Posts Tagged ‘health’

Where Oh Where Did Fat Girl To Fit Girl Go?

In case you’ve been looking for the Fat Girl To Fit Girl blog, I’m still here! I’ve just moved around the corner to http://fatgirl2fitgirl.com.

I’m still blogging regularly over there. Just with a new bright look and my own host! Please come visit.

And if you have me on your blog roll, please update it with http://fatgirl2fitgirl.com. Thank you kindly!

Missouri 60 Challenge Results

I had four goals for the Missouri 60 Challenge and I did pretty well with them although I didn’t hit them completely.

1. The weight-loss related project I’m working on includes moving my blog to my own host so I can do more with it. I’ve hit some technical difficulties (mostly user related because some days I’m a technical bonehead), but I’m almost there.

2. I finished my first triathlon! YAY! I had hoped for a finish of under an hour and it took me 1.06, but that’s ok. In hindsight, I was asking for a lot from myself. I finished. That was the goal.

3. I wanted to sign up for another race. I was thinking a 5K maybe, or even a 10K. Instead, I’m doing the Trek Women Triathlon this coming Sunday. Thinking big. And I’ve scouted out some 5Ks I’d like to do in the later fall. I’d also hoped to be able to run 4 miles straight by the end of this challenge. I’m close. I hit the 3.5 mark last weekend. With the new triathlon coming up though, it was more important to concentrate on the 3.1 distance… especially off the bike. I’m ready. And running four miles is right there as the next goal.

4. I wanted to be fitter than I was when I started. I’ve definitely accomplished that. I’m running farther, more consistently, and my swim and bike training has gotten better too. I feel great!

And to top it off, I’ve lost 5.8 pounds since the start of the challenge, bringing my total loss to 61.2 pounds. I’m getting there!

dianenow new diane

Not a huge difference on the outside, but there is a huge difference on the inside!

And there’s a huge difference from where I started. And boy, does that make me happy.

Here’s one from back before getting healthy. This has been a year of big changes…all for the better!

Diane_Vacation

Triathlon Inspiration

womentriathlonI’m doing the TrekWomen Triathlon on Long Island on Sept. 13. And I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about this race. While it’s in the same park as my August race, this one is longer than that one by quite a bit, and I struggled in the first one. I finished, but it was tough! I was tougher.

At these first races, I’m not looking to break records or do amazing things. I’m just looking to finish and that’s how I’m training. I can do all of the parts by themselves. I just need to put them all together and not fall apart on the course in the process.I’ve been slacking a little on brick training (putting the disciplines together).

But I’m still nervous. What if the extra 3 miles on the bike and the extra mile on the run do me in this time? Well, I decided today that that’s not going to happen. I’m tougher than the race course. I’ve done this in training, I’ve done it in a race and I can do it again. No fear. Ok, a little fear, but not enough to stop me. I’m getting healthier and stronger every day, and I can do this. Even if it’s humid. Man, I hope it’s not humid that day.

So what gave me this resolve today? I mean, this morning, when I went out to run, I changed my mind and walked instead. 80 degrees with 94% humidity at 6:30am had a hand in that decision. But tomorrow is a swim/bike day. And Sunday, hopefully, will be a bike/run day, even if it’s in the comfort of the temperature-controlled gym.

What inspired me today was reading a post from the Secrets of a Former Fat Girl blog about her experience with a TrekWomen triathlon back in July. You can read the post by clicking on the link. She’s a triathlon newbie too. And her race report was nothing less than inspiring. Her triathlon wasn’t easy for her either. I don’t think these things are actually easy for anyone. But she powered through. And she finished. And she went on to do a half marathon after that. I think sometimes we are all just gluttons for punishment! But I can tell you there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finish an endurance race, even a small one.

Not only did Michelle’s story help me renew my resolve, her experience with TrekWomen made it even stronger! Hers was a huge race with over 2,500 women. My last race had less than 300 athletes. I’m curious to see how large the NY Trek Women’s race is and how they do this. Michelle also talked about all of the support she received from volunteers, fellow racers and Sally Edwards herself. Amazing. I can’t wait to be a part of this. These races are worth it for the camaraderie alone. And I’m ready to get seriously training again.

For more information on Trek Women triathlons, click here.

There Are Still Days…

There are still days where I wake up late and don’t get out to exercise in the morning or at any other time of the day, planned or unplanned. There are still days where I would like to eat anything that doesn’t try to run away from me and the more sugar the better. There are still days, after more than a year of eating healthier and exercising regularly, where I’d like to throw in the towel and go back to my old ways. There are still days where the threat of gaining the weight back doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact as eating cake would. Today is one of those days. Maybe it’s hormonal or the time of the year or lack of sleep/stress. Who knows?

I would have hoped that after more than a year of a healthier lifestyle, the lure of empty calories and laziness would have gone away completely. But they haven’t. My old behaviors still lurk in the back of my consciousness just waiting for a weak moment to spring to the forefront and sabotage all of my hard work. I’ve learned to resist for the most part, but resisting doesn’t make the day any easier,  and it doesn’t make the desire go away.

This morning I did not get out to exercise. And tonight I have a fundraiser to attend so there will be little or no exercise there either. I’m ok with that. It can be a rest day.

I have a doctor’s appointment at lunch today, so I can’t do too much damage foodwise. I’ll be at work all day and I only brought good food with me to work. I’ll make it through the day; I’ll work hard to be strong tonight too. And hopefully, the evil urges will go away by tomorrow. They usually do.

And that’s the difference between then and now. Then, I would just cave. Now, I cope.

  • This morning, I tracked all of the food I plan to eat today. I find that that helps me to stay on track.
  • I decided to sleep in this morning. Sometimes, I find if I’m really tired, it’s harder to resist temptation.
  • I’m drinking lots of water. I do this anyway, but on days like this, I drink more because it helps to keep me feeling fuller.
  • I keep peppermint tic-tacs on hand. Nothing tastes very good after a mint (except for water) and for a little while they kill the cravings.
  • I will remind myself how much better I feel now than I did then.
  • I will blog about how I feel and count on the support of my online friends to pull me back.
  • And if I’m still feeling like I really need something off plan tonight, I will allow myself a small indulgence. I will not have lost the whole day and sometimes it’s ok to take a little break.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I find that my resolve is usually back after a day like this. And having managed this day makes me that much stronger going forward.

When you’ve lived a sedentary life of overeating for a long time, like I have, staying the fitness course is awfully fragile. But each day like this where I win the battle over the evil urges, the fitness side gains a little strength. It’s a long road, and it’s worth every step.

I’ll Do It My Way (and you should do it your way)

pizzaOver at the FoodFoodBodyBody blog, Foodie McBody has a post about eating an amazing slice of pizza after deliberating about it for a quite a while. Bottom line, she ate it, she enjoyed it, and she stayed within the boundaries of her health and fitness plan.

In the comments section, there was everything from “I could never eat pizza or anything else not on my healthy list” to me, who eats pizza at least once a week. A slice of heaven pizza is only 6 points, although, living here in NY, I usually count it as 8 on Weight Watchers. I fit it in to my points or I use weekly points. I can also stick to one slice, maybe 1 and a 1/2  if I’m particularly hungry.

The point is there is no one way to do the diet/exercise thing right. What’s most important is finding the way that works for you.

There are definitely foods that I can’t have in the house because I have no control, like Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies or potato chips and any kind of dip. There’s no stopping once I start. So I reserve those things for parties where the environment is somewhat more controlled and if I eat more than I should, I can’t continue the feast when I leave.

But I also know from previous diet starts and stops that to succeed, I need to be able to eat some of my old-time favorites with the new foods that I enjoy.

As I’ve proceeded on this journey, my tastes have changed along with my weight. In the beginning, I never didn’t have 100-calorie Hostess cupcakes in the house because if I needed a chocolate fix, that’s what I wanted. Now I don’t buy them regularly and I’m more likely to turn to a Kashi bar or cocoa-roasted almonds. However, that’s not to say I don’t have an occasional chocolate bar or get my hostess cupcakes once in a while. Those are foods that I can eat a portion of and then get back on track.

Following Weight Watchers has allowed me to continue to eat all kinds of food and lose weight without feeling deprived. I tried Jenny Craig once and lasted a week. I did Atkins for about 3 months. Those didn’t work for me but I know they work magic for other people.

With exercise, it’s the same thing. Some folks walk, some run, some Zumba, I triathlon.

It doesn’t matter what path you choose as long as you enjoy it and it’s something you will get up and go do on a daily or every-other-day basis. And you can always add/change it up as you go too.

There is tons of advice on how to diet and how to exercise to lose weight. But not all of those things work for everyone.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again because it is the one thing I have truly learned on my fitness journey this time: You can read all the advice and listen to all the experts but if you don’t like what they are telling you to do or you feel like you can’t stick to a program, it isn’t going to work for you. You have to experiment with different foods/exercises, find programs that you can stick to and do that.

Maybe it’s because we get so sucked in by the media and advertising about all of the diet claims that our weights go up and down so often. We can all lose weight on a program we can stick to temporarily, but can we keep it off when we can’t stick with that program anymore?

This time, I’ve taken it slow and steady and I know the changes I’m making will last a lifetime because guess what? I can still eat pizza!

Getting Fit? Which Exercise Is Best?

In my quest to get fit, I’ve done lots of reading and research. Other people’s struggles. What works for them. The best shoes for my feet for running. The best exercise routine. I read the information and try to take away what I find most important. The stuff that will help me with what I want to do.

There seems to be two hard core exercise camps, and then a bunch of us in between. The cardio people (of which I am currently one) and the strength training crew (I aspire to strength training but am not quite there yet). What amazes me are the fanatic fringe in these camps. The cardio people who say you have to do cardio…it’s the only way to lose fat. Nothing else will work.

And the strength training folks who say you have to strength train because it builds muscle, which ups your metabolism. Nothing else will work. I read one strength training article that went so far as to say cardio is bad for you because it makes your body more efficient and if you ever have to stop your body will basically become a big blob again. I don’t know. I knew a weight lifter guy once who stopped lifting weights and he turned into a big blob too.

For me, I knew I needed goals to get fit, so I started training for triathlons. I like to swim, I can bike, and now I can run. Without something to train for, I knew I wouldn’t be regimented about exercising. For some reason, a healthy body was just not enough to get me into the pool or even into my sneakers.

Race training works for me. I have a goal. I work toward it. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I complete a race. I look for a bigger goal.

What I’m doing, though, isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s not going to work for most people.

But something can work for everyone. For the strength trainers, it’s lifting weights. For the cardio people, it’s walking or running or swimming or…. For yoga people, it’s yoga… you get the idea. I’m betting it’s really best to do a little of all of those things.

Bottom line is if we’re going to get fit, we have to move, even if it’s just from the couch to the front yard at first. Even if it’s dancing to your favorite song in the living room.

I’ve found something that works for me and I’ve stuck to it for a year. It’s challenging, not boring and ultimately, fun. I do a little of other stuff and I plan to add more. But this was where I needed to start.

Whatever the fanatics say, I’ve lost weight, built muscle tone and have more energy. And when I take a day or two off, I don’t turn into a big blob, but I do look forward to getting back to my training.

Do what works for you. Do what you are going to stick to and enjoy. Do something that will challenge you and that you can build on. Have fun. And don’t listen to what everyone else has to say. That’s my prescription for a good exercise program.

An Interesting Side Effect of Exercise

Two years ago, I started having heart palpitations out of the blue that my doctor attributed to the lovely stage of life I’m in – perimenopause. My blood pressure was a tiny bit high, 130/90, so he prescribed a beta blocker and sent me on my way. The first medication they put me on dropped my blood pressure through the floor and after I almost passed out in Walmart, they ditched that one and tried another. Coreg.

For two years, I have been on Coreg and it has worked like a charm. Very few palpitations and all has been rosy. As I lost weight and became more active, I was able to cut my dose to once a day. I tried to wean off entirely but the palpitations came back. Mostly they are just annoying as all get-out, not dangerous.

However, a few weeks ago, I switched to the generic brand of this medication (generics by the way according to my doctor can have up to 25% more or less of the active ingredient in a drug and sometimes have a different delivery system, meaning the other chemicals in the pill may differ slightly). This is important if you are taking a medication, like I was, for a different reason that the original intent. I’m taking Coreg for heart palpitations, not high blood pressure.

Anyway, palpitations came back some and then went away again, but more than that, I have been extraordinarily dizzy. Every time I get up from my desk, I get a head rush. In the shower after running (never during), getting out of bed in the morning, any activity that had me moving after being sedentary has been making my head spin.

So I went to the doctor today expecting to hear my blood pressure is too low. My blood pressure was a little low but nothing to write home about. However, my heart rate was 44 when the doctor did it manually. Which had me hooked up to an EKG machine in a matter of minutes because that was too low. On the EKG, when I was laying down, my heart rate was a mere 32 beats per minute. Ah, so that was why I was so dizzy. It’s not because I’m blonde!

The doctor said if I wasn’t on the beta blocker, she’d be sending me straight to a cardiologist for a pace maker evaluation. For now though, I just have to stop taking the medication and see the doctor again on Friday to see if my heart rate rebounds. And I am to keep up the exercise to get my heart rate up.

So this is a cautionary tale. If you are on any medication that might be affected by a new healthier lifestyle (i.e., exercise and diet), make sure you stay on top of it with your doctor. My doctor said I am lucky I got dizzy. My heart rate is low enough that I could pass out from it. If I was driving…or swimming, this could be a problem.

When starting a diet or exercise program, we are always told to check with the doctor. There have been plenty of times where I have not done this. This time however, I’m on medication, so I’ve more or less stayed on top of it. It’s as important as eating right.

Swim, Bike, Run

triathlon123I am not one to exercise for exercise’s sake. Never have been. I needed some sort of motivation other than “It’s good for you.” So I signed up for a triathlon. When I could barely walk a mile, I set my sights on triathlon. The reason? In my vast weight loss knowledge (cause I’ve lost and gained so many pounds so many times before), I know it’s better to vary the exercise routine because it works different muscles, you don’t get bored, etc., etc.

So since I needed something to train for that would give me the motivation to do more than one type of exercise, I picked this multi-sport. Did I mention I’m not really fond of exercise? I figured I can swim, I can bike, and well, even though I couldn’t run at the time, how hard could it be? Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

And my brother is a triathlete, so I had someone to turn to for information.

As I get ready for my first triathlon (I raced back in April but it became a duathlon because of pool problems), I’m so excited to see how far I’ve come. I can actually run two miles  now. I couldn’t in April (not on the road anyway) and I can bike the six and swim the 400 meter distance. I realized though, I’ve been lax in my training up to this point. While I’ve been practicing all three disciplines, I haven’t been doing them enough together, mostly because of time constraints. I can tell you from my first experience, running after a six-mile bike ride is a whole lot more difficult than just running for running’s sake. I don’t care how slow you go. Off the bike, jello legs tend to make that first half mile of a run a doozy.

So for the next three and a half weeks (the time before my next race on August 1st, I will be training all three segments close together through the week, with bricks (bike and run together, swim and bike together, you get the idea) on the weekends where I have more time. Last night I ran, despite all kinds of delays (didn’t actually get out on the road until 7:45 pm). I had biked the night before and I was determined to run to work those muscles in succession.

This morning, I swam. Tonight I bike. Tomorrow morning, I run. Tomorrow night, I collapse. It’s the way the race goes. Swim. Bike. Run. Collapse.

By themselves, I extend my distances because someday soon, I’d like to do longer races, but the plan is to get the muscles working in the right order. It’s much easier to get in a pool and swim after a run than the other way around.

I’m glad I chose triathlons as a place to start. I know they aren’t for everyone. But even if I never competed in a race, it pushed me to train in several different exercises, I think giving me a good balance and helping to prevent injuries. Besides, after this 5Ks may feel easy.

My first race is the Mini Mighty Man Sprint in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY, August 1. It’s powered by eventpowerli.com if you’re interested in something like this. They offer a bunch of different races at all levels.

This starter tri is a 400-meter swim, 6-mile bike, 2-mile run. Wish me luck. I’ll need it!

By the way, I don’t look nearly as fierce as the triathletes in the picture!

The Privilege of Being Fit

West Meadow Beach, Long Island Sound

West Meadow Beach, Long Island Sound

Not too far from my house is a beach – West Meadow. It’s a small town beach on the Long Island Sound, which offers rocky shores and calm waters. There’s a great playground and when my children were small, it was the perfect way to spend a summer day.

The cool thing about this area though was not so much the town beach as the mile and a half stretch of road just past it. That was dotted with about 20 beach cottages positioned right on the beach. They didn’t even have running water. As a young girl, my aunt’s parents owned one of these cottages and I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks living on the beach, sleeping on a screen porch and fetching fresh water from the well up the road a piece. Salt water ran through the pipes.

Two years ago, the town took the land back and razed the cottages amidst outcries from the owners and those of us who while we didn’t live there, loved the step back in time that little stretch of road offered. I know as an adult, whenever I was having a bad day or just needed a break, I’d take a drive down the little road to the end where there was a jetty and a glorious little inlet and tiny island in the sound. When the county took over the land, it promised that there would be no building there (we were all worried about condominiums) and it would be turned into a nature preserve. So far they have kept their word.

For me though, this created a dilemma. The road was closed. I couldn’t get to my favorite spot anymore. I wasn’t in any shape to walk the mile and a half and then back again, on the beach or on the road. I’d attempted it a couple of times, but could never make it the whole way.

Since the beginning of summer, since I’m now in good enough shape where this would be no problem, I’ve been wanting to walk/run on the beach and on the road to this little spot. The weather has not cooperated in the Northeast. At least, not until today.

This morning, I had planned to swim, but I got up a little late. It’s a perfect day here on Long Island: sunny, not too humid, low 70s. I decided to drive up to the beach, walk to the end and jog back. As of this morning, I didn’t know how far that would be. Some kind soul on roller blades let me know that the stretch was about a mile and a half. Cake.

I walked along the beach, past the piping plover nesting sanctuaries, watching the boats in the sound and just listening to the lapping waves and the birds. When I found a path, about a mile in, I scooted up to the road. I didn’t bring my iPod today, which allowed me to just embrace the sounds and smells of this now peaceful nature preserve. I made it to the end of the road, and I was greeted by the gorgeous inlet, soft breeze and incredible views that I remembered from three years ago. I felt like I was on vacation and could have stayed there all day. I stayed for a bit, sat on the jetty and considered how fortunate I am to have the strength and fitness level to get there.

I jogged back. By then, lots of people were walking, biking and rollerblading on the path.

It was the perfect way to start the day. I am so grateful that I’ve finally embraced a healthy, fit lifestyle and that I’ve been able to come as far as I have. I will keep that with me when I don’t feel like exercising in the future.  Think of what I was missing before.

Headed up to the Path

Headed up to the Path

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.