Thursday, December 27, 2012

A History Lesson- Part 1

Now that I have overcome the inevitable hump I always encounter I think it's safe to shift the focus of these posts toward why I'm doing this in the first place. I think that it is important to remember the point of why one starts goals so that these reasons can remain the focus of why all the work is being done in the first place. With that being said here is a brief (hopefully!) history of how I got to the point where I decided I need to get serious about my health.

I have been conscious of my weight since I was about 8 years old. Sadly, I think most women can relate to this. I was thin until one summer and then I gained a lot of weight and returned to my second grade year overweight. I was teased by the other students. I remember dressing as a bride that year for Halloween and being told no one would ever marry me because I was so fat. I was also serenaded constantly with the Jenny Craig theme song and constantly laughed at. Since then I have always been extremely self-conscious of my weight. By the time I was about to start seventh grade I was heavier than ever. I was also going to be moving from Illinois to Georgia. I was starting a new school, in a new state, and having to do so in a school system where the students had already spent at least one year together since middle schools here are 6-8 grade. Oh, and my parents had recently been divorced. This did not bode well for a good year.

As I look back at middle school all I remember is being laughed at and outcast for the majority of it. I ended up being accepted by a group of students in my middle school that were considered less than desirable by everyone. It is by the grace of God only that I didn't start smoking pot with them or engage in other risky behaviors. In hindsight thought, it ended up being a huge blessing to me that these are people who befriended me. I ended up starting to care less and less what others thought of me. When you have a group of friends that are all constantly gossiped about, ridiculed, and plan hated you start to either get a thick skin or check out mentally. Luckily, my friends all had built a thick skin and taught me to do the same by default.

This isn't to say my weight stopped bothering me. It did. But I started trying to do something about it. I exercised more and tried to eat better but at the time I just didn't want it bad enough. I would try fad diets (juice diets, vegetarian diets, low carb, no carb, etc) and nothing worked. What I realize now is that it was my dedication that was the problem. My lack of desire to care about my health. In college it got better. I had an awesome new group of supportive loving friends in college. We would exercise together and it helped to have a free gym to use. I didn't lose a significant amount of weight or anything but I didn't gain anymore either. My weight had pretty much leveled off. I did try Atkins my senior year but that didn't work well either. I love bread.... :)

To be continued.

A History Lesson- Part 2

So now I am graduating from college and oh, yea, I got married. At this point my weight has pretty much hovered near the 160-165 range for the last 5-6 years. The summer after I got married was the highest my weight has ever been. I moved in with my husband's parents, didn't have a job yet, was geographically distant from all my friends and my side of the family, and I got really depressed. I was lonely, sad, and had no drive to do anything. When I stepped on the scale about halfway through our time there and it read 173 pounds, I knew I was in trouble. I did start working out but not enough to combat all the calories and inactivity. It was toward the end of that summer that we moved to Colorado because I took a job there.

When we got to Colorado we started hanging out with my husband's best friend and his family who live there. It was through this family that a new diet was introduced to my husband and I. It's called HCG and I will discuss this in more depth in a later post. Suffice it to say my opinion of it has changed since I did it but at the time I was totally stoked. My husband and I did several rounds and I lost 40 pounds!! I had never felt so awesome in my life. I was the thinnest I had ever been as an adult and I looked awesome. The only problem I had was keeping the weight off. We ended up moving back to Georgia less than a year later and my weight had no problem creeping back up on me.

As of this morning I weigh 156.6 pounds. I have not done a single fad diet since we have moved back. When Dany and Tell told me they were running it felt like fate to me. I was sick of weighing too much but I was also sick of trying to lose weight in unhealthy and unmanageable ways. Now I write as someone who is proud of the progress I have made in other areas of my health. I am eating a normal amount of calories using to track my intake. I can also run 2 miles without feeling like I'm going to pass out and I will be doing my first 5k in less than a month. My weight hasn't changed a whole lot since I started this process but my mind set and attitude about my health has and that's the most awesome thing I have done for myself so far. I feel stronger and more in control of my health than I ever did when I was dieting using methods that don't account for sustainability. I still have a long way to go, and sometimes it does get me down that I don't look like I did after the HCG diet, but then I go for a jog and feel much better about life. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

It might sound conceited but...I'm awesome!

So as you may have gathered from the title, I'm awesome. I say this in a humble way and the only reason I am saying it at all is because I have learned that by acknowledging times in my life when I make strides toward achieving a goal I am more likely to continue working on that goal. Especially when I am trying to accomplish difficult goals, such as getting healthy. It boosts my confidence and reinforces the path I'm on. With that being said, let me reiterate. I am awesome.

Here's why. On Sunday I had planned on running a complete 5k with Dany and Freddy so I could get some more training in. I ended up going alone and was pretty nervous about whether I would be able to do the distance or not given my history of being too easy on myself. I went to a local high school and started out with every intention of letting myself stop if I needed to. Instead of running the track the entire time since that can get boring, I ran around the football field, through the parking lot, and back to the field. I didn't let myself look at the distance so I could trick myself into running more. It worked. By the time I finished that first loop to the parking lot and back I had done about a mile. Without stopping. With having to run a pretty sizable hill. For me, since I was running by myself, this was an incredible feat.

At that point I went to the track and decided I would run about a mile there and finish out a third mile doing my original route. I was about 1.5 miles in when I really wanted to walk. But then an amazing thing happened. I made myself run instead. I ran, and I ran, and I ran. I slowed my pace a little but made sure to take deep breaths and just keep moving. As I sit here writing this, remembering how it felt to push myself like I did, I have tears in my eyes. I have always been really easy on myself and never try to push myself too hard to do anything when it comes to exercise. But this time I did.

After about 3 laps on the track I was bored and at risk of quitting if I didn't change it up again. I ran back outside the football stadium and went the opposite way to the parking lot, mostly to avoid the hill since my legs were pretty tired, and made a loop around the field again. After I completed that loop I had about .2 miles to go to finish out my 5k distance. I ran back in to the parking lot near my car and ran until my count said 3.1 miles. I immediately stopped the tracker and started walking. I almost laid down in the parking lot and cried from happiness. I had done it! Not only had I made myself run the entire time I was out there but I had completed a 5k and was able to get my breathing back to normal pretty easily!

With this hurdle under my belt I feel empowered to keep working toward making this possible every time I go out to run. I know that it's not always going to be easy but I do know now that it is possible for me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After two terrible weeks I have think I have managed to overcome my speed bump. My eating has improved (although I still struggle with not starving myself during the day while I'm out and about) and I have worked out every day this week! I started on Monday when Dan, Tell, and I were able to get back to running together again. We ran the track again and this time (with Dan's boyfriend Freddy cheering us on) we ran a mile, without stopping. This was quite an accomplishment for Tell and I and, although it was hard, it was a great feeling to be running again. We also did intervals again but this time when we ran the straight parts of the track we sprinted much, much faster. Apparently I am a pretty fast sprinter. Dan, Tell, and Freddy were pretty impressed by my speed and it felt great to be so encouraged by them all.

On Tuesday I went running by myself at the track and tried to do a mile again without stopping. I had to walk briefly 3 different times but I did the mile. It really does astound me how much of a difference there is between me running on my own and running with my friends. They are such an encouragement to me and without them it is hard for me to find the strength to push myself to continue when I get tired or my legs start hurting. Although I have struggled for the previous two weeks it have been such a blessing knowing that these two awesome women are in my corner pushing me to keep going even when I feel like giving up.

Wednesday was a rest day so when we met on Thursday I was feeling ready to try again. This time Dan had us run for 1 mile continuously, take a one minute walk break, than run for another mile. It was definitely difficult but we did it so that was encouraging. After that run Dany's boyfriend, who got to come with us again, had been working on his 5k time and needed to finish the .8 miles he had left so he asked if I wanted to try running it with him to see how I did. I agreed and he let me set the pace so I could be comfortable running the whole time. I found my pace, ran for about .9 miles, when it was all said and done my total distance for the night equaled 3.2 miles! This means, ladies and gentlemen  that I did a little over a 5k!! I was stoked and I recovered very quickly after the run which is how I know that the pace I was running was comfortable and sustainable for me. Freddy was very encouraging and I was very happy to have his advice and support.

Friday was another rest day so Saturday I tried two miles on my own. Unfortunately, I had indulged a little too much during lunch and felt pretty terrible during the run so I wasn't able to do as well as I probably could have if I had waited a little longer and not tried to do so much after having eaten. It's fun learning how food effects my ability to perform and although it can cause days like Saturday when I don't do well on a run because I don't know how much my eating effects me, it's good information to remember for later down the road! I also went running on Sunday but I'm going to post about that day separately as it is a big milestone (pun intended) for me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Speed Bump

These past two weeks have been less than stellar. I went on vacation the second weekend of November and ate... a lot. I gained 2 pounds over that weekend and it really upset me when I got back. I also did not keep up with my exercising so when Dan, Tell, and I went running the following Thursday (we had to skip Monday) it was much harder than it should have been. We changed up our routine a little and ran on a track instead of our usual run at the park. Instead of 2 miles we did a mile but in intervals, meaning we sprinted the straight parts and walked the curves. My breathing was labored, my shins were in a lot of pain, and I felt dizzy. I felt like a loser. And because this past week was a holiday week we were off our regular schedules and did not have the chance to meet at all and I did not keep up with exercising on my own..

This is a common theme with me. I usually do really well for 2 or 3 weeks and then I get depressed that I have not accomplished my goal. I realize that it takes more than a few weeks to lose any significant amount of weight but when I get depressed like that I usually start eating more and exercising less. This obviously means that I gain back everything I lost in the time I did really well and then have to start all over again. This is an extremely frustrating cycle, which is why I have resorted to fad diets (which I'll write about more later) in order to lose weight quickly.

Which brings us back to why I started this whole lifestyle change/blog. I need to learn to exercise regularly and eat better routinely. I also need to stop getting in my own way and give myself some leeway in order to make small mistakes, learn from them, and overcome them instead of them making me stop altogether. This is all easier said than done but hopefully with a little accountability and support I can push through this minor bump and still keep going.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flying solo

Monday marked another milestone. Tell and I were forced to run sans trainer and I must say....we were awesome! We ran for two miles and finished it in the fastest time we have logged yet at 21 minutes. It definitely wasn't as easy as it would have been with Dany there to cheer us on but Tell and I tried to encourage one another (as well as we could while still trying to breath) and afterwards we both felt pretty triumphant at our accomplishment.

Today I took in a step further and ran on my own. I did 1.81 miles and it was a lot harder for me. I don't hold myself very accountable (thus, the blog) so usually I give in pretty easy and quit as soon as I feel any discomfort. But today I did a lot better than I have in the past. I have been using Nike+ to track my progress and they have this cool feature that lets you link your account to Facebook so people can see you're running and cheer you on by liking the activity. I got two likes while I was running and each time I heard the cheers on my phone it really helped pump me up and push through my discomfort.

Here is a basic outline of what our plan is been in case anyone out there is interested. We run two days a week and run two miles each time. During the first two weeks we ran for two minutes and walked for one and repeated this pattern until we were done with two miles. Starting this week (our third week) we have been running for three minutes and walking for one, repeating until 2 miles is completed. Dany has threatened us with doing three miles and although I am dreading this push a little, I know it's necessary in order for us to progress and keep pushing ourselves.

My eating habits have also changed the past three weeks. I have taken some advice that Dany gave me and have been trying to eat 100-200 calorie meals/snacks every two hours. I work from home so on the days when I'm not doing visits and am  able to be home it is a lot easier. On those days when I'm in the car I have to put more thought in to what I am going to take with me so I can make sure to always have food with me it's harder. I have been relying a lot on yogurt, nuts, and string cheese. This is definitely an area I need to work a little harder in because in the past I have just starved myself during the day because I didn't have food accessible and I'd eat a ton at night to make up for it. If anyone has any suggestions (please remember I almost never have access to a microwave) I would appreciate it.

Weight update: I have lost 1.4 pounds since I started running on October 22.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Running...with friends

This past Thursday I hit a personal mile stone, albeit a weird one. I ran long enough that I actually felt I was going to be sick afterwards. I turned to two of my best friends and said, "I've heard about people running so much they made themselves sick but I never thought that would happen to me". They laughed and helped me walk to the car so I could SLOWLY sip water. Then we stretched and headed home.

Although its weird, I am extremely proud of this moment. I have tried to become a runner several times in my life. I have failed miserably and had pretty much given up altogether until last week when I discovered my two best friends from college (Dany and Tell) were going to start running together twice a week at a local park. Dany recently got on a running kick and has been completing 5k races for a few months. Tell and I have been doing nothing to get ourselves in shape, unless you count complaining (which personally, I do). Thus, our band of runners was formed.

Two weeks ago was my first week running with them and it was hard. Really hard. I could barely breath, my legs wanted to give up somewhere around the one mile mark, and my head ached. The only reason I was able to finish both runs that week was because I was with two people that I knew loved me and were not judging me for my performance. I have always had an issue running with others for fear of looking weaker and less capable than them. The beauty of this arrangement is that both of these women are amazingly kind and encouraging to me and I never feel this way when I am with them. During our run yesterday words came out of my mouth after finishing the first mile that I never though I would say. I said, "Wow! That was really easy!" If it hadn't been for my friends' love and support I never would have made it long enough to have this be something I ever considered possible for myself.

There is a classic fable from the collection of Aesop's Fables called, "The Tortoise and the Hare". In this story the Hare is taunting the Tortoise so the Tortoise challenges him to a race. The Hare agrees and quickly takes a big lead. The Hare decides to nap and when he wakes up he sees that the Tortoise has won the race. Throughout my life I have tried to be like the Hare and lose weight very quickly over a short period of time and then become lazy after I feel progress has been made. What I have learned is that this kind of weight loss is not sustainable. It's possible to lose but almost impossible (for me anyway) to maintain that weight afterwards. One analysis of the fable stated that  "many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness; on the other hand, sobriety, zeal and perseverance can prevail over indolence". I plan on becoming like the Tortoise this time and losing weight slowly, but steadily. 

I want this blog to be several things for me throughout this journey. I would like it to be a record of how I have progressed, and although a personal journal would suit that purpose, what I also need is accountability from several sources. I have a hard time following through with certain things and exercise has always been one of them. I'm not asking that you read my entries every single time I post, but just knowing it's available to others and that if I slack off there might be some hell to pay, that might be just the motivation I need to accomplish this goal. I also plan on using this blog to record tidbits of good advice I get about running specifically, but eating healthier and exercising in general. I will also be sharing more about how my issues with my weight has caused me to try some pretty strict diets and my honest opinion about some of the things I have tried. I am not a doctor, but I think that by sharing my personal experiences about fad diets I have tried might help someone see a different perspective of something they are considering trying.

To end, I would like to list my short term goals.

1. To run two times a week, for 1 month. (I am two weeks in to this goal)
2. To exercise, for at least 30 minutes, on the days I do not run. (One rest day a week)
3. To lose 5-10 pounds by the end of the year.

Thank you for reading this inaugural post of Slow and Steady!

  <----- This guy might be slow, but he's a winner!