What did you do?

I get this question almost weekly. What did you do? What did you do to lose the weight? What’s your secret?

Sorry, folks. It’s not secret. I watched what I ate and I ran my a$$ off, literally. I made small changes over time. I’ll try to make a list of all the things that I have done. Here’s the disclaimer: just because this worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. However, in my experience in watching others follow a somewhat relative path to mine, this is a very successful method for slow, long term, lasting weight loss.

Side note: I have tried about 100 times to write “the weight loss” post, but it’s just too long of a story for a blog post. Here’s the condensed version. I lost 40lbs over the course of 7+ years. That’s a little over 5lbs a year. That’s REALLY slow. I went from a size 16 jeans to size 8. I went from size XL tops to size S tops. I’ve been heavy virtually my entire life. When I got my driver’s license at 15, I lied about my weight. I told the DMV lady I weighed 135lbs. It was a lie back then, but it’s no longer a lie. I went from 175 at my heaviest to my now current 135. Goal weight…BOOM!

So here’s what I did:

1. I learned to cook. Thankfully, I fell in love with cooking. I love to make things from scratch, from the bottom up. I like knowing everything that’s in my food. Cooking from scratch does take a bit more time, initially. However, once you get into a groove, you will forget all those processed food shortcuts you used to take. It’s about changing habits.

2. I cut out processed foods, as much as possible. I’m talking the super processed stuff. No canned soups, no ready-to-eat meals, no frozen biscuits, no “helper.”

3. I read labels. I don’t put anything in my grocery cart without reading the label first. I want to know what’s in it. I don’t avoid HFCS completely, but I’m more likely to buy something if it’s made with real sugar, real ingredients. If there’s too many things that I have to stop to pronounce, I’m not going to buy it. It takes time to read labels, but you will quickly learn what brands make the effort to be more natural. Again, changing habits. In the short run, it will take time and effort, but in the long run, it will be a lasting change…just another part of your routine.

4. I researched portion size. For example, a serving of cheese is roughly the size of 4 dice. Compared to the amount of cheese you find in casserole recipe’s on Pinterest, that is tiny. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards. No wonder Americans are so heavy. Restaurants knowingly serve food that is two, three, and four times the recommended portion!

5. I went relatively dairy-free. I found out about a year ago that I have a moderate to severe lactose intolerance. I gave up milk, anything made with milk, and ice cream. I use almond milk as a substitute, because I also seem to have an issue with soy. I limit myself to a serving of cheese per day and at once, one tablespoon of butter. This took off about 5lbs almost immediately.

6. I try to eat a balanced diet, with a variety of things. Different fruits and veggies. Different grains. A variety of proteins. I have expanded my palate and found that healthy things taste better to me than the junk. Basically I reprogrammed myself. When I eat better, I feel better, which makes the food that’s better for me taste better. Food is fuel, and it helps me to treat it that way.

7. I keep my cheat foods sacred. I LOVE Chipotle. I LOVE Oreos. I LOVE brownies. I LOVE sweet and sour chicken. I LOVE cinnamon rolls. And I still eat these things, but not every day, not every week. It’s that much more a reward to space it out.

8. I found a workout that I love. I tried weights. I tried yoga. I tried aerobics. I tried cycling. I fell in love with running. I look forward to my runs. It’s not just something else on my to-do list. I see running as my reward for waking up and making it through another day in this world. In order to lose weight, you have find a workout that you love and works for your body. It’s the same idea as finding a job that you love. If it’s a chore, you are less likely to do it.

9. Calories in and calories out. I occasionally count calories to keep myself on track. I have used the Livestrong food iPhone app and now I use the FitBit app. I can’t say enough good things about the FitBit…awesome tool. I wish I had had one all along. Your calories in have to be lower than your calories out to lose weight. It’s simple math, simple science. If you want to eat more, you have to do more. If you want to sit on your butt all day, you can lose weight, but you won’t get to eat much while you do it. You also won’t tone up while you drop the pounds.

10. I worked hard. Sometimes I look back and it feels like the weight just fell off. But it didn’t. This was a SEVEN year battle. I had ups and downs. Giving up certain foods was tough. Changing my routine was tough. Getting started running was tough. But I did it. I persevered. And I know I’m stronger because of it.

You can do it too. You can make changes for the better. You can become the person you want to be. It’ll be a battle and sometimes you’ll feel defeated. But you have to believe in yourself, in the power of your own mind to do the right thing for you and your body.

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This just shocked me. I renewed my license in 2013. I was about 140lbs there…5 lbs away from goal weight. The left image is from 2007, right after the birth of Brown. Crazy how much my face has changed!

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This was the goal weight picture! 135lbs! Check out that skinny arm!

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The left image is at my absolute heaviest, 175lbs. I had been married for about 6 months. I was 23 years old. The right image is 135lbs and 30 years old. I love 30! 🙂

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2014 Goals

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. For years, I made the resolution to get healthy and lose weight. It never worked. I was only successful once I stopped over thinking it, stopped seeing it as a diet, and stopped seeing working out as another chore to add to my list. I made a lifestyle change for good…not a resolution.

Instead, I will make goals and I have a lot of them for 2014.

1. Run 1,000 miles. This should be easy once you read the next one.
2. Run two 10Ks and two half marathons.
3. One indoor and one outdoor triathlon.
4. Bike 500 miles.
5. Continue the hunt for the sub-30 min 5K PR.

My training for the first of the two half marathons begins in two weeks. I’m nervous, excited, and ready to rock!

I’ve got some other non-fitness related goals too.

1. Be happy with what I’ve got. I have enough stuff.
2. Try new foods. Quinoa and spaghetti squash are both high on my list.
3. Read 75 books. I fell 5 books short last year.
4. Become a LunaPads Ambassador.
5. Get a puppy…maybe.

I toast my Tervis water bottle to the year 2014. It’s gonna be awesome!

Frosty 5K – Race Report

Let’s run a 5K on New Year’s Day, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. And they were right.

The race started the night before with an 11:30pm text from NuhNuh. “The race starts at 9:30, not 11!” Whoops! We had an old copy of the race registration, which had the wrong time for the 2014 race. I set an alarm and didn’t worry about setting out race kits for all of us the night before. That’s a first for me.

I woke up around 6:30am to a quiet house. I tiptoed out to the kitchen and started the Keurig. I put bibs on race belts and made peanut butter toast. I pooped…a pre-race must. And then I roused my fellow race companions.

The weather was forecast to be perfect for a January road race. Right at about 30 degrees…no wind until later in the afternoon. I picked tights under shorts, a short sleeve tee under a lighter long sleeve top, my mid-weight headband from my SIL, and my Saucony wind gloves, also from the SIL. She likes me to be warm when I run.

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The Frosty 5K is run to benefit the Wichita YMCA fund various projects throughout the year. And since it’s the YMCA, the race started with some pre-race Zumba. I’m a runner…I don’t Zumba. But I enjoyed watching and clapping…and giggling with Brown, who also moaned, “I’m a runner…I don’t Zumba.” Gotta love that kid!

And then we were off. It was a route very similar to the Mustache Dash and included the loop around Exploration Place, which I always enjoy. I kept a nice easy 11min/mile pace. Brown and NuhNuh stuck with us, but Brown was struggling in the cold air. He had just gotten over a bout with his cough-variant asthma. He and NuhNuh fell back and ran together. Daddy Man and I ran side by side, skipping over ice patches and goose poop. We saw Brown and NuhNuh right behind us on the turns and whooped and hollered along with all the YMCA people who learned Brown’s name at registration. NuhNuh said she had trouble keeping up with him, because every time someone would holler his name he would turn on the jets.

We kicked it up to a 10min/mile pace for the last half mile or so. Daddy Man and I crossed the finish line holding hands. No better way to start 2014, which will be a year of running and racing for me and my man. Brown and NuhNuh sprinted to the finish as well…no need to teach that kid how to kick at the end.

Daddy Man and I finished at 33:48 and Brown and NuhNuh finished at 35.47. I was very comfortable the entire time. This was an easy run pace for me. Maybe I need to add some speed work back in to my weekly runs.

*edit*

Daddy Man just reminded me that we realized much later in the day that he got 1st in his AG! We usually hang around for a bit to see if Brown medals, because he usually does if the youngest age group is 9 and under. This race had the youngest age group end at 14, and those kids are FAST. We don’t usually think that Daddy Man or I would podium. But Daddy Man did! The Y is mailing his medal to our branch, so I will post a picture as soon as he picks it up…hopefully tomorrow. Yay, Daddy Man!!

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These tights make me famous at races. People call them my “galaxy pants.”

As soon as we finished the race, the wind picked up. Perfect timing! The rest of the day was spent in our jammies watching Despicable Me 2 on an endless loop. (And Daddy Man nursed an injured foot. A doctor appointment two days later confirmed it’s just a tendon sprain…not a stress fracture. Whew!)

Merry Christmas! From a VERY Spoiled Mother Runner!

Here’s my Christmas recap.

Christmas Eve – Maternal grandparents’ house. Lots of cousins. Lots of memories. Lots of cinnamon roll sneaking. Some serious second cousin wrestling. Yummy homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. Present highlight: my grandparents bought the boys a little desktop all-in-one computer.

Christmas Morning – Our house. Elfin left, but Santa came! He brought TMNT swords that make noise. What was Santa thinking?! Daddy Man surprised me with a lime green FitBit Zip. He’s so cute. I named him Kiwi.

Christmas Mid-morning – My parents’ house. More cinnamon rolls. My mom is the best gift giver. Starting in about October, she just starts taking note of every time I like something or mention wanting it. And then she buys it and sticks in the Grey-Eyed Mom Christmas pile. My favorite was the Dogeared Jewelry silver karma circle necklace. And my owl Caribou Coffee mug…It makes coffee taste better. And the boys got all four Battle Shell TMNTs!

Christmas Afternoon – Paternal grandparents’ house. More homemade chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes. Two pieces of Mom’s apple pie, made with almond milk because she loves me. Lots of presents, including new Garmin watches for both Daddy Man and Grey-Eyed Mom! Although the highlight was probably the boys opening their giant bears from my grandparents’. I managed to capture a blurry picture of what pure joy looks like.

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December 27th – In-laws’ house. Delayed as usual by BIL and SIL’s travel schedule and my work schedule. The highlight of the day was running 4 miles with my SIL. She and I also shared dinner duties. BBQ meat boulders with homemade bread, mashed potatoes, string beans, stuffing muffins, and salad. YUM. The present highlight was new Saucony Guide 7s that I asked for in the wrong size. Oops. Thankfully the run store had the 8s I needed in stock, so I just exchanged them. And then I made homemade donuts for my BIL, because I’m the most awesome sister-in-law in the world.

Daddy Man made me make a list of all the running stuff I got for Christmas or bought afterwards with gift certificates or Christmas money.

FitBit Zip
Nathan Speed 2 Hydration Belt
Polar Buff
Runner Girl Tervis Water Bottle
C9 blue 1/4 zip pullover
teal and purple straps for my RoadID
Trigger Point GRID foam roller
YurBuds
Garmin 220 – The new PURPLE one!
iPod Shuffle
Moving Comfort purple running dress with matching compression shorts
DuoTrap speed/cadence sensor
Node 1.1 bike computer
Saucony Guide 7 shoes
CEP Night Calf Sleeves in Flash Orange
hot pink short sleeve GoRun shirt
Brooks pullover top
Kyodan offwhite quilted headband – very pretty!

I hope I didn’t forget anything! Oh wait…Daddy Man got me the best present. He registered me for the Back 2 Back Prairie Fire Challenge. I’ll be doing both half marathons in 2014! Bring it on. But, yes, I’m spoiled!! I have an amazing, big, generous family.

I will definitely be posting reviews and updates as I use all my new gear. I am such a Runnerd!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. The New Year is just around the corner. I’m working on my goals, so expect a post soon!

That Couple

Daddy Man called me in a panic this morning. He couldn’t find his Garmin. He thought he had it in his gym bag, but when he dug through it, it was missing, along with his road ID. He asked me to look in his bike helmet…no Garmin.

I searched through the whole house, checking all the spots he usually leaves it. It wasn’t in the pile of winter running gloves, headbands, and hats drying on top of the dryer. It wasn’t in the basket on his dresser that holds his extra gloves, Bondi Bands, heart rate monitor strap, and extra shoe laces. It wasn’t in the basket on my dresser with my heart rate monitor strap, swim goggles, handheld water bottle, extra Tifosi lenses, and the rest of my running/biking/swimming accoutrements. It wasn’t on the kitchen counter where our Garmin chargers hang out. (Why can’t they use the same charger? Why, Garmin? Why?) And it wasn’t on the kitchen table with last weekend’s discarded race bib still attached to his race belt.

After I had searched everywhere, I stopped to laugh. We really are that couple. Daddy Man referred to us as such on our summer trip to Manhattan, KS, where he competed in the Apple Triathlon. We spent the entire two hour trip talking about running, biking, swimming, our goals for racing, our training, and our love of this sport. It felt normal, like conversations like that always happened between us. We were so into our conversation that we missed our exit and had to go 20 minutes out of our way. Daddy Man turned to me and said, “We are that couple. Aren’t we?”

He meant…that athletic couple. The couple that runs together, bikes together, swims together, races together. And man, does it feel good! I never thought of myself athletic, but now everywhere I turn people are asking me for workout advice, running advice, and gear advice. They tell me how good I look, how tone my body is. Me? Toned?

Even though I was frustrated at the missing Garmin, I smiled at the thought of being that couple. I’m thankful I married an athletic boy who inspired and brought the athletic girl in me to the surface.

I was about to take a break from searching when I thought to go back to the helmet. His helmet was empty, but hanging on the same hook next to it was my helmet. We are that couple after all. And nestled inside, next to my cold weather biking gloves, was his Garmin and his road ID. Whew…crisis averted.

Thanks, Daddy Man, for being that couple with me!

Jingle Bell Run – Race Report

And I thought the Turkey Trot was cold! As we headed to Exploration Place, I checked the temperature. The wind chill was -7! Brrrrrrrr! On the plus side, we didn’t have to wait outside in the cold before the race started. We hung out inside the nice heated Exploration Place lobby until literally two minutes before the race started. And we were off for our 4 mile run!

The first mile flew by and then Brown hollered that his shoe was slipping off his foot. Daddy Man bent down to retie it only to have Brown’s entire shoelace come off in his hand. I had strung jingle bells through the last loop of his shoestring and it had rubbed through the entire lace! NuhNuh was right behind us and rigged his shoestring by tying a knot in the broken place. We only lost about 3-4 minutes with the pit stop, but it took me a bit to warm back up after it.

Brown got a stitch in his side at about 2.5 miles and we had to take two walk breaks and get him to stretch and deep breathe it out. Our boy is a trooper for sure! We picked up the pace after the mile 3 marker and finished the last mile with an under 11min/mile pace. Daddy Man and I hung back and let our boy sprint to the finish. The photographer got a pretty great shot. The look on Daddy Man’s face says it all…pure pride and joy!

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And here’s me, grinning like an idiot. Gosh, I love running! And check out my awesome new Reebok cold weather running outfit. Yay Black Friday shopping! I got two compliments on it. Underneath it is my purple Target C9 cold weather running outfit. It was THAT cold! The thing that really saved me was the hand warmers shoved into my gloves. Those things are worth their weight in gold!

The finish line ended at the Exploration Place side doors, so we walked right back into the warmth and headed straight for the hot chocolate, coffee, donuts, bagels, and fruit. We definitely got our money’s worth there. We decided to go ahead and head home, but Daddy Man decided to check the results print outs for our official time. We then realized that Brown had gotten first in his age group! (So what if he was first of only two!) We hung around for the awards and our big picked up his second hardware of his six month running career!
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Brown and his medal!
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Brown and his NuhNuh!

Say Grace 5K – Race Report

I made someone cry during this race. I hope it’s not the last time it happens, but I hope it’s the last time I make this certain person cry at a race. I made Brown, my little runner man, cry. I’ll explain.

I hadn’t run a fast race in a while and I was feeling the itch. I shared this idea with Daddy Man who encouraged me to head closer to the front of the pack. I waved him off and said I would just start with them. He assumed that meant I had decided to not go fast and just stay with them. Well…I guess I changed my mind about half a mile into the race and I turned the jets on. I kept a steady 10min/mile pace for the last portion of the race and tried to sprint to the end but I was out of gas. It just wasn’t my day. I crossed the finish line in a little over 32 minutes (31:39 is my PR), grabbed a bottle of water, and found a spot to watch my boys and Mom finish. I figured they were only a couple of minutes behind me. I waited…and waited. Finally I saw Mom. She finished in a little over 35 minutes. Then I saw my guys. Daddy Man had a scowl on his face and Brown just looked crestfallen. Uh oh.

When I took off, Brown tried to stay with me and couldn’t. Daddy Man said he just fell apart. He walked a lot. His usually 11min/mile pace was non-existent. When I found them on the other side of the finish line, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Mom, I thought you were going to run with me.” Heartbroken.

I made him a promise that I would run the rest of the races this year with him. I don’t need to run fast. I don’t need to push my pace. I will run with my son, who makes running fun every single time. My little runner man in his new Brooks Pureflows, just like Daddy Man’s shoes.

Of course, a blueberry muffin and a Double Gobble medal around his neck perked Brown right up. We all got Double Gobble medals for completing the Turkey Trot and the Say Grace 5K.

After the run, we all went home, got Thanksgiving dinner in the oven, and tucked in for a well deserved big meal.