Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I love some of the Zumba music - gets stuck in your head for weeks!  Well, I'm in "pause" right now.  Intentionally, but its still a pause nonetheless.

As you know, I exercise...alot.  A huge part of my plan to get to my goal weight and live a healthier lifestyle involves me moving more than I've ever moved before.  My typical week includes 4 runs of varying types, several 3-4 miles, a fast 2 miler and then speedwork on another day.  I also do Zumba once or twice a week and strength train.  Add in a few walks with family and friends and I don't always get a day off of activity during the week.

A few weeks ago I ran 1.8 miles to reach my Zumba class (with a backpack on that carried my Zumba shoes, a full water bottle, etc.).  I did an hour of Zumba, then ran home.  The next day my legs did not want to move I was so sore.  I guess 2 solid hours of working out will do that to you.

Last week my knee started hurting during a run.  Had never hurt in that spot.  Hurt the rest of the day.  I took a few days off of activity and it did ok when I ran 2 miles Thursday.  Then I ran a race on Saturday (my 6th 5k race) with my friend Beth, and my other knee hurt for the rest of the day!  Seriously?

It was really time for a break.

I'm really glad I had one scheduled!

I have read articles that say you should take a break from your exercise routine once every 12 weeks.  The theory is that your body gets too used to the activity you are doing, and it becomes less effective for your weight loss goals.  Taking a break is supposed to let your body rest and reset - and you get to "start over" once you are back at it.

In the last 2+ years the only breaks I have had are for my ankle injury last year (9 weeks of cast and PT), then I had a cold in December 2010 so I took a few days off, re-twisted my bad ankle in March of 2011 and took a few days off.

I have never taken days off on purpose.  And it feels WEIRD.

I find myself trying to decide what exercise I will do when I get home.  I'm getting to work earlier but don't have the same energy.  In fact, I was ready to go to bed about 30 minutes ago (8:15pm here).

As you know from my last post, I really learned my lesson that my activity/exercise and how well I eat go hand in hand.  So I purposefully scheduled the 5 day eating cleanse for this week that I would be virtually inactive.  I have to be more careful about my eating since I can't run anything off!

So I've done 2 days of the cleanse and 3 days no exercise so far.  I'm doing ok I think.  Actually felt this morning like I was coming down with a cold.  Seriously?  Been pumping the Vitamin C to take care of that.

I do feel tired and run down, even though I'm sleeping plenty and not exercising.  But exercise gives me energy!  It's like a light source for me and I'm walking around in the dark this week.

But it is just temporary and intentional.  So I am going to stick to my plan.  And LOVE my run on Sunday morning.

This Thursday I'm speaking at an HR conference in our town on Wellness - talking about how Workplace Wellness starts with You (meaning the HR professionals in the room).  I'm excited and nervous as I never love speaking in front of a crowd, but I know what I have to say is relevant and may inspire someone.  I'm also a participant in the event and I get to talk first, so I will be able to enjoy the rest of the day.

That day, however, I will not be eating my cleanse-appropriate spinach salad.  I decided I need to eat whatever lunch everyone else eats that day.  One of the main things I stress is no diet plans - so if I speak about losing weight the healthy way, then pull out my carrots an spinach salad with goat cheese while everyone else  eats "normal" food that will send the opposite message of my talk in the morning - even if I know what I'm doing is a healthy reset - perception is everything.

The boss who told me that "perception is everything" about 11 years ago has no idea how understanding that has changed my life!  That's another blog post for another day though...

For today, PLEASE be sure to do something active - heck do it for me if you don't have the motivation yourself.  Because I'm sitting here on my keister, motivated enough for ALL of us!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Live & Learn

This has been quite the week!

I was running with my friend Heather on Monday morning and about a mile and a half in my knee started hurting.  It wasn't like an old familiar pain or anything like that - it just hurt around the outside of my knee by the kneecap.  We finished 3.7 miles and the rest of the day it hurt!  Walking around, everything.  It just hurt.  I was BUMMED to say the least.

There was no swelling, which is good, but I have learned one thing - take a break when you may have an injury...or you will spend a LOT more time down than you intend to.

So I skipped Zumba Monday and Wednesday night and did not run again until this morning.  I wore a light knee brace and felt fine.  A little sore but no real pain.

How did this happen?

I was analyzing my activity for the last week and have determined it was overuse.  As a runner, "they" say you should never increase your mileage by more than 10% a week.  I inadvertently almost doubled my mileage last week.  It's been getting cooler outside and I felt great!  10 miles in 3 days is alot for me...

So I have learned.  Sigh.  Once again.

Know what else I learned?

When I'm not exercising regularly AND I'm in meetings in a board room all week, I eat poorly.  It's funny, I just realized today that there is a very strong connection between eating and exercise for me.  I feel like I need to fuel my body well and I make good food decisions.  Not being able to exercise made me feel weaker about my food choices...

And it shows!

I'm not beating myself up here, as I am glad it happened this way.  It gives me a chance to learn something and be stronger for the next time.

I could take this opportunity, instead, to berate myself, belittle my choices and give up altogether.  But I have come WAY too far to let that happen. 

I try to take each setback, each challenge, and glean something valuable from it.  What is the point of suffering without growth?

Growing hurts, that's why there are growing pains to begin with.

Everything painful I've been through has made me stronger and wiser.

That said, think about where you are right now.  Are you still beating yourself up for not keeping up with that cabbage soup diet or the unrealistic 900 calorie a day diet where you gained it all back and then some?

Learn from it.  And love yourself enough to try something more realistic.  Like an overall lifestyle change.

It's do-able.  I should know.  :)


(adapted from www.peak313fitness.com and Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook)

1 (15-ounce) can white beans rinsed and drained
♦ 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
♦ 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
♦ 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
♦ 3/4 tsp garlic powder
♦ 1 large egg
♦ 72 wonton wrappers, about 1 1/2 (12-ounce) packages
♦ 1 tablespoon flour
♦ 1 1/2 cups jarred marinara sauce, microwaved 1 min or until warm
*Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Place the beans, pumpkin puree, ricotta, Parmesan and garlic powder into a food processor. Process until smooth (I ended up mashing as my food processor is small and cheap!)  
*You can cut the wontons into circles, I used my pampered chef sandwich press, just didn't press down the sandwich part.  Next time, however, I will leave them in the little squares they came in - square ravioli are fine!

*brush the egg mixture around the edges of the first wonton wrap - place a tablespoon (or so) of filling onto the wrapper then seal the edges together.  Place onto a cookie sheet with cornstarch or flour (I only had flour).
*put about half of the raviolis into the boiling pot of water, and when they float to the top, scoop them out!  Only issue I had here was that the raviolis get sticky as soon as they get put on a plate together - will need to work with that - made it challenging for leftovers (they just got messy - lol).

These were SUPER yummy - I'm excited to try different things now that I know I can make ravioli!

Here are the nutrition facts:
8 Servings

Calories: 286
Fat: 3.9 grams (1.8 Saturated, .6 Poly, 1.0 Mono)
Cholesterol: 35 mg
Sodium: 433 mg
Potassium: 366 mg
Carbs: 48 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.3 g
Sugars: 1.1 g
Protein: 13.6 g
97% Vitamin A!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Race, Another Personal Best!

Each race I run has a different story to it, or meaning.  I did run the Tomato Trot once, and never will again.  First of all, the course was very hilly (when the description said mostly flat) and it is during June, the hottest time of year here.  While I love the town of Slocomb, that isn't a race I will likely repeat.

Some other races, however, have found their way into my heart.

Today I did the "Loop the Lake 5k" in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.  The race proceeds benefit the American Heart Association.  I did this race last year, and had put together a team of runners and walkers from Chautauqua Rehab & Nursing Center.  I was blessed to be able to work with these awesome people for 8 months from 2010 - 2011.  I've never so quickly been accepted and loved (and likely never will again).  The employees and residents there are incredibly special to me.  Last years run was tough, because I had not run 3 miles consistently during the heat of the summer.

I was determined to not only run it all the way through but to attempt blow my time out of the water.

What a difference a year makes!  It was also an absolutely beautiful morning - crisp and about 68 degrees.  Last year it was humid and we were sweating before the starting bell.

My time last year was 42:27.

This year I decided I would keep my pace under an 11 minute mile for as long as I could and then slow if needed.  I can easily track my pace with my Garmin Forerunner.  It also tells me where I am and I can calculate how much farther it is to the finish line.

The course was much like I remembered it, albeit cooler and hillier than I remember.  I don't have any hills to train on in my town here so that is always challenging for me.

When I came around the corner and saw the finish line I couldn't believe it said 32 something on the finishing clock.  I busted my tail to cross that finish line before it crossed over 33.  I still don't know my exact time as I forgot to hit the lap button on my Garmin, but I know it was 32 something.


Just about 10 minutes cut off of my time from last year.   AND my fastest 5k time EVER (including in the neighborhood). I am hoping the race results will be posted in a few days so I can put a true number to it.

In the meantime, here is a picture comparison.

It's neat to me to see the difference in one year.  I definitely have a ways to go, but I'm pretty happy with how far I have come.  Yay for progress!

As I passed people today, I was really glad I didn't outpace myself - sometimes people just shoot out of the starting line like bullets, and end up walking alot during the race.  I purposely keep my head down, keep my eye on my pace, and resist the urge to sprint too early.  Instead, I keep it steady, slow when necessary and speed up when I can, saving my last quarters for that last quarter mile and burn it home.

It felt amazing crossing the finish line today.  My goal had been to finish much quicker than last year, but my last 5k in April I did in 35:30 so I really hoped to get under that.  I'm pretty sure I have shaved another 3 minutes off of my 5k time!

My running journey should be encouragement to anyone that you can do more than you think you can, right now.  Find something you really like and DO IT!  There is no big mystery to changing your own blueprint - no secret, pill, or shake - you have to MOVE more than you EAT.  Bottom line.  And eat the right things, of course, to fuel your body to move.  Unfortunately, some people refuse to try different things thinking, "I could never be a runner" or "I don't think I could swim that far" and they short themselves out of potentially surprising themselves.  TRY something.  Anything.  Try several things. Make it fun, challenge yourself, and take time to celebrate your achievements.  Watch yourself outperform your own expectations.  There are few feelings in the world like it.

I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it again.  I'm not special, I'm not an overachiever, I didn't get straight As in school, I never ran track in high school (in fact, they used to laugh at me running to 1st base in softball I was so slow!) and I'm not a saint.  I am a normal person just like you, and every day I decide to try to make my health even better.

How fitting this race was to benefit the American Heart Association ~ since I've essentially saved my heart from dying an early death.  Happy Sigh.  It's going to be a great day.


PS - how funny is this?  My race number is my phone extension at work!  LOL!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthdays, Health Scares & Diet Failures

A blog post on Sparkpeople really encouraged me and inspired this post.  You can find it here:  Spark People Awesome Blog.

It was all about milestones, setting dates for yourself and how you can set yourself up for failure pretty easily.  It started with a "how not to do this."  It should resonate with anyone who ever started a diet.

Here's my story.

March 1, 2009, I turned 30 and was SO depressed about it.  I was 285 pounds, hated how I looked and didn't see anything good about turning 30.  A few months later I began easing into a healthier lifestyle - and after having done WW, cabbage soup, you name it, this "easing" worked so much better for me.

I say "easing" because I didn't go all hard core eat-like-I-do-today in August 2009 when I got started.  Because every diet I had started had failed.  Every moment of "I can't have that" made me want to eat 10 of "that."  And I would.

My weight fluctuated alot after high school.  I weighed around 155 at my lowest point in high school (I am 5'6) - I say lowest because I was actually starving myself to lose the weight - some of which came from being depressed from a bad breakup.  I had a great friend (you know who you are) who said I should stop losing weight and they were worried about me.  I found my "happiness" again and began gaining weight again.  I finished high school somewhere in the 170s I think.  A size 11/13.  Not huge, but not skinny by any means.

I moved out of my parents house when I was 19.  I was drinking alot, not getting enough sleep, hardly ever working out and eating like someone who didn't budget well for her first set of bills (literally, I forgot to factor in my car payment).  I ate out all the time, getting into credit card debt too by the way...that's how you make ends meet when you don't make enough money.  Wasn't that american of me?

I then met my husband and he didn't mind me not being skinny which was good.  :)  Then he saw how happy ice cream sundaes made me and he made me one every night - now I am NOT blaming him, but I quickly packed on some weight in the next few months and was in a panic 2 months before the wedding, I was around 200 then.  I joined a fat attack type program at the gym and lost 18 pounds in a month.  I weighed 181 the day I got married - in fact, there was a new panic the week before my wedding as my dress had to be altered more than intended...oops.

I fell off the wagon after the wedding and gained AGAIN.  I was 21 years old and we were newly married - and frankly, I had alot to learn about cooking still.  We ate out, sometimes after something I cooked didn't turn out edible (lol). 

So, I joined WW again!  Because it worked for me!  My routine was that my weigh ins were on Thursdays - so I would go weigh in, then pick up a large pizza and eat half of it that night.  THAT was healthy.  Food rewards were a huge issue for me back then.  I never got below 200 that time.

Then we decided we were ready to have a baby.  This was 2003.  I was blessed to conceive quickly, and my baby girl was born that December.  I was 214 when I went in for my first dr appt.  My doctor made no bones about the fact that she would be fine if I didn't gain ANYTHING while pregnant.  Thanks alot.  And no thanks, I'm eating all the fried chicken sandwiches my body can handle thank you very much.

I gained 51 pounds.  I weighed in at 265 when I went in to deliver.

During the next year, I made it back to around 220 then crept back up to 225.  Being busy, trying to eat better, etc., all "sort of" worked for me.  But I joined WW one more time to see if I could get the weight off.  I remember one WW weigh in where I had weighed 220 for about 8 weeks straight.  The leader exclaimed, "Well, you've got maintenance figured out!"  Yeah, maintaining my heftiness.  Thanks lady.

I joined Curves and went pretty faithfully 3-4 times a week for awhile.

My husband sustained a serious illness in 2005 that affected us hugely.  A month in the hospital, closing his business, etc., all took precedence to us being healthy.  I dropped my Curves membership and slowly packed on more weight.  I also dropped out of WW again, and found myself gaining and gaining...but also dealing with a crazy undiagnosed health issue so that was distracting enough.

Around the same time my husband felt a call to the ministry so we began planning to move for him to go to college.  We moved in May 2007 and that meant more eating out, not having friends in a new place, traveling for work, all the things that put together mean disaster for a healthy lifestyle.  When you don't know what one is, that is.

I finally got a diagnosis in April 2009 of a meningioma brain tumor in my left cavernous sinus, wrapped around my carotid artery.  90% of these tumors are benign, and that's good since we can't biopsy it due to the location.  I have an MRI annually to check the size of the tumor - eventually proton or radiation therapy will be an option if the tumor starts to grow. 

Suddenly, I was out of excuses.

During the time of my "mystery" illness, I felt tired, had joint pain, muscle spasms, problems sleeping, breathing, nausea, migraines, other crazy headaches and just felt terrible all of the time.  I also had 3 falls in a 6 month period.  Fortunately back then, I bounced.

When I pulled out the tumor symptoms, guess what was left?

Obesity & as a result, obstructive sleep apnea.

From my diagnosis in April 2009 to July 2009 I was restless.  I knew I needed to do something, especially as I knew now that I was not going to die from this tumor and I could live with the symptoms.

More details on the back story here can be found in the February 2010 area of my blog so I won't rewrite it all.  I'll just say my friends Barb and Heather get huge props for helping me move towards a healthier me.

I refused to call it a diet.  Diet = instant failure to me.  I had jumped on and off the wagon so much I wanted to do this without a wagon.  I needed to walk anyway.

So I eased into it at 285 pounds.  Made little changes and tweaks.  I did NOT go back to the "diet that always worked for me."   If it had really worked, WHY was I having to do it again?  Just saying.

Didn't give anything up all the way, food wise.  But my tastes changed quickly too.  I no longer crave french fries at all and can only smell the grease in them.  And I love a good grilled chicken breast with broccoli.  Happiness on a plate.  But that's now.  That took time.

I didn't set my first goal until the first 20 pounds had gone.  Then after 35 pounds I injured my ankle (a week into C25k mind you) and that set my training back 9 weeks (that is when I started blogging, as I was absolutely panicked that I would gain weight back).  But I got back out there.  And readjusted my goal again.

I've run 5, 5k races since June 2010.  In a year, shaved 10 minutes off of my first 5k time. 

I wanted to lose 100 pounds by the end of 2010 but I am not a 2 lbs a week loser - I'm just not.  I set and reset goals constantly.  Pre-pregnancy weight goal (214).  Onederland goal (199).  Just a month or so ago, I decided I wanted to lose 100 pounds by August 31 (2 years and a few days from my actual start date of my "easing").  And I did it.  I also set goals to lose weight during the holidays.  And I did, 2 years in a row.

My plan?  Healthy real food, whole grain (very limited white food), lots of fruits and vegetables, no "fake" food, no processed food, no "diet" food, nothing sugar free, and yes to chocolate chip cookies in serious moderation, dark chocolate every day, and a good mix of fuel for my body overall (protein, carbs, and fat).  

The next 20-30 pounds will be interesting.  I would like to be "done" losing weight and ready to go into maintenance by Jan 1, but I'm not going to turn myself into a miserable, dog-kicking ogre of a person in order to do it. 

A great friend asked me recently, "What will you do when you reach your weight loss goal?"

My answer?  "Get up the next morning and run again."  I'm not ever going to be "finished" with my healthy lifestyle.  I'm in this for the long haul...and that haul is for as long as I'm blessed to wake up another day, breathing and smiling.

Life is waaay to precious and short for me to waste time wishing I could lose weight faster, or be like so and so.

I'm doing this journey on my own, and it won't look like anyone else's journey.  Same could be said for you if you are on a journey of your own.

As you've seen above, I've tried alot of dieting.  It wasn't until I figured out it was a healthy lifestyle that would finally "fix" me....that I was able to really work on fixing my mind, emotions, and that has resulted in fixing my body, as much as I can anyway.  The brain thing is what it is...but I will say, I no longer suffer from headaches, I get *maybe* one migraine a year and I haven't fallen for no reason in awhile.  No muscle spasms, and I just got the go ahead from my doctor to come off of my anti-inflammatory joint medication.  Oh, and I don't have sleep apnea anymore.  And no credit card debt either.  Phew!

On my 32nd birthday, March 1, 2011, I ran 4 miles and felt more alive than I ever have.

The original outlook on my 30s was bleak...now they are full of possibility.

I will not tell you its the easiest thing I've ever done, but as you can see, I've had my own reasons and things I could use as "excuses."  But now, eating how I do and exercising as much as I like to is pretty easy.  Because it is a habit, and its just how I live my life now. 

Life is what you make it.  Want to make it healthy?  If I can, you can.  All it takes is a little determination and a huge will to live.


PS: Some of my FAVORITE tools to help in the journey:

www.sparkpeople.com (free!)
www.bodybugg.com (my newest addition - not free, but worth every penny!)
www.google.com - I google food stuff alot!  Look up super foods and try to eat lots of them each day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What 100 Means to Me

I think I underestimated how it would feel to cross over 100 pounds.  Really, it wasn't that much different weight wise than 95 pounds, or even 99 pounds.  So why does it feel so incredible?

Probably because it is. 

100 pounds is like 10/10lb bowling balls.  

100 pounds is like 25/4lb bags of sugar.

100 pounds is 2/7 year olds (mine weighs 50).

Imagine carrying any of the above around.  All the time.

I almost feel like I've been freed.  It happened so gradually, over the last two years, that I don't think I've really considered the sheer magnitude of 100 pounds lost. 

Now that I've lost this amount of weight, I feel incredibly motivated to continue.

I feel like I can do anything.

Just 2 short years ago I had no goals or plans to do anything.  I was existing.

Today I'm living.

And healthier than I've ever been in all my life.

I will go ahead and remind you all, and myself, that I'm not done.  I haven't arrived.  And yet I am THAT.MUCH.CLOSER to where I want to be.  I'm 80% done losing weight (if 120 pounds ends up being my ultimate goal).  Dude, 20 pounds at this point is ueber do-able.  Seriously.

I have many many wise things to say to you all about this journey.  What I've learned, how I've struggled, where I've been, what it feels like to be me, experiencing this, right now.

But tonight I just want to continue to take it all in.  And bask in the amazing feeling of accomplishment.  I don't yet have words to do it justice.  I will though.  If you know me, you know being rendered speechless is a rare occurrence and typically passes.

In the meantime, enjoy this moment with me, will you?