I am a Winner

I officially hit 31 days of working out IN A ROW on Friday, May 3rd. Saturday I was on my feet a lot hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law (BABYHENRYBABYHENRYBABYHENRY! Come out come out and play!) but I really took yesterday off.

Completion of those 31 days also means I won The Bet! Hello, I was so not in the mood to fail. There were a few days I’m sure I wouldn’t have worked out if not for the bet, and I’m better for having pushed myself and gotten myself back on track. In addition, I also finished my no sugar April, though a bit less successfully as I had sugar the weekend of Rock the Parkway. I also apparently learned nothing from the no sugar challenge because I ate sugary things all weekend (not in obscene amounts or anything, but definitely not a good level for me.)

Oh well. I lost a bit of weight and my clothes are definitely looser and I felt fitness gains in my running and with pilates and yoga — so April was a good month for me.

As I was nearing the end of the month, I decided I needed to do another challenge for May. You see, I love peanut butter. So creamy! So salty! So satisfying in oatmeal, on bananas, on apples, off a spoon, straight out of the jar! And the problem is I was enjoying too many of those experiences each day. I wasn’t eating sugar, but sure was eating extra peanut butter. Sigh.

So, with this self-knowledge, I knew what I needed to do for May: reduce my reliance on peanut butter. But, I can’t have just one thing! I must be obsessive!  I give you my list of May challenges and goals:

  • Reduce my reliance on peanut butter. This means limit myself to one serving per day, at most. I ended up running out of peanut butter a few days before the end of the month so I made my own nut butter (which ended up really being nut paste.) So far, I’ve only used it a few times in my oatmeal and never more than 1 tablespoon at a time. It’s a proprietary blend of plain old peanuts, almonds and a teaspoon/tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Because I obviously didn’t change my habits, continue with my sugar challenge. This time, I’m not going 100% no sugar, but I’m putting boundaries on my “treat” consumption. No more than one treat per week. I’m also still going to avoid foods with added sugar (except for an occasional Chobani because those are delicious or protein bar.) I generally feel gross if I eat foods that are packaged or processed and oh, I’m in major budget mode, so I need to limit my food spending and processed foods are spendy.
  • Decided yesterday: I’m going to do a plank a day. I think I should work on building up the time. I had to do 3 this morning as part of my workout and I should have asked how long the holds were. Probably a minute. When I started they were 15 seconds. I know I can hold longer than a minute, but I should set a numeric goal to hit by the end of a month.
  • And the funnest of the fun, a group challenge! Cheryl and Jason decided to do 45 minutes of cardio 6 days per week for 4 weeks and if I succeed at this also, I get a free session! Most of my workouts in April were at least an hour, so I have a good base.

Since it’s already May 6th I’m going to keep this challenging going right up to the day before Baby Henry’s due date*: June 6th.

*June 7th — MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

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Baby Got …

…pants. I bought new pants. They are a size 12. I was a size 22. I feel pretty good about that.

I had a little photo shoot with myself before work in my awesomely disorganized closet.

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Rock the Parkway Recap

If I’d written and published this post when first I started on Sunday, it would be colored only with joy and excitement, pride and confidence. But how do you write a race recap after the horror of what happened at the Boston Marathon?

I’ve never run a marathon. (No, 3 half marathons don’t count even if the sum of the parts is more than 26.2 miles.) I’ve logged hours on my feet, developed blisters upon blisters and beloved calluses. In those hours I called upon anything and everything that would just get me through the pain of hills and speed sessions or tedium of long runs.

In running we talk a lot about reaching that something inside ourselves. A voice, a desire and tenacity. But I’ve found that there is something extrinsically linked to my running experiences. I melt into a deeper, freer fluid connection to everything around me. When I don’t fight this unity and instead absorb it – breathe it – in, 2, 3, out 2, 3 – I will gush about how good my run was and everything in my life will be brighter and shinier. My ability to show love will be on par with when I’ve had a few too many. You see, I’m not good at expressing affection AT ALL. I’m somewhat bubbly, yet quiet. Sedate, yet jovial. But I’m guarded. Why I’m like this, I don’t know. Why are any of us who we are? We just are.

Running has connected me back to myself. It’s connected me to my joy and lightness. It’s connected me to my deepest, unprocessed grief.

The spectators, most random, are part of that extrinsic motivation. They give you that push as if sending you a boost of energy from their chilled, sign-holding fingertips. Children high five you excitedly even though you are gross and sweaty and spitty and maybe wearing snot you didn’t quite rocket. Dogs sit patiently, and adorably, along the course offering a calming break from thinking about your pace or how many more miles you have to cover. Those dogs man, they are course therapy. I mean, think how great it feels to look at lolcats or YouTube videos? You get them IN REAL LIFE when racing. No need to sacrifice.

I will never understand what lives inside a person and makes them want to so badly to hurt others. To smother joy with a blanket of terror and grief.

But grief drives us. Running is therapy. Did they hope to destroy that? Did they just know there would be a lot of distracted people?

The odds of me running the Boston Marathon as anything other than a bandit are slim. I’m not a fast runner – not yet. I will be someday. I know I will. Still, to BQ I’d need to be able to run a 3:35 marathon. My best half time is one hour under this. Yikes.

Most of the people who were hurt in the bombings had probably already sacrificed for the sport. That makes my heart ache.

And now, my Rock the Parkway recap as told in pictures. It was a truly lovely run. My goal was just enjoying the course and the experience without focusing on time. I could have PR’d if I’d pushed in a few spots, but I finished the race with a smile and cheers for those left on the course. I even had energy to go home and do housework. NO nap was taken! I think I’ll line up with a pace group for my next half marathon and see what I’ve got.

Progress Update

Since I’m doing this no sugar and workout everyday thing, I thought I’d post current picture. Also, the last progress pictures I added were in my workout clothes. So I give you ME, post workout in the gym bathroom on Friday, April 5th. This morning I weighed in at 166.2 pounds. Let’s see where I am in 30 days. (Also still not quite 5’4″ and wearing a medium shirt and size 14 skirt.)

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The Bet

I mentioned in my last post that I gave up sugar for the month of April. Giving up sugar means giving up more than sweets; its giving up foods that contain sugar — and there are lots of them. So far, so good. When I wanted chocolate the other night I blended up cocoa powder with almond milk, ice and a little protein powder (it has stevia but I’m allowing it.)

This brings a certain mindfulness back to eating. It also helps reinforce preparing my own food and relying less on eating out and pre-packaged foods. (Bye bye Amy’s!)

In addition to this I’ve now entered into a bet with Cheryl. She gave me three choices:

  1. Go all month without sugar (but I’m already doing that)
  2. Lose 5 lbs this month (hard to control)
  3. Workout everyday this month (hmm.)

I chose #3: Workout everyday this month. Here’s why I chose it and why I agreed to the bet. (It’s not for the reward at the end.) Oh, but first the terms. Things that don’t count as a workout: walks and stretching. They’re still good (and encouraged) but a workout needs to meet a certain level of intensity. Things that do count include: yoga (but it needs to be a class or a full DVD — just languidly doing yoga poses in my living room does not count), workout dvds, classes, shorter workouts as long as they are intense (like 20 minutes of interval running), walking up the stairs at work (from the bottom to my Floor 22), and other circuit workouts.

I said yes to the bet because it supports my goals and I like challenge. [Also, the thought disappointing someone else makes me unhappy. ] The languid yoga and stretching and simply not working out have been too prevalent lately. If I want to meet my goals I need to keep pushing myself. A big part of that means not skipping or short-changing workouts.

Who knows – I just might reach that #2 Lose 5 lbs after all.

Finding Fast

Running fast is terrifying. I read once that it feels like controlled falling. Falling kind of sucks and I heartily try to avoid it. In the one trail race I did last fall I slow motion tripped on an errant tree root and almost fell face first into the leafy path. It was sort of crazy and exhilarating.

To me running fast has always meant my heart would have to feel like it was about to explode, my lungs would be choking me and I’d need to shriek like a banshee because I’d have to be insane to be able to do it.

After running that first painful mile last January and training for races (and completing them) I started to obsess over my pace. That’s a lie. I was obsessing during training. Why wasn’t I faster? Was it because I’m still overweight? But there are all these stories of overweight people who start running and slim down and run faster than me. Why was my pace on par with the pace of the old guy in Spirit of the Marathon?* I’m only 32; I work out regularly, drink my water and eat healthy.** Shouldn’t I be faster than him?

Consistent weight training has made my legs and core strong. Why isn’t strong translating to fast? And the most terrifying question: is my fitness a lie?

This past weekend my Saturday long run was emotionally awful. I was feeling off, mentally bleh and I was anxious about my ever special digestive bits. It turned out to be a lovely day for a walk. Which is my way of saying, I did a lot of walking and my pace was extra slow. The aftermath of my 8+ mile run the previous Saturday (that would be pain in the gut region***) I let the miles scare me. (10!) I let the time scare me. (at least 2hrs!) Introspection makes me realize it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought physically — I simply didn’t have my mental shit together.

Towards the end, I got so fed up that I just tried going fast.  I leaned forward, and bent my legs and I churned. I tried to run “light” like the guy in Born to Run. Stop clomping and stomping and bobbing up and down, Katie! Oddly enough, I managed to be pretty fast.

That was my last run before last night. I was anxious about the run because of the slow factor so I decided I’d try to recalibrate my Garmin foot pod. With that, I set off in a light run with sprints and walking breaks when I felt like it. My goal was covering enough distance for calibration, screw the rest of it.  After 3 attempts, I think I got it only…the pace seemed so much faster than what I was used to. I felt like I was running stronger and faster, but could I really be running that fast? There was a “used” feeling in my hamstrings that I don’t generally associate with running. My guts felt fine. Did I actually achieve good form and run with a flexible, whole leg? Is my usual form too stiff and short? Garmin Connect, I shake my fist at you! (Hey, ya’ll feel free to be my friend on Garmin. I have none. I’m trmndsblndtte. I over share a lot because no one reads it but me!)

Next Tuesday I’m attending a “good running form” clinic at Garry Gribbles Running Sports (a local running store.) Did I mention it’s free? My friend Tara recently attended and with modifications she’s already shaved an entire minute off her mile time.

Of course, running fast is about more than form and breathing. It’s about consistency and pushing yourself through the hard and uncomfortable. Despite my exuberance and glee about bonding with nature I’m still having trouble getting myself out for those mid-week miles – and they matter.

So tonight I shall put on my running shoes and practice falling.

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*No disrespect. That guy is AWESOME.

**When it’s not Mo’ Sugar March! So much sugar was consumed by me in March. And with it, fat and calories. Guess who probably didn’t lose any fat last month? Hence why it is now No Sugar April.

***A lot of people get the “OMG I’m GOING TO POOP MY PANTS!” feeling. That’s not generally what I get, though I’ve been there. For me, I get a pain that feels like I’ve seared my intestines like a Grade A steak. It can also feel like someone has inflated my intestines and then bound them with a rope and tied off the ends. Ultimately, I think one of my issues is what and how much I eat pre-run. And I’m not just talking about breakfast. Dinner the night before impacts how I feel. I’ve decided to ban beans from my day-before-a- long-run meal strategy. Instead of my beloved Chipotle bol (brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn, mild salsa and guacamole!) I am going to try my fabulous quinoa pasta with homemade sauce (lots of sautéed veggies with organic tomato paste, vinegar, basil olive oil, herbs and spices) and parmesan (because CHEESE!)

How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

Volunteering at "Hoops for Hounds" benefiting KC Pet Project, March 14, 2013.
Volunteering at “Hoops for Hounds” benefiting KC Pet Project, March 14, 2013.

Well, that’s me. Only, I didn’t recognize myself at first. Weight loss is strange. I have cheekbones. And my nose is interesting. and I’m making a face because that’s what I always do in pictures. (sigh) [and my roots are showing]

The Lottery

I entered the Chicago Marathon lottery. They regretted to inform me that I was not selected. The morning of the lottery announcement this happened:

Now I must decide how badly I want to run this race. I can still gain entry through a charity. I just have to raise a certain amount of money and they not only get me a registration, but they will pay for my entry fee.

Last year, I chose Chicago for three reasons:

  1. It’s consistently ranked as a great course for first time marathoners.
  2. I saw a glowing review for the 2012 event on Fiterature.
  3. It’s in my mom’s hometown (with “her people.”) [This likely means crying because I am a baby.]

Oh yeah, I actually decided I was going to run a marathon while I was training for my first half. Being consumed by running and surrounded by people who were running them and training for them, it just hit me that I wanted to do that. I was reading books about running, I was running, I was talking about running, I was writing about running. (I was punctuating badly.) Running a marathon is also like the ultimate way to say “F’ YOU! I’m not the obese girl lacking confidence and afraid to try anymore. [I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE ANYMORE!]  F YOU FEAR.

After I entered the lottery, I really thought I was going to get in. I just had a feeling that it was supposed to happen. Now I’m a little less certain. Watching Spirit of the Marathon certainly inspired me as I cheered on the regular guys and the elites alike. That could be me.

Here’s my dilemma:  I am a terrible fundraiser. Remember those candy selling fundraisers? I ate the candy. I ATE IT ALL.

What do you think? Can I raise $925 for Girls on the Run? Can I run a marathon?

Stuck in the Middle

Something has been in the back of mind for a few months. A fear, a worry a perpetual pest. For the last several months, my weight loss has been slower than I’d like. As soon as I get down, I seem to go right back up. Why am I bouncing around so much? Why can’t I break this barrier? Why is this so hard?

I’ve hit the spot where I’ve failed in the past. I fear that I will never surpass this point and reach my ultimate goal. Sure, I am in a lot better place than I was 2 or 3 years ago, but I am not satisfied. There is more fat to lose and more fitness to be gained!

With 45 lbs left to go, I don’t feel like I should be having so much trouble. But here’s the thing: I keep making concessions for myself. I keep making excuses. I keep sabotaging weight loss for instant gratification. I’m still working out and I’m still eating mostly healthy — but it’s the stuff that doesn’t fall under “mostly” that is costing me. Too many indulgences.

I’ve been telling myself it’s okay to just maintain for a bit. This is a long process and at some point, I’m going to be done losing weight. I’m going to be in maintenance. What then?

The take-away (ha!) for me is that I need to hold myself accountable to my goals. If I truly want this, I need to keep plugging along. Keep pushing. Keep challenging.

So, bye-bye my darling M&Ms! Bye-bye, sweet, sweet Reese’s eggs! Bye-bye ice cream and Fro-Yo Friday*! Bye-bye: Dove Promises, random dark chocolate, Junior Mints, boozey treats, Jelly Bellies, gluten free cookies and cake! Until I can learn to moderate your consumption, I must steer clear.

One thing is different — I’m not beating myself up. I’m not tut-tutting or feeling shameful. It’s okay that I’m not perfect and I’ve sort of coasted. It only becomes un-okay if I never get passed it.

So, here I go again. Focused. Competitive. Optimistic.

 

*Lord how I love Fro-Yo Friday. Screw going out on the town on Friday. I like settling in with my jammies and a giant thing of frozen yogurt from my local shop. They had dark chocolate curls (HAD :() and my goodness. Perfection. Sometimes I get fruit, but usually not because it gets gross in the freezer. Sigh.

Running from Fire

Sitting on my couch draped in my red blanket, I feel safe. Sadly, that sentence is now out of date because I’m currently at work. My toes are a little frozen and I’m draped in a drab green blanket. (Hey, blankets are awesome!) I started this post a couple weeks ago — like I started 3 other posts. Apparently, one should finish writing and then hit “publish.” Whatever. But, in truth, more than my blog is stuck in “draft” mode.

Universe, I’m putting it out there: I’m afraid of running. That thing that I glowed about? That thing that consumed me for months? I’m terrified. While the rational part of me knows it’s ridiculous and I need to just push through, the other side of me, the what-the-heck do I call it side, is pretty freaked out.

After the half marathon in November I kept running – just shorter distances. And then I got busy and it started getting colder and I realized I liked wine and lounging on Sunday mornings and not having wind burn on my face. I felt disconnected and disheartened with my running group as I never made a connection with any of the other members. Now I’m out of the running habit and not sure I can do well.

You see, I was really disappointed with myself. Even though I beat my previous time and barely walked, the level of effort I expended (physically and mentally) made me wary. I want to be fast, ferocious and strong. I want to be lean and FAST. I don’t want to feel like a heffalump clump-clomp-clumping along. [No offense to heffalumps; they are cute and purple and have cool friends.]

I’m fighting an image and a goal. I’m fighting a desire. I’m fighting the fact that I still have a lot of work to do before I reach my goal. These goals of mine are at times overwhelming and entirely exhausting and I’ve been at them for a LONG time. I needed a break, which I took, but I’m finding that getting back into action adventure fitness weight loss ass-kicking hero(ine) mode is not a smooth transition. I suppose my expectation shouldn’t have been that I’d hop right back in and everything would be peachy. Struggle will never leave. Seriously, I’m just ready for the part where I’m good at running — and that’s a big part of my current issue. I’m not really that good at it. I’m not terrible and I probably could be good – some day — DAMN YOU, SOME DAY! — but I also have this perfectionism thing. I need to be the best (or one of the best.) Instead of using this as motivation to keep going, I’ve let it stop me and feed the doubt until I’m terrified to try.

So tonight my goal is to make myself do it. I shall run (though on a treadmill because brrrr!) And then I shall make myself do it again. And I’ll set a new goal or two. And I’ll achieve them because somewhere inside this terrified, purple heffalump is action adventure fitness Katie — heroine of her own life. (cheesy!)