The Number Means Nothing

scale

During stressful times, like a break-up, some people lose weight.  Not me.  I gain.

In 2007 after my ex-douchebag-boyfriend got another girl pregnant behind my back, I fell into a spiral of drinking way too much, smoking way too much and working out not at all.  Ultimately, it was this break-up that was the catalyst for getting into running and triathlon.  It had been a few years since I had been to the gym; my work-outs consisted mostly of out-drinking my friends and eating as much as I wanted.  I was always athletic and had a high metabolism so even though I ate, drank and didn’t work out, I also rarely gained weight.  Until this time.  During the course of my unhealthy relationship and the subsequent break-up, I had put on quite a few pounds.

Fast forward to last year.

I once again put on weight during the over-the-top-drawn-out-for-too-long-dramatic breakup with R2.  The difference between 2007 and 2012 is that although I had let myself go between the broken foot and broken heart, was that I luckily had not lost all my fitness.  Oddly enough, when I decided to get my butt back in gear this past December, I weighed the same amount as I did when I started my journey in 2007.   The same exact weight.

compare

                                                                                           2007                                                                      2012

Although I hate both of these photos, I posted so you can see how in both of these photos that I am heavier, but it is also noticeable that even just looking at my face, that I look fitter in 2012.  The scale read the same number but you can easily see how different I looked.  And that is just judging on my face.  (Trust me, it was hard enough to post these photos…no full body shots!)

Now, I am going to post a photo of me currently.  I have been working my tail off since December to get back in shape.  I have been on a nutrition plan and in addition to running and swimming, I have been taking barre and ballet classes.  I knew that I wanted to lose weight and get fit before Mexico, so I really buckled down.

thin

In this photo, taken only a few weeks ago, I am only six pounds less than in both of those photos above.

All my hard work and I have lost only six pounds.  But look at the difference in my face. (I really tried to pick three photos with the same head tilt.)  I am clearly more fit in this current photo.  And that is great, but the biggest difference of all?  In the two photos above,  I was not happy.  In the recent photo, I am.   That is a happy girl.  I am two sizes smaller than 2007 and a size smaller than just 3 months ago.  So while the number on the scale doesn’t reflect necessarily where I want to be weight wise, I know the number doesn’t matter.  When I look in the mirror, I see muscle.  I see toned abs.  I see a body that is being worked hard for.  I see confidence.  I see all the things a scale cannot show me.

scale

More important than all the superficial aspects, is that the scale does not measure my health.  The number tells me little to nothing about what is going on with my relationship with food or my digestive health.  The scale is also no indication of my recovery from activity, my stress level or my sleeping patterns.  If I don’t get enough sleep, it is not reflected on the scale but rather, I know by the way I feel.  These are the factors that impact my health far more directly than my body weight.   Individual weight is personalized and unique.  There is not a one sized fits all number that people should weigh.

With all that said, I will admit, I still weigh myself.  Currently, once a week and only on my own scale.  I do not weigh myself on any other scale, ever.  At the doctor, I get weighed backward.  By weighing only on my own scale, I do not have to question or obsess.  My scale is consistent to what I know my weight to be.  And sometimes, the number does frustrate me.  I am still a work in progress.  There will be confident days and not confident days.  Of course, there will be days I look at myself and say “you go girl!” and days where I think “what am I doing wrong?” but it will be based on how I feel when I look in the mirror, not based on how I feel when I step on the scale.  I will not let the number on the scale determine whether I have a good day or  bad day.  I will continue to weigh myself as a way to monitor my weight in general.  Not as a way to determine my worth.

Do you weigh yourself? 

Do you hyper-focus on the number or are you able to see past it?

Checking In- It’s Almost Spring!

I know February is the shortest month, but to me, it always feels so long!  Sometimes I think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  By the end of February, I am just at my wits end with the cold and the dark.  I need more sun!  I did just notice this week that is has been light out by the time I get to work (6am) and it is still light out when I get home (4pm) which has been a huge boost.  Even the smallest amount of natural Vitamin D makes me happy!

Running- I finally ran outside this past weekend 🙂  It was amazing.  Even if it was cold and windy, it was still awesome.  I am so tired of the dreadmill!  I plan to run outside this weekend as well, although the weather is going to be a bit colder.  I am pretty excited that I have less than two months until my first half of the year.  More excited that I am going to be super prepared for running than I was this past November!

Ballet/Barre– Last night was the first class I missed since starting.  My legs were a little sore from my Sunday run, mostly from the terrain change I think, and I just didn’t want to push it.  Barre class continues to kick my ass in the best possible way.  I really think this is my favorite work out.  I am so excited to be able to go extra over spring break!

Nutrition- I have done really well.  I am very happy with how my nutrition is going.  The pounds aren’t dropping but the inches are and best of all, I feel better!

Sleep- My goal over spring break is to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

 

Other life events-

-I am on Spring Break from March 2-17.  Wooohooo!  I swear Spring Break is for adults.  It is so needed.  Ours is quite long because we have international students.  They travel home to 17 different countries and 6 different continents!  Having a full two weeks gives them real quality time to visit with their families.  Even though I will waitress during this time, and pick up extra shifts, it is still a chance to sleep in.  And for that, I am so grateful!

-In three week, at this very time, I will be landing in Mexico 🙂  One of my very best friends is getting married and having a simple ceremony on the beaches of the Riviera Maya!  Of course, this comes on the heels of my Spring Break, so I wasn’t able to take the full five nights.  This will be a whirlwind trip of only three nights. Nonetheless,  I am excited for the tropical weather and time with some of my good friends!

I’ll end with this, which I just absolutely loved:

beautifulrunner

Finding Time, Making Decisions & Staying Motivated

If there is one question I get asked more than any other, it is, “how do you have/find time for everything?”

notime

The truth is, I don’t have time.  Honestly, I really don’t have the time. And I certainly don’t find time! (If you ever find a way to “find time” please let me know!) So what is my secret?  Sounds crazy, but like most of us that make health and fitness a part of our daily lives,  I make time.  (And I don’t even have kids! It amazes me how working moms/dads keep up with everything…but I know it really is just the same as me.  You make the time!)

So what does making time look like?  For me, it means sometimes having to give up the opportunity to go out with friends, watch a TV program I like or sleep in on a weekend morning.  I know what needs to be done and I do it.   That doesn’t leave me with much time, especially on the days/nights I work both jobs.  In fact, on those days/nights, I get up at 5am and work straight through (with exception of my commute) to anywhere between 9-11pm.  Since that leaves no time to work out and barely time to shower and sleep, I have to fit my workouts in on days and nights I don’t work.

Rest days?  I’m sorry…what are those?

I don’t think it would be possible for me to hold a schedule like I do if I didn’t want what I get out of it.  I want to be healthy and fit.  I want to look good in a bikini.  I want to get a PR on race day.  It doesn’t mean I love every work-out.  I just really like the results.  That is what makes it worth it.

Being dedicated to something takes motivation.  Motivating myself is not always easy.  In fact, it is rarely easy.  I know that the decisions I have to make every day.  I know these decisions will serve to assist or hinder my  long-term goals.  On days when I really don’t want to work-out, get to the gym or even get out of bed, I remind myself that it is so worth it when it is over.  I am faced with choices and challenges every day.  I am only accountable to myself.  I know the only person I am letting down if I skip a workout, is myself.  One of the ways I keep myself motivated from day-to-day is to have a schedule.  I know what days I have to work, which nights I take ballet and barre and what days I have to run.  For me, it helps to know what each day is going to bring.  I keep a schedule on my calendar at work and on my fridge at home.  More importantly for me, I think about my schedule for the next day each night before I go to bed.  This helps me both get ready mentally for what is ahead and serves as way to remember my goals on a nightly basis.

Here are some of my additional tips for motivating oneself:

  • Set small goals that lead towards bigger goals.  I find that if all I am focused on is the big goal, I get lost and lose patience.  One way I do this is by focusing on the day-to-day and week to week workouts.  I allow myself to get through one run before I think about the next run.  Same with my swims and most recently my barre and ballet classes.
  • I keep in mind that I train for reasons other than just the end result.  For me,  training also builds my confidence.   There is a direct relationship between how fit I am and how good I feel.  When I don’t want to workout, I remind myself of how good I feel when I am done.  When I am exercising on a regular basis, I don’t feel guilty about dessert with dinner or worry about the extra glass of wine.  When I don’t want to work out, I don’t allow myself to talk myself out of it.  Same with racing.  Even when I feel like I am not at my best or when I have anxiety over a race and I am questioning my ability.  I remember that if I’ve trained well, I’ll do well.  I know I can do the distance, so even on a bad day, it’s just a matter of doing nothing more than keeping myself moving forward for a given period of time.
  • I keep it fresh.  I do a variety of work-outs.  I run, use the elliptical, lift weights, swim, take spin classes, dance ballet and take barre classes.  I also do a variety of each workout.  I take different instructors for barre classes and spin classes.  I have my favorite instructors, but they all have something to offer and mixing it up keeps it fun.  While I prefer to free swim, I will also take in my fins or kick-board just for a change of pace in the pool.  I change locations for my runs and do different workouts.  Sometimes I run alone and sometimes with others.  Sometimes with music and sometimes not.  There are days I lift with heavier weights and do less reps and other days where I lift with lighter weights and do more reps.  Whatever it take to keep it from feeling boring.  Different is good!
  • I look in the mirror more than I look at the scale.  I won’t elaborate too much because I am working on a separate post that goes into more detail, but I will say that this was probably the smartest thing I have done when it comes to staying fit.  I force myself to look at myself.  While the number on the scale might not change, I know by the fit of my clothes and I can tell just by looking in the mirror that my body is changing for the better.
  • I just do it.  I don’t skip scheduled workouts (except in case of emergencies or if I am sick) and I put aside distractions.

What it ultimately comes down to is this:  I know I need to make better decisions more often than I make not-so-good ones.  (Skipping my barre class because of a bachelorette party the night before was perfectly acceptable to me.  Using being tired as an excuse to not work out on a regular basis is not acceptable.)  Making good decisions is what will lead to success.  I mean, it is simple.  We begin learning this lesson as babies.  Keep trying until you get it right.  Don’t quit.  Fight for what you want.  Work hard and see results.

I find that the more you put in the effort and hard work, the more easily you will choose wisely when it comes to making decisions.

6

How do you make time for you?  How do you motivate yourself?

Checking In & Staying Accountable

When I first started this blog (broken record- how many times have I started a post with this sentence?!?!) I did it as a record of my training and progress as I dove into the world of running and triathlon.  I have spent much of the last few months re-reading my old blog entries.  Mostly because I wanted to remember how awesome it was when I was blogging but also because I knew it would motivate me back into my training.  It was really fun to re-read all my race posts; it was especially great to see how far I have come over the years.  It definitely did the job of motivating me.  But you know what wasn’t fun- seeing how statistical I had become.  Holy shit, I kept track of ever step I took!  Or at least it seemed!  I did weekly reviews, months reviews, broke down my mileage for swimming AND biking AND running.  I really feel it is important to keep a training schedule and I still think it is important to keep track of my miles, but I also think I took it to a level of crazy before.  In planning how I was going to approach this year, I knew staying healthy and uninjured were at the top of the list.  That meant following a good nutrition plan, not pushing too hard and following the 10% rule like it is my job.  Obviously, this means I have to keep track of things as I go along.  But more than that, I need to stay accountable.  Which brings me back to the exact reason I started this blog.  As a record of my training and progress.  I don’t need to do specific re-caps.  But I do need to stay accountable with at least a monthly post of where I have been and where I am going.

So where was I in January?

Running- I ran consistently two times a week building a base throughout the beginning of the month.  Towards the end, I threw in a third min-run as I began to get into my half-marathon training schedule.  Right now, my “long” runs are still short and I am working on speed and consistency.  As the mileage builds, I will focus more on endurance.  My runs thus far have been good for the most part and I am pretty excited to see where this training cycle takes me.

Ballet– I am loving these classes.  I take one ballet class and week and one Barre class a week.  When I get  rare Monday or Friday night in, I do an extra one.  Ideally, I would be doing two of each a week, but unfortunately a schedule like mine isn’t very accommodating.  I am looking forward to Spring Break when I can pick up some more classes.  If you are looking for a new way to strength train or just a new activity, I high recommend a Barre class.  I cannot believe how much my body has changed in just six weeks.  My weight hasn’t dropped all that dramatically, but I see and feel such a difference!

Nutrition-  I have been using My Fitness Pal to track what I eat.  Accountability matters most here.  I don’t put the cookie in my mouth because I know I have to write it down.  I don’t have the second glass of wine (or even the first lately) because I don’t want to use my calories for it.  I am eating so much smarter this year because I know I have to own it every single day.  This isn’t new information; it is a n0-brainer being accountable for what we eat will result in eating better.  With that said, I am always amazed at how much I change when I practice this on a daily basis.

Sleep- I am pretty sure that as long as I work two jobs and have to get up at 5am for the first one, I will never get enough sleep. Maybe I can catch up on Spring Break?!?!?

Resolutions- I am trying.  In January I finally set up my guest bedroom so that was a huge check off my list.  I haven’t read a single book but I did pay off more debt.  I also continued my promise of only paying cash for everything.  If I don’t have it, I need to either pick up another waitressing shift, or not have it until I can better afford it.  The only purchases I put on my credit cards are online purchases.  The only other way I will use my credit card are for big purchases (new appliances coming soon and hopefully new living room set) and real emergencies.

Other life events-

-As you already know if you read my blog, my friend Jessica lost her battle with CF two weeks ago.  Sadly, last week, only a week after Jessica passed away, my friend Will lost his battle with lung cancer.  It has been an emotionally tough month for me, but I have been blessed overall and that is what I am focusing on right now.

-I am really excited that the Raven’s won the Superbowl.  Joe Flacco grew up a few towns over, went to school with my cousin and is married to a friend of our family.  I don’t follow Pro sports all that much (I love college sports) but I do cheer for the Ravens, so that was an exciting game 🙂

Do you track what you eat?  How much you exercise?

What do you focus on when you are going through a tough time?

Racing in 2013

Last year, my race schedule was anything but a schedule.  The few races I did were mostly last minute decisions and I bagged quite a few of them last minute.  That doesn’t mean this year was without its highlights!

-I was 5th in the swim at the Life is Good Tri!

-My relay team took first place overall at the Belmar Tri!

-I finished the Philadelphia Half-Marathon with little training and was NOT injured!

With everything that 2012 was, I am glad it is over.  2013 has started off quite nicely in the fitness field.

-As a kid, and a teenager, I always wanted to take dance.  I never did but in December, at age 31, I began taking ballet classes. I love it!  It is an adult class and NO we do NOT wear tu-tu’s!  I am also doing Barre Fit and it has been amazing for toning up and getting fit.  I see such a difference!  I go two or three times a week and it is great.  Not only is it whipping me into shape but it is really helping with my core, balance and flexibility as well.

-In addition to the ballet and barre classes, I have been hitting the gym two times a week, no matter what!  Between two jobs, that can be difficult, but I know I want to get back to a fitter and healthier me this year.  One of the additional motivations to stick to this schedule, is that in March I will be heading to Mexico for a friends wedding and I need to be in bikini shape three months earlier than I am used to!

-I have been base building for my April half-marathon.  Short but quality runs, building back up my endurance and getting my legs back into gear!  The real training schedule starts this week.  I am really looking forward to nicer weather so that I can complete all my runs outside and only have to worry about the gym when I want to swim.

-I am continuing to see my Sports PT every other week or so for ART and Graston.  I use the foam roller every night and use a LAX ball for trigger point a few times a week.  I thought the foam roller was the enemy but as it turns out, the LAX ball is the devil!  It is worth it, though.  My very biggest goal of all, is to stay injury free!

-I am done doing triathlon.  Yup.  Done.  You know what…I really gave it a good try; I really wanted to like riding a bike.  But I just hate it.  I did four years of triathlons.  And I enjoyed it and I was good at it.  Except the biking.  And I don’t even want to be good at it, because I don’t even like it!  You know what I do like?  Running and swimming.  Relay tri’s are still going to very much be a part of my life.  And I am determined to find more Splash and Dash races so that I can still compete in both sports I enjoy.

I feel like for the first time in 5 years, I am doing everything right.  Looking back, I feel like something was always off.  There was never a time where everything was on point.  This year is going to be different; at least I am giving it my all to be that way.  Sticking to a strict training plan, increasing my core and flexibility, keeping my nutrition plan together and continuing ART and Graston to keep from getting injured.

So what is on the agenda for 2013?

Rutgers Half-Marathon

Spartan Race

Atlantic City Half-Marathon

Philadelphia Half or Full Marathon  (I’ll be deciding this for sure after the RU half.)

I am still looking for a May 10-miler and I know there are a few tri’s I will be swimming for as part of a relay and there is a possible 15k in the fall.  And of course some local 5k’s that will be week or day of decisions.  I am excited to be training and I am looking forward to racing, but the last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am, in essence, starting over.  I don’t want to push too hard, or race too much or risk burn out or injury.

How is your 2013 shaping up?  Are you doing anything new this year?

Why I Ran Philly in 2012

I had signed up for the race in April, thinking it would be a good motivation for me to start running again.  That was a joke.  I was barely running.  Signing up for a race only meant I was barely running AND out $65.  But then summer rolled around and I had some more time on my hands, so every few days I would go for a walk.  Then a jog now and then.  And then eventually, I just started running again.  But it wasn’t far and it DEFINITELY wasn’t fast.  And it wasn’t consistent.  By August, I was supposed to run the Wildwood Half-Marathon, but had only been running about 8-10 miles a WEEK at that point.  So, I bagged that race.  While I was down the shore, lamenting on my inability to get my shit together and just friggen run, I had a major awakening.  Major.

[BACK STORY:

I have a friend Jessica who I have known since high school.  We had some classes together but we really weren’t close until our senior year when we roomed together on a trip to England.  Although we hadn’t gotten close until then, everyone knew Jessica.  Jess was the girl with Cystic Fibrosis.  She was the one too sick to come to school for days at a time.  She was the one so sick over break our junior year, she spent weeks at CHOP and the class took a bus trip to visit her.  She was the one in England who had a lot more to pack than just clothes.  I remember being legit stunned at how much medication she needed on a daily basis.  But man, Jessica lived life.  She definitely didn’t let CF hold her back.   (For those who don’t know, CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.)

After high school we stayed in touch if we saw each other but it wasn’t until Facebook that we really reconnected.  The best part about getting back in touch was that I found out she was going to be getting a double lung transplant.  And thank God too, because by the time of her transplant, Jessica was a very, very sick girl.  Simple tasks like getting out of bed were simply too much.  The surgery was successful and life completely changed for Jess.  Yeah for new lungs!  By the time our 10 year high school reunion rolled around, Jessica was two months post surgery and looking and feeling fabulous.  The transplant worked!  After the reunion, we definitely got closer.  We talked often, usually emailing back and forth since we lived in different states.  And then came the bad news.  This past Spring after only 2.5 years with her new lungs, Jessica began to experience rejection symptoms.  And the report was not good.  Rejection.  Double rejection.  You see, a lung transplant does not cure CF because the defective gene that causes the disease is in all of the cells in the body, not just in the lungs.  While a transplant does give a person with CF a new set of lungs, the rest of the cells in the body still have the CF and may already be damaged by the disease.  And for Jessica, it was not a slow moving decline.  By the end of summer, doctors determined she was too sick to undergo another transplant. There would be no new lungs.

There…would…be…no…new…lungs.  I don’t have to tell you what that means for Jessica.

END BACK STORY]

So here I am at the shore that hot day in August.  And it just hits me like a ton of bricks.  I have lungs that want to breathe and legs that can run and I better get with the damn program.  Because there are too many Jessica’s out there.  Too many people who would love to run and can’t.  It was time to woman up and run.  I ran the very next day.  And the next weekend.  And slowly, I got began to feel it again.  How it feels to feel good running!  The training was brutal…and not near what it should have been, but come hell or high water I was running that race for Jessica.  And by running for Jessica, that is exactly what I mean.  I started up a page to raise money for The Lung Transplant Foundation (Jessica’s choice) and began telling her story.  She was my reason for running.  I would run for her.

Before I knew it, it was November.  I was far under-trained, my nutrition plan was laughable and I was really unsure of how this race would unfold.  But, I was going to finish.  Fittingly, the night before the race was a Beef and Beer for Jessica, an event I was NOT going to miss.  So it meant a late night…I mean, I wasn’t trained anyway, right!  It was a great night and I got to spend time with Jessica and it was totally worth it.  Between my mom and I, we also won six baskets- BONUS 🙂  While the reason we were there permeated through the night, spirits were high and it was exactly what I needed the night before the race.

I don’t need  to go into a detailed race report.  I’ll just say this:  the first 8 miles, I was having the race of my life.  Then my joke of a nutrition plan started its backfire on me, GU decided it did not in fact get along with my intestinal tract and my stomach interfered with my amazing race.  The last 5.1 miles were a brutal mix of walking, stopping and using way too many portal-pottys.  But nothing was going to keep me from that finish line.  I cried a lot…it was physically painful and emotional.  I just knew I could not stop.  And, many minutes later than I would have liked, I crossed the finish line.  For Jessica.

The first thing I did was email her to let her know I finished!  And she emailed me back to say she was proud of me.  She was proud of me!  She fights for every breath.  I am simply in awe of her spirit, grace and inner fight.

I wish there was more I could do than run a race and raise $1,950 for her foundation of choice.  But all I can do is share her story.  Make people aware of the importance of supporting foundations that are often overlooked.  Lung transplantation is a relatively rare procedure and this area receives little research support from National Institutes of Health or any disease-specific research foundation.  Currently, the Lung Transplant Foundation is researching treatments for chronic lung rejection, but there is no cure.  There. Is. No. Cure.  Jessica is still fighting.  But there are more bad days than good.  And, I know what that means. You know what it means.  She knows what it means.

england1999- Trip to London.  Jess and I are next to each other, front right.

jessica

Jessica and I at our reunion.

jess2Sign my mom made and had through the race!

jess1Ran with this on my back the entire race!

philly1#8 done!

I won’t make this part long.  Here is the link to the page http://www.gofundme.com/1a3cig

I am trying to raise a total of $3,000 in her name to the Lung Transplant Foundation.  I can’t let myself stop just because the race is over.  The race is over, but her fight isn’t and neither is mine.