Dec 30, 2010

I did it! in 2010

As I sit here on the next to last day of 2010, I feel like I need to reflect back on this year to note what I've accomplished. It's been a long, slow journey--just as I wanted it to be--but because of that, it's easy to forget the things that I've done that I never thought I would be able to do. So, like Shannon H's I did it! lists (except a little different because I'm just reflecting back on the past year, not projecting future accomplishments like Shannon), here I go:

I did it! in 2010

  • Completed the Couch to 5k running program
  • Completed my first 5k, and then one per month for the rest of the year (except December)
  • Organized and hosted a 5k event to raise money for a worthy cause
  • Cut a mama string by putting my oldest son in kindergarten
  • Took Tayan, who is 5, running with me
  • Inspired other people to start running
  • Decided that January 2014 will be my first credit card debt-free month since I was 18
  • Organized a Combined Federal Campaign, raising over $5000 for charities
  • Completed 15 hours of graduate classes towards my masters degree
  • Realized that my biggest weakness is pride
  • Learned a lot about being a leader and working as a team in the Aspiring Leader Program

and in 2011, I'll be able to say these, among other things: 

I am frankly thankful to be alive, because I feel that there is a whole lot more that I can do on this Earth. I am thankful that my family has been well, that my kids are healthy and happy, and that my husband loves me. I'm thankful that we both have jobs. There are so many things I couldn't list them all... but when Phish plays Auld Lang Syne tomorrow night, I will hold up my glass with happiness and gratitude that I have been given this blessed life for one more year.

P.S. That's weird, I totally forgot to note two important things: I finally got below 200 pounds, and I finally got back into size 14 pants. I'm sortof glad I forgot those at first, but they are important, so I'm adding them now. :) 

Size 14 pants!

For the first time in my adult life--since I was in high school--I bought a pair of pants last night that are size 14. I'm wearing them now, and they fit great! I almost bought a pair of size 14 jeans too, which fit me, but very snugly... they were too expensive though. I wanted to buy them just to prove that I could, and knowing that I could wear them snugly for a few months before they would fit perfectly... but I left them in the store. It was a good decision, but I'm so looking forward to buying my first pair of size 14 jeans, too.

Dec 29, 2010

Oatmeal is a great start!

I've got to get focused. Had pizza last night for dinner, and 4 wings... after having Chinese food for lunch. I have to stop the madness! And I have to get to training seriously for the half marathon I'm doing in June (I know it's a long time, but I have a lot of work to do). 

Even though it's been over a year since I stopped at a fast food place for breakfast for just myself, it was extremely hard not to do so this morning. I was groggy from a Nyquil hangover, wanted coffee, wanted carbs, wanted just something to get me through the early morning. Kept telling myself "you have delicious oatmeal at work, you have delicious oatmeal at work..." and somehow managed to drive by all the biscuit places on the way here. And the coffee places...

So breakfast was: 
1/2 cup old fashioned oats, made with water
hefty shake of cinnamon
one packet of Splenda
and I'll take a Nature Valley Trail Mix bar with me for my work this morning. 

This morning I'll definitely be getting some exercise going out to the farm (I work in agricultural research) to exchange data cans. It will mean trudging through a foot of heavy wet snow. Probably should have done it yesterday when it was still too cold to be wet, but here I am. Gotta go clean off the truck... 

Have a great day, everyone! I'm going to have one, too!

Dec 1, 2010

What if I LOVE Christmas cookies?

I've been stressed this week. There's no need to candy coat it, just stressed. One of the things I've been stressed about is my eating and workout habits. I've been wrestling in my mind with the idea of "foods that I love," which are often foods that I really should have no part of. One of these types of foods is Christmas cookies, and another one is decadent cheese sandwiches at one of my favorite restaurants (which thankfully is several hundred miles away, but I will be there next weekend). I have to wonder, could I ever envision my life without some of my very favorite foods, like Christmas cookies... or insanely delicious but nasty cheese sandwiches?

I considered emailing Roni about this, but I pictured the advice before I even asked it. I think the advice would generally be "everything in moderation," and she's right. In addition to keeping moderation in mind, I should plan ahead. For instance, I can make Christmas cookies, but don't keep a lot of them in the house--give them away. I can experiment with a new cookie that has healthier ingredients than the usual ones that call for 1lb of butter. I can go to Melt and order that insane cheese sandwich, but split it with Bryan, and get a side salad (not sure if Melt even sells anything remotely like cold lettuce in a bowl though). And last but not least, I can exercise. I should step up the exercise for this season actually, just to make sure that I'm at least doing the best I can to stay sane through the holidays.

Next, I thought I'd look at a blog post that reflects how I was feeling a year ago. I found this one: "Movin Right Along..." In this post, I was updating after a few weeks of being away, including a trip to Universal for Thanksgiving, and not really saying much about the upcoming Christmas season. I don't think I was much worried about it last year. I think I was so caught up in the throes of losing weight hand over fist that I didn't worry much about a few cookies here and there.

This year is different, because I'm not losing weight hand over fist. Instead, I've been pretty steady on the weight front for many months. My body and mind seem to feel fairly comfortable at the weight I'm at right now, even though I have 10-15 more pounds to lose to get to the BMI level that gets me barely in the upper ranges of "normal" weight. So this year, I'm thinking more about how I'm going to get through this for the rest of my life, and that idea has scared me ever since I first started thinking about it. It's a tough thing, to have a plan for health and fitness that's going to get you through your entire life.

In the end, I know that the only choice is to "just do it." It always comes back to that. I can sit around and whine about not doing workouts, not running, not eating the healthy food that I've surrounded myself with... but unless I get off my butt and stop whining about it, I will never get to where I need to go.

Nov 18, 2010

Accentuating the Positive...

...E-liminating the negative. This post is going to be all good stuff that I have to report, because while the scale still hasn't moved for good, great decisions are coming from me and also from my family all the time.

Here are some awesome things that have happened lately:

1. I have stuck to my goal (inspired by Roni) to run 1 official race per month since last June, when I ran my first ever 5k. They are all listed on the right side of this page, and I am proud of every one of them. Still looking for one to run in December...

2. With the help of several volunteers (most of whom were in my family), I planned and executed a 5k event! The event went splendidly, all participants seemed to have a good time, gift certificates were given away, and we made enough money for to keep going another year! Yay!

3. I ran/walked a 5k with my littlest sister, Annalew. Back when I was in high school and she was in jr high, Annie and I gave running a shot together. We just got bored that summer and decided we'd start running. It was an awesome few weeks, but like most things it teetered off. We both agree that it was a great time in our lives, and are so glad to be getting back to it. Annie had never done a 5k ever before: this was her first. We finished in 47 minutes.

4. I ran with my 5 year old son Tayan the other day. He loves going running with me, but usually we have 3 year old Zene tagging along (who hates physical activity of any kind). I had promised Tayan that we would run together on Veterans Day, when we were all home from school and work, and as the day dragged on I felt lazier and lazier. I had promised though, and he was excited, so we did it. Here's a picture of him in his "running clothes."

5. While I sometimes chide myself for making poor dietary decisions, I am starting to realize that comparing the "poor" decisions that I make now to the "poor" decisions of 1+ years ago, I am doing GREAT! For example, yesterday I took the boys to McDonald's for lunch. I was hungry, but knowing that we were going straight back home with their food, I thought of the menu, and truly couldn't think of anything that McDonald's had to offer that I wanted. I considered a salad, but we were having big salads for dinner, so... I left McD's with only 2 Happy Meals, one with fries, one with apples (both to share between them; meant to get 2 bags of apples, but forgot). At home, I divvied up fries for them, and had about 1/3 of the kids size fries left. I ate them as I made myself a leftover turkey sandwich. So, poor decision? Maybe partly, but seriously... 1/3 of a child's fry at McD's?? I'll take it!!!

6. As is tradition, we will be at Universal Studios for Thanksgiving this year. In past years, I have only slightly lamented the loss of traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, but was happy that I wouldn't be making a glutton of myself on that day. This year, I got a little sad that we'd be missing it, and decided (after both kids came down with chicken pox, and we realized we'd have a lot of time at home this week) that we should make Thanksgiving Dinner this week. Bryan and I came up with a simple menu:

  • Brined turkey breast rubbed with herbs
  • Roasted root vegetables (sweet potatoes, red potatoes, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts)
  • Aunt Son's Famous Dressing, fried in hamburger-like patties
  • Creamed spinach (using 2% instead of heavy cream)
  • Homemade gravy
  • Rolls
  • And for dessert, Lower Fat, Lower Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Cool Whip (replaced 1/2 of the oil with applesauce, 1/2 of the sugar with Splenda)
I was so excited about our low-key Thanksgiving, over a week ahead of the real day, and not being able to invite really any family over, just the 4 of us. We did, however, invite our good friend Andy (who was certain he'd had the chicken pox as a kid), and the 5 of us feasted. I ate like a pig. The creamed spinach was truly amazing. The turkey was really the best I'd ever had (salt might have had something to do with that, but MAN was it great!). We'd had the roasted vegetables before, but they were amazing too... when Brussels sprouts get oily and kinda burned, it's a very special thing. And everybody loved the pumpkin bread, even Bryan who doesn't like Splenda, and the kids who usually stay away from anything that is brown, but not because of chocolate.

7. (No, I'm not done). At home one day this week I was bustling around the house, doing laundry, cleaning up, and I had a quiet moment. I thought "I should do Wii's My Fitness Coach for 15 minutes." I quickly decided not to, but as I sat there for a minute, I just *realized* that I was going to do it. I saw myself deciding to do it, and knew that it was inevitable. I was going to do that 15 minute workout... so I did! The next day at work, it was raining, so I introduced my running buddy to our work fitness center (she'd never even gone in), and gave her the treadmill and another guy the elliptical while I did Bowflex and then the stair stepper. I was really proud of myself, because it's not easy to do Bowflex in a small room with 2 other people watching. Plus, I was wearing stupid jeans that day, because I'd forgotten my gym bag. I had been complaining to my co-worker about this earlier that day, and he was like "why not just wear the jeans?" and I was like "because that's no fun!," and then again I *realized* that I had to do it. The suggestion was put in my head, and it was not going to go away. Today it was raining again, and I went to the gym by myself and ran for 25 minutes on the treadmill at 5mph. Pretty good for me considering I haven't run a lot lately, but I'm starting to realize that I need a bigger goal than "one 5k per month." A more long-term goal... more on that with next week's post. 

Roni was right. This Thanksgiving Challenge has helped me already! I am ready to go on vacation next week, walk past many a delicious-smelling food vendor (particularly that sugary nut stand outside of Cat in the Hat), and feel great about myself. If I can make myself get up early so the other adults in my group won't think I'm insane for going running, I'm going to go running next week at Universal. I want to run to Portafino Bay Hotel (from the Hard Rock) rather than take the water taxi. That's my goal. I've never seen the place in person, so this will be perfect. 

I never thought I'd be able to say this, but I am quite sad that I'll be missing all of the Thanksgiving Turkey Trots this year. The one in my town is a 5 miler, and while I know that would've been a challenge for me, if I'd been training for it for the last month or so I would've been able to do it. I REALLY wish there was a Turkey Trot through Universal Studios. I won't rest until I've ran a 5k in that place... how amazing would that be??! Maybe I could plan one for next year... it could benefit some local Orlando organization... hmm. 

Nov 13, 2010

We Did a 5k!

It was weird being "in charge" of a race. As Dr. Hines (one of the most motivational people I've ever met) says, "you need to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable." Well, I did that last weekend at the Marlinton World Run Day 5k as we set up the table of stuff, talked to and received money from each person who wanted to run, and even remembered to ask most of them to sign the liability waiver. I never would've been able to organize the race if it weren't for very helpful and responsible volunteers: my mom Martha, sisters AnnaLew and Sara, husband Bryan, and bro-in-laws Paul and CC, and of course Kate the VISTA worker.

The run went off without a hitch, even though everyone had to wait a few minutes past start time for 3 latecomers to sign up and pay their dues. To me and the Friends of Midwives (the beneficiary of the event) the extra $45 was well worth it! All in all, after making up for our expenses with kind donations from area businesses, we cleared $250 for Friends of Midwives, which is more than enough to pay for their website to keep going for another year.

We had 18 runners and/or walkers in the race, and that was perfect for me. Many more than that would've been a lot more stress and work. As it was, we had enough goodie bags for everyone, and I got to meet every one of them and cheer them on as they ran by us on their way to the finish. The first place finisher was no surprise: a local high school track runner who was there waiting for the race to start even before we got there to set up. He finished in 25:some minutes. We had 3 walkers brining up the rear, at right around 52 minutes. It was a great time.

The best part of the day for me though was running and walking with my sister, AnnaLew. I had decided the night before that I just couldn't run the race at my best; I was totally worn out from being out of town for a whole week, and driving 7 hours the day before. Anyway, I decided that I would stay with Annie, no matter what. I knew she'd be willing to jog with me some, but that we'd be doing a lot of walking, too. We did just that, and it was amazing. The Greenbrier River Trail is so beautiful... and being on it with my sister on a brisk afternoon was just awesome. What's more, at the halfway point we got to say hello to Mom, Sara, and CC who were handing out water cups. As we came around the last turn at the end, we decided we'd run the rest of the way and wouldn't stop. It was so fun, and I was so proud of my little sister. Our husbands (the timekeepers) cheered us on at the end. I think it took us 47 minutes or so.

While planning a 5k is stressful, if you have the kind of volunteers we did, it's not so bad. And as we said that day, at least we'll have this first one under our belts. Annie and I also decided that next time we plan one, we'll have a short run for little kids at the end. After all, we have 4 of them between us. So, I guess there will be 5k event planning in my future, too! I'd like to get good at it, and make it even more fun for everyone than 5ks usually are. I'm sure we could think of something... :)

Oct 7, 2010

Still Lovin Life

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. Here's an update:

I've been doing great with accomplishing my monthly 5k's. Here are the races I have under my belt:

  • Lewis McManus Memorial 5k back in June. Time: 38:08
  • New Deal 5k in Arthurdale in July. Time: 37: 21
  • Charlie Williamson Memorial Glade Springs 5k in August. Time: 34: 57
  • Chuck Smith Memorial 5k in September. Time: 35: 05 (trophy for 3rd place in my age group!)
  • Beckley 5k Half Marathon 5k in October. Time: 35: 40

I'm still working on scheduling a race for December, but it looks like I'll do a World Run Day event in Marlinton on November 7th. I'm planning that event, actually. Hopefully it will be simple to plan, and we'll have exactly 20 people show up, thus not lose any $$ on t-shirts. :)

The thing is, I haven't lost any real weight to speak of, basically all summer. I've been hovering between 191 and 195 for several months now. It's not like I don't know the reason why; I haven't really been trying very hard. I reached a fairly comfortable point, and I just slacked off.

Well, I'm not going to quit now that I'm so close to my goal. I'm not sure exactly what my goal really is, but I'm going to re-access when I get to 180. I've never really wanted to be much lighter than that, and my body frame holds that weight very well. We'll see. Now that I'm a runner though (I know, how crazy is that?) I'm actually concerned about carrying that extra weight around on my hips that slows me down when I run. But to start, I need to get to that 180 mark.

I read a great post on today about finding your inspiration. It suggested a few ways to get it back when you've lost it, and one of these was to write out why you want to lose weight. Write "I want to lose weight because..." and finish that sentence in as many ways as you can think of. I did that, and here they are:

I want to lose weight because it will show that I started something, and I completed it. I didn't fizzle out in the middle.

I want to lose weight because it will help me be a better runner.

I want to lose weight because I want to wear size 12 jeans.

I want to lose weight because when I finish, I can relax and move into maintaning it.

I want to lose weight because, even though I feel healthy now, my body will be most healthy at the optimum weight.

I stayed away from the "I want to be beautiful" reasons, because I'm already beautiful. I don't think I thought I was beautiful when I was 250+ pounds and eating crappy food, but as I got my mind into the right place, I realized that I was. I've been beautiful all along, and losing another 11 pounds isn't going to change that. It will give me the things mentioned above though, and those things I need. I need to be done with weight loss. I'm ready to move on to maintaining. I think that's probably what's been holding me back: the fear of moving into the phase of my life when I'm just maintaining my weight. It's the rest of my life, and that's a long time to be committed to the same task. I'll have to do a lot of things over the years to change it up and make it interesting, and I know that won't always be easy. But, I'm ready. I'm ready to get there and start doing that.

So, I'm resolved. These 11 pounds need to go. When I get to my goal, I will maintain. If I happen to lose more weight beyond that because I'm exercising and being healthy, and my body doesn't need as much weight, that'll be fine.

Thanks for sticking with me, people. I know a 3 month break from writing is too long. I'll check in more often. :)

Jul 19, 2010

Something's Happened to my Motivation

Something's happened to my motivation this past week... well, since that last 5k nine days ago. As I've said, I have a plan to do one 5k per month 'till the end of the year, and that is good, because without that commitment I really don't know where I'd end up, exercise-wise.

I had this conversation with myself this afternoon:

"Something's happened to my motivation."
"You're right, but what part of your motivation, exactly? Food? Exercise...?"
"Exercise, definitely. On food, I'm fine. Never going back."
"Right. Okay, so that's something, right? You're somewhere positive. Think of where you were this time last year. Better, right?"
"Yeah, better. I see what you mean. I won't let this feeling 'derail' me."
"Exactly. So, what exactly has happened to your exercise motivation?"
"Don't know. Usually after a class is over I'm all peppy and ready to go. Right now I feel low and sluggish and ready to stay in one place."
"Remember what you said once? 'The only people who think exercise sucks are those that don't do it.'"
"Yeah, I know. You're right. But still, it doesn't help much."
"All you can do is do it. Find time. Get up off the couch. DO something."
"I know. I will. It's hard."
"Of course it's hard. You can do it though."

And I will, but for now... for right this moment, and for the past 9 days, I haven't been feeling it. I haven't been doing any type of actual exercise. Haven't run, haven't done sit-ups, haven't gotten on my bike. I will though, because I have to, and because I know that I will have a great time. I won't let this get me down forever.

Jul 17, 2010

One run a Month Till (at least) January

I now have two 5k's under my belt: the first on a rail trail (easy) course, which took me 48:08; and the second on roads (a little hilly), which took me 47:21. I like this "a race per month" thing, so I've decided I'm going to keep it going. Notice  over there on the right side of my page I've added a list of races that I've either done or plan to do.

I also really want to do the 5k portion of The Mountain Institute Run for the Hill!! in October, but it's only one week after the Beckley race, and I'll have to see what other plans we may have by then. 

So, those are my plans... now I just need to get running! 

Jul 13, 2010

Comment on Roni's $100 Challenge

I posted this comment today on Roni's Question of the Week blog post: "What have you accomplished that at one time you thought was impossible?" Thought I would share it here too...

Shew, where to begin. First, it's cool that you're picking the winner at random, Roni. No pressure, just people sharing stories, and one of us wins a contest. Pretty sweet.

Well, I definitely used to say "I can't run." I feel like  a broken record mentioning this all the time, but I have had plantar fasciitis in my foot for years, which basically just means incredible pain whenever I'm on my feet for very long... walking, standing, whatever. Getting up in the morning used to be the worst part; I would have to hobble for the first several steps, like a very old woman. I hated it.

I had known for a long time that someday I was going to be living a healthy lifestyle, I just couldn't grasp when that was going to happen, or how. One day last summer I was at work, and I just decided that I had to change. The first thing I did is go to iTunes to find some podcasts to listen to that would be inspiring. I found Ask Roni, and Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon. They were both awesome. I started eating healthy that very day. My first goal was to eat 500 calorie meals, 3x a day, no matter how I had to do that. That wasn't the healthiest goal in itself, but it evolved.

I followed as The Gomers trained for their big race, and as Roni didn't much train for her marathon (last October). I was floored when Roni just went out a few days before her marathon, after not running much for the last few weeks, and pulled out a 20-miler like it was nothing. She is amazing; I laugh that she could ever have said "I can't run," when it is obviously something that comes naturally to her. It didn't come as naturally for my other podcast buddies; they are nothing like runners. A professional musician and a youth pastor, and both Star Trek fans, these guys are the epitomies of Geek (or more specifically, Gomer). They managed the half marathon though, and this year they actually did the full marathon.

While listening to all of these tales of running, I started to wonder if I could try it. I had been doing elliptical training a little, because it is easy on the feet, and I didn’t know what I was even thinking considering running. It hurt to walk, to stand for an hour… how could I possibly brutalize my foot by running on it?

Despite my trepidation, I decided to try it one day. I said a quick prayer “Please God, don’t let this hurt my foot too awful much…” and off I went. I tried Day 1 of Couch to 5k training, and let me tell you, it was brutal on this 235ish pound lady. But afterward, my foot didn’t hurt at all! It was amazing.

I decided I was going to do it. I was going to train for as long as it took, and eventually I was going to be able to RUN 3.1 miles! This was about January, and I found a 5k that was in June and signed up for it. I started on the treadmill, and decided I’d move it outside when the weather cleared up. In March I ran outside for the first time, and it was much harder than the treadmill. I kept at it though, and before I knew it I was able to run 25 minutes at a time.

One week before the race came, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it. At that point I had still only run 25 minutes at a time, and no more than 1.5 miles. I was nervous. What had I been thinking?? The race was coming though, and I had to know if I was going to be able to do it. I decided one evening that I was just going to do it. I left my house for the rail trail, and told my husband to pick me up in “about 50 minutes” at the end of the trail, 3.1 miles away.

And I just started running… It was hard, but I just kept going. Before I knew it I was in the final stretch to the end of the trail, and I was still running. I made it to the end, and looked at my time. It had been just over 40 minutes! I had done it! I was so relieved, and so proud of myself as I sat and waited for my family to show up to get me. It was awesome.

A week later I ran the 5k. This past weekend I ran my 2nd 5k. I am going to run one 5k per month until the end of the year. I talked to some friends at work today about doing a team event in April. They are excited about doing it with me.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about running is that it’s all in your head. It doesn’t take much training for your legs and lungs and heart to get on board with what you’re doing; the hardest thing is telling your head that you can do it, and that you’re going to keep running even if you feel like stopping. Once you get that, you’ve got it.

That’s my story. Sorry it’s so long for a comment post… but there it is

Jun 29, 2010

Update on Me

First of all, WOW! Roni Noone commented on my blog! I know I've said this before, but I'm now officially famous. Thanks Roni! I have yet to do my total tribute blog post about her, but I've been thinking on it for quite awhile. Without Roni I never would've started this crazy journey, nor would I have had the mental tools to continue it.

So, geez, my last blog entry was June 10th... well, I've been quite busy since then. My summer class is in full swing, we've traveled a lot, and I had that board meeting and stuff... anyway, no excuse, but there ya go.

Since my 5k I've run 3 times (not including tonight, which I'm definitely doing). I got up very early when we were staying at Kevin and David's near Cleveland, and ran 2 miles. I was very proud of my tenacity that day. I also got up very early on my birthday, and ran from our hotel up and around Mountaineer Field. Wow, what a culminating journey that was, running past banners of WVU football players. It was awesome that morning, coming back to the hotel, and all of my family was still asleep. I greatly value having a high "sneak." The third run was 8 days ago, on our woodsy trail at work. All of those runs went pretty well, and none of them felt pressured or anything. Just running because I like to run, and because I like to get exercise.

My next 5k is on July 10th, however, and I really need to hunker down and try to be in as good 'a shape as I was for the last one. My plan is to run tonight--2 miles--then run on either Friday or Saturday--3.1 miles. I'll do the same thing next week, running twice, only the 2nd run will be the race. I'm glad that I'm going to be doing 2 official races in 2 months, akin to Roni's commitment to do one official race per month this year. I don't know if I can manage that, as there aren't many races in my area, and I don't want to have to travel every month to a race, but we'll see. At least this is a good start. I also hope to run the "Run for the Hills" 5k--the highest race in West Virginia--in October, and/or the Beckley 5k the same month.

So, on the eating front... I've been doing well, maintaining my eating style for the most part. You know how it goes... some days/weeks you are really feeling it, and some you aren't. My weight hasn't changed much in the last few weeks, so I really do need to hunker down and pay attention to what I'm eating. Sometimes I just don't feel like entering everything I eat into, and when I don't enter it, I don't have to see how bad or good it was. By now though, I know how calories creep up on you throughout the day, especially if you're eating out a lot, or not eating as many veggies as you should.

Today though, I'm doing great. I had a healthy, fibrous breakfast; Lean Cuisine for lunch, watermelon as a snack, and I'm getting ready to go run. Dinner is at a friend's house, so I'm not sure what it'll be, but I know I can keep it healthy in portion size and focusing on the veg. No problem.

The thing is, if every day is a struggle, eventually you'll want to stop struggling and go with whatever flow your mind has dreamed up for you. That's a bad way to go, so I don't struggle. I make good choices, and sometimes I make poor choices. I look to people who have been there, like Roni Noone, to see how I'm supposed to keep this going when I seem to forget. And I don't let past choices affect future ones.

Jun 10, 2010

5k: Did it!

Never thought I would say this, but I ran a 5k. I really did it. When I started this crazy journey, I remember throwing my hands up to God and thanking him for being able to run 60 seconds straight; that's where I came from, and now I have completed my first official 3.1 mile run, which took me 38 minutes 8 seconds.

The two nights leading up to Race Day my nights were full of fitful dreams. Two nights before, they were all "Oh no! My hip is hurt again! I can feel it! I won't be able to run!" but when I woke up my legs felt completely fine. The night before the race, after spending the evening with the beginning of a very annoying throat/ear infection and sinus drainage, I dreamed about trying to run the race while sick. In  my dreams I was trying to figure out why God wanted to give me this additional challenge. What had I done to deserve this? Would I know after the race why it had happened this way?

The day of the race came (and I hesitate to call it a "race," since I had absolutely no intention of being anywhere close to "winning"), and I woke up early. I was nervous, I felt like crap, but of course there was no getting out of this. My sister was driving her family in to town very early this morning to see me, and Shelia and Marty were postponing their important plans for the day to see me run. Again, from Dare you to Move:

Everyone's here
Everybody's watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?

So, I ate my banana and drank some water. I dressed in my running clothes with a matching jump suit over it, laced my running shoes, filled my Camelback with icey water, and we headed out. Showed up in plenty of time to check in, pay my $12, and get a shirt. We walked over to Chick Fil A for the family to have breakfast. I ordered a plain multigrain bagel with butter, and an orange juice. Carbalicious. I left the family to finish their breakfast while I went to finish getting ready to run.

There were so many Runners around! There were old guys with shaved legs and headbands, shirtless buff guys, skinny giggly high school girls, high school boys who looked like they had something to prove... these are the kind of people that show up early on a Saturday morning to pay $12 to run 3.1 miles. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that these people were not like me. Nobody had little kids in custom-made "My mama is an awesome runner" shirts (so cool, thanks Shelia). Nobody else's husband was there with 3 cameras in hand. Nobody else started their morning with a quick fast food breakfast at Chick Fil A. Nobody else had a Camelback. Oh well, who cared? I was here to run my first 5k, and that's just what I was going to do.

Even though we were early, and even though I was lined up with everyone else waiting, the race started abruptly. I didn't have my music cued up, and I didn't have time to start my Runkeeper. Nevertheless, I started moving at my slow pace. I had lined up close to the back of the pack, so I didn't get in too many people's way. Still, several of them had to go around me. I hope it inspired them a little bit to be passing this stout middle-aged lady.

Soon after starting I had my one and only chance to pass someone during the race, and I wasn't even sure if I wanted to pass him. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, and I kindof felt like "who am I to pass anyone?? I should just stick behind," but this guy was truly going too slow for me, so I made the pass. I looked at the stats later, and that dude was in the "65-70" age category. :) So, behind me, there was that guy and two ladies who were running together, probably their first time, just like me. I beat 3 people that day.

My body started to tell me that it wanted to take a break, and I kept telling it we would take a walk at the halfway point. Just have to make it that far, then we can rest a little. During that first half, I started to see the lead runners coming back the other direction. I was so happy for them, and so glad to have them to watch. The guy in first place ended up finishing in just over 17 minutes. A few people running the other direction gave me encouraging looks and thumbs up. That was cool.

When I got to the halfway point, of course my family was there yelling for me and making noise. Nobody else had anyone waiting at the halfway point. My family is awesome. I was so glad to see them, and of course I couldn't stop running while they could see me. I kept running. I gave thumbs up and encouraging looks to the 3 people who were behind me while going the other direction.

The music I had to listen to was great. I had meticulously arranged it the day before, and it was just what I needed. Here was my 5k playlist:

U2 - Beautiful Day (lovely beginning)
Beck - Loser (just fun to run to)
Phish - Twenty Years Later (about accomplishing hard stuff)
Eminem - Lose Yourself (listened to it the first time I ran)
Switchfoot - This is Your Life ("this is your life, are you who you want to be, this is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be")
No Doubt - Just a girl (a girl inspiration song)
Nina Simone's version of - Here Comes the Sun (this is my "if you have to walk, this is when you're allowed to" song)
Switchfoot - Dare You To Move (my favorite)
Phish - Sugar Shack (just a fun song, about a kid running and having fun)
Switchfoot - Your Love is a Song ("your love is a symphony all around me running through me")

and I never made it to Wicked - Defying Gravity, and I had hoped that I would finish before that song. Also, I decided not to run when Nina came on, so I skipped that one.

However, I did stop running at one point. It was just one of those things, one second you're running, and the next your body has started walking, unbeknownst to your brain. It feels good to walk after you've been running for so long, and you want to keep walking forever. Your mind kicks in, though, saying "Don't get used to this! We're going to run again very soon!" I would've walked for longer, but after about 20 seconds I saw someone standing on an overpass above the road, looking down at the trail. I didn't want that guy to see me walking, so I started running again.

I came around the last turn, and could see the final very long stretch to the end of the race. Lots of people were down there milling around after their runs, and my family was down there somewhere too. I didn't know if Annie and Paul had even made it, but eventually I could make them out among the other people. I was so blessed; I had my mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, 2 boys, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew, all waiting to see me finish the race. So awesome.

Finally, I made it. They handed me a stick with a number on it: 61. I was 61st! Woohoo! I probably thanked my family for being there, and I leaned forward, putting my hands on my knees. I was beat, and it felt so good to stop and lean over. Whew. I didn't know what to say to everybody; we were all standing there looking at each other and sharing congratulations, and it was over.

I looked up the race results later to see my time, and also saw that I was 4th place in my age/gender bracket! Out of 4! Woohoo! Doesn't even matter... I did it.

I'm still fighting the cold that I was getting right before the race, so I haven't run again yet. But my next 5k is next month, in Arthurdale. I might even have a buddy to run that one with me...that would be sweet. This one will certainly be harder (because it won't be on an extremely flat rail trail), but I will do it.

Jun 3, 2010

Change of Plans

Back when I started the Couch to 5k program, I figured it was at least possible that I'd be changing my plans as race time got closer. That is, I would've believed that maybe I'd have quit this fool thing by now, and had possibly decided that doing a 5k was indeed impossible, cancelling my plan to run one (or rather, ignoring that there ever had been a plan to do so). Instead though, my plans are changing in an unanticipated way: I'm running a 5k this Saturday in Beckley (that I didn't know existed until today), instead of the race in Fairmont next Saturday. This will save us a lot of time and $$, and I'm generally very pleased that we've decided to do it.

One thing that made me pretty sad about it though was that my parents were going to be able to come to the race next week. I know they have been really proud of what I'm doing, and were happy to be able to be there and show support. Alas, they are--as ever--completely understanding. We're going to send them a video of me going across the finish line instead.

I also feel guilty about one thing: this race is going to be a lot easier than the one in Fairmont would have been (at least, I think so). This one is on a rail trail, easy course, no hills, 1.55 miles up, and then back the opposite direction.

So, this evening I went for my run--now the last one before the race--on the very trail that I'll be running with all those other people this weekend. After gloating all afternoon that "I can do this! No problem! I've run there before, even!" I had a damn hard time of it. It was so hot, and sunny when the trees gave way. I realized quickly that this still wasn't going to be easy for me. It was going to be a struggle, especially to run the whole time with no walking. I'm just going to have to do the best I can do, because that's all I can do.

The most important thing I learned on my run tonight is that I cannot downplay the importance of this race to me. I can't let myself be overwhelmed by all the fast runners, racing back the other direction while I'm still plodding through the first half. I can't tell myself "Laura, this is only a 5k." I'm telling you now, Laura; "THIS IS A 5k!"

A year ago, I couldn't run 31 steps, let alone 3.1 miles. A few months ago, I heard of doing a "1 mile fun run," and wondered how they could take a whole mile of running so lightly. In my opinion back then, anyone who could run a mile was amazing. Well, now I'm amazing. I can run a mile, and I can even run two, maybe even 3.1 without stopping. We'll see. But the important thing is, I can go the distance. I will make it, and it will be a major accomplishment in my life. Can't wait!

May 27, 2010

Sometimes running is amazing

This past week, I had been getting very nervous about the upcoming 5k. I said back in February or so that I would do this, and have been training (albeit slowly) ever since. Up to last week though, I had yet to ever run greater than 1.5 miles at a time. In addition to that, I have never trained as often as I thought I should (I've only made the 3 days/week goal maybe twice), and I just generally didn't know what I thought I was thinking attempting a 3.1 mile run.

So, after much freaking out and misdirected frustration, I settled on the fact that I just had to get down to brass tacks. I had to actually GO at least 3 miles. I just had to do it, no matter what it was going to take. Monday evening came, and I told Bryan to come pick me up at the end of the rail trail in an hour. He had already Google Earthed the route for me, and from our front door to the end of the trail is 3.1 miles. I just had to go try it, see how long it took, and work from there. The race was in less than 2 weeks, after all.

Off I went. I had prepared a running mix with a 5-minute warm-up song (to which I would walk, pace be damned!), then 25 minutes of "running music," followed by a 3:40 minute walking song. I figured at this point I would be halfway done, so I put 25 more minutes of "running music" after that, and figured the journey would take me 50-55 minutes to complete.

I walked to the rail trail, which took more than 5 minutes, but oh well. I didn't feel like running on the sidewalk just yet. I was prepared to run when I got to the trail, so that's what I did. Still very self conscious about running in front of strangers, I [cussed] in my head when I got to the trail and saw several people sitting on benches. I thought "should I wait 'till I'm past (or out of sight of) them before I start running?" I considered it, but then started my jog just as I was walking in front of them. Screw it! Watch this big-legged lady run, people, and love it!

I ran. I just ran. As usual, after about 1 minute my body was like "What? We're running again? I don't want to..." (or is that my mind?). I pushed through that, of course, and it went away. I ran past a guy walking and smoking a cigarette... I ran as a cop car came driving down the rail trail towards and past me (ever heard of bikes, cops?), I ran past several bikers (going the opposite direction; no, I cannot yet beat wheels with my mere legs), and I ran past one lady who was walking in exercise clothes, listening to music just like I was. She could've been me--except that I was running!

At one point I was feeling ready to stop, and I was convinced that my "break song" was directly after the current one. When that song ended, I instantly started walking in anticipation of sweet Nina Simone in my ear, but it wasn't her time yet. I walked for maybe 15 seconds, a little dejected, but then started running again. Two songs later, Nina came on, and I thanked her for the break and started to walk.

I realized that I was much further than halfway to my destination. I had been in an unrecognizable area of Beckley, but now I was going under an overpass that I have driven many times. I knew I was pretty close. I started to run again even before Ms. Simone was finished, and soon came around a bend. Ahead of me was one very long straight stretch, and I could see the picnic pavilion that meant the end of my run. I just thought, "Well, I can run to there. I just have to." And I did.

I reached the end, ran a little further (because weirdos were doing some kind of drug deal in the pavilion), and then walked. I had done it! I looked at my Runkeeper, and it said I had gone 3.02 miles in... get this... 40 minutes! Couldn't believe it.

I waited for Bryan and the kids at our rendezvous spot for 20 minutes, happy as a clam. I stretched, drank water, and just sat on the grass. It was awesome. I knew that I could do it. I can run that 3.1 miles next Saturday, and I might not even have to stop to walk at all. Great feeling. I'll never forget it.

May 11, 2010

Sometimes running is really hard

Well, the good news is I already knew that running was hard. In fact, I knew that running was much harder some days than it is other days. I have read and heard that from enough sagely runners that I know it well, and I have had my share of days that are harder than others, and also those that float on by without much fuss.

Yesterday I didn’t much feel like going out to run. It wasn’t one of the worst days, just a “Nah, don’t want to” kinda day. But I did what I normally do when I’m scheduled to run but I feel that way: I made up a meticulous playlist, timing the walks with easy songs, the run with increasingly intense songs to get me through; then I changed into my running gear; finally, I went outside with the intention to “just take a walk if that’s all I want to do.” When I get my Couch to 5k Running App on though, and the dude says “run,” I know I will obey.

So, I go out. It’s not too bad, and I know I’ll ease into it. I knew it would be kinda hard anyway, because it’d been 5 days since I last ran (due to being sick at the end of last week, not really able to breathe very well).

One thing that I hadn’t factored in was that, while I was feeling much better, my chest/throat/face was still quite full of phlegm. It is hard to run through phlegm. Phlegm wants to come up, it wants to get out, and it gets desperate about that when lungs start pumping and noses are breathing hard. I was a mess, like Dean Koontz’s Victor Frankenstein creation, Werner, who eventually went terribly awry (from Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: City of Night):

Werner, security chief at the Hands of Mercy, was such a solid block of muscle that even a concrete floor ought to have sagged under him. Yet he never lifted weights, never exercised. His perfected metabolism maintained his brute physical form in ideal condition, almost regardless of what he ate.
He had a problem with snot, but they were working on that.
Once in a while—not all the time, not even frequently, but nonetheless often enough to be an annoyance—the mucous membranes in his sinuses produced mucus at a prodigious rate. On those occasions, Werner often went through three boxes of Kleenex per hour.
Victor could have terminated Werner, dispatched his cadaver to the landfill, and installed Werner Two in the post of security chief. But these snot attacks baffled and intrigued him. He preferred to keep Werner in place, study his seizures, and gradually tinker with his physiology to resolve the problem.
Standing beside a currently snotless Werner in the security room, Victor watched a bank of monitors on which surveillance tapes revealed the route Randal Six had taken to escape the building.

I was a mass of snot, phlegm, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and I didn’t have the determination to run through all of that. I was supposed to run for 25 minutes straight yesterday (the longest I would have ever run), and instead I nearly threw up, and walked about 40% of that 25 minutes.

Oh well, we only do what we can do, right? That was all I could do yesterday, and I have plenty of room for improvement.

I know I’ll continue, and I know I’ll do the best I can do. I also know that I’m doing that 5k on June 12th, and I will do the best I can do on that day. But my question is, what will be my best that day? Will I have another chest full of phlegm? Will I be feeling crampy or whiney or complainey? Will I have prepared enough to be able to actually run the entire time, without having to stop and walk?

I’m hoping that the answers to those first 2 questions will be ‘no.’ I probably won’t be sick that day, and I am unlikely to not be jazzed to run that morning. It’s a race, after all, and I’ll be pretty excited about it, albeit scared. But the third question might very well be answered unfavorably. I might not have the stamina to run for 3.1 miles straight with no walk breaks. I just might not.

And aside from not wanting my family to have made a trip to “see me run,” only to see me walking part of the way—aside from that, I’m okay with it (I think). I don’t want to have to walk, and I don’t want to finish in >45 minutes, but if that’s where I am, that’s where I am. I’ve lost 48 pounds in the last 9 months, and I never ever thought I’d be running in a race. I’ve never wanted to run farther than about 40 feet.

But I’m going to do it; nay, I am doing it. I’ve found that that’s one of the hardest things to realize when you’re actually doing something difficult. You think the difficulty is in the future, and you won’t be able to do it. But I am doing it. I’m doing it right now, and every step I take gets me closer to finishing it. It will be okay. I’ll save 5k #2 or #3 for trying to get a better time. This time, I’m just doing it. 

May 4, 2010

A Much-Needed Task Enema

Ahhhhh, what a great feeling! My two Spring term classes are finally over, and I have a 2-week hiatus before the next class starts. It's a great feeling. I don't know if any of you share my woes of having the bowels of a much, much older woman, but the feeling I have now about my life being free of back-up and gunk for the next 2 weeks is so much like the feeling I get after a really satisfying trip to the ladies' room (see, if I say "ladies' room" that makes it totally couth).

Since finishing my classes about 24 hours ago, I have cleared so many little tasks off of my desk, both personal and work-wise. These things just piled up on me for the last several months, and now that my mind is clear of "learning" for a little while, I can easily knock these things out in 10-15 minutes apiece. My bills are scheduled to be paid, I have called Zene's future preschool and arranged a registration form, medical bills are either paid or arranged, and my drawer of "things to deal with when I have time" is practically empty (or, at least very organized). I feel GREAT!

I've found that living a healthy lifestyle finds its way into many other aspects of one's life. They were not totally crazy on The Biggest Loser this season when they invited that crazy money lady to come and talk about the contestant's finances. These things really do go hand in hand. I've actually been paying down credit card debt for the last few months--unprecedented! ...I can't say that my house is in much better shape than it usually is, day-to-day-wise, but Bryan and I have found the gumption to do many valuable home projects in the last 6-9 months ("Sixty-nine moths??!" "No. Six TO nine months")

When I'm feeling this good and flushed out, it's hard to make myself think back to what it feels like to be all bound up with tasks, but I feel like I should at least consider how to keep myself from getting that way in the first place. On the bowel front, I know that flax, water, and fruit/veggies will do me just fine... for tasks though? Well, I guess I need to sometimes set everything else aside, put schoolwork and everything in a compartment in my mind, and concentrate on those tasks. It's hard to do when other stuff seems so much more important, but if I can manage that, then maybe I won't have the need for a task enema a the end of every semester.

Apr 27, 2010

How Two Gomers Changed My Life

Episode 1 of Two Gomers Run a Half Marathon
September 2008
The Runner's Corner

[energetic background running music fades in...]

So I started running, and maybe for the first... fifteen steps, I felt okay. Like, 'I think this is possible,' I was thinking. It was great. And then--I hit--
The Wall.

[energetic background running music goes ddjoooouuuee and cuts off]

(laughing) At fifteen steps?

Yeah, and I, I couldn't even... I started walking. I walked just one length of the block, so like a quarter of the block. So, that's 1/16th of a mile. And I was like bent over, almost throwing up. People were like on walks with their kids and their strollers and stuff like walking past me, I'm sure like concerned, like 'what's wrong with this guy, in his khaki shorts and a white t-shirt?' 

(still laughing) That's genius.

This is what I listened to on my very first day of starting this Healthy Lifestyle, back in August of last year. I knew I would need inspiration in my ear, and I found these Two Gomers, who had apparently attempted to run a half marathon. I didn't have any intention of ever taking up running myself (even if I'd wanted to, I felt that my plantar fasciitis would have kept me from it), but when I found this podcast on iTunes I thought it would at least help keep me inspired to keep living healthily. It didn't matter that these guys weren't even talking about losing weight, just that they were trying to do something that "everyone else is telling them they could never do."

When I heard the excerpt above in their first official episode, I knew I would be hooked to listening to these guys complete their journey. As you can imagine after reading it, I wasn't even sure they were going to be able to do it. It was a constant struggle for them, week in and week out, and some weeks were super hard. A few weeks into the training, Anthony got pretty down in the dumps about only being able to run 3.5 miles to Steven's 4.5, and then the following week he miraculously pulled out an amazing and inspired >6 mile run.

One thing that I love about The 2 Gomers is their Songs to Run to section. This part of the podcast always reiterates to me that both of these guys (one being a professional musician) love music, and that they use that love of music to inspire themselves to run. In the first episode, one of their Songs to Run to was Switchfoot's Dare You to Move, which I had never heard before. While I can't say that I've loved every one of their Songs to Run to, Dare You to Move will have a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. Every run I've done in my training so far has included this miraculous song, and half of the time when I hear it while running, it makes me cry with gratitude.

In case you haven't heard it, part of Dare you to Move says:

I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor ... I dare you to move, Like today never happened, Today never happened before. 

A few months into my healthy lifestyle change, and after fervently catching up on Gomer episodes so that I finally found out that they had completed the race, the idea of me running started to creep into my mind. I'd lost several dozen pounds by then, and I started to think... "What if I tried it, just once, just like while I was walking... nobody would even have to know." I did just that, and man was it tough. A few days later I took Tayan (4 years old) for a walk in our neighborhood, and dared him to race me to signs along the way. He loved it, and I got to try out jogging a little bit more, uninhibited because I was just having fun with my kid.

Time and time again, my mind went back to that Episode 1 of Two Gomers Run a Half Marthon, where Steven admitted that when he started this, he could barely run 15 steps without doubling over and trying not to throw up. I'm telling you now, if it had not been for that story, I don't believe I ever would have attempted running.

So now, 9 months and 45 pounds gone, I am on my way to running a 5k, and I feel great. I would have never considered, and could have never done it without these Two Gomers. Without knowing me at all, these two dudes dared me to move, and now I'm doing it. And like I often say to myself through tears while listening to that song, "today has never happened before."

Apr 21, 2010

Bryan On Board!

I don't think I mentioned about a month ago that Bryan had another kidney stone. Yeah, he did. Thankfully, it came and went very quickly; it started in the middle of the night, and in the morning he passed the thing. Amazing, really, but he had spent the whole night up and thinking "please God not again!"

So, the next day he went to the urologist, and asked him as plain as can be: What can be done to keep this from ever happening again? He even said "I will do anything." The doc must've realized Bryan was serious, because he recommended a few serious changes: eat less salt, eat less meat, and drink 3 quarts of water with the juice of an entire lemon squeezed into each one.

And folks, Bryan's doing that! He really is... and water with ~3 tbsp of lemon juice in it, I have found, is quite nasty. He drinks it though, and that's pretty much all he drinks. He was feeling pretty low about the whole situation though after that, wondering what he was going to do with himself, and how he could live his life in such a way as to prevent another kidney stone from ever coming.

Personally, I know nothing about kidney stones, but my only advice was to, I believe I worded it like "Well, maybe you should consider living a healthier lifestyle, all the way around." After a few moments' discussion, he decided he'd give it a go. Can't hurt, right?

Well my droogies, he's doing it! I am so so proud of my husband. He is drinking his lemon water all the time, he has absolutely no soda or caffeine of any kind, and he's using an app on his phone to count every calorie (and milligram of sodium) that he consumes, and to log all activities, too. It's amazing, and kindof still a shock to me. It's so cool to see him discovering all these things like I did, like "Hey, I can't believe pudding is only 80 calories per cup," and that bbq'd chicken is almost nearly as wonderful as bbq'd pork.

I feel like God just dropped one of the biggest presents ever in my lap. "Here ya go, Laura. Your journey to a healthy you just got 10x easier, and you're going to have a healthy long-lived husband to boot. You're welcome."


Mar 30, 2010

New Day, New Outloook

I'm doing better today. Feeling good about myself, even with the hip injury. Made an appointment with the chiropractor for tomorrow, so I feel like I can see an end to this. I'm pretty sure she'll be able to straighten me out. This setback is merely a lesson in good eating practices; I'm eating smarter than I have been for weeks, and when I do get to add the exercise back, I'll be truckin'.

I just finished lunch, already entered in the dinner I plan to have, and I'll be at 1381 calories for the day if I stick to what's in the plan. I'll probably have an apple this afternoon too though, so that's about 60 more. Not too shabby. Just can't have 1800+ calorie days when all I'm doing is sitting around on my butt.

Had a great morning this morning with Tayan and Zene. Took Tayan to school, went grocery shopping with Zene, then the two of us sat down to (his second, my first) breakfast. Made a great Egg CoopMuffin with the help of a biscuit cutter sitting in my frying pan.

It was delicious. Note: adding fresh cracked black pepper to just about anything makes it Laymen Gourmet. In the words of Yo Gabba Gabba (which Tayan was singing to Zene this morning to get him to eat his pineapple): "Try it! You'll like it!"

After breakfast, Zene and I settled onto the couch to watch "Up"

 ...and then to my amazement, Daddy came home to relieve me of my duties, so that I could go to work, so now I only have to work a few hours this weekend. I love my family! They are awesome!

Mar 29, 2010

Bursitis... are you kidding me??

I'm feeling pretty crappy today, because I'm realizing that I most likley have bursitis in my left hip. I've been having this stinging pain on the outside part of my hip joint since Thursday. It hurts when I sit for too long, hurts when I walk, and hurts a lot when I try to sleep. I've been taking my mondo ibuprofen pills (which I hate to take), and trying to rest as much as possible. Looked up the symptoms today, and it looks like it's bursitis (an inflammation of the bursa sac on my hip).

And I'm just like, "what the heck?!" First it's stupid plantar fasciitis, which made me feel like there's no way I could ever run. Then I decide to run anyway, and lo and behold the foot pain starts to go away (correspondingly, I'm losing weight, so I know that helps). I get off the ibuprofen pretty much entirely, start to gain a little confidence in my ability to run a 5k in a few months, and now this. Pretty much excruciating hip pain, and nothing I can do about it except anti-inflammatory medicine, ice packs, and rest.

I just want to be healthy. I want to use my body, and I want to enjoy my life and this beautiful weather that's coming up. I want to be out there, doing stuff, accomplishing something new that I never thought I could do. I guess this is a time when I can envoke my old saying: "Did you think this was going to be easy?" Well, yes, I did think this was going to be easy, as a matter of fact. I thought I could make myself healthy with will and determination, but apparently my fat old butt will need a little extra t.l.c. before it'll become a full-fledged runner.

Okay, so deep breath. Good points? I'm okay, and this will most likely pass with a little bit more rest and ibuprofen. In order to stay healthy when I can't exercise, I'll have to pay more attention to what I'm eating. This is an opportunity to re-acquaint myself with my love for delicious and nutritious food. No more chocolate chip cookies here and there because "I'll exercise it off after all" ...for now. Gotta roll with the punches--er, the "lessons." This one is bothering me, but I can handle it.

Mar 25, 2010

Quick Thoughts

(Most days I don't feel like writing a big blog post, but I figure I can always spare a few sentences... So some days, I'm going to post some Quick Thoughts, and the bigger blogs will be interspersed between)

Running yesterday was splendid. My legs feel strong and tired, my lungs feel bigger. I'm starting to look at various paths around when I'm driving, thinking "I wonder if I could run that..." seeing people out walking or running, and being jealous.

I'm also starting to be startled by my body. Like, feeling under my chin, and there's no skin to grab there. My shoulders feel muscle-y and boney... I know it's what I was aiming for, but it's weird. It's like, who is this body around me? It's somebody else!

Mar 20, 2010

20-Minute Run & Running Outside

Last you heard from me, I was gearing up for my 20-minute run, and I had just accomplished my first 8-minute run. Well, the next day I prepared for that 20-minute run all day. I meticulously prepared 31 minutes of a running play list, I ate the food that I felt would be best, and most importantly I tweeted my butt off, letting everybody know what I was about to do, and asking them to hold me accountable to doing it. My dear sweet husband tweeted back words of encouragement, and when I saw that I knew I had to do it.

The time came, and I was pumped. You have to understand that running for 8 minutes two days before had been truly hard for me, and I couldn't conceive of how my body would physically do 20 minutes nonstop. Still, I set out to do it. I ran. I listened to my music, watched bits of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with the sound down, and I just ran. When I needed to get a drink or wipe sweat, I told myself that somehow this was a *break,* like I could pretend while I was doing those things that I wasn't running, and somehow that made sense.

There were some times during that run when I had to tell my heart to relax. I was asking more of it than perhaps I ever had before, and it had been taken by surprise. It was pumping hard to get oxygen to everywhere it was needed, and I was having this little inner monologue with it, saying "Thanks for the hard work, keep it up, but don't freak out. This will be over soon, and we can rest." I also had to purposefully breathe. I remember learning that the physiological cue that makes us breathe is not so much the oxygen that is needed as it is the carbon dioxide that needs to get OUT of our body lest we die. Knowing this, I would purposely breathe out deeply, before then breathing in. I wanted to replace all the residual CO2-ey air in my lungs with more O2-ey air.

Somehow it worked. Twenty minutes passed, than thankfully I had run the whole time. It was a miracle.


Skip ahead to this past Saturday night. While watching the Big East Championship game (which WE WON! Woohoo!) at the timeshare condo at Canaan, I started thinking that tomorrow morning would be a good time to start trying to run outside. I commenced to making a playlist on my phone during commercial breaks. 

When the shortest day of the year dawned (stupid Daylight Savings Time), I set the big kid in front of cartoons with a bowl of cheese goldfish and a cup of water, and I went outside. It was cold, like 40. I wasn't sure how much I was going to be able to run outside on the real ground--"through space running"--as the Gomers say, so I just did a 5-minute warm up walk, and then gave it a go. 

Turns out, running outside is DAMN hard. Shew! I later drove the lap around the condo complex to find that one lap was 0.5 miles. I did 3 laps (1.5 miles), and a total of 1 of those was running (split into 3 chunks). That's all I was able to do that day. I felt good about it, but also daunted. I was thinking, "Wow, this 5k is really going to be hard." 

However, I had known this. The treadmill was only a starting point, and a necessary one for me, but eventually I was going to have to learn how to run 3+ miles continuously actually outside

So today, a week later, I decided to change the course of action on my Running Plan, and just back up a few weeks on the Couch to 5k plan, to where I thought I would be able to accomplish the requisite runs outside. Looking at my app, I saw that Week 4 Day 2 was "3 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes" (with short walks in between), and I figured I could handle that. I set up a fun running mix and set to it. Here are pictures of my views on this beautiful woody trail behind my work that I am blessed to have available: 

While I was out doing this run, my phone rang. It was a lady calling to urge me to call Congressman Rahall about the Health Care bill. She said that I sounded "very busy," and I said "I'm out exercising on this beautiful morning!" She said that indeed, it is a "gorgeous day." I told her I'd already called the congressman, and that I hoped she got to get out there to enjoy this beautiful day, too. It felt really good saying that to a stranger. She doesn't even know that a year ago, my biggest activity on a day like this might be to drink a beer in the sunshine ...and hey, I might do that before the day is out too!

Mar 10, 2010

My Running Plan

It looks like this running thing is really going to happen for me. I have been doing this Couch to 5k program for many weeks now, and am now on the latter end of Week 5. I repeated Day 1 of Week 5 several times over the last few weeks because I was dreading Day 2, which included two 8-minute runs. When I had started 3-minute runs, it was hard. Five-minute runs were next, and they were also hard. My mind looped around and around the thought of an 8-minute run, and wasn’t anxious to attempt it.

Well, yesterday was one of those Good Days. The kind of day when you know that it’s all in your mind, and if your mind is in the right place, you can do anything. With this in mind, I set out to do the 8-minute runs, and I knew that I wouldn’t die doing it. I didn’t die; in fact, I finished the whole workout, and when the guy in my ear said “cool down,” I was relieved, but I wasn’t dying to be done. 

I had been thinking the next day on the schedule (Week 5 Day 3) would be basically a repeat of yesterday's workout, but I am surprised to see that it requires a 20-minute run. Wow, that's a lot more than 8 minutes, but somehow I know that I will do it. I'm realizing now that this Couch to 5k plan at Week 5 is morphing from a "couch-sitter" plan to a "beginner runner" plan. These remaining weeks will be more of the short run-short run-long run type weeks of a regular style running plan. 

Okay, so I'm on board. I'm going to do this. And, my official 5k Race is on June 12th. I finally decided to sit down and look at my remaining weeks, and to fill them with actual running plans. I have 13 weeks to the race, and I'm putting in my plan already that I'm going to repeat each remaining week of the Couch to 5k program. After that I'll do a 6-week modified Beginner 5k running program. For specifics, here's what I've got:

I'll post the rest of my plan later, but for now I want to say that up until this point in the training I will be focusing merely on "minutes run," ending with being able to run for 30 minutes straight. I'll be able to use the C25k App on my iPhone to complete this, as the guy in my ear will always be telling me when to run and when to walk based on how many minutes have gone by. When I get to the end of the C25k training, I will not yet be able to run an actual 5k distance (which is 3.1 miles), because my speed will be slower than the 6 miles per hour required to run a 5k in 30 minutes. 

After I've completed the C25k training, I'll do my next 6 weeks of training based on miles run, and I'm going to figure out the best plan for working up to being able to run a 5k in a reasonably slow time (45 minutes, maybe?). I'll figure out where to put in fartlek runs (yeah, I can't believe that term either, but it's true; it's apparently Swedish for "speed play"), intervals, and tempo runs. I'm not even sure what all of these are yet, but I have some time to figure it out. 

Sorry for this plan-heavy post, but you know me. I'm a planner. And I need some accountability. So catch up with me sometime around the end of April, and see if I really am finishing Week 9 of the Couch to 5k program. Thanks!

Feb 19, 2010

Why am I Ravenous?

It's almost lunchtime, and I have been chomping at the bit to eat since about ten o'clock. In fact, I don't think I'll be able to write all this until after I get some food in my belly. For now though, I'm thinking: why the heck do I feel this way right now? My first inclination was emotions. Sometimes a particular day will have me feeling down, and I want to quell that feeling with fatty and huge quantities of food. I thought about this though, and unlike in my past, I'm actually able to assess my self now. I know that I'm not feeling down. It's Friday, I had a great breakfast, and I feel like I have some direction and purpose today.

I've thought of two facts that may have led me to this feeling this morning:
1. I ate mostly carbs last night
2. I had no coffee this morning

Now I am back from lunch, where I did my best to eat right, but DAMN I was hungry. I went to Wendy's. Had a fish sandwich--no added cheese this time--and a Caesar side salad. I splurged by actually eating the croutons. They're not too bad, but none are as good as Bryan's home-made croutons dripping with olive oil. It was very hard to leave there without a pack of fries, a baked potato, or a frosty, but I managed.

So, lack of coffee probably had an effect on me this morning, but I'm hesitant to point to it as the main culprit. Yes, coffee gives me a bit of an appetite suppressant in the morning, delaying my need for breakfast for awhile. Coffee also makes me happy, which probably causes me to not feel like eating emotionally. These are all good reasons, but I just don't like the idea of coffee controlling me. Also, it's slightly depressing to remember this morning, coffee-less. It was sad.

On to the carb issue last night. At 5:30 I was headed back to work to take a quiz online, and told myself that I couldn't funciton without something to eat, and God help me if I had to have another friggin granola bar when all I wanted was something savory. Thus, I stopped at Tudor's and got pinto beans and cornbread. In itself, not horrible for me. Beans are good, cornbread not so much.

When I got home though, Bryan had ordered an extra special delicious (and slightly more nutritious) pizza, so I had to partake. I had 2 slices of Domino's new (and really great) pizza with: no sauce, chicken, spinach, and red peppers. It was great. Very salty and wonderful.

When the kids were in bed, I shouldn't have, but I rewarded myself with a stupid cupcake. Five days old and slightly smooshed, it lacked luster and I knew it would. I devoured it anyway. So goes the life of a sweets addict. Later, Bryan brought out the fancy chocolates, which I have told myself EVERY night are not really that delicious to me. They're too blah, and nothing like a good old fashioned Reese's egg. Still, I ate 3. Chocolates are wicked; 3 of them are like 175 calories.

So, last night was carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Carbs are like the crack of food. They suck you in, you consume 10x more than you meant to, and a few hours later they are begging you for company from their tiny graves in your stomach. (There are "good" carbs, of course, but pizza, old cupcakes and crappy chocolate do not qualify).

Today's lesson learned: Fill my belly with vegetables, low-fat proteins, not too much fat, and only reasonable kinds and amounts of carbs. Gotcha!

I'm on to my repeat of Week 4 Day 3 of Couch to 5k training this afternoon. I am going to rock it today. It's going to be one of those days where nothing can stop me.

Feb 16, 2010

Maintaining, in the Stages of Changes form of the word

Well, it’s been over two weeks now since I’ve created a blog entry. Two more weeks of plugging away at this new lifestyle, getting used to it. In one of my classes this semester, I’m learning about the theory of behavioral change called “Stages of Change,” and it’s interesting to see that I’ve been going through these stages unbeknownst to myself, and I have fit each one pretty well. The theory is usually applied to health behaviors like smoking, eating badly, not exercising, and doing drugs. These are the “negative health behaviors,” and the change is how close a person is to ending the behavior for good.

The Stages of Change basically start out with precontemplation, where the person is not considering changing in the next 6 months. They are pretty resistant to the thought of it, and/or are unaware of the health benefits of change, and likewise the health consequences of what they’ve been doing. When a person moves on to contemplation, they are considering making the change in the next 6 months. Then they go into preparation, then action (when they actually stop doing the behavior), then 6 months later move into maintenance.

I had basically been stuck in contemplation for several years before I moved on to action. When I was pregnant with Zene, especially, I said the whole time that as soon as he was out (at which time I would be pretty certain I wasn’t having any more babies), I would start eating right and exercising. I talked it up pretty big to myself the whole pregnancy, thinking that would make me really do it when the time came. Well, the time came and went, and I didn’t do anything. Couldn’t find time to exercise; fatty and huge quantities of food tasted better to me than the alternative.

The whole time though, I was contemplating… I had done strange little things, like I decided I would no longer buy bigger t-shirts. At first, I was just saying “I won’t move to 2XL. I will not be a person who has to wear 2XL, ever." So, I didn’t. And even though I didn’t lose any weight, I soon told myself I was no longer buying XL t-shirts either. I would buy Large shirts, and they didn’t fit me very well, but my thought was that I would eventually shrink into them. If I didn’t, I could at least be showing off my huge fatty guns, back, and belly, and in some way be proud of them. I didn’t want to be ashamed of my body, and I also didn’t want to buy XL t-shirts. True, I did have a lot of larger shirts around, and I used the heck out of them… just didn’t buy any.

I also just had a general sense that eventually in my future, I was going to be lean and healthy and feel great. I knew it was coming, I just couldn’t see ‘round the corners ahead to see when it was going to happen. I have been planning for years that when I get old I would be like Nanny. I will be in shape, riding bikes and swimming laps and whatever I could do to keep myself moving and healthy. I want to be one of those active older ladies. I don’t want to live the last several years of my life in a living room chair. Or, maybe I will, but that will be when I’m in my nineties. I look forward to those days, actually, but I just want to make sure that I live a lot before then.

So that brings me to today. With 6 months under my belt, I’m officially in maintenance, Stages of Change-wise. According to my text book, “maintenance is the stage in which people have made specific, overt modifications in their lifestyles and are working to prevent relapse ... They are less tempted to relapse and are increasingly more confident that they can continue their changes.” I am indeed increasingly more confident; I know that this is the life for me. I eat what I want to when I really really want to, but most of the time I eat smart. I love exercising, and I know that as long as I continue doing it I will continue to love it. It is only people who don’t exercise who think that exercising sucks.

And check out my new graph. I know, it’s funny to be this braggedy when I’m still many pounds over 200, which is hard for healthy (or just thin) people to imagine ever being… but this is a big thing for me. I’m getting closer and closer to the <200 mark. I’m looking very forward to it, as does everyone who loses weight after having been out of control for a long time. Here I am, maintaining in the Stages of Changes form of the word. Maintaining my lifestyle, and continually adapting to my new self. I love it. I feel great.