Don’t call it a diet

Last November I embarked on an effort to get healthier. I had gained a lot of weight and wasn’t happy with that. So my plan was to go back to the gym and start cooking more and rely less on processed foods in an attempt to get my eating under control.

I started and it kind of fell off in December (the cooking; the gym thing held on). For the most part, I’ve been hitting my twice a week goal. There were some weeks where I only went once or didn’t go at all but for the most part, I’d make it to the gym. Now that Daylight Savings is here and it’s still light after work, I’m hoping to add a day of running during the week which is important since race season is upon us.

So I’ve been working out, eating more healthily, and planning my meals. I’m trying to snack on fruit more often and even reduced the amount of sugar I consume by simply changing my tea cup (I switched out my 16 ounce cup for a 10 ounce cup) and enacting a one-cup maximum per day. Before, I had been drinking upwards of 2 cups a day, which was technically 4 cups. So it’s like I cut out 3 cups of tea per day. Isn’t math fun? One of my newest obsessions has been steel cut oats. The best thing is you can make a big pot on Sunday and eat them all week long. And the even better part is you can make a big pot in your slow cooker (I have one of those now. Best thing ever!).

So far my efforts have been working. I’ve really cut down on the amount of processed meals I’ve been eating and I feel much better. Combined with the workouts, I’m feeling pretty unstoppable. I’m down 11 lbs so far (and even kept off some of the weight I lost during my church’s annual fast at the beginning of the year) and I’m about 8 pounds away from my goal weight.

There has been some happy changes to my routine so it’s been a little bit of a struggle to maintain my gym nights but I’m encouraged that I’ll be able to keep things up. I like the small changes I’ve made and after almost 5 months, they’re still in tact. I look forward to my gym nights and while trying to figure out what to cook everyday is pretty hard, I enjoy cooking (though I still have my occasional bowl of cereal for dinner).

I’ve made a lot of small changes but do feel this way is more sustainable. I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to lose those last few pounds but mostly I’m excited that I’m on the road to a much healthier lifestyle.

I ran a Half Marathon; I do what I want.

You guys: I did it. I survived the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon.¬†And when I say ‘survived,’ I really, really mean SURVIVED because it was a battle of wills.

As I said before, I didn’t really train as much as I should have. This wasn’t the distance where I could mess around and expect to do well like I did for my last 5k, but yet I allowed myself to be talked out of running at every turn. That was a huge mistake. I was arrogant and stupid and grossly overestimated my ability to run 13.1 miles for the first time ever.

I was a bundle of nerves but ready or not, I was going to run. The race started fairly well. My whole plan was to alternate between running and walking (this helped to inflate my ego and confidence in my ability to finish this race without much issue. I’m trying not to smirk as I write this.) and because I’m a genius, I didn’t have anything to actually time myself to make sure I stayed on a 2 min run/1 min walk pace. I ended up running until I needed to walk, which worked for a while but I ended up running out of steam a lot sooner than I probably would have had I regulated myself.

I started touching the mile markers at 7 miles because I had never ran that far before and it seemed appropriate. Things were going well until around the 9 mile mark and then I hit the wall at mile 10. I could barely convince myself to move and ended up walking most of the last 3 miles, which was kind of disappointing. I thought about quitting several times during the race but when I touched that 13 mile marker I was proud that I kept going through the sore muscles, blistered toes, and a slightly wounded ego.

I did end up running across the finish line (even though the pictures make it look like I just walked) and my final time was 3:10:31. While I hoped to finish under 3 hours, I’m happy to have finished at all. Sure I could barely move and had to shuffle but I conquered 13.1 miles and had the medal to prove it.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

Would I do this again? Abso-freaking-lutely! I’m already looking for my next half and I’m sure I’ll sign up for the Healdsburg race again next year. Would I do a full marathon? Right now I say no knowing full well that I could change my mind later on (remember when I said I wasn’t going back to school?). Let’s just say I’m keeping my options open.

I can do that. I ran a half marathon.

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 13 and 14.11

Week 13

I was forced to take this week off due to health reasons. I was getting over a sore throat that decided to get weird [seriously, a sore and visibly swollen throat but with no signs of strep throat or a fever even though I was hot to the touch - even my doctor was bewildered] so my mom suggested that I not risk things and relax. It was a tough week to stay inside since it was absolutely beautiful and would have made for some good running weather.

Week 14

This week was a bit of a struggle since I hadn’t run in over a week so I knew I would have to ease back into my routine. Even though I had mentally prepared myself for a tough return, I was still disappointed that my mileage was way off. It’s not like I could have expected to come back and instantly run 4 miles after not running for a full week but it still burned the ego since I was so excited and ready to get back out on the pavement. I did improve with each workout so that was helpful. Hopefully when I get back on the road this week I’ll be closer to 4 miles again.

Day 1

Distance: 3.21 mi
Time: 35:03 mins
Notes: I had to stop to walk at 1.76 miles and it was a S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E. just to get there. While I felt excited to get out and run, my body felt so heavy and sluggish.

Day 2

Distance: 3.13 mi
Time: 33:55 mins
Notes: I was able to push myself to hit 2.41 miles before stopping to walk. This run was a test of mental strength as I was hit with some massive side stitches midway through. After some prayer while on the go, I was able to keep skipping along.

Week 14 totals:

Total distance:
Total time:
Weight: I haven’t weighed myself in two weeks because I’ve had some conflicts. How can one have weigh-in conflicts? Last week I was out of town at a ministry event and this weekend I didn’t have time to check before heading out to play paintball…which I WILL be recapping this week.

I also signed up for two more races for the summer: a 5k trail race at the end of the month [my first trail run ever!] and a 10k in August. Yes, you read that right. a 10k. That’s 6.2 miles. Honestly I’m a little nervous about it because I figured that I would be able to run a 10k by the end of the year so moving it up to August was a bit of a push. I know I can do this, seeing how I broke the 4-mile mark about a month earlier than I had estimated so I’m sure it’ll be the same here. If I can run consistently.

If all else fails, I’ll just blame Pat for convincing me I could do this.

Don’t count on it

For the past month or so I have been working hard on watching what I eat and decided to use the LoseIt app to help count calories. My main issue has always been portion control; my servings were, without a doubt, bigger than the suggested servings. It was silly of me to think that what I assumed was one serving was actually one serving. Half a pizza does not count as one serving.

Sorry self, even your math isn’t THAT fuzzy

Counting calories helped me to begin to gain a better idea of how serving sizes actually work. I did take the extra step of measuring my food to make sure I was calculating my calories correctly. Plus, watching the effects of exercise on the amount I can eat was really gratifying. It was like I earned an extra meal! The most encouraging thing was knowing that I could still fit in the occasional snack of milk and cookies or ice cream or splurge on a burger and fries but still remain within my daily caloric allowance. It was dieting without the dieing part.

I did find it hard to calculate calories when using a recipe that didn’t already list the calories [though I did find some nifty recipe calorie counting apps to help] and it was incredibly hard to figure out the calories in food I didn’t prepare, whether it was from restaurants that weren’t already included in the list on the LoseIt app or available online of from when my mom would cook. Half the time I wouldn’t know what went into a dish or the amounts she used and had to guestimate. Because really? How many calories are in the red bean buns without the red beans? Or kimchee fried rice? Do you see my conundrum?

Another issue I faced was the demotivating affect of watching what you eat without experiencing any weight loss. Before I was diligently watching what I ate, it was a little disheartening to not experience a weight loss [and worse, a gain] but I couldn’t really say I was eating well. Now that I was more aware of how much I putting into my body and working out, maintaining the same weight week after week was not fun and quite frustrating. I did end up dropping a few extra pounds but that was when I had my sore throat and couldn’t really be bothered to eat anything anyway.

Taking all these feelings into account, I’m contemplating stopping actively counting my calories. I will still look at the caloric information for everything I eat and do my best to maintain some semblance of moderation, but I’m not planning on cataloging my calories anymore. Instead I’m just going to try to make more of an effort to eat more smaller meals throughout the day, which I suspect was part of the problem during my calorie journaling. Hopefully I can eat something every few hours without starving myself, which is a good way to keep your metabolism humming along and stop your body from going into starvation mode and hording any nutrition it can get. I just need to get smarter about what I eat.

We’ll see what happens. Hopefully this works and is something that I can stick with and integrate into my current lifestyle.

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 11 and 12.11

I’ve been majorly slacking on writing my running recaps but seriously, I’ve also been kind of slacking on my running, less from a lack of trying and more from uncooperative weather. Stupid rain. So in two weeks, I was only able to run four times, including my first 5k race of the year. Crazy, I know. Even crazier: I totally failed to properly set my sportband so my mileage for the race wasn’t tracked! Urg!

Week 11

Day 1

Distance: 3.68 mi
Time: 40:09 min
Notes: I had to take my walking break at 3.16 miles because I had stupidly eaten breakfast before running. I usually run on an empty stomach [sometimes I'll have a piece of fruit] but since it was really foggy when I woke up, I decided to wait to see if it would lift before going out since it would be safer. Even though I run on sidewalks, I still didn’t want to take that chance since I do have to cross some streets. Anywho, my mom surprised me with crepes and I went all out. I rued that decision later.

Day 2

Distance: 5.01 mi
Time: 53:59 min
Notes: This was my longest official run! And I ran all the miles, unlike the previous high of 4.6 miles because that included my walking breaks. I took my break at 4.05 miles and felt pretty strong. Since I was so close to 5 miles by the time I made it back home, I decided to just push for the extra 0.20 of a mile and got it! So exciting.

Week 10 stats

Total distance: 8.69 mi
Total time: 1:34:08 mins
Average mile: 10’49″
Weight: 145.7 lb

Week 12

Day 1

Distance: 2.21 mi
Time: 23:06 mins
Notes: This week I intended to take a break on mileage in preparation for my 5k race on Saturday. However, we had rain all week [including the morning of the race] so I wasn’t able to run the rest of the week, which was utterly disappointing.

Week 12 stats

Total distance: 2.21 mi
Total time: 23:06 mins
Average mile: 10’27″
Weight: 146.3 lb

Mileage to date: 96.53 mi

My 5k race was a lot of fun. It was raining before we started and the rain slowed to a drizzle while I was out running. The view was ah-may-zing; overlooking the Artesa Vineyard in Napa and I couldn’t help but get lost in it while running. Its one of those views that you want to stop and take a picture of but all you really want to do is just live in the moment and soak it all in with your eyes and not through some viewfinder:

My official time was 36:44, which isn’t too bad since the course was a bit hilly and we had to run up a hill to get to the finish line. I was pleased that I wasn’t caught too off-guard since my regular jogging routes include hills of some sort so I was actually quite prepared for the final stretch.

The whole race itself was a lot of fun. Since it was raining, the organizers, the Carneros Volunteer Fire Department, had to scramble around to set up the back up plan but did a great job. The atmosphere for this race was unique: they started the race by sounding the fire truck horns and served us a pancake breakfast following, including a glass of white wine [a pinot grigio and something else; I'm not sure since I requested a wine glass sans wine] and everyone was super friendly and excited to be there in spite of the weather. I’m definitely going to keep this run on my calendar for next year. I had such a great experience that I’ll definitely show up for a repeat appearance.

Eat two apples and run in the morning

I have always had somewhat questionable eating habits. Why have dinner when I can eat this pack of dinner rolls [I have done this more often than I care to admit], or, I’m kind of hungry but instead of making something to eat, I’ll just graze on all of these random things, like popcorn and maybe a bowl of cereal. Or this piece of bread. Mmm…bread.

I kind of have this thing with bread. Can’t.stop.eating.

Anywho, as one who’s secretly not really but kind of obsessed with her weight, I understand the value of eating properly and working out. There’s no use in running if I’m just going to eat whatever I darn well please as if there were no consequences and then get all butt-hurt when I find out I didn’t lose a pound, or worse, gained one or two. I’m also not one to purposely starve herself in order to lose that extra weight either because I love eating just too much to do that.

So in an effort to improve my eating habits [and to eat more vegetables, because, sadly, one does not outgrow eating vegetables] while working on losing the last pesky seven pounds that seem to just want to hang around for no apparent reason other than being there, I have embarked on a new program. To tackle the losing weight portion, I downloaded the Nike Training Club app to supplement my running days. Admittedly, I’ve only used it once but the workout I completed did leave me huffing and puffing and sore for a few days [oh, the lunges!]. I’m excited to do more workouts and the best thing was this app was completely free! Go Nike.

Second, in the hopes of reigning in my eating habits, I downloaded the LoseIt app to track my calories. This little app, also free, calculates how many calories you can eat to reach whatever weight loss goal you have. It does take some work to actively log what I’m eating, but since its accessible by both the iTouch [with and without wireless connection] and my computer, it’s not too hard to remember to log things in. Logging my food intakes forces me to actively think about what I’m eating. When you start looking at calories, you’ll think twice about reaching for that bag of Gummi Bears. I could either have 17 Gummi Bears or two pancakes [with some extra calories to spare] for dinner. Though, its kind of hard to estimate your caloric intake for some foods that you don’t have recipes or nutritional information for.

Its exciting to see just how much exercise affects the amount of food you can eat. I try to remind myself that working out is not an excuse to go crazy though its kind of hard to resist that urge. But what’s the use if you’re not going to loosen up every once in a while? I’m not using this app as an excuse to become psychotic about what I eat, but to drive me to make smarter decisions about what I eat. Yeah I’ll have the occasional cheeseburger and fries because it tastes so good, but I won’t eat it every day, not when there are better, healthier choices that will fill me up just as well, and most importantly, curb my tendency to mindless graze throughout the day.

Hopefully this will be that good push I need to work off those seven pounds and then I can go into maintenance mode. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all works out. Even if I eventually drop the calorie tracker, I do see myself continuing this new eating habit well on in life.

Running on Asphalt: Weeks 3.11 and 4.11

Okay, so I kind of slacked off on writing while the bf was here but I did not slack off with the running. Sort of kind of. Let me explain.

I fully intended on running while he was here, and I almost did. But we did take a midweek trip to Monterey that took away one of my running days [I had wanted to leave in the morning and just couldn't get myself to wake up earlier to fit that jog in] and the other day I had a nightmare. Hear me out now! I woke up after that dream and couldn’t really fall back asleep but then I did and woke up super late and didn’t feel like jogging. It happens, but I promise I’ll be back on it this coming week.

So while my running wasn’t where I would have liked it to be, I am pleased that I went out as much as I did. I could have totally slacked off and kissed off both weeks fully. I will say that it was nice running with the bf, even if he felt bad for holding me back. I don’t know if he’ll join me on future runs but it was nice to share that time with him.

Week 3

Day 1

Distance: 3.22 mi
Time: 35:16 mins
Notes: First walking break at 1.94 miles. I came up with a new route [of course I did] that’s a pretty good challenge. It does minimize my exposure to the hills so I have more energy to run a bit further longer. I did push myself a bit towards the end to make it to the 5k mark [3.1 miles] and am glad I was able to get there, even though I nearly fell over once I did. I was actually really impressed with my ability to push to almost 2 miles before stopping for my first break. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back up there soon.

Day 2

Distance: 3.11 mi
Time: 33:24 mins
Notes: I ran my new route but added a new section that gives me more room for walking breaks and still be able to push out my minimum mileage with no problem. Unfortunately, by some weird fluke, I was only able to make it to 0.96 miles before stopping for a break. I don’t think I really desperately needed it but I took one anyway. I was able to more than make up for it by running up a slope [part of the new modified route].

Day 3

Distance: 1.33 mi
Time: 15:28 mins
Notes: I ran/walked with the bf this day. It was the first time in years since he last ran so he was really out of shape. At one point he accused me of trying to kill him. So we ended up walking the rest of the way home.

Week 3 stats

Total distance: 7.67 mi
Total time: 1:24:08 min
Weight: 146.7

Week 4

Day 1

Distance: 2.61 mi
Time: 34:04
Notes: I ran/walked this with the bf as well. I did end up leaving my sportband running even during the walking breaks. He did a lot better this time around – he was able to make it to a mile before stopping. A HUGE improvement from the week before.

Week 4 stats

Total distance: 2.61 mi
Total time: 34:04 min
Weight: 151.7 lb

Pat’s challenge: I’m still sitting pretty in 1st place with a total of 27.78 miles [2nd place is at 9.94 mi]
Personal goal [50 mi by 2/14]: 22.2 mi to go [I'm currently 4.22 mi behind target!]

So my weight shot up this week [I have been eating a ton while the bf was here] and I will admit that I’m not happy about it. I do plan on starting to work on my abs to at least tone and help to control the pooch I develop after eating. Seriously, its like a food baby for real.