Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whoa - where did she go?

Well, it seems like I took an extended break from when I started this blog.  Let's see if I can get it moving again.  It's been an interesting year.

As for racing, I completed three half-marathons and one full marathon in 2012.  Since getting ever so close to that sub-2 hour half (2:00:56) last December at the Las Vegas Rock N' Roll Half Marathon, I was hoping to break through that wall in 2012.  This year was full of good intentions, but I never truly hit the training programs correctly and at the right time to get the full benefit of the program.  My April half was cold and rainy, and was in week nine of my full marathon training program, so my speedwork was just starting to begin.  In hindsight, I should have followed a half program - then once that half was over, transitioned into a full program if I truly wanted to hit my goal.  I walked away with roughly a 2:07 and some change.  I'll have to research the exact times and enter it on the side of the blog for record-keeping sake.

Next up was my full, Grandma's Marathon, in Duluth, MN.  Training went well, I hit my miles and was using a time-based training program.  I felt strong and went to the start line feeling good.  Just after the half point, my gut had other ideas and I ended up in almost every porta-potty from mile 14 to mile 23.  My 4:22 goal was within reach before all the tummy troubles, but I ceased any kind of energy gel at all, so between all the visits to the potty, and nothing but water, I ended up finishing with a 5:16.  A time that I will definitely have to improve upon when I decide to tackle that distance again. The picture to the right is my finish at the full.

The one negative side effect I had from marathon training was that my running pace slowed dramatically over what I had been doing in 2011, and I packed on an extra 10 pounds of which I am STILL struggling to shed.  I am hoping that a break from long distance endurance training and an increase in strength-training and shorter distance, faster running with some cross-training thrown in will reassure my body that a) I don't need an extra layer of fat and/or inflammation to sustain my running and b) I'm not going to die! 

I also ran the Maple Leaf Half Marathon in La Crosse, Wisconsin that coincides with Oktoberfest.  I have dear friends in the area since we lived there for 3 years, and I wanted to be able to run an event in that area.  My pace was still slower than I wanted it to be, and I was in the middle of my 18 week half training program using the Run Less, Run Faster approach.  Again, right in the middle where the speed work hadn't really peaked.  When will I learn?  Let's hope in 2013.  Anyways, I finished this one in 2:10 and some change, and hung out for a day or so before heading back up to Duluth for a fundraising dinner I was helping to organize.

The last race of the year was again the Vegas race, and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  We went on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii in October, where I was able to cycle a lot on the boat, but my running didn't happen.  I never really recovered from that break, and I braced myself with 3 goals:  1) run like hell and leave it all out there and see if I could gut out the sub-2 with ideal conditions, 2) beat my Grandma's 2011 time of 2:16, my slowest but first half and 3) if the wheels really came off the bus, just finish.  I finished at 2:15 and some change, so I call that a win.  We braved 25-35 mph headwinds on the last 4-5 miles of the race with gusts to 45...even so, I would have still come up short on the sub-2 hour goal.

My plan is to post to the blog at least weekly and share the trials and tribulations of getting my body back to that happy place it was at the end of last year.   Cheers to a healthy and happy Holiday Season!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living a "normal" life

Today is the day that Winter decided to make an appearance in the Northland - and the kids are home from school.  I normally love these days, but seeing as they just came off a week of "Winter" break last week, it throws a kink into my normal schedule.  Here's the view from our backyard - notice the hubby's HAM radio antenna and trees.
So, I'm thinking a run outside is probably not going to happen today :).  I participate in an exercise challenge in the forums of the online food journal that I use to log my food and exercise daily, and I'm just about 38 minutes short of my 3500 minute goal for our current challenge that ends today.  I think my good old friend, the treadmill, will be hosting a party for me later this afternoon.

My middle daughter's birthday was on Monday this week, and she chose to have Mexican food for her birthday dinner.  We have really avoided this particular restaurant of late because I really loathe seeing the number on the scale after high-sodium meals, not to mention, most Mexican food in restaurants are not the healthiest meals for me, nor my family.  I bit the bullet though, and we went there for dinner.  I really thought hard about not eating and having something when we got home, but then the focus would be on me and my dietary requirements, not my daughter and her birthday.  I had 5 small chips, my arroz con pollo, and a TON of iced tea.  Seeing as I gave up bread for Lent, passing on the birthday cake and the tortillas weren't an issue for me.  I'm maintaining my weight loss for the most part --  I'm still trying to stay at 135 or thereabouts and not drift any higher than 140.   I was running about 139 or so before the weekend and as anticipated, when getting on the scale on Tuesday morning, was up about 2 pounds to 141.  I know this is sodium-related, but being the numbers person I am, it just ruins my day.

It is my belief that "normal" people don't stress about this.  They have a meal that has more calories than they normally have, they enjoy it - they may not even eat the whole thing - and they move on.  It has no emotional tie, it doesn't ruin their day, they don't step on the scale to see what it did - they move on.  This is my goal for the week.  I'm doing pretty well so far - logging everything like I normally do, hitting my numbers as I want and completing all the exercise I have mapped out on my calendar this week.  I know if I "walk the walk" - I'll be fine - it's just that nagging feeling of, "if I allow myself to have XX food, will it push me over the edge to binging on unhealthy food" and I become one of the majority of people who have lost a significant amount of weight only to gain it back. 

Not today anyway!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tiger Stripes and Scale Mind Games

The past week or so has been an interesting learning experience for me.  During the weight loss phase of my journey, I never really struggled with late-night snacking.  However, since hitting my goal of 135 last December, it's been a constant struggle to eat enough to be able function at the level I want to with my running, cross-training and strength-training and also hold the 135 number.  I have been reading several books on nutrition and what to eat when you're training for an endurance sport, but not be eating bagels, pasta and refined carbs all day.  Whether I like it or not, I do have to restrict my carbs somewhat or I have quite the belly bloat.  I'm rather short-waisted and the extra skin in the abdomen area doesn't help this either.  I'm still learning lots and tweaking things here and there.  I look forward to being more consistent in this area of my life and less of the ups and downs of having a great day nutrition-wise (in my estimation) and then out of the blue having a carb fest the next.  It's not like I'm not having any carbs, I think I just need to time them to coincide with when I need the energy.

One of my goals in this off-season was to gain more muscle definition and put a bit more muscle on to help with the metabolism and protect my body from running-related injury.  My trainer has been complimenting me on my muscle definition lately, and I finally got her to take a picture today of my left arm.  It's funny, I'll be doing my tricep work (I HATE tricep work) - very focused on my form and looking straight ahead to get through all the reps when she whispers to me, "Michelle - look in the mirror - your shoulder - those are called tiger stripes and they are so hard to get, you should be proud."  Today I had her take a picture of the "tiger stripes"

Wow, it was an early workout today, and as you can see, I had no problem sweating this morning.  I'm very happy with how far I've come and want to be a strong and fast (well, as fast as I can be) runner.  However, I find myself being caught up with the number on the scale.  I want the extra muscle, but I don't want to see numbers in the 140s.  I still think I can maintain 135-140 - and of course, I'd like to be at the lower end of that range as I'm rather anal-retentive when it comes to numbers. 

This week's goal is to stay off the scale, except for Monday morning and Friday morning and not sweat the ups and downs associated with water retention, etc.  I still log my food ( on a daily basis, track my exercise (all workouts are on my personal calendar and on the food diary) and monitor how my clothes fit.  There is no reason to get obsessive-compulsive about the scale and jumping on and off it throughout the day when I pass it by to go put clothes away in the closet "just to see where I am now."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Journey

So, I started out with a bang - I lost 20 pounds initially and was feeling really good about myself and my progress.  Then, out of the blue, my brother called.  My mom was not doing well living in her condo.  She had been complaining about her neighbors and how loud their music was playing at night.  My brother had visited her late one night after his second shift and spent the night on the couch and heard nothing.  It turns out, she called my brother a few weeks after that and told him the neighbors were coming to kill her and the cat and she locked herself in the bathroom.  After weeks in the hospital and a thorough medical exam and testing, it was decided that she had early-onset dementia  - diagnosed at 68 - in the form of Lewy-Body Dementia (LBD).  LBD, in her case, is characterized by hearing voices - she likes to call it a voice-over.  Of course, those voices she hears are only saying negative things and her hospital team felt it in her best interest to be in an assisted living facility.

I spent many, many hours and drove hundreds and eventually thousands of miles back and forth to get her situated, get her set-up with outpatient care, take care of selling her condominium, find legal representation and figure out how it was all going to be paid for since she was living on Social Security.  I let my diet slide due to stress, but miraculously, I maintained the loss throughout this stressful situation.  It wasn't until one day when I went to a doctor's appointment with her and she had to be weighed for this appointment.  I was only five pounds less than she was, but surely, I believed, I was so much healthier and surely, I didn't look as big as she did?  But, I thought about it a lot - and what I came up with is this 1) life is too short to be living the way I was living - if any of this dementia is heredity - my clock is ticking; 2) I am passing along the unhealthy eating and sedentary ways to my three daughters and am doing nothing to break the chain of obesity; 3) I want to finally achieve those physical and active goals that I have always longed to do.

That was it - my light bulb moment.  It took me roughly two and a half years to lose 135 pounds and get to my self-imposed goal weight of 135.  I have a thing with numbers.  I wanted to be officially one-half the person I was when I started.  For comparison, here is a picture from December of 2011 with my dad out in Vegas where I ran the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. 

I've been followed by my family medicine doctor the whole time, and here are the statistics from the last time I stepped on the body composition scale in November 2011:

Current Body Weight:  137.0 (62.1 kg)
Total Body Fat:  17.5% (23.2 lbs; 10.5 kg)
Fat-Free Mass:  82.5% (109.3 lbs; 49.6 kg)
Body Mass Index:  24
Body Fat Displacement:  Torso 19.9%; Left leg 13.1%; Right leg 12.2%; 
Left arm 19.6%; Right arm 19.0%

Since then, I've been maintaining a running base during our cold winter months, ramped up my weight training and begun the interesting phase of maintaining the weight loss and trying to work on certain areas of my body that I'd like to see smaller.  Due to the large amount of weight loss, I do have some excess skin issues, and I really think I'll need to explore cosmetic surgery down the road, but my physician wants me to give it a year at goal weight to see just how much my skin will rebound.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting to know me :)

My name is Michelle and I live in Minnesota!

Hi there.  I've been intending to start a blog for awhile now, and am happy to finally have some time to devote to getting it up and running.  The main focus of my blog will be healthy living - encompassing diet and exercise, trials and tribulations, successes and failures (or learning opportunities) and whatever else happens to pop up along the way.

Here's a bit of history about me.  I'm a married, 43 year old mother of three girls (7, 8 and 12), and we live up in Northern Minnesota.  I've fought a battle with food and weight ever since I was about my oldest daughter's age.  I never really appreciated my body for what it was back then - strong, mature, curvy and resilient.  All I knew was I definitely was not a scrawny little scrapper like a lot of my peers at the time - thin as a rail, able to participate in whatever sport they wanted, and of course could wear whatever the latest fashion trend was with ease - or at least this was my perception.  I can remember being in 7th grade and being weighed for gym class before our swimming unit and being mortified that I was 132 pounds - and of course they announced that out loud - so much for privacy back in the 70's.  I can remember being roughly 155 by the time I graduated from high school, and although I felt that was a bit high, I was still able to do the things I wanted to do - given the situation.  I lived with my mom until the middle of my junior year of high school.  She was clinically depressed with major anxiety issues, but refused to seek treatment.  I had finally had enough and went to live with my father who had since remarried.  It was a better situation, but not ideal.  To make this introduction short, I gained the normal "Freshman 15" and then some during college, gaining about 40 pounds total.  I jumped around from just under 200 pounds down to 145 once during a semi-successful attempt at weight loss through Weight Watchers.  During my 3 pregnancies, my weight also bounced around, but I hit an all-time high of 275 at the height of my 3rd pregnancy.  I lost some after the birth, but I just never really found my groove.  We moved to Northern Minnesota for my husband's job and it was definitely a hard transition for me.  I made many attempts at serious exercise (hired a trainer) in conjunction with Weight Watchers - but it never really clicked for me.  My last attempt with Weight Watchers was April 2009 where I weighed in at 270.  I was mortified - my husband knew I was unhappy and I just couldn't find the answer.  I lost about 5 pounds and of course just coasted along.

My turning point really started with an appointment at the Family Medicine clinic at my husband's hospital on June 1, 2009.  We have a Family Medicine doctor that also has a keen interest in bariatric medicine (not surgery).  He was in the process of getting board certified when I met him and I decided to see what his program was all about.  Basically - I had a myriad of blood tests to make sure I didn't have any big health concerns; stepped on a body composition scale to see where I was (details to follow); listened to a presentation on the nutrition information that he provided to me; and then had a short physical exam to complete the appointment.   Here's what the scale had to say:

Current Body Weight:  265.2 Lbs (120.3Kg)
Total Body Fat:  46.4% 123.5 Lbs (56.0 Kg)
Fat-Free Mass:  52.6% 137.1 Lbs (62.2 Kg)
Body Mass Index: 46
Body Fat Displacement:  Torso 54%; Left Leg 35.5%; Right Leg 33.1%; 
Left Arm 53.0%; Right Arm 51.6%

I never really took any "before" pictures for the sole purpose of seeing progress, since I was really  unsure that this attempt would be any different than the previous ones.  So, the picture above is from a trip to Disneyland in September 2009.

I'm going to split the introduction/history into a few posts as to not be too cumbersome.  More to follow :).