Monday, August 31, 2015

Lisa’s story…

Lisa agreed to share her story here.  She is a shining example of how you don’t have to lose a ton of weight to make a massive difference in your health and well being. 


My name is Lisa and I live in Athens, Ontario, Canada.

If you were told you could change your health simply by eating, would you? You bet and I did. I was diagnosed in my mid 30’s with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My weight started to steadily climb over the years. I wasn’t what you call obese, but each year, I was packing on a few pounds. I thought I ate ‘somewhat’ healthy and tried to change. I bought every diet book out there as well as work out videos. Why wasn’t it working? I was 52 years old and at my heaviest weight of 156.4 pounds. I know that doesn’t sound fat or big, but it was for me as I am only 5’2”. I had started running and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t losing weight. That’s when I met my nutritionist/personal trainer/life coach angel who changed my life.

I did a 12 week personalized meal plan and was amazed at my results. There wasn’t a whole lot of weight loss, however, inches began to fall off. My starting numbers, Weight = 156.6 lbs., Body Age = 61 years old, (I was 52 at the time) Body Fat = 47% (what?) Muscle = 21.1%(no wonder I can barely lift 2 lbs.) Visceral Fat = 10 lbs., Physique Rate = 2, Water = 45.1%.

After 12 weeks, my results were … Weight = 137 lbs., Body Age = 55 years old, (that’s a little better) Body Fat = 37.8%, (could be better) Muscle = 23.8%, (could be better) Visceral Fat = 7 lbs., Physique Rate = 2 (still?) Water = 47.1%.

So, after 12 weeks, I decided to just keep going. I continued to follow the plan of eating REAL food and exercising. After the second plan just 6 months later, I went to my nurse practitioner to discuss going off my medications. She said my family history put me at risk and that I needed to be on them. I argued the fact that perhaps the family history is the result of a not so good diet. She agreed to temporarily take me off them for 8 weeks at which time my blood work results would prove her theory. Well she was flabbergasted with my results. My end results were Weight = 126.4 lbs., Body Age = 33 years old (now that’s better) Body Fat = 28.7% ( I still think I could do better) Muscle = 87 lbs., Visceral Fat = 6 lbs., Physique Rate = 5, Water = 53%.

So, what can a healthy diet change and a little exercise do for one’s health? It can give you the best gift….the gift of good health! I am proud to say I am now 55 years old and have maintained my weight for well over a year and a half now with no intentions of going back. I still continue to follow my endless choices of REAL food and have eliminated processed, packaged, and high fat foods. I exercise as best I can, by doing cardio and a little strength training here and there.

My message to anyone is that if you want to change, YOU are in charge and no one can do it but you. Find motivation and inspiration where ever you can and it’s never too late to become a better version of YOU. In the end, it’s all about good health and life is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted. This famous quote is what keeps me motivated…..“Food is Thy Medicine”. Do it for YOU!

Lisa Runham



Thank you Lisa, so much for sharing an incredibly inspirational story!!  I know that I am guilty at times of worrying so much about what I look like I forget that this should really be about how I feel and how healthy I am.

And, by the way, you look AMAZING! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Owl’s Head Mountain

I love the Adirondack Mountains!  We have climbed a few, but have not climbed one yet this year.  When I decided to take a long weekend, I suggested to Marc that we get up early today and travel to Long Lake, NY – about 2 1/2 hours from us to climb Owl’s Head Mountain.

So bright and early we were up and on our way.  We arrived at the trailhead and packed up our backpacks and we were ready to go!


The first .25 miles was a gentle but steady uphill climb.  It then leveled off and we had a nice walk through the extremely quiet woods.  We had signed in at the trailhead and saw that no one else was climbing yet, so the boys were free to be off leash, which they love and it definitely makes  it easier for all of us when it gets steep to climb!

It was a well worn and well marked trail that was completely maintained so it made for such an enjoyable hike!  The weather was nearly perfect for hiking – around 70 degrees, mostly sunny and low humidity.

Around 2 miles in, the trail changed from gentle to a more aggressive uphill climb and that’s when the cardio challenge kicked in!

Although the pics don’t really show how difficult it was in spots, there we times when Marc would have to climb up a sheer rockface and then I would send the dogs one at a time where Marc would grab their collars while I made sure they didn’t fall and once they were up, I would climb up as well.  The boys did SO GREAT – they listened and cooperated and made it easy for us to hike with them.



This went on for a good .75 miles.  It was definitely a challenge!  Then the ground leveled off until the short push to the summit.

We arrived at the top and the view – as it always is – was STUNNING.  This summit has a fire tower at the top.


I climbed up and got some pics, including one of Marc at the base.

































We were up there a while and had the great luck of being the only ones there as we sat on the rocks in the sun and enjoyed a leisurely lunch while DOZENS of dragonflies flew around us.











We then packed everything up – putting on our now much lighter backpacks and began the easier trip down.  The climb down a mountain is always much easier cardio wise, but you have to be really careful about your footing as even a small slip could injure you badly.

I fell once, but it was solidly on my left ass cheek where there was plenty of padding!


I hopped up on a large rock to pose.  Marc showed the boys where to go, because they can be reckless and think they can just leap off the rocks.













We we encountered a few people heading down, some of who looked BEAT even a short ways in.  I told them the view from the summit was totally worth it.

Safely back at the car, we made the long trip home – making a short pitstop for a post hike treat!











All in all – a fantastic, relaxing day with some great views.  We will all sleep well tonight!

Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THIS close!!

Holy crap, guys!  Yesterday's post was almost the last!

Why?  Well today I was running down this street and a person came off a side street going pretty fast.  She looked like a soccer mom, and I think she did that thing where you sometimes look off to one side and you're paying attention to something in the distance so you don't see what is right in front of you.  

And she came THISCLOSE to nailing my fat ass!  Apparently she thought the stop sign was optional!!  It happened so fast that I didn't even really register what had happened until about 1/2 mile later.  She slammed on her brakes at the very last second and it was close enough that I felt the air from the bumper against my leg!!

Dodged a bullet disguised as a white Hyundai today, friends!

You know who would have been thrilled about me getting smushed?  My hater.  Yes, he or she is back - writing me to scold me about talking about myself.  On MY blog.

Is it wrong that I laughed out loud that the person told me I am a "NARCASSIST"?

At least I know my hater isn't a MENSA member!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Insanity…not with Shaun!

You guys have certainly heard someone say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I was caught in that cycle for years - thinking I could continue to eat tons of crap, sit on my behind and lose weight.

So I broke this cycle and wow - what a life changer it was.

But now I seem to be caught in a different cycle. And it’s just as vicious, just as insane, but I keep repeating it and I’m not sure how to break out.

I’ve read enough articles and blogs to know I’m not alone in this cycle. So my crazy-ass-itis is shared by many strong and wonderful men and women. But knowing this doesn’t make it any easier and hasn’t taught me how to resolve it.

I’m caught in an exercise obsession. I hesitate to call it an exercise addiction, because when you look up those symptoms, I don’t really fall into that. You see, my exercise obsession is all about BURNING CALORIES so I can eat like I want and not gain weight.

But here’s the cycle I find myself in. I start Monday exercising hard - about 3 hours per day - cardio and weight lifting. I also keep my calories extremely low. I keep this pattern up through Thursday. By Thursday evening, I am so hungry and so tired that I can barely hold on, but I tell myself to get through one more day - just one more - and I can eat more during the weekend.

I usually get through Friday but by Friday night, I am, as one guy described it in an article I read - “bat-shit carb crazy”.  So I start to indulge. And that continues through the weekend. It’s not binging behavior, it’s just eating more then I should be. Undoing all the “progress” made during the week.

By Sunday night I feel a sense of depression and panic at the thought of going back to severely restricting on Monday.

I know that this is unhealthy. I know that the answer is to eat moderately all week long and exercise reasonably. But as with all maladaptive behaviors - like smoking or gambling or watching porn - knowing what you SHOULD do or what is HEALTHY to do doesn’t magically make it happen.

It needs to change, because it’s not healthy AND it’s not helping me reach my goal of losing weight!  But I’m not sure how to break the cycle right now.

Anyone else dealing with something like this?


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Like sand through an hourglass...

No I'm not talking soap operas!  I'm talking summer.  I have this sense of fear and anger and desperation as we enter the last full week of August.

Everyone it seems is gearing for fall.  Pumpkin recipes are multiplying like rabbits on Facebook.  Football season is squarely in pre-season with the regular season ohsoclose to starting.  People I know who are teachers are whining about going back to work!  Hoodies, apple cider, leaves changing - they fill many people with happiness.

Not me.  Fall for me signifies the inevitable arrival of a long, cold, miserable, depressing winter.

So this weekend I spent as much time soaking in the last bits of summer that I can.  This meant hiking and swimming yesterday.  Today I set a personal record.  Marc and I biked north of us to the very busy vacation town of Clayton.  From there we rode along the river to another "river town" as we call them around here - of Cape Vincent.  Then it was back home for a total of 57 miles.  

I might sleep well tonight!  

So I am hoping soaking up sun and charging those endorphins gives me some perspective.  And if anyone has any suggestions on how to change my rotten attitude towards fall coming - I'm all ears!!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Earn it or work it?

"Eat to live, don't live to eat."
"Don't reward yourself with food, you're not a dog."
Yeah.  While I don't necessarily disagree with either of these statements, they have never been - and let's face it - they never will be my reality.

Nope.  Food is always going to be an important part of my life.  And it's always going to be currency - a way I reward or punish myself.  

Healthy?  Probably not.  But I thought for a while that revolutionarily changing my body would magically resolve my food issues.  BZZZZZZZZ..... Thank you for playing!  So accepting this dysfunction and trying to be as healthy as I can within it is my goal.

Anyway I was thinking about those of us that use food in our reward systems.  I've noticed that that there are 2 types of people - those who give themselves a treat knowing that they will have to either work it off with exercise or eat less later to "make up" for the indulgence.

Then there are those who hope to give themselves a treat, but have to "earn it" first by either exercising or eating less so they have a calorie deficit and can treat themselves.  

I have noticed that - not exclusively of course - men seem to fall in category 1.  They'll drink their beers or eat that burger and then force themselves to hit the gym and work it off.

I fall solidly in category 2.  I HATE owing.  I definitely want to work it and then - if I've been "good enough" I can have the treat.

Take today - someone had brought in to work Hershey's Dark Chocolate Kisses.  I'm not normally a chocolate person, but I've been craving chocolate!  I took one of those kisses and brought it back to my desk.  And stared at it.  And promised myself after my lunch run I could have it.

And when I decided it was too windy to run, I told myself I could walk, but there would be no Kiss for me when I got back.  So I changed and ran.  I thought about how far was "fair" to earn me that one small piece of chocolate.  Turns out the answer was 6 miles.  And I happily ate that Kiss when I got back.  

Because I EARNED it!

So do you earn your treats or work them off??


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Under pressure...

Accountability.  I've talked about this many times.  How important it is in this journey to be held accountable.

Which is why having someone who also is trying to eat right and exercise by your side can so help you stay on track.  As a matter of fact, tonight I got home and it was HOT and HUMID, so I really tried to let myself slack off.  And there was Archer STARING at me - so I took him on a 3.5 mile run.

It doesn't have to be a human who holds you accountable!  

I have developed a reputation.  I am apparently known as the one who works out at lunch and is a completely clean eater and I'm so dedicated.  It's funny because even though that is me to some extent, I know what goes on in my own head and how much I struggle.  So sometimes I feel like a phony.

But having people think that about me holds me accountable.  It's a double edged sword.

Like last week when I was headed out the door and a security guy said to me "Oh!  You're not running today?". What I heard was " You fat lazy pig, why aren't you running??". Or a couple of months ago when I had a piece of cake and someone said "Oh my god! You are eating cake??!!". And my twisted interpretation of that statement was that they were pointing out my lack of self control and why I've gotten so fat again!

There is a rational part of me that recognizes this is probably not how they meant it.  I think most people have some level of admiration for my choices.  And some days I am grateful to have people expect certain things from me - it does sometimes keep me from eating that donut in the morning meeting and knowing that people expect me to run sometimes gets my ass out the door.

And then there are the days when I wish there were no expectations... But believing the negative?  That's my own shit!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Something for nothing…

Do you guys know who James Harrison is? He is a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made major news this week. His kids - ages 6 and 8 were given trophies. For what? For PARTICIPATING. Not for winning, but for showing up.

Harrison wrote on Instagram that he was giving those trophies back:

"While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,"

This has created a veritable shitstorm – both pro and con.  Personally, I say good for Harrison!! We have become a nation of people that expect to have it easy. To be rewarded for something we didn’t work for and didn’t earn.

In my own weight loss efforts I experienced that. Like many of you out there and many people in this world I wanted it EASY. I didn’t want to have to WORK for it. I waited for years for the magic pill that would let me sit on my ass, eating fistful and fistful of crap and weigh 115 pounds. I wanted the reward just for wanting it. But that ain’t the real fucking world.

In the real world you don’t get it that easy. Your don’t eat right and exercise for one day and lose 100 pounds. You don’t show up to work and make a half assed effort and get a large bonus.  No, it takes work and sweat equity to get the real rewards.

We shouldn’t be teaching our kids that the get rewarded without the work. We should teach them that they need to work hard and do their best. When that happens, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Life isn’t fair.  We can always try harder.

Kids should feel loved and encouraged as should we as adults. But we don’t deserve rewards for something we didn’t earn.

What message does that send to the child or adult that wins? That you work your ass off and excel and you get exactly the same as the kid that did no work? What kind of message is that?

Taking the easy way out isn’t that answer. Harrison knows this all too well as he was overlooked in the draft and was cut from at least 2 teams before working like hell to become a top performer in the NFL.

I also think that we need to teach our society that working as hard as we can, doing our very best, bettering ourselves is its own reward.  We don’t have to have material things all the time.

At least that’s my $0.02.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Motivation time...

I have a pretty routine and predictable life.  Part of that predictability is my evenings.  During "prime time", Marc and I hit the couch and relax while watching TV.  

Around 10:15, when the first commercial of the 10 PM hour starts, we retire to the bedroom, and watch the rest of the show while chilling in bed.  At 11 PM it's lights out.

I generally fall asleep pretty easily and quickly.  But before I do, thoughts run through my head.  And it's in that few minutes that it seems my motivation is endless.

Yes, comfortably laid out in bed, I can conquer the world.  Eating right, exercising - it seems SO SIMPLE!  My lunch is packed, dinner for the next night is planned, my duffle bag of workout clothes waits ever so patiently in the closet.  So as I begin to drift off I am supremely confident that tomorrow I will be completely on plan!!

And then the next day reality hits.  I'm not just PLANNING on running - I have to get my fat lazy ass out there and DO IT.  That packed salad?  It doesn't always look as yummy when I'm exposed to other temptations.  My promise to myself to resist snacking?  It ain't as easy in the light of day!

If only I could find a way to translate my nighttime resolutions and confidence and motivation when the sun comes up, this journey would be a - *cough* - cakewalk!!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

On failure…

Many years ago I remember briskly walking on a trail near my house.  I was having a BURST of motivation.  "This is it!" I told myself.  "I'm going to DO IT this time!  I will lose weight and be fit and my life is going to be great!!" I marched on that trail smiling, knowing that I HAD THIS.

I had always been fat my whole life.  In elementary school the book "Blubber" by the wonderful author Judy Blume had come out.  It didn't take long for me to be cornered by a couple of girls, pinched, and told to call myself "Blubber".  I kicked one of the girls as hard as I could and they backed off, settling for whispering staring and laughing.

In middle school, my pediatrician told my mother to put me on a diet.  I opened my lunch bag to cottage cheese and lettuce as the other kids ate their pizza from the school lunch and felt sorry for myself.  I think I lost some weight, but I was hungry ALL THE TIME and it wasn't long before I was sneaking food and feeling ashamed but eating it anyway.

I continued to gain weight in high school making a couple half assed attempts to lose weight without any success.  I was the fat funny girl and was pretty popular in certain cliques so I rationalized I was just " chubby". I met Marc and we became inseparable - he was attracted to me and so I was okay.

In college, I started drinking COPIOUS amounts of Mountain Dew, eating greasy pizza all the time and visiting the on campus ice cream shop with friends.  Then my roommate and I decided we were both getting way too fat, so we started visiting the fitness center, eating salads (for me DROWNED in creamy Italian dressing) and doing aerobic videos in our dorm room.

It didn't last.

Countless vows and promises to myself later I found myself on that trail, absolutely COMMITTED to changing my life.  So I resolutely walked and started to eat better - even not buying cookies when I went grocery shopping.  And then one day I didn't walk.  And I bought those cookies and that PROMISE to change my life was forgotten.

I gave up.

I started this job where they had team weight loss challenges and my coworker asked me to team up with her - I refused and made an excuse.  And she asked again at the next challenge 6 months later and I admitted I wasn't "ready".  But what I KNEW with every single fiber of my being is that it wasn't possible for me to lose weight.  I had tried SO MANY times and failed miserably every time.  I hated myself - HATED that I was a worthless fat cow who had absolutely no self-control.

I couldn't buy normal clothes or fit into booths at restaurants.  It was - I believed - my fate.

And then one fateful spring I started to make some changes.  I lost 30 pounds and couldn't believe I had done it.  I was still fat, but a few months later a coworker took me aside and whispered to me that I needed to buy some new clothes because mine were hanging on me.

I hadn't made any vow to change my life.  I didn't have a doctor remove some defective part of my brain.  I didn't take a magic pill.  A magic fairy didn't wave her wand over me.  No - I just changed and suddenly had what I had always wished for.

So my point is this - most people fail in making radical life changes.  And for everyone who succeeds they usually have failed MANY MANY times before they get it.  Whether it is weight loss or sobriety or quitting smoking it is hard.  The road is paved with obstacles and setbacks and failures.  But it is never too late.

I sometimes feel like giving up.  But then I remember that losing battles does not mean the war is over.  Victory can be found.
So if you are like I was – if you think your fate is engraved in stone, let me assure you – it is not.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Karma x2

Robin Williams hanged himself a year ago.  I was thinking about all the pain he had to have been in for days, weeks, months, YEARS? that brought him to point that he felt this was his only option.  If you've never felt the level of desperation where suicide seems like the most reasonable solution consider yourself lucky.

I've known people who have killed themselves and I have asked myself - as I'm sure Robin Williams' friends and family have asked themselves many times - if there was anything I could have done or said that would have prevented them from taking their own lives.

As this has been on my mind, on my Phat to Phabulous Facebook page, I challenged people to reach out to someone today and offer a compliment.  You never know when a kind word could change a person's outlook.

I myself went out of my way to compliment some people this morning - it feels pretty fucking good by the way!  A late meeting made me decide not to run at lunch but I did get in a quick power walk.  During my walk I passed this young guy I've never seen before.  He started to walk by me and then turned around and stopped me.

He told me that he just "had to" tell me how beautiful my hair is.  He said that the color looks amazing on me and I just look fantastic.  It was a little odd, but he wasn't creepy and didn't seem to have any other agenda as he wished me a good day and headed off.

I laughed to myself as I finished up my walk.  I decided that this was clearly KARMA showing up - I mean what are the chances of a stranger stopping to compliment me on the very day I encouraged people to offer random compliments??!!  I mean it's not like this happens on a daily basis!

So I get back to work and here is a former client.  He recently got out of prison and he was there for a meeting.  He sees me, gets a HORRIFIED look on his face and the very first thing he says to me is "What THE FUCK did you do to your hair??!!" 

Karma giveth and karma taketh away!!  LMAO

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

If it was your job…

Years ago I remember watching Rosie O'Donnell's talk show.  She was interviewing Tom Hanks who was starring in Castaway.  She asked him about how he lost all the weight he did for the film.  He started to talk to her about the low calorie diet he had to be on in order to be scrawny for the role of someone stranded on a desert island.

She clarified that she didn't mean how did he lose the weight, exactly, but how did he have the discipline to eat so little.  I remember him saying "Because I had to!  There was no other choice."   And then he went on about how the movie itself required it - it was his JOB.  People were depending on him – the film couldn’t get made if he didn’t.

I wonder if I had to - if it was my JOB - if that would make it any easier to say no to that cookie.  If I could lose weight by just knowing that I HAD TO – lose like my livelihood demanded it. 

I watched American Ninja Warrior this week and there are so many athletes that build their own obstacles at home, or go to a gym and just train every day, all day.  And with that training, they are also eating specifically to build muscle while staying lean.  Counting macros, measuring proteins and carbs, etc.

I wonder if that's all I had to do - to get up and be in prime physical shape - would I have the discipline to stay that course for months and months?  Would it make me happy?

As I was thinking about this, just today I heard an interview on the radio with Jeff Foxworthy who is doing a comedy tour with Larry the Cable Guy.  Apparently a few years ago Larry was the spokesperson for one of the diet companies and reportedly used it to lose a bunch of weight.  So when they went on tour that year, Larry hired a personal trainer to travel with them to make sure that he ate right and exercised while on the road.  Jeff said that Larry would come to him and ask that he distract the trainer so he could sneak into the room where the comics would wait to go on stage and have donuts or other snacks that were in there for them.

Jeff found it pretty funny that Larry was PAYING this guy - a guy who he was his employee and who he could fire at any time - and was sneaking around behind his back so he wouldn’t get caught.  Jeff - who is a thin guy - found it comical.  And it is funny in a way, but I SO get it.  That constant fight and struggle between the part of you that wants and needs to do the right thing and that other part that has the basic compulsion to do the wrong thing.  And, of course, all the guilt and shame that goes along for the ride.

So if there was money on the line or if I "had to" for my livelihood, would it make it a simpler task to stay on track?   Would I have more discipline and self-control?

Or would I sneak around like Larry and pretend to be baffled when the scale went up?


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Comfortably numb...

Of all the things I suck at - of which there are MANY - handling goodbyes is one of them.  I HATE saying goodbye - I don't have the ability to attain closure.  When I have left jobs in the past, I have been known to sneak out to avoid saying goodbye to coworkers.

So you can imagine how well I do at funerals.  Attending services today I felt more numb then anything - especially since it was religiously focused which meant nothing to me.  As we then made our way to the cemetary for the burial, it became more real - and when the Honor Guard folded the flag and solemnly and sincerely presented it to the widow - that was when it really began to hit me.

At the reception afterwards, I was doing fine until suddenly -almost without warning - I had this moment of overwhelming anxiety and sadness and had to get away - right then.

I headed back to work and DOVE into some paperwork but I felt disconnected... Even though I used to INSIST that I am not an emotional eater I can't deny that anymore as there have been too many times - including today - when my desire to find food and chow down was clearly being driven by wanting to avoid feelings and focus on the physical experience of eating as a distraction.

I got home and used my apparent OTHER addiction to help me get through.  I grabbed Archer and we ran.  It took about 4 miles but I felt some peace and perspective start to descend on me.  I know that he is out of pain and while he will be missed, his memory - his contribution to the world - that will never be erased. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Time, priorities, balance…

Where the hell does the time go??  Seriously, I feel like 5 minutes ago it was Friday evening and here we are back at a Monday!

After a great week, I had a not so great weekend as far as my eating goes.  Sigh...

I keep struggling to find balance.  Yesterday Marc and I went for a very long bike ride.  It was a gorgeous day.  But I got home and I thought that I maybe I could have - should have - used those 3 hours we were biking for something more productive.

Like weeding the garden, or cleaning the bathrooms, or scrubbing the kitchen or cleaning out the closet or another 1 million things that I always know I have to do and don’t...

It's all about priorities.  I can't seem to get motivated to do chores at all.  Much like I can't – WON’T - stay disciplined with my eating.

I don't know there is a "right" answer.  I feel this guilt, and yet… I went to calling hours tonight for a man who I cared an awful lot for.  As I saw him laying there in the casket and as I was talking with his wife and family – it was the old adage of who gives a shit how well his lawn was mowed or how clean his house was?  The most important thing is to do what you love in this life because you can never ever get the time back. 

So part of me is like FUCK IT - do what you find fun, not what you should do.

But we can't live our lives exclusively like that, now can we???  I can’t eat whatever I want all the time or not clean my house or spend money like a wild woman.  I’ll end up really fat, really dirty and really broke.  And that would suck, too.

But going for a bike ride on a beautiful August afternoon instead of cleaning the bathroom?  That may be an okay waste of time…


Saturday, August 8, 2015

So you want to run!

As I get back to basics with my running, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I started from and things that I wish I had known then that I learned along the way.

This post is primarily geared towards those who are overweight or obese who want to start running.

So, you want to become a runner, but don’t know where to start? Some people will tell you to just start running. I disagree! There are things that you can do to transition into running that will make the process easier.

First off, let’s talk reality. Running ain’t easy. For an obese or overweight person, it’s even harder. Running HURTS. When you are carrying a lot of weight, that’s a lot of mass to heave up and down. That being said, running is one of the PREMIER ways to lose weight and get fit. So there are a TON of reasons to give it a shot!

Where to start? WALKING. Running is a high impact sport that places a lot of stress on your bones and starts to use muscles that we aren’t used to using. Walking is the best way to get prepared for running. If you are like I was, with a low level of fitness, walking is also the way to get your heart and lungs set for extreme physical activity. I don’t know that you need to put a number on it, but until you can walk some distance comfortably, you probably shouldn’t give running a shot.

Ok, you’ve got the walking down, now what? Now you head to a running specialty store. And no, I don’t mean Foot Action or Dick’s in the mall. I mean a real and actual running store. Like Fleet Feet. Running, unlike other sports, is relatively inexpensive. BUT the one piece of equipment that you MUST spend some cashola on is running shoes!! You will be less likely to get injured and will be most likely to feel comfortable running if you have running shoes specifically geared to your feet, your stride and any imperfections you have!

At the running store they will watch and sometimes even record you walking.  From there, they know what they are doing and which manufacturer and specific running kicks will fit you. They’ll have you try them on and see how they feel. Expect to spend around $100 - you can get better deals or spend more, but that’s a good price point to think of going in.

Ok, once you have those, what else do you need? Not much actually. If you are a woman with big tatas, you need to get a really supportive sports bra. Those babies are going to BOUNCE and you need to have them supported. I was lucky - with small boobies I don’t need a very supportive sports bra - but if you’ve got them, look around for ones that will be tight and hold the gals in place.

Make sure it is not COTTON. Cotton is evil when it comes to running. You don’t want anything cotton unless you want to chafe and bleed. Bleeding anything is bad. Bleeding nipples REALLY sucks. I learned this the hard way. Look for material designed for running. It won’t cost you a lot - Walmart’s Danskin brand is great. So is Target’s Champion brand, I am also fond of Fila which they sell at Kohl’s. You can get a running shirt from $10 up to $100 in a specialty store. Get what you like and what you can afford!

Other “equipment” that is nice to have but not strictly unnecessary are things like running watches, belts to carry your keys and phone [check out Marc’s review of the belt we use], good headphones for attaching to an MP3 player or phone (personally I HATE the in-ear buds and can’t get them to stay in place when running). You can get all kinds of fancy things, but really, those can all come later if you don’t have or are not ready to spend the moolah.

Ok, so you are ready. Now what? Some people will tell you that running is natural. There is even a very famous book called “Born to Run” talking about how we, as humans, are naturally, in our very DNA, ready to run.

Well let me tell you. That wasn’t the way it was for me! It felt like the most unnatural thing EVER. I felt like a newborn elephant trying to stumble my way around. Be patient, expect to feel stupid and clumsy. That’s normal.

I am a big fan of the run/walk method to learn how to run. That’s how I started. You can use a program like the Couch to 5K method that has you walk for a period of time, then run, and gradually over several weeks increases you to running a full 5k (3.1 miles). If you love technology you can even download the Couch to 5K program onto your phone. It will tell you exactly when to run and when to walk.

Do this or design your own program. Run for time (like 30 seconds) or run for distance (like to the next electrical pole). Either works fine. I personally think running for time to start out with is the better plan.

If you’re not in great shape, you will feel like you are going to die. I clearly remember the first time that I ran 2 minutes straight. I had been running for what I was SURE was 3 HOURS and I looked down at the timer, and I had only been running 45 seconds!!!

When you start to run, it will be hard to pace yourself and you will be trying to run faster than your body can handle. The absolutely best advice I got when I started was to run SO SLOW that you feel like you’re not moving. And when you get there? SLOW DOWN MORE. Trust me, you are better running slowly and being able to run LONGER then being able to sprint for a short period of time. You are not a aiming to be a cheetah chasing down dinner. You want to be the gazelle that can gracefully trot for miles. Ain’t that a pretty picture?


Be patient. You aren’t going to start running 1 day and 3 weeks later run a marathon!

If you can enlist others to run with you? That’s fantastic. Your kids, your friends, take your dog along with you! (NOT A PUPPY! Only dogs 12 months or older!)

Afraid you’ll look stupid? Put all of those thoughts out of your head. People, in general, are assholes. You will get yelled at or laughed at.  People yelled nasty comments at me when I started running at 250+ pounds and they yelled nasty things at me when I was at my lowest weight of 116 and running. MOSTLY people don’t notice or care. And other runners? I have found runners to be - in general - the most non-judgmental group you will find.  Runners come in all shapes and sizes and all skill levels.  They’re happy you’re just out there doing it, like they are. So fuck what the assholes think - you’re doing this for YOU, not them.

Lastly, let’s address physical health concerns with running. I hear all the time that people can’t run because they have bad knees or ankles or something else. That MIGHT be true. Some people do have actual problems/injuries and those people should not be running.

BUT, most of these problems are due to weaknesses that can be overcome. Running should be a PART of your physical improvement. Your knees hurt? Mine hurt REALLY bad before I started running. OF COURSE they did. I was hugely fat and put too much pressure on them on a daily basis. Guess what? Running and weight loss ELIMINATED the knee issues. I ran into IT band problems - stretching and strengthening my hips solved this. Shin splints? Yup. Your muscles are weak in the calf and front of the shin.  Start doing calf raises with weights. Lunges and squats will increase hip flexibility and strength. Crunches, planks, and other exercises to strengthen your core will greatly improve your ability to run and decrease the chance for injury. Yoga will increase your flexibility and stamina.

Research shows that runners –even those that have been running for YEARS – have LESS knee problems then the average member of the public!  So when some know-it-all tells you you will ruin your knees by running, they have no fracking idea what they are talking about.

The other way to develop physical problems - which is the mistake I made - was through improper footwear AND increasing mileage too soon. Now I have an injury that I just can’t eliminate totally. As a new runner, you should be running no more than 4 days per week. And you have to increase your mileage SLOWLY - which is another great reason to use a program like Couch to 5K that increases your distances at a reasonable pace.

Do other things - swim, lift weights, ride a bike, hike, continue to walk, kayak, KEEP MOVING. All of those things will make you better at running and running will make you better at those things.

So start slow, but start. You’ll learn what else you need to know along the way. I ran my first mile outside in May 2011. The first time in my LIFE. It took me 16 minutes.  I felt like an idiot and I felt AWESOME at the same time.  2 years later, May 2013, I ran a half marathon in 1:39:04 and came in 2nd place for women.

Any questions or comments? Leave them below!!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

In the zone...

Sometimes professional athletes have times when they are inexplicably just ON POINT.  It's like they can't go wrong.  The basketball player who makes every single shot or the quarterback that nails his wide receiver repeatedly, or the golfer that hits the ball perfectly.

Experts have studied this phenomenon of being in the zone and can document that it exists.  But what they can't say is why it happens when it happens and when and why it goes away.  It transcends training and logic and can't be quantified.

This week, I've been in the zone!  Suddenly and without warning Fat Jen has taken a vacay, leaving Thin Jen calmly in charge.  I've eaten so well all week.  I haven't had even a TASTE of peanut butter.   No simple feat in my world!!  My calories have been low but I haven't been hungry.

And fitness?  I've run 20 miles so far this week.  I've biked and lifted weights - I've been sore, buy GOOD sore.  Not this sucks I hurt sore.

It's been easy.  I mean it hasn’t been EASY, but it hasn't been incredibly hard either.  I haven't felt this calm and in control in MONTHS.

So why now?  I have no freaking idea!  Well then, how long will it last?  I have no freaking idea!! 

But tomorrow is Friday and that's typically when the urge to get crazy, to start chowing down begins.  I have a healthy lunch packed and dinner is planned.  So rather then waiting for the other shoe to drop, maybe I should just ride this wave and enjoy.  
If in were smart I would take this opportunity to face the music and weigh myself...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fries with that?

French fries!  Oh how I love thee!! But fried foods, well they left the menu years ago.  And those highly processed, high calorie breaded things you buy in the freezer section of the grocery store?  Nope.

So I make my own!  And they are wonderful!

First take some potatoes.  I usually use red or russet. 







You can cut up the potatoes on your own, but I use this French fry slicer.  It comes in 2 sizes, we are shoestring people.IMG_6580





Once they are sliced up, throw them in a bowl.


Microwave for 5 minutes.

Now pour on some olive oil, sea salt (do not omit these 2 items!) and optional spices like garlic powder and onion powder.  Stir it all up.


Now spread them on a cookie sheet.


Bake for 40-45 minutes at 425 – flipping about 1/2 way through.

Crispy oven baked, healthy fries!


I paired mine tonight with a 99% fat free turkey burger, using romaine lettuce as the “bun” and a huge side of steamed broccoli!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015


What the hell is going on??

First came the news of Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.  Then there was Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.  Yesterday reports were on Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s impending divorce (which I see now he is vehemently denying).  But confirmed separations of Reba McIntyre and her hubby as well as Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale.

Geez!  I don't (obviously) know any of these people, but news of their breakups make me sad.

I can't help but wonder if the high divorce rate is like the American public in general - when things get hard, we give up and quit.

Now don't get me wrong - I know there are many valid reasons for people to end marriages.  And if the reports are true about cheating in some of these cases - well I know that is something I could never, ever forgive.  It would be OVER.

But relationships are not easy.  Like losing weight or keeping to an exercise program.  Or lots of other things - they require hard work and dedication.  It takes fighting when every fiber of you wants to give up.  It also requires appreciating the small things, especially once the newness has worn thin. 

I have said many times that I don't know where I would be in my life if it weren't for Marc.  And I'd like to think that he feels the same about my influence in his life.

But it isn't always easy.  There is a fine balance between loving someone unconditionally, yet pushing them and knowing when to criticize or question or demand.

I hope that these couples find happiness either together or apart.  It makes me realize that just because people are rich and famous - it doesn't make everything in their lives simple or easy.

As I fight my internal demons, I can at least be incredibly thankful to have a person in my life who I know is there for me 100%.  I hope all of you out there are lucky enough to have this as well!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday re-start

I feel like I’ve been telling myself that Monday is a new start for like the last 20 weeks!

And – like every Monday – I was an angel today.  I ate a healthy breakfast after resisting the urge to dive headfirst into the still warm oatmeal and plum “breakfast bars” that a co-worker baked (sounds pretty healthy but probably wasn’t that healthy even though Fat Jen tried to convince me it was). 

I ran the longest I’ve run since May today – 6 miles!  The Achilles was a little sore as I pushed myself at the Tri yesterday, but it warmed up and I kept going despite wanting to quit and walk at mile 4.  A slow 6 – but a victory that I will take!

I then came home and did a hard weight lifting routine and for dinner had tacos made with ground chicken, romaine lettuce, black olives, low fat cheese and tomatoes.

So it should be considered a winning day, but I don’t feel that way.  Because it’s not 1 day that makes it.  It’s a lot of days.  And I can’t seem to put any more than 1 or 2 days together before going off the rails. 

I ran into a guy I graduated with today.  He told me I look “amazing”.  Which compared to high school, I do!  But compared to how I looked 2 years ago, I look horrible. 

But hope springs eternal that my Monday motivation carries into the rest of the DAYUM week!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Time to TRI…

Growing up, my best friend was Elene.  We lived in the same village and spent loads of time at each others houses and were pretty much inseparable.

In high school, we remained close, but as graduation neared, there was a bit of a pull towards each of us going to different groups.  We went to the same college, but, as sometimes happens with even our closest friends, we grew apart and she moved out west and we completely lost touch.

Years later, she returned to the area and we ran into each other, but never re-established the bond.  Facebook can be beyond useless at times, but sometimes, it can reunite old friends – which is what happened with Elene and I.

We were both very overweight in school – me moreso then her – but she was heavy to begin with and had gained weight as she got older.

Last year she had a health crisis that left her hospitalized and in immediate need of a radical lifestyle change.  In fact, I didn’t remember the date, but it was exactly a year ago this weekend! 

I won’t go into much detail because I’m hopeful that she will choose to share her story with you guys in the near future.

But after the crisis I reached out offering any help I could give her.  She took her health crisis seriously and started exercising and eating better – which led weight loss and a vast turnaround in her health

So when she contacted me months ago and said that she needed a goal to work towards and that she wanted to enter a local triathlon that you can do in teams - she wanted to do the swimming part and asked if I would do the running, and maybe Marc would do the biking?  

We were in.  We have been talking for months about our training and she even started running some to lead to overall fitness.  Bright and early this morning we met at the venue.

IMG_3391 She appeared nervous as we made our way over to where the swimmers entered the water.  As they took off, we cheered for her as well as all the other participants.


As Elene rounded the last turn, Marc headed up to get his bike all set and I waited.  As she came out of the water I congratulated her – she had DONE IT!  We walked and jogged up to the transition where Marc was waiting.  Elene handed the ankle timer to him and he took off.

We had some time to wait for Marc to do his part, and we talked and laughed about how in high school never in A MILLION YEARS would we have believed that 25 years later we would be doing a triathlon together!! 

The bikers route took then looped around a point, then then came back past the venue and did another point before heading back.  Marc zoomed by:


With that, I headed back over to the transition area to stretch and run a little to warm up.

I watched the really fast people come in and it was pretty interesting to watch them quickly hang up their bikes and get into running gear and head out.  It gave me an itch that maybe I could do the whole thing myself next year! 

Sooner than I expected Marc came flying in – blistering his normal pace – he had really pushed himself.  He hopped off the bike, ripped off the chip which I quickly fastened to my ankle and took off. 


It was a hot one and I was winded quickly.  I admired all the people I passed, knowing that most if them had swam and then biked and were now finishing up with a run – pretty impressive!!

I came in at a 9 minute mile pace and was pretty disappointed.  I have a lot of work to do on my diet and running if I ever want to achieve times like I did even a year ago.

But today was not for feeling sorry for myself.  Instead, we celebrated our finish and when the awards were announced, we came in third for the team portion:


I was happy about the day, more because I got to support one of oldest and bestest friends.  She will continue her journey as I will continue mine and who knows what might happen next year at this time!

If she can go from hospitalized to taking part in a tri in one short year there is no stopping her or me or any of you out there reading this!!!