I want you to meet Amber Butler, one of our Momsanity Sisters. What I really want is for you to be able to actually hang out with her in person because she is a ray of sunshine to everyone around her. She laughs a lot, encourages often, and has never met a stranger. She a beautiful mom, inside and out, and her story is very real and very moving.
So I’ll start my story here …
One day I woke up and decided to run a half marathon.
The amount of time it took to type that sentence is roughly the same amount of time I spent making the decision. At the time, I was NOT a runner and even two miles sounded like a cross-country adventure. So why did I suddenly come to the conclusion that a half marathon was something I needed to do?
My husband and many close friends were runners. I’d traveled to lots of races to cheer them on. I loved the race atmosphere. I admired seeing people accomplish a goal after hours and hours of training. I wanted to be as physically fit as they were.
But there was more. I was also just recovering from a very rough year, including an emotionally difficult move, health issues with my son, and postpartum depression. I felt like I was finally experiencing the light at the end of a dark and scary tunnel, and accomplishing such a big goal would be the final step in my recovery. It became even more personal when a friend that planned to run it with me had to back out before we even began training.
So I was alone. I chose a running plan alone. I completed all my training alone. I kissed my husband and son goodbye on Saturday mornings and set out on my long runs alone. And then on a cold December morning, my husband dropped me off at the starting line alone. Through the streets of my beautiful town surrounded by the sounds of Christmas carols and underneath flurries of snow, I ran my half marathon. Alone.
But you know how the story goes. I was never actually alone. Through those miles and miles (and miles!) of pounding the pavement, finding new routes to get in my mileage, figuring out which energy gels weren’t disgusting, learning how to wear a hydration belt, and all those other foreign things, the real work was happening in my heart. God, in his infinite grace, was giving me this time as a gift. It was during my runs that God was healing my wounds and teaching me that He is enough. Even through depression or whatever else would come my way, I would find victory through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Now an interesting thing happened during this time. Even though losing weight hadn’t been one of my reasons for running a half marathon, I was a little dismayed when I actually GAINED weight during my training. What in the world??? I complained to my doctor at my annual exam and, being a runner himself, he gently reminded me that there was not a need to carb-load for a 3 mile run. And that was exactly what I’d been doing. I was running for hours, which made me ravenous all the time, and I was eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Because I was running for hours, after all. J
Fast-forward three years …
One day I woke up and went to the hospital for a month.
This time I didn’t get to make the decision. Because of pregnancy complications, I ended up in a different kind of race. A seemingly endless marathon of worry, heartache, missing my family and my bed, non-stress tests, ultrasounds, monitors, 4 am phlebotomy visits (like vampires sucking my blood in the night), steroid shots, and all the other things that go along with hospital bed rest.
So again I was alone. (Don’t get me wrong, I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams by my friends and family with visits, calls, texts, flowers, meals, etc.) But still I was alone in that hospital bed. I had some scriptures written on my whiteboard. Everyone knows Philippians 3:14, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But my favorite is what comes before that. Paul said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” His secret? That’s where we find Philippians 3:14. I can do all things (including finding contentment alone in a hospital bed away from my husband and son) through Christ. Amen.
God blessed us with a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Afterwards, I found myself in the exact opposite place physically than I was after my half-marathon. Now I weighed much less, but I was weak, anemic, and exhausted. I slowly started building my stamina (at first I could hardly walk down the driveway!) and eventually started running a little.
A few months later, I heard about Debbie’s workouts at a park near my house. I started attending and then found out about Momsanity, which was just beginning. Pretty much like my decision to run a half-marathon, it only took me a split second to decide to join. So I have been a Momsanity sister since month one!
Momsanity completely changed the way I exercise. I had done so many years of long, steady-state cardio that I couldn’t believe that I could get a better, more effective workout in less than 30 minutes. I had rarely used weights (and if I did, it was only 3 to 5 pounds). It was really exciting to quickly progress from barely being able to lift 8 pounders to working out regularly with 12’s or 15’s (and now sometimes even 25’s and 35’s!). I feel so much stronger and love how it has reshaped my body.
It’s also changed my perspective on running. I still love running and will always love running. I am a board member and coach for the Davie County chapter of GO FAR, a running club for elementary and middle school students. Even while training the kids to run a 5K, we incorporate new techniques to supplement their runs. If it’s raining too hard, we’ll do a high-intensity interval workout in the gym. We focus our games around sprints and intervals. My absolute favorite thing to do is challenge the kids to race me during their workouts. They love trying to beat the coach, and it gives me a great sprint workout at the same time!
I’m always amazed that when I do go on a traditional run, I’m able to run faster and farther than I did when I was training for my half-marathon. All thanks to my Momsanity workouts! It’s like magic. Seriously. J
Momsanity gave me the information I needed to change the way we eat. Now I know that “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean “fat-loss friendly.” But the good news is that there are plenty of things that are both! I love to cook, but we usually keep our meals pretty simple. I’ll have an NP Pro smoothie for breakfast, usually a salad for lunch, and then protein plus veggies for dinner, with plenty of high-protein snacks in between. We used to always have a starch with dinner, but that was an easy change to make and we really don’t miss it.
Momsanity provides a true community. I love the ease of being able to ask a question and get almost immediate responses from the coaches and other sisters. I’m also inspired and encouraged every day by the amazing women within the sisterhood. Many of my closest friends are also in Momsanity, which I love – so definitely encourage/motivate/bribe your real-life friends to join. But even if you don’t know a single other person, you will quickly feel the sense of community within the group.
And, like me, you will no longer have to do it alone.
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