October 16, 2018

Sharks and Minnows (and Wednesday Weigh-in)

(Edit: Ohmygosh. Today is only Tuesday! I was so sure it was Wednesday.)

I knew I was out of running shape, but I didn't realize just how much until cross country practice last night! I'm still clearing my throat from the workout my lungs got, haha.

The kids LOVE playing a game called Sharks and Minnows. Basically, there is a rectangular shaped perimeter, and the kids ("minnows") all line up at one end. There are a couple of kids who start in the middle as "sharks". The object is for the minnows to get from one end of the area to the other without getting tagged by a shark. Then they turn around and go back to the other end, over and over, until there is only one minnow left.

At the end of each practice, we have about 10 minutes or so to play a game, and the kids always choose Sharks and Minnows. Yesterday, Renee suggested that she and I should be the sharks. I thought it sounded fun, and we got in position to start. Little did I know, it was super challenging!

When we blew the whistle to start, the kids would all scatter to the sides, and each time I would go after someone, they'd zig-zag all over the place. It took Renee and I about eight rounds or so to tag everyone, and I couldn't believe how hard it was! Aside from being really cold outside, my lungs just couldn't keep up with my legs.

playing sharks and minnows at cross country

When I got home, I was talking to Eli and when I laughed, it came out as a wheeze. So, I had what I call "Runner's Lung" last night and even today. It was worth it though, because I thought being a shark was fun!

Speaking of cross country, the award system that I did this year has worked out really well. Most of the kids have been super motivated to earn different colored "tokens" for their keychains. Sometimes when we play a game, a few kids will even choose to run some extra mileage instead of playing.

There are about 4-5 kids that will likely hit 50 miles run at practices throughout the season. One girl has already done it. When I chose the award tokens, I listed one as 25+ miles and another as 30+ miles. I had no idea that anyone would run even more than that!

So, I found some really perfect keychains at the craft store for the 50+ miler kids to add to their tokens...

shoe keychain

Cute, right? We only have two races and one practice left. This season went by so quickly!



I am leaving for my appointment with the neurologist in about an hour, and I'm so relieved. I feel completely sleep deprived; I don't get much sleep anymore because of the numbness/pain in my right hand at night. The lack of sleep has been wearing on me.

I saw the chiropractor again, and he said I should ice my neck daily, so I've been doing that (I've had to force myself to do it, because I hate being cold!). I have a wrist splint, like what people use for carpal tunnel syndrome, but it doesn't help at all (I'm assuming because the pain is originating in my neck and not my wrist). Hopefully the neurologist will be able to tell me more and help me fix it.



I am loving the frozen crock pot meals I prepped last week. It is SO EASY to just dump the food in the crock pot in the morning and then not have to worry about cooking dinner later. I've enjoyed trying new recipes, too.

Yesterday, I made pepper steak, which we haven't had in a very long time. It was SO good! Having cooked it in the crock pot, the steak was really tender. Next time, I'm going to triple the amount of peppers, but it is definitely going to be on the list of dinners to prep ahead.

slow cooker pepper steak

I think the planning ahead and having meals ready has been helping with my weight, too. I haven't been snacking before dinner, because I know that dinner will be ready when I am. And we haven't been eating out.

As I wrote in my post, "The Heaviest I've Been in 8 Years: A Reality Check on the Scale", that I was in the 160's (162.8) and it was a big wake up call.  But I still wasn't making progress (I wasn't gaining, but wasn't losing, either).

Anyway, today I saw the 150's again--which was a big relief. I was going to post a weigh in photo, but I was exactly 159.8, and each time I picked up my phone to take a picture, it switched to 160.0 (due to the weight of the phone)--haha!

I feel good about it. I haven't been counting calories or anything like that, but just working on changing habits. I think having dinner prepped and ready to throw in the crock pot each morning has helped a lot. That never would have occurred to me!

Well, I'm off to my appointment. Hoping for good news :)


October 12, 2018

20 Slow Cooker Dinners--Prepped and In My Freezer!

I've never been a big meal "prepper"--preparing things ahead of time to just heat and eat. Usually, it's just because I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for, so I don't want a bunch of meals in my freezer that I might never want to eat. Also, it just seems like SO. MUCH. WORK. preparing a bunch of meals at one time.

Since I've been renovating the kitchen, it's been a pain trying to cook dinner. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't even know how many times Jerry has picked up a pizza over the last month because the kitchen is a huge mess.

I was looking for a tutorial on Pinterest a few days ago, and I came across a pin about slow cooker meals--20 meals in 4 hours, prepped and in the freezer. I thought it sounded perfect for our current situation. I could just pull a dinner out of the freezer each morning and throw it in the crock pot. Then I won't have to worry about cooking later.

It's only been three days now, but I LOVE this system! I hated the prep work (it took me eight hours, not four!) but it's totally worth it now. We had lasagna on Wednesday, stuffed peppers yesterday, and beef hash today.

Here is a link to the website where I got all of the recipes. It's super convenient, because it even includes a shopping list! I literally printed out all of the recipes and the shopping list, and then went to the store and bought everything on the list. It was $200 😳 But, considering it would last us until the end of the month, it actually wasn't that bad.

groceries

(You can see how slow the progress is on my kitchen! I took all the doors off of the cupboards, preparing to paint. Then I got sidetracked by building shelves on top of the cupboards--see below.)

Also, it included a LOT of meat. My family doesn't usually eat this much meat, so if I do this again, I think I'll just pick and choose recipes that we like and cut back on the amount of meat in them. I'll make up some of my own meals, too.

Anyway, it took me FOREVER to cut up all of the meat (chicken breasts; chicken thighs--which I've never bought before; ground beef; ground turkey; pork; pot roast; stew beef; and a couple of other cuts of beef. I buy beef about three times a year, so I felt odd buying so much red meat, but I thought it would be fun to try different meals, so I didn't question anything.

And the recipes are actually really simple! I like simplicity when cooking. If it has less than six ingredients or so, I'm very happy. Bonus if I already have most of the ingredients. And that's how a lot of the meals I just prepped are!

The meal prep basically involved trimming meat (I am super picky about meat! I have to trim all fat, and anything else that just doesn't look "right" from it before I will cook it), then putting it into a gallon size freezer bag with the other ingredients (some of which need prepping as well, like sweet potatoes and peppers--holy cow, I cut up 10 green peppers!--onions, etc.).

I wrote the name of the meal on the bag and the instructions. Most of them just say, "Low for 6-8 hours"--so easy! A couple of them have one or two other instructions, but I was so glad that none of them have the directions to "cook this meat first and then add it to the crock pot" then "sauté these onions and peppers and add them to the meat" and then "stir all of these ingredients together to make a sauce, and add it to the crock pot when you have two hours of cooking time left" followed by, "30 minutes before serving, add cheese on top and reduce heat to low" and finally, "Oh! And serve it with rice or pasta". Seriously! Why bother using a slow cooker if you have to do all of those things?

So, from 10:00 AM until nearly 6:00 PM on Tuesday, I turned $200 worth of ingredients (not including the stuff I already had at home) into 20 meals ready to take out of the freezer and dump into the slow cooker. I'm super excited about it! Not only the fact that I don't have to cook for three weeks, but also that we are trying new things. And it's the perfect time of year for the crock pot.

Anyways, the days are flying by. The kitchen progress has been slow... even though I work on it every spare moment I have. This whole week, I've been working on building shelves above my cabinets. This involves measuring, measuring, then sawing the wood, then measuring some more, making adjustments, measuring again, and drilling and then securing with screws (I originally wrote "screwing" but that just didn't sound right in these circumstances). Then going back for more measuring and adjustments.

I honestly think I could start my own TV show... first, you have an idea for a renovation. Then you search Google or Pinterest for ideas on how to put that idea into action. Then you watch a few YouTube videos to learn how to do it. I've learned how to tape and mud drywall, skim coat, "cut in" when painting, all the differences between latex and oil-based paints, and about a thousand other things. Jerry says he feels bad that I'm doing everything, but I actually really like doing it. I'll be super proud when it's done! (If it turns out okay, haha).

I want to post progress photos, but my house is such a mess! I have things all over the place, depending on what room I'm working on at the moment. Also, when I'm done, I will write a post about the expenses. We are still staying debt free since paying off our credit card in August, and we are doing this whole renovation with money that we had been using toward our debt. It's SO MUCH MORE FUN to put the money toward things like updating the kitchen than it was to pay down debt. I don't ever want to get into debt again, so we've been very conscious about our budget.

The bruise on my shin is finally healing and has stopped hurting. But I do love freaking people out with it! A girl at cross country practice told me that she couldn't run that day (she has a different excuse at every practice) because she tripped when getting off the bus and her shin hurt. I was like, "REALLY?!" as I rolled up my pant leg. Hahaha.

huge bruise

(If you missed it, I fell off of a chair while I was painting, and my shin scraped against the seat of the chair the whole way down. It hurt like a mother!)

I'm still having issues with the nerves in my neck/arm, but I have an appointment with the neurologist in four days. It has gotten a little better, though. I've only been waking up with the pain about once each night, and it's not bad enough to make me pace around the bedroom. My hand is always numb from 6 AM when I wake up until about 10 AM. It's so annoying! I'm curious what the neurologist will say.

I only have one more week of cross country--it's kind of sad! I think this year has been my favorite out of the four years I've been coaching. The kids are fantastic and I love how motivated some of them are. We have a race tomorrow morning. I really wish I could sleep in!


October 08, 2018

A lot to catch up on! A double date, chiropractor, homecoming, and spontaneous 5K race

You know how some weekends are super laid back, without plans on the calendar, and you can just chill? And then other weekends are packed full and you feel like you need another weekend to recover from that weekend?

Yeah, the latter was my weekend.

On Friday, I was in SO. MUCH. PAIN. from this compressed nerve in my neck. I'd been up most of the night crying in agony... and I'm not exaggerating. I've given birth twice and I've broken my jaw completely through in five places, going through two reconstructive surgeries... and this pain in my hand is WORSE than any of those. It only flares up that badly at night. It literally feels like my whole arm is on fire, and someone is smashing my fingers with a hammer.

It comes on like contractions during labor, and if you were to just listen to the audio of my nighttime, you would probably think that you're hearing a woman in labor. The worst of it lasts from 10-20 minutes, and it happens about 3-5 times per night.

So, Friday morning, I was miserable. I was willing to do anything at all for relief, so I ended up calling a chiropractor to get in ASAP. I have never been a fan of chiropractors, because my sister told me about a couple of patients she's had that became paralyzed from chiropractic adjustments (she's an occupational therapist). But I was desperate to have a night of sleep without the pain.

I explained the situation to the receptionist and she had me go in at 10:30. After talking to the doctor for literally an hour (including x-rays), he did adjust me. It was funny, because I'm a super skeptic; but as soon as he examined me, before taking x-rays or anything, he said my right hip was out of alignment. I didn't mention my hip at ALL during the visit, but I have always had issues with it and I frequently ask Jerry to push on it hard.

When he mentioned that about my hip, I actually started believing that he knew what he was doing. I let him adjust me--my hips, back (that weird spot where I have always had pain), and neck. I was super nervous about my neck, but it actually didn't bother me at all. I left there with super high hopes of it having miraculously cured my compressed nerve.

I didn't have any numbness throughout the day, but I did wake up twice during the night with that excruciating pain again. I told Jerry that I'm never going to a chiropractor again, but he convinced me to go a couple more times. I have another appointment for Wednesday. I also made an appointment for a massage. I am hoping that massage will help, too--although I expect will hurt like a bitch!

Shortly after the kids got home from school, Jerry and I headed up to Detroit to meet up with Eric and Maris, a couple that we've known for a long time but rarely spend time with. I had four tickets to see Kevin Hart's show "The Irresponsible Tour" at the Little Caesar's Arena, the new arena where the Red Wings play.

We went out to dinner first at a little bar nearby and then walked to the arena. Our tickets got us into the VIP lounge before the show as well as the after-party when the show was over--so cool! We stood out horribly, but we had fun pretending we were "VIP's" for a while ;)




The show as amazing--I love Kevin Hart! The opening comedians were fantastic, too. Jerry and I actually saw the show earlier this year in Canada, but we had the opportunity to go again, and since we'd loved it the first time, we were excited to go.

I'm super old and was ridiculously tired after the show, but we went to the after-party for a little bit, just to say we did. (Jerry and Eric geeked out over a couple of Lions players that were there.)


We got home close to 1:00, and I had to set the alarm for 6:00 for a cross country meet in the morning. I was up all night because of the hand pain, and then went to cross country in the morning, where it rained. My hand was totally numb, and I couldn't pin the kids' bibs on their shirts because I couldn't feel my fingers. It's such an odd feeling!

After cross country, it was time for Noah's first homecoming dance! While he was in school on Thursday, I went out and bought his clothes for the dance, and I'd say I did a pretty good job. He loved what I chose! I had to convince him that Converse shoes were totally okay to wear. I was so excited to find them at Salvation Army for $5--and they were purple, and in his size! It was a sign.


I picked up his corsage from the florist, and then Jerry and I took him to his friends' house (Ellie and Cadie are twins that he is good friends with). His girlfriend, Amber, was there as well; and some of the other friends in his "group". It cracks me up that he is the only boy in his group of friends!




We stayed and took pictures for a little while before we drove Noah and Amber to meet the others at Ruby Tuesday.

While Noah was eating with his friends, Jerry and I had dinner and then went to look for a clock for our living room (we bought one, and then later found out it doesn't work--bummer!). After Noah was done eating, we picked up him and Amber and drove them to the school for the dance. Amber's mom picked them up and brought them home. I was so tired that I actually fell asleep before 12.

Yesterday morning, I got up early again because it was the day of the Melanoma 5K Walk. I had signed up in honor of my friend Sarah, who died in 2014 after a long battle with melanoma. As I mentioned, I hate asking for money, even if it's for a good cause--so thank you SO much to those of you that donated!

Many many thanks to: Jen Grimes, Kristina, Gina Kenney, Megan Bell, Megan Mele, Lacey Baker, Music Watson, Tracy Marsh, Erin Sutton, "Runs for Cookies Reader", Susan Snyder, Allyson Cathey, Kaitlin O'Rinn, Tricia Neuburger, Cathy Bailey, Carol Hanscom, Rachel Coles, Barrie Nelson, Megan Dunn, Angie B, Vanessa Plante, Rebecca Smith, Tammy Buckner, Ann Lightfoot, Karuna Demla, Jennifer Bracht, Meredith Rodriguez, Les and Sue, Pamela Holmes, and Thomas Graf.

I admit, when I woke up and it was raining, I was so tempted to go back to bed... but knowing that so many of you had donated to our team, I wasn't going to miss it for anything! I drove up to Kensington Metropark (about 65 minutes away). I was kind of excited to see the park, because I'd never been there before and I heard it's a really nice one. It didn't disappoint (I'll have to go back with the family one day when it's not so rainy).


When I'd registered, I planned to do the 5K walk, not the run. I assumed all of "Sarah's Stars" would be walking together, so obviously I didn't want to be the random one that did the run. But once I got there, I realized that everyone sort of did their own thing (except Sarah's mom and kids, who walked together). When I saw Sarah's daughter, I couldn't believe how much she looked like Sarah--it was uncanny! And she's almost the same age Sarah was when we became friends.

Anyway, it was cold and raining. I hadn't thought to bring a long-sleeved shirt with me, because it had just been 80 degrees on Saturday. About five minutes before the race started, I asked at registration if I could switch to the run instead of the walk. They gave me a bib, and a few minutes later, I was at the starting line.

I didn't feel at all prepared. I wasn't wearing my running tights, but yoga pants instead (which meant my thighs would be all over the place, haha). I also didn't have my Garmin 😱I'd only run a race without my watch one time, and I hated it--I'd sworn I'd never do it again. All I was thinking was that I was cold and wet and if I ran, I would be done sooner.

The rain was just drizzling, and it was in the low 50's, so it was actually perfect running weather. I didn't intend to treat it as a "race", but rather just a regular run. It felt SO odd without my Garmin. I had absolutely no clue what pace I was running. There was a woman just in front of me that I kept pace with for the first half of the race. She was going just a tad bit slower than I would've liked, but I didn't want to feel like an idiot by passing her, only to get way too winded and then have her blow by me.

It was an out and back run, so when we got to the turn around point and the woman stopped for water, I kept going and was able to pick up the pace just a touch. There was a young boy who kept sprinting and then walking, over and over again. He cut me off several times, and it drove me crazy. It gave me the idea that Renee and I should talk to our cross country kids about "runners etiquette" during a race.

It's so funny that I was totally ready for the 5K to be over during that last mile. I've run marathons! But this 5K felt so difficult and long because I have gotten so out of shape over the last couple of years. I was desperate to look at my Garmin, and I kept forgetting it wasn't there.

When I was almost to the end, I saw a woman waiting for her friend on the side of the trail. I thought, "She looks like she could be in my age group... she should get moving!" ;) After that thought, I realized I hadn't seen many women who looked my age ahead of me. I never, ever expected an age group award, but I thought it'd be funny if I actually got one.

Finally, I could hear the music from the finish line, and I was so grateful it was almost over. I wasn't racing my best, but I was definitely pushing myself. My face felt like it was on fire--something that used to happen after all of my runs when I was a beginner.

I really enjoyed that race! Not necessarily the race itself, but more so the atmosphere and the camaraderie of the people. Other than Sarah's Stars, there were other teams of people showing support for loved ones with melanoma, or who they'd lost to melanoma. There were lots of clever sayings on shirts about moles or staying out of the sun. I was really glad I'd taken part in it.

Just now, as I was looking up the race results, I saw that I actually DID finish first place in my age group! Hahaha. My pace was 11:04/mile, so clearly the field wasn't very competitive. But fun for a last-minute 5K :)


October 04, 2018

The One When My Body Started Falling Apart

Well, I am just a big old mess right now. And for once, it's actually a physical mess instead of mental ;)

Mentally, I have been feeling pretty good for a while now. No depression, anxiety is under control, feeling relief after my candid post about my weight, finding excitement and joy in running again... it's so nice!

I've been staying super busy, which I think is the reason that my anxiety is minimal--my mind has been on all the good things I have going on right now, so I don't have much headspace to worry. The only thing I've been a little stressed about is my weight.

I've been doing good with my diet (by "diet" I just mean my daily eating routine, not a meal plan or anything that I'm following). However, I haven't seen any weight loss. I know I need to give it time, but seeing progress--any at all--would be really helpful to keep me going.

So, while I've been doing great mentally, my physical health is a different story. I have a chronic problem from my neck to my hand, and then yesterday... ugh. Yesterday just wasn't my day!

As you know, I've been working on my house--renovating the kitchen, living room, and dining room all at the same time. And I've been doing about 95% of the work myself (Jerry helps when he can, but because he works 12-hour shifts, the last thing I want him to do is come home and work some more. Besides, I actually really enjoy working on it!)

Estelle does, too. She feels like the queen of the castle while she helps me paint...


(I LOVE the living room color, which you can see a little in the background. After a couple of people commented that they thought the color would be too dark, I was worried... but I'm glad we went with it!) Oh, and if you look at the carpet behind me, you can see a dark blob on the floor. That is just one of many dark paint blobs from Joey stepping in a paint tray and then walking around the house. Thankfully, the carpet is coming out soon! Painting with pets in the house is a big challenge.

While this project has been fun to work on, it has taken a big toll on me. Remember when I was going through physical therapy last year because of my back problems and my shoulder pain? Well, the problem is back, and it's much, much worse. I have no doubt that all of the scraping, mudding, sanding, and painting are the cause of it. I saw my doctor last week, and he agrees.

From what I learned last year after seeing a spine specialist, I have a herniated disc in my back, which is the cause of my mid-back pain (that was nothing new). The shoulder pain was caused from a compressed nerve. The nerve runs from my neck through my right shoulder and down my arm, all the way to my fingers. All of the physical work I've been doing has really made it flare up, resulting in severe shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand pain.

And the pain isn't the worst of it. My fingers go completely numb when I'm using my arm at all (especially when raising it above my head), and there isn't anything I can do that relieves it. It's especially bad at night. I wake up several times during the night with a pins and needles feeling in my fingers and excruciating burning pain in my hand and forearm. I've been wearing a wrist splint, at the recommendation of my physical therapist, but it honestly doesn't help much.

I have an appointment with a neurologist on the 16th, but until then, I am just going to rest my arm as much as possible--which means no painting or working on the renovation. I'm bummed! I did manage to get the rooms and trim painted, but I still have to do the cupboards. The house already looks a million times better, but it won't look fully "done" until the cupboards are painted and we replace the flooring.

Anyway, not only do I have the issues with my arm, I had a bit of an accident yesterday. I was standing on a chair, painting the doorway trim, when the chair wobbled and as I tried to balance, I fell. The chair tipped out from under me, and my shin fell right on the edge of the chair. As I went down, my shin dragged across the chair's edge, and I swear I could actually feel the blood vessels rupturing. I knew my shin wasn't broken or anything, but the pain was horrible and my skin had a huge bruise immediately.

Check this out:



That's what it looked like just an hour after it happened! I can only imagine how it's going to look as it heals. But aside from the ugly color, it's also extremely painful to the touch and especially when I walk. That really sucks, because I had just gotten excited about running again! I can barely walk without a limp, so I doubt I'll be able to run on it for a couple of days. The Melanoma 5K Walk is on Sunday, but I'm sure it'll feel better by then.

Who would have thought painting could be so dangerous? ;)

Oh, and if the bruises and pinched nerve weren't enough... yesterday, I was in the waiting room at the orthodontist with Eli. They have free coffee, so I poured a cup and sat down next to Eli. A second later, Eli was called to go in, and when he stood up, he bumped into my arm. The entire cup of hot coffee dumped onto my legs!


So, I just added coffee burns on top of my bruises 😩 I had to go right to our cross country meet from there, so I had very wet, stained pants. It was just NOT my day yesterday.

Now that the walls are painted, I will try to get some pictures of the house progress and post an update tomorrow!


October 01, 2018

For the Love of Running

I am so overwhelmed with just about every emotion there is--thank you all so much for your feedback on my post about being at my heaviest weight in eight years!

I was SO nervous to post it, as you can imagine; which is ridiculous, because when I share my struggles here I usually get a ton of support. Having my weight loss success and struggles here on the internet for anyone to see makes me feel a lot of pressure to keep the weight off, so when I gain weight, it sucks to admit it.

After reading several supportive comments on Facebook in response to my post on Saturday, I felt motivated to go for a run. It wasn't just a "I should go run" thought, but more of a "I really want to go run right now!" thought. The weather here has finally turned fall-like, and consciously choosing to go for a run in that moment felt like a small victory.

This sounds hokey, but the run was almost magical. I felt so good and so happy to be out there! It wasn't even the "I'll be so glad I did this once it's over"; it was one of those rare runs that I felt truly happy in the moment.

My pace for the first two miles was 11:05 and 11:08, and I wasn't aiming for anything in particular. I was listening to Korn and Eminem, which made me run a little faster than an "easy" run. ("Easy" these days is between 11:30 and 12:00.) About a quarter mile into the third mile, I thought maybe I could try for sub-11:00.

I picked up the pace a little, and it was the kind of pace that felt uncomfortable, but in a good way. Toward the end, I picked up the pace a little more, and finished that third mile in 10:22--which made my overall pace 10:50. I was pretty happy with that!

Oh, and I found 31 cents while I was out. I love finding quarters!


Anyway, let's get to the point of this post... "For the Love of Running".

I miss "feeling like a runner", which is kind of hard to describe. I don't mean just calling myself a runner; I mean feeling like a runner on a daily basis. Like back when I didn't put any thought into it; I simply threw on some running clothes, laced up my shoes, waited for satellites to find my Garmin, and then ran.

I didn't constantly wonder when it was going to be over with, or question why I was doing it at all.

Instead, I looked around at my surroundings, finding humor in the fact that I could tell you every detail of each house along the route because I'd run past them so many times. I knew where each mile marker (or half- or even quarter-mile marker) was.

Sometimes I would play little games in my head. "Oh, my average pace is 9:16 right now; I wonder if I can get it under 9:00 by running faster during this last mile?". Or, I would play the "what if..." game: something on the ground would catch my attention, and then I would imagine a scenario that had to do with the object.

For example, if I saw a garbage bag in a ditch... I might think about what I would find if I opened it. Maybe it would be a bunch of kittens that someone left on the side of the road to die and I would be horrified but then of course I would want to adopt all of them and I would wrap them in my arms and carry them home and then Phoebe and Estelle would love them too. Imagining scenarios like that during my runs would make the time pass so quickly!

I remember LOVING the feeling of a good tempo run. I generally hated it while I was doing it, because tempo runs are so hard, but if I hit my pace for the distance I was aiming for, I would feel fantastic when I got home. And that amazing feeling would last all day. (When training for my 10K in 2016, this tempo run was, by far, the best feeling I've ever had after a run.)

After nailing my tempo run


And a runner's high... there is no feeling like it. I've only felt it a handful of times in all the years I've been running, but it feels amazing! Again, the tempo run I linked to above gave me the best runner's high I've ever had.

Oh, and I even miss getting "runner's lung" (a term I made up, similar to "runner's knee" or "tennis elbow" or "smoker's cough"). "Runner's lung" is what I call the feeling I get in my lungs all day after a very hard run. My chest aches to take a deep breath, and I usually cough after a deep inhale. It sounds terrible, but that is the best indicator (to me) that I really busted my ass during that run.

I liked having a running schedule and actually following it. I would check off the runs as I went along, and it was so satisfying. I was always thinking of the next big goal (or even small goal, like beating the time from a run the previous week).

I enjoyed writing on my blog about my daily runs, even if it was a plain-old-boring-easy-three-miler. Reading those past posts motivates me to want to get to that point again. (I think I'll round up the 10 most motivating posts--to me--and link to them in a blog post.)

Running always makes me feel strong. Listening to some good hip hop music and without a particular goal or target is a great feeling. And then feeling achy for the rest of the day just reminds me that I'm getting faster/stronger.

I miss planning out a "long run treat" each week. When I was counting calories or Points, I always used to plan on having some sort of treat after my long run that week. Somehow, a piece of cake or a cookie sandwich tastes so much better after running 8 or 10 or 16 miles!

cookie sandwich with frosting

While running, I saw "regulars"--people who were frequently outside along my route. In fact, today I went for a run (I started this post yesterday--Sunday--and now finishing it up today) and a man totally made my day. I was running one of my regular routes (with Joey!), and as I passed by a house, the owner was outside. I'd seen him outside several times over the years, but never chatted with him other than a friendly "Good morning!".

Today, I smiled and said "Good morning!" as I ran by, and he replied, "Good morning! I haven't seen you out running here for a while!"  I explained that I'd taken a break from running and was trying to get back into it, and then went on my way. Such a simple interaction, but I thought it was so cool that he actually noticed. So, just as I notice the regulars on my route, I guess they notice me, too!

Joey and I had a good run. I was deliberately trying to slow him down, because he pulls on the leash for the first half mile or so (I have a hands-free leash that I love!). I figured that with the added stress of having Joey with me, my heart rate would be higher than normal. I was surprised that my heart rate stayed in the 140's for almost all of the run. I really want to be able to get it down to 144 without having to walk.

I didn't listen to music or a podcast or anything today, and I found that I miss just running without earbuds. It was nice to hear the sounds outside, and I chatted with Joey ;) I'm going to make it a point to leave the earbuds at home more often.

Post run selfie with Joey


I feel like I'm getting my running mojo back. I've only run three times over the last week, but I've enjoyed each of them in the moment, and it feels good!




I've been procrastinating posting about this, because I hate asking for money (even if it is a donation for a good cause). I'll only post about it once, and if you can donate, that would be awesome! If not, I totally understand.

With me in these photos is Sarah, my closest friend from high school. We worked at Denny's together; made way too many things out of faux fur in sewing class together; and, regrettably, we went tanning at the salon together. In 2014, at only 31 years old, Sarah lost her life to melanoma after a long and frustrating fight.





Sarah was so funny! She was extremely extroverted, and always pushing me out of my comfort zone. She was a great mom to her son and daughter. She loved Elmo, ladybugs, hip hop music, and dancing. In fact, at her funeral, I went into the restroom--and heard "The Humpty Dance" playing on the speakers. I laughed out loud, knowing she'd be thrilled to have that playing instead of the usual piano music.

I wrote a whole post about her, which you can read here.


Since Sarah's passing, I've kept in touch with her mom, Theresa. Theresa asked me to join her team, "Sarah's Stars", in a Melanoma 5K Walk next month. I'm hoping you can donate toward the cause in Sarah's honor on behalf of our team. Benefits will go to AIM at Melanoma, a non-profit focused on finding a cure for melanoma.

Please consider donating--it would mean a lot to us! Here is the direct link to donate. Thanks so much in advance!


September 29, 2018

The Heaviest I've Been in 8 Years: A Reality Check on the Scale



This is probably going to be the most vulnerable post I've ever written.

My weight has obviously gone up and down through the last eight years of "maintenance". Since losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010, I've weighed everywhere from 121 pounds to 160 pounds. Each and every time I gain a significant amount of weight (10 pounds or so), I start to question whether it's the start of my gaining it all back.

When I lost the weight, I knew that the odds were against me; according to statistics, there was a 95% chance I would gain all of the weight back, plus more, within two years. And even though I've maintained a large weight loss for eight years now, I don't ever feel like I'm really "there" (in maintenance) yet.

And yet, every time I think I have finally figured it out and I feel confident enough to state it on my blog, I gain weight again. The times where I'm doing great and feeling great, it's easy to feel like it will last forever. Last year, for example, I was 99% sure that I'd finally gotten to the place I was looking for--I was healthy, I was eating in a sustainable way that made me feel good, and I was just doing what made me happy.

It almost seemed easy. I felt really good about my life in general, and it felt like I was going to maintain that feeling forever.

When the weight started creeping up, I was worried. I had a very hard time figuring out what to do about it. I wasn't binge eating; I was just overeating in general. Eating too frequently, off schedule, and too much.

My weight tends to jump up in spurts. I'll gain about 6-8 pounds within a week or so, and then maintain that for several weeks or even months sometimes; then I'll gain another 6-7 pounds. And that is what happened to me recently.

I remember being at around 144, and not too worried--I was "only" 11 pounds over my goal weight. Then one day, I was 152. Seeing the 150's again was very worrisome. I knew how long it would take to lose that weight (again) and I felt overwhelmed.

Recently, I stepped on the scale to see 158--dangerously close to my highest weight in 8 years. I felt like it just came out of nowhere. I still haven't been binge eating, and to see that number was a little mortifying.

Finally, yesterday, I got on the scale and saw the highest number I've seen in the 8 years since losing 125 pounds: 162.8. I am back in the 160's.

I wish I could say all sorts of inspiring things about how I'm going to lose this weight and how it's not going to stop me from trying; but honestly, I am very worried that the scale will continue to rise. I've tried counting calories again, something that has always worked in the past, but I just can't seem to stick with it very long (like a day or two).

In addition to my diet, I have NO willpower to run. I want to--I really, really want to--but I can't seem to get in that habit and make it a part of my life like I used to. Each time I run, it feels like it gets harder and harder (no doubt because of the weight gain). If it felt like it used to, where an easy run actually felt easy, I think I would be much more motivated to go out and do it. Feeling this out of shape has not just taken a toll on my body, but on my motivation as well.

I would like to come up with some sort of do-able plan to hopefully get back on track and lose this weight. It's scary to see 162. I feel like I'm too far gone and this is it. This is when I gain it all back. I try not to feel so negatively about it, but that's much harder than it sounds.

When I say that I want to make a plan, I don't mean a "challenge" (you know I love making challenges!). I need to focus on making simple changes that I can live with--just like I did in 2009. I can change more as I go along, but to start, I want to make small goals to at least get back in good habits.

My first priority is actually not my diet; it's running. I want to run regularly again so badly. I miss feeling like a runner, and pushing myself to do things I once thought were impossible. When I coach cross country, I want to be a good role model. Yes, I know how to coach--but I want to actually be a runner who coaches.

This photo is from one of my very favorite runs. I ran on Christmas day (hence the red and green) and it was a little snowy. I can still remember how crisp the air felt! I truly enjoyed it.


In 2010, when I decided to start running for fitness, I made a promise to myself: I was going to run three times per week for at least 30 minutes... no matter what. There are ZERO excuses to keep me from doing that much. I remember running early in the morning or late at night so that Jerry would be here with the kids; I asked my parents or my brother to watch them so I could run; my friend watched the kids so I could run, and then I watched hers so that she could run.

I did whatever it took. No excuses.

So, my first plan is to get back into running by going back to how it all started: running three times per week for 30+ minutes each time. No matter what.

As far as my diet goes, I want to try something new for a little while (maybe just a couple of weeks to see how it goes). Over the last nine years, I've learned that each time I gain a significant amount of weight back, I do something new to lose it.

In September 2012, I tried out Weight Watchers' new (at the time) program, starting at 156 pounds. I got down to my goal in December 2012.

I started calorie counting in August 2015 at 158 pounds. I got down to my goal weight of 133 in November 2015. I continued losing weight without really trying to, which I believe was from my heart rate training. I was 121 pounds in February 2016.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on a mood stabilizing medication. I felt so much better, and I just focused on being happy. I naturally picked up a way of eating that felt good to me--a modified "intuitive eating" lifestyle. I made the decision to start fresh in February 2017, and my weight was just under 160. The changes in lifestyle kind of came naturally. I was back at my goal weight in June 2017.

I'm not proud of all of these ups and downs, but they are what they are. I've learned something from each one of them. I've recently tried going back to these things that worked in the past, and I just can't seem to stick with them. The one thing I've always said is that I will not make changes that I'm not willing to do for the rest of my life. And I'm going to stick with that.

I have always believed that reaching our healthiest weight can be achieved by simply eating less food. Small portions. Eating less frequently. I don't believe that our bodies need as much food as we are taught we should eat.

I've always done this via portion control--measuring or weighing out my food to ensure that I'm not overdoing it. When I was eating intuitively, I was eating the portions that just felt right; and I wasn't forcing myself to eat if I wasn't hungry.

I've gotten away from those habits for some reason. So, I'd like to just work on one small change right now. I want to eat only when I'm actually hungry. Lately, I've been eating when anxious, when stressed out, when celebrating something, and other reasons, whether I'm hungry or not. Focusing on just that small change will help me to feel more in control, and then later I can work on another habit.

Regardless, the running is my number one priority, and I am most determined to do that. I went for a run Wednesday morning just because I felt like it (my body is so sore and stiff from working on our house project, I actually thought a run would feel good!).

One thing I know for sure is that I want to do my best to get this weight off. I am not happy with how I look and I'm certainly not happy with how I feel. I feel sluggish, which is exactly how I felt at 253 pounds. And I can't stand the thought of becoming part of that statistic that says I will gain back all the weight.

It's embarrassing to see people in public because the gain is obvious. I haven't been posting pictures of me on my blog for the same reason. I cringe when I see photos of me. I even avoid looking in the mirror! My clothes don't fit, and now that this is jeans and sweatshirt weather, I'm super bummed that I can't wear what I have.

I know these are petty reasons to want to lose weight, but there are other more serious reasons, too. Running has always helped with my anxiety, and of course I want to be less anxious. Running has made me feel good about myself, whether I was 160 pounds or 121 pounds. Overeating causes me to feel tired all the time, which makes me unproductive; eating only when I'm hungry will make me more energetic.

Also, I've been having a lot of back, neck, and shoulder pain (just like last year when I was in physical therapy). I'm sure the extra weight isn't helping that. When I was running regularly and eating the correct portions, I don't remember feeling this much pain.

This whole post, in a nutshell:
  • I am at the highest weight I've been in 8 years
  • The extra weight is affecting my mood, health, and overall mindset
  • I'm terrified that my weight will continue to climb and I'll gain everything back
  • I want to run again--three times a week to start--and this is my top priority right now
  • I'm going to work on eating only when I'm physically hungry
  • I want to get my weight back down not just for vain reasons, but also for my health and overall wellness

This post is not meant to be a downer or a "poor me, I'm feeling sorry for myself". It's not meant to make excuses. I'm writing this post because it feels good to get it out in the open and not feel like I'm hiding something. I've always tried to be open and honest on my blog, even though I feel very vulnerable when I write personal things like this.

I hope that I'll have good things to report in the coming weeks. Seeing the 160's was a big reality check, and I finally feel like I'm ready to do this. I'm going to work on it the slow way (one small step at a time) and eventually, I hope to get back to my goal weight (once again).

Thanks for always being so kind to me. I don't express it enough, but I appreciate the encouraging words from your comments and emails more than you know.

XO


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