Archive | September, 2013

Follow-up Friday

27 Sep

Yesterday a friend called me out on the picture I used as the “before” picture in yesterday’s post because a picked a miserable photo to showcase how I looked at my heaviest. She’s absolutely right, I did pick a terrible photo, but I did it without much thought. Don’t get me wrong, I intentionally picked a bad photo. I looked through the photos on my computer from that time and when I saw the picture of me with bad posture, a sullen face, and the prominently displayed outline of my belly button in a too-tight shirt, I went BINGO! I set out to pick a terrible picture, but I did it without thinking about it, it was just “the thing to do.” So when she called me out I started to wonder why I thought it was “the thing to do.”

I’m sure part of it was that I’ve seen others do it, so I mimicked the trend. It was also for impact, it’s a lot easier to say that you look great now if you can show that you DIDN’T look great before. But taking a step back it also just seems wrong.  But there’s more to it than that, I’ll admit. When my friend suggested I find a photo that at least showcased my beautiful smile, and implied I should have found a better picture, I laughed on the inside and thought “come on, there are no better pictures.” I don’t believe that fat people are unattractive, but it seems that I believe that me as a fat person was unattractive. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that even I, someone who has been overweight (more often than not quite honestly) buys into the “thin is beautiful” mindset. Unhealthy body image has become such a part of our society, and our brains, that we make little choices (like what picture to use) without understanding the motivations behind it.

So here is another “before” photo, one that shows that I was not unattractive in 2007.  And an “after” picture, because my friend likes to compare bone structure.

2007

2007

2013

2013

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Throwback Thursday – Weight Loss Edition

26 Sep
Spring of 2007

Spring of 2007

I’ve touched upon my weight loss journey here a few times. When I met my husband seven years ago I weighed over 40 pounds more than I do right now. That was after years of yo-yo dieting.

Sometimes I refer to my “inner fat kid,” but what I should say is my “inner fat teenager.” I didn’t get “heavy” until I was in high school. In 2001 I went through some rough times, and to compensate for the emotional pain, I ate. Everything. In one summer I easily gained 20 pounds. When the summer was over my mom enrolled us both in Weight Watchers and I began the ups and downs of weight loss. I didn’t just do Weight Watchers in my teens, we also tried the “Cabbage Soup Diet” (I swear that is a thing, and still have the GIANT stock pot to prove it), we did Slim Fast, and most likely some other fad situations that I’ve blocked out. Our efforts worked when I was playing the game. I lost weight, but I didn’t keep it off.

I got to college and the weight crept back on (and then some). Again I was unhappy, so I ate. Everything. And by that time I discovered drinking, which as you know, is also a pound-packer-on-er. Pretty soon I was at my heaviest weight. And I kept it going. I transferred schools a few times, I got happier, but I stayed heavy. Finally, in State College, at my heaviest weight, I decided it was time to give up the drive-thru and get serious about my weight loss. So I joined Weight Watchers again. I played the game, and played it hard. Complete with the nonsense that goes along with it, like saving weekly points for a giant splurge on Saturday. Carefully calculating what my splurge would be, and eventually letting myself splurge more than I had calculated for. It was a losing battle, full of mind tricks and unhealthy behaviors. Eventually I quit playing the game and stopped paying attention. Thankfully I didn’t gain a ton back.

I started my first real job after college and really didn’t like it. Usually unhappiness would have brought on weight gain, but not this time. I was so stressed that I couldn’t eat. So I looked on the bright side that at least the unhappiness was equating to some weight loss (can I just say: how wrong is that thought process?). I liked how the weight loss was going so I signed back up for Weight Watchers. By continuing Weight Watchers, getting a job I liked, and moving to the city where I walked more I got down to my goal weight. Between some of the weight loss on in State College, the stress weight loss, and the new job weight loss I lost 50 pounds.

That was in 2009. Over the past four years I got careless. I stopped paying attention. I didn’t want to “play the game” anymore. It was a combination of things, mostly laziness, rationalized by an “eschewing of American weight norms.” Or some nonsense that gave me carte blanche to eat whatever I wanted. I put on 30 pounds. Not quickly like in the past. Just slowly. It came back a few pounds here, and a few pounds there. I’d get frustrated at the pants that didn’t fit and try Weight Watchers again for a month or two. But the tracking would get old, and I’d fall off of it (and into a bag of Hint O’ Lime Tostitos) again.

So I tried some new things. I decided Weight Watchers was the way of the past. I was done tracking, I was done obsessing, it was too much. Tiresome and worrisome. I figured I needed a plan that just outlined what I could eat, and I could eat as much of it as I wanted. So I went vegan. It’s just plants, plants are totes healthy! Then it was vegan 90% of the time, with treats here and there. It worked some, but 10% became 20% and so on and so on. Then I tried the Happy Herbivore meal plans (which are great, I absolutely recommend them, and Lindsay Nixon did not pay me to say that), and I tried Engine 2. And it worked in that it provided me a mindset and understanding of what healthy eating looked like.

Finally, this year, I’ve settled into something that does work. And you’ll never believe what it is. I’m going to let you in on my secret, and it will Blow. Your. Mind.

I eat less. And I exercise more.

That’s it. I don’t count calories or points. I don’t only eat green foods, or eschew anything that has white flour in it. I eat a mostly-plant-based diet, with the occasional burger or cupcake here and there. The difference is that I now ask myself “are you hungry?” or “why do you want that?” before I eat something. Then when I’m about half way through a meal I ask “are you still hungry?” or “have you had enough of this?” I don’t clear my plate anymore (unless it’s a plate of veggies), nor do I eat 6 pieces of chocolate when 1-2 would suffice. I honor the cravings my body has, but I don’t fling myself down the staircase of self-indulgence.

And I exercise. I run 4 times a week now. This works wonders in two ways. 1. You’re running which burns a ton of calories. 2. You are far less likely to eat a plate of fried food and throw back 4 beers on a Saturday night if you know that you need to run 10 miles on Sunday morning.

That’s it. That’s the secret. Eat less, exercise more. By practicing this age old, super simple advice I’ve lost 20 pounds since (around) St. Patrick’s Day. And am only 10 pounds away from my lowest weight. I may not lose those last 10 pounds. When I was my lowest weight I wasn’t exercising, I was just restricting my eating. I didn’t build muscle, or tone. I actually look thinner now than I did when I was 10 pounds lighter (at least my coworkers swear I do). There is something to the whole “keep it simple” strategy.

Where have you found your weight loss success? What struggles do you still have?

On to the Next One

25 Sep

I totally just realized that I haven’t filled you all in on my next goal.  I’ve eluded to it several times, but I haven’t actually made the announcement. At least not here, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (which you should) you probably do know. But anyway, now that I’ve built up your anticipation…. I’m doing the Philadelphia Marathon’s Half Marathon in November!

Are you excited?  I am!

After things deteriorated with my Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon training I made up for the disappointment by setting a new goal.  A lot of the advice I got about the training, and the injury, and more importantly the upset around the training and the injury, centered around the fact that the September race was not my last race, and didn’t have to be.  So I made sure it wasn’t!

I am super thrilled about this race for the following reasons:

  1. The race course is completely different than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half and you get to see significantly more of my gorgeous city.
  2. It will be much, much cooler out.  The September race took place on a cooler day than the bulk of my training runs, but when the sun blares down on you and the sea of asphalt around you, it gets hot.
  3. This is the first half marathon I’ll be running solo. I love you Dad and Alex, but this one is mine!
  4. I finally feel like I have built up a “base” and from that base I can actually improve in this round of training.
  5. I vow here and now that I am going to follow WebMD’s advice and “avoid falling” because I am not derailing again.

Not included on that list, but still important to note, it’s also the Philadelphia Marathon’s 20th Anniversary, so that feels like it makes it extra special.

I took last week really easy, I did a three miler on Wednesday and a really slow five miler on Friday, and then went for a long walk on Sunday. I wanted to give my legs/body a chance to recover before heading back into a training plan.  I devised an eight-week training plan that starts this week, and did my first 4-mile training run last night. It went so well, which was amazing because I had been dreading it.  After kind of icky runs last week post-half, and then the take-it-easy-before-the-race week pre-half, and the weeks of half-hearted training because of the injury, I was beginning to wonder if I even still liked running.  I was starting to fall into the old cyclical thinking where I assume a run would suck, so I won’t want to go,  and then if I don’t go I felt guilty and then become certain that because I skipped that run I will obviously have lost all of my base and endurance and shouldn’t even bother.  I swear running is so much more mental than it is physical.  But I made myself go last night, and it was a fantastic run.

My spirit feels renewed. I remember that I do love this.  And I. Am. So. Excited. for the opportunity to run Philadelphia again!

 

The Streets of Philadelphia… Are Uneven

22 Sep

As we all know I’ve fallen twice in the last few months while out running. Falling in general as a healthy adult is disconcerting enough as it is, but when your fall causes an injury that sidelines you for a week and a half, you kind of want to get to the bottom of it. So after wracking my brain for a possible cause for my calamities one thing that came to mind is my vision. Well, my vision, and the fact that Philadelphia has some uneven infrastructure. But, that uneven infrastructure wouldn’t be so bad if I could see it.

I have been wearing glasses fulltime since 2006. Before 2006 I didn’t wear glasses at all, my vision was always perfectly fine, even though I desperately wanted to glasses. Then I noticed things weren’t as crisp as they once were, so I went off to the optometrist who prescribed me my first pair of glasses. I’ve been rocking glasses ever since, and over the past 7 years my eyes have gotten progressively worse. Don’t get me wrong, I can see. If I don’t have my glasses on things are kind of fuzzy, but if I hold things a little closer to my face I can read them, and I can recognize people I know on the street. I just can’t see well, especially as it starts to get dark out.

I don’t run with my glasses on. My face gets sweaty, the slide around, it annoys me, I can’t wipe my eyes because they’re in the way. Like I often say when there are many components to an issue, “it’s a whole thing.” So in general, I leave my glasses at home and hit the road. I’m beginning to think that my vision is no longer good enough to sustain this practice. Especially now that it’s getting darker earlier in the evening, and staying darker longer in te morning. My first fall was at dusk, as it was getting dark out. My second fall happened right as I was going under some scaffolding. AKA into a shadow. So I’m thinking there is something to this theory.

I always wanted glasses. I have no explanation for this, most folks with glasses want to get rid of them. I remember learning as a small child that uncorrected poor vision can cause headaches. So I complained of headaches until they took me to the eye doctor. Who confirmed that there were no issues with my eyes. Small child fail. Alas, or yay as the case may be, as old age (read: early twenties) set in, it was time to get some specs. Because I’ve always wanted glasses, I’ve never wanted contacts. I’m not afraid of them, or squeamish about touching my eyes, I just like how I look in glasses. Especially after seven years of glasses wearing, they’ve become part of my persona.

The time has come to make a decision as it pertains to my running vision. I’m either going to need to get one of those ultra cool straps that hold your glasses on your face (and make you look like a middle-aged squash player) or I may need to get fitted for some contacts. To wear only while I work out. Suggestions?

Isn’t this sexy?

 

Eat Well, Run Well

19 Sep

In celebration of meeting my half marathon goal on Sunday, I took two rest days, and three “eat whatever you want days.” Or well, roughly three. Basically, once the race ended I ate anything I felt like eating until dinner last night. So that’s almost four days if you think about it. I knew what I was doing, but I was ignoring it, because I decided that I had earned a good old fashion gorge fest.

Normally, I eat a plant-based diet. If I’m out and about I’ll splurge on something with dairy, and sometimes with meat. I’m not a vegan. I am a plant-based eater. I care about animals, but that’s not why I eat plant-based. I eat plant-based because I generally feel better when I do. I feel better, I run better, I weigh less, on the whole it’s just better. For me. It’s better for the planet, and of course for the animals. So 90-95% of the time for me, and for the Main house, it’s plants all the way. But… my four-day gorge fest included everything. Ice cream. Beer. Artichoke dip. Turkey sandwich. Chicken Salad. Cookies. Potato salad. You name it, I ate it. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t good either.

Last night on my way home from work Alex asked if I wanted to run with him when I got to the house. I said no. Then I changed my mind. I realized I needed a reminder. A reminder that you cannot eat crap for four days and run well. Because this isn’t a habit that I want to keep. I know that it’s not sustainable, not for me, and not for my pants (the last too-small pair fits!).

I texted Alex back and said that we were going, and under no circumstances was he to let me off the hook when I walked through the door. We headed out on our run and like clock work, 4 blocks in I got a side stitch. I know that side stitch. This particular side stitch is the “seriously? You want us to perform while we’re still digesting sludge?” ache. I pushed through. At one mile I walked a block in hopes of working out some of the abdominal discomfort. I made it another mile and needed to stretch it out some more. After a few more blocks of running I walked the rest of the way home.

Were my legs still tired from the half marathon? Absolutely. Was the race related to some of the sluggishness? Probably, I mean, sure, why not. Deep down though, I know it wasn’t the race that altered my performance. It was the crap I spent 4 days ingesting.

Eat crappy, Run crappy. Eat well, Run well.

Our food is our fuel. You don’t throw fistfuls of crud in your car’s gas tank and expect it to run at optimal performance. Our bodies are the same.

P.S.

Let me know what you think of the site rebrand! I hope you like our new pigeon. She’s going to need a name, so let me know if you have any ideas!

Pigeon-Alone

 

Changes are a Comin’

18 Sep
I hope you’ve noticed, but in case you haven’t, things are going well here at MainlyRunning!  To celebrate this success I’ve decided that it’s time to take MainlyRunning to the next level. I’m going to pull a Yahoo! and do a rebrand of the MainlyRunning “brand.”

So stay tuned, because changes are coming to a www.mainlyrunning.com near you!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

16 Sep

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Yesterday was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, and my first half marathon in three years. I picked up my race packet on Saturday afternoon, and laid out all of my gear Saturday night. It is interesting to me how something that seems so simple, I mean, you just run, requires so much planning and “stuff.” You have to pin the number on your shirt, and put the timing chip on your shoe, make sure you have an outfit you know will be comfortable (now is not the time to try out some new shorts or a new pair of shoes), pack up your running arm band with your ID/debit card/etc.

Alex and I got up at 6:15 and I had my usual breakfast of two pieces of peanut butter and jelly toast, and a banana. We snagged the 7:00 a.m. Broad Street Line north to meet my dad at his hotel. This was the second time that he’s run the race as well, so we were both excited. Together the three of us walked over to the race start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The scene you come upon when you walk up to one of these races makes you think “I’ve never seen this many people in one place.” I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that there were 20,000 participants.

I was in corral 21, so it took awhile for me to cross the starting line. I figured it out to have been about 36 minutes after the race actually started. I saw Alex at the starting line and high fived him as I went past, and then I was on my own. My plan for the race was to do intervals running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute, but I ran the entire first mile without headphones and just took it all in. The views, the spectators, the cheers, I just let it all wash over me. The course took us down the Ben Franklin Parkway, and then over JFK Blvd through the financial district. We looped back around on to Market Street and ran towards City Hall. I remember looking up at the building as I ran towards and thinking, “this is my city.” I seriously love Philadelphia. After looping around City Hall we continued on Market Street down to the historic district, and then looped back towards the museum district by running through Chinatown.

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That’s Alex’s hand, ready for the high-five!

Alex was waiting for me at the mile 4 marker for another wave. I might have missed him if a dude hadn’t been standing in front of the time clock. I care about my times and I needed to see what the clock said, and this dude was seriously, completely blocking it with his entire body. As I considered yelling at him I saw Alex standing two people over from the sign. I yelled his name since he didn’t see me and then waved like a maniac. The next mile took me back to the Art Museum, and the streets were still lined with spectators. I kept looking at the crowd, seeing if I knew any one, and reading their creative signs (“Run like there’s a hot guy ahead of you and a creepy guy behind you” and “Motivational sign.”). I welcomed and embraced the distraction because I knew once we got on Kelly Drive the crowds would thin out.

Miles 4 through 6 went well, I got a little tired but I knew I could keep pushing. Around mile 6 I started doubting myself. I had some looping thoughts like “I’m not even half way done.” “There’s over an hour left of this.” “I can’t do this.” I tried to stop thinking in terms of how many miles were left and began to just take it one mile at a time, so instead of getting to 13 I needed to get to 7. That worked, and the next thing I knew I was at mile 8.

At Mile 8 they had a GU station. I haven’t trained with GU but I took some anyway, because I was feeling a little sluggish and I knew it would help. GU, for the unfamiliar, is a gel/goo substance that is full of carbs/electrolytes that is defined for quick-on-the-go consumption. I made a mistake. The GU I took was Vanilla Bean flavor. I’ve never thrown up while running, but I came really close after consuming the slightly warm, vanilla, gel packet. Gross. And of course after seeing water stops at what seemed like every single mile, there wasn’t another water stop until Mile 10.

I hung strong down West River Drive after crossing the Falls Bridge. Around Mile 11 though, I started to fall apart again. Funny that you can run 11 miles and then think that two miles was too much. 11 miles seemed like nothing, but that last 2? Who can run 2 miles? Not me I was sure. During a walk break I texted Alex, I needed reinforcement that I could do this. He told me I could do it, and since I was half way between mile 11 and mile 12 it was only going to be 16 more minutes. That helped, and I ran the next four minutes. During the next walk break I looked at my email and saw all of the messages from my friends on Facebook telling me that I was inspiring them and that they were proud of me, and then I knew I could do it.

Finally I got to the 20k point, which is 12.4 miles. My limited math skills told me that I was .7 miles from the finish line. The subway stop that I walk to everyday is exactly .7 miles from my house. So I meditated on that, “you just have to get home from the subway, you do that everyday.”

The last .1 of the 13.1, arguably the hardest part of the race as it is, is uphill. Uphill, into the sun. I personally think it’s pretty cruel. But it is what it is. I came up this hill and saw Alex on the sideline and couldn’t have been happier. I crossed the finish line a few seconds later with a big fist pump and a smile (or so I thought, the photographic evidence from the MarathonFoto people shows me making a pretty ugly face).

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I’m smiling in this photo, so we’ll take that.

My goal for the race was 2 hours and 30 minutes, and I finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes. My final pace was 11:39/mile. I’ll take it!

I’m so glad I did it, and can’t wait to start training for November. But for today, I’m sticking to the couch.