Archive for June, 2009

My Commitment to This Healthy Lifestyle

June 30th is a crappy day for me and has been for a lot of years. It is the anniversary of my father’s death (14 years ago)… and my grandmother’s and two of my uncles. Weird, I know. I often think if something bad is going to happen to me, it’s going to be on this day. After all, it’s kind of proven itself.

But this year, June 30th hasn’t made me as sad as it once did. I’m more reflective. Because I’ve lost so many people that I care about on this day, it makes me realize just how fragile this life is.  I’ve often looked at June 30th the same way I look at New Year’s Day or my birthday. It’s a time for new beginnings. After all when one chapter closes, another opens, doesn’t it?

My father would be proud of me today. The last time he saw me, I weighed 90 pounds more than I do now. I’ve lost 55 pounds this time around, but there were other weight loss stops and starts along the way where I managed to keep off a few of the pounds each time. More than that, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a very long time. I still have weight I can lose, but I’m fit. I exercise, I eat healthy (most of the time), I get enough sleep. My father, his two brothers that died on this day and his two other brothers all died of heart disease. They were all athletes, all in relatively good shape. Three of them didn’t even reach 50. The youngest brother was 41 and made of “blue twisted steel” or so he told us. My father was 63 when he succumbed to a stroke, from the same disease he shared with his brothers – atherosclerosis.

Being fat is a serious health risk in my family. It’s taken me a really long time to own that. But I finally have. And I am committed now to getting and staying as healthy as I can be. If I’m going to drop dead of something some June 30th in the very distant future, it’s not going to be because I didn’t take care of myself or heed the warning signs. My blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and all the other signs of a healthy 50-year-old are there for me now. They weren’t two years ago.

This will be the last time I work this hard to lose 80 pounds. Because I’m not gaining it back this time. I like how I feel in my now healthy body. I like that I can run and that I don’t suffer from reflux anymore. I like that I’ve been able to reduce the one medication that I’m on from three times to once a day. I like that I can see and feel the muscles in my legs and arms. I like having a visible collar bone.

I’m committed to this way of life now…forever. And from now on, June 30th is going to be my commitment day. I will still remember the people I’ve loved and lost on this day. But I will honor them  by being proud of what I’ve accomplished; that I’ve made changes that positively affect my health, my life and the people around me.

I can’t avoid it if I happen to get hit by a bus some future June 30th, but I can certainly do everything in my power to stay strong and healthy.

The thing about Couch25K…

When I decided to sign up for a triathlon back in November 2008, I knew I was going to need help with the running. I have never been a runner, never even made it the mile in high school and never had any desire to be a runner. So how does a complete non-runner get started? I was walking, but running is a whole different animal.

I went online and did some research and found the Couch25K interval training program on the Cool Running website. It started with minute-long running intervals. “I can do that,” I figured. I can do anything for a minute. I sailed through weeks 1 to 3. Optimally, through this program you can be running a 5K in 9 weeks. I am not optimal. I got really stuck between 3 minute intervals and 5 minute intervals. I just couldn’t make that change. So I stayed at week 3 probably for about three weeks and then presto, 5-minute running intervals. Triumph!!

What I found with Couch25K, and they even say it on the site, while the program is designed to get you started running, it is a guideline. You still have to listen to your body and go at your pace, even if that means repeating weeks, creating your own intervals and progressing at your own pace.

I ran 3  miles this morning. It is the very first time I’ve run 3 miles consecutively with no walking. And it’s seven months after I started C25K. I’m not saying that to discourage anyone or  in any way take away from the C25K program. I think its brilliant. Anyone getting started running or starting to run again should take a good look at the program. I would never, ever have succeeded to this point without it as a starting point. However, I needed to make adjustments to the schedule to get here. Not to mention I started on a treadmill and had to start all over again when I started running on the road.

But I’m here. I credit C25K for making me a runner. When I started I was still over 200 pounds. Now I’m under 175. When I started, 1 minute of running nearly killed me. This morning I ran 3 miles. When I started I didn’t have any confidence that I could complete it, but I did, because the program made it easy.

The thing about C25K is that it’s a starting point and we have to modify it to our specific needs to be successful at it. And for me, that meant being patient. I’m not a patient kinda girl. If the program said I could be running in 9 weeks, then I should be running in 9 weeks. I like instant gratification. I imagine that’s also why I have overeating issues and get really frustrated when the scale doesn’t move.

I’m 50 now though. And I don’t really want to lose this weight and then gain it back and have to start all over again at 55. So I’ve been working on retraining myself to take it slow and enjoy the journey. To listen to my body so I don’t get hurt. To be patient (or more patient than I’ve been) and cut myself some slack.

And look, by sticking to C25K sort of, seven months later, I can run a 5K. The old me would have quit in the second week of week three.

Triathlon Training with a Buddy

running_feetI’ve been training on my own since  I chose triathlons to get in shape. I read lots of stuff about what to do and my triathlete brother gives me tons of advice on how to train. Mostly, I just follow my instincts and go for it. So far, so good.

Lately, I had been going swimming on the weekends with a friend who has signed up for this next race — the Mini Mighty Man Sprint Triathlon on August 1. That’s been fun, but swimming, even with someone, is still pretty much solitary training since for now we’re just working on endurance.

Yesterday though, we decided we wanted to swim in the pool where the race will be. It’s a 50-meter pool and locally, we’ve been swimming in 25-yard (or thereabouts) lanes. I’m confident that the 50-meter lanes will be even easier (since there are only 8 laps as opposed to the 22 I have to do in my gym’s pool) but it’s always good to know the terrain.

We decided if we were driving 45 minutes to go swimming, we might as well go running in the park as well so we’re comfortable with that route too. I did this race in April (although it was a run/bike/run) so I’m familiar with the route. We got to Eisehnhower Park at about 8:00 am and headed out for a run. I have to say I was nervous about running with Jen. I was nervous about running with anyone, but Jen is in much better shape than I’m in and I assumed a much faster runner.

I don’t know if she was just pacing with me so I didn’t feel slow, but we stayed together, logged probably close to 3 miles and we were able to chat most of the way. When we finished, it felt like it was the most natural thing in the world. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t boring at all, and I didn’t have the “wow I wish this was done” thoughts that I often have when I run by myself. My knees never complained at all.

Then we went to the aquatic center and headed into the pool. Unfortunately, there was a swim meet we didn’t know about so the 50-meter pool was closed and we had to swim in the 25-meter pool. I’m still very glad we went. The water was at least 20 degrees colder than the indoor pool I swim in and I was not expecting that. What we both found though was that swimming in the cooler water was easier and much more invigorating than swimming in the warmer water. And because the pool was somewhat crowded, I think it was also good training for race day, when there will be plenty of elbows and kicking feet to contend with.

It was a great workout. Training with someone else was fun and pushed me to work a little harder than I might on my own. And we are familiar now with some of our race terrain, which is always an advantage. We’ll be going back at least once more before the August 1 race. And we’re definitely planning a few more runs together.

Jen is a certified personal trainer and she told me something I hadn’t known before. Running slowly, jogging, actually burns more fat than running fast. So for all of my slow runner friends out there, it’s not about the speed. Just think how much fat you’ll be burning as you chug along. I know it made me less frustratedwith my slow pace.

More Substantial Changes and the Missouri 60 Challenge

So I’ve never shown myself on this blog, other than recent race pictures, because well, I don’t really like seeing pictures of myself, although I don’t mind them nearly as much now as in the past.

In the spirit of the Missouri 60 Challenge (Missouri is the “show me” state) I am posting a current picture of me and in 60 days I’ll post another.

This is me today.

This is me today.

The idea of the Missouri 60 challenge is to set goals and then achieve them within the 60 days. They don’t even have to be fitness related, but in my case some of them are.

1. I have a big project related to my weight loss I’d like to get underway.  In 60 days I hope to  see that come to fruition (more about this in a couple of weeks.)

2. I have my first triathlon on August 1. My goal is to finish this in under an hour. That’s only like 35 days away, but I think it counts.

3. I’d also like to find a 5K or 10K to run in and be at the point where I can compete comfortably in 60 days. Right now I’m running 2.5 miles. I’d like it to be 5 or 6 miles in 60 days, but I’ll be happy with 4.

4. The scale has been unpredictable so I’m not putting a weight on this challenge. My goal is to be fitter in 60 days than I am now. And if the weight comes off, that’s a bonus!

I’m excited for this challenge! The deadline is June 30 to join. If you’d like to be part of it, get those pictures up there!!

Before and after:

Me last year before transformation

Me last year before transformation

This is me now too, just so you can see the difference.

This is me now too, just so you can see the difference.

A Substantial Change

A short post. Rare for me I know.  That in itself may be a substantial change.

I didn’t work out this morning. A planned rest day. However, work is stressing me out big time. All I can think about is going home, putting on my sneakers and going for a walk. I don’t even care if it’s raining.

The change? A year ago, I would have eaten my way through the stress, and not with carrots or broccoli. Today, I didn’t even think about food as a way to deal with the stress. I want to  move: walk, run, bike, swim? Something along those lines.

Activity instead of food to combat emotions? Unheard of in my past. And a substantial change for the better.

I’m joining the Missouri 60 challenge. Read about it here. I’ll be posting my pictures and goals later on this evening. After my walk.

Life Is Good

cloudyskyI dragged my butt out of bed this morning at 5:45 to go running. It looked so gloomy again outside. If you follow my blog at all or live in the Northeast, you know that Seattle has actually moved here. It has done nothing but rain for what feels like the last two months. I stuck my head out the door to check — no rain, just swirly black clouds. I put on the TV to check the weather because I didn’t want to get  caught in a downpour— no rain, just swirly black clouds. I headed out. When it’s not raining on Long Island these days, it’s humid because it’s about to rain. I realized this morning though, that this is the perfect running weather. Warm enough and the cloud cover kept the sun from making it too warm. Add a gorgeous cool breeze that at first, while I thought it would slow me down, ended up being just the thing to keep me going.

Running is still not easy for me. I don’t think it ever will be. But I do have moments now where I get in the flow, it feels natural and before I know it, I’ve gone quite a distance without feeling like stopping. I feel like I’m in the zone. And those moments are getting longer as I get better at this running thing. I get why runners run too. Because those moments feel really good.

When I finish my run, I always feel great. Endorphins? I checked the time, paced at about 11:30 per mile (2 and a half miles), grabbed my water and went out on the back deck to stretch a little. Today I kept my iPod on to listen to the next song while I was stretching. There was still that fabulous breeze, which felt amazing since I was hot and sweaty.

I took a moment to sit on the deck after stretching this morning to enjoy the breeze and the clouds and the music. It’s quiet and peaceful in my neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning, and I could have stayed in that moment all day.

It was then that I realized how lucky I am. I am lucky that my body has allowed me to push it like this when I decided it was time, even though I’m 50. I’m lucky that I’m relatively healthy and getting healthier every day. I’m lucky I woke up and found the motivation to get this whole thing started. And I’m lucky that I have people in my life who support me no matter what.

My life is far from perfect, but this morning, soaking in the breeze, I realized it’s pretty damned good.

Wake Up!!

alarm-clock-roosterIf you told me a year ago that I would get up at 5:30 am, get dressed and go to the gym, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Heck if you told me that I would get up at 5:30 am for any reason other than a fire, you would have gotten the same reaction.

Now, I get up at 5:30 am and go to the gym, or go out for a run or a bike ride. And I like it. And on the rare occasions when I oversleep, I hate that.

I converted to a morning exercise routine in late January because getting to the gym after work became impossible with my work schedule and I knew it would stay that way through March. Since my very first race was in April, if I planned to finish, I needed to adjust to a morning routine.

At first, I hated this. I mean HATED this. I am not an early morning person. I like to stay up and watch John Stewart at night. So the first week was torture. However, I did like the idea that my workouts were done when I went to work in the morning. And I was finding that even though it was a crazy stressful work time, I seemed to be handling the pressure better and getting through the 12-hour days more easily.

And even better, when I work out in the morning, it almost feels surreal, like I dreamt it instead of actually doing it. Wouldn’t that be nice? If we could stay cozy under the covers and dream ourselves fit? However, the changes in my body are proof that I am actually getting out of bed.

The last month, I let my morning routine slip a bit, partly because of some very disagreeable weather here, and I’ve been running and doing my other stuff after work. I don’t like it as much. It feels more like a chore. So I’m back to my morning routine as of last week. Much better.

Working out in the morning does mean getting to bed earlier. All I can say is I’m grateful for DVRs.