Friday, December 31, 2010

STRONG FOR 23 IN 2011!

Strong for 23 in 2011


2011 is here!! I don't know about you guys but I am ready to kick off this year with a huge bang filled of sweat, paint, soreness, and maybe a few tears! 

My dear friend Pam and I came up with the idea of committing to 23 days of working out during the first month of 2011. We have both been in a slump and needed a challenge to jumpstart the new year with.

The rules of the challenge are simple:
1. Workout for at least 23 days of the 31 days in January.

THATS IT!! THATS THE ONLY RULE!!

Can you commit! Join us!! Tweet me sweating_it_off let me know you are down for the challenge and I will add you to our twitter list!

You can read Pam's blog post here also!!


Chris can run, so can you!

I want to share with you the story of how it all got started for Chris!

You can find his blog at http://chris-losing-it.blogspot.com/ and follow him on twitter at @cmm_losing_it

Chris with his Son!


For at least the last twelve years I have been dealing with near constant back pain.  Some days would be worse than others, occasionally resolved with some aspirin, message, and sometimes to the point of prescribed pain killers.  I say twelve years because that is when I first remember visiting a physical therapist for the back pain.  But something tells me I did not just wake up one morning and think this needed medical attention. 

Fast forward about nine years.  By this point I have now left school with wild and crazy aspirations of finding a dream job, just to find myself settling in to the 8-5 job that brought mild enjoyment, getting married and with that all the responsibilities of being a grown up.  During this time I went from the 210 I was all through high school to an all time high of 298.  I never wanted to break the 300 mark, so on a few occasions I would says enough, I’m running a 5k by my birthday.  I would start watching what I eat, count calories, and get on the treadmill.  Once again the back pain would kick in, starting on the lower right side of my back shooting down to my leg.  After a few times of this and not being able to find any relief I would give up and fall back into my old ways. 


I have been been to the doctors a few times to get this problem resolved.  Prescription drug was always a option that was prescribed, at home physical therapy, going to a physical therapist, losing weight, and the scariest of options getting my vertebrae fused to resolve the problem.  I tried everyone of these options except the surgery and nothing helped.  I was beginning to believe this would have to be something I would be living with for life.  

Fast-forward to last year, once again the scale was getting up there, still never breaking 298 but now with my son around I wanted to be a better healthier role model.  So with a coworker we joined a gym with the hopes of pushing each other.  Once again on the treadmill I tried to take it easy knowing the pain that would come with over doing it.  But the treadmill was not my problem this time; it was the trainer who you got three free sessions with.   So we sit down, I inform her of my lower back pain and bulging disks.  She takes out the predetermined exercise guide and we go at it.  On the second session she has me doing some squats, felt fine at the time but the next day my back was hurting.  So on the third and what would be my last time at that gym she had me do a different version of squats on a machine.  Once again felt fine, finished up the workout, showered, and went to work. 

Now is where everything takes a major turn for the worse.  I go to get up and after a few steps my right leg gives out, no pain, nothing just STOP and I fall.  I catch myself on a file cabinet holding myself up.  Thinking this was all a result of a hard work out I get up and start off again, falling once again.  I fell about a dozen times at work that day, everyone could hear a 270lb man falling hard on a file cabinet in a cube farm.  So not only scared that my leg was not working I was also able to add embarrassment.  I coworker hooked me up with muscle relaxers and pain killers.  Drugged up at lunch I tried walking again and was able to.  So off to the med center I go, for more of those wonderful drugs.  After a week straight of taking them I started to try to wean myself off them since I did not want to do more damage or become dependent. 

Ever since that day I have not fallen again but the fear of doing severe damage and possibly crippling myself hung heavy on my mind.  I was referred by a friend to a chiropractor that helped him out.  Went in had the consultation visit and was informed my hips are out of line, I have two bulging discs, and my neck is also severely out of line.  What great news!  And if I am willing to put in the work at $50 a visit until the deductible is paid off, $15 after that till the coverage ends, and then we can discuss the fee after that he will be able to cure me! Ya, let’s get started, to his credit my back did feel better for a few, but I would still have the tightening and pain if I walked any distance.  But he seemed to be more focused on my neck and I just wanted to say, that is not something I fear, the back is what scares me.  Well after a few weeks of going three times a week at $50 a visit the money we did not have in the first place for it ran out so I had to stop.  I was slowly getting over the fear of crippling myself but the back pain was still there.

Fast forward to a few months ago, the same day I say an article on barefoot running that I put aside for another day.  My wife came home informing me her gym teacher was talking about these new things from Vibram called Five Finger shoes.  So I got online checked out the article and started looking into these funky gloves for your feet.  The one thing I kept seeing that seemed very promising was people saying it helped with their back pain. So I thought, Wow, if this thing is for real I am willing to give it a shot.  I just wanted to be able to walk without the pain, not even thinking about running in them.  My wife was also intrigued by them so we went on a search to check them out.   After visiting one store and calling three others, which no one had what I was looking for; I was finally able to find a pair at Great Outdoors Provisions, in Cameron Village.  So I tried them on, figured I could get use to the toe pockets and picked up my first pair of KSO.  I used them solely for walking at first, and surprisingly no back pain! For the first time in at least twelve years NO BACK PAIN!  Owe the joy, my feet and legs were sore, but the soreness was nothing compared to the pain I have had to deal with for over a decade.   I would get the point where I would wear my regular work shoes then switch over to the Five Fingers for walks.  Unfortunately the black camo KSO’s are not exactly something that would be a business casual dress code to conform to the rest of the cube farm.  So I made a deal with my wife if I have to reshingle the roof I am getting a pair of the KSO Trek (brown) for the corporate world.  From that day forth if I was not on the roof I was wearing Five fingers.

So I got back on the weight loss trek, lost 24lbs so far with a goal of another 26 at least.  I started to feel so good with the walking I decided to step it up and try once again for the goal of a 5k by my birthday (in March)  When I started looking everything was still mentioning 2010 and had no races I could sign up for yet.  So I did the logical thing upped the date, I signed up for my first ever 5k on December 4th!  So now that I am signed up I started the couch to 5k program.  As I write this I am now in week 6, having last week completed a constant run/jog for 20 minutes, I’m pretty sure this is more running then I have ever done at one time in my life!  Best part, still no back pain, the soreness in the legs comes and goes but I am feeling great!  Back on the weight loss trek, about to complete a goal I have set and broke so many times, and even contemplating running a half marathon by my birthday. 

To go from one time saying why run when no one is chasing you;  to now completing my first 5k with the help of couch to 5k program. To know seriously considering a half marathon!

To think it all started with a pair of funky five fingered shoes.  


First 5k! Notice the VFF!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bonnie's Story - Can you do this too? Of course you can!


Do you often think to yourself that weight loss is impossible? 

Do you ever feel like giving up? 

It's true that weight loss is a hard road but its defiantly not impossible. My friend Bonnie is proof that it can be done. I hope you enjoy her story.

You can find her on twitter: @TeachyBon and follow her BLOG
    1. Why did you decide to change your lifestyle to a more healthy one & lose weight?
    2. How and what changes did you make? 
    3. What have been the hardest and easiest parts of this journey?
    4. How has your life changed?
    5. what advice would you give to others trying to become more healthy.
Before Pic: 


I was not always overweight. On the contrary, Big Bonnie was not the norm. I was skeletal as a child, skinny in high school. I was always active. I played outside, rode my bike, took dance and gymnastics classes. My mom kept healthy food in the house. We had treats, but they weren't the norm. Trauma in my 20's introduced me to food as a comforting friend, and wow did we hit it off. When I graduated high school, I was 135 pounds. By the time I was 28, I was over 220 pounds.

I was constantly out of breath. My feet ached. My knees hurt all the time. Fat from around my neck would push on my neck at night and wake me up. My hips hurt from laying in bed when I woke up.

I was always a talker, always funny and ready with a joke. My jokester personality went out of control – because if I'm funny, maybe you won't notice that I'm fat.

Well mean questions from friends and family hurt me. Who can blame them? I gained a huge amount of weight in a very short time. They had every right to be concerned.

I tried Atkins, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers... every diet plan known to man. Nothing worked. I lost 9 pounds on Weight Watchers, then slowly gained it back. Weigh ins turned into tearfests. I was trying so hard. Why wasn't this working? I stopped going.

In 2009, I lost 14 pounds in yet another attempt to lose weight. At the time, I thought – lame, Bonnie. 14 pounds in one year – who cares? However, that year set a strong foundation for what was to come in 2010. Throughout 2009, I made very small changes. Carrying a water bottle with me everywhere. Switching to fat free flavored creamer in my coffee instead of tons of cream and sugar. Cutting back on alcohol. Tiny changes I could live with, and not feel like I was denying myself. Those 14 pounds were enough to take me from a BMI of obese, to just at the line for overweight.

For Christmas that year, I received a Wii Fit. I knew that the Wii Fit was going to change my Mii (a little avatar version of me) from the skinny self I created, into a more realistic version of myself. I dreaded it. Sure enough, just like in life, my skinny Mii ballooned into a chunker. I got a little teary. It was like watching it happen again.

My big joke was that I was allergic to exercise. I wasn't really sure what I could do with myself anyway. A few years back, I made an attempt at yoga, but my body got in the way. Walking hurt. But, I could play for 30 minutes on my Wii. I remember waking up sore, but a new sore than I usually woke up with.. I weighed in on my Wii every day. To my amazement, the weight was coming off.

If I was going to exercise, I didn't want to ruin it by continuing to eat junk until I was sick. I needed to make more changes, but I didn't know what. I started reading EVERYTHING about weight loss and food I could get my hands on. I got an air popper, and quit my nightly bag of Movie Theater Butter Popcorn. I bought FRUIT and ATE IT before it rotted.

I learned that my daily lunch - microwave “diet” meals have too much sodium, so I quit them. I found ways to make quick, easy healthy dinners at home, and stopped ordering take out or hitting the drive thru for dinner every night.

January, February, and March passed. I had some really rough things happen during that time, but instead of eating my feelings I exercised them. The Wii was getting easy! I started the Couch to 5k running program, and the pounds continued dropping even faster than before.

I know for many people, weight loss is a struggle. I have to be honest – once I started going, for me it wasn't. I look back at my weight loss though the year, and it was very steady and stable. I had one meltdown one time, because I was sick of brown rice, grilled chicken, and vegetables, for dinner each night and I missed Taco Bell and Chick Fil A. At this point I learned moderation. I don't need a 12 nugget super sized meal. A kids meal will satisfy me, and not leave me feeling deprived. I know that many people completely cut out fast food – that isn't me. I eat everything I want to, I'm just reasonable about it. I felt amazing, it was worth it to me.

I've lost almost 70 pounds total from 2009. All of the materials I read warned me to prepare myself – my life wasn't going to magically change from losing weight. It would be the same, I would just be smaller. But, my life has completely changed! How could it possibly be the same? The girl that is allergic to exercise, and the girl training for a half marathon can't live the same life. My Mii is small again. I run 3-4 times a week. I go to boot camp and kickboxing weekly. I am infinitely more fulfilled, I am happier than I thought I could be. I am confident. I am still funny, still the same jokester, but not quite as obnoxious about it now. It's okay if you notice me for me.. I'm a pretty cool person, and I don't need to distract you from anything.

Can you do this too? Of course you can! I have two friends that I know of that I have inspired. One has lost 65 pounds, and the other has lost 20. I'm honored to be a part of their journey. Start small! Find little changes that you can live with. Swap out 1 thing in your lunch for a healthier choice. Drink more water. Find an exercise you can do. I always wanted to run, but when I started, I was in no shape to. I had to work my way there. It might be Wii Fit, it might be walking. We all start somewhere and there is no shame! The shame is in wasting time, wasting your life being miserable. I deserved more. I was worth more. You are too!

After Pic:









Saturday, November 20, 2010

Many steps forward and a few back...

I need to confess something, I need to get this off my chest. I have been struggling lately. For the past 3 months I have been constantly fighting with myself, inside my head it feels like a war is going on. Its me verse FOOD. I am sad to say that I have been binge eating again. I don't know why I get these urges but they are always there. For the past year and half I have been able to control them for the most part but lately its seems like I have a losing record.

Binge eating is hard to explain, honestly its hard for me to even admit to myself that I do it. Its mentally exhausting trying to fight them off, it hardest thing I have ever been through. Food can be an extremely powerful drug. While I am binging I find myself asking "why am I doing this" but that doesn't stop me from finishing the food. I really don't know why I do it. I haven't really been stressed out or anything, things have actually been good. I personally think that I have been doing it so long that my body thinks its normal. 

I knew I needed to talk about it with someone so I decided to confess to my RD last week. When I got to my appointment I weighed in and she was kind of puzzled by the number. It was a significant  gain. I was honest with her and told her what was going on, I could feel my eyes watering up and I really had to fight back the tears. She was really so understanding and really helped me realize that I wasn't alone in this. We discussed the binges and she gave me some ideas on how I can work through the urges. I was really proud of myself for telling her everything, this isn't exactly the easiest thing to talk about and most people wont understand it anyways. 

So after taking many steps forward I have taken a few back. When I weighed in last week at my RD's office the scale said 409 lbs, that's a gain of 22 lbs in the last 3 months. I remember after I broke into the 300's I said never again! Well it happen again and that's ok. I haven't given up and I am not sad, upset or depressed about all of this. The tone for this post is positive. I just wanted to share, I feel like telling the whole world will help me get through this. Its just one of the curves in this long windy and somewhat bumpy road!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Never know where you're going until you know where you've been...

So on Saturday I turned the big 30! Hard to believe right? (just agree with me!) Now I have never been big on birthdays but this one really meant something to me. This birthday was the first one in a long time in which I felt like I was on the right path in my life. I actually feel like I am in control of the direction I go from here. I can stay on the right path or veer off and make a u-turn towards the dead end road that I don't want to drive down. I am more aware of my inner workings than I have ever been. I can admit to myself when I fail and I can applaud myself when I succeed. When I do I fail I choose not to beat myself up because ultimately that only keeps me down longer. I think being aware of your short comings and being able to rationally "discuss" them with yourself is a big deal, at least for me it is. I spent so many years of my life lying to myself, disguising my actions,  and burying my feelings deep inside where even I couldn't reach them.

I am done with that way of living. I didn't reach all the goals that I had set for myself for when I turned 30. First of all I always thought I'd be married with kids by now, which is kind of hard to do when you don't let people in. I know the my weight has a lot to do with that and I know I will work past it, when the right time comes it will happen.

Career wise I thought I would be a little farther than where I am now but that was totally out of my control. Spending 14 months out of work will put a lot of things into perspective about everything in your life and my career goals have changed because of that and I am confident I will reach the goals I have set for myself. I am happy with my new job and I really enjoy the people I work with.

Health wise I reached some of my goals and I have laid a strong foundation to reach the rest of them. When I decided I wanted to lose weight in May 2009 I had set the goal that I wanted to be 320 pounds by my 30th birthday. I didn't reach that goal and thats ok. I know I will reach it and actually I will reach way beyond it! One thing I did do was rid myself of sleep apnea. Well a doctor hasn't told me this but I know its gone, my body knows it. I feel great health wise. I surely don't feel 30 years old and in my opinion I don't  look it.

I am declaring this my breakout year!!  I expect many great things from myself and I cant wait to see what unfolds. I have so much support in my life that I have no option but to succeed. The funny thing is I have never met most of the people who have made such a huge difference in my life and who have supported me beyond imagination. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and I hope our paths cross one day. Because of you I promise I will do my best to always pay it forward.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Its that time again!!

So if you haven't heard I am taking another shot at the Couch to 5k running program!! I will be sharing my journey this time via  @Rita_Barry's blog FitBlogger.

Check out my introductory post! http://fitblogger.ca/why-couch-5k/

Oh and my partner in crime who will be sharing her C25K experience also is @BigGirlBombshell and you can find her blog here http://biggirlbombshell.com/ and her introductory post here! http://fitblogger.ca/why-c25k-why-now/

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes for Dinner!

The other day I was thumbing thru my Mens Health Magazine and I found a recipe for pumping pancakes. I decided to make them for dinner tonight and they were delicious and very filling!  

Try them and let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups of your favorite dry pancake mix
3 tbsp dark-brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for the griddle
pure maple syrup


Directions:

 1.    
In a large bowl, combine the pancake mix, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. In another large bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, vanilla extract, and oil. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.




2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or large frying pan on medium high. Pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form in the batter and the edges begin to brown. Then flip them and cook until the other sides are lightly browned.



3. Serve the pancakes drizzled with maple syrup.












Saturday, September 25, 2010

CHALLENGE: 30 DAYS OF NO EATING OUT


Ok so I threw the idea of a 30 Day "no eating out" challenge out on my twitter feed yesterday and it raised alot of interest!  So I decided to go ahead and move forward with this.  To be honest I really wanted to do this for myself and the fact that others want to do it with me only makes it more awesome. Strength in numbers right?!

So lets get down to business! The challenge is "not eating out for 30 days". Please realize this challenge isn't about limiting your food choices or not eating the foods you love to eat. Its more about being more conscious and aware of what we are putting into our bodies. You don't have to cut out the things that you enjoy eating and I don't want you to.

I realize a lot of grey areas are involved with this challenge and I thought about it all last night and decided on this criteria.

The Guidelines:
  • No eating at any restaurants. No fast food, no drive thru, no sit down places, and no take out.
  • You must eat all of your meals from items you purchased from the grocery store. We will go ahead and say that anything you can buy at a grocery store is fair game. Use your judgment, if you cheat you're only cheating yourself :)
  • Buying drinks from outside places is also acceptable. Example: Starbucks (Maybe I should do a 30 day no Starbucks challenge next time LOL)
  • You don't have to eat your meals at home, they only need to be prepared at home. Feel free to take them with you and eat them anywhere you like.
  • Exceptions will be made if you happen to go on vacation or a business trip during the challenge. I feel this is fair in order to open the challenge up to more people.
  • The challenge will start on October 1st & end on October 30th. 
  • OPTIONAL: Every friday of the challenge email me a picture of one of your meals. It can be any meal of the day. I will post this picture on my blog. 
  • OPTIONAL: Track all of your spending on food items for the 30 days. Then after the challenge is over track your spending on food for an additional 30 days and see how they compare. I personally will be doing this.

ARE YOU READY TO ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE ???

If so please email me at sweating_it_off@hotmail.com with your name (only need your first name) and twitter handle (if you have one). I will add you to my email list and twitter list. 

**During all my challenges I usually send out daily or almost daily emails with an inspirational quote to everyone. But don't worry I BCC everyone so that your email address remains private. If you do not want to receive my daily emails then please say so in the email you send me to sign up for the challenge**


GOOD LUCK!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mel's Success Story

I had the pleasure of meeting Mel (@GeminiMel02) through twitter and she has been gracious enough to share her story with me and all of you. I think alot of us can relate to what Mel has been through. She truly proves that anyone and everyone can do this, its all up to YOU!


Success stories like this keep me going, they keep me fighting! I hope you enjoy Mel's story.




When I first started out on this journey, my goal was simply to lose weight by any means necessary to be like everyone else. Any diet you can think of, I’ve probably tried. I’ve been on and off diets for as long as I can remember, going back to the age of eight. And, no matter what, as my age increased, so did the number on the scale. I played basketball throughout practically my entire scholastic career - until college that is. And, though I’d always been pretty significantly overweight, it was in college where I “blossomed” into the obese category. Without basketball, my daily activity consisted of walking to and from the dorms, my classes, and the dining hall. We ordered pizzas at 11 at night at least three times a week. My freshman 15 turned into the sophomore 20, the junior 50… I think you get where this is headed by now. The bigger I got, the more I ate, and the more I wanted to be small. Somewhere down the lines, I was obviously quite confused. I would get so upset over being overweight that I’d say forget it all and overeat. Add in a few very conflicted relationships and this was the exact recipe for disaster.
One morning in November of 2008, I woke up to my own loud snoring and made the decision that enough was enough and it was time to end my life as it currently existed. I began each morning by waking up at 5am, heading to the gym and walking on the treadmill for an hour. Within two weeks I was walking for two hours. It was as simple as just taking that first step and believing that 1) weight loss is something possible for someone who isn’t on TV and doesn’t have an unlimited supply of finances and 2) I was more than worth the change.
After I started walking, the weight began to drop off – talk about encouragement and motivation. Then I decided to do a complete revamp of my diet. I cut out fast food, soda and even juice. I cut back significantly on salt and sugar and even just my overall unnecessary intake of processed foods. Later on down the line, I fell madly in love with Crossfit (shout out to the team at crossfitoakland.com), a combination of strength and cardiovascular training using Olympic lifts and calisthenics amongst other unconventional things and ideas.
The more weight I seemed to lose, the happier I got and the harder it became to continue losing this weight. By February of 2010, I’d lost 83lbs. There would be weeks my weight would fluctuate a few pounds and it seemed like I’d be stuck at that point forever. I even felt as though I looked exactly the same – as though I still hadn’t lost a substantial enough amount of weight. I was still stuck seeing myself as who I used to be that I couldn’t even see who I had become. I looked to others who were going through similar struggles for suggestions on how to overcome the plateau and barrier. I took another good look at my diet, bought a heart rate monitor and started pushing myself to new levels.
As of September 2010, I have lost 105lbs. The most amazing moment of my journey was going into a normal department store and being able to buy a pair of jeans and a shirt - something I am sure many people have taken for granted. And, I’m sure to many it doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal. But, when you’re used to shopping in Big and Tall and having to order all of your clothing online at twice the price, it’s pretty huge. 
Ultimately, what I have found to be the most inspirational and poignant part of my journey are all of the people that I have met and the lives that I have touched and changed forever. I have inspired coworkers, friends, family, associates and even acquaintances with one simple phrase, “I thought it was impossible…it isn’t.” I still have another 40 lbs to go but, I’m sure I’ll be at the finish line in no time. My weight is no longer my barrier. Now, this 10k I’m preparing to do, that’s another story.
I could go on for days about how important fitness is. I could also say that losing weight is as easy as calories in and calories out. But, I won’t. The most important thing I’ve learned is that until I dealt with all my emotional issues and I was truly ready to make a change, change was impossible. No matter what anyone has told you and no matter what you’ve even told your self, change is possible and there for the taking if you really want it. Despite what I thought (and I’m sure many others have thought) it was never my size, my weight, my parents, fast food, or even my parents getting in my way to success. The power for change was always mine – I just had to make the decision on what to do with it.
Change your thinking and you will change your life – I’m living proof.
BEFORE & AFTER! 



Saturday, September 11, 2010

"What's said on the run, stays on the run"



I have always wanted to be a runner. I never really knew much about it but in the back of my mind I knew that it was something I always wanted to pursue.

So a few weeks ago I reached out to my friend Jennifer, who is a runner, to ask her if she was interested in writing a guest post on my blog about running and I am VERY happy to say she was. Honestly I think what she has written is amazing and inspiring. You see for a guy my size running has always seemed to be out of touch, it just did not seem like an option. I tried it before and it just didn't work. Jennifer has inspired me to give it another shot, this time I have a new perspective on it and I am ready to see where it leads me.

Thank you for answering my questions and writing this Jennifer !

I encourage everyone to read her post below!

You can also reach Jennifer on Twitter at @JenZenator

And you can follow her blog at http://jenzenator.blogspot.com/



1. When and why did you start running?

I'm actually a late in life runner.  I didn't start running until my 30s. I was never "athletic" in high school and in fact didn't really participate in sports due to my lack of confidence in myself.  I started to learn to work out in college through some great friends and out of necessity - the dreaded Freshman 15 (OK - so it was 20, but who's keeping track!).  But even then my cardio was pretty limited to the elliptical machine.  I felt comfortable on that. I didn't branch out into running until after a tough break-up.  I needed to try something new and was tired of being afraid of the treadmill.  So, I started slowly jogging on it.  I could barely do one mile.  But I would run as long as I could and then take a walk-break. One mile slowly turned into two miles and two miles slowly turned into three.  I was ecstatic when I was able to complete three miles without stopping! ME? The spazzy, non-coordinated girl just ran three miles straight? 

Then I started blogging about running and met some fantastic girls online through blogs.  They wanted to all meet up at a race. The Chicago half marathon was the race of choice since it was pretty central to all of us and in a great city.  I was Scared. To. Death.  I had never run a race before - not even a 5k. How was I going to do a half marathon as my first race?? I picked a great beginner's half marathon training plan through www.halhigdon.com and stuck to it. We supported each other through our blogs and emails. With their encouragement I got through my first 6 miler, 8 miler and 10 miler. Race day came and my stomach was in knots.  The furthest I had run was 10 miles.  Could I make it through 13.1? One of the girls in our group was luckily the same pace.  We ran the whole race together and encouraged and pushed each other through to the finish. I could not believe I had just run a half marathon! And I LOVED it! At that point I was hooked.

Running has been a part of my life ever since.  I'm now training for my second full marathon in October and about to run my 11th half marathon this month. I have suffered surges and injury set-backs but keep coming back to it for more punishment.

2. what do you enjoy the most and dislike the most about it?

I enjoy the simplicity of running. It doesn't take a lot of expensive gear or crazy gadgets.  You put on your shoes, your running clothes, walk out the door and just go.  It's as easy as that.  You can run as long/short or as fast/slow as you want. And running is something you can do anywhere.  Whether you are at home or on travel you can always find a place to run or you can at least find a treadmill if the weather is bad.

I also love the sense of self accomplishment it gives me.  After a good, long, hard run I feel so great about myself.  I look back and think, "I did that."  I often marvel at how much my body can do and how far you can push it.  I have more respect for my body because of running. I listen to it more and take much better care of it. It's the machine that keeps me going.

Running is also very therapeutic for me. After a hard day or stressful week, nothing feels better than to just head out the door and run it out.  "Running is cheaper than therapy", (I stole that from onemoremile.com) but it's so true.  I've had some of my best crying and anger sessions while on the run.  Running just puts life into perspective and often gives me clarity. When you are pushing through the pain -  marveling at what your body can do - and God blesses you with a beautiful sunset or cool, autumn breeze to accompany you on the run, you just have to stop and marvel at his Grace. Dwelling on how mean your boss was to you today just becomes inconsequential.

What do I dislike most about running?  It hurts.  It's hard.  It's stinky.  And you sweat....a lot.  Running is not easy.  It's work.  But I guess that's why you get the most rewards out of it.

3. how has running affected your life?

I have so much more self-confidence from running. This all goes back to the sense of accomplishment I mentioned earlier.  When you set out for a goal (like running for 30 minutes without stopping) and achieve it, you can't help but marvel a bit at yourself.  It has also taught me the value of hard work, preparedness and determination.  You cannot run a race without preparing for it, and that preparation takes hard work and determination.

Running has also really allowed me to meet some amazing people.  Running is actually quite social.  There are running groups everywhere.  Runners are so welcoming and accepting of all people, shapes, ages, sizes and speeds.  Never be afraid that you're too slow.  Everyone had to start somewhere and all of us runners remember that time.  If you are a beginner they are so encouraging and great to give you advice. I have managed to make some great, lasting friendships through running.  I have to laugh because running can be quite the buffer.  When you're out on a long run with other runners, you start to talk, and talk, and talk. Before long you're telling these other runners the most intimate details of your life and they are reciprocating. We have a saying, "What's said on the run, stays on the run".  It's kind of our "safe zone" to talk about anything and everything.

4. what advice would you give to  people who would like get into running?

I LOVE seeing new runners and someone who's interested in getting started.  Here goes:
  • INVEST IN A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES - and get properly fitted.  Find a local running store where they will measure your foot, watch your stride and even look at your foot shape to see what kind of supportive shoe you need to be in.  Shoes are about the most expensive thing in running, but they also make a huge difference.  It also took me going through about three pairs before I found the brand and shoe that I liked and that worked for me.  This may be some trial and error but the right shoe makes all the difference.  You will also need to replace the shoes approximately every 300 miles.  I can start to feel some soreness in my joints and shins when my shoes start to go.  That usually coincides with about 300 miles for me.
  • START SLOW. Most beginning runners start out way too fast, burn out quick and then get frustrated or even worse, injured.  This is not an all or nothing sport unless you're planning on doing a bunch of sprint distances (which make me vomit). Just start slow and set a goal for yourself.  Try and run 5 minutes without stopping.  The next week go for 10 minutes.  You will be surprised at how quickly your body will adapt.  The speed will come. Also slowly add distance.  Don't try and do too much too soon.  Most running experts say don't add more than 10% total distance each week.  If you ran 12 miles total last week, only add one or two more the next week and so on.
  • WALK.  Yup...I said walk.  You are no less of a runner if you take walk breaks.  The run/walk method is a great way to start training for any distance and I know several super speedy runners who still use this method.  You can read more about it on www.jeffgalloway.comI'm a huge fan of run/walk.  I still use it on some of my super long runs. Start with run one minute - walk one minute and slowly ramp it up to where you're running longer than you're walking.
  • FUEL YOUR BODY. Your body is a machine and it needs maintenance and fuel to run properly.  Most of my crappy runs I have been able to attribute to poor fueling and hydration.  I either didn't eat/drink enough or ate/drank the wrong things.  The stomach game is tough for runners.  You have to trial and error and find what works for you.  I eat a small 100 calorie snack 15 minutes before a run.  I'm a big fan of the small Lara bars.  I then re-fuel with another 100 calorie snack every 45 minutes (Gu, Honey Stingers, Shot Blocks, etc.) I also stay away from heavy, greasy, fatty meals the day before and day of a run.  I made the mistake of eating Chinese food take-out the night before a long run.  The only running I was doing was to the bathroom.  Hydration is SUPER important too. You should drink water before, during (if a relatively long run) and after a run. Try and hydrate where your urine is relatively clear.  When it comes to pee, yellow may be mellow but clear keeps in you in gear. 
  • SIGN UP FOR A LOCAL RACE.  Find a local 5K fun run and commit to it.  Pay for it.  Tell people you are running it.  Shout it at your neighbors and people in the grocery store (as long as your neighbors aren't the gun-toting kind).  Signing up for a race and committing to it makes it all more real and helps keep you on track with your training.  The fear of flopping on your face at a race is a real motivator. ;)
  • KEEP A RUNNING LOG. This is a real motivator and lets me see how far I've come.  Log your distance, time, weather, what you ate/drank, and how the run felt.  This will help you keep track of what works and what doesn't on your runs.  www.dailymile.com has a really good work-out log that lets you track all of this online and share with other folks who are crazy runners like you.
  • GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Consistently try and push yourself. When you get comfortable, try and run a little harder or faster. Also try something new.  Find and explore a new running route.  If you train on the treadmill mostly, take it outside.  Find a running group and meet up with them.  Sign up for a new race distance.  Mix it up.  This will keep you motivated and excited about running.
  • THERE WILL BE GOOD DAYS AND BAD DAYS.  There will be days when you are giving it everything you have but your body is just not cooperating.  Just listen to your body.  Take a rest day.  Try again the next day.  Usually for every bad run, I have followed up a day or two later with a great run.
  • HAVE FUN! This is most important.  Just get out there and have fun with it! I usually take about one run day a week and just go run.  No pace watch, no gear, no worries about time or distance - just me and the pavement.  This usually reminds me of why I love to run.
The Runner's World has a great website and wealth of running information, great forums and a good beginner section. http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/beginners/big-beginner-index/1461.html  Twitter is a super way to hook up with other runners too (I'm @JenZenator).  There are a ton of us on there, all ready to encourage you every step of the way.  Also your local running store will be full of people who are passionate about the sport and can give you advise and help.

Best of luck and happy running!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So I tried Yoga...... I tried YOGA?!

So I have been toying with the idea of trying yoga ever since I joined my new gym about a month ago. I had checked the schedule many times and even watched a few classes through the window of the studio but I hadn't been brave enough to enter..... Until today that is!

So today I finally walked through those doors, I can even begin to tell you how nervous I was. The class which was called Hatha Yoga started at 7pm, and I showed up around 6:50 so I could pick where I wanted to sit in the studio. When I walked in there were a few people already setup and stretching getting ready for class to begin. I grabbed a yoga mat and found a nice roomy place near the far end of the studio, not quite on the back row but the row right before it. As it got closer to 7 the room starting filling up and I wont lie I felt like people were staring at me like I didn't belong there. You see I constantly feel like people always stare at me in the gym but I know its just in my head, its hard to get past that belief but I am getting better about it everyday. I quickly shook off the notion and just tried to stay calm, I wont lie I really wanted to get up and leave but there was no way I was going to do that.

At 7 sharp the lights went off , music was turned on, and class started. The instructor asked if anyone was new and me and few people raised our hands. So we started doing our different moves and stretches. Everything was new to me, I didn't know any of the names of the moves but I kept a close eye on the instructor and tried to keep up the best I could.

About 15 min into the class I found myself in a downward dog position and I was sweating like crazy! I thought to myself I am sweating from YOGA?! Damn right I was! We did a series of poses that went from a downward dog into a plank position and then into a cobra pose and back up into a downward dog. Now at my size that isn't easy but I did it! And it felt good. So like I said at 15 min into the class I was wondering what I had gotten myself into but I knew I wasn't going to quit. It was an hour class and I made myself understand that I was going to be there for the whole hour, NO EXCUSES. We did a bunch of other poses and to be honest I don't remember most of the names, I was just trying to concentrate on my breathing and my balance. Oh we did do something called a spinal twist I believe, those feel GOOD!

So at the end of class we laid on our backs with our eyes closed while the instructor told us to imagine a white hole or something on our chest. So I laid there breathing in and out and trying to imagine this white object on my chest. She said imagine it spreading to your pelvis and toward your head. She said some other stuff that I cant quite remember and to be honest I thought she was crazy at first. But honestly I got really relaxed and I felt extremely calm inside. It almost felt like I was somewhere else for a few minutes. It felt really good!

So I can finally scratch yoga from my list of things I want to try. It was a great experience and I can see why people love it. Will I try it again??......  ABSOLUTELY!  I plan on fitting it in to my weekly routine and I cant wait until my next class.

I wonder if I will feel tonight class in the morning? ..... We shall see :)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I got a job! OH @#$% I GOT A JOB?!?!

So as many of you know I have been unemployed for over a year, until last Tuesday that is. I am a construction professional and well lets just say construction is not a great industry to be in during this current economic condition.

But anyways of course I was extremely happy that I was going back to work but then it hit me! I thought to myself , "OH @#$% I GOT A JOB?!?!  WHEN WILL I WORK OUT? HOW WILL I EAT CORRECTLY!".  You see over the past year I have been able to workout and eat whenever I wanted, I had no stresses that involved my schedule. I did panic for a few short minutes but I quickly realized that in the past year I have built a strong foundation and that I could adapt to any situation.

First thing I did after I calmed down was call my Registered Dietitian to schedule an earlier appointment, I wasn't supposed to see her for another month. I just wanted to restructure my meal plan since I knew I would be "awake"  longer now and I needed to ensure I was eating enough of the right foods to get me through the day and my busy workout schedule.

Second thing I did was go buy a nice sized lunch box. I often tell people if you want to be successful then you need to plan ahead! My plan was to eat breakfast and dinner at home most nights and carry all the food I needed in between those meals with me. So far its worked out great, when its time to eat I just reach down below my desk and grab what I need. No drive thru's or snack machines!

Third thing I did was join a new gym. After losing almost 100 pounds I knew it was time for me to SHAKE THINGS UP. The gym I had been using was just your basic gym, and for $10 dollars a month you really couldn't complain. Now my new gym (Lifetime Fitness) is amazing! They are open 24-7 which  works out great for me, there will be no excuses for not working out. Also they have all the facilities I need to start my triathlon training. Oh wait I haven't told you guys this yet, but YES I am going to start training for a triathlon! Its not going to happen overnight but its something I will work on until I feel ready to attempt one. I have to personally thank my good friend Pam for encouraging me to even consider doing a triathlon! So far the new gym has been amazing, I have shared my story with some of the staff and they have all welcomed me with open arms. I cant wait to try all the fitness classes that they offer! To be honest if they had beds to sleep in I would never leave that place!

Its my second week on the job and I love it so far, but what I am really happy about is how I have adapted to my new situation so quickly. I think the old me would have taken weeks to adapt and I would have definitely used the stress of the change as an outlet to eat endlessly. I am so glad those days are over.

I feel really happy inside, I haven't felt happy in a long time. My overall goals haven't been reached but I have no worries that I will attain them. When I used to think about all the weight I still needed to lose I used to get scared and panic inside, it was overwhelming. I no longer feel like that, it doesn't scare me at all. I know what and how I need to do this, and if i do them then its only a matter of time...


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award!

Cassie from Life By Cassie has presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks Cassie!



The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs.
4. Let your nominees know about the award.


So here it goes!

Thanks Cassie for giving me this award!  You have always shown me amazing support and I appreciate it more than you'll ever know!

7 Things about me:

  1. I grew up in Cary, North Carolina. Its a great state but ultimately its not where I plan to settle down. I hope to plant my roots in Chicago, its the most amazing city I have ever been in.
  2. I have a degree in Construction Engineering & Management. Construction has always been a passion of mine since I was a little kid. When I was in kindergarten my teacher told my Mom that I would be an Engineer one day, she said all I ever wanted to do in class was build things. I also plan on getting my MBA in the next few years.
  3. For those of you who don't know I am on a mission to lose 250 lbs. To date I have lost 93 pounds which took me about a year and I am looking forward to losing the rest. Its not the hardest thing I have done and at the same time its not the easiest.
  4. I am an extremely shy person, if you know me online you probably can't tell. When I usually meet new people it takes me awhile to open up and be myself. This isn't true in all cases but it is in most. I have a huge heart but keep it safely guarded.
  5. I have a fear of snakes and heights!
  6. I LOVE PIZZA AND ICE CREAM.
  7. I love to cook for people.
12 Discovered Blogs!  (yes I broke the rules)

  1. Seattle Runner Girl
  2. Where's the Beach
  3. Jump the Dock
  4. Healthy Loser Gal
  5. All Things Power
  6. Low Fat Kat
  7. I'm No Ironman But I Still Tri
  8. Low Fat Pie
  9. Share it Fitness
  10. Fat Girl vs. World
  11. Eating Journey
  12. Happy Well Fit