Tag Archives: progress

Short — but Sweet — Status Report

I had a heart-to-heart with T2.5 last night. I’ve not been getting to the gym as often as I should. Cardio, we’re good. But I’ve only been weight lifting once, maybe twice, each week. That’s not enough for me, for my body.

And I can tell. Everything in my body is maintaining. Weight. Strength. Measurements.

I’m glad. Maintenance is hard. And it all could easily have gone in the wrong direction.

But I’m not ready to be in maintenance yet.

I mean, I’ve not been lazy, and I workout at least five days a week. Plus remaining pretty active on the weekends when Mr. B and I are together. Plus 2-mile lunchtime walks at least three days a week.

But apparently that’s just enough to keep me flat-lined.

So “it” will be getting real.

Well, at least halfway real as we get closer to the wedding (I have higher priorities for the next three weeks than two-a-days). Then, once the schedule clears and Mr. and Mrs. B can finally figure out a routine and settle into a schedule that works for us, “it” will be getting real real again.

Until then, it’s business as usual, with some added “oomph.”Because my plates are feeling very full at the moment. But not full enough that there’s no room for some “oomph” — cuz, like ice cream, there’s always room for a little “oomph.”

Have I mentioned that I am very much looking forward to marrying Mr. B, having an active and adventure-y honeymoon then coming home and settling into life with him where we can have some stability and certainty? No? Well I am.

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I have been so very busy with being in love and planning a wedding that I nearly let one of my most important anniversaries pass me by. Today was the anniversary of the day I made the decision to take my life back from the obesity that was slowly taking it away from me. Three years. Wow. Time surely does fly.

I suppose it’s a good thing that my life is so full of blessings right now that I’m no longer spending so much of my time looking at the past and am instead living in the present while joyfully looking toward the future. But, truth be told, my past is part of me — it is who I am and who I will become. And there was a lot of fantastic that happened in my past. Fantastic that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. There is no “before” and “after.” Because I am the same person living the same life — I’m just in a different place on my life’s journey.

But, I would be lying if I said losing weight and getting healthy didn’t have a HUGE effect on my happiness today. Because it did. It ohsoverymuch did. In fact, that portion of my journey feels like a lifetime away.

Before I continue with what I want to say about how losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life, I want to make one thing clear: I do not look at old pictures of myself and see someone ugly. I do not think that because I weighed nearly 300 pounds that I was less than beautiful.

Me in 2008

I remember feeling really pretty that day in that green shirt and my sister’s cute brown hat.

I think there’s a misconception that because I show “before” and “during” photos that I’m saying I was a less successful, intelligent, beautiful person than I am now. Because I’m not. The physical changes I’ve undergone are simply visual representations of the major changes I’ve undergone in the past three years since taking my life back. Changes that have happened with my mind, my body and my spirit.

Let me be clear: I believe the human body — in all of its forms, male, female, large, small — is extremely beautiful and, quite honestly, amazing.

But let’s not lie to each other, either. I was not healthy. I was on the verge of being put on high cholesterol and diabetes medication. I had my gall bladder removed at the ripe old age of 21. After viewing an ultrasound, my doctor told me that my liver was full of fatty deposits that were becoming difficult. I had stopped having regular periods and was told I would probably have a difficult time conceiving.

I may have been beautiful, but I was not healthy.

Thankfully, with my change of diet and addition of exercise, I’ve reversed all of these things. Well, all of them except the gall bladder removal. Because, well, clearly, once it’s gone, it ain’t comin’ back.

But, more than that, the past three years have shown me that I can do the things I once thought were too hard for me. I have shown myself that I am incredibly strong. And that, indeed, I have the power to change my situation.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” ~Christopher Robin

So how has this journey changed my life? In so many ways. And it goes far beyond the list of improvements made to my health — my life expectancy.

  • Mr. B  and me? We probably never would have happened. Not only would I not have had the courage and confidence to send that silly little message to him on the online dating site, but Mr. B wouldn’t have looked twice at me. And it’s not because he’s shallow — because he’s not. He is a kind, loving and wonderful man who loves without judgment. He wouldn’t have looked twice because I wasn’t the person he was looking for — I didn’t have a sense of self or a lifestyle that fit with what he was looking for. Back then, we wouldn’t have been a match. This is another reason I don’t regret my past. Because my past gave me the lessons I needed to be ready for the gift of Mr. B’s love.
  • Running … dear, sweet running. That most certainly wouldn’t be part of my life. Not only was I uninterested in pushing myself in that way, but it wouldn’t have been safe for me to run — pounding nearly 300 pounds of person on joints is not really a good idea. Running has given me so much. It’s my therapy. It’s my reward. It’s my happiness. It’s my challenge.
  • That marathon? One of the proudest moments of my life? Would have been impossible for me. Yes, I said impossible. And I mean it. I can’t imagine missing that experience. It changed me. Forever. And, no matter what, I will always have that.
  • Friendship. Through this blog — and the one I started at the very beginning — I have been given the gift of friendship. From all over the world. These men and woman are the most of inspiring, hard-working, encouraging people I have ever known in my life. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t. Either way, they are my friends. And I can’t imagine my life without them.
  • Faith in — and love for — myself. I have always been proud of myself and my accomplishments. But watching myself grow and change — over hills and in valleys — over these past three years? I am so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. And I continue to fall in love with who I am becoming every day. (Even though I still struggle sometimes.)

So, you see, it’s not just about how much my pictures have changed over the past three years. Those are just pictures. But they do represent something. They show what I see when I look in the mirror now: A happy, healthy woman who is getting stronger every day.

hiking

Enjoying hiking and climbing sand dunes with Mr. B.

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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I have, admittedly, been busy lately and not writing as much as I’d like. Between wedding planning and working and spending time living, other things have taken precedence.

I’ve been so preoccupied, in fact, that I almost missed one of my most important anniversaries. It is kind of a big day for me. It’s the three-year anniversary of the day I decided to take control of my life, and tomorrow marks the day I actually took the steps to make those changes.

  • Starting weight, July 2009: 271 pounds
  • Current weight, July 2012: Healthy and happy
then and now

On the left, July 2009. On the right, July 2012.

I still cry when I see that picture on the left. And I (apparently) cry when I see the picture on the right. For two very different reasons.

In an effort to constantly improve and challenge myself, I sometimes forget how far I’ve come. And I sometimes forget to be proud of myself. And I sometimes forget to enjoy the ride. Reflection* is an important part of a life-long journey as well.

*You can guarantee that a reflection post is soon to follow.

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Running is ALL the Things

For me, running is a lot of things:

  • Easy
  • Hard
  • Fun
  • Terrible
  • Exciting
  • Boring
  • Invigorating
  • Painful

You get the picture: Running is ALL the things.

picture while running

Running is ALL the things, including photo shoot time.

It just depends on the day. And it all depends on my attitude. A bad attitude can turn a good run into misery. But a good attitude can turn a bad run into a really great opportunity to learn about yourself as a runner.

Some days, I come back from running feeling like an Olympian. Other days, I feel like it was the first run I’d ever done. But, typically, I’ve found that running is a great reflection of other areas of my life in that I get out of it what I put into it.

When people found out I started running, they had a lot to say about it:

  1. That’s so bad for your knees.
  2. You’re going to hurt yourself.
  3. You know, running isn’t for everyone. (This one typically featured the side-eye and head tilt.)
  4. You don’t have to run.
  5. Running’s so boring.

Honestly, I still hear some of these things when people find out I run.

But you know what I say to that?

  1. So is weighing 271 pounds and trying to walk around doing regular everyday things.
  2. Possibly. But I could will most likely, at some point, hurt myself walking down the sidewalk.
  3. No, indeed it’s not. But it is for me.
  4. Yes I do.
  5. Running can be boring — but it also can be the most amazing thing I do on a given day.

And then they go on to ask me why I run. I tell them: health, fitness, happiness. I tell them: I enjoy it; it challenges me; it helps me de-stress. I tell them: Because I can. But, really, it’s even more than that. I run so I can:

Hike — and enjoy it

Hiking

At Warren Dunes State Park — no relation.

Climb dunes — and not have to stop a zillionty times to catch my breath

Climbing the dunes

I swear this sandy dune went straight up into the sky at a 90 degree angle from the ground.

Eat good food — and not feel guilty or ashamed

Bison burger

Bison burgers and homemade sweet potato “fries” for Mr. B and me

Swim and frolic on the beach — and not feel completely uncomfortable and embarrassed

at the beach

Enjoying a lazy day in the sun with Mr. B — and my 100 SPF sunscreen and floppy hat

Go fishing with people who matter to me — and not feel completely uneasy on a boat with limited move-around space

steelhead smiles

Look, Ma! I caught a fish!

Spend time with friends — and do things we all enjoy doing

Biking

Biking with friends is the perfect summertime funtime.

Running is about being able to do things I wasn’t able to do before because I didn’t take care of my(whole)self. Running is about making myself better, healthier, happier.

Really, I run so I can live.

Special note: Many of these same reasons/responses could be given when people ask me why I eat the way I do.

Could these things be accomplished with other activities? Zumba? Walking? Biking? Swimming? Yes. Indeed they could. But, you know what? Running makes me happy; running makes me proud. So I do what I love. Trust me, when you find that activity that you truly love to do, it will happen for you, too. It’s not about motivation or deprivation. It’s about enjoyment; it’s about living.

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Don’t Get Off at Funky Town

Sometimes we all get in a funk. In our fitness. In our careers. In our relationships. And we want to throw in the towel. Because, well, it’s not fun anymore. It’s not interesting.

My opinion is that a temporary funk is an OK thing because it gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate and adjust. Sometimes funks come into your life and then they see themselves out once they’ve had a few days of fun. Other times, though, you may need to do one — or all — of these things to kindly send it on its way:

  • Change your attitude. Sometimes all that takes is a change of attitude or perspective to brighten your mood. Realize that everyone has funks — it’s not about you or how successful you are or how successful you aren’t. It’s simply a part of life that gives you a chance to see things in a different light. Feeling tired of “having” to go for a run? Start saying that you “get” to go for a run instead of “have” to go for a run. This simple reframing can make it seem like less of a chore and more of a gift. Feeling like you just can’t face going into the office for another day? Focus on the things about our job that do make you happy, even if it’s as simple as how good you feel when you turn in a project you’ve worked really hard on. Stop focusing on those few really — really — annoying things your partner does and focus, instead, on the ways he makes your life better.
  • Change your routine. So you’ve tried reframing. And you still feel … meh … about things? Maybe you need to change your routine. Instead of going to Zumba every Thursday, take in a spin class a few times. Instead of making a spinach salad with chicken breast for dinner a few nights a week, spice things up and toss in some kale, goat cheese and cranberries. Instead of driving the same route to work every day, take the back roads. Instead of your normal dinner and a movie date night, pack a picnic and head out to the hiking trails. Simple changes can sometimes be enough to make things new again. And when things become new again, they become fun again.
  • Change your environment. OK. So that didn’t work either. Maybe it’s time for more drastic measures. Drastic, I suppose, is a relative term depending on how clingy your funk is. Changing your environment can refresh your spirit and a fresh spirit can smother a funk. Sometimes it’s as simple as rearranging your (figurative) furniture. Other times, it’s time to start looking for a new place to live. Hate long, steady runs? Maybe try throwing in some hills or HIITs or run/walks. Really miserable in your career? Stop complaining about it and do something: Go back to school or start looking for a new job.

How you handle a funk is completely up to you. What you get out of the funk is, too. It can be a learning and growing experience. Or it can be something that turns you into a … well … funkified person — and not in the good way.

funk

James Brown, “inventor of funk”

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Hardcore or Hardheaded?

As I was huffing and puffing up the hill at bootcamp the other 85-degree morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing:

Am I, as a runner, hardcore or simply hardheaded?

And then I realized that maybe my stubbornness is why running works so well for me:

  • Too stubborn to quit
  • Too stubborn to skip a run
  • Too stubborn to hide from the weather

You get the picture. (Some may say that translates to stupidity sometimes. But who am I to put words in their mouths?)

Take that hot morning’s workout, for instance.

Hill repeats. It was hot. And humid. Way too hot and humid to be running. Especially up and down the hills.

By the fifth trip up the hill, my body was ready to give up and I had to rely on my mind to know what to do. I do not like the heat. At all. I even threatened to take off my shirt and run in just my sports bra (who was I kidding, though, no way it was that hot).

  • 5.58 miles, 59 minutes (five trips up and down the hill; the week before I got in 6 trips in the same amount of time — still amazed how much near-90 degree weather and super high humidity slows me down)
  • Half-mile cooldown walk (though “cooldown” was more like walk while your drenched clothing sticks to you and salty sweat burns your eyes out)
hot and sweaty workout

I sure wished I’d brought a towel to put on Boo’s seat. She’s not ready to smell like a stinky runner yet.

Any normal person in her right mind wouldn’t have worked out that morning. But there we were, runners all, trudging up that hill, stubbornly tackling one repeat after another. Because we could — not because we necessarily should.

Then came today. A three-a-day kinda day. Not planned. But once it was in motion, I was too stubborn to step back from it.

So, yeah. I worked out three times today. Not because I should; because I could. Yes, I know my body needs rest and recovery. But circumstances beyond my control made this necessary. It is not a regular occurrence and (most likely though I can’t promise) won’t happen again. And, no, I certainly don’t recommend it. (Though, I can say I do feel a little hardcore tonight. That will most definitely turn into hardheaded regret when my DOMS sets in. I won’t say you didn’t warn me.)

Today, in a nutshell:

Bootcamp in the morning. One of my favorite sessions: Marathon Don‘s Obstacle Course. It goes a little something like this:

Six rounds each. Running between stations (total for each lap is just over half a mile).
-10 pushups (good form, proper pushups)
-Up and over climbing wall
-30 seconds abs (each round was a different exercise)
-Shuffles between the cones
-10 step ups on picnic tables (I add an extra knee lift after each step up)
-Up the ladder
-Down the slide
-Once down the hopscotch “board”
-Sprint to the next station
-10 reps various upper body exercise with dumbbells

Jump to this evening. I had promised a friend I’d go to an EcoTrek session with her tonight. It was meeting at a park very near my house. A park I was pretty familiar with — or so I thought. Who knew there was a giant sand hill the led waaaaaay up into the sky hiding at the back of that park? Apparently our fearless EcoTrek leader did — cuz she took us right up it. Twice.

What I love about EcoTrek is that it offers a full-body workout that people of all fitness levels can do. And it’s outdoors! And it’s fun! And you can push yourself really, really hard (if you choose)! And everyone is so encouraging! And you get to get all sortsa dirty!

dirty ecotrek feet

Dirty feet make me happy. A pound of sand in my shoes? Maybe not quite so happy.

After I dumped the sand from my shoes, I laced ’em back up and headed to the gym for a quickie session with T2.5. He got held up and had to miss last night’s session, so we rescheduled for today. I mean, he’s getting married this Friday, so we could hardly meet Thursday night. Right?

I wasn’t too worried about pushing myself too awfully hard after two pretty tough workouts already today. I mean, T2.5 was just walking me through my new weight program.

But, I should have known better. He wanted to make sure I knew how to do everything on the program. As well he should, though. Because, truthfully, I’m kind of a dunce when it comes to weight lifting. And I need a lot of reminders about and help with proper form. And, honestly, I need him to show me how hard I actually can push myself. I can always lift heavier than I think I can. (You probably can, too.) And just as a reminder, T2.5 put a very special reminder on the bottom of the program sheet for me:

If you can’t feel the heat, the workout’s not complete.

So, yeah. I stubbornly — and knowingly — scheduled three workouts today. With barely a breather between the last two. Strong and hardcore or stupid and hardheaded? Your guess is as good as mine.

But one thing I do know for sure? I sure do feel better about things when I push myself hard. I like to think that every drop of sweat equals a drop of stress or worry or fear or sadness leaving my body. And today, I lost a lot of sadness and worry. And it felt so good; I feel so good. Better about myself than I have in a while, in fact. So if that makes me stubborn, stubborn I’ll be.

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One Girl’s Advice to Herself: Acknowledge. Own. Get Over It.

Surprised to see me?

You’re probably noticed that I’ve not been writing a lot about health and fitness in depth lately. Or, maybe you haven’t because you’ve stopped reading what I write because it’s not health and fitness related. Regardless, it’s true.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been living and loving life. I’ve been running and lifting weights and eating good foods. I’ve been meeting with T2.5 and giving it all I’ve got. I’ve been spending time with Mr. B and going on new adventures with him. I’ve been — mostly — happy with the way my life is turning out.

I’ve been getting by. But, truth be told, I’m feeling a bit “meh” in the health and fitness department. I’m not getting lazy — I run, lift and do fun, active things with Mr. B. And I enjoy it when I’m doing it.

Me and Mr. B at the farmers' market

A quick stop at the farmers’ market after a sweaty morning run with Mr. B.

Rather, I’m getting … what’s the right word? … stale, maybe?

For the most part, I believe we are fully responsible for our situation. At least, I know with 100 percent certainty that I am responsible for the person I’m letting myself become.

In the grand scheme of life, all of the things you’re about to read are miniscule. But here’s what it all comes down to: I’m struggling. (Holy crap is that hard for me to write!)

But I don’t have to sit here, resting on my laurels, waiting for things to miraculously get better.

I believe that the only way to take care of problems is to first acknowledge their existence. Then, take ownership of them. And, finally, move past them.

Disclaimer 1: I am overall a happy, healthy person. I love my life and recognize every single blessing I have been given. I wouldn’t change one second of my life for anyone else’s life. Ever.

Disclaimer 2: I take full ownership of these issues. They are mine and mine alone — no one is responsible for them, and I don’t blame any person (or situation) for them. But I can’t move past them if I don’t acknowledge them and own them. And the only way that works for me is to write them down.

As life has continued in a new direction on a new path, there are some things I’m not making time for or making an effort at like I used to, things I’m starting to miss:

  • Monday morning runs — My favorite run of the week, they get things started on the right foot. But they haven’t happened for several reasons for quite some time.
  • Weekly farmers’ market trips — I love stocking up on my favorite local produce and discovering new things I’ve never tried before.
  • Grocery shopping — Mainly, I like coming home and opening up my fridge knowing that I’ll find in it all of the ingredients I need to create a healthful, tasty dinner without having to go back to the store.
  • Cooking — Nothing says “I love you” — to someone else or to yourself — like starting with a pile of healthful ingredients and creating something new, delicious and colorful with them.
  • Confidence — Confidence is more than feeling good. It’s knowing that you really are good. And while I know that deep down (I promise I do), lately it’s hard to let it show on the surface.
  • Getting better — I’m a goal-oriented girl. I like working toward something and seeing myself get better. Lately, everything’s at a standstill: I’m maintaining my weight, my strength, my speed.
  • Feeling strong — One of my favorite things about taking care of myself and treating myself right? That strength I feel when I’m doing it all right. It’s not about how much weight I can lift or how far I can run, though. It’s about so much more than that.
  • Writing — It’s as much a part of me as my nose. Or my fingers. Or my beating heart. And I don’t do it nearly enough.
  • Being in control of my own situation — I like to be in control; I like to have control. I admit it. I own it. Now, though? There are a lot of things happening that are out of my own control.
  • Sleep — I’m a firm believer in sleep as one of the most important aspects of leading a healthy, fit and happy life. But I can’t remember the last time I had a full, restful seven or eight hours of sleep.
  • Optimism — While I’m not an optimistic person by birth, I’ve slowly learned how to be that person over the last couple of years. It truly is a better way to live.
  • Me — I have grown so fond of the confident, happy and healthy person I’ve become. She’s beautiful. And she makes other people smile. But it’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen her in the mirror.

So, now that those things are out there, what I can do about them? Because, really, they are all within my power. Here’s how I can get over the hump and back to the person I miss so much:

  • Monday morning runs — Get up. Get out there. And run. It starts next Monday — regardless of where I am or what I’m doing. Monday morning runs will return to my life. (Even if they’re only a mile or two.) And I bet my Monday morning smile returns with them.
  • Weekly farmers’ market trips — Make time for it. It takes all of an hour to go to the farmers’ market and buy delicious goodness. And Mr. B and I can do it together; we did it once, and it was quite lovely. Plus, it’s a grand experience, trying new things together — and there are lots of new things to discover together at the farmers’ market.
  • Grocery shopping — I don’t remember the last time I went to the grocery store with a full list to stock up for the week. I just need to make a date of it. Just as I block off time for the gym and work and Mr. B and friends, I’m going to need to block off an hour of time to go grocery shopping.
  • Cooking — Just do it. Cooking is fun! I deserve to have healthful, filling meals when it’s just me — or when I’m joined by Mr. B. Plus, it’s a great way to spend time trying new things with Mr. B. Just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we can’t cook for ourselves — or for each other.
  • Confidence — This one’s hard. How does one go about letting her confidence show? It starts in the mind with positive thoughts. And, yeah, morning mirror affirmations may start up again — don’t judge until you try it for yourselves.
  • Getting better — The only way to get better is to put in the work. I need to get out of my comfort zone.
  • Feeling strong — Part of this will come with “confidence” and “getting better.” But part of it will come with me getting out of my head. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. It’s time to just accept that fact and get over myself.
  • Writing — I will write. Thirty minutes every weekday (concurrently or not). And at least an hour on the weekend — concurrently. I miss it far too much. I need it far too much.
  • Being in control of my own situation — Get over it. Control what I can. Let go of what I can’t. That’s where trust and faith come in. It’s called life.
  • Sleep — Get to bed. Turn out the lights. Sleep. While sometimes my inability to sleep is out of my control, most of the time it isn’t. I just have to get to bed and let myself sleep. What’s left to be done at the end of the night can be done in the morning.
  • Optimism — I have it pretty good; my life is good. And everything always works out exactly as it should. Sometimes I just need to remind myself of this fact. So remind myself I will.
  • Me — She will return. In all of her freckle-faced glory. She just needs to find her way. All of the things above? They’ll lead her home. Because, you see, I’m stronger than the bullets on this list.

Sometimes life isn’t easy, sometimes it takes work. Sometimes life isn’t what you had worked out in your trusty little planner. Sometimes life doesn’t head the direction you wish it would; that’s what makes it interesting. Sometimes we have to move and change and bend; that’s what makes us interesting.

“Life is a gift that I never want to take for granted.” ~Me

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