Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

A Note Of Thanks To My Body

At my heaviest weight, I was 267 pounds. That was 15 years ago. Through the years, I dieted, stopped, exercised, stopped, dieted some more, and stopped again. Any of us who has a substantial amount of weight to lose can probably say the same thing. We rarely get it right the first time, or the second or the third time.

When I started on my latest and last fitness journey in 2008, I weighed 230.2 pounds the day I stepped on the Weight Watchers scale. I happen to know that I’d managed to drop about 5 pounds before then. I weighed 167.2 this morning. That’s 100 pounds from my heaviest weight to now.

Yesterday I ran 4 miles. Running 4 miles is something that I wouldn’t have attempted or believed I could do….ever. Certainly not when I was 267 pounds or 230 pounds. Not even when I was 18 and 140 pounds and in good physical condition.

I was on my way to personal training this morning with my friend Jen…there will more about her and her alternative approach to resistance training in tomorrow’s blog post…and I started thinking about how far I’ve come. I think about this a lot. It keeps me going.

And I realized that I am truly grateful for having been 230 pounds, even 267 pounds. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I do now. Our bodies are amazing. Amazingly loyal, and amazingly resilient. My body still carried me when I had 100 pounds more on it’s 5’4″ frame than I do now. And at 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, it let me walk first, and then run…and swim and bike.

Being morbidly obese comes with consequences. And make no mistake. I was morbidly obese. I got winded easily. I got tired easily. I had acid reflux and heart palpitations. I felt like crap. But I was able to keep going.

You would think there comes a point where the body just says, “Nope, not doing it anymore. Not moving from this spot until you start treating me better.” It seems to take a lot to get the body to that point.

Think about it. If you abuse another person, you end up in jail, or at the very least that person can be taken away from you. But if we abuse ourselves, and getting to the point of morbid obesity is personal abuse, even if it’s done slowly and with yummy sugary treats, the only consequences we face are personal.

I am grateful that I weighed 230 pounds. I abused my body, but it stuck by me. And when I was ready to start treating it right, it responded. With each step and each pound lost, my body has gotten stronger and rewarded me in ways I never imagined. I have energy. I feel great. Aches and pains are fleeting. My skin has retracted to fit my frame (for the most part).

I can tell you that if I’d stayed at a reasonable weight all of my life, I probably would never have started running. I wouldn’t have gone back to swimming. I wouldn’t have attempted triathlon. Why would I have had to?

I would have been normal sized but unfit. Because I weighed 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, I knew I needed to exercise and eat healthier to reach my goals. I’ve taken it slowly. I’ve had missteps. But my body sticks by me. And I’m encouraged to get stronger and healthier every time I look at myself in the mirror or run a longer distance.

So thank you body. At whatever weight, I couldn’t have done it without you.

And I promise this time it’s for good.

Running on Empty

Dark mornings. Crazy work days. Night-time meetings and obligations. There’s a shift that happens at this time of year that requires a shift in the old exercise routine too. And shifts can be tough.

As a result, I haven’t done any exercise since Monday night, when I went running after work and then to a personal training session. I have no excuse for not doing ANYTHING. I can do resistance training at home. I can put my bike on the trainer and cycle my little heart out in the dark, in the cold…in the comfort of my living room. I can do jumping jacks or go out on the back deck and jump rope. But what I’ve wanted to do is run. Outside. In the bright sunshine and crisp weather.

I plan to go running tonight after work tonight provided I escape my cubicle before it gets too dark. However, I am not a huge fan of running after work. Remember last week when I was rejoicing that my morning runs felt strong and amazing because of the crisp weather?

Well as good as those felt is as tough as it feels to run after a full day of stress and food (even healthy food). Monday night when I ran after work— and I looked forward to it all day and had pizza to look forward to when I finished— I felt like I was wearing 25-lb. weights on each leg. The weather was humid and iffy that night with storms coming in, so I cut my run short to beat the rain. And I knew I had a training class later for which I wanted some energy.

Tonight, I expect my run to tough as well. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’ve had so much going on these days though, I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to give to exercise at the end of the day, which is why I like to go in the morning. However, I know it’s something I need to do. Because while I might not have a whole lot to give to the road after a long workday, by getting out there anyway, that run (and I never thought I would be saying this), no matter how slow or difficult it is, gives me the release and energy I need to get up and do it all again the next day.

Taking Control

Our Beloved DaleThis was a tough week. We had to put our dog to sleep on Thursday. He was old and very ill. He was also a sweet, sweet guy. We knew it was coming and we knew it was the right thing to do, but it didn’t make it any easier.

There were other stressful events this week too. Normally, I can shrug most difficult situations off and deal with them, but when they converge all at once, they can feel insurmountable–out of control.

And what do I do when faced with seemingly insurmountable stress? I eat. It didn’t help that this happened on a Thursday, my weigh-in day, and typically a day of more relaxed eating for me. On Thursday though, I let food take over. And that extended into Friday. I was looking for comfort, and looking for it in comfort food. The surprising thing was I didn’t get much comfort from the food. Only a stomachache.

Saturday I managed to rein in the eating machine somewhat by starting the day with a good 3-mile run. During the couple of hours after my run, I felt more positive and almost back to normal. My food day wasn’t perfect (we had lunch plans), but it didn’t include the bingeing from the two days before.

I am back in control today. I’m still sad. I’m still overwhelmed. But I am back in control.

This week, having reverted back to old ways for a few days, I realized that the most important part of my fitness journey is finally having control over the food I eat and how I take care of my health. My out-of-control days ended up feeding my distress and making me feel even worse. Taking charge again of my food and exercise has put me on the path toward being in control of other aspects of my life too.

Dale, our dog, got old and sick. We had no control over that. But we were able to say enough was enough and help him get to a better place.

For me, this fitness journey has been about being aware and in control of my health too so I can be in a better place. Sometimes, I get knocked off, but I won’t stay down for long anymore. I like having control.

Must Be The Weather

It is officially fall today. And for the past couple of days we’ve had perfect fall weather. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. No humidity and bright, blue sunny skies. This is my favorite time of the year on Long Island.

I was walking at this time of year last year, having started my fitness quest in July, but I wasn’t running yet. That didn’t start until November, and then it was indoors, on the treadmill. Saturday, after 5 days off from doing anything, I went running. It was so gorgeous and I felt so strong, I ran a full three miles at a harder-than-usual pace for me. Could have been because it was chilly starting out? All I know is it was one of my best runs from a perspective of feeling strong and enjoying myself.

Sunday, my legs reminded me that I shouldn’t really take 5 days off and then run hard. Ouch. I went swimming on Sunday to try to loosen up, but ended up going much farther than I expected, swimming about 1100 yards. By Sunday afternoon, I was sore all over! But it was a good sore.

The nice thing is that when I got up this morning, I felt good again. No more muscle pain. And hubby was home from work today and could take our daughter to work. So I got to go running again in the spectacular weather this morning. I ran 2.5 miles this morning (because I did have to come home and get ready for work) but surprisingly, I was able to run good and hard again. I figured today would be a slower run because my legs were still a little fatigued from Saturday. I don’t know what’s giving me the extra pep in my step, but I’ll take it.

It must be the weather.

I’m Back On The Run

I went running this morning. It was a great run. The weather was perfect, my legs felt great, my breathing was controlled and consistent and when I finished my 3-mile run, I knew I still had my running mojo.

I say “still had it” because I have this weird phenomenon that happens to me after a race or even after a few days off from running. And I had a few days off  this week, five to be exact. After my race on Sunday, I didn’t get any exercise at all for the rest of the week. My schedule was just nuts last week.

I knew had to get back out there no later than today. After races, because they are tougher, and a few days away from running, I start to develop this irrational fear that I won’t be able to do it again. Somehow, after a few days off, the fitness level I’ve worked so hard to achieve will just disappear. Does this happen to anyone else?

The longer I wait, the more apprehensive I get. So today when I got up, got dressed and got ready to head out the door, I was armed with my arsenal of choices. I could go for a longer run (3.2 miles), a shorter run (2.5 miles) or I could walk. I can always walk.

I procrastinated a bit this morning. I tried to set RunKeeper on my iPhone but that just didn’t seem to want to work, so I walked back home and left it there. Now I was going to just run for running’s sake.

I set back out, starting with my walking warmup and a funny thing happened. Maybe it was the crisp morning air, or even just the week’s rest, but I almost felt like my legs were saying, “Now? Can we go now?”

When I started running, it felt like I’d been doing it all of my life. No nagging knees and I felt like I had more push than I’d had even before the race. I opted for the 3.2-mile loop because it would have been a shame to waste feeling that good on a shorter run. Maybe rest periods aren’t so bad after all.

Today’s was possibly the best run I’ve ever had. Maybe it was the chill in the air. Today though, I felt strong the whole way and I was reminded that I really do like this running thing. And I’m not even training for a race right now, although I do plan to tackle a 5K or two before the weather turns too cold.

On a side note, thanks to Jill from Finishing Is Winning for putting me in the spotlight on her blog as this week’s Props Wednesday! I was so honored.

Triathlon Trek Women Race Day Rocked!

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

Race Day Rocked! I’ve finally awoken from my post-race french fry coma and am coherent enough (I hope) to put a blog post together!

As of last night, I still wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to compete today. By last night, I knew I would be competing but my nerves were a bit jangly (there comes a point where there’s just no turning back). I had to get up super-early and the weather was still a little iffy for this morning. I ate a nice big plate of pasta and chicken, got my race gear ready and hit the bed at 9:30 last night so I’d be bright-eyed at 4:30 this morning, when I had to get up. It would have been nice if I could have slept. But, worrying about waking up had me up ever 20 minutes or so all night.

I ate my English muffin this morning, got dressed, and loaded up the car with hubby (can I just say how great he is to get up that early and go to these things with me? It’s so nice too to see that familiar face when you’re coming in on the bike and the run!). Made sure I had all my gear and my chip, etc. All set and we headed out in the dark over to Eishenhower Park, a 45-minute ride.

As I was bringing my bike into the transition area aroun 5:50, they were already announcing that they wanted to start lining us up for the swim, so I quick got my stuff ready, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and headed to the pool. It was a little chilly this morning to be romping around in just a bathing suit, but I had my nerves to keep me warm! Once in the pool area though, I started chatting with all the other women competing and nerves turned to excitement as everything got underway. While we were lining up in number order, Sally Edwards was giving an inspirational speech to get us pumped. Unfortunately, the sound was bouncing off the walls and we couldn’t make out a word she said. We cheered anyway!

They actually lined us up in the pool, about 10 at a time and had us start 10 seconds apart. This was better than jumping in the pool at the last race, but the water was mighty cold. Gets you going!

I even passed a few women in the swim part of the race this morning. I had a good strong swim and shaved 9 seconds off my first time. My shoulder didn’t get twingy once. In triathlon swims (pool or open water), having to pick your head up to see where the other swimmers are so you don’t get knocked out slows things down. Overall though it was smooth race and I felt good getting out of the water.

I promised myself this morning that I would pace. At the last race, I pushed hard in the swim and the bike and had nothing left for the run. I was determined today to RUN the run, all 3.1 miles of it! And I did it!

I.ran.the.whole.way!

I ran slow, but there was no walking. That in and of itself was a triumph for me and made this a crazy-good race!

After the swim, T1 took me 3.19. Again, socks, wet feet… a little tricky. But I pulled my clothes on, ate some Sports Beans from Jelly Belly (love those!!), took a swig of water and set out on my bike. The sky was brightening and while the road was still a little wet from last night, there was no rain this morning. The ride was smooth, well-marked and went pretty well. I realized when I got on the road that my front tire was a little low, but it was ok. A pretty strong breeze kicked up on the fourth loop, but the course was flat and it wasn’t too bad. Total bike time for 9 miles was 39.42 (averaged 13.5 mph). The bike is a leg I still really need to work on, but I was pleased with finishing the 9 miles in under 40 minutes. That was my goal.

The run. Ah, what can I say about the run? I RAN IT!

Racked the bike back in T2, ate some more Sports Beans and drank another swig of water and hit the porta-potty before heading out of T2 (2.34 cause of the pee break). It made all the difference though when I headed out for the run and I was so grateful for the bathroom, as disgusting as it was). You would think, all women, clean potties….nah. I guess everyone was rushing. I would have liked it, but there was no sitting in that thing.

I started the run really slow, like turtle slow, but I knew if I was going to make the 3.1 miles, it was a must. At least I was running or using that motion anyway. For the first mile, my legs were still lead and I had a little trouble regulating my breathing. When we got to the first water stop at mile 1 (seriously I think it was more like 1.5 miles), I was starting to get my rhythm back. I tried to take water there, but kind of spilled it all over myself. I’m not coordinated enough to run and drink at the same time.

There was one woman right alongside me the whole time who would walk a bit (I’d pass her) then she’d run and pass me and then she’d walk and I’d pass her again. I ended up coming in ahead of her in the end, and since I was the runner/walker in my last race, this felt kind of good.

Lots of other women passed me on the run, but that was ok because my run today was for me. A lot of women also had iPods which we were told were a no-no. I would have loved to have my music with me, but I didn’t. Maybe next time.

Mile two seemed to go by a bit faster than mile 1, and there was another water stop. I actually stopped for a second here to take a swig of water so I’d get it in my mouth and then ran on again. By mile three, I had my legs back, my breathing was normal again and I picked up my pace a little more. There was a downhill, and I love to run faster on those but my knees were not having any of that so I had to keep that a little slower than I’d have liked. All through the run, I kept hearing Sally’s voice from yesterday saying to remember that “Slow is fast.”

Once I got to the downhill, the music was blasting and you could hear people cheering on the ladies crossing the finish line so it was easy to pick it up and rock it into the chute. As I crossed the finish line I was high-fived by Sally Edwards herself! A brush with celebrity. She gave me a hug and told me I was an awesome triathlete when I went over to thank her for her inspiration too.

My run time was a bit slower than I’ve been in training, but that was ok. 37.49 for 3.1 miles, which paced out to a 12.36 pace. I’ll take it. It’s better than the 13.26 pace in the last race where there was lots of walking.  And there’s plenty of time now to get faster before next season.

Post-race, hubby and I stuck around for a bit, cheering other ladies across the finish line. I ran to get a banana at the food tent (I was starving!). They weren’t posting splits so I decided to head home, get a shower and something to eat.

But I should have stayed! I found out when I checked splits today that I actually took third place in my category! I competed in the Athena division (women over 150 pounds) and I came in third! Not sure if there was a prize for that, but I imagine there might have been. Had I stayed for awards, I would have gotten to hear my name called. I never even gave a thought to the fact that I might have raced fast enough to place. Oh well. Next time.

My overall time was 1 hour, 34 minutes, 13 seconds. I came in 148 out of 228 women. I placed 71 in the swim, 138 in the bike and 160 in the run, and I was thrilled with those results.

This race was made up of women of all ages, sizes and abilities and they all rocked it out there on the course. I was so impressed with the feeling of sisterhood and the strength that just poured out in this race. I can’t wait to do it again next year. And next year, they hope to have more than 1,000 competitors like they do in their other more established Trek Women triathlons. If you’re in the NY area, I highly recommend this very cool race.

I’m done for this triathlon season. But I will be training and getting ready for Spring. I already have my next races mapped out. After today, I’m so hooked!

Tomorrow’s the big day! Trek Women Triathlon, NY

I still was having ambivalent moments about the Trek Women triathlon until today. Some days, I was feeling like it’s going to be great; other days, I wonder what I was thinking. Yesterday, with all of the rain, and rain predicted for tomorrow morning and a 6:30 am start, I wasn’t so sure I’d even go. But, the weather is supposed to be nice now.

So today, I went and picked up my race packet, got my body marked and wandered around a bit. I tried Sports Beans (yum, those will be available tomorrow) and Greek yogurt, which I promptly went out and picked up at the supermarket. Also yum.

I bought a race belt for my race number and Trek Women gave away an awesome T-shirt. Not sure if I’ll be wearing that one tomorrow. My brother also made me an awesome t-shirt on Zazzle and gave that to me last weekend. It says Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl and has a heart with the Japanese symbols for strength and dedication inside. His take on the whole Fat Girl To Fit Girl thing is that it takes heart, strength and dedication to train for and participate in triathlons, especially coming from the unfit state of being I was in. He’s also a triathlete. Wasn’t that sweet? For that reason alone, I would feel awful if I didn’t compete tomorrow.

So I’m ready. I got really pumped at packet pick-up! Everyone was so nice and they talked us through what the race course will be like and where we’ll need to go. I’ve done the pool swim at this venue already so I know what to expect there. I’m going to make sure I pace myself carefully and just have a really good time. And I’ll have pictures and race results as soon as I can. Probably after my diner french fries and my nap!

I want to thank all of you who read this blog and have connected with me on Twitter too! Your encouragement and support as I’ve gotten ready for this race and my first one too has really kept me going, especially on the days I don’t feel like going! You have made the whole triathlon/getting fit experience even more worthwhile! I wish I could have you all with me tomorrow morning. Instead though, I’ll have my hubby to root me on.

I’m off to make my pasta/chicken dinner to get me through my race tomorrow, finish up my laundry and relax a bit before going to bed really early tonight, since I have to be up at 4:30 am. Hopefully I’ll sleep. And the next time I post, I’ll be done! But just for the season. I’m already planning out the triathlons I want to be in come spring!