12/21/12

What is Your Body Fat Percentage?

A friend shared these fascinating comparison MRI photos of two women at different weights – one at 250 lbs and obese and another of one at 120 lbs and a healthy weight for the height.  Since I went from around 200 lbs to a current weight of 122 lbs, this was hitting kind of close to home to me and was a strong reminder of how much I’ve changed my body by eating an appropriate amount of food (vs eating everything in sight) and adding exercise several days per week to my lifestyle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I went to BSU for a body composition test (skin fold caliper test using the Jackson/Pollock method) to see where my body fat % is at these days.  I wish I had done the same test earlier in my weight loss so I’d have some interesting data about what changes were happening in my body as I lost weigh and became fitter.  Unfortunately, the last time I had this test was when I was a student at BSU and was fairly fit at around age 22. I was doing a little bit of recreational running back then 2-3 times a week, never more than 2-3 miles at a time, taking a step aerobics class twice a week, riding my neon pink mountain bike to school each day and walking all over campus to get to my classes. I also had little time to eat as properly as I should have, so my calorie intake was probably not ideal. I weighed 107 lbs at 5″3′ and had a tested body composition of 18% body fat.  I was told I was in the “athletic” category at the time.

Unfortunately, that healthy phase of my life was short-lived. By the time I was 26, I had gotten married (to a wonderful man who loved me as I was and made me feel I didn’t have to starve myself to feel beautiful in his eyes) gained about 15 lbs and stopped exercising. Over the following 7 years, I went through 5 pregnancies gaining an average of 40 lbs per baby and by the final month of my pregnancy with my 5th child, I weighed about 200 lbs on my 5″3″ body and was a far-cry from the fit, college girl I’d once been! I didn’t have a fat composition test done, but I can tell you that I went from being a size 4 in college to a tight size 14!

It wasn’t until my youngest turned a year and a half old that I finally decided that enough was enough and I was ready to take back my life! Though I did lose the first 30 lbs pretty easily after my 5th baby’s birth just from childbirth and nursing, I was left at around 170 lbs which is considered obese for a woman at 5″3′! Those last 50 lbs were not easy to lose!

If I had a fat % test done at that point, I’m sure the results would have been very sobering. I also wonder what a photo x-ray would have looked like for me at that point. Seeing this photo and all of the white areas (the accumulated fat both around organs and just beneath the skin) really makes it clear that being overweight or obese affects us more than just by how we feel about ourselves in a bathing suit!

My results this week are that I’m about a 21.24% body fat, which is considered to be in the “fit” category for a 40 year old woman.  20% and below is the “athletic” category that I once was in – about half a lifetime ago! That’s not too bad! I think that if I work on cleaning up my diet more (I still struggle with eating too much processed, junk food and fast food – though in much smaller portions these days than I used to eat) and if I add some strength training to my weekly routine, I think I can get back into the athletic category again! That is my 2013 health goal!

I think looking at this photo is a strong reminder of where I once was and where I never want to be again! I hope to continue to life an active, healthy life and to continue to encourage others to do the same!

I know it isn’t easy to make the time to workout especially when you’re a parent or have a job. But, the health benefits of making the time to exercise and make conscious efforts to eat better (and less!) will improve your quality of life, your overall health and your longevity! It’s worth the extra effort!  I did it and so can you! 🙂

* I did a little research to find out more about this photo. This is what I learned:

This photo is from a National Geographic article from Aug. 2004 entitled ” The Heavy Cost of Fat.

Here is how it was taken:

“Two women, (one 250 pounds, 5’6″, 40.3 BMI, the other 120 pounds, 5’5″, 20 BMI), spent five hours under a state-of-the-art open scanner to get a high resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).”

 

 

07/30/12

Racing Weight – Where Are You?

When I lost 75+ lbs a few years ago, it happened very gradually. I was not one of those who found the pounds just melting off rapidly. In fact there were months I lost just one single pound at a time. I hung in there, kept running and trying to control my portion sizes and slowly but surely the weight loss continued until I had reached a healthy weight. I remember having to repeat to myself this mantra “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” I knew that I’d gained that weight little by little over several years and five pregnancies and it wouldn’t come off overnight either and that if I just kept exercising and eating better the payoff would be there in the end.  And, I was right. It just took a great deal of patience and a lot of sweat and determination!

These days, I’m comfortably within my proper weight zone, but my running goals have gotten more competitive, so I find myself considering my weight again more — trying to trim down to what I refer to as my “racing weight” before major races so that I can do my best.  In the past month, I’ve definitely gotten sloppier with my eating habits, falling into some of the old traps that got me overweight to begin with — too much soda, too many sweets, too many trips through the McDonald’s drive-through for a quick meal — only to regret my actions later when the scale reminds me of the consequences of my overindulgence.  I’ve put on about 4 lbs in the last month. And, the race that I’m hoping to qualify for Boston at is a mere 5 weeks away! This is terrible timing!

I’ve had some personal struggles I’ve been dealing with in the past few months and unfortunately, I turned to junk food as a comfort. It’s a bad excuse, but it happens. Many of us who were overweight at one point developed a relationship with food that was less than healthy on many levels – and being an emotional eater was just one of them! I’m reminded this week that staying trim isn’t going ever going to be “easy.” It’s a battle that I will be fighting for the rest of my life.

So, how am I going to handle this current extra flab that I’m carrying around? I have to look the problem square in the eye and correct the mistakes I’m making in my eating in order to steer this ship back onto the proper course — the course to a healthier future – and hopefully a Boston Qualifying time at my September marathon!!!  I’m ridding the house of the temptation foods, allowing myself only a “cheat” on the weekends (since I tend to have a difficult time banning any foods indefinitely. This has worked well for me in the past.) I’m getting my family on board to help encourage me to stick to my goals and I’m digging out some healthier recipes so that they, too can benefit from my better choices! I can do it! It will take a renewed focus, drinking water throughout the day instead of sipping Coke or Cappuccino, choosing to go for a walk or a bike ride or a run instead of reaching for another helping of whatever is calling my name – but I can lose this 4 lbs again and get back to “racing weight” in time for my marathon!

If you are struggling as well with a few bonus pounds, make your own commitment to renew your focus on your good eating and exercise habits! We can do this together!!!

 

03/9/12

Happy 7th Birthday Anneliese

Shared Photo

Here is a photo of me 7 years ago just weeks before my 4th baby was born. She was 9 lbs 7 oz and 22 inches long! Someone asked me today if I imagined back then that I’d ever run a 100 mile race. The answer is : “Not on your life!!” I would never have believed that I were capable of that (and all of that after I’d go through one more pregnancy two years later, where I topped the scales at nearly 200 lbs on my 5’3″ body!)

Seven years ago, I was an exhausted, overweight Mom of 4 – all ages 5 and under! My kids were 5, 4, 2 and a newborn! They were all too little to help around the house, so I did it all, often while nursing a baby, entertaining a toddler and homeschooling the older two. Back then I didn’t think it was possible to find time to exercise or eat healthy. I was tired all the time and just trying to juggle all of the responsibilities I had. My husband was going to college and working full time (often 60+ hour weeks) at his own business and I’d never left the kids with a sitter.  Money was tight, so a gym wasn’t an option and since I was nursing, it felt too difficult to even think about scheduling any exercise around that.

I have so much admiration for young moms who are able to find the time to take care of their own health and sanity during the young baby years! If I could go back in time and speak to myself, I’d say, “It’s ok! You don’t have to try and do it all! You need a mental and physical break sometimes from the children and that doesn’t make you a bad Mom (I suffered from a severe case of Mommy Guilt if I even left the house, with my husband in charge to buy a gallon of milk!”)  Back then, I also struggled with anxiety, depression and insomnia that would last sometimes for six months before I’d finally have a proper night’s sleep.  I remember someone once asking me what my hobbies were at a party around this time. I just stared blankly at them. “I’m a Mom. I don’t have TIME for any hobbies.” was my reply! I also didn’t have any pals — no one to call up on the phone just to talk about my crazy day or to ask out for a lunch date on my birthday. It was a very busy, lonely time.

I never would have believed that just a few years later, I would make a decision that would change it all! In May of 2008, my fifth baby was a year old. I was no longer nursing. I was 35 years old, overweight and finally ready for a big change! I bought myself running shoes for my Mother’s Day present that year and printed out the Couch to 5k running program. I had one big dream – to run a marathon like my own Mom had done the year she was 40. I figured it would take me at least 5 years to get in good enough shape to handle that goal, so I began working towards it.  I’d never stuck with an exercise routine for more than a few weeks, so I think my husband thought it was a phase of mine and I’d be back to square one pretty quick.  Something magical happened to me, though. It turned out I really enjoyed running and walking and it turned out I DID have the time after all! I just hadn’t been open to the possibilities of pushing a double stroller, while wearing a baby sling and having my 5 year old walk with me or heading out alone to do laps around the block after dark when my husband was home to listen for the kids after I’d put them all to bed. I spent many nights staring at the moon and stars in those early months, walking and running in my neighborhood. They were very therapeutic for me (and free!)

Walking (and then running) gave me some time to myself that I dearly treasured to clear my head after a long day with the children. I’d talk to myself sometimes, just letting the tears roll down my cheeks, when I wondered if I was doing a good enough job as a wife and Mom. Being outdoors cleansed my soul. The fresh air, the moonlight, the chance to watch others out enjoying their day were all lovely distractions that settled my heart and mind and left me happily spent by the time I came back into the front door when it was all over – ready to again handle tantrums and potty training and teaching ABC’s. I came back restored for a time – better off than when I’d left.

Though the first time out, I could not even run a block without a side ache, I kept getting out there for half an hour three times a week. And, as the weeks passed, I got better at it. It hurt less. I started to meet other runners, who shared my new passion and we knocked off miles side-by-side as we shared stories about our kids, our lives, our dreams and our troubles. And, I started getting fitter. The weight just started melting off, pound by pound. I didn’t know it when I started, but not only would I lose every single pound that I’d gained through the five pregnancies — but I’d actually end up thinner in the end than I was before the first pregnancy! How surprising! All that without counting calories or giving up any foods I liked! It turned out, my own body would start craving healthier foods and smaller portions and the rest just happened on it’s own, though it took a couple of years.

I ran that first marathon in October of 2009 when I was 36 years old. It was one of the most amazing accomplishments of my life! And, from there, it just snowballed! I attempted my first 50k in the mountains in January of 2010. I didn’t finish, but it gave me a hunger that I still have today to reach further than I ever thought I could, to push my body harder, to challenge my mind with extreme distance running and with each and every race I finish, my confidence is bolstered!

I’m a very different woman than the one in that photo at the top, who’d never ran more than 5 miles in her life – and that while I was in my teens – and only ONCE! I sit here exactly two weeks before my first 100 mile ultra marathon — fit, confident, excited and ready to take on the world!!!

If this finds you at a stage in life, like I was at 7 years ago, don’t lose hope! If I can do these things, ANYONE can!!!!! I believe in YOU because I believe in ME!

Happy Birthday, Anneliese Rose!!!! I love you with all my heart! I hope I’m setting a good example for you and your sisters and brothers and that you know that I really do believe each and every one of you can do anything you dream of doing! I will be there to support you! To be your greatest cheerleader! To love you and hold you when things don’t go right! I will always be your #1 fan!!!!  Happy Birthday, Baby!!!!

01/8/12

Using Training Logs as a Key to Long-Term Success

When I started working out in May of 2008, I kept track of my runs and workouts on my regular wall calendar. I’d come home from a 30 min walk/run and write it down on the calendar, along with how far I’d gone. I did the same thing when I would go for a bike ride or do a Pilates DVD.  By October, I was several pounds thinner, getting fitter and taking my training more seriously. That’s when I decided it was time to start using a log book.

That first log book was simply a regular school notebook. I think I’d bought several during back to school sales for about a quarter each – nothing fancy! But, it was just perfect for my needs. I pulled down that wall calendar and moved over every single workout into the log book, so I’d have a permanent record of what I was doing to refer to. I had already been in the habit of recording my daily weight on the calendar since I was trying to lose weight, so I added that to the log book, too.

My journey from a size 14 to a size 4 is well documented thanks to my records that I kept. When I would hit a plateau, I was always encouraged when I’d pull out the log books and be able to flip back several pages (or to a past journal) and see just how far I’d come since I started!  It gave me perspective and renewed energy to keep training hard and eating better so I’d continue on the path to my goal weight. “Keep doing what you’re doing” I’d often say to myself after being reminded of my past success since the rewards DID come in time if I stuck with it!

The most important thing I got from my training logs was the ability to gain information about myself, my training, injuries, etc. just by turning back a few pages (or pulling out a past log book and comparing notes.)  I have always written down race times, the training I did as I prepared for each race, my weight, etc and any injuries or big life events that might impact everything else (such as a move, a vacation or an illness.)  When I got trochanteric bursitis in my hip, I felt foolish when I pulled out the log books since it was clear I had increased my pace and distances too quickly for a body that was just beginning to handle the pounding of long distance running.  I paid the price because I wasn’t taking the time to reflect on the bigger picture of my training at the time. It was right there for me to examine and make smarter decisions, but I chose not to do it.  These days, I try to get perspective from my log books at least once a month.

My husband has often found me sprawled on the bathroom floor, with several log books open at the same time as I try to compare notes from the same training season for different years or from season to season. I can get pretty absorbed in the data I keep and honestly find it to be like a great big puzzle that I’m trying to fit all the pieces together for.  I want to be a healthier, faster, more accomplished runner and sometimes I feel like reading my log books is a bit like reading tea leaves as I try to predict the success or failure of an upcoming race from the information I have gathered! 🙂

Here are some tips to get started on using a training log as a long-term key to success!

1. Keep it simple (you don’t need anything fancy and you don’t have to fill pages each day. I typically spend less than 5 minutes a day writing in mine.) And, as I said – a simple, ordinary notebook works just fine. I keep a pen with a clip attached to the front so I’m always ready to log a workout at a moment’s notice!

2. Put it somewhere you’ll actually see it often! I keep my log books in my master bathroom cabinet. When I wake up in the morning, I pull mine out and log my morning weight. After a workout when I’m ready to shower, I pull it out again and log the workout. At night I log my bedtime weight.  Having it in a place where I see it often makes it easy for me to remember to use it.

3. Decide what you want to keep a record of.  My log entries have evolved over time. These days I keep track of: The date, morning weight, day of menstrual cycle, any illnesses, injuries, workouts and how they went (weather, gear, who I went with, what pace, distance, the average heart rate, max heart rate and best pace for the day were, the elevation gain, how I fueled and hydrated, and weight after workout to determine dehydration) bedtime weight and on days where I really have a lot to express — I use it like a diary and just write out my private thoughts, hopes, dreams and feelings.  My log books are private. I don’t share them with anyone. I’ve teased my husband that “If I should die before I wake, throw my journal in the lake!”  Don’t be afraid to bare your soul to your log book. It’s really rather soul-cleansing to do so.

3. Occasionally document bigger things! I always write down race times, my splits (which are fun to refer to later, side-by-side when I race the same race the following year), and about every six months or so, I take measurements of my full body and note them in the log. I’ve been doing this since 2008 and it’s really motivating to go back and see how much fitter I am than when I began. I highly recommend keeping a similar set of data if you are just starting out, are on a weight loss journey (the changes in numbers will astound you later on, I promise!) or for those who just enjoy keeping good records of your fitness level. When I do full body measurements I usually record: My current weight, the “fat percentage” on my at-home scale, then I use a soft tape measure and check and note the measurements for: neck, bicep, wrist, bust, rib cage, waist, belly, hips, upper thigh, lower thigh, calf and ankle.

4. Write down your goals! A log book is a great place to DREAM BIG! You can then refer to that list throughout the year, to make sure you are working towards those goals!

I believe using my logs as a tool in my training has helped me to keep from over-training, to help me ramp up when I needed to push harder, to give me info that an injury seems to be right around the corner so I should make adjustments and helped further motivate me to stay on track with my training in order to reach my long-term goals! I hope that others will find it a very helpful tool as well!

Here are some sneak peeks into my top secret pictures of my personal stash of log books to give you an idea of how to set one up as well. You will now all be privy to why my 3rd grade teacher gave me a “D” in handwriting as well.  Ha!

P.S. I’m amending this write-up to mention that, I do, in fact use more modern, technical ways to document my training as well, since many people will prefer to use those methods in their own lives. I have used www.garminconnect.com since I got my first Garmin in November of 2008 and thoroughly appreciate the data it saves for me and allows me to examine and learn from. I also adore www.dailymile.com for the great motivation from fellow athletes!  So, no matter how you record your journey (or if you’re like me and you use a whole ton of different methods since you can get something unique from each of them), I do encourage you to start keeping track of what you’re doing! It’s a great tool no matter how you go about it!!!!!

12/9/11

Is That Weight Listed On Your Driver’s License True?

I had something kind of phenomenal happen today. I renewed my driver’s license. That doesn’t sound like much of a big deal to most people, but for someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, like I have, it really is! I don’t think the weight on my driver’s license was honest for most of my adult life. In general, I pride myself on my integrity and honesty — but every time I was forced to reveal a number on that registration, I wimped out and wrote the number I was “SURE” would be my real number at some point during the four years I’d have the license.  My picture, of course, revealed a different story. I was overweight. The license I turned in today listed my weight as :147 lbs. The truth is, I was closer to 165 when that photo was taken four years ago, and just a few months prior to that photo, I’d reached my peak weight of all-time when I was pregnant with my fifth child – nearly 200 lbs!!  On my 5 foot 3 frame, that’s a lot of weight!

For years, I sadly accepted that it was just my fate in life to be overweight. I figured, as a Mom of five, it was inevitable. I considered thinner Mom friends, “freaks of nature” and never imagined that one day, I would be one of them.  But, the most amazing thing happened in May of 2008.  I got tired of hating my body!  I’d been thin growing up, graduating high school at about 115 lbs and getting married at age 25 at nearly the same weight. Back then, I assumed I’d always be slender. Pregnancy after pregnancy and the 40 or so lbs I gained with each of my five children changed that fairly rapidly over the course of the 7 years I had my babies.  I’d lose some of the weight after each birth, but hang onto 10-15 lbs each time, so it was no surprise in late March of 2007 when I was heavily pregnant with my last baby that I looked like this:

In May of 2008, my youngest child was a year old and I realized that I wasn’t happy with my body or my life. I wanted something better for myself! I was 35 years old and realized that I was halfway to 70 years old and didn’t want the second half of my life to be exactly the way I was currently living: overweight, unhappy and miserable. So, for Mother’s Day in 2008, I bought myself a pair of running shoes, printed out the Couch to 5K beginner running program and decided that I would run a marathon by the time I was 40, like my own Mom had done when she was 40 (My own Mom, by the way, was a very good example of fitness and loved running for much of my growing up years.)

It wasn’t easy! I didn’t count calories or pay attention to portion sizes when I started out, since I really didn’t think I could stick with something strict, since I’d failed so many times in the past when I’d tried, so I just focused on the running: 3 x a week, half an hour each time, at a level I could handle.  My weight loss was slow at first.  The first month I actually gained a pound or two as my body adjusted to the new workouts and my hunger increased at first. But, I stuck with it.  By the third month, I’d lost a few pounds and people started commenting on my weight loss. At first it embarrassed me, but, little by little I got less self-conscious and started enjoying the positive attention and the new energy I was discovering from taking time for myself and getting some exercise!

I ran that “dream” marathon in October of 2009, while I was 36 years old! I was down to about 135 lbs by that point. It wasn’t long before I started also running trails and ultra marathons. The more I ran, the fitter I got and the more weight I lost.  My body finally settled back down to about 126 lbs (the very weight I was before I got pregnant with my first child) and has remained there for two years.  Today on my new driver’s license, I wrote that exact number: 126 and it felt like I’d won the lottery to have the chance to say that!

I was so happy while I was filling out the paperwork, that I had to share my story with the woman who was processing my paperwork. She got so excited about my weight loss story, that she told me she was going to start working on an exercise plan for herself, too! That made me feel awesome!  My hope is always to inspire other Moms, other Dads – others out there who have become overweight that they, too can lose the weight and find JOY in their lives again! If I did it — you can too!!!!!

Here is my favorite “after” picture from the past year:

08/3/11

Reflections of Me

Last night at the Wild Idaho pre-race bowling night with many of the local ultra runners and their families who will be at the race this Saturday, I found myself at a table with several friends, including my good pal, Rachel.  Rachel was sharing about how much she’s changed in the last few years, due in part to losing weight and keeping it off. She was saying that as the pounds went away, her personality underwent a transformation of sorts too. That it wasn’t just her body that changed – but HER!

I thought about Rachel today and how her story reminds me so much of mine. Just a few years ago, if you’d have come to a get together that I was attending, you might have a hard time finding me.  Back when I was overweight, I made it a big point to stay in the background. I felt self-conscious of my body and would often even get stomach aches driving to family holiday parties or dinners with other people. Sometimes I’d even cry when getting ready to go. I really hated being around other people. I felt embarrassed, ugly, unhappy.  I would have been perfectly content to stay at home, safe in the walls of my house, with my husband and kids (the only ones I really felt accepted me regardless of the way I looked) but unfortunately, sometimes I had to come out of my safe cocoon and face the real world. It was almost always miserable.

The people that know me now might describe me as outgoing, fun-loving and a leader of sorts. That’s pretty much the total opposite of the girl I was for so many years of my life when I was overweight. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed – not only on the outside – but on the inside as well.

I just want to encourage you — if you are still where I was — wondering if you ever will really be fit and happy again — it can happen!!! I used to think I was stuck, that I’d  never feel beautiful or outgoing again.  I got it back and so can you!!!!

Today can be your day to start over! Go for a walk, a swim, a bike ride, a run – whatever! Start moving that body consistently 3 or more times a week for half an hour and start paying closer attention to what you’re eating.  Little changes every day make for big differences a few months down the road. If you’d have told the gal in any of those pictures that she’d be getting ready to run her 2nd 50 mile distance this weekend — she wouldn’t have believed a word of it — but it’s TRUE! IT happened for me and it can happen for YOU!

Here’s a few pictures of me from a few years ago:

 

 

07/21/11

All Hot and Bothered

Good news! All this hard work is starting to pay off! I saw 129 on the scale today! Just 4 more lbs to go in the next 11 weeks and I’ll be at my racing weight again!

I took a rest day yesterday and caught up on the yard work and scanned a zillion photos from my school days for my 20 year class reunion this weekend. It was a day well spent.

I’m back on the horse today and decided to do my Billy Blanks AB Bootcamp DVD. I’m starting to see definition in the mirror especially along the obliques. It’s crazy! Even at my thinnest in college, I never had any definition there. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I could find it after having five kids- but slowly and surely the hard work is paying off! Sweet!

I sweated hard, felt the burn and took to heart when Billy said, “You have to lose yourself to find what you’re looking for” or something similar to that.  So, when it hurts, I let it and try not to back off.  Working on my mind this way really reminds me of going through natural childbirth five times.  The first time I was scared to death and even though I’d read all the books and practiced the breathing techniques, the pain was frightening, overwhelming and I struggled to keep my calm through the storm.  That was the only birth I cried at from the pain. 16 hours later, I saw the beautiful fruit of my labor and realized that each and every contraction had brought me to that point – the happy ending.

With each subsequent birth, my confidence in my body and my mind grew.  The labors got easier since I no longer fought the pain, but learned to allow it to wash over me like a waterfall. I knew the agony was my ally. It was helping me to reach my goal – a beautiful new baby.  By the time I had my fifth baby, I didn’t even need my husband to hold my hand or rub my back.  I just walked quietly or laid still relaxing into the waves of pain, melting like butter in a hot frying pan and letting the tension just go, despite the gripping pains.  That labor was barely 2 hours long and when I held my 9 lb 10 oz baby girl in my arms I felt that I’d achieved a new level of inner peace and calm no matter what is going on around me.

When I run long distances or really fast short distances, I think back to those labors. They hurt more than any other pain I’d ever experienced in my life, but I got through it and remembering that helps me to tap into the same mindset for running.

We can do so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Learn to “lose yourself” to find what you seek in your workouts.  The payoff really is worth it!

07/11/11

Revisiting the Past – My Weight Loss Journey

I twisted my ankle pretty badly on Saturday’s trail run and found myself sitting in bed, icing my swollen, black and blue ankle all day today. I was feeling disappointed that I am going to miss out on training for a little bit while I heal back up.

Since I’d been basically resting all day, I just wasn’t able to fall asleep tonight.  Too much pent-up energy, I guess. I decided since I was up late anyways and needed something to do, I’d read a bit of my friend, Ryan’s online blog.  I’m the type who prefers to read a story in the correct order, so I went back as far as his blog had listings and stumbled upon this particular entry.  It was so inspirational, I thought I’d share it with you here.

http://ryan-in-boise.blogspot.com/2010/12/those-who-cannot-remember-past-are.html#links

I’ve been friends with Ryan and his wife, Michelle for about a year now. When I met both of them, they had already gone through the greater part of their weight-loss journey, so they were already living a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly and looking fitter.  And, even though, I’ve heard the story many times about how Ryan lost 135 lbs and Michelle lost 100, it was really hard to mentally get my head around how big of a journey that had been for both of them.

Having had a big weight loss myself, I could relate, but I have to admit that seeing photos of either of them before puts into perspective just how far they had to go even better than hearing the story.  I don’t even recognize them. If they approached me on the street in their old bodies, I don’t think I’d know who they were. The changes were that dramatic and impressive!

Ryan and Michelle are something of “weight loss celebrities” in our small-knit running community. Their story is inspirational and gives hope that those who set their hearts seriously onto a goal and who are willing to do the work can indeed reach it — even when they have 100 or 135 lbs to go!

Reading that posting tonight about Ryan’s journey was kind of a nice wake-up call. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself that I’m now injured and will have to sit out on some of my marathon training for a week or two while I heal up.  When I read that posting though, it put things into perspective again for me.

I’m injured, but I’m going to recover and be back to training before I know it. I’m no longer the gal who wore a size 14 (or whatever maternity pants I still had in the closet after five babies.) I’m a gal who made some big life changes, too and regained the figure I had on my wedding day 13 years ago (I can even zip my dress.)  I did the work and lost the weight and THAT was the hard part!

Being injured now is just a small setback.  I’m no longer worried that I won’t get back on the horse after something like this throws my plans off. I’m confident that I’ll be fine. I’ll stay fit. I’ll run again as soon as I’m able and I’ve learned to use cross-training even during the down times (tools I did not have when I first began in May of 2008 with the Couch to 5K training plan.)

So, for today, my friends, I just wanted to revisit where I’ve been too.  To share with you that I, too, was overweight.  That I had never been good at sticking with exercise plans or diets and really worried that I would never change — but I did!!!!!  For me, running was the “magic” thing I needed to help me get moving and start getting healthy.

Those first steps were the hardest. The weight didn’t come off quickly for me. It was a very slow process since I chose to do it “my way” – without counting calories or eliminating any foods I liked.  I wanted it to be something I could live with forever and I knew that saying, “No” to things would mean I’d end up cheating and then, failing at it.  So, I learned to tune into my body. To stop before I was stuffed.  To really ask “Am I even hungry” before I went to the fridge or cupboard.  Little things like that add up. And, most importantly – I started working out 3 times a week for half an hour or more. And, I stayed consistent.

Some months I only lost 1 lb or two.  Other months I lost 6! But, those pounds added up and they stayed OFF for good! I’ve been comfortably able to fit into size 4 and 6 jeans now for over two years.  If a busy Mom of five can make the time to workout 3-5 times a week and can lose the weight and keep it off — so can you! I promise you there’s nothing special about me. I didn’t use a special diet program or have a trainer’s help or count my calories even! I just started being more active and listening to my body and appetite more and stopping when I was full.  It was that simple. It wasn’t easy, but it got easier.  So, go chase your dreams! Attempt what you think you cannot do. You may surprise yourself, too!

05/1/11

I’ve Been a Runner for 3 years now!

It’s May! This is my running anniversary month. 3 years ago, I hadn’t exercised for more than a decade. I was overweight and unhappy. I decided to buy myself a pair of running shoes as my Mother’s Day gift, then printed out the Couch to 5k program and started very slowly running/walking 3 days a week. My dream was to run a marathon by the time I was 40. I’m 38 now. I’ve ran 3 marathons, 2 ultra marathons and many other shorter races. I’m training for my first 50 miler. It’s pretty thrilling to see that big changes can happen if you just try! 🙂 Happy May Day!

I tended to carry a lot of my extra weight right in my stomach and upper body. I think my “muffin top” shows in this photo, even though I’m wearing a loose shirt. After five babies, I just could not seem to get my body back. I thought I was destined to be a size 14 forever.

Running up my third marathon in October – healthier and so much happier!