitude by the end of the day. Charitable acts for women's health tend to do that to me.

So give a few bucks and make me cry!

(wait, that didn't come out right)
  • You could give $10, which is $1 for every kilometer I'm running in Oct.
  • You could give $35, which is $1 for every year I've been on this planet.
  • You could even given $1 because every little bit helps and I know we're all broke. It's the thought that counts.
My page is HERE.

If you want proof that your donation isn't in vain, follow me on Instagram and watch my training journey unfold.

Thank you!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Please help me ensure that Every Mother Counts

Week 1 of training: in the bag!
This October, I am a running a 10k.

There, I said it out loud. Now I really have to, right?

All joking aside, I'm excited. Not necessarily about the sweat and the muscle aches and all the swearing ahead of me (so much swearing!), but to work toward a goal twice as ambitious as my last one – and to raise money for an issue near and dear to my heart while I’m at.

On October 18, I’ll be running the Frank Lloyd Wright 10k in Oak Park as a member of the Every Mother Counts team.

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. They do so in two ways: (1) by funding maternal health programs around the world and (2) by raising awareness of the problems they are trying to solve.

My participation aims to help with both.

Over the next four months, I’ll be writing about maternal health and why it’s important to me and highlighting the inequities in reproductive health care that women receive across regions and economic classes. 

I’ll also be asking for your financial support.

My goal is to raise at least $500 before the October 18 race.

I can easily meet that goal if I can get just 50 people to commit to one dollar per kilometer run ($10), which, if you ask me, is quite a bargain. After all, just ten dollars gives a pregnant woman two rides to her health facility in Uganda, a country in which she will have to travel, on average, 13km for care – and will most often have to do it on foot.

Suddenly running one 10k doesn’t seem so hard.

If you’d like to read more about Every Mother Counts or make a donation, you can visit my fundraising page HERE.

If you are unable to give a monetary donation at this time, I would appreciate your support in the form of sharing my page with your friends, family and social networks.

You can also stay up-to-date on my training and fundraising efforts by subscribing to my RSS feed here and following me on Twitter and Instagram. I can’t promise I won’t whine occasionally, but I can promise that I am going to try my hardest to succeed on this journey.

Thank you for joining me!





Friday, February 20, 2015

New writing home at Health eNews

I started a new job last month and am back to writing about health and health care, now at health enews

(c) Dr. Farouk via Creative Commons.
My first couple of pieces are live and you can expect to see new articles from me at least once a week, on Thursdays.

If you want to subscribe, sign up over at the health enews website. You'll receive a daily email highlighting the day's top stories.

You can also find me over at the @advocatessub Twitter feed. I'd love if you followed us!

If you see an interesting new study or have an idea you'd like to see me write about, drop me a line

Here are teasers and links to a couple of my first pieces, all published in February.

What would you do to live longer?
If you could decrease your risk of heart disease by taking a daily pill, would you?  You may be surprised to learn that nearly one-third of respondents to a recent survey would accept a shorter life to avoid taking daily medication.
How blueberries may help lower blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a growing problem in the United States. Currently, 1 in 3 Americans suffer from this condition, but new research suggests that eating blueberries may improve blood pressure in postmenopausal women suffering from hypertension.
Whole grains may help us live longer
We already know that whole grains are good for us. Could they also actually help us live longer? A new study says yes.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clearly, I've lost my mind.

In recent years, I've set and met many personal goals. I've struck out on my own, taken risks, and been thrilled with the results, both personally and professionally. Show me a ridiculous leap and I'm likely to take it.

But, like anyone, I've fallen short on occasion  -- most notably everything fitness-related. I've joined gyms and left them. I've halfheartedly jogged every now and then. I've tried peer pressuring myself into committing to something via social media announcements. I even once ran a 5k.

Once. 

I walked part of it and then never ran a 5k again. That was 7 and a half years ago. 

Lately, however, I've been on a rampage of Self Care and suddenly, without me realizing what I was really doing, I became a runner. Seemingly overnight.

I don't know how it happened. I don't know what changed. But here I am, running. In a race. (mid-right, below)



Yes, all of my fellow runners are dressed like Mike Ditka and I'm jogging along in a bright blue tutu and sparkly Wonder Woman socks, but that's not important. What IS important is that I ran 3.1 miles -- without stopping -- and I did it a full minute under my goal time.

And I only mostly hated it.

I'm partnered to an avid runner and marathoner (that's him leading my cheering squad in the forefront), but I've never considered running my thing, preferring to drink wine on the couch instead. Recently, however, several unexpected friends of mine have picked up the sport and I watched them progress -- and, frankly, kick ass -- and I was inspired to give it a try again.

I could've done a number of other things, but running has one thing going for it that most other fitness routines and sports don't: it's accessible. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes, a few minutes to yourself, and if you want to get fancy, a free or cheap training app for some guidance, and you're off.

I'm not fast. I'm not graceful. I'm generally somewhat miserable while actually doing it.

But, because I'm clearly insane, I still find myself Googling for local 10k races later this fall.

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but it's good.