Q. About bingeing: How is it defined? How do you manage it now?
A. A binge itself is characterized by eating a much larger than normal amount of food within a short period (2 hours) AND lack of control over eating during the binge episode. The "lack of control" part is very important. Many people overeat (think Thanksgiving dinner!) but it is not a binge unless there is a feeling of having no control.
Binge eating disorder is diagnosed by more specific criteria, that you can find here. I had binge eating disorder (I still consider myself to have BED, even though I'm not bingeing as often as I did when I was fat). Managing the binge eating is SO MUCH HARDER than losing 100+ pounds was. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I've learned to identify binge triggers (stress is #1, usually when my kids are driving me nuts), and try to avoid them. I am constantly struggling with it, though. I've been working on an entire post about binge eating, so I'll hopefully finish that soon.
Q. Do you and your husband ever eat out?
A. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I ate out in the 16 months that I was losing weight. We used to enjoy eating out, but we were both fat--and I knew that restaurant food wasn't helping. It was hard at first, but we eventually learned to enjoy home-cooked food much more than restaurant food. We save a ton of money, the food tastes better, it's much healthier, and you know what is in the food. We still avoid eating out as much as possible, but if it's for a social thing, then we will. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say we eat out once every two months or so (unless we are on vacation).
Q. How do you manage a $100/week grocery budget?
A. I'm still getting used to the $100/week budget, but so far it hasn't been too hard. Our breakfasts are very cheap--my kids like cereal (I buy the store brand, for about $1.50 per box) or half a bagel; Jerry and I like oatmeal (plain oats are much cheaper than the flavored ones, and they taste better too, if you add toppings), or toast with peanut butter.
For lunch, my kids love Ramen noodles--they request that nearly every day, which is super cheap. I usually have homemade soup (I make a big batch of soup to last the week, usually vegetarian). Jerry takes leftovers from dinner the previous day in his lunch.
I cook dinner nearly every day. We eat a lot of beans, lentils, and rice, which are all super cheap. If I cook with meat, I only use one pound per dinner. I buy meat at Sam's Club (they have great meat and it's the cheapest I can find it--usually around $2 per pound, more or less depending on what I'm buying). I buy it in bulk and then package it into one-pound bags and freeze it.
To buy my fresh produce, I go to the fruit and veggie market. I can buy a TON of fruit and veggies for less than $20. I only buy the stuff that is very cheap. Even though I love raspberries, I would never pay the $3-4 per container for them that they cost sometimes. I wait until they are on sale for $1. I don't pay more than $1/pound for apples, grapes, peaches, etc. Something is always on sale, and that's what I buy for the week.
One thing that I DON'T buy is pre-packaged stuff like Lean Cuisines or frozen pizzas, etc. Usually, the more work you have to do to prepare something, the cheaper it's going to be.
Q. What are your staple food items?
A. The things I buy most often:
milk (1% for the family, unsweetened almond milk for me)
bread (sprouted grain bread for snacks, and sandwich bread)
Smucker's Natural peanut butter
Kettle almond butter
cheese (2% milk shredded cheddar and mozzarella, slices of Havarti or muenster)
whole wheat flour (and whole wheat pastry flour for baking)
Smart Taste pasta (it's white pasta with only 180 calories and 6 grams of fiber)
canned tomatoes (diced and crushed, and tomato sauce)
canned beans (black, red, pinto, garbanzo, Great Northern)
dried beans, split peas, and lentils
canned corn (no sugar added)
hard pretzels (Kroger brand only--they are our favorite)
Fiber One bars (oats & chocolate)
lean ground turkey
smoked turkey sausage
lean boneless pork chops
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Q. Do you take any vitamins or supplements?
A. Yes (when I remember to!). I take a (generic brand) children's chewable vitamin (like Flinstones), vitamin D supplement, and fish oil supplement. I take the children's vitamin because my stomach is very sensitive to adult vitamins (just since losing weight--I used to take them without problem when I was fat--go figure!) If I take an adult multivitamin, or even half of one, I get extremely nauseous and sometimes even vomit, so I stick with the kids ones. I take vitamin D and fish oil because Dr. Oz recommends it! :)
Q. What are your favorite healthier snacks?
A. As I said before, I go through food phases, but there are a couple of snacks that remain constants. Carrots and peanut butter (2 oz. carrot sticks, 32 grams of natural peanut butter). The combo is perfect--crunchy, smooth, sweet, salty, creamy. My other favorite is some sort of bread with nut butter--I like sprouted grain bread (found in the freezer section), or homemade bread--pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, banana bread, bran muffins, etc.
|Carrots with peanut butter|
|Banana bread with coconut butter|
A. Wow, this is a tough one!! But if I HAVE to choose... This isn't so much a recipe as it is a method, but I love to eat this for lunch or dinner, especially when cooking for just myself. This is for ONE serving:
Pick a starch (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet, whatever you like)
Pick a veggie (asparagus, peas, fresh green beans, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, etc)
Olive oil (about 1 Tbsp--I like light olive oil instead of EVOO, just a flavor preference)
Garlic (3-4 cloves, or go crazy with 5-6 like me!)
Parmesan cheese (or feta!)
Cook your starch according to package directions. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Slice or chop the garlic and add it to the skillet. Cook the garlic very carefully to avoid burning it, until it is soft and just barely starting to turn golden. Throw the veggies in the skillet too, coating with the garlicky oil, and cook until the veggies are soft (a lot of times I'll put the veggies in with the starch instead--a handful of broccoli in with the pasta for a couple of minutes, so that it cooks faster than in the skillet). When the starch is done, drain if needed, and add it to the skillet with the oil, garlic, and veggies, and toss to coat the whole thing. Pile it on a plate and top with parmesan (or feta) cheese.
|Brown rice, peas, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan|
|Whole wheat pasta, asparagus, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan|
|Quinoa, spinach, olive oil, garlic, and feta|
Q. Which workout clothes do you like for each activity?
A. My running clothes consist of:
- Under Armour Cold Gear $$ (for winter) compression fit pants (I only have one pair, so I use them for my longer runs)
- Under Armour Heat Gear $$ (for summer) compression fit capri's (Again, just one pair)
- Lots of race t-shirts that I've earned or bought second-hand
- Sports jackets for winter (just cheap ones from Wal-Mart)
- Under Armour compression fit long-sleeved shirt (got this at a garage sale for $2!!!)
- Knee-length shorts (Danskin from Wal-Mart). These are a cotton blend, which most people hate to run in, but I use them for shorter runs or when my Under Armour capri's are dirty. I have about 8 pairs that I got on clearance for $3/pair.
- Danskin yoga pants from Wal-Mart. Same as the shorts above.
- cheap sports bras from Wal-Mart (I have small boobs, so I don't need much support)
- Moisture wicking socks (not sure of the brand), bought at the running store
- Brooks Adrenaline 11 shoes
- Under Armour visor, a gift from Jerry for my first half-marathon (visors are great for keeping sweat out of your eyes)
- And always... ALWAYS my Garmin!! Cannot run without my Garmin
|UA capris, UA shirt|
|Cheap cotton shorts, race t-shirt, GARMIN|
A. I don't do a ton of strength training, but in a nutshell, here is my routine (I only do one set of these exercises):
- squats (holding a 20 lb. dumbbell in each hand)- 12-16 reps
- alternating lunges (holding a 15 lb. dumbbell in each hand)- 8 reps per leg
- side lunges- 8 reps per leg
- donkey kicks- 16 reps per leg
- leg lifts- 16 reps per leg
- crunches- about 40 (sometimes I do sit-ups instead, and I'll only do about 20 of those)
- shoulder press (15 lb dumbbell in each hand)- 12 reps
- chest flys (10 lb dumbbells)- 12 reps
- bicep curls (15 lb dumbbells)-10 reps
- tricep kick-backs (10 lb dumbbells)- 12 reps each
- lateral raises (10 lb dumbbells)- 12 reps
- back rows (15 lb dumbbells)- 12 reps each
- push-ups-(Army-style)- as many as I can do! Right now, about 6 ;)
Q. Do you go to the gym or exercise at home?
A. I do all of my exercises at home. My family is on a very tight budget, so I don't have a gym membership. I do have a treadmill at home, but I mostly run outside. I have a limited set of dumbbells (2 lbs, 5 lbs, 8 lbs, 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs).
Q. What made you decide to get into running, and was it difficult for you at first?
A. You can read my entire running story here. The short version? I was writing a bucket list, and included "Enter and RUN a 5k race". The ONLY reason I started running was to make it through the one 5k race, and then I planned on quitting the running after that--because I hated running. However, I eventually became hooked on it, and it became my exercise of choice. Running was VERY difficult for me at first. I can't tell you how many times I attempted the Couch to 5k program and failed (Week 4 is a bitch!) So I did my own thing, and it made much more sense for me. That can be found on my running page as well.
|After my first 8-mile run (it took 3 separate attempts to reach 8!)|
Q. How did you educate yourself on running and all the running lingo?
A. I began reading some running blogs, but most of the info was from Runner's World magazine. I bought a few of them and loved them, so I eventually subscribed (it's a cheap subscription!) I thought that magazine would be aimed at super serious elite runners, but it's aimed at ALL runners--even beginners. Love that magazine!
Q. Did your shoe size get smaller with your weight loss?
A. Absolutely! I had to get rid of ALL my old shoes. I used to wear a 9 1/2-10 (wide), and now I wear an 8-9 (depending on the shoe, usually an 8 1/2).
Q. What is your "story"? Were you always overweight? Etc...
A. I was overweight my entire life. I remember binge eating when I was very young, before I even knew there was a such thing as a "binge". In 4th grade, a bully nicknamed me Shamu, and I was teased a lot for my weight. Throughout high school, I was about 175 pounds (I'm 5'4" tall, so that made me overweight). In college, I got up to 205. I lost about 50 pounds for my wedding in 2003, and then gained it back immediately afterward. I gained a lot for each pregnancy--my highest weight was 271 before I delivered Eli. After my pregnancies, I got down to 218 pretty quickly, but it didn't last. I gained. And gained. Until I was a steady 250+ for a few years. In August 2010 was the first time IN MY LIFE that I was considered a "normal" weight.
I think a major factor in my weight problem is the fact that I've battled with depression since I was about 10 years old (around the time some kids started calling me Shamu). I still have depression, and I take medication for it. Depression=eating=being overweight=more depression. A bad cycle!
|In high school... 175 pounds|
|College... 205 pounds (That's Jerry--his shirt said "I LUV PUNKY", his nickname for me, lol)|
A. I was actually very lucky in that I was pretty healthy other than being obese. I had high cholesterol, but my blood sugar and blood pressure were fine. Something that became prevalent about a year before I started losing weight was that I was getting numbness in my hands multiple times per day. I wasn't sure why, but it stopped when I lost the weight, so it must have been related.
Q. Do you enjoy life more now that you've lost the weight? Do you see life differently?
A. This is a really great question, because the answer may surprise you. While life is certainly EASIER at a normal weight, I wouldn't say that I am enjoying life more. My life is pretty much the exact same as it was before, on a daily basis--taking care of my kids, cleaning my house, running errands, very occasionally going out with friends.
The one exception to this is activity. When I was fat, I hated anything that was active. Now, the thought of sitting around doing nothing all day doesn't sound appealing at all. I go for bike rides and walks for PLEASURE--so I definitely enjoy life more as far as activity goes.
|I never would have gone zip-lining when I was fat|
Q. Was there a specific event or moment that made you decide to lose the weight once and for all?
A. I don't think I really had a defining moment like that. Seeing the race photos from the Indy 500 Festival (my "before" pic in the blue shirt) was a huge wake-up call, but that was in May 2009. I didn't start losing weight until August 2009, so I'm not sure what made me finally get fed-up.
Q. How do you wear a size 4/6? I weigh (a similar weight) but I'm a size 10.
A. This definitely has to be from the running. In 2003, I got down to 153 pounds from dieting alone. I was a size 12-14 at the time. Now, I'm in the high 140's, and I wear a size 4/6 (more like a 6 at this weight... around 140 is a comfy 4). The only explanation I can come up with is that running made me drop more body fat this time around.
|I weighed 152 in both pics... the left is from 2003 (size 12/14 jeans), right is from 2010 (size 4)|
Q. Do you have brothers or sisters?
A. I have an older sister, Jeanie, who lives with her husband and two basset hounds in Illinois; I have an older brother, Brian, who is divorced (no kids) and is a pilot for Delta, living in Minnesota; and I have a younger brother, Nathan, not yet married, no kids, who just bought his first house here in Michigan after spending 3 years in Iraq (first as a soldier, then working as a civilian).
|Nathan, me, Jeanie, and Brian... the day after I came home from the hospital (Nov '10)|
A. I don't know if my kids really remember what our food habits were like before. They certainly eat healthier now because we aren't ordering pizza or going out to eat anymore. I don't cook special "diet" meals for me and something else for them--I cook one meal for the family, and if they don't like it, then TOUGH. I do buy them treats (things that I don't like), but not very often. My parents live very close to us and they definitely spoil my kids with junk food, so there is no need for me to do it also.
One thing that my kids can't stand is that I never ever take them to McDonald's. I honestly haven't eaten McDonald's since August 2009. Just the thought of it repulses me. I don't take the kids there at all, and they always whine about it. But my parents take them after church once in a while, so they get their fix that way!
Q. What does Jerry take to eat for work? Do you make it healthier for him?
A. Jerry takes leftover dinner for work. When I cook dinner, I make 4 portions. Jerry and I each eat one portion for dinner, the kids split a portion for dinner, and then there is one leftover portion--that's what Jerry takes to work the next day. Jerry packs his own lunch (I feel bad about that, because I really feel like I should pack him a lunch! But I honestly never think about it). We don't have junk food in the house (it would never last more than a minute if we did!) so he just brings leftovers and a couple of snacks--like Fiber One bars, pretzels, fruit.
Q. How did your family and friends react to your weight loss?
A. At first, they didn't really say much. I'd been on diets hundreds of times, so they probably assumed it was just another attempt that would soon fail. But when I was lost 50, 60, 70+ pounds, most of my family and friends were very supportive and encouraging. However, once I got to a certain point--less than 150 pounds--some of my friends made comments that I was taking it too far, and when am I going to stop, etc. I could tell that some of my friends were jealous of the attention I was getting for the weight loss. I really began to realize who my true friends were, and they were very happy for me.
Most of my friends and family were very proud of me. I never mentioned my weight loss on Facebook until I made the video of my weight loss journey back in January 2011. I posted the video on Facebook, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A lot of my friends reposted it on their own pages, saying, "Look what my friend did!" and things like that. Now, most everyone treats me like I was never overweight.
|My friend Adam has been nothing but happy for me since the beginning... go check out his Sparkpage and tell him how strong he is! He'll love that ;)|
Q. How do you deal with eating during family get-togethers and/or holidays?
A. This is a copy and paste from my FAQ page: I constantly remind myself that this party is only going to be a few hours... and in a few hours, I can go home feeling really happy that I'm still on plan, or I can go home and feel like crap because I let FOOD take control over me. I also plan everything before I go... if the hostess is a friend of mine, I'll even call and ask about the food situation so that I can plan my calories. If it's a restaurant situation, I look up the menu online and plan EVERYTHING I'm going to eat and then I stick to that plan. If I am going somewhere where I don't know what the food situation will be, then I eat before I leave or after I get home... or I even pack a lunch or snack to have to hold me over until I get home. I also make sure that I don't let ANYONE tell me how I should eat... and it never fails that people will tell me, "It's a party, you can splurge!" or "No dessert?! But it's Christmas! You can treat yourself!" etc etc. *I* make the decision about my food, nobody else.
Q. What were your kids reactions to your weight loss?
A. They really don't remember when I was fat. After I'd lost the weight, I showed my "before" picture (the race photo with the blue shirt) to the kids and said, "Look at this, do you remember when I looked like this?" They started cracking up laughing, and I thought it was because of my weight. Then Noah said, "Look at your hair! You look silly!" It's funny, the things kids notice (or don't notice!)
I do remember when I was fat, it was just before Noah started kindergarten. He told me that he didn't want me to be fat. He said this out of nowhere. I cried about it. Maybe that was my defining moment!?
Q. Does your ice addiction cause problems with your teeth?
A. Surprisingly, I've been lucky so far in that my teeth seem to be fine with the ice chewing. My dentist told me I shouldn't chew ice, but I told him that it's unlikely I'll quit, and that was that. I have a couple of chipped teeth from when I broke my jaw, and the dentist put some tooth-colored stuff on them to fill in the chip... but it only lasted about two weeks. I was chewing ice and that part broke off. But as far as my actual TEETH, they haven't been harmed from the ice.
A. We'll find out this fall! ;) Eli is just starting kindergarten, so it will be my first time having every day, ALL day to myself. When he was in preschool, he went to school for 4 days per week, 3 hours each day. During that time, I did my running. I took him to school, then went to the State Park nearby and ran. Went home, showered, dressed, ate lunch, then picked him up.
I'm not sure what my day will consist of when BOTH of the boys are in school all day long. I definitely will do my running in the morning after they get on the bus. Clean the house. Run errands.
Q. What are your favorite TV shows?
A. Fun question!! My favorites: Desperate Housewives, The Biggest Loser, Drop Dead Diva, Love Bites, House, Brothers & Sisters, Cougar Town, Parenthood, Modern Family, The Big C, Dexter.... do you think I watch enough TV?! My top 3 of those would probably be Love Bites (a new show, just finished the first season); Brothers & Sisters; and Desperate Housewives (so sad this will be the last season!)
Q. Do you like being a stay-at-home mom and do you keep to a schedule?
A. Considering the alternative, I love being a stay-at-home mom. I have such bad social anxiety that I would dread working in an office or any environment that I had to deal with people. Until a year ago, I worked from home for a gynecologist--I scanned charts and uploaded them online (which most doctors are switching over to now). I did that for 5 years, and it was a great set-up I had (being able to work at home). However, all the work was finished and they didn't need me anymore. I don't plan on getting another job unless I absolutely HAVE to. Jerry understands my high level of anxiety, and he is fine with me staying at home.
Q. Do you plan to go back to work when the boys are older?
A. I guess I just answered that above! :) No, not if I can help it, but if my family really needs me to, then I will.
Q. Do you spend a lot of time looking for healthy eating topics, weight loss, recipes, etc, online?
A. When I was losing weight, I spent a LOT of time doing that--it was a source of inspiration for me. Now, whenever I'm online, I'm reading blogs. I love to read running blogs and weight loss blogs. I would read food blogs too, if they weren't a binge trigger for me.
Q. What blogs do you read for motivation, education, and inspiration?
A. I don't want to list my entire blog roll here, because I don't want to make anyone feel badly if I don't read their blog. But I will list a few that I find very motivating or inspiring...
Exercise- Making Healthy the Norm, Sweat Once A Day
Always makes me laugh- The Boring Runner
Weight Maintenance- Fat Girl Wearing Thin
Weight Loss- a small loss
Q. Did you ever have any embarrassing moments when you were heavy?
A. Yes! Once, I went to a restaurant and they took us to a booth. It never even crossed my mind that I wouldn't fit, but when I went to sit down, I couldn't squeeze in! I had to ask to move to a table. Another time, at the Mall of America, I was going to ride a roller coaster with Noah. I couldn't get the bar to latch, because my stomach was too big. The person who was working looked really embarrassed for me, and I told her just to push it down really hard. It latched, but it was digging into my stomach the whole time. People used to make mean comments about my weight to me quite often, too.
|Me and Noah at the Mall of America in 2006|