She Dreamed, She Believed, She Achieved
When we become mothers, it feels like the whole world stops for a while. Everything that we cared about and dreamed of outside of motherhood, gets put on pause for a bit, as we learn to navigate our new lives and new normal. But this doesn’t mean that we must give up on our dreams and own pursuits forever. Although our goals may change, we can still accomplish anything we set our minds to!
Amazing Mom Janine Lyons, is the perfect example. She is a working mom of 2 active boys aged 11 and 7. Although her family is from Jamaica, she was born and raised in New York. She credits her strong work ethic to the values instilled by her family. After 2 kids she realized that she needed to do something for her own wellness and set out to participate in the NYC Marathon. On November 5th 2017, she achieved her goal in spite of the obstacles that many of us face as moms, the biggest being lack of time! We’re honored to share her inspiring story on ispeakmom.com
On her journey:
As mothers, as wives, as women we inherently spend a lot of time taking care of others in our lives and making sure their wants and needs are addressed. Given that, we can end up sacrificing our own health, our well-being and sometimes even our sanity in the process. We do it because we love them and want what is best for them and ultimately that gives us joy. However, to be strong for them, we also must be strong for ourselves. This is how I began to feel about 7 years into my motherhood journey. Around the same time, I also realized just how much work was taking a toll on my life – mentally and physically. Furthermore, I was carrying around some baby weight from having my 2nd child and had developed sciatica, which at times felt absolutely crippling.
Outside of work hours, the little “spare” time I had for myself was spent addressing the needs of others. So, after procrastinating for many months I finally decided to make myself a priority and focus on losing some weight. For someone who really hated to exercise and never did so consistently, starting was hard. Based on a recommendation, I started by following a Beachbody program known as T25 and began to watch what I was eating. It worked. And I felt great. But, shortly after finishing the program it occurred to me that being “fit” couldn’t just be a short-term objective.
Fast forward a few months, I began to see friends on social media posting about participating in races. I was never a huge runner, especially not long distance but it was always my go to for exercise. That said I had never run more than a mile maybe two – ever in my life. But, I signed up for my first race at the end of 2013. It was a Mother’s Day Duathlon on Mother’s Day in 2014. If you’re not familiar with a duathlon it consists of running, followed by biking and then running again. I mean if you’re going to do it, do it big, right? I trained, I stressed, I trained. I even tried to drag a friend into it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I kept working at it. My hubby ended up joining me that day, supporting me the whole way and it was such a great feeling. I finished and I was hooked! I did a 5k race later that year and I joined the Black Girls Run group virtually. Seeing others, that looked like me running long distances – half marathons and marathons was awe inspiring. Between them and my friends posting about races my “believe you can” bucket was getting full!
Ultimately, signing up for races helped me to be consistent in working out and making fitness a priority. Given my competitive nature, there was no way that I was just going to show up at a race not having trained for it. I had to give it my all. Plus, I really like food and so working out was a great way to make sure I could still eat what I wanted (within reason) but could also burn off some of it. In 2015, I set a goal for myself – run the NYC Marathon. However, the only guaranteed way to get in due to the race’s popularity was to run 9 races sponsored by New York Road Runners (NYRR) and volunteer at one (aka 9+1 program) of their events.
So, I completed the 9+1 program in 2016. I’m glad that this was the route I took because I got to attend so many different races and see parts of NY that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see. It also ensured that I kept training. Running the NYC marathon was going to be my ultimate physical and mental challenge. I didn’t know how but I knew that if so many others could do it as novice runners so could I. That was all I needed to set my goal and work towards it. We tell ourselves so many limiting beliefs – it’s too hard, I’m not strong enough, there’s no way I can do that but if you remove those beliefs and start thinking you can and at least trying, it opens up a world of opportunity.
On finding the time:
As I mentioned I made me a priority over the last 4 years and it brought me a different kind of joy. For the marathon, I dedicated 20 weeks to training. It was hard but I wanted it, so I made the time. I am blessed with a super supportive family – my husband, kids and parents. They were all part of helping me find the time. My husband stepped in when I had to get up early to do a long run (literally pushing me out the door in some cases) or participate in a race. If he wasn’t available, then my parents stepped in. And finally, I had my boys join me whenever possible. Some Fridays I went to the local High School track and they went with me. Honestly, they began to look forward to it, especially my oldest. Lastly, I probably spent 75% of the time exercising at home. If I couldn’t get out to run, I always had the option to run or cross train at home.
On her greatest challenge:
Finding the time. I work a full-time job. Over my months of training I still had to contend with real life – cooking, doing laundry, getting kids to extracurricular activities, school, etc. It wasn’t easy. I also left get-togethers with friends early because I knew that I had to get up and run the next morning. But, I realized that if something is important to you, you find or make the time. Point blank period. My husband certainly helped make that happen as well. And I am grateful.
On the feeling of attaining her goal:
Honestly, I still don’t know if I’ve completely processed it. But crossing that finish line, in the rain after seeing friends on along the course and willing myself to the finish line, is an indescribable feeling. Truly my greatest mental and physical challenge realized. Every time I play back that day or look at pictures, I get choked up. It was an exhilarating, amazing, painful, joyful, epic journey of a lifetime. I will truly never forget it.
On advice for moms who want to follow their dreams or challenge themselves physically and mentally to achieve a goal:
· Don’t limit yourself! Dream big and shoot for it! If you don’t at least try, what’s the point? Remove the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. If you do that then you won’t be deterred when a roadblock comes your way.
· Find accountability partners. People who share similar interests in pursuing whatever it is that your pursuing that you can feed off of, encourage when they’re down or pull you up when you’re feeling that way.
· Make a plan. For every half marathon or now marathon I’ve done, I followed a plan. I didn’t have to figure it out what I was doing and when. It was laid out for me and I followed it.
· Write it down. This may not work for everyone but over my 5 months of training I was constantly writing down my time goal or my mantra. I would scribble it on a post it, the backs of random pieces of paper, wherever and whenever. I even wrote my mantra – Run Happy, Run Strong, on my hand the morning of the marathon to ensure that I kept myself focused.
· Find Your Happy. Just because I enjoy running (and cycling) and even love the time alone to burn off steam, doesn’t mean that you will as well. Find what makes sense for you and pursue the heck out of it.
Janine Lyons is pictured above, achieving her dream of participating in the 2017 NYC Marathon
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© Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Rios Nogales and ispeakmom.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.