Sorry it’s been two weeks since my last blog post. I still need to post pics of the curtain I got for my guest room, but that sounds really boring right now (even though it’s fabulous) so I want to talk about something else. Like my journey from being the ultimate sloth, to running about 8 miles a week.
First off, I want this:
Foodzie is an amazing site. Buy me something from there next time you need to get me a gift. Now that I have you all thinking about complex carbs, let’s talk about health and nutrition. This is my story so take or leave what you want from it:
After I got married, life became a smörgåsbord of food adventure. Three things no one tells you when you get married:
1. Everything becomes a special occasion. From going to the grocery store to picking out a shrub – it’s all fun because you now live with the person you tolerate best in the whole world.
2. Because everything is fun, if you’re like me, fun is always synonymous with food. Let’s do every activity with food, after food or before we eat more food. Yay! Except let’s move less because moving isn’t fun and certainly makes eating more difficult.
3. Because you married the most awesome person on the planet who likewise thinks YOU’RE the most awesome person on the planet, you let yourself go. You become fat at the same time as your spouse and together you live in a blissful state of unaware. Unaware that you’re swelling before each other’s eyes. Because in each other’s eyes, you are perfect. (and trust me, later on, when you lose the weight you gained, you’ll look back in horror at the pics of yourself during the “food ages” not remembering even a little bit, that either of you looked that way) Which is sweet, really. I mean, there was unconditional, non-judgmental acceptance the whole time! Good and bad, in a way. But mostly good. I would rather have this any day than live with someone who wouldn’t love me as much if I didn’t look a certain way.
These three facts are hard to reverse. Because they’re all really positive! And then one day, I woke up. Correction: I couldn’t go to sleep. Because my heart was racing. I lay there in bed one night, heart racing, feeling hot and flushed, knowing that I might have another dream where I’m suffocating (sleep apnea, most likely) and thought, “what am I doing to myself?!” I’m only 28 and couldn’t fathom the next phase of my life (children?) being in this physical condition.
I grew up doing the same thing thousands of people do. Dieting to get a certain result, quitting the diet because I was “done” losing weight, then gaining it back. Exercise was only a punishment for being fat. It wasn’t a daily habit. “Eating like a bird” was only what namby pamby girls did who didn’t like food in the first place. And I like food! I’d always try to do some fad diet so that I could get the weight off as soon as possible, so that I could go back to eating like a fat person.
Makes a lot of sense, huh? I was just one of a million people who just had no idea why I couldn’t keep on top of my weight.
And then I realized that I was an adult, having a 15 year-long temper tantrum. I wanted what I wanted, and as much as I wanted and I didn’t want to do an OUNCE of work, yet, I wanted to look awesome. Doesn’t work that way, sweet cheeks. One morning in May, my dear friend, Shannon, posted a status update that she had started the Couch to 5k program. Without thinking, I typed, “I’ll join you tomorrow” and then quickly thought, “WHAT DID I DO?!” I had no idea why I typed those words. No. I didn’t want to run. No, I didn’t want to run for 3.1 miles someday. I hadn’t honestly moved in about 5 years. But yes, I did want to live and I felt that at the rate I was going, I might not exactly have the longest life. So I joined her. And it was hard.
And that’s the thing – running is hard. In my opinion, anyone who says, “I hate to run” or “I’m a terrible runner” are no different than people who run all the time. No one LOVES to run. They grow to like it, enjoy it, but never love. (correct me if I’m wrong, oh lovers of running) Because running pushes you outside your comfort zone quicker than any other exercise I’ve ever done. It hurts your legs, it hurts your lungs, it’s hard on your knees, it gives you cramps, it makes you SWEAT, you get bit by mosquitoes, you feel disgusting, and you occasionally have to run next to anorexic sorority girls. I talked to an awesome girl this weekend who does half-Iron Man competitions and marathons and she said, “The first 10-15 minutes of running are the hardest. Then you get into a stride where your body feels good doing what it’s doing.”
The first 10-15 min? That’s about 9-14 minutes more than I would ever try to run before deeming it “impossible” or “worse than going to the lady-doc.”
So I joined up with Shannon on Week 1, Day 2. And to say it was difficult for me would be putting it lightly. That would be like saying, “Lubbock is breezy in April” I feared that I would never take in a deep breath again. Week 2 was worse. I started having shin splints, my feet began to go numb and we were only doing 90 second runs intermingled with 2 minute walks. But we did it. Each day we completed, we’d look at each other, eyes wide and say, “I can’t believe we did it. Can you even freakin’ believe we did that just now?” (we said that every week until we finished the 9 week program) Because keep in mind – I was, at the time we started the program, about 80lbs overweight. For those of you who can’t conceive of this, go grab the nearest 8 year old and let him hang on to your waist as you try to run for one minute. I like to point this out to people because it basically takes away all their excuses for getting out there and trying. You’re welcome. 🙂
(the man shoes I got for running. They are great – Brooks brand – helped with the numbness in my feet)
Each week of the program gets you running longer and walking less. It was incredibly effective for me because my brain would give out at LEAST 5-10 min before the workout was over. Here’s a fact: Your brain will ALWAYS stop before your body really needs to. During weeks 5 – 9, I would have to do body checks every 5 min or so. I’d ask myself, “Are your legs ok? Are your lungs ok? Are your feet good? Yes to all? Then KEEP GOING” My brain had never asked my body to do something it didn’t want to do before. And if it did, my body was always meaner and yelled louder. The magical part is that I got better at running. I don’t know why I expected to be the exception to the rule, but I was seriously shocked when going from an 8 min run to a 20 min run didn’t kill me. In fact, I wasn’t too shabby at it. Occasionally my feet would go numb, but they were getting better. The best part was when my lungs caught up and I wasn’t even winded when I’d finish a 20 min run.
For me, diet was imperative. I began eating really simply during the week – lean proteins, lots of vegetables, fruits and very few carbs (no bread, potatoes, pasta, sugar.) Carbs I do have are yogurt, beans and the sugar from fruit. We never eat after 7p.m. on week days and drink only water. When I eat and drink this way, by Friday, my run is always 100% better than it was on Monday. I’m convinced that the extra sodium from carbonated drinks, fast food, processed food, really weighs your joints down with excess water retention. Not to mention it’s hell on your body to digest. I know this because on weekends, we let ourselves cheat (essential for mental health to have a cupcake or a cheeseburger every once in a while) and that’s why on Monday, I almost always have what I now call a “food hangover.”
But it’s a gradual thing. I’m DONE with diets. I wholeheartedly plan to eat this way for the rest of my life. It’s so maintainable. Because I don’t ever have to completely abstain from a food group for the rest of my life. I don’t have to feel guilty when I eat a piece of wedding cake at the weddings I work. I don’t have to regret enjoying a cookout or a holiday. Guilt will always drive you to rebel. It’s too much to maintain the perfect diet, the perfect exercise plan, etc. Just live your life, eat simply, feast on the weekends with your friends and get involved in something that keeps you moving.
Where I am now:
I’ve lost 40lbs since really trying at the end of March. That’s pretty gradual, about 1-2lbs a week. I’d gain on the weekends and lose some during the week, but remember – 2lbs a week is over 100lbs in a year! I want to lose 40 more and some days it’s really discouraging, and some days it’s great. But I stay honest, I weigh myself every day (that could be a blog in and of itself) so I know if I gained over the weekend “cheat days” and can work to do better in the week to come.
I run 30 min, every other day. Which is now about 2.2 miles in 30 min – hoping, as always, to get better and by our first official 5k in October, be able to run 3 miles in 30 min. I do weight training on the days in between. That’s right – I work out 6 days a week. And guess what – it feels normal now.
There are entire topics within this blog post that I could write about and if you’d like me to expound on any of them, let me know in the comments section. I just wanted to write down a little piece of my journey and share it with anyone who may find it interesting.
And now I’ll leave you with a favorite scene, a favorite quote, from one of the greatest shows ever on TV:
That’s right, Bob Kelso – you tell ’em (and by them, I mean me) 🙂