Archive | October 2013

Losses & Gains

This fitness journey has been such an interesting experience.  I can honestly say that it’s the first time in my life that I’ve actively tried to improve my health for this length of time (almost a full year).  I don’t know why I never tried before, except that I was definitely in denial of how much I needed to.  I think a lot of this can be traced back to the running bug that I caught in early 2011, when I first decided I would try to run a 5k.  But I didn’t really reach a tipping point until exactly 1 year ago when I ran my first 10k.  Following that achievement, I realized I wanted to do more, and that I needed to make some changes in order to get there.

This process has been slow, and not always consistently forward-moving.  At first, I thought I could achieve my goals just by exercising more.  While that certainly didn’t hurt me, it wasn’t going to get me there.  Then, I thought really small dietary modifications would be enough.  That was how I lost the first half of my weight in 8 months.  Then I finally resigned myself to a full effort and I have been reaping the rewards of that decision.  And that was how I lost the second half in the past three months.

One thing I have found quite interesting about this is the comments and compliments I have been getting from the people in my life.  Because I didn’t lose weight drastically, there wasn’t a shock-and-awe factor.  However, it’s undeniable that people have started to notice and comment.  I always have mixed feelings about those conversations.  First, any compliment seems like such a small reward in terms of the amount of work I have put into this.  Second, I have trouble differentiating the compliment from the implication that if I look great now, I must have looked awful before.  Third, I struggle when one of my friends who is less fit than I currently am pays me a compliment, because I feel guilty about my success.  And finally, the amount that I have currently lost only represents about half of the total weight I want to lose, so I try not to get too excited about the compliments because I don’t want to rest on my laurels.

Instead of focusing on how much weight I have lost, I prefer to focus on what I have gained.

1. I’ve gained speed in my running.  Just since this summer, I have gone from almost 13:00/mile to just over 11:00/mile.
2. I’ve gained a passion (obsession?) for running, such that I am actually disappointed on days I can’t get a run in.
3. I’ve gained strength and flexibility through my cross-training, especially the ability to do certain yoga poses.
4. I’ve gained some additional articles of clothing in my wardrobe, to fit my new shape.
5. I’ve gained holes on my belt (that I punched myself as a point of pride).
6. I’ve gained a small degree of “photogenicity” in that I am less likely to hate every photo of myself.
7. I’ve gained physical self-confidence.

Basically, these changes in my life are accompanied by lots of emotional strings.  I’m happy my friends are noticing my efforts, but caught up in the subtext.  I’m proud of myself, but humbled by my long-term goals.

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Plan to Run!

Alright, so I think I have my races planned for the next year (and a half…almost).

10k this weekend! Awesome!
8k in December, because of all the perks.
14k in February (Valentine’s Day themed! Maybe I can talk James into running it with me??)
Half-Marathon in March (training will commence in late November).
…not sure if I will run any races in the summer…
Half-Marathon in October
10k, also October (same as the one this weekend, only next year)
10-miler in December
DISNEY MARATHON, January 2015!!

That’s ambitious, I realize. But I expect to lose another 30lbs by March, and perhaps even more in the ensuing months. 30 more pounds will put me pretty close to my weight goal, and I have no idea what I’ll feel like or look like at that weight. Therefore, I don’t know how much more I will want to lose after that. To be determined.

Either way, I love running. And I love planning, so this fits me perfectly.

Autumn Adventures

Saturday I got a lot of studying done, but I also took a break to hang out with Little Little. We went for a walk in the historic district, picking up hot cider and snacks along the way. It had been quite some time since our last good hang-out, so this was very much savored.

Sunday I traveled with Regan to a Zombie 5k! It was really entertaining to see the zombies, interact with them before the race, and try to outrun them during it. Below you will see some who were line dancing with us pre-race.

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Aside from the entertainment value, the race was really disorganized and delayed almost 30 mins. Also, I have completely stopped getting any sense of accomplishment for finishing a 5k. I’m going to stick to longer races from here on out.

Despite the delay, I got back home just in time to hitch a ride with Marty to the dog park. Then James arrived shortly thereafter. He’ll be here all week!

I’ve got a test later today. Then I am going shoe shopping and workout clothes shopping. Then making stuffed peppers for dinner, followed by a showing of Gravity!

Thoughts at the moment

– I also set a 5-mile PR this week…under 11:00/mile! It is definitely getting easier for me to run the more weight I lose, but this awesome fall weather certainly doesn’t hurt. I am still conscious that I will eventually reach a point where it is *too* cold, and the question is whether I power through it because I am better/faster/stronger, or renew my gym membership. I may renew in December only because I will have more free time on my hands and I may want to go back to lifting 🙂

Thinking about December, I am already getting excited for holiday baking! I will be mailing so many cookies this year, both the sugar-n-spice recipe of my mom’s, and the chocolate recipe that Jess showed me last year (from the box). There will be lots of powdered sugar involved, which is never a bad thing.

I am also getting really excited for my next nursing class, mother-baby! I know I will have a great classroom instructor, my clinical got moved to a closer hospital, and I am really excited about this field of nursing!

Today I am going kayaking for many reasons. It is beautiful outside. It is the end of the outdoor water season, so this may be one of my last chances. I need to burn off excess energy, but I don’t want to run today because I ran yesterday and will be running tomorrow.

Tomorrow I am doing a zombie 5k! No idea what to expect, but I ❤ zombies, so I am excited to see what's in store! Also, James will be here that evening, planning to stay the week. I like having him here, have I mentioned that?

I am about to bike to Marty's because I still don't have my car back, and I need it to get down to the race. And then I'm kayaking. Then studying. Then hanging out with Little Little. Then more studying. My life is so exciting: just kidding.

Wind in my Step

I definitely started this morning off on the right foot!

But first, yesterday James was able to come down for a quick visit. He’s on a vacation from work, so it might have been a couple days visit, but he ended up having some last minute stuff to take care of at his house. So he arrived in the afternoon, and we ended up hanging out, eating dinner, and watching Breaking Bad.

So part of the reason today started off on the right foot was having him here makes me happy. The other part is more literal, because I got up and went for a run. It was such a beautiful day, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. He contemplated going with me, but ended up passing.

Short story long, the noteworthy part of today’s run was that I set a new 4-mile PR! I got out the door with my first mile under 11mins, and decided to see if I could keep pushing it. I had contemplated running 5 miles, but that particular route seemed unappealing today. I ultimately ended up running that 4 miles in 42:09, or 10:32/mile! What’s so great about this is A) it seems to be getting easier to run faster the more weight I lose and B) I am approaching my goal of 10:00/mile more quickly than I expected! So exciting! Plus, did I mention it was a beautiful morning?

After that, I returned home to James and we had a nice morning together before he took me to school (because by the way, my car isn’t fixed yet). Class today was great as always. I never thought I would appreciate the study of Mental Health Nursing, but with the right instructor, a great textbook, and interesting assignments, I find that I am.

I spent the rest of the evening at the dog park, chatting with 2 of my 3 Lydias, and watching A Beautiful Mind (class assignment).

One small step

This process has been driven primarily by small steps. The first was in 2010 when I joined AmeriCorps NCCC and got exposed to the idea of PT and fitness as a worthy life goal and daily activity. That lit a fire in me that has never quite gone out, even when it was raining pretty hard on me. In early 2011, I set a goal to start running, even if it was just a 5k, and that May I ran my first with friends. The rest of that year I continued my (albeit irregular) running routine, but soon I was ready for more. In all of this so far, the word ‘diet’ was not in the plan, and it still isn’t, except technically it is.

In 2012 I kicked running up a notch by signing up for my first 10k. Along the way, I ran my first 5-miles and I felt on top of the world! That 10k was in October, and right about then I got into Nursing School (starting Jan 2013). The success I felt after running 6.2 miles really fueled the fire. And something else happened around then – my friend Rebecca introduced me to her personal trainer and I reached out to get myself on her schedule. You see, everyone in the nursing program assured me that I would gain weight as a result of my studies, and I was determined to prove them wrong.

As 2013 began, I added 2x/week training sessions along with school. I probably came in and worked out 1-3 times per week on my own during that phase, sometimes running, sometimes using the weight training techniques I learned from Lara. But the real turning point off in the distance was the half-marathon I signed up for. Lara and I set a goal that I would train primarily to get myself ready for the half in September.

So Jan-May, I focused on weight loss and toning, and though it was looking like the numbers on the scale were going down (lots of compliments), I didn’t lose more than 10-12 pounds. I lost another 8-10 over the summer. In that phase, I was running a LOT on my endurance-building schedule, and Lara and I gradually switched to yoga.

The half marathon was my biggest success to date! Ran it in 2:45:10, felt great afterwards, and all it made me want was more. But that half marathon was 10+ pounds ago…so what has happened since then?

Well after the weekly distance requirements subsided, I found I needed new goals over and above the maintenance running I’ve been doing. I’m signed up for another half in March, but I wont really start that training ( over and above what I normally run) until mid-November. So with these months in the middle, I decided to do a little experiment…

I’ve balked at the idea of dieting ever since the traumatic experiences I had with it in high school. It felt like a punishment, and any progress I made never lasted. But I know now that I was going about things all wrong. This time, with months of fitness progress under my belt, I decided to go about things differently. I started by just using an app to track my food. That’s all I committed to doing. But in that first week, I became a lot more conscientious (in a good way), and I just to happened to lose 3 pounds while doing it. Without depriving myself! So now I am, shall we say, addicted to the success. I’ve lost 9 pounds in the month that I’ve been tracking. And it’s no big deal for me to do it. By that I mean, I am not stressed or burdened. I kind of find it fun. I’m enjoying analyzing my food and nutrients.

But here’s the real punchline of this story. Since my weigh-in with Lara back in January, I have now officially lost 30 pounds! And since my highest weight recorded (late 2011), I’ve lost almost 45 total. I still have at least another 30 pounds to go, but I don’t even care because I know all along the way I’m just going to keep feeling better and better.

This has been a process marked by many small steps. And look how far I’ve come! I’ve come so far I think I’ve forgotten the way back to where I used to be. Because my progress has been so gradual, I have a good feeling this progress won’t be lost, except in the sense that I will keep moving forward and reaching new goals. By the time I’ve lost another 30, I think I could talk myself into training for a full marathon!

PS: It’s been a VERY busy week. Highlights include volunteering at a homeless shelter, goodbye party for Teri, a freaking 100 on my first exam, and the fastest 7-miles I’ve run to date (11:15/mile).

Three’s Company

My house currently has three dogs and three people residing. Normally it’s just me & Bonster, but when James comes he also brings his boys. They didn’t get along with Bonnie AT ALL in the beginning, but now they are much more tolerant of one another. So that accounts for the “new” normal, but my friend Lydia is also here visiting for a few days, so that makes three of each.

But let’s back up to my birthday. James got here Saturday and we hung out and went to the park before going out to dinner to celebrate. It was one of our favorite restaurants, and actually the place where we first officially met. Rewinding back to January when a group of 20-somethings from the dog park met for dinner and a fun night, I knew most of the group but hadn’t met James yet. Perfect bookends for our relationship so far 🙂

Sunday we mostly stayed in because it was unseasonably hot! We did manage to make it out to the dog park in the evening when it had cooled down significantly. Then we came home and I made salmon for dinner. Shortly after that, Lydia arrived.

Monday I had a big test in nursing school, so I spent most of the day studying, after a short morning run. I am still car-less, but Janet is letting me borrow hers this week (she works from home). After the test, I came home to quite a domestic evening. I did some dishes and then made stuffed peppers that everyone told me they enjoyed (my recipe is green pepper + ground turkey + taco seasoning + salsa … with cheese optional). We spent the rest the evening cuddling and watching news parodies (TDS, Colbert, and finally The Newsroom). And James is an earlybird due to his job, so we called it an early night.

So the only thing to report is that this plan of ours to cohabitate is going quite well…even better than I expected. He really likes coming home to me in the evenings, in addition to his shorter commute. So our revised bonus plan is for him to spend his workweek here, and then I’ll spend weekends out with him, but not every weekend because I tend to be pretty busy. I think it’s the best of both worlds because it gives us “together time” on more days, interspersed with living our regular lives. Weekends together sometimes will be nice, but we will also have some solo times as well, which is important for both of us. Anyway, this was his suggestion last night, and as I told him, “no complaints from me.”

Today I will be studying (duh), practicing yoga (borrowing Janet’s car), and waiting not-so-patiently for the return of the man in my life.