Monday, December 7, 2015

Deciding You Want It

This is not really news. But it's hitting me really hard this evening.

When a person decides they want something… I mean, they REALLY want it… they will do whatever it takes to achieve it. They find a way. But until that time comes… NOTHING anybody can do or say will make a difference.

Take weight loss for example. When someone decides they really want to lose weight, they are willing to do whatever it takes for that to happen. They will undergo painful, risky, and expensive surgeries. They will endure hours upon hours of brutal workouts. They will follow whatever diet plan anybody tells them to. And they actually will do it. But until they really want it… it does not matter how easy it is, they won't do it. They will find an excuse why they can't.

If you want it, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.

It's something for me to realize. To think about right now. Because I seem to be making a lot of excuses lately. So, I need to take some time to decide… is this something I really want?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Off Track

I've had a hard time getting back on top of things after my half marathon. I came down with a virus just a few days after my marathon (seriously… days. I was still sore from my race when I came down with this) and it completely threw me into a tail spin. And I haven't been on track since.

I have gained a few pounds back. Enough so that I'm starting to notice it in how my clothes fit. And that's freaking me the hell out. It's been really hard for me to stay motivated to workout. The time change and having it dark and cold out now makes it really hard. I have learned why they call it the "dreadmill" after learning to love running outside. And without a race to train for… it's especially hard to keep motivated. And my niece is dealing with an injury that has sidelined her. She hasn't been able to run since the half marathon, so she isn't signing up for any races either. So, without a racing partner, it's really easy to slack off.

And my eating is a joke. Seriously. JOKE. I'm having a hard time disciplining myself to get that under control.

However… I feel like I'm starting to get back to my routine with working out. I have a co-worker who has been going to Golds Gym. And she has slacked off for several months and is trying to get back to it herself. She invited me to her Body Pump class I think in hopes that having someone counting on her… will help her stay with it. So I went with her to that class (I got in on her guest pass). And surprisingly really liked it. I have never had the slightest interest in classes before, but I really enjoyed the Body Pump class. It kicked my butt! Holy crap… after that first class, I hurt in every muscle in my body. Including some I wasn't even aware I had! But I loved that it was a full body strength training in one hour. So, I kept going on her pass for a couple of weeks. But hard an increasingly hard time wanting to go back to Planet Fitness on my cardio days. So, I finally just joined Golds Gym. That's been helpful to me in wanting to get back to working out. I'm hoping once I can get back into a routine again, that I will find the discipline to get my eating under control.

I tried out a Zumba class once I got my own membership at Golds. And I didn't really like it. But I was glad to try something new and figure out what I like and what I don't. And that's one of the main reasons I decided to go over to Golds Gym is because it would offer me more opportunities to try new things. And that's what I want for myself right now… I need to challenge myself. Try something new. Push myself to go further or faster. To lift heavier. I love Planet Fitness. I have nothing but good things to say about them. But I feel like I've gotten everything I can out of them. I credit them with getting me to this point though. The point where I'm not afraid to try out something new. Even if I suck at it. Even if I end up hating it. Even if I'm back at feeling like an absolute beginner. And even though I'm not in a great place right now… I know what to do to get back to where I want to be. And I know that I can do it. And it's gonna be a hell of a lot easier to get there from here than it was to get there the first time!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Half Marathon Recap

Well, it's official. I am a half marathoner! On Saturday October 10, 2015 I ran the half marathon option of the Layton Marathon. It was my first. But it won't be my last!

The Layton Marathon is relatively new in the world of marathons. It has only been going for 6 or 7 years. The reason for the hesitation… I was talking to a guy on the bus to the starting line who said he had run this 6 times, ever since it started. What I don't know is if that day would be number 6 or if that day would have been number 7. The Layton Marathon is unique among the Utah marathons. Utah is a mountainous state. Therefore, almost all of our marathons include quite a change in elevation over the course of the race. Layton is advertised as the "flattest course in Utah" with only a 200 foot elevation change over the course of 26.2 miles.  It is a Boston qualifier. I understand it is also an Olympic qualifier. I chose the Layton Marathon for my first half for three main reasons… 1) it was local. I live 15 minutes away from Layton. No traveling required. I would be training in basically identical conditions that I would be running in. And I would be able to sleep in my own bed in the nights prior to the race. No worrying about "the first night in a strange bed" syndrome. 2) It was flat! I'm pretty comfortable on downhills, but uphills still test me. And I figured a flat would be a good one for a first timer. 3) By the time I decided I wanted to be able to do a half this year… I needed to find a race that was far enough out that it gave me adequate time to train. This one fit.

Training went pretty good, until my "long runs" started hitting 8+ miles. Then finding time to get in the long runs became a real challenge. I could easily dedicate 2 hours in the evenings for running, but my speed is slow enough that 8-ish miles is about all I could get in during that time. If I wanted to be able get in longer runs, I would have to do them on Saturday mornings. But I work a graveyard shift and I worked Friday nights. I could do a speed work run or a mid length run on Saturdays, but I did not have the energy to do a long run at that time. I finally had to split up my runs, by doing 3 miles on the treadmill on my break at work, then doing 7 miles during my normal running time. I was able to get 10.5 miles in in a day, before it was time to taper. But 8.5 miles was the longest I was able to get in in one setting. So, I was a little nervous going into it. I had talked to an employee at a running store when I went with my niece to get her some new shoes. She said the important thing was to get in the miles. Doing it all in one setting was more about the mental advantage it gave you. So, I tried to psyche myself into it with positive self-talk and simply stating… without question or hesitation… that I would finish. That was not the question. The only question was "how bad will it hurt afterwards?"And I am not afraid of pain. I am not afraid to sweat. I am not afraid of "hard." I am only afraid of giving up.

So, the night before the race, my niece came up to my house. She would stay with me that night, so as to maximize the amount of sleep she could get. Once she got here, I went with her to the expo for packet pick up. Then we came home for a pasta dinner and an early night.
My bib for my first half marathon.

My sister (Sue) was going to take my phone the
next morning and get pictures of us on the
course and at the finish. So I gave her a last
minute crash course on how to use my iPhone.
She's technologically challenged and doesn't
own a smartphone of her own. And my phone
takes better quality pictures than even my
camera! Sue hams things up and Jen and I were
getting a bit punchy with nerves. So everything
was hilarious. 

One thing I have wanted to do for a couple
of months was to get a photo of Jen and I
wearing the shirt that I was wearing in my "before"
photo 18 months ago. Since, I had essentially
lost the same amount that she weighs. That was
an exercise getting our heads through the neck hole!

And finally… this was the result. Obviously
the shirt didn't fit quite like that… but you
 get the idea!

Jen and I woke up about 4:45-5:00 in the morning the day of the race. And Sue got up early as well to take my phone from me and see us off. And she decided she needed to get pictures of the "getting ready" process. There is a photo of me putting on sunscreen wearing nothing but capris and a sports bra. That one will not be included in this blog post! :-) 

Laying out my shirt so I could pin on the bib.

Jen putting on her shoes

Grabbing the last items. A sweatshirt for the
standing around time at the start line and of course,
can't forget my hat or my hydration belt. 

Jen had her phone and took this photo of our fellow
 runners hanging around at the start line as it started getting
light enough to see. I had to hi-jack it from her Instagram feed!
It was a frigid morning at the start line! Luckily Jen and I were smart enough to bring sweatshirts, but that was all. Live and learn for next time! Once the full marathon had started, then they transported all the equipment to our start line and they had a heater attached to a generator. But until that time… COLD! We had to remind ourselves that once we got started we would be loving the chilly temps. And we would be sweating profusely shortly thereafter! Jen and I both started out walking. For less than 5 minutes, but it gave us a chance to warm up and to let the crowd thin out a little so we weren't running in a bottleneck. Smart choice on our part, I think. My game plan was to go out easy for the first 8 miles. But I was passing people within the first mile. And I stayed ahead of them the whole way. And I'm not a fast runner! We hadn't been running for very long (in fact, Jen was still in my sight) when I saw Sue on the side of the road, phone in hand. I couldn't believe she was there that early. But I loved it. I loved knowing that I would periodically be seeing her along the course. Somebody to cheer me on specifically. Somebody who would care if I was struggling. Or if I was running strong for that matter. 

The race started on the Causeway going out to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. The full marathon actually started on the island. But the half started on the causeway. It was beautiful watching the sun come up, but once we got started… I don't pay much attention to anything except running. So I was glad Sue got a nice shot of the scenery for me. These next photos are some of the earlier photos (taken within the first 5 miles).

Just before the 5 mile marker, I heard someone behind me say "I thought that was you." And I turned around to see my cousin! I was so thrilled to see him. It was such a surprise. I haven't seen him in so long and yet he's one of my favorite cousins. That little drop by made my day! Aside from the sheer fact of finishing, seeing him was the highlight of the whole experience. He jogged with me for a few minutes and we chatted. We took a running selfie together, then he ran up ahead so he could get some action shots of me. He then had to take off… but it was a wonderful experience for me to see him. 

Running selfie with my cousin! I LOVE HIM!

Approaching the 5 mile marker
(taken by my cousin)

She's still smiling, but you can tell Jen is
starting to hurt in this picture.

My plan was to run easy until mile 8, then start picking people off. But they were far enough ahead that I would have had to kill it in order to start passing them. And by 9 miles, I was starting to hurt. I was okay. I could keep going. But I was at the point where this was longer than I had ever run before and my body was feeling it. So, at this point… the goal became to just keep going, rather than to try to pick people off. Long around 11 miles, I could see Jen up ahead of me, walking. Jen is almost always out of my sight during a race… so I knew when I was able to see her, that she was in trouble. I caught up to her. Before I could say anything she said "Don't touch me!" She was hurting pretty bad by this point and could no longer run. But she was determined to at least finish. And she said she knew if she stopped for even a half a second, she'd never be able to finish. So, she told me to go on ahead. 

Rounding the bend, just before the finish line.
I didn't have quite enough "juice" to finish
with a full-on sprint, but I was able to pick up
my pace and finish strong.

I MADE IT! Time was 3:07:45

Jen coming around the final bend. A marathon
pacer had passed her earlier and noticed she was
struggling, so after she finished, she went back
out to find Jen and walk with her back in.
Jen managed to dig deep the last 10 feet and
cross the finish line at a jog. But it was painful
looking. Poor girl!

And she made it! I can't remember her exact time.
It was about 3:15. She proceeded to find the
nearest patch of grass and she collapsed and
started to cry. I was so proud of her for finishing
when she was hurting that badly. 

I was hurting too. And this last photo
is of the two of us hobbling off together
to find the massage tent!

So, my takeaway lesson from this experience was that training can beat genetics. And youth. Jen is younger than me. She has never been seriously overweight. She has an athletic background. And just general more natural ability. But I was able to dedicate more time to training for this race. When I started to hurt… I was able to keep going. I couldn't pick up my speed like I wanted to pick people off, but I could keep running. Jen crashed. She walked the last 2 miles. And then collapsed at the end. The ONLY reason I was able to finish ahead of her and finish stronger, is because of my training. Because youth, genetics, natural ability… was all on her side. I find it a valuable lesson. People often use age or genetics as reasons why they can't do something. But training (aka. hard work) trumps that. You absolutely can do it if you are willing to work for it. 

"It's going to hurt. Accept that. We don't train so it won't hurt. We train so that we can handle the pain."

I had three goals in mind for this half marathon. I accomplished all three of them. They were, in order of importance… 1) Survive! 2) Finish strong. This has nothing to do with my time or whether or not I could finish at a sprint. For me it meant to finish feeling good enough (both physically and about the experience) that I would do it again. 3) I was hoping for a time at 3:15 or better. I heard something that the best predictor of your half marathon time is 5x your 5k time. Well 5x my average 5k time would have been 3:20. 5x my best 5k time was 3:15. So, to come in ahead of that was a great victory for me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another Major Life Change

As most of you know (if you are my friends on MFP anyway), I have recently decided to make another major life change. 

My job has been driving me up the wall. Burning me out. Pissing me off. Constantly. Every night. I have always been able to find the good points about this facility even when they've been being stupid. But lately… I have nothing good to say about this place. And even less good to say about the upper management. I'm just done. I been contemplating making a major career change for awhile. And now with things going so bad here right now, it's really been on my mind. I will have to get some certification to be able to pursue employment in the area I'm thinking of. And being that it's a completely new direction for me… it's made me highly anxious. And I've had my doubts about whether or not it would even work out for me. Could I even do this job? And could I make a living at it? And if I do pursue it… do I just stick it out here until that time, or do I find another "in the meantime" job? I've considered just getting another job doing essentially the same thing I'm already doing. But since I've been here 8+ years, finding a job that will pay me at an equivalent level is a little tricky. 

I've talked to a few people about the new direction I was considering. Mostly my family. One very close friend. People I can trust to be honest with me. And to be honest… I expected them to laugh in my face. Even if they were trying to be supportive and kind… I expected a long silence followed by a skeptical "are you sure you've thought this through?" But in every case… they've been surprised, but immediately they've said something along the lines of "that's great! You would be awesome at that. That could be the very thing you've been looking for your entire life." Every time. 

As some of you may know… I'm highly religious. So in making a major decision like this, I had to involve God in the process. So, after talking to several people, after thinking about it A LOT, and even taking the matter up with God… I decided to go for it.

So, I have actually gotten online and made the purchases to pursue the education necessary for certification as a personal trainer. I just got an email yesterday confirming that my manuals have been shipped. It's still a little nerve wracking. But I've felt good since jumping in. None of those "oh, crap, what have I just done?" feelings. And it's really exciting too. I keep wondering what else I can do. And that's fun. To realize a world of possibilities and start getting excited to explore them.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


This blog has gotten neglected the past couple of months. Partly because I spent most of June and July "off-track." And partly because there have been other projects that I've put a higher priority on than updating this blog.

But I feel like I'm finally back on track. I broke through my "plateau" that persisted all the way through July and the first couple of weeks of August. And I'm down to a new lowest weight of 202.8. Soo close to One-derland! My new "goal weight" since my body fat testing a few months ago is 195. So, I'm getting really close to where I want to be. And I'm really looking forward to maintenance and being able to focus on fitness related goals and less on the the scale. 

I'm still running. Half marathon coming up in October. I just did 2 back to back 5k's this past weekend. Well, kinda back to back. One on Friday night and one on Saturday morning. I was pleased with my time in both of them. The one on Friday night was the only one that was actually timed and according to the results they posted on their website, my time was 39:36. Which I thought I was about 40:some odd. But assuming 39:36 is accurate… That is a new PR for me. That was better than my time at the Liberty 5k on the 4th of July. And based on my nieces highly unofficial app… my time for Saturday morning was comparable. So I'm happy. And I have to say… having my niece there for these races have been enough to push me into finishing these races at a sprint. I started that on the 4th and I've done  it at my races ever since. But the one on Saturday… I had my eye on these 2 runners the whole time. And we were always passing each other periodically through the whole race. Well, on that home stretch going into the finish… they were just a head of me. I pushed into a sprint to finish… but they were doing the same thing, so I did an all-out, balls to the wall, "run like your child's life depends on it" effort and I passed the finish line ahead of them. It was an all-out effort. Obviously not something I could sustain for long… but their was an incredible post-run exhilaration afterwards. I wonder if that is what is referred to as the runners high? Because even though I had just gone all out… I was ready to go again.

I'm way done with my job lately. Getting so frustrated with all the crap that's going on. And seriously thinking about just getting a new one and moving on. But I'm thinking I want to go in a whole different direction. I'm thinking about going the personal trainer route. It appeals to me. And I've heard from a few people that they think that would be a great idea for me. But if I do that… I think I'm going to stick it out where I'm at while I get the certification I need for that. 

The idea appeals to me. I think it could possibly be something that I could be really good at. There is a part of me that hesitates because I see my own limitations. And I'm aware of how much I don't know. And I see the parts of my body that I'm not satisfied with and I wonder why anybody would ever hire a personal trainer that looks like I do. But then I also think about how far I've come. I think about those times that people at the gym have stopped me to tell me how wonderful I look and how inspiring I am. And I think about what I have to offer. And then I can't help but think that this is just another case of doubting myself. Its another case of finding excuses. I mean… what am I afraid of? I priced it out. I could get the certifications I want without having to go into debt. So, what's the worst that could happen? It takes awhile to get a job? Additional education will only be good for me in the long run. Even if I were to never use it… the education would be good for me. If nothing else, I could learn how to train myself.

And what if it worked? I daydream about what my ideal career would be in the fitness industry. What my life would look like. What if I could get everything I dream about? Is that not worth at least trying for? And besides… if I can lose 178 pounds (to date)… what couldn't I do if I simply decided to work for it?

Well, I feel like I've kinda rambled on this particular post. But oh well. At least you now have an update as to where I am. Things are pretty good right now. I'm happy. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

FroYo 10k Recapped and Getting My Head Back in the Game (and My Butt in Gear!)

I have not been on my game lately. Obviously... since it's been so long since I've posted on here. There have been other things that have seemed like a greater priority than keeping this updated. But unfortunately this blog isn't the only thing that's gotten put on back burner.

But first things first…

I told you about the Liberty 5k in my hometown on the 4th of July. Well, the very next Saturday, my niece (Jennifer… the same that ran the 5k with me) and I ran a 10k. It was a first for both of us. I've been doing more dedicated running than Jen has. But she was an athlete in high school, and running was one of her sports (cross-country). So, even though motherhood (and adulthood in general) has taken it's toll on how much time she is able to devote to running these days… she's still a step ahead of me in her running abilities.

Hanging out and getting warmed up and
pumped up beforehand.
And just an interesting side note…
The amount of weight I've lost is the
same amount that Jen weighs.
Someday I'll actually remember to bring
my "before" shirt and see if both of us
can fit into it!
Anyway. Jennifer lives about an hour away from me in a suburb of our state's capitol. The 10k was in her neck of the woods… actually in the capitol city. I picked up Jen at about 7:15 a.m so we could make it to venue in plenty of time. It was a fairly big event. Definitely the biggest that I've been a part of. It offered both a 5k and 10k distance. And it was extremely organized and "official." Lines of porta-potties, complete with hand washing stations. Music, contests, Zumba warm-ups every half hour. You get the picture. They offered water stations every mile… which seemed overkill for a 5k, but it was certainly nice for those of us doing the 10k. Anyway… There were enough people running that they had to start us in 3 separate waves. Jen and I lined up with the run/walk crowd and we were still in the last wave. We decided that we are lining up with the runners at the front next time. See if we can start out ahead of the crowd. It was a little crazy for the first little bit running with so many people… or rather trying to run with so many people. Jen started out walking for the first 5 minutes and I moved up ahead of her. But once she started running, she caught up with me and then was actually ahead of me for the rest of the time.

Swag bag. It included a free frozen yogurt
at the end. It didn't last long enough to
get a picture of it! :-)
The best I can say is that it was a valuable learning experience. Long around mile 4 (leaving behind all the 5k runners)… I was dead last. And I was dying! I knew I could keep going. That wasn't the question. But the idea of putting on some speed so I could catch up with even the people closest to me seemed impossible. But I started getting smart. I was watching these two girls that were the closest ahead of me. They weren't terribly fast. And they were taking walking breaks. Up to this point… I hadn't taken any walk breaks. I'm a slow runner, but I'm a fast walker. I can pretty much out-walk anybody. So, I started taking walk breaks myself. But timing them according to the people ahead of me. Doing that, I was able to catch up to them… even pass them when they were on their walk breaks. There was another girl close by too that I was able to pass when she was walking. There was a girl just a few paces ahead of me as I neared the finish line. Jen was waiting at the finish line for me and having her there pushed me in to a sprint so that I crossed the finish line about two steps ahead of that girl. When the official results were posted online… I found out that I was actually 4 from the last. My time was 1:24:54. Jen finished at 1:19:14. So we weren't that far apart from each other.

A screen shot of my official results.
You had to register online to get
your time posted by name.
Otherwise, it would be by
your bib number. 
Anyway… Like I said… valuable learning experience. Apparently I do better when I take walking breaks. So, I have started to incorporate that into my half marathon training. I have a cousin who's a pretty hard-core runner. Well, she's hard-core in my book. She's qualified for and ran Boston. That's hard-core to me. But when I told her I was training for a half marathon, she mentioned that she is a big advocate of the run/walk method. She's done all her marathons using that method… and that was how she qualified for Boston. That was enough to convince me that run/walk methods are not a cop-out. They are actually a very smart method of running. And then my experience at the 10k proved to me that it would be a good method for me to employ.

But like I said, I haven't been on my game lately. I did okay the week after the 10k, but then things started falling apart at that point. I have not been eating the way I should. And it seems like even on my runs… my head just hasn't been in the game. I got in an 8 mile long run the week following the 10k… but then… nada. Okay. Not exactly nada. I've still been out there. But I haven't been able to match my 8 mile distance.

I'm still debating about how to preserve
and display my bibs and medals from
my various races. 
The weekend of August 1st and 2nd were A JOKE as far as my eating goes. I mean ridiculous. The worst I've had in a very long time. But maybe it was a good thing, because it opened my eyes and made me realize that I had seriously slacked. On Monday (the 3rd), I woke up way late and didn't go work out. But I cleaned up my act as far as my eating goes and managed to stay under my calorie goal even without a workout. The rest of week was on point as well. I realized that I had actually registered for this half marathon. I had paid money for it. My niece was counting on me. This was happening. And if I had any hope of being ready for it… I better get my butt in gear. Not just with my workouts… but that every pound I piled on (even if it's just water weight) would only slow me down. I needed to be in the best shape of my life when October 11th rolled around. I needed to slap myself around a little bit and get back in gear. I could do this. I just needed to DO it. So, the last week has been better. Good workouts the rest of the week. On track with my eating.

In interest of trying to figure out why I allowed myself to get so far off track… I've been doing some thinking about what my problem was and what I could do to get back on track and stay there. I've decided to revisit the "cheat day." I've decided that one day a week… Saturdays… I would allow myself to eat what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to it and not log it. I would try to moderate of course. I wasn't going to use it as an excuse to go hog wild. But I am hoping that by giving myself a day "off" that staying on track won't feel like quite such a chore.

Remember my little "celebrity crush" on Jackson Carter? I follow him on Facebook. And I remember reading his blog once where he stated that eating clean throughout the week and having his weekends "off" is what made it sustainable for him to be able to keep his weight off. So, to be honest, that is one of the main reasons I have decided to revisit the "cheat day."

This past Saturday was my first revisited designated "cheat day." And you know… I feel pretty good about it. I moderated fairly well. And knowing that I didn't have to log it… was a nice mental break for me. I also think it gave me back a sense of personal control. Rather than feeling like I had to answer to MFP. Which I know is ridiculous… but that's kinda the way it felt. Knowing that I didn't have to log. Didn't have to answer to anybody else for that day… gave me back that feeling of control. And when I was in control… It was actually easier for me to moderate than it would have been if I would have been tracking everything religiously. We'll see how this goes as time goes on… but based solely on how it felt to me… I'm going to call it a very wise decision on my part.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Liberty 5k… A Personal Best

Last July 4th (2014), my niece (her name is Jennifer) posted a status update on Facebook about how she had just run a 5k with her dad for the holiday. I was 30 pounds into my weight loss at that time. And I was just barely getting to a point where I could walk at the moderate pace of 3 mph and still breathe (and by the way… I was pretty proud of that at the time!). The idea of being a runner was nowhere near being on my radar. At best, I was counting on that eventually I could up my speed to the point that I would be able to jog and still breathe. I had no idea that my brother and niece had kinda made that a thing (doing a 5k together on the 4th), but I fell in the love with the idea that someday I might be in a position where I could do that with them. And I mentioned to my niece then that by the time July 4th, 2015 rolled around, I would be able to do it with them. And so, that has been in the back of my mind for quite sometime. That become one of my "weight loss bucket list" items. Not just to do a 5k… but to do the one on the 4th with my brother and my niece (and any other member of my family that I could convince to join in!). For months now (at least since Thanksgiving), my brother has been asking me how my training was going. If I would be ready to do the 5k on the 4th of July. So, even though I've been able to do the 3.1 mile distance for some time now… I have been looking forward to that day for a LONG time. A couple of weeks before the race, Jennifer took it upon herself to get us all registered and by that time, another one of my nieces (Micah) had said she would do it with us too. So, our group of three was now a group of four.

Fast forward to the 3rd of July. The race is the next morning and three more of my nieces all said they wanted to do it as well. They are all younger (14, 9, and 8). The 14 year old is training to be part of the cross country team when she starts high school in the fall and she had some of her own money that she was willing to spend. So that was not a huge stretch for her mother to agree to it nor did it concern the rest of us. The younger two are in fairly good physical shape. But it is 3 miles. And they are young. And there was no question that the whole reason they wanted to do it is because we were. They just wanted to be involved. My sister felt like they were in good enough physical condition to be able to do it… but she was not willing to shell out an additional 40 bucks in registration fees just "for fun." However, the race did allow "ghost runners." So my sister gave her permission and even found a couple of $5.00 patriotic tech shirts at Walmart so that the two younger girls would feel apart of it. So, our original group of 3 had now grown to include 7 of us what were going to be running this 5k. Which thrilled me. I had wanted to be able to do this with my family. And now my family was wanting to do this with me!
The family that runs together stays together!

     My best time for a 5k was 43 minutes so far… and that's about where I expected to be. I expected both Jennifer and my brother to be slightly faster than me… but fairly close by. And I had no doubt that the 14 year old would leave us all in the dust. This would be Micah's first 5k and she really hadn't been doing any training for it… so I wasn't sure where she would fall in. I suspected that she would be fine keeping up with me as long as she could run… but that my endurance might be better than hers. As for the younger two… they could probably do some killer short sprints… but I was doubtful of their endurance. Three miles is kinda a long ways when you're that young!

Well, race morning comes. And it turns out my brother was on a time crunch. He is a member of the local search and rescue team and he had responsibilities to help direct traffic and shut down a particular intersection in preparation for the parade that morning. Basically, he had one hour to finish the race, get home, get showered and get to where he was supposed to be to fulfill his responsibilities. So, he takes off. The fact that he's tall and that one of his normal walking strides are equivalent to about three of mine (and I'm tall too!)… means that I had lost sight of him in the crowd early on. And of course I never even saw the 14 year old. She disappeared within about 30 seconds or so of the starting gun. I was doing okay with Jennifer… but as her dad was her ride home and she was aware of his time constraints… she started picking up speed too in hopes that she could catch up to him. So, I was back with the other 3. And soon, I started pulling ahead. Micah just said "Go for it, Shan! You're awesome!" And she and the two younger girls all hung back together.

Official results of the 5k
As I neared the finish line, I spotted the 14 year old waiting there to cheer us all on. Seeing her there and having her cheer me on gave me the strength to cross the finish line at a sprint. When I went looking for my results, I was amazed to see that my time was 39:57. I had said to my brother the night before that I would kill just to get into the 30's. I also saw my brothers time… 29 minutes and some odd seconds. I knew that was a personal best for him too as he had told me the night before that his best had been 33 minutes. It also placed him in 6th place for his age group. Jennifer was not able to catch up to her dad no matter how hard she ran… but she got a personal best too. She was only a few minutes ahead of me. The other three came in a few minutes behind me. Apparently the 8 year old had given up long around mile 2. And Micah had to keep prodding her along just to get her to keep on walking to the finish.

One another topic: While I was back in my hometown for the 4th, I contacted my favorite teacher from high school, Mrs. Street. She had undergone gastric bypass several years ago and had kept the weight off for the past 10 years. She also had skin removal surgery along the way. She looks amazing. But very different than I remember her from high school! I've been wanting a chance to talk to her about her experience. I wanted to know how she determined a good weight for herself. I wanted to know about her experience with skin removal. How much of her weight did she lose before having surgery, etc. So, we got together one afternoon for lunch. She was amazed when she learned that I had lost the weight through just diet and exercise. She had just always assumed that I had undergone some sort of bariatric surgery as well. And I'll tell you… after listening to her experience… I'm sooo thankful that I was able to do this without surgery. She had some truly terrifying complications afterwards. Honestly, she's lucky to still be alive. I love Mrs. Street. And I'm so glad to have had the time to visit with her. But honestly… it wasn't very helpful to me in getting any kind of answers. I asked her how she decided on her goal weight. She said she actually wanted to (and did) get down to anorexic level weight and then go from there to determine where she felt the best. Uh… no! I'm not willing to do that. I asked her when she had her skin removal surgery. She said that she waited for 18 months after her bypass surgery but she couldn't wait any longer than that. But that she continued to lose weight afterwards to the point that she ended up having to have additional skin removed. Yeah… not willing to do that either! However, she was adamant in her belief that having the skin removed was key for being able to keep it off. And I was encouraged to hear that surgery helped her get rid of the dreaded "apron." I HATE that part! That and my arms are what bothers me the most. I knew that surgery could help with the arms… but I wasn't sure how much they'd be able to do about the apron. After 175 pounds, it still just feels like fat to me. And I hate it. And I always wonder if there is anything that can really be done. But she said it took care of that. And to be honest… it does look like it did! There is no indication of an apron on her body. So, while it was good to see her and encouraging to see how good she looked… it wasn't terribly helpful.

But she did tell me a story that gave me an idea… So the day of the 4th I put it into action. My family got the biggest kick out of it. (See the picture below)

I got a temporary tattoo of the American flag
right there on the "flab
(aka: lots of loose skin!)" on my arm.
I posted this pic on FB with the caption
"Proudly may it wave!"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Struggles. Trying to Get My Head Back In the Game.

I have been struggling with slipping back into some old eating habits lately. I've still been working out. But the eating has been kind of a nightmare. Honestly… it's still better than it was 14 months ago… but I was definitely slipping backwards. And the scale was showing it.

I don't exactly know what my problem is. Why I am struggling so much. 

Part of it is being out of routine. It's been an insanely busy summer so far. And it's not over! 

Another part of it, I think is the stuff that's been sitting around. When all I have is healthy options, that's what I eat. But there has been so much unhealthy stuff sitting around. Due in part, I think to all that's been going on. 

But that doesn't answer the question as to why I've had such a hard time moderating. Or why I haven't been honest in my logging.

Honestly… it's hard for me to be held up as an example. As an inspiration. I've got friends on MFP that somehow think of me as their mentor. Every time I turn around, they are messaging me with more questions. And I want to help. Because I do get it. I understand the tendency and the desire to turn to someone who has been there. Of all the friends I have on MFP, only three of them are ones I have requested myself. But in every case, I requested them because I felt like they might be able to help, because they have "been there." They had lost the weight. They ARE in places I still dream of being! So, when one of my friends turns to me for help… I want to help! Part of the reason I first started losing weight in the first place is to prove that it can be done "my way." So, if someone is interested … I want to be able to share what I've done and what I believe. But I'm finding myself up on some sort of pedestal. And I never expected that. And it's hard for me. I'm supposed to be this example. Yet… what kind of example am I when I am eating so much crap? I think that has been a part of my not logging honestly. I don't want them to know that I'm basically eating everything in sight. No matter what it is!

But whether I log it or not… the scale doesn't lie. And it's not pretty. And I don't want to be another statistic of people who lose the weight only to gain it all back. I'm up 12 pounds from my lowest. That's hardly "gaining it all back," but it's a trend that needs to stop! It'll be easier to stop it now and lose those 12 pounds, than it will to ignore the problem and let those 12 pounds turn into 30. Or 50. Or more. So, I decided it was time to kick myself in the butt and get myself back on track. And part of the process of that… is taking a step back from the community aspect of MFP. I can't be everybody's mentor. Everybody's "go-to" person. I need to just be able to use MFP for me right now. For logging the calories. Logging the exercise. And drawing inspiration from others. So, I made my diary private. And I told my friends that I was taking a step back and why.

And within seconds (no joke), someone was messaging me with more questions. And in addition, she wanted details about how much weight I'd gained and what I was eating to do it. I cannot begin to voice my frustration. I quickly replied with bare minimum information. Hoping that would take care of it and she would leave me alone. Of course, she messages me back with even more questions. I didn't reply. At least not immediately. I think I had it in mind that eventually I would answer back. But I wasn't going to do it immediately.

Later on that night, she posts a rant on her news feed basically saying that I was full of sh*t (her words). She didn't use my name… but she very specifically spoke of something she had recently asked me about and I had answered. And she basically said that I was a liar and full of sh*t. She then proceeded to say that "all those who say that" need to learn how to eat properly and then maybe we (I) wouldn't be so f***ing fat (again… her words). (We'll ignore the fact that even with my 12 pound gain, she still weighed more than 100 pounds more than I do… and she's like 8 inches shorter than me!) She goes on to say that while she appreciated those people who had helped her… she did NOT appreciate those people who told her what I had told her. Because I had either apparently outright lied to her and/or I was full of sh*t. There was a part of me that really wanted to rip into her on the comments. There was a part of me that wanted to message her and rip into her even more in private. I was infuriated. I was hurt. But, I swallowed my rage and I simply deleted her as a friend immediately.

But it solidified in my mind that I was doing the right thing by stepping back. And by making my diary private. That is what I get for trying to help and for being honest about my struggles. NOPE! I didn't sign up for that. Don't get me wrong… that was an isolated incident. Most of my friends have been very understanding and supportive about my choice to step back. And it was a choice I made before she posted her rant. So, I do still intend on coming back later on (hopefully within a couple of weeks) and being an active participant again… once I get my head back in the game and feel like I am on solid ground myself again.

I've been doing better eating-wise the last couple of days. Honestly… I think part of that is that I ate all the crap that has been sitting out! The only thing I have left is healthy options! But the last few days, my workouts have not been brilliant. I've been doing them. And I'm logging the calorie burn that is on my HRM. But the effort hasn't been the same. I really think it's a mental game in this case. Physically, I am fine (really… I am). But I am falling for the idea that my legs are giving out on me. But in reality, it's my mind has been giving up. So, tonight at the gym… I really tried to push myself to keep going even though my mind was screaming at me to slow down. Tomorrow will be yet another test of my will as it's a speed work run!

I will not quit. I will keep going. No matter what the scale says. No matter how lousy my last two runs. I will keep going. Running is more than a workout for me. More than something I've picked up in an attempt to lose weight. It's something I actually want to do… it's something I want to be. I took my Runners World magazine to work with me the other night as I knew I'd be sitting one on one with a resident all night. One of the swing shift staff saw it and asked me if I was going to start running. I told her I already was. That I was just beginning training for a half marathon. She was astounded. She said that all she could do was a 5k. Now… she also does triathlons… but she didn't feel like she had it in her to run continuously for that long. I told her I was slower than cold tar. But she immediately cut me off and said "but you're doing it." Which I appreciated.

My neighbor has watched me go past his house often on my runs and he referred to me as the Energizer Bunny… because I just keep going. I find it an apt description. I am slow. But I keep going. And that is what I'm most proud of. And I will keep on going. Not just with running… but with this weight loss thing. So, I've had a flat tire. Fix it and move on. I have three choices… give up, give in, or give it all I've got. I chose to give it all I've got.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Body Composition Testing and Rethinking My… Well, EVERYTHING!

So, tonight my gym was offering free body composition testing. In addition to other things, it measures body fat percentage and gives you your lean body mass. Which is what I was interested in more than anything.

Since I have no frame of reference to go by in deciding what a good goal weight would be for me, I have been kinda going by the BMI scale… although I am aware of it's limitations. I knew body fat percentage offers a much better standard, but finding an accurate way to measure it is difficult.  I was particularly interested in was finding out my lean body mass. I had 180 set as my goal… but one of my friends raised concerns that if I lost that much, I might be losing muscle. I wasn't really concerned that I would lose muscle to get to that point… but I did want to know if it would put me at too low a body fat percentage if I got to that point. So, the opportunity comes for free professional body composition testing… yeah, you better believe I'm taking advantage of that one.

I was a little nervous going into it. I had no idea what my numbers were like 175 pounds ago. I know how far I've come and I really was hoping for a positive result. But my fear was that it would still show how far I have to go and without having any previous numbers to compare it to… it would be hard to take. If I would have had previous tests to compare it to… then even if my numbers were disappointing, I would have had the comparison to show how far I've come. But without that, I was nervous.

So, I measured at 28.5% body fat. And based off of all the charts I could find online… that puts me in the "average" or "acceptable" category. Which I am so very much okay with at this point. I've never been average or acceptable on any measure relating to weight my entire life!

My lean body mass was measured at 154.4 pounds. So, again, I go back to my charts online. Ideally, I would like to be somewhere between 19-22% body fat. At 19% that puts me in the "athletic" category. At 22%, that puts me in the "fitness" category. Which based on my calculations, that would put my ideal weight somewhere between 190-197. So, with that information… I have changed my "goal weight" to 195. As I have mentioned… my goal weight is in actuality more my "maintenance weight." The weight at which I will switch my goal to maintaining weight, instead of losing it. I expect that I might lose a couple of more pounds while I adjust to figuring out my true maintenance calories. Also, as I've mentioned, I don't like the word "goal." So, that's another reason I prefer the term "maintenance weight."

That puts me really, really close to my "goal." Which is exciting and scary at the same time! It's a little unreal to me. Already at this weight… I am considered average or acceptable. Not obese. Not unhealthy. Not even above average. How did that happen? I mean… that's been the entire point for the last 13 months… but now that it's here… it's kinda mind boggling. How did that happen? I never really doubted the process. Calorie deficit leads to weight loss… ALWAYS. It's been proven time and time again. I would literally have to defy the laws of physics for it to not work. So, I always believed it would work for me. I am not that unique! But now that I'm finding myself basically "normal"… I can't hardly believe it. I mean, who woulda guessed that I could be a normal weight, normal size person? I've been big my entire life. If I'm "acceptable" or "average" now based on my age and my height…. I am actually smaller than I have been (relatively speaking) since I was 4 years old! My whole family is big. And whatever happened to losing weight being such a hard thing to do?

And whatever happened to me having no motivation or ambition? In a way, I'm having to redefine myself! Everything I've ever believed about myself… I'm finding that I've just proved myself wrong. Which is stinkin' cool! But weird! And a little scary. Who am I? Last weekend I went shopping with my niece and she kinda chuckled watching me pick out medium sized shirts to take to the dressing room (they fit! A MEDIUM!). And she asked me "who are you and what did you do with Shanon?" I responded with "This is me. It's just that that other girl ate her. And I finally just escaped."

But is that true? Do I really believe it? And I don't know! I kinda do. Some of my family members have told me how I've changed (beyond just the weight), but I don't see it. I feel like I'm just me… the same person I've always been. So, in a way… yes, I do believe it. This is me! Finally able to be who I truly am. But then again… like I said, I'm finding that everything I've believed about myself I'm proving wrong.

Anyway. It's just interesting. Another way in which I'm having to get used to a life I never expected. Don't get me wrong… It's not bad. In fact, it's downright awesome! But it is a life I never expected.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Year on MFP-- and Looking Forward

So today marks my one year anniversary on MFP. I had lost some weight prior to joining MFP, so this particular one year mark shows a loss of 152.4 pounds. That's accounting for the fact that I just got home from a vacation a week ago and I still haven't shed all of my "vacation weight."

Today is also a 5k that I have been looking forward to for about a year as well. Every year, my local church congregation sponsors a 5K run/walk/ride. To be followed by breakfast. It's just meant to be a fun family/fellowshipping activity. There is no registration. No T-shirts. No medals. It's just a run. And of course, they want to attract as many people as possible, so tell us that if you can't run, walk. If you don't want to run or walk, you can ride your bike. Or just show up for breakfast and be sociable.

Last year, I was coming home from the gym and I saw the participants just starting out on the 5k. I decided then and there that by the time they did this again the next year, I was going to be ready and able to participate. So, I've been looking forward to this "race" for a long time. My cousin has agreed to do it with me. Now, she is a much more experienced runner than I am… has even completed a few marathons. If I remember correctly… the Boston Marathon was one of them. So, she could probably run this course twice (or more!) in the time it takes me to do it once. But I love that I can do it with my family. My very best friend in the world (outside of my family) who runs 4 miles just for a warm-up, (last I heard, he's finished 12 marathons) may join me as well. But it was kind of last minute when I was able to get ahold of him to let him know, so I'm really not holding my breath on that one. But either way… This is something I've been looking forward to and it seems somehow perfect that it coincides with my MFP one year mark.

I'm also considering training for half marathon in October. The very thought scares me. But it's exciting at the same time. And I gather that's kind of the definition of a good goal, right? Last October, I participated in my first ever 5k. I walked the whole thing. This October I could participate in my first ever half-marathon. Plus it would be the week after my birthday. That sounds like a fantastic way to start out the next year of my life.

After completing my 10K training program, I decided I wanted to increase my speed, so I've been working with a 5k pacer program on my runs. And to be honest… it kinda sucks! It certainly hasn't done jack nothing for increasing my speed thus far. I find I don't really enjoy it either. I miss just seeing how long I can run for. This past Thursday, I kinda did that. I just ran at my comfortable pace, without focusing on speed. And I kept running after the program told me it was done. Just kept going until I wanted to be done. And I loved it! And while it wasn't a PR… it was still like my 4th fastest time for that distance (3-5 miles). Which is a far sight better than the "your 16th fastest time" that I've been getting. So, I'm thinking my "true calling," when it comes to running anyway… lies in the longer distances. That's where I find my joy in running. I know 3-5 miles is hardly a long distance when we are talking distance running, but it is my longest distance. And my mind and body likes it a lot better than the speed work I've been doing. So, the idea of training for a half marathon really appeals to me. However, although I've completed the 10k training program, I have yet to go a full 6.2 miles. So, I'm thinking that from now until the time I actually need to start my half-marathon training, that is what I will focus on… getting to that distance. So that at least I can say I can run a 10k before I start training for a half.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Skinny Person or a Fat Person?

A couple of weeks ago at a family event, my sister asked me the following question:

"So, do you feel like you have been a skinny person living in a fat persons body… 
or are you now a fat person in a skinny persons body?"

Well, first of all… I don't consider my body skinny. At 215 pounds, I'm still considered obese and believe you me, I can point out more than one place my remaining 35 pounds can come off of! 

But that was not the point of her question. Nor the point of this post. And I got what she was asking. The truth is… I'm not sure how to answer that question. The psych major in me resists answering such a question… because who's to say what the difference is between a skinny person and a fat person other than sheer physical weight?

But after spending reading a lot of the updates from my MFP friends and being fairly active in the community aspect of MFP… I am realizing that I just don't think the way other overweight people do. I never have.  It is due to that reason alone that I answered her with "Well, I'm not sure, since I've never been a skinny person… but I would say I've been a skinny person living in a fat person's body."She, of course, asked me why. And I said it was because there is so much I don't relate to with others who are overweight. 

The concept of feeling worthless or that I'm not good enough or hating myself because I'm overweight? 
No. Never felt that way. Oh, I've felt worthless. And I've felt like I'm not good enough. And I've hated myself. But it never had to do with my weight. My weight was just another aspect of my physical appearance… like the fact that I am tall or that I have blue eyes. Nobody hates themselves because of the color of their eyes. They may or may not like that aspect of their appearance… but it's not a cause for self-hatred or feelings of worthlessness.

The idea that people treated me differently because I was fat?
No. If people treated me differently it was all on them. Or it was because I was different that this other person (after all… everybody is).

Being self-conscious at the gym because I was the fat girl? 
No. The gym was the one place I never felt self-conscious, because at the gym everybody is doing the same thing. Yeah, I may have been bigger than everyone there… but it was the one place I fit in. Because I was doing the same thing as everyone else. 

Food is my friend… Food is comfort?
No. Food is food. Some of it tastes good. Some of it tastes bad. Some of it is healthy. Some of it is not. I overate. Big time. I know that. But it was never an emotional thing for me. I would eat when I was happy. I would eat when I was depressed. I would eat when I was lonely. I would eat when I was in large groups. I would eat when I was bored. I would eat when I had plenty to do to occupy myself and my mind. I would eat when I was hungry. I would eat when I was full. I ate because I liked food. Yes, I had my own preferences as to which food I liked (and as you can probably guess, the foods I liked were always the highly caloric ones with little nutritional value. But it was still just food. I was not someone who "ate my feelings." Or who dealt with pain or other unpleasant emotions by eating. Neither was I binge-er. Oh, I could put plenty of calories away just the same as any binger could. But it was not mindless. It was a choice. And it was a choice I made because there was food there that I liked.  I never associated emotions to food. 

My weight holds me back?
No. I knew I was fat and out of shape. And with obvious exceptions like being limited where I could shop or feeling squished in certain places… I've felt like I could do anything a skinny person could. I mean… I couldn't run. But I never wanted to. It wasn't my weight holding me back…. it was simply that I didn't want to. Yes, I had to get seatbelt extenders on an airplane. But I could still fly. And I did. I didn't let that stop me. I have insecurities and doubts about myself that hold me back. That is true. But my weight was never one of them. If guys didn't find my attractive because I was fat… that was on them. That was them being shallow. That wasn't my weight holding me back. And even now… I'm not convinced that was even the issue. Because it's not like guys are beating down my door now, either! 

I've always felt like these were misconceptions that skinny people had about fat people. Assuming that because we were fat we felt that way. And it was misconceptions like this that bothered me SOO dang much! When I decided to lose weight… the major reason was because I encountered so many dumb@ss ideas about fat people and losing weight that I decided it was time to prove people wrong. People usually assume I'm talking about ideas surrounding diet. Well, yes, that is one of them. But it was these things that I saw as misconceptions that bothered me the most.

But apparently, I'm the one with the misconceptions? Because MFP forums are filled with overweight people all saying that they feel this way! 

So, maybe I'm the different one?
Maybe I've always been a skinny person trapped inside the wrong body. 
And maybe now… I'm finally just setting her free?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hello to All My New MFPals!

Well, it has officially been one year since I decided to lose weight.
I have lost 163.2 pounds. Which puts my current weight at 217.8 pounds.
It is 42.8% of my starting weight. 
For those who have seen my pictures and were wondering… I am 5'10" and 36 years old. 
I have been overweight my entire life. My parents and siblings were/are all overweight as well, by varying amounts. One year ago, I was the heaviest of the 5 of us and had been for several years. My family estimates that I was 4 years old or younger the last time I was a healthy weight for my height and age (I'm betting that I was 14 or so the last time I weighed 217 pounds!). Currently… taking into account my height (my only brother is the only one taller than me)… I am probably the second smallest. I have a couple of sisters that weigh a few pounds (less than 15) less than me, but they are also a few inches shorter than me.

Anyway. On April 20, 2014, I decided to join a gym. I also went grocery shopping for some healthier food. This was the day I count as the beginning of my weight loss. I also took a selfie in the mirror of my bedroom as a "before" shot. On Monday, April 20, 2015… I took another photo. Another selfie in the mirror of my bedroom. I then compiled them into a collage and posted it as my profile pic on MFP. Here is that picture.

For interests sake… I also shared the following facts: In the picture on the left, I am wearing a size 5x shirt and 4x pants. They were clothes I had to buy online because no stores carried sizes that would fit me…. even the plus sized stores didn't carry sizes that large. The the picture on the right, I am wearing a size large shirt and size 14 pants. They were clothes I bought at the mall in "normal sized people" (meaning not plus sized) stores. 

I also finally bit the bullet and shared that photo on Facebook. I have resisted sharing anything about my weight loss on FB. I have made allusions to the fact that I am running now. And I have occasionally added updated pictures, but I have never said anything about my attempts to lose weight. However… with the updated pics it became obvious long around Christmas time that I had lost a decent amount of weight. So, it was hardly a secret anymore. So, I shared my one year progress photo on FB. It got 79 "likes" and about 40+ comments. My uncle is currently in a rehab facility recovering from a surgery that they almost refused to do because they were pretty sure he wouldn't survive it. He is doing well, but is very weak and because he's a big man, he didn't want his wife to have to deal with it if he were to fall. So he's staying there until he/they are sure he can take care of himself properly. But he keeps himself occupied with his iPad and spends a lot of time on FB. Apparently he was so impressed with my photo that he shared it with his recreational therapist, his physical therapist, and his nurse. And they all commented (under my uncles name) as well. 

One of my MFP friends said something on her news feed that I am the most inspiring person on MFP and that if anybody wasn't friends with me… they should be. And my MFP account exploded with friend requests! 

With the barrage of questions from my FB friends both in the comments as well as through private messaging, and the fact that I have a whole bunch of new MFPals, I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce myself and address some of those questions. I even opened up it up on MFP for my friends to ask me anything and I would answer it on my blog. 

But first… let me give you a general background of why I made this decision in the first place.

I grew up believing in the concept of CICO (calories in< calories out) when it came to losing weight. I absolutely believed it. The ideas of demonizing certain foods or macros never made the slightest bit of sense to me when it came to weight loss. I also grew up with the mantra of "moderation in all things." I didn't follow it… but I learned it. So in my mind… that's what losing weight was all about. Eating less calories. And moderation with all foods. I got very frustrated with people who would try all these fad diets… including low-carb ones. I tried to tell them they were wrong. But I also knew that they would look at me at think "yeah, right. Like I'm going to take advice from her! What the hell does she know about losing weight?" It didn't really bother me. Because I knew I wasn't trying to lose weight. 

My weight never really bugged me. It was something I've always had to deal with… for as long as I can remember. So, I was never aware of my weight holding me back in anyway. It was just a fact of my life. Kinda like the fact that I had blue eyes. Is it possible that unconsciously I made choices (like choosing sedentary hobbies) because of my weight? I suppose. But it was unconscious. I never felt like my weight was a problem. I never had any health concerns because of my weight. I was aware of the potential, but it had never been a problem for me, so I didn't waste any energy worrying about it. Or trying to change it. 

I was working a graveyard shift and often watched movies or TV shows to keep myself occupied and awake during my shift. I had just finished a TV series and was looking for something new. I knew that a couple of my co-workers loved those weight loss shows like "Biggest Loser" and "Extreme Weight Loss." I had found a website that allowed me to watch old episodes of various TV shows for free. And out of curiosity (because of everything I had heard my co-workers say) I started watching an old season of "Biggest Loser." I liked that it portrayed people with a significant amount of weight to lose. I get impatient with those informercials that parade around people saying "I lost 20 pounds!" I would roll my eyes and silently think "Please! Twenty pounds? You wouldn't SEE that on me. Come talk to me when you've got someone who's actually lost a real amount of weight!" So, I liked that about "Biggest Loser." I also liked that they did it all through diet and exercise. No surgery. No pills. And when they would talk about what kind of diet they suggested it was "whole grains, lean meats and dairy, and lots of fruit and veggies." That made sense to my brain of "moderation in all things." I also liked that when you got to the finale and saw the finalists… they actually looked thin. Instead of just "less overweight" than they were. Yes, there are things I didn't like about the show too. But all those things encouraged me. I liked seeing that it was possible to lose significant amounts of weight with nothing more than diet and exercise and it suggested a reasonable diet of moderation and not crazy fads. I started wondering if I could do it. I knew I wasn't going to lose my weight as fast as they did on that show. I understood that they were basically spending their entire day exercising. And that they were going extremely hard. I understood that basically losing weight was not just their job… it was their life and their hobbies while on the show. They didn't even have family contact/activities to distract them. I understood all that. And because I understood all that, I also would not expect that kind of weight loss for myself (at least not in that short of a time period). But the principle could still work. That was encouraging to me.

Then I started seeing articles pop up about weight loss (probably targeted advertising. I had been watching a weight loss show… it might be something I was interested in). I would read them. And I would read the comments. And I would get so frustrated with all the ideas out there about what it took to lose weight. How could people be so stupid!? And of course I had co-workers who were constantly on a diet. And they were always on some sort of fad diet (low-carb, HCG, etc). They could never stick with it for very long. And even if they did lose some weight… it never stayed off. I would try to tell them… but again… what did I know? Feeling encouraged by "Biggest Loser" and frustrated by my co-workers and the morons on the internet… I finally decided maybe I ought to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and prove them all wrong by sheer example. 

What finally kicked me into gear? I think I woke up one day and just said "Why not? Just do it."

So, with that introduction, here we go with the questions:

When you started, did you stay on track most of the time? Were you to the point where you had had enough and you were going to conquer this, no matter what? I feel like I am ready to conquer this, but then I let food take over again and lost it over and over. Any suggestions that go you through that? I am also a big sweet eater, did you have that problem and if so, how did you overcome that?
I never set firm limits or boundaries for myself. And I never made any foods off-limits. So to say if I  "stayed on track"… I don't know how to answer that.

With 200 pounds to lose… I knew that I was going to have to make a lifestyle change if I wanted to lose it in the first place. This was not something that some 30 day diet was  going take care of. Forget about keeping it off… I was going to have make a lifestyle change if I wanted to lose it in the first place! So, I started slowly. I knew if I threw myself into it whole hog… that I was going to get overwhelmed and burned out. There was just so much to do. I had the most sedentary lifestyle you can imagine. Zero physical activity whatsoever. I ate crappy, high-calorie, highly processed food and lots of it. I would drink 32 ounces (minimum!) of Dr. Pepper every night at work. And I snacked on chips and candy all night long. And I ate because I liked food. It never had anything to do with hunger. It never even had anything to do with emotions or comfort or stress. I just ate because food was there and I liked it.

So to start with… I mostly focused on making exercise a habit. I knew that would be the easiest thing for me to change. I tried to "watch" what I ate so that I didn't sabotage everything I had just done at the gym… but I did not count calories. And like I said… nothing was off limits. So with only one thing to focus on… yes, I stayed on track. Once I felt comfortable with having made exercise a part of my life… then I turned to food. I picked the next easiest thing for me to change. I think I just started trying to make healthier choices. Eat more fruit and veggies instead of candy when I was snacking at work. Again, I did not count calories or really even pay attention to portion sizes. And notice that I was simply trying to eat more fruits and veggies… not cut out my candy entirely. So, yes, I stayed on track. Once that became routine for me… then I would go to the next easiest thing for me to change. And I would work on that. One small change at a time. It wasn't until several weeks later that I finally got onto My Fitness Pal and started really tracking my calories. And by then I was already comfortable making healthier choices and watching my portion sizes. It was several months even after that that I bought a food scale and started really tightening up on my portion sizes. With that approach of not setting firm limits/ boundaries and not making any food off-limits and only making one small change at a time… staying on track was actually fairly easy for me. 

Yes, I was a sweets eater. But even more than I liked my candy/cookies, etc… I hated being told what to do! I have huge control issues. I don't like anyone telling me what I can and can't do. So, since this was something I chose in the first place (losing weight)… I would force myself to do it myself. Because eating less sweets (or eating less in general) was far easier for me to take than to accept someone (anyone… including myself) telling me what to do. As I ate less sweets, my cravings for it diminished. I could go days without it and even when I did have some… I found myself being satisfied with much smaller amounts. So, my sheer stubbornness carried me through initially until my body/appetite adapted and I didn't want it as much. 

What were some of your biggest setbacks and how did you eventually overcome them? Do you find yourself struggling to define your style when getting a new wardrobe? What did you expect to like as a person when you lost the weight that didn't happen? Have you struggled with friendships along the way and how did you go about making new friends if your old ones didn't support you?

I anticipated my setbacks before I even started and I made a plan to deal with it. 
"This is taking too long/This is too hard"--- I had undergone a whole different kind of overhaul previously. It took 5 years before I finally got to point where I was felt like I was comfortable with where I was and I could go into "maintenance" (for lack of a better word). It was intense for those 5 years. Weekly appointments. Prayer, sweat, and tears. Unbelievable amounts of pain (not the physical kind). I did the math… if I can lose 1-2 pounds a week, it would take me 2-4 years. I realized I could do that. 2-4 years? Pshh! Childs play! Too hard? Pshh. I've dealt with worse pain than any workout (or hunger pangs) can produce. 
"This is not working"--- Again… I would go back to that previous overhaul. There was a time when I really felt like it wasn't working. That actually I was in worse shape than I was when I first started. I wondered why I was even bothering to try if this is where it was getting me. But I also knew that if this is where I was when I was trying… imagine where I'd be if I wasn't! 
"I just don't care anymore."--- I am not a goal oriented person. Inevitably I would just decide I don't care about this goal anymore. And I would give it up. But I do care about the kind of person I am. So that's what I made this about. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I have a "goal" weight. But this has never been about losing weight. It's been about what kind of person I want to be. That is always something I care about. It's not something I give up on. That kind of thinking also carries me through when the scale doesn't move like I think it should. 

The thing I struggle with with the new wardrobe (as far as style is concerned) is getting used to the idea that I can wear clothes that are a little more form fitting. I've always avoided anything form fitting because I didn't have a form to fit! But now I can get by with it. And I think it probably looks better too. That kind of came the first time I had to buy new clothes. I decided to buy clothes that were a little tighter than I would normally like in hopes that it would last me longer (with 200 pounds to lose… I was going to be going through a LOT of sizes). So I kept doing that. But over time I felt like it looked better to have them a little more form fitting. I am a girlie girl. I love shopping. I love clothes. I like looking nice. So while I have always loved shopping… I can have a heck of a lot more fun now trying on clothes. Sometimes I just try on clothes just for fun. Because now they fit. But in doing that… I discover that I can pull off things that I've never been able to pull off before. My tastes are pretty much the same. But now I can actually wear those things that I like but have never been able to pull off (or never felt like I could) before. It's not a struggle… it's a heck of a lot of fun! 

I'm not sure I understand the next question. I never expected losing weight to change me at all. Except for physically of course. I never expected to develop different hobbies or different tastes. So, there is nothing that I expected to like that I don't. However… there are things I didn't like that I now do. Like running. Like celery and green peppers. 

I must be lucky. Because I have not encountered any friends not supporting me. The very idea is foreign to me. I have amazing friends and an even more amazing family. They have supported me every step of the way. Even when they give me a rough time about "you're no fun anymore," it's said in jest. But I don't expect that support has to look like participation either. I have never expected them to join me in working out or expected them to eat like I do. So that may have helped. 

I'd like to know what drives you when progress is slow. Did you formerly have self-sabotaging behaviors like comfort eating and if so, what are your ideas about dealing with that issue? How would you classify your current relationship with food as opposed to your former relationship? 

As to what drives me… I think I covered that above when I said it was never about losing weight. It's about who I want to be. Yes. I want to lose weight. And because I'm normal… yes, it gets a little frustrating when the scale doesn't move the way I want it to. But because the important thing for me is about the kind of person I want to be… I don't let it stop me. I don't keep going because I want to be a 180 pound woman… I keep going because I want to be the kind of person that takes care of herself instead of mocking those that do because I feel guilty. I want to be the kind of person that eats normally (in terms of amounts and content). I want to be the kind of person that gets regular exercise. I want to be the kind of person who lives life on her feet instead of from the couch (that's huge reason why I want to run).

I was never a comfort eater. Or a stress eater. Or someone who "eats their feelings." Nor was I binge-er. But I like food. And so I ate it. Because it was there. It didn't matter if I was hungry or not. It didn't matter the time of day. It didn't matter the emotions. If there was food there that I liked, I would eat it. So that is something I'm still dealing with. Portioning out my food in proper portion sizes and putting the rest away helps. Keeping healthier/lower calorie food available helps to. So when I do want to just "munch"… I choose apples rather than candy (for instance). I'm also learning to pay attention to how I feel. And I find if I eat too much of certain types of food… I feel lousy. So then it becomes less appealing to me to keep eating. 

I feel like my relationship with food is pretty healthy right now. If I want something I eat it. I don't demonize foods. I don't deprive myself. But I do try to make healthier choices and I am learning what foods my body likes. I never tell myself (or anybody else) that "I can't have that. I'm on a diet." A couple of weekends ago, all the girls (even the little kids) went on a walk together. We ended up at a convenience store and everybody ended up buying some sort of slushy or ice cream. I did not. My 8 year old niece asked me if I couldn't have any because I was on a diet. I told her I could if I wanted to… but I chose not to. It took her a minute to process it… but I loved the look on her face when she got it. "So, you just choose not to?" I hope she remembers that as she grows up. That she can do whatever she wants… but she can also choose not to... even if everybody else does. It can apply to so much more than just food!

I would just love to know your story! What was your weight loss impetus? What worked for you and what didn't? What wisdom can you bestow on those hoping for your level of success? How has this changed your life?

I think I've actually answered most of those already. I knew myself pretty well when I went into this. So, I made a plan that fit my lifestyle. That fit my personality. And that addresses those potential setbacks. So, to say what doesn't work… I don't know! This is really my first attempt at losing weight. And my plan from the very beginning has worked for me. However, I will say this. I'm a creature of habit. I knew this in the beginning. So creating habits and routines is VITAL for me. And finding ways to keep that going even when I travel or during holidays, etc. So that I never get out of it. I may consciously chose to take a cheat day. And that's okay. Because it's a conscious choice. But I try very hard to keep the routine going as much as possible. When I went down to visit my sister over New Years… I had a plan for getting my exercise in while I was down there. Then I woke up the next morning to several inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures. That threw a wrench into my plans for getting a workout in. So I had to make other arrangements. I went out and shoveled for one. For another I asked my niece to put in the Wii dance workout on for me. Then another day I pulled out my sisters step stool and did steps with that. Anything to get my heart rate up for 45 minutes! And then when I went home on New Years Day… I drove past the gym even before I went home to find out what hours (if any) they were open that day. They were open then, so I drove home, changed into my workout clothes and went back to the gym before I even unpacked my car. Because I wanted to make sure I kept myself in the routine. 

As far as wisdom I can bestow… that's one of them. Create some habits and routines. Those will carry you through when motivation fails. And it will. Motivation will fade! Expect it and plan for it. 

The one other thing I want to get across to people is the power you have inside of you! In this world of food addiction and calling obesity a disease…. we have equated our weight problem as akin to an alcohol addiction. And that would be fine… except we have accepted certain theories about addiction recovery as gospel truth when it's really not. For instance… we have accepted the idea that we are powerless. Indeed in AA we teach people that they have to admit they are powerless if they ever hope to recover. SOOOOO DANGEROUS! No! You absolutely have the power to change yourself. I don't care if you are an alcoholic or a drug addict or a porn addict or a food addict. In fact I don't care WHAT you are or what problem you hope to change! You have the power to change! You have the power to choose! Addictions are powerful… yes. Overcoming them is hard… yes. I get it. So much, I get it! But inside of you always remains your ability to choose. There are skills you can learn to make it easier. But it is learnable. And you always have that ability to choose! I believe in God. I do. But I don't believe it's necessary to believe in God, nor turn over your entire will over to Him in order to change your life. If the 12 steps and beliefs of AA work for you… GREAT. Keep at it. But never let anyone tell you that it is the only way! Never let anybody tell you that you are powerless! Your power is greater than you know! Your body will 100% obey what your mind tells it to. It applies to running and exercise in general. It applies to food. It applies to alcohol. It applies to porn/sex. Once you make up your mind… the game is over! Because your body has NO choice but do obey. The key is keeping your mind made up! And there are skills you can learn that will help you with that. 

I apologize about all the exclamation points. But this topic more than anything else is what I get passionate about. And for those who want more information about those skills… private message me. I am more than happy to share them with anyone. But please never underestimate yourself. Believe in yourself. 

You are almost half the size when you started a year ago; have you unconsciously adjusted this this yet? I mean like spaces where you may have once turned sideways to maneuver between things, do you still turn sideways?

Yes and no. There is part of me that is STILL wondering if my body will ever change! But every once in a while I discover things I can do that I didn't used to be able to do. Then I start to wonder about something else… "If I can do this… I wonder if I can do that." The thing I notice the most is the those student desks where the desk and chair are connected as one unit…. those were the bane of my existence in college. I could barely squeeze my body into one of those things. And now I slide in easily. But I discovered the other day that I can actually sit down in them full on then swing my legs under the desk rather than having to slide in sideways. I don't ever remember being able to do that! Sometimes I see small spaces and I purposefully try to walk through them straight on… just to see if I can. So, is it an unconscious adjustment? No. But I do find myself trying things rather than just doing it the same way I always have.