vet·er·an / noun / a person who has had long experience in a particular field. synonyms: old hand, past master, doyen, vet; a person who has served in the military. “a veteran of two world wars”



A lot of people see Veterans Day as a single day to say thanks to those men and women who choose to serve in our military. I get that, I do.. I mean, they give up a lot. We got shit pay that sometimes amounted to $2 per hour; We did the math once. Some veterans see it as a “I get free stuff and wear my military shirts and hats” day. That irritates me. It doesn’t bother me that places like to give our veterans free stuff, so don’t flame me on that. It irritates me that Jo Bob, who served 2 years and got a less-than-honorable discharge, runs all over town gathering up his free meals. That’s what gets me. Kevin joined the Army because he enjoyed beer and his fraternity at Mississippi State University more than class. He was on an ROTC scholarship and made it one semester with a less than 2.0 GPA. He was smart and never studied in high school, but college was different. There weren’t rules and partying was a new thing. So he came home, and in his family, the men were all military in one form or another. He scored almost as high as you can on the ASVAB, the entrance exam for the military, and was offered any job he wanted. He chose the infantry… the fucking infantry. The entrance people tried to explain and talk him out of this choice but he politely declined, telling them that he fully understood what he was choosing. So, off to Ft. Benning he went and an enlisted infantry soldier he became. He was sent to Ft. Stewart and within days of arriving deployed to Somalia. Have you seen the movie Black Hawk Down? Well, that’s a pretty accurate representation of what happened and why he was there. He was 19 years old and was in combat, saw starving children and families, warlords, and who knows what else because he rarely speaks of it.

After marriage, several babies, and more rank down the road, he would deploy again. This time after 9/11. He was only one of a handful of soldiers in his unit that had seen actual combat and been deployed. That’s such a departure from the military of today and the kids we see come out of the service with multiple combat tours. He was in Iraq and I’ll never forget him taking along a foreign cell phone that a friend’s brother previously used overseas. We weren’t even sure it would work there but he took it anyway. Days went by and this was in the time of dial-up internet so I usually had a daily email at least. Then, a period of no contact worried me… a weeklong period. I was home with three small children alone. No help to speak of, though I felt both guilty and fancy because I had gotten a maid service to come every two weeks just to help me try and keep up. We could barely afford it, but it helped me feel sane. Things were getting scary on CNN; some civilian contractors had been hung from a bridge in Fallujah. By the 5th night, I was pacing and sick so I called the phone not knowing if anything would even happen. It rang and Kevin picked it up on the 6th ring, sounding as shocked as I was. I don’t even remember what exactly was said but he made it clear that they were moving soon and that communications were purposefully cut off. He also eluded to where they were going and didn’t have to say the words. I knew after growing up with him and being married almost 10 years at this point they were headed into Fallujah. He saw some terrible things there and ran the main road from Fallujah to Baghdad almost daily, where IED’s (improvised explosive device) exploded almost as often as the sun came up and set and where both contractors and soldiers were kidnapped and taken captive…it was a tense time. I spent my days at the YMCA trying to run off my anxiety and lift weights to not think about my fear. Routine and structure were all I had to thrive on so that’s how I spent my time. He came home having dodged some explosions, rockets, and who knows how many bullets, but the mental scars were so deep and hemorrhaging neither of us even knew they were bleeding. My dad also died suddenly during this time (a post for another time).

Kevin became more introverted at home, though he’s always been talkative and friendly at work and to strangers. We moved to Kansas at this point and things calmed down and became more routine for a couple of years. Then deployment number three came and he was back to Iraq for 24 months. Driving past the same spots where he had almost been blown up proved too much. He started seeing a long time friend who committed suicide after their last deployment in places like the chow hall and in crowds. He wasn’t sleeping and when he came home was deeply vigilant about cleaning his handguns and stockpiling ammunition. Loud noises startled him, crowds were a huge issue, his back had to be against a wall at all times, and we needed to know and identify all of the exits everywhere we went. It didn’t help that I was having my own mental health crisis when he came home and was blindsided by that. He had to table his own PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to take care of me. That’s a whole other post on a whole other day. Suffice it to say our marriage almost didnt make it, but somehow we grabbed on and pulled it together over several months. We moved to Atlanta for a job opportunity eventually, and didn’t have health insurance. I realized how bad his PTSD was when he was up all night not making sense and I was afraid he might hurt himself. We went to the VA (veterans affairs) and were told our prior income was too high to qualify for VA help and he hadn’t been rated for any disability yet… so basically, “Sorry. Hope you get help and good luck, here’s a pamphlet and an 800 number.”

Kevin transitioned to another job shortly after and we got private insurance. We were lucky. We had resources. Some veterans don’t. The lack of care for vets with PTSD and other medical issues in this country is astounding. Through medication, therapy, and some really great hobby-type workshops that have taught him coping skills, he is functioning a lot better today. He still has lasting effects of PTSD and always will. He ran the Marine Corps Marathon with me not long ago and that was tough (not the running but the crowds). The lack of walls, the pushing, the need to escape and nowhere to go was stressful. I will say that the staff of the MCM did an incredible job helping him when I couldn’t. I’m a much slower runner and he finished before me. The med staff helped him with getting away and giving him space as well as providing water so he didn’t have to push through crowds and possibly trigger a panic attack without his support person (me) there.

If you suffer from PTSD or mental illness of any kind, you are not alone. Running has been a huge therapeutic tool for Kevin and me both and so many people with these issues. Don’t suffer alone, we are here for you. Find us on Instagram, @muscleprincessruns and @harvestwoodworks


running, Uncategorized

I ran a marathon, and I’m fucking sad


I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. A 26.2 mile grueling course of small hills, twists, and turns with 30,000 people through our nation’s capital. It was the longest and largest race I have ever attempted and, I finished… which was honestly my goal. I trained for months, rehabbed injuries, and spent a small fortune to make this happen. I should be elated, but I’m not. It’s Thursday afternoon the week after the race and I’m fucking sad. I felt it around mile 22 creeping in..”you suck”…”it’s taking you well over 6 hours to finish this”. My headphones had died about 5 hours in so I had the squeak of the prescription insole in the left shoe and my thoughts. Not the best combo at this stage. And again “this is embarrassing”…”you are embarrassing”…”Kevin is going to feel sorry and embarrassed by you”. My husband had also run the race and had finished in a speedy sub 5 and was waiting on me at the finish, texting me encouraging things that kept showing up on my Garmin watch face. The feeling grew stronger as I got closer to the finish line and nobody was running, they were all walking… as if defeated..dead. I was still running as I could and it garnered the strangest looks from them as if to say “why are you wasting your time? We’re almost there and still get the medal, relax”.

Over the next day I didn’t have any appetite. This is a normal thing for me when I’m anxious or upset, though I attribute some of this to possible germs from high fiving dozens of people on the course. By Tuesday I knew I was not in a great frame of mind when I realized I wasn’t sleeping well…after having put my body through the stress of a marathon. Thoughts persisted of being a fraud as my profession is helping others become healthy and do things like learn to run. How am I in any way qualified to do this if I can’t even finish a marathon in a normal timeframe? I have this education, this knowledge…I’m an exercise physiologist and I am FAT. I can’t make myself a fast runner. I AM A FRAUD. I have let all of these people down.

Thursday and I have a hair appointment I don’t want to go to. It’s raining. I still feel terribly nauseated and have no appetite. I can’t decide if I have a stomach bug or if I’m just depressed. My friend Justine saved a live on Instagram that I watched while drinking my coffee and she talked about her childhood, the trauma, the disorder and the chaos. I cried and sobbed because I related to that so much. I thought more and yes, obsessed about the fucking marathon. This time cross referencing it with some things I had just flashed about from growing up and realized that everything I attempt will always be a disappointment.

All I wanted to do was call my mother or sisters (my father died in 2004) and tell them I just ran a marathon, thats huge! But I can’t do that. I don’t have contact with my mother and I only really text with one of my sisters. It’s been years since I’ve had contact with them and many therapists have said that’s the healthiest option. And 0let’s be honest, even if I did, it wouldn’t be good enough. I would be a failure, which is where this mindset came from, why I feel this way. Why I am so driven. Why i graduated from high school two years early. Because someone I loved and trusted told me I couldn’t, and I didn’t have the ability. Because I became a fighter and a fucking hustler from a young age because nobody was looking out for me really.

I’m very hard on myself even to this day because of what I went through growing up. I could run a sub 2 hour marathon (that would be world record) and it still wouldn’t be good enough and I could find somewhere I could improve. My biggest fear though, and what causes me not to sleep, is disappointing my husband, kids, and friends. Let me clarify the meaning of friends. Friends are the real life ones, but also the social media ones that send me amazing messages of encouragement, that trust me enough to write their programming, that show me their pictures of their kiddos, that share their struggles with me in DM’s. Those are the people I was upset about letting down. So there you have it, I ran a marathon. I’m an athlete and a plus size female, an exercise physiologist and I’m just fucking sad, and thats the truth.


So I drank the Kool Aid y’all…

I love Instagram and sharing my life and profession in pictures, but sometimes my brain vom just spills out and there isn’t enough room there for everything I want to say. I get it though, Who even does a blog anymore right? Well, I am bitch. I have products and things I like that I wish someone had told me about when I started running. I have tips and videos, pictures, all kinds of things that are IMPOTANTE for both typical size athletes and non typical size athletes that I WISH… I wish… I had known. I mean, some of it I did know, because it’s my job. I’m an exercise physiologist. Knowing how the human body works during exercise is literally what I do. So… here we go. Wheeeeeeee…… #chunkythighsruntheworld

Get up, take a step. Now take another, now go a little faster. Now a little faster. Yep… you too are a runner now. – Me