Marla Westbrook » Mom, Runner, Burleson/Fort Worth, Texas Photographer

Fit Friday – An Exciting New Adventure

A couple of months ago, I got a really nice comment here on the blog from the editor of a local magazine called Burleson Life. She said she really liked my blog and asked if I would be interested in writing a monthly column for the magazine. I thought, “Me?!?! Is she serious?” I’m definitely not a writer, and I worried that maybe once I wrote something and she read it, she might change her mind, lol. She specifically mentioned that they didn’t have a column on fitness and I thought, I can do that! Not as an expert, of course, because I’m not one, but just as a mom who found a way to put fitness back on her priority list and is so happy she did. Of course, I was also excited that I’d get to submit my own pics and drug my friend Erica out to the high school track (those are her pretty legs!) to be my first model.

My first column arrived in the mail yesterday and I nearly squealed when I saw it! Thanks to everyone who commented on FB and sent me texts of support, it was fun to see my words and pictures in print and to know that all my neighbors saw them, too.  I thought I’d share what I wrote here for my friends who don’t live in our little town.

Taking the First Step

I’m a wife and mom of 4, and like many women, at the beginning of every year, I’d make a resolution to get in shape and lose weight. By Spring, I’d find myself knee-deep in sports and school projects and my resolutions would be lost somewhere under the pile of field trip permission slips and report cards. Sound familiar?

In 2012, I kept it simple and made the goal just to move my body, in some way, every day. I started off easy and free by walking. I strapped on my trusty iPhone, loaded with an app that would track my mileage and a playlist of tunes, and off I went. Walking led to jogging; jogging led to running and a few months and miles later I found myself standing at the starting line of a half marathon. I’m married to an avid runner, but never aspired to become one, in fact, I would go so far as to say I hated running. Seriously, ask anyone who knows me and they’ll agree, even my high school volleyball coach still shakes her head when I see her at races. But there is nothing that compares to the feeling of crossing the finish line, accepting that shiny medal, and knowing that you just accomplished something amazing. A little bit of self-confidence and pride can go a long way, and honestly, that’s what hooked me on running.

The questions I get from friends who have been following my unlikely journey usually start with “How…?” How did you start? How can I start? How crazy do you have to be to run a marathon? OK, strike that last one, you get where I’m going.

Well, first and most importantly, you have to decide on your goals. Would you like to walk or run a 5K? Complete a fitness boot camp? Or maybe you simply wish that you could wear your favorite blue jeans and breathe at the same time. Set easily attainable short-term goals and some lofty, long-term ones, too, but remember to start low and go slow. Don’t decide that running 6 miles on the treadmill is a good first workout. You may never see day 2. Give your body a chance to ease into whatever exercise regime you choose. This is probably also a good time to suggest consulting your doctor before you start. I promise he’ll be happy that the reason you’ve made an appointment is to discuss getting fit.

Take advantage of technology. Turn your smart phone into your training partner with apps like Couch to 5K, RunKeeper, Map My Run, My Fitness Pal, and Lose It!, just to name a few. It’s incredibly satisfying and motivating to see those miles and workouts add up. And it’s pretty fun to share your mileage on Facebook too, I’m just saying.

There are plenty of races and fitness activities happening in the metroplex on any given weekend, especially this time of year, find one and register the whole family. Most races have fun-runs and are stroller-friendly, so even little ones can participate. Your kids will get the same charge out of crossing the finish line that you do, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Don’t wait until January rolls back around to resolve to get fit, lace up those tennis shoes, grab a friend and your smart phone and start today!

Hehe, so that’s it. My 550 words about the start of my journey back into fitness. There’s also a little blurb about using social media (the orange box) and a little bit about me at the bottom, along with my new head shots, taken by the fabulous Kara May. I’m already hard at work on July’s column and am looking forward to the challenge of coming up with fun things to write about each month.

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Fit Friday – What a Week

Wow. That pretty much sums up how I feel about this week. Between the bombing in Boston and the explosion in West, which is just an hour south of us, my emotions have been all over the place since Monday. The good news is that today is Friday, and this crazy week is coming to an end. I pray that the situation in Boston is wrapped up soon with the capture of the second suspect, who is still on the loose as I type this. I also continue to pray for the people of West, I can’t even imagine the devastation that they are facing right now.

I have to say that in addition to all the sadness, there has also been light. Runners finished a marathon and headed straight to the hospital to donate blood, volunteers and first responders did not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to help others and ordinary people became heroes. I have never been more proud to call myself a runner and a Texan in my life than I am right now. There is good and I choose to focus on it.

On Wednesday, runners from all over the world joined together to Run for Boston. The concept was easy, gather up some friends, wear blue or yellow, take a picture with a “Run for Boston” sign and run. Or walk, or whatever, the point wasn’t the running, it was simply a gesture to show Boston that we were standing with them. Derek and I posted on FB that we were planning to run and before we knew it, we had a whole group of people, runners and non-runners alike, who wanted to join. It was something small and simple, but it was awesome and seeing the sheer numbers of people that gathered their friends and ran that day too, was amazing. The creator of the Run for Boston event posted this at the end of the day and I thought it was perfect:
I know some pessimists will say that nothing was accomplished today, but they are wrong. Hope won today. The human resolve was victorious. Good overcame evil every time one of thousands of running shoes hit the pavement all around the world. We re-wrote history today, and it will be a day that we won’t soon forget. So kiss your kids, tuck them in tight, and remind them that there will always be more good in the world than evil. Always.

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Big Fun in Big D

Hooray for a positive race report!  My last half marathon was a hot mess, but I am happy to say that my experience at the Big D half last weekend was not. In fact, I came home with a shiny new PR to go with my shiny (though tiny!) finisher medal. I felt strong throughout most of the race and happily passed every single porta potty without even giving them a second glance. I never thought I’d be that excited about such a thing, but after Rock n Roll, I have a new appreciation for a calm race tummy. Derek, who is getting super speedy in his old age, lol, also PR’ed the half, so it was a great day for both of us.

It’s amazing how much difference the weather can make, it was so nice to be able to wake up that morning and throw on a pair of shorts and a tank instead of worrying about which jacket, gloves and ear warmers to bring. This was also a much smaller race, which I am finding that I definitely prefer over the huge ones with thousands of runners. I will definitely run Big D again, but I sure hope they think about doing something a little more exciting that a plain white tech shirt and a teeny tiny medal for the next one. This is Texas after all and if you’re going to call a race “Big” anything then make sure your swag lives up to the name! I’m just sayin’!

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Fit Friday – Favorite Running Quote

It took me a while to get comfortable with calling myself a runner.  When I first started racing and someone would say “I can’t believe you ran a half marathon!” I always felt the need to qualify it with something like “Well, I didn’t actually run the entire race.”  I guess somehow it didn’t quite feel legit knowing that I had walked, too.  But you know, I’ve learned over this past year and half that if you’re out there, you’re a runner.  Speed, pace, brand of shoes, miles logged, races completed…none of that matters.  You do it, so therefore, you are.

I AM a runner.  And I’m running my 8th half marathon this weekend.  Look out Big D, here I come!  Happy Fit Friday, y’all!

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the two new members of our family, the very regal King Leo…

and the very petite Princess Pepper.

*I’ll pause here to wait for everyone who knows me very well to get back up into the chairs they just fell out of*  I think I’ve mentioned here before that I am a tiny bit of a neat freak.  OK fine, maybe more than a tiny bit.  Anyway, my neatfreakishness is one of the biggest reasons we haven’t had pets since we started having babies.  I’ve always told people that 6 living creatures in this house is PLENTY and that we didn’t need any pets to add to the chaos. But after years of Jaden begging and pleading for a kitty cat, and everyone being of the age where we feel confident that they can and will take on the responsibility, we decided to go for it. We went on Pet, found a shelter that had some cute possible matches and trekked off to Euless Sunday to see if any of the kitties liked us, and of course, vice versa. A few hours later, we arrived home with these two sweeties.  They are 8 month old siblings, are already spayed and neutered (which is awesome!) and it is obvious that they were well cared for and came from a very loving foster home.  They are just about the sweetest things EVER and we are all in love, yes, even me, Miss We’re-Not-Having-Pets-Ever.  Their foster mom told us about how she had a litter box enclosure built in her garage that they accessed through a kitty door in the wall, and we thought it was so genius that we set up something similar here.  We found an extra large dog crate, parked it next to the wall in the garage with the side door open, installed the kitty door (which they get to through Derek’s office) and voila, no kitty litter in the house!  The kitties are safe in their little potty room and Mommy and the cleaning ladies are happy that the mess and let’s face it, the smell, are contained to the garage.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

We are all still getting to know each other, but the kitties are settling in nicely and seem very comfortable in their new home.  Jaden and Jack are especially enamored with them, but even Jacey and Jakob think they’re pretty cool.  Of course, they both spend a lot of time with me during the day, so I’m not exactly having the most productive week so far, lol.  It’s much more fun to sit and cuddle these babies than it is to do laundry, that’s for sure.  Today I found them sleeping together on one of the dining room chairs but woke Leo up when I brought the camera in to get a pic.  I love how he’s looking over her, he’s much larger than she is and we can tell he is used to being the “big” brother.

I will say that photographing kitties is NOT easy, but I’m sure these two will adjust soon to life in the home of a photographer.  Be looking for them to make more appearances on the blog in the near future.  😉


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Grace - Congratulations Marla!! They are adorable. We adopted two 6 wk old kittens a month ago. I can totally relate to everything you wrote. I have a ton of photos of my two kitties too. Looking forward to seeing these two on your blog in the future.


Janet - Awwww — they are so very cute!! Sounds like a perfect setup! Enjoy!!

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