Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mixed Results

Last week I posted about my grand plan for (re)starting weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.  The goal was to get up and workout every morning before work in order to 1) stay committed to exercising and 2) to kick start each day with a healthy habit.  All in all, I was very pleased with how this went.  On the 3 days I was able to stick to the plan (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday), I felt noticeably better throughout the day than I did on non-AM-exercise days.  Even more, I found it much easier to monitoring my eating on these days, mostly because I was a lot less hungry than usual.  Whether this was actually a physiological response to exercising before breakfast or some type of placebo effect is unclear.  What matters though is that it did work, which is huge.  I must admit I was a bit shocked with how immediately I saw benefits (albeit, not on the scale) with this new routine; with all the other diet/exercise plans I've tried, I've usually end up starving/cranky/discouraged.  This time I actually felt good as a result of change.  Now, don't get me wrong; I pretty much hated everything about waking up before sunrise.  No only was it dark and cold every day, running on half-awake legs hurt.  But this feeling was nothing compared to the energy I had throughout the rest of the day.  For the first time, I'm actually motivated to stick to something.  

So, given how good things went last week, why is this post titled "mixed results?"  Well for starters, I didn't make the commitment the entire week. This was mostly because I had few deadlines last week that kept me up later than planned on a few nights which made it exponentially harder to wake up by 6:45am.  But, given that this was my first shot at a pretty drastically different routine, I can live with slacking a couple days in week 1.  However, the major bingefest I had this weekend was most certainly a step backwards, and arguably negated my efforts during the week.  The fact that almost every hour of the weekend was scheduled is at least partially to blame for this; between a birthday outing Friday, planning and prepping for a Halloween party Saturday night, and another birthday party in MA on Sunday, there was little time (and desire) to prepare healthy meals or get in a walk.  Top that off with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy yesterday and you get a lot of days full of pizza, McDonald's, and unhealthy party leftovers (candy, chips, etc.).  Not surprisingly, I didn't manage to lose any weight this week and continue to hover around 206, approximately 40lbs out of the "healthy" range for someone my height and pushing 60lbs over my college weight.  

Depite this hiccup however, I remain encouraged and motivated by the results of the AM workouts.  I will pick up where I left off starting tomorrow and, thanks to a much more relaxed weekend this coming weekend, hopefully I won't slip as far as I did this weekend. Also motivating:  the Wallis Sands 1/2 Marathon on April 28, 2013.  I signed up a couple weeks ago in hopes to keep me running and it has worked.  I'd love a PR (currently 1:58:11) and think one is attainable so long as I train properly and shed a few pounds.  With this new routine, hopefully I'll do both!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Starting Over.... Again

I cannot believe an entire month has passed since my last post.  Even worse, I have made absolutely zero progress on weight loss and health improvement.  In fact, you could argue I've even gone backwards.  I have eaten more pizza in these past four weeks than I should in a year, and pizza isn't the only take-out I've brought home this past month.  Needless to say my weight has slowly continued creeping up while whatever self-confidence I have continues to erode away.  Of course I could blather on about how these past 4 weeks have been particularly busy, which has only encouraged my bad habits, but that would just be an excuse.  Things are always going to be busy, especially as I try desperately to finish my dissertation in less than a year, and therefore it's always going to be harder to make dinner, go out for a run, etc.  Heck, you could argue that those changes are hard to make even if you have the easiest schedule in the world; addictions whether to food or drugs are in fact very difficult to break.  I just need to commit, which is easier said than done, especially when I like food and being lazy as much as I do.

I keep searching for something external to motivate me to change.  This is actually one of the prime reasons I started this blog, hoping that by making my struggle public, I would be motivated by readers to keep going.  Apparently, though making a public commitment isn't enough for me.  I suppose this isn't terribly surprising; I mean my own self-consciousness wasn't even enough to motivate me.  Recently, I looked to my doctor for inspiration.  Unfortunately, it appears my weight gain isn't of great concern to my physician since, as she said, "I'm very active."  Wait.  Did I really just say that it was unfortunate that my weight gain hasn't gotten to the point where it's "lose it or die?"  Did I just imply that it's going to take the threat of a weight-related a medical problem to get me to change?  I guess I did.  I don't want to believe it, but a bit part of me thinks it's true. 

In reality though what I really want is to never have to get the point where my doctor thinks my weight is even remotely a concern; I want my physicals to still conclude that I'm normal and healthy, not that I may be in the running for a heart attack or diabetes.  The fact that this is still apparently the case (though I still have a tough time believing this) is a good thing and I'm trying to think of it like that.  Rather than see it as a pass to continue eating bad food and drinking too much beer, I'm trying to see it as a "second chance"; the chance to make changes now while I am still healthy and not quite in the red zone.

So tomorrow starts a new schedule:  I will be getting up every day around 6:45am to working out for a minimum of 40 minutes.  This week, "workouts" will consist of walking and/or running, but the hope would be to eventually add some strength workouts once or twice a week.  I have always been strongly against waking up to workout, mostly because I value my sleep.  But lately I've been thinking about the benefits of getting the workout with over with at the start of the day.  Not only are there scientifically-examined weight loss benefits to exercising in the morning, getting up and out earlier would mean my workday gets started earlier, ensuring a productive day.  Getting to school earlier without having to workout afterwards also means I can get home earlier, which means I would be more like to make dinner, rather than order in.  I've only mentally committed to trying this routine for this week, but I have a feeling I'll try and keep it up for at least a little while.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 1

First, THANK YOU for all the support!  I expected to maybe get some e-high-fives from a few close  friends which would have been more than enough to hold my feet to the self-improvement fire.  Instead, I received boatloads of positive feedback from many people, some whom I haven't seen in years.  Your encouragement means a lot and will certainly keep me motivated.

I feel I was a bit misleading in my first post:  last Thursday was not, in fact, Day 1 of my self-improvement journey.  This weekend was Zach's brother's wedding and between the chicken broccoli alfredo at the rehearsal dinner and the cupcake display at the wedding (not to mention the lobster rolls and steak tips at the day-after party), I was not quite ready (nor willing) to dive right into major dietary changes.  I know, I know.  Poor excuse.  There will always be weddings and parties and nights out; in order to truly make the change I will have to be ready to handle such tempting situations.  But given that I'm just getting going, I don't quite feel strong enough to resist overindulging.

So instead I decided to start today, on an "easier", average day.  Turns out, not so easy.  I did manage to keep my calories within my Lose It! daily allotment but not without feeling fairly hungry all day.  I take that back:  I wasn't hungry persay.  But boy, did I want to eat.  And such is the crux of my weight problem.  If I focus on my the hunger in my stomach, most of the time, I'm not hungry.  Yet, as soon as I get into my head, I could eat a horse.  Like right now.  My stomach is not grumbling nor does it feel empty.  So why I am salivating at the thought of any food?  This will most certainly be the hardest thing for me to over come.  As with any addiction, I need to learn how to best survive these cravings.  Tonight I'm trying mint tea.  I've tried this in the past with some success so I figured I'd give it another shot.  With tea, I don't add any calories but still get a little flavor to satisfy my tastebuds.  It is still not food however, and boy, do I know that. I keep telling myself that if I can keep my cravings at bay, over time, it will become easier and easier to distinguish actual hunger from  my "mental hunger."  Until then though, it's going to be tough, requiring a lot of self-control on my part.  Hopefully, I will stick to it though, especially given so many eyes are watching.  I'll just have to take it one day at a time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


After quite the hiatus, I've decided to return to the blogosphere.  This time, however, I will not just be posting as a runner.  You see, in my post-collegiate days I have lost more than just running fitness; I have also lost my general state of good health and well-being.  Since college, I have gain 50lbs and continue to see the number on the scale climb ever so slowly.  I have developed very poor eating habits, often eating 3000 calories a day, most of which are high in fat.  I am constantly battling some type of illness or ailment which leaves me feeling run down and unmotivated.  I spend money at an unsustainable rate, usually on food or drink, rather than saving it for important adult things like new cars and houses.  Generally speaking, I've kind of let myself go.

Surprisingly, even given all this, I would say I'm still a fairly happy person.  I have a wonderful boyfriend and dog, both who love me for who I am, no matter the shape or size.  I have great friends and a supportive family who I know would be there for me whenever I needed them.  I still really enjoy my research, even after 6-years of getting paid virtually minimum wage to do it (ok so it's not that bad...). However, the burden my weight, health, and finances certainly makes it difficult to truly enjoy each moment. These should be the fun and exciting days of my life; I should be out explore new places, meeting new people, and trying new things.  Yet, on any given day, I'd much rather park it on the couch than to go anywhere.  Don't get me wrong, relaxing in the comfort of your home is certainly a fine option, but sometimes I feel I choose it, not because I truly want to, but because the stress, exhaustion, self-consciousness, and embarrassment my health and well-being issues bring make staying in a much safer option.

I've been trying to address all of these issues for some time now but just can't seem to commit.  As with any habit, the bad health and financial tendencies I have developed are incredibly hard to break.  I've tried numerous independent options including online logs (mint.com, loseit.com, weightwatchers.com) as well as  weight and spending spreadsheets with little success.  So I've decided to try something different:  make my progress public.  By posting my progress to the world, I'm holding myself more accountable for my actions, which will hopefully motivate me to keep working on myself.  With the help of faithful readers, I will also hopefully gain a support network, who's encouragement will help me through rough patches.

So, here goes nothing.  Let the life improvement begin.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Start, New Goals

Well here I go again with another comeback. After waking up with pretty intense achilles pain the morning after my last post, I decided it was time to really rest it. I haven't really run since then, with the exception of a 3-mile week (3 10-minute runs) a couple weeks ago. Not counting that psuedo-running week, I've been run-less for 5 weeks. Overall, my achilles does feel better but I have a sneaky feeling I'm not out of the woods yet. I still notice some "weirdness" when walking, almost like a slight stiffness or tightness. Nonetheless, I will still be getting back to running this week, albeit cautiously. Unlike my post-1/2 marathon foolishness, I will be coming back much much slower this; week one will only consist of three 10-minute runs followed by a week of three 15-minute runs, a week of three 20-minute runs, and then a week of three 3-milers. If I can make it up to the 3 miles pain-free then I'll consider longer runs of 4-5 miles and possibly some "easy" workouts (fartleks/tempos). This plan should put me in ok shape for the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K, the one race I will to do before heading up to Summit, Greenland for research in June.

So restart the clock and reset the goals: I have eight weeks until the Freihofer's and thus 8 weeks to train consistently. Here's a closer look at this week's training:

Monday -- 04/11 -- Run Easy 10 minutes, Exercise bike 20 minutes, Stretch

Tuesday -- 04/12 -- Strength Class

Wednesday -- 04/13 -- OFF

Thursday -- 04/14 -- Run Easy 10 minutes, Exercise bike 20 minutes, Stretch

Friday -- 04/15 -- OFF

Saturday -- 04/16 -- Run Easy 10 minutes, Exercise bike 20 minutes, Strength, Stretch

Sunday -- 04/17 -- OFF OR Bike 60 minutes (if the weather's nice)

TOTAL: 3 miles

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Training Plan 2/28-03/06

Last week's shoe test results are in: my new GT-2160s are not part of the achilles problem. In fact, they may even be helping with the healing. Tuesday's run in my old GT-2150's clearly showed that those shoes are well past their prime; for the entire 20 minutes it felt like I was running on concrete! Even just walking around in the old sneaks earlier in the day left me with achy heels. Needless to say, the rest of the week's runs were done in the new shoes. Still no major developments on the achilles front which is good and bad. Good because it means things aren't getting any worse; bad because it means they're also not getting an better. I take that back. I do think things have improved slightly compared to a few weeks ago. But I also think (know) that I'm far from being in the clear yet. That being said, here's next week. I'm hoping to add a couple miles and maybe try a one-mile tempo (if there is such a thing) to prep for the upcoming 4-miler (yes, still on the schedule, albeit it with different goals in mind. Stay tuned for a race plan/goals post soon!)

Monday -- 02/28 -- Run Easy 3 miles, Stretch

Tuesday --03/01 -- Strength Class

Wednesday -- 03/02 -- Pool/Cross-train 30 minutes, Stretch

Thursday -- 03/03 -- OFF

Friday -- 03/04 -- Run Easy 3 mile w/ 1 mile @ 8:15-8:30, Strength, Stretch

Saturday -- 03/05 --OFF

Sunday -- 03/06 -- Run Long 4 miles, Stretch

Total: 10 miles

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What To Do, What To Do...

Last week didn't exactly shape up to be the wonderful pain-free training fest it was supposed to be. On each of the three excruciating slow and short runs I did, I felt my achilles to some degree. The good thing was that things had drastically improved from a couple weeks ago; each run I only felt a mild discomfort, almost just like a tightness, rather than pain. This suggests that the lift did in fact play a role, which is good to know. Still, I'm apprehensive to start building miles and intensity if things aren't feeling 100%. Talk about frustrating. While on one hand, I'm thinking I need another run-free week (if not two or three) to avoid full blown achilles tendonitis that sidelines me for months, I also just want to move forward to reach my weight loss and fitness goals. That and I really hate most cross-training . With maybe the exception of road biking (tis not the season for that, sadly), I would take a day of running over anything low-impact a gym has to offer. This is probably true for most runners but most runners would probably also do things like the elliptical (gross) and the stationary bike (barf) knowing it will help their return from injury. Me, on the other hand, if I can't run, I will almost assuredly opt for the couch over the gym leading to a loss of fitness and a likely expansion of the waistline; the antithesis to my goals. I accept this is something I need to probably get over but I haven't quite made the leap to do so yet.

Nor do I plan to next week. Tonight I have convinced myself that there may be another solution to this achilles nonsense: my new shoes. As I mentioned last time, I really noticed a uptick on the issue following runs in brand new ASICS GT2160s (with lifts) a couple weeks ago. While I was lift-less this week, I was still in these new shoes. This next week I will test the theory that, in addition to the lifts, the new shoes are also problematic. To do this, I'll throw on my trusty GT-2150s for this week's three slow n' short trots. If the pain/discomfort persists, well then I guess I'll be getting over my aversion to cross-training sooner than later. Here's how the week looks:

Monday -- 02/21 -- Run Easy 20 minutes, Stretch

Tuesday -- 02/22 -- Strength Class

Wednesday -- 02/23 -- OFF

Thursday -- 02/24 -- Run Easy 3 miles, Stretch

Friday -- 02/25 -- Cross-train/Pool 30 minutes, Stretch

Saturday -- 02/25 -- OFF

Sunday -- 02/26 -- Run Long 3-5 miles (depending on achilles), Stretch

Total: 8-10 miles