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.


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 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: