Incline walk

Today was a busy day, as evidenced by the 20,000 steps on my Wii U Fit Meter! It was SO NICE outside today--a very comfortable 36 degrees. That meant that the snow started melting, which makes me very happy. We're supposed to get a bunch more snow tonight, but for today, I was happy to see it melting.

I thought about going to the Metropark for my long run (seven miles), but I really wanted to go visit Mark today, so I figured I'd better do the treadmill so that I had enough time to go to the nursing home. I set the treadmill at an easy speed, and watched an episode and a half of Flashpoint while I ran. My heart rate only got to Zone 3.3, so it stayed very easy today.

When I reached seven miles, I decided to keep going, because I wanted to finish the episode of Flashpoint. But I didn't want to run, so I set the treadmill at 4.0 mph and 12% incline. Holy heart rate! My heart rate went up to Zone 4, which is a "tempo run" zone for me--usually, I have to run about an 8:00-8:20 mile pace to reach Zone 4. But walking at that very steep incline was tough enough to get my heart rate up pretty quickly.

I only did a mile, but I felt like I worked harder during that mile of walking than I did during the entire seven-mile run! Despite being difficult, it was kind of fun. I may do it in place of a run once in a while, just for something different.

I don't know why I bother putting my splits on there, because it's a treadmill run, so obviously my splits will be the same (unless I change speeds). I stopped my Garmin when I did the incline walking, but I kind of wish I'd left it on to see my heart rate jump.

Today is the last day of January, and this is the first month since November 2012 that I haven't run at least 100 miles. Last week, I briefly thought about keeping the 100+ mile streak going, but I really didn't want to get obsessive over it. My main running goal for 2014 is to have fun, and if that means less miles, then I'll be running less miles! This month, my total ended up being 92.2 miles.

After my run, I quickly showered and dressed so I could go visit Mark. I'd had a dream about him last night, that by a crazy miracle, his cancer was gone. In my dream, he had his pizza party as a celebration of being cancer-free. I woke up feeling really good about it, and then I realized it was just a dream. It would be awesome if that actually came true, though!

I stopped at the post office to see if he had any cards (he had about 20! Thanks so much to everyone who has sent them!). Then I stopped at McDonald's to pick up some lunch for him. My dad said that the doctor told Mark he still needs to gain some more weight; but thanks to the milkshakes and candy I've been bringing him, he's gained 10 pounds since he was hospitalized. Today, I brought him a whole meal AND a shake, which he enjoyed more than the grilled fish that the nursing home was serving ;)

As soon as we sat down in the cafeteria, he started talking about the pizza party that he wants to throw for his friends at the group home. I just really hope that it's going to work out! Mark's been working hard in therapy with his walker (he has to be able to walk in order to go back to the group home). While we were talking about his pizza party, I saw my dad walk in. I didn't know that he was going to be visiting Mark today, otherwise I would have just gone with him. I waved him over, and he said that the nurses told him that "Mark is in the cafeteria with his daughter". Mark thought it was funny that they think I'm his daughter ;)

Anyway, Mark was doing really well today, and his spirit was high. He was really talkative, but he got tired after an hour and a half visit, so I took him back to his room for a nap. I hung up a few more of his postcards--his walls are pretty full of cards now! I need to find another way to display them.

On the way home, I stopped at Kroger to do some grocery shopping. I haven't been able to get out for groceries in a while, so I spent an hour in there, getting some stuff we needed. I saw my friend Andrea in there, and we chatted about how nice it was to finally get out of the house!

After school today, Noah asked me to make him a walking schedule. He wants to participate in a race I've been trying to get him to do for three years! It's a "kid marathon" that takes place the same day as the Martian Marathon (I've done the 10K twice, and the half-marathon last year). The way it works is that kids can sign up and then they have to log 25 miles between January 1st and the race day, April 12th. Then, on race day, they run the final 1.2 miles of the Martian Marathon. They get a t-shirt and the same medal as the marathoners, which I think is so cool!

Anyway, after doing my Virtual 5K on Saturday, Noah has been really excited about walking. I told him that he doesn't have to run the kids' marathon, that walking is perfectly fine (the whole point is to get kids to be active). So I wrote a little walking schedule for him to get him to 25 miles before race day. Eli wants the medal VERY badly, but I don't know if he's willing to put in the work ;)  I told him he can't do the race if he doesn't log the 25 miles he's supposed to beforehand. This is my medal from last year:

You can see why it would appeal to an eight-year old boy ;)

I'm really excited that Noah's excited about the whole thing. He is still so proud of himself for doing the 5K last weekend, and I think it boosted his confidence that he really CAN do this if he puts his mind to it.

Birthday lunch at La Pita

This post is going to be extremely short, because I haven't had a whole lot going on, unfortunately. But, thankfully, the kids went to school today! I've liked having them at home (minus the arguing), but the fact that they went to school meant that the roads were okay to travel on, which meant I could get out of this house! This winter has made me feel like I'm losing my mind.

Renee had mentioned that for my birthday, she'd like to take me out to lunch at La Pita. So I made plans of going with Renee and Jessica today, assuming that the kids would be back at school. When we got the all-clear this morning, Renee said to meet at her house at 10:00.

After I got the kids ready for school and on the bus, I ate a quick breakfast and then got ready for a treadmill run. Today, I had three miles at half-marathon goal pace (8:20-ish/mile) on the schedule. I set the treadmill and started running, watching an episode of Flashpoint while I ran. My heart rate was in the low end of Zone 4, which was perfect for this run.

I'm curious to see what happens to my pace when I start running outside regularly again. In the last month or so, I've only run outside a few times, and I was dodging ice the whole time. In the past, I've noticed that the treadmill has helped me get faster, because I tend to run at a faster pace on the 'mill (the faster you run, the sooner you're done!)

I took a shower and got ready to head out, and then drove over to Renee's, where Jessica was waiting. It was 20 degrees out, which felt really nice! This is the warmest it's been in what feels like forever. Renee drove, and we stopped at Macy's so Renee could spend a gift card, and then I dropped off a box at FedEx. Then we got to La Pita a little after 11:00, and we were the only ones there at first. Usually, the parking lot is totally full. It was nice, because we didn't have to wait long for anything!

I got my "usual"--a lunch portion chicken kabob with rice pilaf, hummus, garlic sauce, salad, and pita bread. The last several times I've gone there, I was counting PointsPlus, and it was really nice to eat today without worrying about guesstimating portions and logging my food. I ate until I was comfortably full, and enjoyed every single bite.

Tomorrow, I'm really hoping to go visit Mark. I haven't seen him since Monday, and that was very brief because I had the kids (and one of their friends) with me. Mark watches the news, so he knows that when the weather is bad, I may not be there for a couple of days, but I always feel sorry when I can't get up there. I think of the stir-craziness I've been feeling, and it must be magnified times a hundred for Mark. He's been in the hospital/nursing home for nearly two months, and he can't even walk on his own!

I made plans to run with Stephanie for her long run on Saturday. She's scheduled for 15 miles (she's training for her first marathon!), and her pace is 11:30-12:00/mi right now, so even though I haven't run that far in a while, I'm sure I could handle it at the slower pace. The last time I did a long run with her was when she was training for her 2:10 half-marathon, and we ran a route that I told her I thought was a connector path to join two of the Metroparks. It turned out that I was wrong, but a couple of months later, I saw that it actually WAS being turned into a connector path, and they'd finished it.

I asked Steph if she'd want to check it out on one of her long runs for marathon training, and we planned to do her 15-miler. But the weather is looking extra crappy for Saturday, and while I love Stephanie dearly, I don't want to run 15 miles in the snow and freezing rain when I don't have to. So it looks like I'll be doing my long run of seven miles tomorrow, on the treadmill. I've really been enjoying Flashpoint, so it won't be too bad ;)

Family vacation plans

The kids' school was canceled (again), and *cue broken record* I'm losing my mind being stuck in this house!

Today was a rest day, so I used the entire morning to figure out some travel plans for this year. When Jerry was working at that other job last year, he was making really good money, and we decided to sock some away for a big family vacation in 2014. The only "vacations" we've gone on as a family over the years have been to visit my brother or sister, or a few days in a rental house with my parents. The kids are at the age now where I think it would be really fun to take them on a nice vacation. Jerry and I would love it, too, of course ;)

The original plan was to go to Orlando, Florida, and go to a couple of the Disney parks. I was there when I was (I think) just 2 years old; and again at 15. But I've never been a big Disney fan, so I haven't had a desire to go back. I guess I just thought it's someplace that every kid should go at some point, so we figured we'd plan our vacation there.

We saved quite a bit of money for this vacation, but I was still completely shocked when I looked up the costs and saw that it was way over our budget. I know there are cheaper ways of doing it, but the point of this vacation was to enjoy it without worrying about money. When I priced it all out on the Disney trip planner, it was about $8,000 for a week. My kids really aren't all that interested in Disney, either, so I started to wonder if maybe the theme parks weren't the best idea. Even Chandler thought it sounded a bit much...

I started looking at Disney cruises, which were definitely cheaper. My sister loves to travel, and has been on quite a few cruises, so I asked her about it. She said that we could do a Carnival cruise for about 1/3 of the price of the Disney cruise, and it would be just as fun--especially since we're not "Disney people". After seeing the cost of the Orlando vacation, I couldn't believe how cheap the Carnival cruises were--about $800-1500 for 5-7 days (plus airfare).

My sister suggested one other idea, which was an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. Just hearing those words made me think, "Too fancy for us!" but when I checked out the website and reviews, I got a little googly-eyed, and I think that the resort will be what we end up choosing. It wouldn't cost much more than a cruise, and it would definitely be a lot less expensive than the Disney trip. It also looks like more fun--for Jerry and I, as well as the kids. And the fact that it's all-inclusive makes it much less stressful to plan.

Our tentative plan is to go the first week of December. It was kind of overwhelming while looking at all the stuff to do and places to stay. I think my sister was a travel agent in a former life, because she's awesome at that stuff, so I'm going to have her help me come up with a good plan. I'm excited to book the trip, so that we have something to really look forward to (and dream about while we're stuck inside our house with the temp at -20 outside!).

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from someone I "met" on a site called Open Diary many years ago. In 2000, I worked a 10:00 pm-3:00 am shift as a dispatcher in college, and I used to get really bored in a little office by myself. I went on one night, which had a bunch of games, random facts, and links to sites to pass time. One of them was a site called Open Diary, which was a blogging site (only I don't think "blog" was a mainstream word yet). It was basically a place where you could keep a public diary, as well as read others' diaries, and leave notes (comments) on them.

It was a very small community (nothing like blogs are now!), but I wrote there from 2000 until 2011, before I started Runs for Cookies. I mostly wrote about my struggles with weight loss, all the ups and downs I had over the years; and eventually, I documented my success at losing 125 pounds. Through all those years, I had a handful of readers, and it was a very tight-knit community. Almost like a family! Everybody on OD knew everybody else.

But in 2011, I decided to start completely fresh. My life was a lot different than it ever was in the past--I was at a "normal" weight for the first time in my life, and I'd become a runner, which was taking up quite a bit of my time and thoughts. I decided to switch over to Blogger, for a change of scenery (and because it was much easier to upload pictures to posts than on OD). I started Runs for Cookies, which has become an enormous part of my life, but a piece of my heart has always stayed with Open Diary.

I never closed my account there (but I "hid" my diary from public). I still checked out the site a couple of times a week, to read about my old "friends" on OD. And fast-forward to yesterday, when I got an e-mail from Melissa, telling me that OD will be shut down within a week. She suggested that I download my diary while I still could, which I'd done.

When I first read the e-mail, I didn't think that it was that big of a deal that OD was closing up shop, but today when I went to the site, it just seemed so empty... everybody writing good-bye posts, and leaving info on how to find them when OD shuts down. I went to my diary one last time in order to delete it, and it was so hard to make myself click the button. Eleven years of my life were written there! Even though I saved a copy, it just felt sad to type in my name and see "The diary name you have entered does not exist".

Anyway, as a little tribute to OD, here is the first thing I wrote in my Open Diary:
"I have struggled through my entire life with a weight problem. It all started in 4th grade when one of my classmates nicknamed me 'Shamu' and the whole class started calling me that. I've tried diet after diet. This year is my freshman year of college. I've heard of the 'Freshman 15' but I gained the 'Freshman 30'. When I stepped on the scale at 205 pounds this year, I decided this is it. I'm not going to deal with it anymore. And here I am. That was about 2 months ago. I've decided to get ready to lose weight by deciding how I'm going to do it. I want to do it the right way this time, so that it stays off. Since then, however, I've lost about 10 pounds from drinking water instead of soda. That's all I've really done... I'm looking forward to beginning my 'new beginning'."
Of course, that didn't "stick" ;)  I lost a little and gained a lot, and lost some more, and gained even more. Up and down until 2009, when I finally made the changes that I was willing to stick with forever! I'm so grateful that I've kept diaries/blogs all these years, because it preserved so many memories of things that I'd forgotten about until skimming through a few posts today. When I was a kid, I always kept a handwritten diary, which I would later destroy so that nobody could read it; I really wish I still had those! They'd certainly be good for some laughs, if nothing else ;)

Another snow day!

As predicted, my kids' school was canceled yesterday and today. It looks likely it'll be canceled tomorrow, too. This has NEVER happened, for as long as I've been alive, that they've canceled so many days of school due to cold weather. I don't know that they would cancel it just because of the temperature, but the roads have been awful, too. It hasn't gotten warm enough to melt any snow, so it just keeps building up. Then, the super cold temps turn it into ice almost immediately when it does snow.

We are allowed six snow days per school year, and the kids are on day seven right now. So they'll be making up at least one day in June, and it's only January! The kids were actually not very happy that school was canceled today. The snow days have been boring, because it's too cold for them to play outside, the roads are too bad to drive anywhere, and there is only so much to do at home. Yesterday, they had a friend come over, so that kept them busy.

I've always liked cold weather, but I really don't like snow. This winter has just been awful, and it's definitely affecting my mood. It looks SO dreary outside:

It's not that bad if we have some warmer (and by warmer, I just mean mid-30's!) days thrown in the mix, with some sunshine. But it's been dreary and freezing cold every single day lately. I really hope this means we have a perfect summer!

This morning, I had just three miles on the schedule, but I figured I'd run for an entire episode of Flashpoint, about 43 minutes. My easy pace is back to feeling easy, and my heart rate is back down to normal. It occurred to me that the heart rate thing happened right after I got a flu shot; I have no idea if that had anything to do with it, but it's a possibility. My heart rate was really high, and I felt like crap for a couple of weeks (especially while running), but now it's totally back to normal.

Today, I ran at a 9:05-ish pace and my heart rate barely reached Zone 3. I've felt fantastic the past week or so while running, so I think I'm back to normal. Today, I just set the speed on the treadmill and then ran for the whole episode of Flashpoint, which ended up being 4.7 miles total.

After my run, I did strength training on the Wii Fit U. I've been doing well with sticking to my goal of strength training twice per week. Today, I added some more of the strength and yoga exercises to my routine. I like the Wii Fit exercises because they're short, and I think that's why I've actually stuck to doing the routine. I still feel like I get a good strength workout, though.

Carly shared this article about weight loss myths on Facebook today, and I thought it was worth mentioning here. I really love that it discusses the "1200 calories a day" issue. When I first started losing weight, I'd always heard that 1200 calories per day was what I should aim for. And even SparkPeople suggested 1200-1550 per day. I tried that, and felt like I was absolutely starving! There was no way I could stick with that for very long.

I really wanted to be able to find a way of eating that I could live with forever, and still enjoy my life, so I experimented to be able to eat as much as possible and still lose weight. I found that I could lose weight while eating 1800 calories a day, and even more on the days that I ran. Eating 1800 kept me MUCH more satisfied, so that I was much less likely to binge; and I didn't feel hungry all the time. The scale even dropped faster when I was eating more. I really don't believe that there is a one particular "magic number"--we just have to experiment to find out what works for us as individuals.

Just for fun, I used the calorie calculator on the article's website see what number it said I should aim for in weight maintenance. My age just changed to 32, my weight was 139 today, and I exercise 3-5 days per week. It said that to maintain my weight, I should eat 2165 calories per day. If I had to guess how many calories I've been eating lately, I'd say that's pretty accurate! I've probably been eating between 2000-2500 for several weeks, and my weight has stayed very steady. It suggested that to lose weight, I should aim for 1840 calories per day (and the lowest would be 1624). I'm doing really well without counting calories or WW Points, so I don't plan to start counting now, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the calculator suggested.

Anyway, normally, I don't like to read weight loss articles, but when I saw that Carly shared it, I figured it must be decent ;)

By the way, I haven't heard from Carolyn R. from Minneapolis, MN about winning the magazine giveaway. Carolyn, not sure if you saw on the post yesterday, but you won a one-year subscription to Runner's World from me! Just send me an e-mail with your full name and address where you'd like the magazine sent, and I'll get it ordered this week.

2014 RfC Virtual 5K Results

Instead of doing a regular Motivational Monday, I wanted to highlight the Virtual 5K from Saturday. I put together a little video of the photos that were posted on Facebook, so that everyone can see them in one spot! Let's hope it works...

I think it's so inspiring to see so many people out working on a common goal! If this was your first 5K, now that it's over, don't let it stop you from moving forward and setting bigger goals. Last year, my sister and her husband only started running in order to complete my Virtual 5K (because they're family, and felt like they should support my birthday request!). My sister had always hated running, but once she finished the 5K, she decided to continue on and train for a 10K. And then a half-marathon. And this April, she's running her first marathon!

The 5K is a great distance to get hooked ;) When I first started running, my only goal was to run a 5K and then never run another step in my life. But I got hooked on it! It's fun to always set new goals, whether it's running farther, or faster, or training for a particular race. It keeps me in shape, allows me to eat my favorite junk foods (in moderation) without gaining the weight back, and it makes me feel good.

Anyway, here are links to some participants' blogs/race reports about the 5K:

Thomas G.
Jamie Weitl
Stacey Steiner
My Running Stitches
Mom Taxi Julie
Lindsay N.
Katy E.
Erin Padgett
Ashley Smith
Caroline A.
Kris Wright
Rachael Lynn
Iva @ The Running Nurse
Loving Life Because I Can
Tamara and Bradley Shazam
Becky Coulthard
Allison N.
Melissa Stairs
Meg B.
Laura Roeseler
Martha Kaiser
Jessica Hill
Angel @ Heavy Angels Don't Fly
Liz Gross
Amy Thomas
Emily in Wonderland
Doran Hadan

Overall, there were 356 (reported) finishers out of the 635 signed up--which is 56%. Last year, 49% of the people who were signed up completed the race, so I'm glad that number increased! Something that really took me by surprise was that the majority of the participants completed the race on a treadmill. I'm sure the "polar vortex" had something to do with that ;)

When reading through the Facebook posts, I saw a couple of people had completed their 5K race inside of their house, but without a treadmill--running laps around the basement or walking through the house until it totaled 5 Kilometers. That is some SERIOUS dedication!

Here is a list of all of the reported finishers (as of 2:00 pm today). Congrats to everyone! And thank you so much for running "with" me on my birthday. I hope you had fun (or, at least, felt good afterward! haha)

By the way, I figured out the problem with my blog feed, and it was because I copied and pasted the really long list of people signed up for the race, and apparently it was too long for my feed. So if you're reading this in a feed reader, you'll have to click through to see the results list as well (sorry, I just didn't want to have to retype all the names and finish times). Normally, I allow full feed on my posts (and I'll continue to do that), but for this one (and the one a couple of days ago), I had to truncate the post. But that should've fixed the problem with the feed not updating!

Birthday weekend

First, a few random things before I forget:

1)  A couple of people have mentioned that my blog hasn't been updated on Feedly recently. I haven't changed any settings at all on Blogger, so I have no idea what the deal is! I hope that it corrects itself, because I don't know anything about RSS feeds or how to go about fixing the problem :/

Update: I *think* it is fixed now. The post where I listed all the people signed up for the 5K was too long for the feed, and it screwed something up. If I have a super long post like that again, I'll have to truncate it (where you'll have to click through to my blog to read it); but I've left all the other posts at "full feed". This is frustrating, but I learn new things every time something goes wrong! ;)

2) Someone mentioned that they wished I had a way to follow my blog via e-mail. There is an option to do that on the top right sidebar of my blog. It's a black and white icon that looks like an envelope. When you click on that, you can type in your e-mail address to sign up for it.

3) A reader suggested that I put Mark's mailing address on the sidebar of my blog, so that it's easily accessible, because she couldn't find it when she was looking for it. I thought that was a great idea, so if you're interested in sending Mark a card, the P.O. Box address is in the left sidebar.

4) And speaking of Mark, a few people have asked if he needs/wants anything they may be able to send. I ask him every time I go visit what he wants me to bring, and he almost always says a milkshake. He's got a lot of music and DVDs, and he really doesn't need much right now! But if you'd like to send something, a McDonald's gift card would be very useful for his milkshakes or coffee ;) Thanks so much for thinking of him!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I'm sick to death of the crappy weather we've had in Michigan this winter, and this weekend was really no different. When I was a kid, I always used to hate my birthday because it was in late January, when it's freezing cold and snowy. I always wished I was born in July, so I could have a pool party ;)

I didn't do anything at all for my actual birthday yesterday, unfortunately. Jerry had to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. My parents said they'd keep the kids overnight, so that Jerry and I could go out, so we planned to go out to a late dinner. We did go to one bar/grille place, but it was packed full of the Saturday night crowd of drinkers, and at 32, I'm too old for that scene! ;) So we just went home and had a quiet evening, which was nice.

Jerry surprised me with a birthday cake...

It was from my favorite bakery, and it had a peanut butter cream filling (and chocolate buttercream frosting)! He knows me SO well. At first I thought the cake was chocolate, but when I saw that it was yellow cake, I was even happier--I like yellow cake more than chocolate. We ate a piece last night before bed, and it was delicious. And isn't it a cute cake?!

Today, we planned to celebrate my birthday with the kids. The weather was really crappy all morning and early afternoon, so it didn't look like we'd be able to go anywhere, but it cleared up enough for us to go out to dinner. We ended up going to Olive Garden--I hadn't been there in YEARS, and I don't think the kids had ever been there.

My food wasn't very good, but the kids and Jerry loved theirs, and we had awesome service, so it kind of made up for my dish (I had the capellini pomodoro, which is usually a favorite Italian dish of mine, but it was completely flavorless at OG). I ended up having another piece of cake for dessert when we got home. :)

I'm really excited that I've been able to have this big cake in my house and I haven't eaten it all. I'm still binge-free, thanks to the Brain Over Binge mentality, and I feel "safe" having what used to be trigger foods in the house. It's so strange! But in a good way.

Jerry bought me a birthday gift, which I wasn't expecting (we usually don't buy gifts for each other). It was an Under Armour hoodie, and I absolutely love it!

And I would say yes, it's as bright as it appears in the photo! haha

I wish I had some birthday shenanigans to write about, but the weekend was actually really boring, thanks to the ridiculous weather. It's supposed to be extremely cold tomorrow, too, and I'm guessing that the kids' school will be canceled yet again. I ran out of ways to keep them occupied a long time ago! We're under a "Wind Chill Watch" until Wednesday, which means that the kids probably won't have school until Thursday. I'm SO ready for spring!

2014 Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K race report

Congrats to everyone who completed the 5K today! I checked Facebook several times today to read about everyone running or walking all over the world today. It was so fun to see all the different places that people were doing the 5K!

Saturdays are normally a rest day for me. I had hoped the weather would be nice, so that I could take the boys to the State Park, and we'd be able to run/walk slowly around the trail. I've been trying to get my kids interested in running, but Noah definitely prefers walking (although he told me he didn't think he could even walk 5K), and Eli has the attention span of a dog.

I ultimately decided on the treadmill for the Virtual 5K today. I either wanted to "go big or go home" by either running a treadmill PR (23:55 or better), OR I would walk at 3.2 mph for my 32nd birthday ;)  I figured I would start out at the pace to try for a PR (7:41/mi, or 7.8 mph), and then if it was horrible in the first few minutes, I'd just drop the pace and walk. Honestly, I really didn't think I'd be able to hold the pace, so I was looking forward to walking!

I turned on the show Flashpoint (sadly, I'm finished with Medium... yes, I watched the entire series in an embarrassingly short amount of time), and set the treadmill at 7.8 mph. I was surprised that it really didn't feel that awful, and after about a half-mile, I decided I could do it.

It got HARD. About a mile in, I had to increase my speed a notch, because it had taken the treadmill a few seconds to get up to speed in the beginning, and my average pace was showing 7:45 instead of 7:41 (what I needed to PR). I honestly thought about stopping at 2 miles, and walking the rest. My heart rate was 90-95% of the max (Zone 5), and I just wanted to stop moving my legs!

It wasn't until I reached mile 2.6 that I decided I was GOING TO get that PR, even if I puked. The worst part of a 5K is that last 0.11. It doesn't sound like much, but you don't really think about it until you reach mile 3 and you realize you still have a ways to go. As soon as my Garmin showed 3.11, I pressed the stop button. The sweat started pouring as soon as I stopped. But I did it! A new treadmill 5K PR of 23:46. Next year, I will definitely take the walk option at 3.3 mph ;)

When I was done, I asked Noah if he'd want to try walking a 5K on the treadmill today. He was really doubtful about whether he could do it, and I assured him he could! I said if it got hard, he could just slow the speed, but I was sure he could finish. We set up a show he likes on Netflix, and he started moving. I told him if he kept the speed at 3.1, then he'd finish in an hour. He was doing really well, and even ran for a minute here and there.

When he finished, he was SO proud (as was I)! Not only did it finish, he did it faster than he or I thought he would, in about 55 minutes.

I promised the kids an extra hour of video game time if they did the 5K, no matter how long it took them, of even if they needed breaks. Like I said, Eli's attention span is nil, but over the course of about two hours, he completed the 5K also! He would walk for a couple of minutes, then go eat a few bites of lunch, then walk a couple more minutes, stop for some water, etc. I never doubted he could finish, though, and he did :)

Jerry had to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, and I really wanted to spend some time with him when he got home, so he didn't end up doing the 5K. But three out of four of us is pretty good!

My mom got on board and did the 5K again this year, too. She didn't train like she had last year, so her big goal was just to get it done. And she did!

My sister and her best friend, Audrey, are on a cruise right now. I was really surprised and excited to get a text this morning that they'd done the 5K on their cruise ship treadmills!

If you haven't already, make sure you check out all the finisher's pics and comments on my Facebook page (just go to "Recent posts by others on Runs for Cookies" and click "See All". It's SO inspiring to see so many people being active today!

Don't forget that if you completed the 5K today, make sure you fill out the Finisher's Form! I'll accept responses until Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST. Congrats, and thanks for sharing my birthday run with me!

Virtual 5K Finisher's Form (and last-minute stuff)

Tomorrow is the 2nd Annual Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K! The weather here is awful (my kids' school was canceled today because of the cold temperatures and the wind was brutal). I actually got the car stuck in a snow drift today, and had to call my dad to come dig/tow me out.

That was so NOT fun. So I'll be doing my 5K on the treadmill, or maybe the indoor track at the rec center. ;)

Last minute stuff...

1. If you haven't already, download and print the race bib. It's fun to print out and take a picture of you with the bib on your shirt!

2. Sometime tomorrow, run or walk your 5K (3.1 miles) anywhere you'd like. Outdoors, treadmill, alone, with friends, in snow, in heat, whatever the situation may be.

3. Take a picture! Not required to participate, of course, but I'd for you to...

4. it on my Facebook wall with a brief race report. It's fun to read about everyone's experience! You can let us know if this was your first or fiftieth 5K, if you did it in extreme temps, if you share a birthday with me, whatever you'd like to share. Going through the pictures on Facebook was my favorite part of last year's event. It's super inspiring!

You can tag your photos with #RfCVirtual5K on Instagram and/or Twitter, also. (My username is "runsforcookies" on each of those.)

5. Important: Sometime before Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST, fill out the "finisher's form" below. I'd love to have an accurate count of how many people actually participated, as well as get some fun facts to share, and your results. I'll post everything on Monday night, in liu of Motivational Monday. If you have a blog and you write a race report, you can include the link on the form also.

Below is the list of people that are signed up. You don't HAVE to be signed up to participate... I just did this sign-up so that you could announce your commitment to the race (and possibly declare a time goal). But anyone can participate tomorrow, just make sure you fill out the form above when you're done.  (If you're reading this in a  feed reader, had to truncate this post because it was "too long" for the feed).

Cookies and wine

(Random tidbit: I originally wanted to name my blog "Cookies & Wine", but the .com was taken. So I came up with Runs for Cookies instead. I like the latter much better, because it explains a little more about my blog!)

Last night got pretty hectic at around 7:30. A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Woman's World magazine, wanting to interview me about my weight loss story for an article. I didn't mention it before, because I wasn't 100% sure if it was going to happen or not. They did the interview, and said someone would be in touch for photos. But several days went by, and I didn't hear anything, so I just assumed that maybe they chose not to use the story.

At 7:30 yesterday evening, I got a call from a photographer who wanted to set up a photo shoot for today at 11:30 in the morning. I said sure, without really thinking it through, and when I hung up, I realized I wasn't ready at all. Woman's World had specified that they wanted me to wear nice casual clothes, in solid colors (no white, black, gray, or brown), and form-fitting. When I went through my closet, I had nothing that fit that description. So I left the house at 8:00 to go buy a shirt.

The photographer was going to come to my house for the shoot, and my house was definitely not photograph-ready. I was also told to have on hand a few food items that I ate while I was losing weight. The main point of the article is that I didn't give up my favorite foods or force myself to eat things I didn't like to lose the weight; I just ate what I enjoyed, and counted the calories for it.

This morning, I cleaned my kitchen and living room the best I could, and went to the bakery to buy a few cookies for the food prop. I made a quick pasta dish, and poured a glass of wine to have as props also. I even managed to squeeze in a three-mile run on the treadmill before getting ready.

The photographer and her assistant showed up at 11:30, and got to work. They had a list of pictures that they needed to get, and they ended up taking about 60 photos over the course of 2 1/2 hours. It was a lot different from the Runner's World shoot, because they had to adjust the lighting after every single photo. There was a lot of standing around (in heels), and I was achey and hungry by the time it was over.

I hadn't shared my story with any magazines until now, and it happened to be with TWO magazines that will be out at the same time! I think the Woman's World one will be out at the end of March. I'm a little nervous about it, because I just really hope that it doesn't come off sounding gimmicky. In some of the photos, you can see all three food props, and I hope the article doesn't make it sound like I ate huge bowls of pasta, followed by four big cookies and a glass of wine ;)  Those were all things I ate while losing weight, but not all at once.

The wine and cookies diet? Sign me up!
Anyway, it's been an exciting start to 2014, to say the least!

Speaking of magazines, I was thinking about prizes for the Virtual 5K this Saturday. Last year, I gave away 31 things for my 31st birthday, but was a nightmare when it came to packaging and shipping everything. With the Runner's World article coming out in April, I thought it would be fun to give away a few subscriptions to the magazine as prizes for the 5K!

I'll have a drawing open to anyone who completes the Virtual 5K and submits results on the form I'll post tomorrow night. I'll draw three names (via; your finish time doesn't have any effect on your entry) and give each person a one-year subscription to Runner's World :)

Yesterday was Sarah's birthday--she's my friend that lives in Arizona. We grew up two houses apart from each other, and we were born just three days apart. We've been best friends since we could talk! I called her yesterday to tell her happy birthday, and chit chat a bit. She had an awesome suggestion for our birthdays next year...

She suggested that we do the P.F. Chang's Rock & Roll Half-Marathon together in Phoenix. She lives in Phoenix, and I've been wanting to go out and visit her anyway (I've only been there once, for her wedding). The race is on January 18th; her birthday is the 22nd; and mine is the 25th, so the timing is perfect. She's never done a half-marathon, and she'd like to, so it'll be a lot of fun to do it together!

Speaking of first races, Thomas shared this video called Marathon Challenge, and it was so inspiring! It's about 12 inactive, ordinary people that begin running, and train together to run the Boston Marathon (for a charity, so they didn't have to qualify). While I don't think it's a good idea for totally inactive people to aim for a marathon right off the bat (some of them wound up injured), it was really inspiring to watch.

The parts that I really liked were that it explained the science behind what running does for your body, and how it improves your health. It made me feel really good to know the specific, beneficial things that are happening in my body when I run. The video showed exactly what changes were happening in the body as the runners got further into training.

The video is just over 50 minutes long, and it's totally worth watching (whether you're a runner or not). I love watching people accomplish something they never imagined they could do. Have tissues ready at the end of the video ;)

Tomorrow night, I'll post last-minute Virtual 5K stuff for Saturday. If the weather cooperates, I plan to do a run/walk with my kids. Otherwise, I may be doing the treadmill :/ There are 567 people signed up right now!

Mystery bottle

It was so nice not to have anything going on today! The photo shoot yesterday was fun, but I'm kind of relieved that it's over now. It's kind of funny... I read the book Brain Over Binge about a week before I found out about the photo shoot. I was really excited about being binge-free, I had accepted the fact that my weight is still seven pounds higher than I would like, and I was just feeling very happy with where I was at as far as eating/weight goes.

When I first heard about the photo shoot, my knee-jerk reaction was, "Oh no, I have to get back to goal immediately!" And I was dreading the thought of measuring food and counting calories/points, because I've been doing so well without measuring and counting. Then I started to think about how huge of a change my mindset went through to be HAPPY with where I was in that moment, and I really didn't want to mess with that.

I chose not to do anything differently. I didn't start counting points again or measuring food, or even being careful about what I ate. My ultimate goal has been to eat "normally", and so I continued to do that, even with the photo shoot coming up. It was SO nice not to stress about my weight! I didn't restrict, I didn't binge, my weight stayed steady, and I was very happy with how I looked for the photo shoot.

Somehow, I don't think that I would still be binge-free right now if I had played into that "getting back to goal" mindset. It was kind of a big revelation for me. I'm really glad that I continued to do what was making me happy, and I think my photos are going to turn out just fine!

After lunch, I went to visit Mark today. I stopped to get him a milkshake, and to get his mail, and he had a very unique package waiting! It was a two-liter soda bottle filled with lots of candy, a little stuffed animal, and a few other small items. The shipping address was wrapped around the middle of the bottle, and I assumed that under the shipping label was the hole/cut for someone to have put those things inside.

But when I got to the nursing home, and showed it to Mark, I took off the label to reveal a completely sealed bottle (except for the screw on cap that's about the size of a quarter). We were both completely stumped as to how everything got in there! I tried pulling out the little bags of candy hearts with my fingers, but I couldn't get ANYTHING out through the neck of the bottle.

There was a card inside, and Mark and I both wanted to know who it was from (and maybe see if it revealed the secret!) but I didn't have any way of cutting open the bottle. I told him I'd take it home and cut it open, and then bring him the goods next time I visit. I wanted to show it to my kids and Jerry, too, because it was pretty mind-blowing!

Leave it to my 8-year old to show me what the "secret" was... there actually WAS a little door cut into the side, and it was taped shut. I didn't even notice it! Very clever ;)

Mark has been in such a great mood lately. It's so nice! For a while, he was always so tired and quiet, which is completely unlike his personality. Well, we found out that they were giving him twice the amount of painkillers that he's on now (Mark never really says "no" to anything, so when the nurses asked if he needed a pain pill, he always said "yes"). Now that they've been giving him less painkillers, he's very cheery and upbeat.

He was really excited to tell me that he's been walking. He said that the physical therapist had him walk a few times back and forth in the hallway yesterday and today. He knows that if he can walk on his own again, then he can go back to his group home, so he's really determined to do it.

Today, he was talking about the things he wants to do when he gets out of the nursing home. He wants to go fishing, or just sit near the lake at my parents' house. He wants to go to the Metropark where my dad works. And he wants to go to the junkyards with my dad like they used to. My dad is an auto mechanic, and he goes to junkyards for car parts. I guess he used to take Mark with him sometimes. Mark told me that he liked to look for loose change in the cars--he said the best place to find it was underneath the mats in the car, and he could find a couple of dollars worth of change.

I don't think he'll be able to go out in the boat or to the junkyards again, but I'm hoping that he's mobile in the spring, even if it's just in the wheelchair. I'd like to take him to the zoo, and maybe for some walks in the Metropark. He's really looking forward to some fresh air outside. Hopefully soon!

My Runner's World photo shoot!

Ohmygoodness, I am so exhausted. It's been an unbelievable day! Today was my photo shoot for Runner's World magazine. The photographer, Peter, was driving in all the way from Chicago for my shoot. Crazy, right?

He wasn't coming until 2:00, so I went to the rec center this morning to run an easy three miles (on the indoor track again). Then I came home, ate breakfast, and tried on all my clothes for the shoot again. I think I changed my mind a dozen times about what to wear!

Peter called and said that traffic was at a stand still in Indiana, so he guessed he'd be here at around 3:30. I had suggested doing the shoot at my parents' house, because they have a huge back room, and Peter said we needed a lot of space; my house isn't spacious at all. So I went to my mom's house, where Stephanie came to meet me. As I'm sure you know by now, Stephanie is my own personal photographer ;)  She loves photography, so I invited her to come over and watch. She was excited to learn a little "behind the scenes" stuff.

When Peter got there, he spent about a half hour getting all the equipment set up. He did some test shots, and then I changed into my first outfit (of four). First, he wanted to get photos of me walking toward the camera, just like I was in my before picture in the blue shirt.

He also had me do a funny-looking stretch. I like how small my waist looks in that pose!

That was about as active as I wanted to get with those shorts on! I never wear shorts, but Runner's World said they wanted me to "show some skin" instead of covering up so much. I felt much more comfortable in the jackets they sent, so I compromised and did a little of both.

I did some running toward the camera shots, some still portrait-type shots, some more stretches,  and all kinds of poses. I changed my outfit a few times, so there was a good variety.

Stephanie took these pictures for me (thank you Steph!); she didn't want to use the flash, because it would mess with the photographer's pics, so the colors are little off. I like having these pics, because it'll be interesting to see what the photos look like when they're done! Peter said that after the magazine hits newsstands, he can give me all the pics he took.

The shoot lasted a couple of hours, and I had so much fun! I felt a little awkward at first, because I was afraid of looking fake, but Peter assured me that he wanted my personality to come out in the pictures, so he wasn't going to make me do anything "fake".

Looking at these photos is making reality really set in. I can't believe I'm going to be in Runner's World! Of all the magazines to be in, that would certainly be my first choice. The issue comes out in April, and I'm super excited to read the story about my Ragnar team. Each person on the team is super inspiring!

Motivational Monday #49

Happy Motivational Monday! The weeks seem to be going by SO fast lately. It seems like I just did a MM post yesterday.

Today, I had intervals on the schedule: 6 x 400 at 5K pace with 400 recovery jogs. (Translation: Run 1/4 mile hard, then jog 1/4 mile, and repeat for a total of 6 times). The roads aren't clear enough to run intervals outside, and I really wasn't in the mood for the treadmill, so I ended up going to the rec center to use the indoor track. I hadn't used the indoor track in a very long time!

You have to go around 12 times to equal a mile, so I ended up running a lot of laps! With my warm-up, I ran 42 laps total. I swear, it felt like I was leaning to the left all day today after that ;)

Running 42 laps isn't exactly "fun", so I'm very proud of myself for getting it done! It was a nice change from the treadmill, too. Another thing I am proud of this week is that I am still binge-free, even though I haven't been counting calories/points or tracking food.

Anyway, let's get to it! Here are a few Motivational Monday submissions:

I really didn't want to edit out any of Tamara's e-mail, because I think a lot of people could find it helpful, so here is exactly what she wrote:
"One year ago, on 12/31/12, I made a New Year's resolution to continue losing weight on what I called 'The Slowest Diet in the World'.  Basically, I shot for a one pound loss per month and had been doing that for the past few years.  It was working, but, as the name implies, it was slooooowww going!  In mid-January I happened to mention that I needed to get cruising on weightloss and fitness to a friend of mine who directed me to your website.  I spent the next week reading all about you and your story and became SO INSPIRED.  I decided to stop pansy-ing around with my slow method and to kick my rear into gear with exercise, commitment and, after reading even more of your blog, DETERMINATION.    I committed to losing 40 pounds before I turned 40 in October.  You were instrumental in providing the dogma I needed to hear at the right time and proving, through your example, that it is possible to change from heavy and unfit, to healthy and capable.  Your site became a guide, of sorts.  Just ask my husband how many times he has heard me say, "Katie, from Runs For Cookies, says..."  You're amazing!  Thank you, Katie!

I know that I'm the one who did it.  I know it was me every time I took a step.  It was me making myself get on the elliptical.  It was me putting on my exercise gear to go run, out in the dark.  In the cold.  In the rain.  It was me, whispering 'determination' aloud, when I needed to bypass poor food choices.  It was me skipping Halloween candy and walking by delicious treats in the staff room.  It was me sweating and swearing and running and lifting and riding and hiking and crunching and reprioritizing, but it was often your voice in my head that would bring me back when the going got tough.  Reminding me that I have to hold myself accountable.  That my determination and will decide the outcome.

It has been one year and I have lost 72 pounds, (282-210).  In the past five years I've lost 130 pounds (340-210).  The only mile I ever ran before this year, without stopping, was in ninth grade.  I logged over 375 miles between March 21st, 2013 and January 25th, 2014, ran my first two 5k's, regularly run for 30-50 minutes at a time now, and set a PR of 8:12 for my best mile ever.  ME!  This has been a transformative year for me.  I keep my promises to myself now, have faith in myself, believe, think that I am capable now, am strong and I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life.  I still have 40 more pounds to go until I re-assess and decide where to go from there, but now I have faith that I'll get there in good time and that I can do it.  I will.  I'm determined to do so."
I love that Tamara writes that it was SHE who did the work! She found that determination within herself, and she put in lots of hard work to get where she is today. (Tamara's blog)

After having weight loss surgery, Rebecca is proud of the new, active lifestyle that she's living. She just completed her first half-marathon last month! She says she doesn't love running, but she's happy to have crossed that off her bucket list. She has learned that she does love biking, hiking, and kayaking; and this year, she looks forward to joining a women's beginner road-biking group!

In 2011, Kelly lost 80 pounds with Weight Watchers. She continued to exercise, but admits that she let her portions get a little larger, and was "slacking" in keeping up with maintenance. She gained 30 pounds back, but decided to nip it before gaining any more. Yesterday, Kelly (third from the left) completed her first half-marathon! She signed up last fall in the hopes that it would help her stay accountable and lose weight. She finished in 2:33, which she was very happy with, and is already thinking about doing another one. She's feeling very motivated in taking off the weight!

Meg reached a big goal of hers this weekend--to run a sub-40 5K!  She has one-year old twins, and has just started running again after taking a hiatus for her pregnancy and taking care of the babies. She worked really hard to reach this goal! (Meg's race report)

Congratulations to everyone on your accomplishments! Don't forget to check out the Motivational Monday Facebook post for more stories (there were lots of great ones today!)


This is my 1,000th post on Runs for Cookies! I've been trying for a couple of weeks to put together a meaningful post for the occasion, and I have several drafts prepared; but nothing really "felt" right. One thousand is just a number, really; and if there is one thing that I've learned over the past 1,000 posts, it's that numbers should not be given so much attention.

When I started this blog in April 2011, I never expected it to become what it is now. I'd written a blog since 2000, and had just a handful of readers all those years; when I switched over to Blogger and started Runs for Cookies as a maintenance blog, the number of readers grew so quickly it scared me. I always shared such personal things about my life, and having a larger audience made me nervous. 

I originally intended for Runs for Cookies to be an online journal where I could keep track of my diet and exercise. I had just lost 125 pounds, and was terrified of gaining the weight back. All the odds were against me, and I thought that if I wrote everything down, I would have a record to look back on if I gained the weight back--I would be able to see exactly where it went wrong. Talk about pessimistic! ;)

As my readership grew, so did my accountability. Knowing that people were reading helped me to stay on track (well, for the most part!) and I started to get a sense of this huge online community of people that support each other in weight loss and maintenance. I started to get e-mails from people who were inspired to start running, which I thought was awesome!

I have had some incredible experiences over the past few years, and it's all because of this blog. Here are just a few things that never would have happened, if not for Runs for Cookies:

I was a guest on The Dr. Oz Show in November 2011. It was such a fun experience!

I was selected by Fitness magazine as Best Weight Loss Blog in 2012. 

I hosted a Virtual 5K last year, and about 500 people ran with me on my 31st birthday! (This Saturday is the 2014 Virtual 5K, which you can sign up for here). 

I met Rik, a reader of my blog, who later became a good friend and captain of my Ragnar Relay Florida Keys team. He came out to Michigan to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon with me!

Purina ONE invited me to their headquarters in St. Louis for an amazing learning experience about one of my favorite subjects--cats! I was only there for about 24 hours, but the whole thing was amazing. 

Because I get asked a lot of questions about running, I decided to make it official and become certified as an RRCA coach! Now, at least I have some credibility ;)

I've met quite a few readers! A few people have recognized me at races, and I love it when they say hello. This photo was from when Stephanie and I met up with Kelly from Sublurban Mama at my favorite restaurant--La Pita. I'm still very shy, but having the blog has helped me become more social and step out of my comfort zone. 

I've had the opportunity to try out some really cool products for review on my blog! One of my very favorites was this CamelBack Marathoner vest.

I met Andrea, a reader of Runs for Cookies, and told her I'd run the Chicago Marathon with her. She ended up getting injured, so she couldn't do the race, but I went anyway. It ended up being one of my favorite races of all time!

Because of this blog, Mark has gotten literally HUNDREDS of get-well cards! All he has to do is look around his room to see how many people are thinking of him. 

I met some of the most inspirational people and ran from Miami to Key West with them! We've become very close, and the whole team feels like family to me.

None of these things would have happened if not for this little blog! There are tons more, but these are some of the most significant things that come to mind. As you can see, my blog has evolved from a diet/exercise journal to an enormous part of my life. I honestly cannot picture what my life would be like if it didn't include my blog. Thank you, every single one of you, for reading! 

Birthday cake

Today was a rest day, but it was far from restful. Tomorrow is Eli's birthday party, and he made a last-minute request for his cake. He had been saying that he wanted a cookie cake decorated like a bowling ball (his party is at the bowling alley), and since I did the same thing for Noah's birthday, it was pretty simple. I had planned to buy the stuff and make it today.

Last night over dinner, however, Eli decided that he wanted to have a fishing cake instead. I tried to think of a simple way of doing it, and decided we'd buy a 1/4 sheet cake with blue frosting (to look like water). We could buy a toy boat, and put a fisherman in there, and put Swedish Fish in the "water" around the boat.

Jerry was working this morning, so the kids and I went in search of a toy boat. We couldn't find one anywhere. We went to five different stores looking for a boat, and came up empty-handed. At the last store we were at, we didn't find any toy boats, but I had an idea to go look at the aquarium/fish supplies, because I thought maybe they'd have a boat for aquarium decor. It turned out that they did not; but they did have a bunch of cool SpongeBob stuff, and Eli really liked that.

We bought a few things, and then went to Kroger to see if we could order the cake. On the way there, Eli asked if we could make his cake instead of buy it, and I was thrilled with that idea ($4 instead of $20). The SpongeBob stuff was pretty expensive, so making the cake at least saved a little money. He chose a devil's food cake with white frosting (to color with blue food coloring).

When we got home, we went right to work. All things considered (I'm a terrible baker!), the cake turned out pretty cute!

Eli was happy with it, which is really all that matters ;)

I haven't written much about my binge-free streak, because there really isn't much to write. I'm doing really well! And the best part is, I'm not worried about it, obsessing over it, or even thinking about it much. After reading Brain Over Binge, all of my binge habits made so much sense.

I always used to go through each day almost waiting for the moment I would binge. It was never a matter of "if", but "when". I just assumed it was a part of who I am, and that it was something I'd always have to deal with. After reading Brain Over Binge, I learned that the way I was thinking about it was actually making it worse. It had become a habit ingrained in my mind.

I'm not doing "intuitive eating", because that makes me obsessive--always wondering if I'm hungry, if I'm satisfied, what I really want most, etc. That never worked for me. Instead, I'm just not giving my food much thought at all--I eat my regular meals and snacks, and I just make sure I take (and eat) a "normal" sized portion. I haven't even had to use my Kitchen Safe, and I've bought several of my "trigger" foods without incident.

Yesterday, I felt so normal at dinner. First, when we were visiting Mark, I wasn't giving dinner a single thought. I was used to always thinking about my next meal, especially if we were going out to a restaurant. But I didn't hurry though our visit, even though I was starving. At the restaurant, when the server put chips and salsa on our table, I didn't have the ever-constant battle in my head about whether I should eat the chips or not, and if I do, how many, etc. I ate a few of them, but mostly, I was distracted from the chips by having conversation with Jerry. Usually, it's the other way around--I have a hard time focusing on conversation, because I'm thinking about the chips. Does that make sense? Am I the only one that has that problem?!

Anyway, yesterday's dinner made me feel really excited about all this. It gives me hope that I can get away from thinking about food all the time. I don't have to try and distract myself from the food, like I always felt like I was doing before. I just don't give much thought to it at all.

My weight hasn't budged in weeks now, and I'm happy with that. Yes, I wish I was maintaining about 7 pounds less than I am (I've been at 140), but if I can maintain my weight and stop worrying about food/weight all the time, I'll happily take 140 ;)

I still don't feel comfortable saying that this is it--the book totally changed my life and I'm cured from binge eating. I'm not sure at what point I'll be able to say that. But the book, as simple of an idea as it is, really made something click for me. I'm doing really well with it, and I'm very happy with the changes I'm seeing (and feeling)!

Kind of a big deal!

Today was my long run for the week, and I think I'm starting to feel back to my old self! For the past couple of weeks, my heart rate was elevated much higher than normal when running, and I had no idea what it was from. Last week, I felt awful while running just five miles on the treadmill; mentally, I was feeling great, but my body just physically wanted nothing to do with running.

Anyway, we got several inches of snow yesterday, and the streets weren't plowed this morning. Instead of doing the treadmill (again), I decided to go to the Metropark. I called them first, to make sure that the paths were cleared of snow, and I headed out at around 11:00--kind of late to start my run, but I was doing a bunch of online banking stuff all morning.

When I got to the Metropark, I was disappointed to see that the paths weren't really all that clear. They'd been plowed, but there was still a lot of snow/ice on the path. Considering I'd just driven 20 minutes to get there, I decided to run anyway, and just take my time so I didn't slip.

I had to stay really focused on my footing, so I didn't get to enjoy the scenery much. I wanted to keep my heart rate in Zone 3, and I was expecting my pace to be in the mid-10:00's in order to do that. But I was surprised to see that I could run a typical  "easy run" pace of mid-9:00's and my heart rate stayed put. 

I ran three miles out and then turned around. On the way back, I noticed that a lot of the snow/ice had been melting, so the way back to the car was much easier to find footing. My favorite part of the path is in the woods, and today it looked SO calm and peaceful, I had to stop and take a couple of pictures.

During the last three miles, I started to feel really happy and almost giddy to be running! The treadmill is certainly helpful in bad weather and when the kids are home, but it felt great to run on real ground today. The view of Lake Erie certainly didn't hurt.

My average heart rate was in Zone 3.6,  which was right where I wanted it to be. I felt really energetic on the way home, so I cranked up the radio and sang along really loudly. I was in one of those, "So happy to be alive!" moods.

This afternoon, I called the nursing home to talk to Mark. I told him that I was going to come visit, and asked if there was anything he wanted me to bring. He said he'd like KFC for dinner. Jerry said he wanted to go with me to visit Mark, so we waited until the kids got home from school, and then all four of us went. We stopped and got his mail, and then got his dinner from KFC, and went to the nursing home.

When we got to his room, Mark wasn't there, but his roommate told us that he was in the physical therapy room. The physical therapist happened to be going into Mark's room to grab something, so he took us to the therapy room and set up a place for us to visit with Mark in there. Mark looked really good today, and was very talkative! I gave him his hats, and then opened his cards for him. He also got a couple of packages, which are fun to open. Inside one, there was a big button with flashing lights that said, "I'm kind of a big deal!". I thought that was so appropriate! I pinned it to his jacket.

Mark told us that he had good news: He did his last radiation treatment today! It sounds like he'll be going home soon, probably within the next couple of weeks. He's really excited about going home, and I told him that we'd have a party with pizza and cake, just like he wanted.

I asked him about what kind of cake he wanted--chocolate or yellow? What kind of frosting? And then I said, "Do you like your cake with a lot of frosting, or just a little bit of frosting?" Since we're pretty much kindred spirits when it comes to sweets, I expected him to say "Lots of frosting!" But he said, "Just a little bit of frosting. Too much frosting is bad for you!" That made me laugh so hard. He loves junk food--candy, milkshakes, KFC... but too much frosting is not good ;)

And then he pretty much melted my heart when he followed with, "But we can get a lot of frosting. I want everyone to be happy and enjoy it!" I told him we could do one cake with a lot of frosting, and one cake with a little bit, to please everyone.

When we were getting ready to leave, we took Mark back to his room because he wanted to listen to a new CD my dad got him (Jackson Browne). I gave Mark a hug, and then when Jerry hugged him, Mark told him, "You keep her close, Jerry, don't ever let anyone take her away from you. She's a good girl!"

Today was a damn good day :)