Running Gives Me Momentum and Happiness

I keep reading articles and blogs about the downside of being a cardio junky. I get it, you need to also build muscle. And, yes, I try to at least get in a day of ab and body work. But, when it comes to kicking up your healthy lifestyle and pulling off weight when you reach a plateau, running seems to be the answer. At least for me.

A month back I completed my first outdoor run through San Francisco. I kept it up and run almost everyday outside. I have even gotten my husband to join me.  If not outside (not running in a heat wave, no, not going to do it), then I faithfully got on the treadmill on incline and matched my outdoor pace. The result (disclaimer – lots of exclamation points to show my excitement):

  • Progress! Not only did I crush my plateau, I lost 9 lbs in the last month. That is 2 pounds above my general trend.
  • Legs! I  developed some amazing legs. They are stronger and that saggy skin I complained of earlier, almost all gone.
  • Body! My overall body shape is much more like an athlete than the chubby girl that lost weight. My shoulders are amazing. I love seeing the definition in my leg muscles. My stomach is flattening out. I even see definition in my chest and my collar bones!
  • Size! I got into a size six blouse and dress in the past week. It is amazing to think that it was only 6 months ago I was in a size 14 and starting to even get tight in that. For a girl that has always been busty (if you are blessed with a size under C you might not understand) the fact I am under an 8 on top is in my world crazy.
  • Affection! Let’s just say that hubby (Tom) greatly appreciates my progress.
  • Bikini bod! Oh yes, I donned a bikini this past weekend. It was my third time pulling on that little amount of fabric to bronze my body. But, the difference was that at 47, I rocked my bikini. I looked like those at my age that were in good shape. I even have to admit I looked pretty good compared to those 10-15 years my junior (at least those that had kids). Not that I should compare or body shame anyone, when I was huge it was a big deal that I always felt like the fat girl.  I don’t feel like that anymore.

So, that is the progress. But, ultimately what is really driving my progress is that I just love to run. While still slow, I have dropped a minute off my mile (12 min to 11 min). I can even run a tad over 4 miles a couple times a week with my typical run at 3 miles. Today, my average heart rate dropped to 147 from 154 demonstrating I am in better shape. And, there are miles in my overall run where I get close to a 10 minute mile.

That is the technical aspect, but the thing that keeps me going is how I feel. Runners high is real. I am in a better mood after and for the rest of the day.  I have energy. I am centered from my meditative approach of tuning into my body and letting things drop off as I move forward. My mind declutters.

Will I get myself back to  an 8 minute average per mile that was my norm at 35? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really. I’d rather go longer (6-8 miles) and know that I can run every, or almost, everyday and do that for as long as I can. Instead of training to run, I’m training to live. Running just makes me happy!

Keep posted, I’m headed to Stockholm and Geneva in two weeks for work. Looking forward to a little site seeing with my running shoes. Can’t wait to share my routes. If you have some suggestions, do share!

Starting weight: 168
Current weight: 127
Weight loss: 41 lbs

Goal weight: 115, but if I like where I’m at when I hit 120 (size, fitness, cholesterol, etc.) then that will be me new normal. Let’s just say I only have 10 more pounds to go. But, the real goal is do I like how I look AND feel.

 

San Francisco Proved I’m Ready for a 5K

I did it! I logged 3.4 miles in a loop from my hotel, to the Embarcadero and back down Market In San Francisco this morning. Man did I feel good – from the runner high as well as the fact that I actually made it.

Getting my chubby girl body running outside has been a struggle to say the least. Old shoes left me with little cushion causing hip pain. Strength in my legs made moving from treadmill to road near impossible. And, I needed to get my cardio and stamina up so that my heart rate stayed lower than 140 (preferably in the 135 range) so as not to collapse.

Getting back to being a runner has been a big goal of mine and the frustration of taking what seems like forever (over 4 months)  only added to my impatience to feeling like I was truly healthy. What finally encouraged me was being able to stay on the elliptical for an hour, getting in some short trail runs on a cushier surface than pavement, and starting to do some squats, lunges and hip exercises for strength. It took a month of concerted effort, but I finally made it.

The best part, I ran a respectable time – 12 minute mile. And, to be honest, some of this was due to waiting for traffic lights and getting a little lost and needing to check in with my phone’s map. Not too shabby. I think I might actually make the under 30 club for a race.

My run was not without adventure. heading back on Market I took a turn after 4th between some buildings where I’d cut through before. It just had been a while ago and I couldn’t figure out where Howard was. Thus, it required checking in with my phone map. Lo and behold, I had a route, I forgot to adjust for walking. Let’s just say that this added not only distance, but also a tour of one of the seedier parts of town – down 6th. Let’s just say that for a little girl on her own early in the morning heading past homeless people and some sordid fellows, I was feeling a bit nervous. But, I did make it back to Market and checked my phone again to put me back on track.

In the end, I certainly needed to push myself a bit more than on a machine, so a Guns and Roses mix helped a lot. I also ran the flattest part of the city. We’ll see what happens when I get home and have to tackle Hopkinton’s hills. But, all in all, not a shabby day.

I can now say – I’m a runner again!

Postcard for Mother’s Day

To all the mom’s out there – Happy Mother’s Day!

Just finished my mother’s day breakfast made by my family: real German pumpernickel toasted and topped with a fried egg, smoked salmon and slices of avocado. A side of fresh berries, mango and banana. A venti Americano. And they even cut up pastries in small pieces so I could sneak in bakery goodness without over doing it. Are you jealous yet? 🙂

Michele at Gustavos in WalthamMother’s Day for me started last night since I have to hop on a plane this afternoon for San Francisco. (a little friendly online shaming below to my friends in SF…) Tom took me out for dinner to this amazing Cuban restaurant, Gustavo’s in Waltham. We shared little plates of everything from marinated pork tips in polenta, grilled lamb, creamy paprika shrimp with radishes and tomato, black been and quinoa salad, and the most amazing roasted cauliflower. Tom also got this seafood stew with a Cuban twist. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been on a healthy living/diet for over 4 months, but this is definitely my new favorite restaurant.

Dinner didn’t fit into what was left of my calorie allotment for the day (although I did work to keep under control and overage minimal), but after 30 minutes to a Jillian Michaels’ circuit training video, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 30 minutes on a steep treadmill incline, I think I was entitled to an amazing dinner. The true test is to do the same workout today as I am being reasonable in my meals, but my family is also tempting me with crab cakes for later. I even saw a box of chocolates. And I could steal a Twizzler for about 35 calories – Yay!

Yes, for me Mother’s Day is about good food. But, it has also been about feeding my soul. Whether it is visiting the art museums, doing some yoga, pampering at the spa, gardening, or going out for a walk, my Mother’s Days are in some ways a template for how I should be taking care of myself all the time. My family does a lot to take away my daily stress today, which helps. I need to give them a lot of credit for that; after all, they pick up the pieces when I’m road warrior-ing. Yet, what I need to constantly realize and remind myself of is that a healthy lifestyle is about taking care of me not just one day a year, but everyday of my life.

So, my message to all moms today, take care of yourself today and everyday. Think about what gives you the most happiness and renewal on Mother’s Day and work to carry that through always.

————————————————————————–

(a little friendly online shaming below …)  — I’m calling out the vendor I’m with this week – Informatica! – to say that the next time they plan their event, think carefully about timing and be kinder to us mother’s out there. Cutting Mother’s Day short is a bit cold in order for us Mom’s to make it to our morning analyst meetings. But, nothing that a good Americano and breakfast banter can’t fix!

 

10 Tips to Stay On Track With Diet While Traveling

Work and travel get in the way. But, I’m sitting at the bar in the Chicago United Club and its the perfect time while in a travel mindset for an update.

Can you lose weight as a road warrior?

Verdict: Yes!

Conditions:
I’m down almost 35 pounds with another 20 to go (Starting weight 168. Current weight 134). I’ve gone from a size 12 pant and XL/L shirt to almost a size 4 pant and small shirt. I can wear a bikini this summer. I can also run again! I can also see myself back on the slopes hitting the moguls like before rather than shimmying down the green trails.

There are good weeks and bad weeks. It’s about taking one day at a time. The real test is your mindset. You really need to want to lose weight and transition to a life long healthy lifestyle. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before, the question is really, will you take it to heart and commit to change?

There are no cheat days. There are no days off. There are no days where you can give permission to poor eating and inactivity. This is your new religion. I firmly believe that taking off the weight and keeping it off is not a temporary mindset. Commitment is real – this is a marriage to a new you.

I speak from experience, both from being in shape and out of shape as well as tackling this later in life when hormones and a lower metabolism is my everyday enemy.

Being a road warrior  has taught me to be both realistic in how I scrounge for meals that fit healthy eating and living by the feedback on my wrist that says I am as active as I should be.

  1. Just move: I look for ways to get in movement anyway I can. It can seem crazy and extreme at times. I get in a workout at odd hours. I tour airport concourses. I skip the cabs or car rental if I can walk to where I need to be.
  2. Be Sally: When Harry Met Sally, everything is on the side. It is definitely awkward the first time, but you are the customer and can have your food any way you like it. Let the kitchen know not to coat your salmon in oil. Put calorie rich sauces on the side. Substitute the fries, rice, and mashed potatoes for another helping of steamed veggies. When you can’t get it right, get the grilled chicken sandwich, pull off the top bun, and eat your sandwich with a fork and knife.  You saved 120 – 140 calories and a bad dose of simple carbs.
  3. Portions: Get familiar with your portion sizes by measuring stuff at home. This way, those large plates can be put in their box. You know a healthy portion of steak, chicken, even salmon (it has more fat than you think, even if it is good fat, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore).
  4. Get a Map: Are you getting your walking or running game going? If you don’t have an app, ask the hotel for safe routes and bike trails. Not every place is ideal, but just like knowing the great places to have dinner, your hotel knows the best places to get outside. If you have the time, go ahead and get in that cab/Uber/rental car to tour a city on foot or by run. You get a city tour you might not have had the chance otherwise to do.
  5. Love the bands: If you are heavier at the beginning or just have a lot more to lose, sometimes being self conscious will keep you from the hotel gym. For less than 20 dollars, a set of resistance bands lets you build muscle in your hotel room until you are ready to show off the toned bulges that start to appear after several weeks.
  6. Exercise apps: I can’t say I used them a ton because I am a cardio freak on and off equipment. But, my yoga apps and HIIT apps get me 20 – 30 minutes in my hotel room when I need to squeeze in a workout.
  7. Indulge pragmatically: This is where portion control is key. United in Chicago added a scrumptious chicken alfredo. It’s deadly, I know. But, when you’ve been stuffing your face with veggies all day, you have some extra calories. I don’t condone going over your intake goal. But, with a little planning, some small indulgences help you not feel deprived at the same time you don’t sabotage your work.
  8. Pack Snacks: At the beginning when I wasn’t so sure, I kept snacks and mini meals on me. As I’ve progressed and gotten confident and educated, I don’t do this anymore. When I started it gave me more control. I still keep a piece of fruit or low calorie bar in my purse just in case. But, I don’t dip in anymore as I’ve gotten in a routine.  So it worked to help me in the beginning, but it gives me a safety net when all other food options fail.
  9. Track it: Honesty comes from transparency. I was a tracking freak across 3 apps (Weight Watchers, LostIt, MyFitnessPal). I’ve narrowed it to one (myfitnesspal.com) because it does a good enough job and I share my diary with my husband and oldest son. This keeps me both honest, I get kudos on my progress. It also helps me see progress and let’s me adjust as needed if there are weeks where the scale doesn’t move or goes in the opposite direction, or in some cases when the weight loss is too fast (yes, you need to watch for this too).
  10. At home: With all the good intentions on the road, when I get home it is detox. Even though I’m pretty healthy on the road, when I am home, I go vegetarian or pescatarian. This is when I do have more control and I take advantage of it by enjoying my creative cooking passion and coming up with new healthy dishes and testing them on my family (husband is in, kids I think are hoping I just keep it to myself.) I also make sure that I get in 2 days of intense workouts. Hike a mountain, get in a run, go for a ultra long power walk, or on yucky days, pack in my machine and weight time.

I can actually see the goal in sight, but in reality, I hit my goal. Yes, I’m within a couple points of a healthy BMI. Yes, my RHR is at the athletic level. Yes, I can do things I dreaded doing or couldn’t before. Yes, I actually found a way to like veggies and salad. Yes, I feel I can do this for the rest of my life. My top ten helped me get there.

Chubby Girl Travel Check-in

It’s been so long since I posted!

I was back on my typical travel schedule for work the past few weeks along with a weekend visit to Philly so my daughter could check out her college choice. If I thought it was hard to slim this chubby girl down during a light travel period, boy was it hard to do while in full swing.

I’m keeping up the exercise even if I get into the hotel late. Getting on the elliptical or treadmill when I get to the hotel is usually enough to let me hit my goals after a day of sitting on planes. It also calms me down. While in Toronto this week I never did get the time to go to the gym or work out (2 days), but the weather was great and walking around outside to and from places was enough to close all my Apple rings. I didn’t feel bad though since just before I left Tom and I took advantage of a gorgeous Boston day and took an 8 mile walk along the bike path in Holliston. My legs needed a little rest.

I’ve been a little easier on myself when it comes to eating. I’m not slacking, but I am working on finding ways to pull in yummy things without killing me. If I have the calories and overall my day was healthy eating, I have latitude for a small splurge. A plain Dairy Queen cone for example. I’ll be honest, it has been a little bit of an experiment, but with my exercise increasing and being more consistent and the majority of what I eat being mostly vegetables, fish, or lean meats, a sugary splurge once or twice a week isn’t a bit deal if it is within reason.

Here’s my results during the last month of full swing travel:

Weight 142.5
Weight loss in a month 8 lbs – down 26 lbs overall
Pant size 6
Shirt size Medium – and sometimes a small!
Walking pace increased from 3 mph to 3.7 mph
Daily exercise 60 min – up 15 minutes
Heart rate drop from 153 to 149 during intensity workouts
Resting heart rate 59 – drop from 64

Still working on getting my running legs. My hips are a huge problem – its painful. I need some exercises to strengthen those muscles and tighten the ligaments. So, I’m going to talk to my physician and see what I can do. But, I still try the short intervals and the elliptical is making a big difference in improving my cardio and strengthening muscles.

The only grip this month is the sag. Where fat once held up key areas of this chubby girl’s body, I need much better bras to ‘roll’ into. My legs also are sagging at my thighs and makes my knees creepy looking. Cellulite is also starting to show. I know that this is temporary and my skin will pull back and the good fat on my body will even out. It’s just yucky right now.

Here’s a shout out to those that may healthy living on the road doable:

  • Hilton Garden in Louisville (Airport) – Thanks to the kitchen and waitstaff that accommodated my special requests for low fat and extra veggies – and they did it with a smile! That egg white omelet at breakfast and grill salmon at dinner made my day.
  • Cosi in Dulles Airport – Love the fact you put the calories of your sandwiches on the board. The half sandwich option fit right into my plan and the bag of carrots was awesome.
  • Hearth in Toronto Pearson Airport – That squash soup with corn and black beans was amazing and so filling (I only got through half the bowl). I also loved the thinly sliced radishes and red carrots over my salad, so yummy and crunchy.
  • United lounge Chicago – Not happy about your customer dragging incident, to be sure. Better not see it again.  It really gave me pause to fly United (I’m 1k) and maintain my lounge membership. I will give you one thumbs up. The chicken alfredo added to the snack area during dinner was nice. I can’t eat a lot of it, but the nibble portion I took along side the veggie sticks let me indulge and boy was it good.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken/YUM Headquarters – what most may not know about KFC is that they have a huge amazing gym in their building, and it is used – wish I could have. There were also programs to promote healthy living. The cafeteria has the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, but there is also the most amazing salad bar. I was able to load up on salad and have a plain Chicken Lil (140 calories) on the side. I got my KFC fix in a healthy way.
  • TGI Friday’s Atlanta Airport – Shout out to the bartender for getting me my club sandwich order the way I wanted it.  He definitely thought I was crazy, but he served me with a chuckle and a smile.
  • Toronto Pearson Airport overall – my recent trip was a calamity and comedy of errors starting with going through customs for my work permit. Thanks to the customs women for bearing with me as I realized I should have been in London and not Toronto and not giving me a hard time on my work permit.  If this was the US, I can only imagine the hassle. Also a big thank you to Avis that not only got me a car at the last minute, but were way more accommodating than I have ever seen. If I hadn’t gotten off to such a gracious start when I landed in Toronto, I could definitely seen myself pour my frustration into food. Note to all workers in airports – a little niceness and graciousness goes a long way to calming frazzled travelers – hear that UNITED?

Buddy Up For Fitness

frog fitness

I’ve never been one to exercise with others. I like to run alone.  If do hit the gym with a friend we go our separate ways. I need to get in my zone.  So when my husband was watching my progress and saw how the weight was coming off and my body was remolding itself to “human” from “blob”, it incented him to get on MyFitnessPal, buy a Garmin watch, and a Garmin Scale. A month later, he’s down 6 pounds and toning up.

To be fair, he wasn’t dealing with more than the Holiday ten pounds. He was never really chubby but his frustration was he was getting a dad body. He always moved about 5 pounds over the holidays, and to be honest, I liked snuggling against him in the winter better than the summer when his body was hard and bonier. But, Tom wasn’t happy, so power to him to join me on the program.

Now, this has its positives and negatives. The positive is that it actually is motivating me more. My competitiveness kicks in and if Tom has days with more steps, more exercise time, and more intensity it drives me crazy. This make me push myself a bit more. For example, today I got myself to find a way to stay on the elliptical for 30 minutes at high intensity and then move to the treadmill with a high incline and faster pace for an hour.

On the other hand, Tom eats into my treadmill time by getting on himself for 60 – 90 minutes about the same time I would. I have to share, which kicks in my childish self that pouts grouchily as I need to work around him. “You could get on the elliptical when he is on the treadmill,”  you say. And, you are right. But, that means there is someone distracting me from my zone (which is a big reason why I even hate going to the gym).

I just need to get over it. The best thing is that the two of us are going to be ready for the warm weather when we can go out for bike rides, hikes and runs. Toms keeping an eye out for a day to hike Mt Monadnock. We talked about a hike up Falling Water trail to Lafayette and Haystack then down Bridle Trail, taking pictures of us in the same spots from 25 years ago. I’m looking forward to some morning jogs along the beach together and then jumping into the ocean to cool off. And, the thought of hitting the slopes next winter isn’t causing anxiety but rather joy. In the end, the positives of doing cool stuff together are definitely better than my petulant child alter ego.

BTW – here’s the eclectic playlist that finally got me over my elliptical hump to drive my intensity to 90% and HR to 154 for 30 min.  I also hit 10650 steps before lunch today. This (chubby)girl will be road ready in no time!

Rooster – Alice in Chains
Spoonman – Soundgarden
Wherever I May Roam – Metallica
Break On Through To The Other Side – The Doors
Silent Lucidity – Queensryche
Lights – Journey
Rock and Roll Never Forgets – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
New World Man – Rush
Here By Me – 3 Doors Down
Even Flow – Pearl Jam
Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
She Talks To Angels – The Black Crowes
Welcome To The Jungle – Guns n Roses
Turn the Page (Live) – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Don’t Fear The Repear – Blue Oyster Cult
Don’t Tread On Me – Metallica
Only The Young – Jouney
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds
Black – Pearl Jam
Love Her Madly – The Doors
Burning For You – Blue Oyster Cult
Hard To Handle – The Black Crows
Rockstar – Nickelback (even for the Nickelback haters you need to end on this!)

 

 

Living with a food addiction

I’ve lived healthy, and I’ve lived in indulgence. When traveling it is easy to indulge with the plethora of top notch restaurants and chefs we learn about in travel magazines, on foodie channels, and the internet. I have to wonder how it is that you can get through travel without manifesting a food addiction.

This chubby girl is taking hard looks at herself on this journey.  I have to be introspective and honest about when I eat, why I make my choices, and overall, what triggers bargaining.

Here is what I found…

Eating as I do is an addiction pure and simple. When I was younger and more active, I burned enough calories that it didn’t necessarily get me in trouble.  When work and life took over, my butt was in a chair more often than my feet were moving and the pounds come on easily. In my late forties and now hormones are finishing the job for me. I can take this as some life changes, but it doesn’t address my food choices. I can’t, nor should I, sit down with a freshly made box of Kraft Mac-n-cheese. Eating a single serve Uno pizza, even a Spinocolli, is another bad choice. Treating myself on work-from-home days to my local Chinese buffett trying to hide my unhealthy eating by loading up on veggie dishes and no rice or noodles doesn’t hide the fact that I still have filled half my container with dumplings, chicken fingers, and crab rangoons. Hungry coming home, no problem, McDonalds has a drive through and I can scarf down a BigMac with fries and tell myself I saved on calories and sugar by getting a bottle water to wash it down instead of a soda.

That is the bad eating, but then I go to great restaurant, especially on the road and absolutely have to indulge in the signature dish, a steak, kitchen made pasta, or the artisan breads with olive oil dipping sauce poured over grated parmesan. I make meals for the family and I’m thinking more about how delectable it can be and fancy myself as an iron chef by throwing huge chunks of butter in the pan to brown my meats.

I am addicted to food. I don’t have control. And, food is going to kill me. What addiction could be worse than one that is tied to being able to live.  I quit smoking when I was 23 (I was a social smoker), but smoking isn’t something that if you stop you would die from. Food is a necessity. I suspect that for many people with weight issues, food is an addiction for them too.

Addictions aren’t just habits. They are hardwired behaviors. Yet, diet programs (and I hear this in my WW meetings and community) talk a lot about breaking bad habits. If this is just about breaking bad habits, why is it that only about 5% of people that lose weight keep it off? Yes, there are aspects about metabolism and physiological memory. But, no commercial weight loss and exercise program out there is talking about how to overcome the brain’s wiring for food addiction and living with that.

I can’t bargain my way out of this.  I can’t use cheat points. I can’t have cheat days. I can’t think about what I will do when I hit my goal and can incorporate back in what I deprived myself of. And, this finally dawned on me when two things happened this week.

  1. A hockey mom friend asked if I ever wanted a burger. Didn’t I ever eat pizza? My WW meeting leader showed concern that I might never indulge and was that sustainable? I thought a lot about this and realized that, for me, this is the first time that I am looking at the fact that I may never eat another Five Guy’s burger if it is a trigger to my addiction. I may never have another bagel with cream cheese and lox for the same reason. Certain foods are for me what cigarettes, alcohol or drugs are for others with addictions. Abstinence is the only way to survive.
  2. My diet is verging on vegetarian. The times I do have meat, chicken or seafood it is in small amounts and very lean. There might be 2 ounces at most. My husband calls this the Asian diet. My stomach calls my new recipe concoctions heaven! So much so that the day this week when I had two little smokie links my stomach revolted with discomfort. The piece of pizza I had last week almost made me throw up I was so nauseous. The fat and grease is just too much. My digestion has changed. I am living in detox.

Sorry for the lengthy point. But, when I finally had this realization about myself it all started to fall into place and I could begin to accept the real issue I have with food and healthy living. I can approach this is a more effective way and get me to sustain healthy living.