Healthy

Confession: Runners scare me.

They’re like the cool kids in school. They’re scary and big and just way better at everything, but you just so desperately want to be like them. Or at least I do.

Let me back up. Today I read a column that really got under my skin for multiple reasons. The tone and the thought process behind it just didn’t sit right with me. So I polled a few friends and asked them what they thought (granted, all these friends are around the same age as me). But each one had the same reaction I did; one friend put it best when she said it “really burned (her) biscuits.”

This is the column, titled “The Slowest Generation” (yes, it’s really called that), on WSJ.com I’m referring to. It discusses, from the perspective of a Baby Boomer, the decline of serious young runners in America. It also touches on how running events are not what they used to be, saying they’re more of a “parade” (his actual word) than a serious competition.

This reminded me of the editor’s letter I read in the June 2013 issue of Runner’s World. Now, given the fact I am a novice runner at best at this point (nevermind, let’s be honest: I run like a turtle through molasses), I had never really noticed that particular publication on the newsstands before. But I had just recently signed up for my first 5K, which happened to be The Color Run. I was pumped! And the cover featured a happy gal who looked like she was in a color run, so I thought, “This is the publication for me!” It offered me tips on training for a 5K, so I bought it.
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Once I started reading the articles inside, though, I felt intimidated. “Whoa, these people are SERIOUS” was my first reaction. The editor’s letter was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, he acknowledged me, a new reader, when he wrote, “As you’ve no doubt noticed, we evoke this curious trend on this month’s cover. If you’re a new or casual runner, you probably love it. It may have compelled you to open this magazine for the first time. (If so, welcome!)” This part made me feel happy and included.

But the next sentence said, “If you’re a decades-long subscriber who trains seriously and chases PRs, you may be a little turned off. I get it.”

And just like that, I felt like the cool kids were pushing me out already.

Because I will probably never be an awesome runner. I will probably never run a marathon (though I’d like to shoot for a half at some point). I’m still going to eat and drink what I want most of the time. I’m going to be more focused on fun than being at the front of the pack at races.

But so what? As long as I’m doing SOMETHING, that’s the most important thing, is it not?

Because guess what? I started trying to run because of The Color Run. I saw the photos and thought, “That looks FUN.” So I went to a running store for the first time and plopped $100 down for my first pair of real running shoes. But my feet hurt after a few months of owning them, so I went to another running store. Another $100 pair of shoes, only slightly less pain.

So, because I had The Color Run coming up, I wanted to get to the root of the problem. So I went to an actual foot doctor. They X-rayed my feet, watched me walk, and made molds of my feet. I’ve always attributed my foot pain to having no arch whatsoever, but the foot doctor said it was much more than that. Turns out the bones in my feet all grew slightly crooked. And my hips are a bit turned in. Surprise!

So, because of The Color Run and how excited I was to run it, I paid for a rather expensive set of orthopedic inserts. I have an arch for the first time in my life! But, more important, I can run for more than a few seconds without feeling like my feet are going to snap.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money in the pursuit of running. Because I was pulled into the fun, silly side of running. I’ve joked around and said I would only do a 5K if it was slightly gimmicky. That’s not far from the truth, though.

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My first 5K ever, which was in July, was the Milwaukee Brewers Sausage 5K. For those not aware, the Milwaukee Brewers have five sausage mascots that race during every 7th inning stretch at Miller Park. They’re a thing of legend around here. So the chance to race with them?! AWESOME. But I was a bit intimidated that morning. Sure, lots of the people there were families/friends just there for a good time (I walked/ran it with my dad, mom, and sister), but a good chunk of the participants meant BUSINESS. They were stretching when we showed up. They didn’t really seem to make eye contact with anyone else. They were focused.

Now, I’m not knocking them, really. Because it’s awesome that they were out there probably going for personal bests. But, to a little first timer like me, it was overwhelming. I just wanted to have fun!

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The Color Run was a completely different experience. EVERYONE was there for the fun of it. Yes, people were running, but most of them were chatting with their teammates as they ran, shrieking whenever they hit a color zone. I heard people behind us in the starting chute joking, “We’ll finish last. But it’s OK!”

And why wouldn’t it be? They were there. They were smiling and laughing and having a grand ol’ time. They had gotten their butts out of bed on a Sunday morning to something fun, which also just happened to be a form of exercise. Plus, if the whole going-3ish-miles wasn’t your exact cup of tea, the after party was a blast. When else do you get to rave with complete strangers after just finishing your first 5K (many of the people in the crowd cheered when our emcee asked if it was anyone’s first 5K) while simultaneously being dosed in color dye?

So while I’m not trying to discount running as a serious sport, I’m just asking the serious ones remember us newbies. We may have different ideas of fun, but I think we can all be friends.

I’ll be participating in my third 5K on November 10. It’s a 5K called The Mo Run. I signed up with a friend because it looked FUN. But I’m also hoping to be able to run more of it than I could during The Color Run. But no matter what, I’ll be enjoying life while exercising. And isn’t that the most important thing of all?

5Ks, “The Slowest Generation” & why runners scare me

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Take 2

This blog hasn’t been touched since April. APRIL. And it wasn’t that I was necessarily more busy or uninspired or anything like that.

I purposefully avoided this blog. Didn’t want to post anything. Stopped my updates on weight loss/the journey on Facebook, too. Because I knew the truth would have to come out at some point, but I wanted to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

The truth: I totally fell off the wagon. The last post I had in here recapped the joy of being in my friend’s wedding. How great I felt in a dress I had worked so hard to look good in. How accomplished I felt.

And once that imminent goal passed, I lost motivation. It wasn’t that I backslid on my healthier lifestyle completely–I still eat much better than I did before, I only have an occasional root beer for soda now (haven’t touched Coca-Cola since I gave it up back in February), and I stay much more active than I once was. I gained a few pounds, but overall it hasn’t been a complete disaster.

But I haven’t been happy about it. I wanted to want it again, but I didn’t. I’m still struggling with how much I want it now. But I hit another breaking point today, two full months after I last counted calories.

I finally took a good look at myself and realized the way I felt. Not as great. Not as peppy. Not as healthy. And enough is enough for the second time.

Starting August 1, I’m back on the wagon. I’m sure there will be many bumps in the road once again, and it will be harder than before without a bridesmaid dress breathing down my neck, but I’ll chronicle it in here again. I’ll need support again. I won’t be offended if you check on me, promise!

Enough is enough. It’s time to be the better me again.Image

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Twenty pounds later...

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated! The hard truth is that March was a difficult month for me as far as staying motivated goes. I have a great support system between my family and friends, but I found myself not wanting to go to the gym. I tried excusing home workouts as enough. Spoiler alert: they’re not enough.

One week in March I didn’t go to the gym AT ALL. The week before I had gone five times, and I had loved it. Then I just hit a total wall and had no desire to go anymore. I did some stability ball exercises at home, but nowhere near the intensity I hit at the gym.

I lost 0 pounds that week. That was the first time I went without losing a pound or more in a week since I started this journey. Exercise makes a difference, kids. Don’t fool yourself into thinking healthy eating is enough (though it’s very, very important!).

So I got back on the wagon this week. I have started walking/jogging outside since the weather has FINALLY started to become spring-like here (in other words, it’s in the 40s). But I need the structure of the gym still a few times a week, so I’m getting back into that rhythm again.

I hit a milestone yesterday. I weigh myself every Friday morning. I started this journey on December 31, though I didn’t start eating better along with exercising until the end of January. As of yesterday, I’ve lost 20 pounds. Twenty pounds! I’m literally stunned.

At the top you can see a current before and after photo of me. The before is from Christmas. When we took that photo, I wasn’t 100% happy with the way I looked, but I thought I overall looked OK. It’s such a strange reality you live in when you’ve been overweight for so long. You start seeing yourself a certain way, and suddenly don’t realize how far you’ve let yourself go.

I have a longggggg way to go, but I’m going to get there. Slowly but sure. Twenty pounds is a victory for me. I can see the difference 20 pounds makes. I feel happier without those 20 pounds.

Twenty pounds. I’ll take it.

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Twenty pounds later…

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DreamI’m in love with this quote above. It perfectly sums up the past few weeks of my life.

I’m still eating right, which has surprisingly stopped being so difficult. I haven’t used a cheat meal in two weeks, I think. It truly, truly gets easier the longer you do this. The temptation is still there, that’s for sure. Yesterday I went to see a movie with my sister and I was so tempted to just be like, “Eh, a cheat meal night! Why not!” But I realized it so wasn’t worth it, so I ate my Lean Cuisine pizza at home before we left. My sister ate popcorn next to me and I didn’t cheat a single kernel. Or a sip of soda.

I’m almost two weeks without soda now. While I can’t say that I technically feel any different, I know it’s good for me. I did manage to drop 2 lbs. over the past week, up from my normal 1 lb. So that’s an accomplishment. The cravings still hit me from time to time, especially when I eat foods that I normally would have a Coke with (i.e., tacos and pizza). I’ll feel my hand want to reach for a can, but I resist. I’ve been having pretty much just water for the past two weeks. I tried flavoring my water, but bleh. I’d rather just have plain water.

Exercise is still up and down. It’s the hardest thing to commit to, though I always feel better when I do go to the gym. Now that I purchased a stability ball, yoga mat, and hand weights, it does make it much easier to at least do SOMETHING every day. My friend recommended this stability ball home exercise, which kicks your freakin’ butt. So even on my bad days, I’m doing something, which is more than I would have EVER done before.

My stamina is up. I’ve noticed that I’m not breathing hard after doing seemingly little physical movement. What a relief. I used to be slightly winded after walking into work every morning. Embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. Now I feel fine, and I purposefully walk as fast as possible to and from my car. It feels good that I can go up a flight of stairs with a basket of laundry and not be winded. That was my reality before.

Green Smoothie

I’ve been drinking green smoothies every morning at work for the past week. It’s amazing how changing that one little thing changes everything. Before, I generally would just eat a breakfast bar (which technically isn’t bad for you, but it’s not AS good), but now I just drink a smoothie. It keeps me full until lunch most days, but the biggest difference is how much more alert and clear-headed I feel after I drink it. I feel so much more focused now in the mornings. It’s a great feeling.

When I’m having a low day now, I watch “The Biggest Loser” to re-energize myself. I’ve always enjoyed watching that show, but now I don’t watch it while eating a bowl of ice cream.

I also created a Facebook support group for ladies of any age, physical set, etc. to share their stories, get inspiration from others, and swap recipes and helpful links. It’s been so wonderful. If you want to join, just let me know!

The wedding I’m standing up in is almost four weeks away, and I’m going to feel good no matter what. I’ve already achieved more than I ever thought I could. But I’m not stopping after the wedding. I’ve already signed up for two 5Ks this summer to keep myself motivated and going. It’s going to be awesome.

Healthy

Dreams into Plans

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Guys, I actually LIKE exercising (and other astonishing facts about my healthier 2013 plan)

ImageAs I previously mentioned on my blog, one of my main goals for 2013 (not a resolution–people give up on resolutions) is to get more in shape and eat better. We’re about a month in now, since I started just before the new year, and I just wanted to share some awesome things that I’ve learned/discovered/experienced since I started on this “journey.”

  1. I actually LIKE exercising. I know, I can’t believe it either. I mean, is it my absolute favorite thing to do? No. Would I much rather just head straight home after work? Yes. But I feel so good when I’m done. Like I accomplished something, something attainable because I know how my body feels after and it’s different than when I walked in. And trust me, it’s huge that I’m saying these things because I’m normally the girl who scoffs at the gym rats and rolls my eyes when people talk about a “runner’s high.” I thought it was all a big waste of time and not for me. But I was wrong. So if you’ve never tried, I encourage you to just give it a shot. If you are currently, let’s both keep at it.
  2. Eating better isn’t the worst thing in the world. It is a struggle for me because I am the world’s pickiest eater. I WISH I could just fill up on veggies all day and be happy. But I only like a handful and I have to stick with those. Changing my eating habits (I’m calorie counting) has actually been more difficult than the whole gym thing, which I did not anticipate. But I discovered certain foods have a strong hold on me, and it’s so hard to whittle those out. It’s hard to make the commitment to packing a lunch for the next day at work, when all I want to do is just grab something on the food setup we have there. And the hardest thing has been…
  3. Reducing the Coke intake. Anyone who really knows me knows I really, really love Coca-Cola. But I knew I couldn’t continue with my two-cans-a-day intake. So I’ve reduced it to one a day. I know that may not seem like a victory, but it really is. Because during my non-Coke meals, I think about Coke. I think about how much better the meal would taste if I had a Coke. But I drink that dang water. Hopefully someday on the horizon I can give it up all together, but it’s about baby steps right now. (And I despise diet sodas, so don’t even try recommending I switch to Diet Coke or even Coke Zero.)
  4. Tell as many people as possible about your goals. It’s really hard to admit “Hey, I’m pretty out of shape” to the world. But I had to, because on the days I want to quit, those are the people who keep me focused and going. Hearing “I’m so proud of you” from someone is encouragement beyond words. I have people at home, work and friends on Facebook all cheering for me, so there’s no way I could just slip off the radar and stuff my face. I’ve posted about it a lot especially on Facebook and found something fascinating: SO many people, people I would have never guessed have to care about their weight, are also trying to do the same thing or have in the past. I knew a few people who did (particularly because of their gym-related Facebook posts) but so many others never post about it, and I didn’t have an idea until the messages started pouring in. 
  5. Saying “no” feels really good. As most of you know, I’m surrounded by delicious food on an almost daily basis at work. Yesterday there was an entire platter of banana-vanilla cupcakes sitting right outside my cube. Normally, I would have had three at least (they were mini). But I said “no” for the entire day, and I felt like I was on cloud nine. It did help that I had four co-workers and my boss all yell out “Stay strong, Molly!” as soon as they hit the table. But every time I say “no” to something I would have normally inhaled, this song plays in my head.

I have a long way to go still, but the fact that something finally switched over in my head and I want to do this for myself is big. So don’t let me quit when I want to! Feel free to check in on me.

Also, I’m especially looking for low cal recipes. If you have one you love (and you think an extreme picky eater would enjoy), please pass the link on to me!

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