Saturday, January 26, 2013

Free for all Friday No. 3

Let's move on from the previous post shall we? Here we are 4 weeks into January and wouldn't you know it, another free for all Friday has occurred! What's really exciting about my free for all is that sometimes I don't even really feel like eating burgers and fries and deep dish pizza. Actually, most times I don't feel like eating that stuff which is weird and fantastic. But last night I treated The Colonel to dinner and a movie. I finished reading my book by 6:15 yesterday and because it was before 8 pm (my deadline) and since I have all weekend off I decided we'd go see Gangster Squad (which The Colonel has been DYING to see). But before the movie we went to a tried and true little spot called El Nopal. It is one of my favorite places and I always get nachos with refried beans. And on very special nights (like a free for all Friday) I treat myself to a 12oz strawberry daiquiri. The photos below are AFTER I "finished" my food. I'll warn you, it's pitiful. I used to be able to destroy a plate of nachos...actually I could destroy lots of plates of lots of things. And as far as a drink, especially one with whipped cream, I could beyond destroy that. I used to eat whipped cream by the can in my freshman dorm room. Anyhow, I think we can actually call this progress. Enjoy the photos and I'll be writing a paper about Reconstructing Beirut.

ImageNachos with Beans...didn't even make a dent

ImageDaiquiri with a lot of whipped cream

ImageHe may be a bit disappointed with my performance...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Sad Announcement

It is with a very heavy heart that I make an announcement. Because this is where I spend so much time recapping my races and weight loss struggles and successes, it seems that this is where the announcement needs to be made. I told The Colonel earlier this evening when I got home from school close to tears and I need to make it official before I change my mind.

I will not be doing an olympic triathlon this year.

Sounded much more serious than that, didn't it? Well all joking aside, it is serious to me. In my mind, I'm now a quitter. I'm a wimp. I'm giving up on my goals and soon will start giving up on all of them. This isn't the case of course but for now it's really hard for me to be rational. I am a goal setter and rarely has there ever been a goal I didn't *eventually* reach. So for me to seriously and actually "give up" is heartbreaking. I'm also abandoning my quest to lose 40 more pounds this year. It would be great if it happened, but I can't handle having that as a goal right now. For now, we'll focus on maintenance.

As you know, I started graduate school this month. What you may not know is that my background is not in anthropology and because of this, pursuing a masters degree in the field is really really difficult for me. I don't have any of the knowledge that comes with studying it during undergrad so it is extremely difficult for me to grasp concepts when the writer has made assumptions regarding what theories and scientists we already know. Long story short, I'm struggling. As of now I'm still working (though very part time) and so my typical day looks something like this:

  • Wake up and workout/study
  • Race home to shower, eat and get dressed
  • Go to work for a few hours
  • Eat and study/workout again
  • Go to class
  • Come home and eat and study/read until I fall asleep

This current schedule doesn't look like a lot but it's not giving me enough time to do all the things I need to do. I read at least 2 full books a week and am now getting into papers, presentations and teaching.

I started racing years ago because it was fun and you got a tshirt. I restarted racing because I needed a reason to be proud of myself. I needed something to be proud of. After college I felt like I had nothing. I had gotten a degree and completed the marathon and those had been my goals for the 4 previous years. Since then I've had a hard time finding purpose in my life. When I decided to do a triathlon and start racing again it gave me goals and things to be proud of. It was a way of telling myself that I was good for something. That I could do anything. And to give that up is devastating to me and my ego. But I've got to be able to work towards a greater goal again. My masters degree comes first and it just has to be that way.

An olympic tri doesn't sound like much. I had an Ironman at the pool today tell me it wasn't much and that it wasn't a big deal. But to me, even the small amount of time (relatively) that it requires to train is time I don't have to spare. Last week I learned to balance my readings while on my bike trainer and it was wonderful. I also used the elliptical and walked on the treadmill this week while reading and it was great. But if I'm going to seriously train for races, I'll need to do a lot more than an hour of walking. I can't afford the time away from my studying that I'm taking now with swimming and long runs. Regardless of how long or short the swim, I can't take my books with me. I can't read and run on a treadmill or I get dizzy and outside...well, duh. You can't run and read.

I still plan to race this year. I'm still doing the Disney Princess Half (in one month! eek!). I'm still doing the Triple Crown and the Derby Festival mini. But I will likely only race sprint tris and will "train" on a much smaller scale. I just simply can't load up my plate at this point and the last thing I want to do is have training become another thing I have to do. That's what happened with the marathon and I still haven't recovered.

I hope you all don't think less of me and I hope you'll still read *when I find time to write*. I hope you won't tell me how so and so has kids and is way busier than me and still manages to find the time. I hope you won't tell me I'm making excuses. Trust me, I'm already telling myself that. Please leave some positivity if you're feeling up to it, I could use all the help I can get right now!



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free for all Friday No. 2

We skipped our free for all last week which was disappointing. Lucky for you, we have a very special edition of Free for all Friday this week albeit without any food photos. Don't worry!

My dear friend Jen is having a baby girl in a mere 8 weeks and the other member of our threesome, Tiffany and I couldn't make her actual baby shower. But before you write us off as terrible friends, know that we created a surprise shower of sorts for her at Cheddar's. Tiffany and I sent texts back and forth leading up to figure out what we should do and what time and all. She and Jen live quite a ways away from me yet somehow still kind of in Louisville? So I came up with the clever ruse that I'd be up in her neck of the woods for a work event and wanted to meet up for dinner or something so I could drop off her gift since I couldn't make the shower. Work takes me towards that area of town quite often so it wasn't unusual. Jen was up for it and the plan was set.

I left work on Friday and after my afternoon acupuncture went straight to Target to add to my gift. I'd picked up a few things but after not being able to actually make the shower decided I needed to step up my game. Good Lord there was a lot of pink in my cart but I was pretty proud of my performance. I am hoping though that either no one else I know has a baby or that I get better at this because even with a registry I have no idea what I'm doing. If it didn't tell me what aisle to go to I'd still be in the store right now. After that I was off to pick up balloons. Those were much easier. The woman asked me the occasion, I told her, and BAM! 4 pink "It's a Girl!" baby themed balloons were ready to go. Even the weight they were tied to was baby themed. The woman helping me seemed far more skilled in this area than I was.

I only had to stop twice on the drive home to tie the balloons to some kind of door handle/seat lever/seat belt so that I could do menial tasks like change lanes. I got home in time to change and feed and walk the dog before heading out. Me and Tiffany were meeting a half hour early so we could hopefully get a table and have the balloons set up before Jen got there. Jen is an early bird so we had to be excessively early which ended up being a good thing since there was a wait. Jen sent a text saying she had called the restaurant and there was a wait but I told her Tiffany had gotten there early...another lie.

I'd like to think she was surprised when she got there. Her response was "Well this isn't embarrassing." Isn't she awesome? I'm not sure we could be friends if she'd started crying or something. But anyway, there were some creeps like the woman who asked who was pregnant (in a way that may have meant me and Tiffany are fat) and what she was having...despite the pink "It's a Girl!" balloons. People are real weird.

But all in all it was a really fun time. We talked about Evelyn (that's her baby's name...see? I listen!) some but not so much that I stabbed my hand repeatedly with a butter knife (she knows me well) and talked about all the things we normally talk about too. I'm really happy we were able to talk about the whole she's gonna be a mom thing but also Tiffany's hysterically awful date and my random training stories. I know when little Evelyn comes things will change but I'd like to think Jen having a baby is helping me to grow up. And she promised not to make me hold the baby...or baby sit...ever.

As far as the free for all, we started with chips and queso (which apparently pregnant people can't eat?). Then for dinner I ate the baked spasagna with marinara and garlic bread and unsweet tea. I only ate maybe a third of it and half the bread but it was good. After that I choked down a Gigi's cupcake so I could be festive. The amount of icing was obscene and I wasn't really in a cupcake mood but you know, when in Rome. All in all it was really fun. After losing 6 pounds from being sick, I really wouldn't mind putting a couple back on. Enjoy the pics!



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Lesson in Living Well

Guess I have some explaining to do huh? Well let me first say that I've have missed blogging desperately and moreover reading blogs. I've also missed all of you, my readers! Both of you! Just kidding ;) Anyway, let me explain...

2013 started off well enough with the Hangover Classic (is it too late to do a race report?) and some bike riding. It promptly took a sharp turn and in retrospect, it's really my fault. On the 7th I started graduate school. It was also the week of our black tie gala at work which guaranteed at LEAST a 50 hour work week. As of the 14th I started working very part time (15 hours per week...roughly) but before that it was nonstop. Graduate school (wouldn't you know it) starts before it really starts so I was already doing some readings in anticipation for a paper I had to write. It was a bad call. Also at some point during that week it was quite warm. Warm enough that my windows were open. In general, regardless of circumstances, after the first day or two of sleeping with my window open I get a sore throat. It's just my thing. So when I had one on Wednesday it was really no big deal. I continued to work a lot and stay up late reading. I also broke a Cardinal rule (at least to me). I stopped eating almost entirely. Stressed for the first time since undergrad (when I worked perhaps even more that I did this past week but for an extended period) I completely abandoned my healthy living habits that I've always preached have been what's kept me healthy. Eating often, eating fresh. I ate nothing except for a granola bar hear and some crackers there. The Colonel made a couple of dinners, one of which I rejected completely and nibbled at the others. But there wasn't a single piece of fruit, no vegetables, very little grains or pasta, no snacks, no peanut butter on waffles, nothing. By Saturday (the day of the gala) I was fully exhausted and feeling not so great. 15 work hours later I was finally heading home and feeling terrible but that's also what happens when you work nonstop for 15 hours so I paid it no mind. Sunday I woke up feeling roughed up as expected and luckily had a day off. I tucked myself in on the couch and worked. And watched football! I wrote my paper, read my books, outlined chapters and was essentially awesome all from my half reclined position on the couch. It was magical. Except that I was freezing, had a fever, a pounding headache, sore throat and persistent cough. Yesterday I didn't feel any better. I also got up in the middle of the night with a bathroom emergency. I never ever ever have intestinal issues. Yes I get the runner bum from time to time but I'm about as regular as the sun. So being up before 6 am in the bathroom instead of working out was foreign. No other details are needed about that experience. Today I actually felt a bit better but was having a lot more symptoms. Yesterday I just needed a break halfway through the day and then I sort of recovered enough to make it through class. But right after I was down for the count all night. This morning I was full on sore throat, runny nose, sinus pressure, coughing, congestion and general yuck. It's persisted all day. Because of that I took some mucinex (for what might be the first time in my life...seriously...) bought some tissues and went to school today. I've been drinking my teas but it's almost like it was too late. This evening, mere moments ago I had another bathroom issue. WTF right? I was attempting to eat some crackers because I thought my stomach gurgling was hungry. It was not.

There's a lesson here kids. And the lesson is living well. When you make the decision to live well, you have to do it at all times. You have to be able to eat and take care of yourself during stressful times; particularly during stressful times. I'm not sure what it is that's causing how I'm feeling right now. I think it's a combination. I'm back at school and haven't been in such a large public institution since undergrad really. The last time I was truly sick was in Dallas when I worked in a 36 floor downtown high rise building with literally thousands of employees, I was eating terribly, and (you guessed it) I was stressed. I didn't know if I was going to stay in Dallas or move back "home" and most importantly, I had no job. I was applying for jobs nonstop but not hearing much. There was a lot of post-grad turmoil. Since then even when I was working it was just work, no big deal. Not working and school and blah blah blah. This past week taught me that you can NOT take your health for granted. You can't take your body for granted. Maybe this is what it finally took for me to slow the fuck down and relax again. I haven't worked out in over 10 days because at first I was literally busy and soon after, kinda sick. I still haven't eaten. I'm afraid to. But I think I need to get some vegetable broth in my system. Maybe even homemade. My body isn't used to this level of stress. It isn't used to this lack of activity. It isn't used to the lack of food or the poor quality of those foods. Most of all, it isn't used to all of this medicine I've been pumping myself full of. Let this be a lesson to you all, when you choose to live well, it's living well for life. Not just when it's convenient or easy.

Tonight I'm not doing any more homework. I'm not doing anything but resting and blogging. This is exactly what my body needs and it quickly reminded me that it always wins even if it has to take what it wants.

Not sure when I'll be back, but let me know what you've been up to!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Free for all Friday

So I have adopted a *hopefully* new habit. It's called Free for all Friday and it includes getting a food pass for one meal on Friday. I used to be pretty good at eating right for pretty much every meal except for one a week but kind of got out of the habit and it's hurt my weight loss efforts a bit. Just like running where I can run "fast" (for me) for a set amount of time knowing I'll get a break for a minute after the hard effort, I can eat great all week knowing that I'll get that one magical fat filled meal on Friday night. Behold! My Free for all Friday dinner at Chili's:

ImageLoaded Cheese Fries (split 3 ways) - sans sour cream and bacon, ranch on the side

ImageVeggie Burger with Cheese and more French Fries...I love french fries

I barely made it out alive. And didn't finish it all but I definitely put in some serious time with this meal. And it was totally worth it. Not surprisingly, Free for all Friday is followed by Sufferfest Saturday (which may or may not include trainer rides with The Sufferfest). Sometimes Sufferfest Saturday will be a long run. Other times it'll be a hellish ride. Today, it was the latter. I am grossly undertrained on my bike so since there's a 24+ mile ride looming on race day and *hopefully* participation in the Old Kentucky Home Bike Tour this fall I decided to get my ass in gear. And whatever my ass did, it's sore now. My buddy Robbie V. was nice enough to stop by and race with me:

ImageCompliments of my CycleOps trainer :)

And here's the audience I had during the ride and afterwards while attempting to sit down with my sore butt, shredded abs from Autumn leading our ab session at the gym and salty sweat covered face:

ImageHappy Weekend Everybody!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How I Did It

If you ask me honestly, it's really hard for me to believe that I've lost any weight at all. I know that I have. I can see the number on the scale, the number on the tape measure and the space in my pants. I know that weight, fat and inches have all been lost. But for a lot of people we get stuck in what's called the "fat brain". I consciously know that I'm smaller but it's hard to look in the mirror and see all of my hard work. It's hard to say that I've lost weight. The words, "I look good" have yet to roll off my tongue and I kind of doubt they ever will. But it's when someone asks me that magical question that I suddenly realize how far I've come. When someone says, "How did you do it?" it's like I become another person. How did I do what? Oh, you mean lose nearly 40 pounds, 5 inches from my waist and 3 pant sizes? Yes, that's when I know I've been doing something right. So here it is, how I did it.

I'm unsure where to start so I guess I'll go back to the beginning. Most of you know my story and if so, just skim these next few sentences. In 2010 after graduating college I moved to Dallas for a grown up internship (which is a complete oxymoron). I got to wear high heels, work in a downtown high rise, met The Colonel and this tiny soon-to-be mama and perhaps most importantly, I ate. I ate pasta, pizza and cheese quesadillas from Taco Bueno, I raided our subsidized vending machine multiple times per day daily and hoarded Cheetos, Doritos, Grandma's Oatmeal Raisin cookies, Twix bars and cheese popcorn. I drank a lot of sugary tea. Oh, and I sat. I sat in a chair, at a desk all. day. long. For the first time in my life I had one job and nothing else. Which means I also had no motivation. In May 2010 I ran my first and last marathon at 143 pounds. By August 2010 I was roughly 160. I moved back to Louisville and without Taco Bueno and a vending machine steps away, things still didn't change. I got another desk job. By April 2011 I was close to if not over 180 pounds. That fall I was over 200 pounds and had all but stopped weighing myself. I don't have hard evidence but suspect I topped out around 220 before all was said and done. There were long days, weeks and months of depression which of course lead to more eating (funny how that works...) until finally I decided I was going to do something about it.

My first step was to do some workouts on Exercise TV On Demand. There was no way I was going out in public and working out. I was vain enough to believe everyone would notice me and laugh. If you are reading this and are afraid of that happening let me tell you something, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. I don't know anyone who is serious about their workout who gives two shits what someone else is doing or what they look like doing it, unless they're doing it well. My "fat brain" lets me believe I'm the biggest person everywhere I go. I'm always the fattest runner at the starting line, I was the flabbiest wannabe triathlete who ever lived, I'm the heaviest person to sit on a spin bike. (Sidebar: Did I ever tell you the story of my first attempt at spinning to try to lose weight and the spin bike literally breaking while I was on it? Talk about horrified. And STILL no one noticed aside from the person next to me who heard it and the instructor who set me up on a new bike.) Regardless of how YOU see yourself, you should know that no one is noticing you any more than they're noticing anyone else. I'm sorry, you're not special. Anyway, I pledged to myself to do something every day. It didn't matter what, but I had to do it. Whether it was walking my dog around the block, an organized workout with my tv trainers, 10 sit ups or jumping jacks before bed, I had to do something. That worked out alright, but it wasn't anything spectacular. I learned that it was going to take more so I decided to try out that whole "eating right" thing.

It sucked. It was hard. Some days I was hungry, some days I was cranky. Actually, most days I was cranky starting out. And I later learned that was because I had no idea what I was doing. I thought the starvation and excessive exercise workout was the way to go. It's not. If you're reading this and trying to lose weight, don't do the starvation and exhaustion diet. It doesn't work. Anyway, just like with exercise I decided to take baby steps with my diet. If I could change one misconception it would be this, being a vegetarian doesn't make you healthy. New vegetarians have a smooth road to becoming a carbotarian or even better, pastatarian. Just because we don't eat meat, there's still plenty of crap we can pile into our bodies. We don't eat burgers but fries are fine. And chips. And ice cream. And pizza...sweet lord, pizza. I love pizza. So you know what? I still eat it. Once I figured out HOW to eat I never once said "I can't have *insert delicious food here*" I still eat everything I want. I just don't eat everything all the time.

To answer how I did it I have to go with what every one of those cliche trainers and health people say. It really is 90% diet. My tip would be to learn to cook. Or live with someone who cooks. Or buy frozen vegetables that you can microwave. You've got to find a way to eat fruits and vegetables. Yes, AND vegetables. When you want sweets, eat a pink lady apple, then try to eat cake (you'll be super full from the apple and probably won't want it). But whatever you can do to get those veggies in, do it! As you know, I'm a fan of the smoothie. Greens are generally bitter so putting them with sweet berries or tangy pineapple or melon easily hides the taste. I also hide spinach in just about everything. It's really easy to put in with salad or pasta sauce. If you're making most anything in a crock pot, toss in a bag of frozen veggies. You'll be surprised how easy they become to eat. If you hate vegetables, do not eat salads. The worst thing you can do is try to eat bowls and bowls of a food you hate. It's like taking cough medicine when you're sick. You know it'll help you and you know you'll feel better but that doesn't make that plastic shot glass of molasses taste any better. A bowl of greens is boring! If you want to eat more salads, which of course, you should, make them fun! Add some color! Carrots, beans, salsa, cheeses, whatever you have to do aside from putting like...lard on top. The hardest part of the salad is changing the dressing. Raise your hand if you like ranch. How about bleu cheese? Creamy dressings are wonderful, calorie laden lubricants and salad ruiners. Try your best to stick to a vinaigrette if you can. I prefer sun dried tomato. You can also use those spray dressings. Just don't tear the cap off and pour it on when you get tired of spritzing. I'm guilty of that. Salsa is probably my favorite "dressing" because it isn't dressing. As you may or may not know, I love Mexican food. (What?!) So a fiesta salad makes my tummy smile. Greens on the bottom, black beans, corn, salsa, cheese...sometimes it's hard to control myself.

My other tip, eat early and often. Less is not more. I start taking in calories early in the day and continue until dinner. Why? Eating gets your metabolism going (or so I hear). I like to workout in the mornings so if I workout at 5, I'm finished by 7 and HUNGRY. So I eat. By 10 or so, I have a morning snack. Noon is lunch, followed by an afternoon snack around 2. If I'm working out in the evening (and a lot of times even if I'm not) I'll have another snack around 4. Depending on my plans for the evening, that determines what the snack is. Dinner is later and usually followed by dessert. Told you I still eat what I want. Here's what a day might look like for me:

7:30am: Apple cinnamon oatmeal with flaxseed and almond milk (occasionally with juice)
10:00am: Half a large homemade smoothie (spinach, kale, pineapple, berries, apple, Plant Fusion protein powder, honey (seasonally))
12:00pm: Butternut squash soup and grapes with water
2:00pm: Remainder of morning smoothie/Mixed nuts/apple slices/chips (again, eat what I want)
4:00pm: *evening workout* half a pb&j on whole wheat, *no workout* granola bar
7:00pm: Veggie burger with no bun and french fries/vegetable egg rolls and asparagus spears with salt and pepper/vegetable rotini with alfredo and edamame
7:30pm: Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade icee (Oh those tiny treasures...)

That obviously varies quite a lot, especially since I've learned to enjoy cooking so much more but hopefully you don't think that is a terrible menu that could never be followed. Throughout this whole process I've really wanted to focus on making it doable and sustainable. My weight loss has been slow. Much slower than I want it to be, but I have yet to gain a pound back (knock on wood). Even when I splurge, the next day I may be up a couple pounds of water weight, but by the end of the week, it's generally gone again. Exercise helps tremendously because I've learned how certain foods make me feel during a workout and it's important that I feel at my best. It's a nice little motivation to keep eating well.

To sum things up, I hope you understand that what has worked for me does not necessarily work for for everyone. Some people can be more restrictive. Some people can count calories. Did I mention I despise counting calories and tracking my food? You have to find what works for you. And you can. And you will. It might take a bit and you may have setbacks but once you find it you'll feel great! Eventually you might plateau (like I have, ahem) but that's ok. When you know what works, you'll know how to step it up just a bit to get over the hump. Learning to maintain when you're losing weight is just as important as learning to lose. Yo-yos are only fun when you're talking about toys. It's much easier to see a "bad" number on the scale when you can look back and know exactly where the problem was. I spent 3 days eating chips and pizza. On the 4th day, my stomach was upset, my run sucked, my sweat was super salty and I was up 2.5 pounds. Another couple days of normal living put things back into perspective. If you're trying to lose weight, either 1 pound (you lucky duck) or 100 pounds, I want you to know that you can do it.

Now I will unveil some photos that have never before been seen by eyes other than my own...and The Colonel's (that's why he developed an astigmatism. I kid, I kid).

Before (Somewhere between November 2011 and February 2012)


After (Today!)

ImageImageImageStill a work in progress obviously but at least a bit of improvement. Right? .....RIGHT? *nervous laughter* Can't believe I just posted these pictures...

Stay tuned for my Hangover Classic Race Recap!