Overcoming obstacles only way to meet goals

By Nikki Golden
I’ve decided that I’m well into my late 30s and maybe it’s time to start taking better care of myself. It started with a discussion of my high cholesterol at the doctor last year, and it culminated in my participation in the Dirty Girl Mud Run this past Saturday. In between, there has been a lot of personal growth—a term I’ve always hated but now understand differently.

This year, many things have happened that have driven home the message that life is too short. As a result, I’ve decided to embrace situations I would have otherwise been quick to avoid—those that push me to step outside of my comfort zone.  Some of these have been simple, such as choosing vegetables instead of my beloved French fries. But others have been more difficult, like taking a boxing class by myself. (Boxing is awesome exercise and a great way to de-stress.)

So when a lady I went to high school with started to put together a team to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, I decided to join.

I do not run unless chased, and I had the upper body strength of an 80-year-old woman. So the idea of a 5K obstacle race, where there would be climbing over a wall, was really out of the ordinary for me, coupled with the fact that I was doing this with a group of people I either didn’t know or hadn’t seen in 20 years.

So I trained, adding strength training, like boxing, to my exercise routine and running a mile and a half one day a week. And I started to take better care of myself in terms of my food portions and choices.

Since embarking on this journey, I have lost about 25 pounds and gained definition in my arm muscles.  
I stressed out about my ability to finish a course such as this, tossing and turning the night before over the wall climb. And I actually thought about skipping out on the event all together when I woke up. But I, instead, adorned myself with fake tattoos and my team T-shirt and determined to make the best of it, even if I walked most of the route.

The thing that I liked about the Dirty Girl Mud Run was that it was a women-only event, which to me seemed less daunting than something similar with men. And I was right. The atmosphere was one of encouragement and support. For example, the wall climb was the third obstacle in. There was a line backed up waiting, giving the people space to take their time attempting this obstacle. When someone was straining and taking a long time and looked as if they might give up, the crowd spontaneously started to cheer as the person made it over the top of the wall.

Disclaimer: I didn’t make it over the wall. I got to the top and was too afraid of the height to make it over to the other side. But I give myself props for getting to the top, rather than skipping it all together.

And when I got to the mesh wall that loomed many feet in the air, I took a deep breath, and with a teammates’ encouragement, I made it up and over (albeit with some tears of fear).

Since embarking on this journey, I have lost about 25 pounds and gained definition in my arms. In fact, when I tried to eat a half of victory pizza, which would have been in the past done in two bites, I actually felt sick. That is a sure sign that my overall lifestyle is much healthier.


  1. Thanks for writing this! I'm so inspired after reading it! Turning 4-0 in Oct & am just getting started:)

    1. Thanks, Adrienne! Getting started is the hardest part, I find, because it's easy to let the build-up overwhelm you. Keep us posted on your progress, and if you do the Chicagoland Dirty Girl next year (June 29 or 30), I'll see you there ;) --Nikki

  2. Good stuff, Nikki. Admirable. Way to take charge of your life. I just joined Weight Watchers. Wish me luck!

    1. Yay, Debbie! You can do it! And next year, I'll nag you about running on the Muddy Cupcake team with us ;) --Nikki

  3. Way to take in new experiences, Nikki. Taking boxing sounds fun and challenging. And, thanks for the chuckle (no running unless chased)!

    Mike Bacino

    1. LOL... you're welcome, Mike. Boxing is awesome! I was really nervous about it because it seems like a really aggressive sport, but it's only as challenging as you'd like to make it since there's no sparring. It's just with a heavy bag. Who knew I'd like to punch things so much?! --Nikki