Category: Weight

Marine Corps Marathon Training – Week 1

I got into Marine Corps through the 2018 lottery. After running the Green River Marathon from Vermont to Massachusetts last August, I sustained a bizarre pelvic injury. I actually ran the entire marathon feeling like I was in early labor with a massive pressure bearing down on my pelvis. Needless to say it was not my best marathon. I had felt it a little the week before, but didn’t really think anything of it. I continued to train for Marine Corps until the third week of September when I finally identified that the pressure and dull pain only occurred when running. Three doctors were unable to diagnose a specific cause for what I was feeling. I was basically told to just rest and let it heal. Thankfully I was able to defer my entry to Marine Corps to 2019.

A week prior to the Green River Marathon, on a whim my husband and I went to an open house around the corner from where we lived in a nice quiet neighborhood we have always loved. Two weeks later we sold our house and less than four weeks after that we moved! Talk about a whirlwind.

In the midst of our move my son started 6th grade in a new school and I began another graduate class. My job began shifting into high gear as well. I was working from early in the morning until it was time to go to the library in the evening to do school work.

I went from a 20 mile training run in mid-September to zero! It was devastating, but it had all become just too much and something had to give. The injury (or whatever it was) was a clear sign that I would have to give up the intense training. Without dwelling on my regrets at this juncture, I just want to say I really wish I had not completely abandoned all physical activity. Inevitably I gained weight, lost flexibility and endurance over the course of the next 6 months. What is done is done.

By mid-winter I was feeling better and ready to move again. My running partner was also coming out of a lengthy running hiatus due to illness. We started slow, really really slow with walks. By early spring we were running again, a little bit, but building up to more regular runs and eventually a 10K in early June. We ran the Amica Iron Horse 10K in Simsbury, CT. It was a beautiful day, quaint area, and a really well organized race. Oh and cute medal! In all honesty, I felt like crap. I am out of shape. But I have the best running partner in the world. She does not care how fast (or slow) we go. She talked me through some of the challenging parts of the race and we ran and talked the entire way.

I wish I could say I have taken the bull by the horns, jump out of bed every morning at 3:30AM ready to workout, make my green juice, and tackle the hard road ahead. April threw a massive wrench into my plans. These aren’t excuses just reality. I work in the private health insurance industry for a senior care plan that is essentially overseen by my state’s Medicaid program. Long story short, the state needs to save money. We were required to remediate charts and revise entire sections of documentation from February on by the end of April while still doing our current work. We also endured multiple trainings at our headquarters out near Boston to learn new assessments and how to complete current assessments to comply with state requirements. In order to arrive for the 9AM start time, I had to leave my house by 6AM because the traffic is ridiculous the closer you get to Boston. We were not mandated, but strongly encouraged, to work overtime to get our work done. I was working almost around the clock between my job and another graduate course.

I was losing my mind and I was joined by every nurse case manager in my company across the state. Some of the nurses quit and I am sure there will be more as more changes continue to be made almost on a weekly basis. I wanted to quit and cried almost daily. Let’s be real though. I have a mortgage to pay, bills to pay, and a child to care for. I would love to follow my dreams and passions (this certainly isn’t my dream job), but I also have responsibilities and obligations. This job may not be ideal, but I work from home and therefore I get to be present in my son’s life. He can enjoy summer at home hanging out at our pool with his friends while I type away from the patio or our beautiful granite topped island in my kitchen that overlooks our backyard. This is what kept me hanging on my the remaining shreds of fingernails I managed not to bite off during the intense upheaval of my professional life.

Days went by and my training plan got pushed further and further out. My plans to lose that winter snowsuit were overshadowed by emotional eating. Oh dear god it’s like a vicious cycle. Through the chaos I tried to move as much as possible even if it was just a walk or a short run. But I was exhausted (and if you know me you know this is not a word I use – ask my husband and son). On a couple of occasions when my son slept at a friend’s house in the first couple weeks of his summer vacation, I could not bear the thought of waking up and getting out of bed to face my work computer. I ignored the alarm. I tried to shut off my brain. I buried myself under the blanket. Finally at the latest possible moment, I would get out of bed feeling the heaviness on my body and mind. I was depressed (another word I do not use lightly).

No time to wallow though. There was a ticking deadline that I could not ignore. I have already paid far too much money for the Marine Corps Marathon between the entry fee and deferral fee. Plus I want to run again and having a lofty goal like a marathon is probably exactly what I need to get my rear in gear. I knew that as of July 1, 2019 training had to officially begin, but until then I would give myself some freedom to do, feel, think, and eat however I pleased.

I have started reducing the overtime at work over the last few weeks. I am taking a break from graduate school for the summer. I am trying to be more mindful of what I eat and have started tracking my food again on My Fitness Pal.

My Marine Corps Marathon goals are:

  • to have fun and enjoy running
  • to forget about pace
  • run by time rather than miles
  • return to a vegan diet for the training cycle
  • incorporate stretching, yoga, hills, speed work, and a variety of activity to keep my body moving

Below is my plan and what I really did for the first week:

PLANREALITY
Monday 7/1 – 30 minute run 

Tuesday 7/2 – Strength, Cross
training (bike, walk, hike), Stretch 

Wednesday 7/3 – Speed workout (2×400, 2×800, 2×400, 1×800, 1×400) 

Thursday 7/4 – 45 minute run 

Friday 7/5 – Yoga, Stretch, Core, move (12,000 steps) 

Saturday 7/6 – long run 

Sunday 7/7 – Core, Move (12-15,000 steps minimum), Stretch
7/1 – Pre-run stretch, 5 minute
walk, 35 minute run with cool down walk – Total 4+ miles 

7/2 – Walk, HIIT video, Groin
stretch 

7/3 – 45 minute run 

7/4 – Walk, rest 

7/5 – Walked just over 15,000
steps, groin stretch, yoga for
neck/shoulders video, Barre core 
video

7/6 Rest 

7/7 – 60 minute run

So the groin stretches are for another weird issue. One morning over a month ago, I woke up and my right leg shot up in the air spontaneously. I felt a shooting pain in the groin area and have felt it the tightness radiating to the knee ever since. I consulted two physical therapists and was given some exercises to do. I was told it should heal over time. It does not bother me at all when running and does not feel worse after a run. My running is slow and I have been trying to keep up with the stretches as often as possible.

I would say all in all I feel good about how the week went. I think week two will be even better.

Rewind

I watched this compelling public service announcement entitled Rewind the Future issued by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in 2013 which essentially speaks to the fact that obesity is not a condition that arises overnight.

There was quite a debate in the comments as to whether the video depicted fat shaming or served to educate the public. This morning I read Mike’s thought provoking post “One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.” The comments below the post were equally compelling and brought up many of my own conflicted feelings on the subject.

I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 30 years. From the early age of 10, I remember overhearing my grandfather saying on what a pretty face I had, if only… You can fill in the blank. In school I was ashamed of how I looked. I felt different and awkward around my peers because of my larger size. In retrospect I was not as large as I felt. I’m still not, but it’s amazing how powerful those words in our head can be. I know what it’s like to be fat shamed by others and myself. It’s never ok to shame, bully or tease someone.

As a healthcare professional I do think patients need to be receptive to hearing the truth without assuming they are being shamed by their doctor. People also need to stop seeking the quick fix when it comes to medical conditions that can be reversed by behavioral changes. Often medications and/or surgical interventions are necessary, but they don’t eliminate the need for subsequent lifestyle alterations.  The truth is losing weight is hard work. It is tedious to have to journal your food  intake and weigh your food. It stinks say no to foods you love and feel a little hungry once in a while. Weight loss tries the patience because it can take a long time. Some days you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. On the flip side losing weight feels amazing and can inspire others around you to do the same.

Oddly enough I just started reading a continuing education module for my nursing license called The Obesity Epidemic and the Nurse’s Role. In the introduction it mentions, “worldwide, the number of overweight individuals is equal to the number who are suffering from starvation.” (Buchwald, 2007) The World Health Organization has deemed obesity a global epidemic and reports that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people and 700 million obese people worldwide.

This is concerning on many levels. Obesity is associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Obesity is expensive to treat. Obesity can impair treatment and rehabilitation of other medical issues.

As a nurse my job is to educate and support patients. I am kind, caring and compassionate. It is not my place to judge and I don’t. I’ve been there. I’m still there to some degree.

As an individual there came a time when I had to take a long hard look at my weight problem and admit to myself how I got to that point. Then I had to face the facts and the hard truth about how I was going to lose that weight. I’m still working on it. I do wish sometimes I could rewind and stop the clock at the very moment food became more than sustenance for me.

What do you think about the video? Any thoughts on this topic?

 

Love Your Body Challenge Day 5: Beautiful

I’ve fallen behind in the Love Your Body Challenge, but I’m going to continue writing my responses because it’s helpful for me. I’ve created a tab at the top of the blog to organize these posts and I’ve changed the titles to make them easier to skip over if it’s not your cup of tea. I know they are a bit wordy so don’t feel compelled to read them especially if you’re here to read about running.

Speaking of running, I’ve got the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K road race coming up on Saturday. Marathon training is in full swing. Last week I made a novice error due to schedule changes and tried to accomplish my long run the day after a strength training workout which included lots of lunges and leg work. My 16 mile run on Saturday was slow, painful and an important reminder about training wisely to avoid injury. I took a much needed rest day yesterday.

Reason #5 To Love Your Body: Because it’s beautiful

Mantra: “I am beautiful, on the inside and outside, and I feel especially beautiful when I ______.”

My mantra: I am beautiful, on the inside and outside, and I feel especially beautiful when I am taking care of myself by eating healthy, exercising, doing yoga and meditating.

I’m not going to sugar coat this exercise with a lot of nonsense. I have never felt beautiful, not even on my wedding day (well actually wedding days since . I occasionally look in the mirror and like certain things about myself. However, I definitely don’t consider myself beautiful on the outside. Beauty is only skin deep though. As unattractive as I find myself on the outside, I’m more concerned about the kind of person I am on the inside.

The truth is I haven’t been a very beautiful person internally. I have been quite ugly as a matter of fact. This is harder to admit to than announcing I have issues with binge eating.

I was a pretty happy kid as I recall. I think my ugliness began to rear its nasty head in my early teens. I’m not going to psychoanalyze here and try to lay blame for my behavior. I’m just telling it like it was as I remember it. I was overweight, unhappy, lacked confidence, didn’t fit in with other kids and felt alone as a result. I internalized absolutely everything. I assumed people disliked me and now I can see that I assumed that others felt the same way about me as I felt about myself. I did a job on my own self-esteem and by the time I finished high school there was not a drop of it left.

I always had an angry edge to my tone of voice. I became increasingly more defensive and difficult to talk to. I assumed that almost everyone was “against” me and thought I was as irrelevant as my opinions yet I was argumentative and fiercely opinionated. I felt look down upon and judged.

I had few friends and often lost friends most likely due to my sharp tongue and negative attitude. My relationship with my sister and mother have suffered the most. Anytime I felt badly about myself (which was frequent) I took it out on them because I was jealous of how slender, beautiful and well liked they were. Of course people like them, they are friendly, kind and easy to be around.

In the throes of jealousy I behaved like a child even well into adulthood. My go to coping mechanism when I was jealous of others was to stop talking to them and act like nothing was wrong. Wicked mature, I know!

My biting sarcasm and stand offishness was clearly misunderstood, I thought. “No one gets me!” They got me alright, they just didn’t like me. And by they I mean just about everyone I came in contact with including my family.

I can honestly say that I have never intentionally meant to hurt anyone with my words or behavior. For some reason unbeknownst to me there have been people along the way who have blessed me with their unconditional friendship. I know these friends and my family have seen other qualities in me which makes them love me anyway.

I have apologized for my behavior ad nauseam. I always know when I cross the line and say the wrong thing in the wrong tone, unfortunately once the words are out you can’t take them back. Though my apologies are always sincere I have realized that saying I’m sorry means nothing if I don’t learn from my mistakes and change.

Changing such negative, ugly behavior isn’t easy. For so long I kept a defensive, sarcastic, angry wall up around me just in case anyone wanted to criticize me. Turns out I am the most critical person in my life. I feel like I’ve come a long way from that mouthy, irritated, know it all, but I know I still have a lot of work to do to change how I feel about myself on the inside.

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Love Your Body Challenge Day 4: Purpose

In day 4 of the Love Your Body Challenge the goal is to determine your purpose. This is a hot topic in my life right now. It’s something I’ve been pondering for months now. I want the easy way out though. I want someone to come to me and say “Aimee your purpose is ______ and this is how you are going to make it happen.” Since this hasn’t occurred it’s up to me to figure it out. I’m hoping this activity gets me a little closer to realizing my purpose in this world.

Day 4 Mantra: “My existence is a miracle.  I am not here by accident.  My life has purpose and meaning, and that purpose and meaning is_______.”

My Mantra: My life has purpose and meaning, and that meaning is to be the best me I can be.

Of course I feel that one of the most important reasons I’m here is to be the best mother possible to Carlos. I am not perfect, but I do work hard every day to be the best mom I can be.

However, when I read this I instantly thought of my career or work purpose. When I was in high school I was adamant about becoming a cosmetologist. Even though my mom wanted me to go to college she didn’t dissuade me from pursuing my dreams. I was very interested in make up application, facials, cosmetic products, herbal remedies and ingredients in cosmetics. In my junior year of high school my mom took me to a cosmetology school in Boston for a tour and an informational session. I thought I was so serious about pursing this path until my friends all started applying to college and then as many teens are known to do I followed my friends. I applied to traditional colleges and declared I was going to major in Biology with the intention to go on to one day become a Dermatologist. Although I knew a dermatologist was a doctor I don’t think I fully understood that I, myself, would have to go to medical school.

I went to a small private Catholic college in Newport, Rhode Island for my first semester. One of my first orders of business was to denounce my aforementioned goals and study political science. I cannot even remember where that idea came from. I lasted only a semester at Salve Regina University. Not only did I not fit in to the socio-economic profile of the student body, I was not exactly a practicing Catholic. I stupidly transferred to another small private college for literally 4 days (long story for another day!) before ending up living at home and attending a local community college. While at community college I decided that I would study history. I went on to UMass Amherst where I graduated with degrees in History and Spanish with a concentration on Latin American studies. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted to do after college I replied, “join the Peace Corps.” Oh how young and idealistic I sounded!!

I honestly never even gave a career a second thought. I have worked consistently since I was 14 years old. Yet I never truly thought of myself as having a specific career. I wanted to travel and see the world. So I did what a lot of young people with little money and a philanthropic heart do…I joined the Peace Corps. I remember sitting in the office of the Peace Corps recruiter in Boston for my 3 hour long interview. He asked me if I had a preference in countries. Obviously I wanted to go to Latin America. However, he explained that since I had no specific skills I was most qualified to teach English and there were no English programs in Latin America. The only requirement to teach English in the Peace Corps is that you speak English! He sat back for a moment as if he was deep in thought and then he asked me very seriously if I knew how to bee keep. Um no?! He lamented that it was too bad I didn’t because Bolivia had a bee keeping program that was in need of volunteers. In the early days of my English teaching experience in Mozambique, where I eventually ended up serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, when I was frustrated and overwhelmed by dealing with the bureaucracy of the educational system I used to think, really how hard could it be to bee keep.

I was high school English as a Foreign Language teacher in the Peace Corps. This means I taught people to speak English rather than English literature. When I returned home to the U.S. I was daunted by the requirements to teach in the public schools and the lack of jobs for ESL teachers at that time was discouraging. While living in Mozambique I had become very interested in public health, the study of disease and educating people on how to prevent and treat illness.

I contemplated going to graduate school for a degree in public health. I had fleeting thoughts of becoming a nurse, but working in a hospital, dealing with bodily fluids and cleaning people was frightening. Plus I never thought of myself as someone who would work in healthcare. However, upon returning to the U.S. as a newlywed with an immigrant husband and very little money (Peace Corps is truly a volunteer agency!) post 9-11 as the economy was taking a swift turn for the worse, I quickly saw the benefits of becoming a nurse. At that time nursing jobs were plentiful and supported a decent living. After losing my job as a program director for a Department of Welfare supported teen parent education program to state budget cuts, I enrolled in a nursing pre-requisite class at a local community college. I went to nursing school at night and worked as a waitress, a nurse’s aid and even as a dispute resolution coordinator for my mother at the Better Business Bureau.

I got my Associate’s Degree in Nursing. The 2 year RN program (though it’s more like a 3 year program because of all the prerequisite courses you have to take) made more sense at the time because it was the least expensive, quickest option. I was growing anxious to buy a home and start a family at that time. Of course now I’m wondering if I should have just gone for the Bachelor’s Degree.

As a new nurse I decided to work on a general Medical-Surgical unit. I gained valuable experience working on the Med-Surg unit. It is fast paced and unpredictable. You see a little bit of everything from GI bleeds to COPD, appendectomies to chest tubes. It is on Med-Surg that you learn how to prioritize, organize and delegate. From Med-Surg I transferred to the cardiac unit. It was a new challenge and truth be told, one I never felt all that comfortable with. You must be able to think on your toes and act quickly, no second guessing yourself. Critical care is no place for a person who lacks confidence. I worked on the Intermediate Care (Cardiac) Unit for over a year, but eventually found my way to a more suitable position on the Psychiatric unit at the same hospital.

The longer I work within a westernized healthcare system the more I dislike what I do. I don’t regret my decision to become a nurse. I am so grateful for the lifestyle it affords me and my family. I love offering caring and compassion to others. Despite my fears about bedside nursing, I actually consider myself to be quite adept at basic patient care and find it enjoyable to help others in need.

I have come to a professional crossroads. For several years now my attention has turned towards diet, nutrition, spirituality and physical fitness as a means to change myself and become a healthier person in all aspects of mind, body and soul. As I’ve shifted my diet from almost entirely packaged and processed to a mostly plant based diet, I devour information about nutrition. When I took up running I also began to explore the idea of fitness for mental health as well as for improved vitality and physical health. I have only recently tapped into the healing powers of yoga and meditation in my life. I love the idea of spreading wellness holistically to those that are ill rather than simply medicating the symptoms.

Having been overweight since I was a child and having struggled for as long as I can remember with weight loss I would also love to inspire other’s to embark on their own weight loss journeys through sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes. I want to teach others how to eat healthy on a budget, develop a lasting fitness routine within the constraints of a busy lifestyle, prepare home cooked meals with little or no experience in the kitchen and introduce them to the idea of alternative therapies that might work in conjunction with western medicine to more effectively manage disease.

I get really excited whenever anyone wants to discuss nutrition with me. I get almost giddy if someone wants to talk running and fitness. I am all ears when I learn that someone uses alternative therapies along with western medicine. I truly want to be there for others struggling with weight loss because I’ve been there too. I want to inspire, encourage and motivate them to move forward.

I don’t know exactly what my purpose is, but I know that I’m not doing exactly what I’m meant to do. I’m not sure how to get to the place where I will finally be able to pursue my dreams. I know that I need to work on my own self-confidence. I also feel that I need to realize an end to my own weight loss journey before I can help others. Something has been holding me back, but I hope to be able to soon let go of my fears and move closer to finding my purpose.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Monson Half Marathon Recap Finally

In the fall of 2011 I fell down the stairs in my house and broke a rib. I just re-read the post I wrote about it and I said that the doctor gave me order not to run for one week. I’m pretty sure I was delusional when I wrote that because I am certain he said 6-8 weeks. I was in the midst of training for my first marathon at the time so I’m sure there was no way I wanted to believe that I couldn’t run for that long. As it turned out, thanks to lots of rest, a mix of homeopathic remedies and Ibuprofen I was comfortably back in action after about 3 weeks. One of my first double digit runs after the injury was the Monson Memorial Classic half marathon. The idea was to enjoy a change of scenery and have fun with the long run. I was not looking for a PR or any special time. To date it remains my slowest half marathon. I finished in 2:22:57 (10:55 pace).

This fall in my attempt to complete at least one race a month I needed to find a race for November. The Monson Memorial Classic was once again a last minute decision. It was held on November 10, 2013 and again fell on a day that I worked the night before. I coordinated with my friend who lives on the race route and since she was going to be home Carlos could hang out at her house and play with her son who is the same age.

Quick side story… My friend who lives in Monson is my best friend from childhood. We grew up across the street from each other. She is a couple of years older than me, but we have maintained a close friendship since we were kids. We used to talk about moving to California, going to college there and then we planned to have children around the same time so they could be friends too! However, she got married when she was 25 and had three boys before I even got married so we never imagined we would have children the same age. I love her kids. They are awesome boys and I  have always thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. I called Missy the day after I discovered I was pregnant to tell her. Of course she was thrilled for me. She called me the next day to let me know she was also pregnant, but didn’t want to tell me the day before because she didn’t want to steal my thunder. I was so excited to know we were going to have children at the same time. Sadly she miscarried a month later. Fate works in mysterious ways though and she became pregnant again months later. Her 4th boy arrived 3 and a half months after Carlos was born. When those boys get together they are best buds and have so much fun together just as their moms did.

Monson Memorial Classic, pre-race photo with my Bug
Monson Memorial Classic, pre-race photo with my Bug

OK back to the race. So with little fanfare my friend dropped me off at the starting area of the race so I could register at the last minute. I hung out by myself feeling a little self-conscious and rather indifferent about running a half marathon. At that point I was tentatively training for the 50K race I did in December. I had actually run 5 miles right after work that same morning. I remember feeling great during that run. I just looked back at Map My Run for the workout and I ran 5.05 miles in 47:28 which is a great pace for me. So the half marathon was really meant to make up the rest of an 18 mile run I had on my training plan.

The weather was cool and a bit overcast, but perfect for running. The race started with little fanfare and we were off. This race is notorious for its hills. You climb slowly here and there for much of the first 8 miles. It’s a challenging course with few spectators and not a great deal of scenery to enjoy. I fell into a comfortable pace, my breathing was calm and I actually felt great once I got going. Then it began to rain rather unexpectedly. It wasn’t heavy rain and it did little to disturb my groove.

I’m not sure I can explain what happened during this race, but I was on fire. My legs felt amazing. My pace was steady. I powered up every single hill without backing down. I had absolutely no idea what my time was at all throughout the race. The last couple of miles were brutal as the rain picked up and the temperature grew colder. Although there is a nice downhill stretch towards the end there is also another big hill to contend with.

As I was entering the home stretch in the last mile a woman passed me pushing a wheelchair. I read her shirt and knew immediately she was a member of Team Hoyt. Team Hoyt is the organization inspired by the father and son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick Hoyt has pushed his son Rick, who is in a wheelchair, in over 1000 races including the Boston Marathon multiple times. This woman was pushing a little girl who was older and larger than Carlos. My eyes welled up with tears and I felt a surge of energy as I saw the finish line ahead. I had no desire to “beat” this woman, but suddenly I needed to finish my race strong. If she could run 13 miles pushing this beautiful child then surely I could keep up my momentum all the way to the finish.

I didn’t even see the time as I crossed. I kept my eye on the woman and the little girl. As I cleared the finish chute I went to her and with tears in my eyes I congratulated her and the girl. It was her daughter she said as her eyes also filled with tears. We spoke briefly and she told me that she runs with Team Hoyt to raise money and awareness for others with disabilities. She was around my age and told me that only a couple of years prior she was overweight and inactive. I was in awe of how fit she was now. She had to turn her attention to someone greeting her, but her husband immediately introduced himself. He was beaming with pride and said that both he and his wife had undergone a huge transformation over the past year. I am constantly inspired when I run races, but this was an exceptionally moving encounter.

It was hours before I would learn my time. Honestly it wasn’t a focal point of this race as it had been with other races last year. For me it was just my “November” race. Well it also turned out to be my 2013 half marathon PR. Prior to this race my official half marathon PR of 2:03:52 was achieved at the Plattsburgh Half Marathon in April (I just re-read my race recap of that race and I now have tears running down my face #iamagoof!). My new half marathon PR set at the 2013 Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon is 2:02:22!!

Funny story about the race results. When I finally got the email announcing they were online I checked them out right away. I was nowhere to be found. However, I knew the woman’s name from Team Hoyt and there was a mysterious “Unknown” a few people below her time with a time of 2:02:22 which I suspected might be me. The age was correct, but the Unknown was a male. I sent an email through the race website and politely explained that I thought it might me my time. Although I felt kind of silly, I asked if there was any way to determine whose time it was because if it was my time it was a hard earned PR for me. I also asked if it was my time could they please change the sex to female. I know it’s silly, but for some reason I get a charge out of pulling up the growing list of my race results on Athlinks and I wanted this race to get listed there as well. I was contacted by a very understanding race director confirming that it was indeed my time.

What a year in running for me!! Truly incredible! If you had told me a few years ago that this running thing would become such a huge part of my life I would have rolled my eyes and snidely told you “I don’t think so.” Running isn’t everyone’s thing and that’s really ok, but get out there and move even if it’s only a little bit. The more you move, I guarantee you, the more amazing you will feel.

Fast Times 2013

Happy New Year! Where does the time go? I had high hopes and obviously grandiose expectations for an end of the year wrap up post, a year of races post, recaps of two late fall races and another Skin Deep post. The posts are all written…in my head. If only there was a way to synch my mind with my computer I would be a prolific blogger.

I love this blogging thing and wish I could devote more time to honing my writing and photography skills. I love the therapeutic aspect of writing my thoughts and feelings. It’s been beneficial simply to get it out, but even more helpful to hear feedback from others who graciously take the time to comment here.

I have felt very welcomed by the community of bloggers I have joined. I am reading even if you don’t see a comment from me. Technical issues took up a great deal of time in the last few months. For some reason my phone does not allow me to comment on certain blogs. I enjoy tech troubleshooting so it annoys me that I can’t figure out the problem. My 2008 MacBook has given me a run for my money this year. After countless trips to the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store I installed new RAM and a new hard drive on my own. Prior to these interventions the computer ran so slowly it was impossible to do anything without being locked out by the swirling ball of frustration. It’s a running much better now thankfully so maybe I can get blog posts done more frequently.

From November through the New Year life rolled along at breakneck speed. Here are some highlights:

  • I am now the proud wearer of Invisalign braces! Long story short although I had braces at the very early age of 10 my bottom teeth have turned inward and I need to straighten them so I can finish an unresolved issue on my top teeth. I don’t believe they are invisible and though I am grateful to have the good fortune to fix this issue they are an uncomfortable nuisance.
  • I ran the Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon (cute pics of Carlos if you click the link!) again in November. I ran it for the first time in 2011 less than two months after breaking a rib during my training for the Disney Marathon. It was my slowest half marathon time. This time I ran an unbelievable race and enjoyed a truly unexpected PR. I will eventually write about it because it’s a race I would like to remember.
  • My husband, son and I ran the Northampton Hot Chocolate 5K in early December. I first ran this race in 2010. This time Orlando and Carlos ran together with my friend Mary’s daughter. Carlos did amazing. He ran the entire race and finished in just over 32 minutes. I stayed back with Mary who hasn’t run in years and suffers from tremendous knee pain at times. This was an interesting experience for me and one I would really like to elaborate on in a future post.
  • I helped run the Secret Santa Gift Shop at my son’s school which is a three day event where the kids get to shop for their families.
  • I adopted a whole foods plant based diet aka vegan after being vegetarian for three years.
  • Carlos and I enjoyed an impromptu two days in New York City with my sister. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked a bit of Central Park, saw Rockefeller Center, went to the Lego Store, the Apple Store and F.A.O. Schwartz.

  • Thanks to my sister I had the good fortune of dining at the organic vegan Candle Cafe in NYC. It was incredibly delicious.

  • My baby boy turned 7. I really wish time would slow down. Legos are all the rage in his life right now. Our guest room has been turned into Lego City.

    Legos have taken over my home!
    A new Lego truck
  • Christmas came and went with little fanfare. Orlando and I got iPads for each other. I got the mini and he got the new iPad Air.
  • I worked a lot of overtime in December. My husband got laid off on December 16th which always causes a bit of distress initially. Fortunately he started back at work the week after Christmas. This has been a very unpredictable year for him. I have been lucky to pick up overtime often, but more work means less blogging, reading and other nonessential “fun” activities.
  • Carlos got old school Battleship for Christmas and we have been having so much fun playing it together, such a great game!
  • We spent New Year’s Eve at my friend’s home in upstate New York. It was a fitting way to close the year. She is one of my dearest friends and I have been honored to be welcomed into her trusted circle of friends this year as she bravely battled breast cancer. This, in and of itself is challenging, but she did it while pregnant with her second child. She is a warrior! My friend and her husband now have a gorgeous baby girl who is healthy and so very happy. I couldn’t wait to hold her. She just sat there blissfully in my arms. As I watched my friend and her beautiful family my heart filled with so many emotions just thinking of all she has been through this year. It was an important reminder for me to not take the goodness of life for granted.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I ran a lot this year.  I shattered my fitness goals. I have taken up yoga pretty seriously and hope to continue to improve and grow in my practice.

Despite all of these milestones I have found myself in the throes of emotional eating on and off since October. Just as things improved the holidays triggered the behavior once again. I realize that my journey with weight, food issues and body image distortion are far from over. I have more tools now to cope with emotional eating so that I don’t incur a weight gain, but the fact that I’m still struggling with certain behaviors is frustrating and a bit frightening.

It’s a new year and as with the past 7 new years I intend to continue to grow, change and improve myself and my life. Having Carlos 7 years ago sparked a fire inside of me that has encouraged me to be the best person I can be. I can always be better. Improvement requires change. Change is difficult. It means facing fears, looking inside of yourself and digging up hidden truths, trying new things and most importantly it means failing.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

Bragging Rights Guest Post: Deb

Since embarking on this journey to lose weight, become physically fit and lead a healthy lifestyle I have received so much inspiration, support and motivation from blogs. I love the excitement and enthusiasm in the posts of bloggers who reach their goal weight, PR a race, lift a bigger weight or fit into a new size of jeans. I also appreciate the raw honesty of bloggers who share the challenges and obstacles they face along the way. The reader comments are typically full of encouragement, cheers and helpful advice. 

For me the blog has been a great space to share my love of running and how it is helping me to come to terms with my lifelong struggle with weight, poor body image and lack of confidence. Part of this process for me is learning to be proud of my accomplishments and ultimately to really love this new person I am becoming. We are so quick to put ourselves down. I am great at doing that, but I have difficulty accepting a compliment or singing my own praises. When I wrote the post Bragging Rights  it was also a call to anyone who wanted to share something awesome that they have accomplished.

Deb has recently celebrated a couple of big accomplishments. She graciously agreed to write a guest post. I’m so honored to share Deb’s inspiring story here.

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My name is Deb, and I am a runner.

A little over a year ago, I would have never believed it.  I was a depressed, 100 pound overweight semi-couch potato.  I say “semi” because, like Aimee, I am an RN who works night shift.  Any nurse will tell you, we get plenty of “exercise” running up and down the hallway for eight to sixteen hours at a time. But, all that “exercise” I had over the last 27 years didn’t prevent me from becoming morbidly obese.

I think we can all agree that it’s challenging enough to exercise and lose weight.  But, when you work nightshift, it’s like climbing Mount Everest.  Well, maybe not quite THAT hard.  But, I’m sure you can appreciate the obstacles.  When you’re chronically sleep deprived, unhealthy carbs are the stimulant of choice, and there is usually no shortage of them – chocolate kisses at the front desk, donuts in the staff lounge, and a multitude of sweet or salty options in the vending machines.  And, that’s just on a regular night.  During the holidays, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of cookies, cakes and brownies!  As for healthy eating habits, sitting down for a meal is not always possible, especially on a busy labor & delivery unit.  Donuts are great for eating on the run!  As for “real” exercise, when faced with the choice between a treadmill and a nap on the couch, the nap is pretty hard to resist.

But, “choice” is the operative word here, isn’t it?

Last year, I realized it was past time to start making better choices.  No more yo-yo dieting.  No more binge eating. No more mindless snacking.  No more excuses for not exercising.  I knew that if I continued on the same path I was on, I would dread my 50th birthday; I would never know the joy of slipping into a size 10 and loving what I see in the mirror; I would never let my husband see me naked again; I would never know the simple pleasure of walking uphill without getting out of breath; I may die of some chronic illness and never get to enjoy my future grandchildren.  When I looked at it that way, the choice became quite clear.

I’ve lost weight before, too many times to mention.  I’ve always fallen off the diet bandwagon and ran out of steam before ever reaching my weight loss and fitness goals.  But, THIS time, I decided to go public.  I confessed to my family, and all of my friends and coworkers, that I was embarrassed that I let myself become so overweight and out of shape; that I avoided having my picture taken, and didn’t attend family gatherings and other social outings because I was ashamed of my appearance; that I didn’t want to hide anymore because I missed them. I asked them to keep me accountable and I promised them that with their help, I would commit to taking better care of myself.

I received such an outpouring of love and support, that I cannot begin to express my gratitude. It made me finally realize I AM worthy.

More than anything, I’ve wanted to make my kids proud of me.  They’ve seen my weight go up and down over the years, and they’ve learned to accept my many attempts to “take better care of myself” with a big grain of salt.  One afternoon, my son and I were taking a walk in our hilly central PA neighborhood – me huffing and puffing and making the usual promise to get in better shape — when my son told me about the Couch-2-5K running program. I said, “I’m doing it!” Whether he believed me or not, I was determined that THIS time, I wasn’t going to let him down.

The first time I ran, I thought I was going to die! (I’m sure all of you beginner runners out there can relate.)  After a few false starts, a proper pair of running shoes, and a YouTube video about Chi Running, I really began to hit my stride. 🙂

In order to keep myself motivated, I registered for my first running event, The Great Race 5K, in Pittsburgh, PA in September 2012. It was a life-changing experience.  There was so much energy and emotion! I stood toward the back of the pack – it’s was a HUGE crowd — and looked around in amazement at all the shapes and sizes of runners. Music was playing and people were stretching and warming up. I couldn’t believe I was there and I was actually going to run a 5K.

My only goal was to finish the race. After the National Anthem and the sound of the gun, we began to move toward the starting line. I was so overwhelmed with emotion; I could feel my eyes welling up with tears.  But then, as I fell into pace with the rest of the runners, I felt my confidence soar. Around mile two, the course begins a slow steady uphill climb. A nice gentleman talked me through it and when I reached the crest, it was downhill the rest of the way, and I knew I was going to make it. For the last half mile, I couldn’t help laughing with the sheer joy of it. I saw my son and husband in the crowd, cheering me on, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I never felt more proud of myself when I crossed that finish line. From that day on, I was completely hooked on running, and I couldn’t wait to do it again!

Despite all that great exercise, I noticed I wasn’t losing any weight.  My husband felt inspired by my 5K, and we decided to help each other reach our weight loss and fitness goals. We joined Weight Watchers together and we starting going to the gym on a regular basis. And, of course, I began training for a half-marathon!

Since then, I’ve lost that 100 pounds, I’ve become a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and I am proud to say, “I am a runner!”

I ran my first half marathon at the Rock & Roll Cleveland with a time of 2:43, and I’m hoping to PR at my next half marathon on November 2nd. I decided to borrow Aimee’s idea and try to run a race every month. I find I really like the discipline that being in training mode requires. It keeps me motivated. But, more importantly, it’s fun!

How do I know THIS time I’m going to keep the weight off?

Because I know if I slip up — and I probably will once in a while — I have the tools, and the support to get right back on track. I know how good it feels to make the right choices for my health and well-being.

Best of all, I am looking forward to celebrating my 50th birthday in two weeks, and I’ve never felt better. And, I don’t even mind having my picture taken anymore! 🙂

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(Me, my son Kevin, my step daughter Maggie, and my husband Larry, at the Rock & Roll Cleveland Half Marathon)

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Thank you so much for sharing Deb! Congratulations on the half marathon and achieving Lifetime membership with Weight Watchers. You look fabulous for almost 50!! 

Do you have anything you want to brag about?

Free flow

Gosh I’m feeling all unbalanced today. Hormones? Change of season? Stuff swirling around my mind? Busy pace of life lately?

I allowed one bratty entitled patient last night to burrow under my skin.

Feeling really self conscious at the gym today especially since I keep losing my balance doing single leg barbell dead lifts for the first time.

Not sure if I’m doing the work I’m meant to be doing.

I just want to run in the cool crisp air and hear the crunch of the leaves under my feet. Tomorrow I will run.

I’m positive one of my arms is longer than the other.

I swear the girl at the front desk of my gym dislikes me because I’ve been going for years and she is always snotty to me no matter how polite and friendly I am to her.

I keep feeling like I want to cry. Ok it’s hormones!

Christmas is already stressing me out. I just want to hide for the holidays.

All sorts of negative body image thoughts on my mind. Wondering why my legs are still so big.

The leaves are so beautiful today. I love the fall. It’s my favorite season and probably the only reason I live in New England.

I love my fall wreath this year.

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I vow not to watch the biggest loser this season. The show upsets me anyway but especially this season because that American Idol contestant Ruben Studdard is on the show. I believe he has the financial resources and the support to lose weight on his own. I don’t believe the show is the best role model for weight-loss but it still helps people to lose weight. Someone else could really benefit from being a contestant on the show.

I seem to be the only person in my family who can put the laundry away.

My husband called me on his lunch break and made me feel little bit better.

Tonight is my last night of a 7 night stretch at work. It was self-induced. However, I’m glad it’s almost over.

I’ve been journaling my food on paper recently. Today I went back to MyFitnessPal. Want to see what I eat? Come find me there at mozaim.

I’m struggling with afternoon snacking. Those calories add up so quickly. I think I will always have to work against emotional eating. Today I will fight the urge.

4:52 pm- At last it is time for bed before work. Aside from a small apple I didn’t have anything else to eat this afternoon.

This post was written entirely by the talk to text feature on my phone. I spoke a sentence here and there throughout the day as things popped into my mind.

Running up a mountain

I posted this on Facebook yesterday to one of my co-workers:

A while ago you suggested that I try running up Skinner Mountain to change up my running routine. I did it! I’m pretty sure I won’t be as excited tomorrow when I can’t sit down. — at J. A. Skinner State Park.

I totally threw my arms in the air, a la Rocky, when I reached the top. I may have even thrown a little fist pump out there. No one was watching, but frankly I don’t think I would have cared if there was a crowd of people.

I’m really bored with my typical running routes. The weather has been weird and cold even when the forecast calls for a sunny day in the 50s. I feel like I’ve worn out my welcome at the gym and although the treadmill and I have grown to tolerate each other I am so tired of looking at the same walls, same people, same TV screens and same digital display of the treadmill. So yesterday I decided to shake things up a bit. Work has been particularly trying lately thanks to one particular patient. I work on a locked psych unit so it takes me A LOT to say that my patience is being tried at work. I needed to release some tension so I made up my mind to run the mountain and I refused to think of anything else until I made it to the top.

I got out of my car, stretched out a bit and took off. I’m not quite ready for steep trail running so I played it safe and ran the paved road that circles the mountain up to the summit. Now we’re not talking the Rockies people. This is the western most peak in the Holyoke Range which is also part of the 100 mile Metacomet trail system. The mountain itself is actually called Mount Holyoke which is home to J.A. Skinner State Park. I have also heard it referred to as Skinner Mountain. It rises 935 feet which is roughly three quarters of a mile, but in taking the road my total distance up was 1.75 miles. I ran every bit of the way up without stopping. I pushed hard, my breathing was heavy, but my legs powered on. The road curves and the hills come sharper and steeper as you near the summit.

Like I said, this is not Kilimanjaro, but wow what a great workout. My legs were on fire by the time I reached the top, but that good on fire feeling that makes you feel strong and alive. I cooled down a bit while strolling around the summit enjoying the view of the Connecticut River valley.

My legs are definitely feeling it today, but again in a good way. I can still sit and even felt great during some speed training this morning. I can’t wait to do it again though. There is another similar mountain I am hoping to try soon. I love when I find new ways to infuse more fun and variety into my workouts.

I also came away from this experience with a new appreciation for my legs. Biz wrote a post about loving her ass (if you don’t read Biz you should because her post titles alone will make you smile!) this morning and she asked her readers to comment on which part of their body they are going to embrace today. I haven’t commented yet, but my answer is my legs. For most of my life I have hated my legs. I have thought really mean things about them. I have looked at them with disgust. I have cursed them and cried about them. Despite the weight I have lost, my legs are still large. They are not as large anymore. I can even admit that my hips have slimmed down a bit. Remember my body is a classic Anjou pear shape, small on top and very voluptuous on the bottom with the largest area being the butt, hips and thighs. Oh how I’ve loathed my lower half for so long.

Like Biz, my husband has always loved me and my body no matter what size. He is quite pleased with how I’m beginning to feel about my body though he doesn’t understand my feelings about my legs, bootie and hips. He quite likes them. After running that mountain yesterday I saw my legs in a new light. I appreciate more about them the more I accomplish through my fitness endeavors, but yesterday I was thankful for them. They are strong and powerful. They do not let me down. They have helped me move faster and achieve goals I never even knew I had. So today I am embracing my legs.

While Biz embraces her ass and I embrace my legs what body part will you be embracing today? (Biz I hope it’s ok if I stole your question?!)

Unapologetic

I eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. My meals are vibrant in color and nutrition. I recently eliminated caffeine, processed foods, added sugar, dairy and gluten from my diet for a three week cleanse. It was not a colon cleanse. I did eat a fulfilling plant based diet. I won’t get into the details, but suffice it to say the initial days were challenging. However, what followed was a feeling of lightness and clarity in both body and mind.

I slowly added things back into my diet though I have decided to remain dairy and caffeine free. Processed and packaged foods are very limited in my home anyway, but I will continue to monitor for added sugar and added preservatives in my food. I don’t eat bread regularly nor do I seem to identify with a gluten allergy so I’m not going to be overly vigilant about gluten right now.

I feel fantastic. My sugar cravings have nearly disappeared save for hormonal times of the month. I am more energetic throughout my overnight shift despite the lack of caffeine. My husband keeps complimenting my skin. My hair feels softer and is easier to manage. My workouts have been very productive. I’m tackling organizational projects around the house, slowly but surely.

Here’s the thing…I love the way I am eating these days. I’ve come a long way from the girl who didn’t eat vegetables until age 25. However, I am not immune to the occasional craving and desire for something other than a salad. Today I was hungry. Nothing was bothering me. Nothing was on my mind. I feel fine. I just had a taste for something different. Is it a coincidence that I am mid-cycle? I’m not sure, but I will keep an eye on it next month to see if there is a trend. TMI? Sorry.

I made banana muffins with dark chocolate chips and I helped myself to some extra chocolate chips along the way. I’m not sure how many I ate, but there are still some left in the bag. – I’m not sorry.

I prepared a gorgeous salad for a dinner with friends tonight. To go with it I made a Tahini Dill dressing and I helped myself to a taste or two or five. – I’m not sorry.

I ate a banana muffin warm from the oven. The chocolate chips were melty. The muffin was delicious. – I’m not sorry.

Later I shared an apple with Carlos only I had mine with some peanut butter. – I’m really not sorry.

I didn’t eat a healthy nutritious lunch today because I enjoyed the above indulgences. – I’m not sorry.

We had dinner with friends tonight. We haven’t seen each other in ages. There was lots of chatter and laughter. So nice to reconnect. I brought the salad and a quinoa dish to share. They served salmon, potatoes and rice. I enjoyed my dinner and ate until I felt satisfied. For dessert I enjoyed a clementine and grapes. – I’m most definitely not sorry.

Other than writing it out here I didn’t journal my food or count calories. Oh and I didn’t measure or weigh anything either. – I’m not sorry.

I’ve been on a diet for most of my life. I’ve both restricted and binged at different times. I’ve made significant changes over the last few years that have helped me lose weight and keep it off. These changes have become my lifestyle. They are not fleeting fads that I try for a while only to toss them to the wayside when a new diet trend comes on the scene. I do realize that I’ve been a bit strict lately with the cleanse and beyond in an effort to break through a 6 month plateau, but today I eased up on myself guilt free.

You see I didn’t fall off the proverbial wagon. This is not day one of a downward spiral back to obesity. Tomorrow I return to my healthy habits, food journaling and portion control. I was conscious of my actions today. I did not sabotage my weight loss efforts or my health. Today I took care of myself in a way that at one time would have seemed almost naughty and would have been followed up with self-inflicted punishment in the form of negative self-talk, extreme measures such as fasting which never lasted more than a day, excess exercise and new diet rules.

How do I know for sure that tomorrow won’t be repeat of today? Because I have learned to trust myself.

I don’t usually share recipes here, but this is a tried and true recipe. This is a banana muffin I have been using for a long time now; so long I can’t remember where it comes from, but I’ve adapted it along the way to accommodate my dietary changes. It’s a super easy recipe and really flexible with whatever you might have on hand. I hope you try these muffins some time. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Unapologetic Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar (any kind)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or other flour – today I used spelt flour and they turned out really light and fluffy)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk (or nondairy milk – I use almond milk)
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed (around 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins and/or nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.

2. Measure sugar, baking soda, salt and flour into a bowl. Stir well to combine ingredients.

3. Add oil, milk, mashed bananas and vanilla; mix just until flour is moistened.

4. Fold in raisins.

5. Use a non-stick muffin pan, or muffin papers. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan right away.

Makes 6 large or 12 small muffins. One muffin per serving.

Enjoy!