Goal 1: Accountability. 

Pursuant my previous post,  I can’t tackle everything at once or I risk yet another failures. So I’ve decided to pick one goal each week.  

I’m starting this week with accountability because it feels like everything stems from that. For me this means tracking: exercise, steps, food, caffeine, and sleep. I can’t see improvement if I don’t keep track. Notice I didn’t say weight, inches, or clothing size. If my goal is increased energy, those factors aren’t the right measures. 

I have a Fitbit to track steps and feel fairly comfortable using the Fitbit app to track food and exercise. (Steps and exercise are not the same IMHO). But I think I can’t ignore those other measures, so this week my goal is to figure out the best way to track. 

I’m also going to commit to weekly (or more) blog posts.  I find blogging the best way for me to (a) work out my thoughts, (b) stay accountable and, (c) boost my mood. 

Energy Reboot

I’ve tried to restart my running program about 10 times since getting the go ahead from my dr. Each time has failed, not because of injury but because of lack of energy. Here are my top reasons for lack of follow through:

  • I’m too tired 
  • I’m too busy (work, family, politics, etc.)
  • I’m too overwhelmed (see above)
  • It’s too cold, gym is too far, workout clothes don’t fit anymore, excuse of the day…
  • I don’t seem to be getting better. 

I’ve tried to get back on track with eating about 100 times in the last six months. I know which foods  give me energy and make me feel good and which foods give me food cravings and make me feel out of control. Here are my top reasons I fall apart:

  • I’m too tired to cook, shop, prep food
  • I didn’t plan for my day properly
  • I’m in a lousy mood, so I just don’t care anymore
  • I’ve already eaten the wrong thing, so what’s one more
  • If it’s not about weight loss, why can’t I eat what I like?

It’s like a viscous cycle. I eat foods that suck the energy out of me and the. I have no energy. I don’t exercise so I have no energy. 

In addition, I’ve gone back to drinking regular coffee. It started with just a cup or two a week, but progressed to the point where I get a splitting headache if I don’t have 2-3 cups a day. 

After thinking about this for a couple of weeks, I’ve decided that I need a complete reboot. I need the human equivalent of turning it off and turning it back on again. 

I went back to where I started, when the journey was just starting. I need to set small enough goals that I think I can achieve them. I need to take it much more slowly than I have been. Things didn’t break down in a couple of weeks; it was a gradual process of little slips. 

I’m going to stop focusing on trying to be a runner so much. I’m going to put my attention on things that get my energy back. 

So here it is ~ 30 days to reboot my energy:

I need to focus on things that will give me energy. Whole foods, not processed. Eating more proteins and veggies and less sugars.  Avoid wheat. Cut down on caffeine. Move my body every day.  Think about how to improve sleep. 

I don’t have the answers now. I’m going to play with a few things and see how it goes. 

A New Year Start

happy new year2015 was a great year for me, health wise:

It may be the first time in my life that I maintained my weight (staying within 5 lbs) for a solid year. No drastic ups or downs – just clean eating (mostly) and pretty relaxed about diet.

I learned a lot about accepting my body this year. I’m appreciative of my health and not so wrapped up about my weight.

It was definitely a banner year for me in terms of meeting my fitness goals:

  • I ran over 1,000 miles (1,023.3 to be exact) and walked over 4,000,000 steps (4,361,000, but who’s counting?)
  • I completed my first half marathon in under 3 hours (2:35:58)

2015 running monthlyI have to be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the 1,000 miles. The last few months the only thing that got me out running was the fact that I really, really, wanted to hit the 1,000 mark. It took me until late December, but I’m so happy I did it!

My third goal for the year was to write weekly about things I’ve learned. That didn’t quite happen. I used this blog quite a bit to get ready for the half, but then life, work, and other things took precedence, and I haven’t posted since September.

In all, I only wrote  9 truths and with only 14 weeks until I turn 50, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to (or even want to) meet this goal anymore.  I am going to re-read the ones I did write, because I think it will help me get back into that head space.

The thing about meeting (or not meeting) goals is that you always have to set new ones.  I can’t just repeat my goals from a previous year. Where’s the challenge in that? So here they are, my official 2016 goals for the year:

  • Run 1,250 miles because I totally have to up the ante, and I want to commit to running at least 100 miles each month.
  • Finish a marathon in less than 6 hours which sounds both totally doable and completely insane.
  • Complete 50 hours of yoga because I see that my body needs more than just running, so this works out to about an hour a week.
  • Grow something to eatThis one is a little bit out there, and was inspired by a cool blog post (10 Food Resolutions That Don’t Involve Body Shame). I do not have a green thumb, I never grow things, and I rarely cook, but I thought this might take me out of my comfort zone a little and I like that idea quite a bit.

So there you are! What are your goals for 2016?

Be accountable.

31 weeksGoals are important, but unless you are accountable to those goals, they may not mean much. Writing down your goals makes them more real than just thinking about them. Sharing your goals with others is even better.

mapmyrun

There is no way I would ever be able to run 1,000 miles this year if I didn’t keep up with this blog.

I have several levels of accountability when it comes to my lifestyle changes. Probably the most important is this blog (and to a smaller extent my twitter account ). I don’t have an extremely high readership by any stretch, but once I post something, it becomes real to me. Sometimes I backtrack on what I write (yes, I made up with peanut butter) but the act of writing makes me more thoughtful on what I commit to.

Tracking is another great tool for me. I use Fitbit® and mapmyrun to track my daily, weekly, and yearly progress. I may want to skip a run or just stay in bed for a week, but just looking at my own numbers keeps me moving. For example, my daily step goal is 8k steps and many nights I’ve looked to see only 5k, 6k, or even 7,599 and decided I better just finish off my steps. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken an 11 pm walk just to get the numbers on my Fitbit over 8,000. Not just because friends and family are following me, but because the numbers remind me how important my goals are to me.

accountabilityAnd it’s not just exercise.  For the last two years I’ve written down everything I ate. It may seem strange since I pretty much eat the same thing every day, but I find that if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t count in my mind. No one sees my food log (and a food log may seem very diet-y for a non-diet person) but when I don’t write it down it is easy to fall into old habits and slip in the foods that de-rail me. For me, this also lets me be more non-diet.  If I want to eat something not on my program I do and don’t worry about it.  For example, on my recent vacation I enjoyed some brownies and an absolutely delicious piece of cheesecake. I tracked and moved on. No regrets, no guilt, and no pretending I didn’t do it.

And that is the ultimate accountability – to myself. Whether I track my progress or share my goals, I need to be honest with myself. I owe it to myself to invest the time and energy into myself.

13.1 Miles (Unofficially)

13point1funToday I ran 13.1 miles for the first time.  I say for the first time because my race is still 6 weeks away. I’m hoping to run this distance (maybe a little farther) a few times before the actual race. Even if I don’t, today was a big accomplishment. I proved to myself that I can do it (something I haven’t been totally sure of).

Today’s run was brutal. It wasn’t the “joy of running” that I frequently blog about. It was more like the “slog of running.”  I had to wake up early (6 am) to try to beat the heat of the day. Even at that it was about 80˚F/76% humidity when I left the house, and in the high 80s when I finished the run.  The first 6 or 7 miles were fine, but after that I really had to convince myself to keep going… Every! Single! Mile!

get strongerMost of what made the run difficult is my own attitude. I know it is hot, so I should run slower. I know that it is a longer run than what my body is used to, so I should run slower. I know that I beat my goal time (3 hours) by almost 17 minutes. Yet the nasty voices in my head wouldn’t let me just relax into the run. I kept pushing to go faster and the more I pushed the harder the run got.

Around mile 8 I noticed that my toenails were hurting. Really?? It was all I could think about for a good portion of the run. How my pinky toenails were going to fall off… Oh please could they just fall off and put me out of my misery.

Towards the end I almost gave up.  I’m not sure what pushed me to go the last few miles.  Maybe it was the knowledge that, good or bad, I was going to post about the run afterwards. Maybe it was the constant stream of positive self-talk, as I desperately tried to be my own coach. My mantra sounded something like this:

long runYou can do it. Don’t fall. Don’t quit.  Keep going. Just 3 more miles. Oh, I like this song. A little faster. Don’t fall down. C’mon, you can do this. Just 2 more miles. You can run 2 miles easy. Don’t trip. Watch out for that car. Keep it up. Just 1 mile left… and so on.

Whatever it was, I did finish the full 13.1. I was dripping with sweat.  Every bone and muscle was sore. My toenails were painfully cutting into my toes. My stomach was starting to cramp. And I don’t know when I’ve ever felt that good.

And I can’t wait to try it again!

Find Joy in Exercise

36 weeksI’m not sure when it happened. I hated running. I always hated running. Didn’t I?

It was kind of a gradual thing for me. It evolved over time. Now I really love running.  I really would rather run than walk most of the time. I like the feeling of pushing myself, and the little adrenaline rush I get from running. running joyI actually even like the sweating. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I also feel empowered by running. Like I’m getting stronger with each step, even when I’m tired or in pain. It’s a rush.

The first thing that usually happens when I tell someone that I run or about a run is that they tell me why they can’t run. “I wish I could run but…” sentences. Here’s the thing, me telling you about my run doesn’t mean I want you to join my running cult (and, yes, it is a cult). I really just want you to find your own joy.

Running means getting back that feeling you had when you were a little kid, and it was just about the wind rushing against you. I only get that feeling about 5% of the time but I live for that.

Running means getting back that feeling you had when you were a little kid, and it was just about the wind rushing against you. I only get that feeling about 5% of the time but I live for that.

I’m also really getting into yoga. At first it was because a running podcast suggested that runners who do yoga once or twice a week can improve their performance, but now I really love going to yoga class. Unlike running, where I think every single step (sometimes composing these blog posts), yoga pulls me outside myself. I focus on breathing and stretching and trying not to fall over. (I really do kind of suck at it).

If I had any words of advice for anyone trying to learn to love themselves is find something that you love that gets you moving. It doesn’t have to be running or yoga. It could be dancing, weight-lifting, walking, biking, swimming, or anything. As long as it give you joy. That is the only exercise worth doing.

A Magazine for Me

womens-running-august-issue-coverWhen I saw the cover on this month’s Woman’s Running magazine, I immediately went out and purchased a subscription! Why? Because I felt so validated and inspired. This month’s cover showcases the beautiful and strong Erica Schenk.

I don’t think I look that good running, but this is way closer to me than any other woman I’ve ever seen on any other magazine. There is this myth out there that only thin women run. Or worse yet, that if you were really running regularly, you would be thin.

I don’t care if this is a stunt, or pandering, or whatever motivates a magazine to do something. Someone pitched the idea of a plus-sized model for the cover and other people said, “Yeah! That’s a good idea!”

Better than that, when they interviewed her they asked her real questions. “How did you start?” “Where are your favorite places to run?” “What gear is always in your gym bag?” In fact, only one question focused on her body size, and Erica’s answer nailed it:

WR: Too often people equate “runner’s body” with “super skinny.” How do you think that affects runners?
ES: Some women believe that since they have curves they can’t run or shouldn’t run. Running is for every body anytime. (Read more)

I believe in showing support with $$. This is a subscription I'm happy to pay for!

I believe in showing support with $$. If I don’t like your company, I won’t buy your product, no matter how good it is. This is a subscription I’m happy to pay for!

Don’t Get Hurt

37 weeksI am almost 50 (37 weeks shy, to be exact) And here I am training for a half marathon. What if I get sick? What if I get hurt?

ankle2One thing I needed to learn (and I keep having to relearn, because, hey, I’m a slow learner) is that you can’t help yourself if you hurt yourself.  Negative self-talk is one way to hurt yourself emotionally, but in this instance I’m  talking about physically getting hurt. Sometimes you can’t help it (a car comes out of nowhere or you get sick or you trip on your own feet), but many times injuries are a function of overdoing it. Running too much and not taking rest days. Running in the dark. Running on unmarked trails in the woods. (FYI: I’m completely guilty of doing all of these, even though I know better.)

When I had my serious operation almost two years ago (which eventually became the catalyst to my transformation) I let myself heal slowly. I did a little bit more every day and worked my way back to health. It was a good plan.

yogaIf I got sick like that today I would have a much harder time being patient. I would want to rush my recovery (I see this every time I get sick) But time and again my experience has shown me that long-term results depend on short-term patience. And listening to your body. When something hurts, aches, or twinges – do something: Rest it, ice it, heat it, or get it treated!

My new rule is “If my mom or daughter told me these symptoms, what would I tell them to do.” And then I do that. Because I know I would give them the best care possible and the best advice possible. And I deserve just as much.

doit

Nourish Your Body Well

38 weeksIt’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

Come on. We’ve heard that one before. I insist that my eating plan is not a diet, but many people argue with me that it is. lifestyle changeIn some ways my food plan is much more restrictive than any diet I’ve ever been on. In other ways it is so much more freeing for me than any plan.  If you are interested in the origins of my “cold-turkey” food plan or want more details about what I eat, you can check out the links.

The point is that my plan is about how I feel about food, not how much weight I lose. If I never lose another pound, I would stick to this plan the rest of my life because it feels good.

Through trial and error I found foods that nourish my body well, and when my body is well nourished I don’t have food cravings. Also, I can do wonderful things with my body, like run thousands of miles or walk millions of steps.

Nourishing my body means:

  •  lifestyle change2Feeding it regularly and never starving myself. No matter how much I ate yesterday, I’m not going to make up for it by not eating today.
  • Feeding it real, whole foods always. Nothing with preservatives or artificial crap. Organic when I can.
  • Feeding it nutrients it needs. Getting over my aversion to fats (I cook with olive oil). I eat whole grains. Plenty of protein and all the food groups.
  • Not feeding it trigger foods. For me that means no wheat. No bread, no pasta, no cereal. Those foods cause me to want to eat more and I lose control.

When I do all of this, I find it is much easier to stick to my plan, feel good about myself, and not feel deprived. Food cravings are the worst thing about dieting. I will do anything to avoid those.

Note: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or psychologist. Everything on this site is based on my personal experience and research and is my own opinion, not fact. My words should not be a substitute for your own research and experience and should never, ever take place of the advice of a professional.

102 Miles

Dear Body,

Thank you for putting up with me through thick and thin, through fast and slow, through pain and injury and self-doubt. Thank you for totally killing it this month. You are the best!

Love, me.

Goal: Run 100+ miles in a month. Results: Killing it!

Goal: Run 100+ miles in a month. Results: Killing it!