August 31, 2015

Motivational Monday #120

Happy Motivational Monday! It has been a stressful couple of days, but I am happy to say that I have stayed on track with my calorie counting and exercise for another week. Our washing machine broke, as well as our wireless internet router, so yesterday I had to go out and buy new ones. Spending a small fortune on things like washing machines and routers is so NOT fun. As I type this, I am waiting for Lowe's to deliver the new washing machine. Since they are delivering the new one, and taking the old one, of course I felt the need to clean the laundry room top to bottom yesterday. I'm sort of dreading what the floor will look like when they pull the old washer out... 12 years of dust! Haha.

Anyway, like I wrote yesterday, I'm doing really well with the exercise, and I think that is my "proud moment" of the week. I did a long walk, a long bike ride, and two new-to-me pieces of equipment at the rec center. Here are some great Motivational Monday stories to share this week... enjoy!

Felicia just ran the Crim 10-Miler for the third year in a row, and set a new PR! In 2013, she made a goal to run the Crim every year that she is able. That year, she ran while she was 11 weeks pregnant. The following year, she was 5 weeks post-partum. And this year, she started training about 5 weeks before the race, and she finished in 1:55:05! The course is a tough one (it's in Michigan, and I have been scared of this race, haha--maybe I'll do it next year). This race was Felicia's main motivation to start losing weight in 2011-2012, and she dropped 80 pounds!

After taking a fitness hiatus last winter/spring, Katie made up her mind over Memorial Day to get back on track. She wrote up a training plan, picked out some fall races to work toward, and started training. While she hasn't seen much progress on the scale, she is starting to feel her fitness come back. This weekend, she ran a 10K--her first race of the season--and beat her "A" goal of a sub-12:00 mile pace! She finished in 1:11:43, a pace of 11:33. And, just as exciting, her daughter ran the 2.5K race--her first "adult"/timed race! (Katie blogs at Katie is a Runner)

Yesterday, Tiffany celebrated her birthday by doing something completely new to her: stand up paddle boarding (SUP). She has a big fear of being on something unstable (like a sailboat, canoe, skateboard, etc.), so this was a challenge for her to overcome. Getting started was especially tough; but once she stood up on the board, she really enjoyed herself! (She's the one wearing purple in the photo). She's working on getting back to her pre-baby body, and this experience was a big step in the right direction. She said it was amazing!

Carly is marathon training, and on Saturday, she was scheduled for her longest run to date: 15 miles. She woke up to a text message from her running partner that she'd be unable to make it because she was sick with a fever. Instead of letting that derail her, Carly juggled a few things around and met up with some friends on their 8-miler. When she was finished, she went on to run another 7 miles on her own, completing her 15-miler!

Marine is proud to say that she ran 100+ kilometers (62.1 miles) in one month! She started running in April 2014, and ran her first race, La Parisienne, in September (you can read about that on Motivational Monday #78); and she'll be running it again in two weeks. She decided to reach for an even higher goal as well--the Paris Centre 10K in October. She has run a cumulative 114K (70.8 miles) during training for it! She added in her email, "I feel like I'm becoming a runner"... but I have to say, and I don't think anyone will disagree, that YOU ALREADY ARE A RUNNER ;)

Congratulations everyone! Have a great week :)

August 30, 2015

Lots of exercise and new Peanut Butter Cup tea

I have been kicking ass this week as far as exercising goes! For some reason, this time around with my injury, I have embraced cross-training. I used to hate riding my bike, but now I am really starting to like it. After running the Chicago Marathon in October 2013, I felt SO burnt out on running, and I never really got my running mojo back. Even before my injury, I was thinking that after the Detroit Marathon, I would cut way back on the running and do it more for fitness than trying to do races and long distances. The idea of just running 3-4 days per week, 3-5 miles at a time, sounds really great to me. Once I'm sure this injury is healed, that's what I'd like to do.

For now, I really like trying new things and just trying to be an active person--just looking for opportunities each day to get in some activity (take Joey for a walk, ride my bike to the mailbox, walk with a friend, etc.). Yesterday morning, the kids had baseball practice, so I figured I'd walk on the track at the school while they practiced. As I was getting in the car, I saw my bike in the garage, and thought it would be a great opportunity to go for a semi-long ride.

I loaded my bike in the car and then took the boys to practice. The coach wasn't very specific about what time practice would be over, so I didn't want to be gone much more than an hour. I didn't have a particular plan, but just decided to start riding and figure it out from there.

Riding a bike on the roads around here is scary. There aren't bike lanes, and many of the roads don't even have shoulders. Not many people are out exercising, like they do in some very active cities, so drivers aren't used to paying attention to pedestrians. When running, I always go against traffic, so that I can make eye contact with drivers. Since you're supposed to ride with traffic while biking, you have no idea if the drivers see you. Thankfully, I was wearing a neon orange shirt, so I was very bright.

I decided to head toward downtown Monroe, or at least close to it (I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get there). I was on a really busy highway, which I like to run on, but my mantra yesterday was, "Please don't hit me, please don't hit me...". Haha! Every time a car passed by me, I was relieved that I hadn't been hit. A few miles in, I had to ride up an overpass over the expressway. There are two lanes of traffic going each direction, plus a turning lane, and an entrance and exit from the expressway. Basically, just a lot of traffic in all different directions. I almost chickened out and turned around, but I've seen people walking or riding bikes there occasionally before, so I just decided to give it a try.

It was actually kind of an adrenaline rush! I made it over the expressway just fine, and it was easier (less traffic) after that. I rode through a neighborhood and made it into downtown Monroe, and then turned around and started to make my way back. This time, I stopped when I was over the expressway to take a picture. They're doing construction, so it wasn't exactly a pretty view, but I felt like I'd conquered something by riding up there.

When I made it back to the kids' baseball practice, I saw that I had ridden 14 miles (well, 13.99--I wish I'd have seen that before saving my ride on my Garmin, because I would have gone just a tiny bit farther to make it an even 14!). It was a good ride, and I felt really great that I'd done it so spur-of-the-moment.

After practice, the kids wanted ice cream. I took them to get a McFlurry from McDonald's, and I decided to get one, too. I'd burned 657 calories on my bike ride, and an Oreo McFlurry is 510 calories. It sounded really good, and I'd certainly earned it.

In the afternoon, I took Noah to Nathan's house so that he could cut Nathan's grass. He wanted to earn a little extra money, so Nathan said he could go mow his front lawn. It was cute to see Nathan showing Noah how to use the mower!

While he was cutting the grass, I was playing with the dogs in the backyard. I brought Joey so that he could play with Nathan and Kendall's dogs.

Neela and Tyke (Kendall's pit bulls), Joey, and Bailey (Nathan's black lab)
I had to bribe them with treats to get them all to sit and stay for a quick photo ;)

This morning, I started the day off with something that I was SO looking forward to: Peanut Butter Cup tea from David's Tea! It's a new flavor for Fall, and my friend Caitlin sent me some in the mail. I was disappointed to see that it was an herbal tea, and not a black tea, but I was still excited to try it.

So, I made a cup this morning, and ended up being pretty disappointed in it. It tasted okay, but it didn't remind me of a peanut butter cup at all. It actually reminded me a lot of their "Cookie Dough" flavored white tea. It didn't have much flavor, so I was bummed. But, I'm going to try mixing it with some black tea tomorrow, and hope that it turns out better!

Today was my "long walk" day, to prepare to walk the Detroit International Half in October. Last week, I did six miles, so today, I planned to do seven. I basically did the same thing as last week--I brought Joey for the first three miles, and then did the rest on my own. Joey really wanted to stop at that boat launch again, so we stopped for about five minutes where he could play in the lake.

After I dropped Joey off at home, I picked up the pace a little, but not as much as last week. It was really humid today, so I just walked at a comfortably brisk pace. At one point, I saw two little kids outside, a boy and a girl, and they had a table with about 10 random items on it. They told me that they were having a sale, and asked if I wanted to buy anything. I said I would, but I didn't have any money with me. They held up each item and told me how much it cost--a jump rope for $4, a piece of firewood for $5, etc--very steep prices! hahaha

It was really humid today, so I was glad to be done after I hit mile seven. I was disappointed to see my calorie burn, though! Only 529 calories for 7 miles. I guess that makes sense, because my average heart rate was only 116 (when running, it's typically in the 150's). Running for two hours would have burned over 1,200 calories; so it feels like a ripoff that I walk for two hours and only burn 529. Regardless, I felt good after getting that done!

I'm still doing really well with the calorie counting. I've been binge free for 26 days and counting!

Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday! If you have a photo of an accomplishment you'd like to share, here is where you an send it (please use the Motivational Monday email address, and not my regular email address... it makes it easier on me when I put the post together).

August 29, 2015

The Breezy

I have been loving the TimeHop app on my phone lately. If you're not familiar with it, it's an app that shows you things you've posted on social media exactly a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, etc. So, each morning, I can see my blog posts from each of the past four years, and my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts for as far back as they go. It brings back a lot of memories that I'd forgotten about!

Today, I saw that it had been five years since I did something that changed the course of my life. I was TERRIFIED of flying, and because of my phobia, I missed out on a ton of opportunities over the years. Then, five years ago, Jerry, the kids, and I were visiting my brother, Brian, in Minnesota. We were at the hanger where his friend Steve keeps a couple of airplanes--just barbecuing burgers and hanging out. Steve offered to take Jerry and I up in The Breezy, a little open one-engine airplane.

Of course, I said absolutely not. There was nothing that was going to get me on that plane! Jerry went on it, and had a blast. He took some great pictures, and I thought how awesome those would be for a Facebook profile photo. A few other friends of Steve's that were there went up for rides, and I started to think about whether I could make myself do it. It would shock everyone I knew, for sure. To get me on a regular airplane would have been shocking, but The Breezy? Nobody would believe it!

I was so nervous that I went in the bathroom was actually dry heaving, feeling like I would vomit from the nerves alone. I kept telling myself that it was only five minutes or so of my life--and when would I get an opportunity like this again? I had just lost over 100 pounds, so certainly I could spend five minutes on an airplane (or so I told myself).

Finally, Steve was ready to put The Breezy away for the evening, unless I wanted to give it a go. I was shaking like a leaf, but I sat down and strapped myself in. I told Steve that if he saw me crying, it was okay, just get us back on the ground safely ;) I can still remember how dry my mouth was as we started taxiing.

As soon as we lifted off, it was like the fear just evaporated from my body. The view was amazing, and Steve didn't do anything crazy (per my request, of course!). It was a warm summer evening, the sun was starting to set, and it was just gorgeous. I loved it! Here is a really great video that Brian put together for me...

Those moments on The Breezy changed the course my life, because after that, I realized that I could force myself to do scary things and maybe I would like them. Two weeks later, I was on a (commercial) airplane heading to Minnesota, where I would run the Ragnar Relay Great River.

I've since flown all over the place: NYC, Miami, Portland, San Diego, the Dominican Republic, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, and probably some I'm forgetting. I've met some amazing people in these places, thanks to my blog, and some of them have become my closest friends. I was able to see my childhood friend Sarah get married in Phoenix, and my brother get married in Minnesota; I was able to surprise my sister for her first half-marathon in Illinois; I was able to spend a week in Punta Cana with my family; I was even a guest on The Dr. Oz Show in NYC!

Five years ago, when I sat down on The Breezy, I had no idea that it would be such a life-changing moment. I'm so glad that I faced my fear in the way that I did (it helps that my brother is a pilot, and has some pretty awesome pilot friends!).

August 28, 2015

Birthday cupcakes and a family walk

I thought I'd be sore yesterday, after doing the new-to-me equipment at the rec center Wednesday, but I actually felt pretty good. My mom was up north with my sister over the weekend, and her birthday was on Sunday. Since she wasn't here, we didn't celebrate, but she came home yesterday. The kids and I spent the morning making cupcakes.

Almost as much as I adore cookies, which I named my blog after, I love frosting. The sweeter, the better. I can't have a container of frosting in the house, because I'll just eat it by the spoonful until it's gone. Anyway, since Noah took cake decorating classes, he wanted to decorate my mom's cupcakes. The last time I tried making homemade frosting, it was a disaster, so I bought some yesterday for the cupcakes. I'm not a baker, so I just hoped that it would pipe okay for Noah to decorate the cupcakes.

We made a dozen red velvet cupcakes, and we colored the frosting purple and green so that he could make flowers for decoration. The frosting was really soft, and didn't work very well, but by sticking it in the freezer on and off, he managed to decorate nine cupcakes, while Eli decorated three of them. (The box was supposed to make 24 cupcakes, but rather than bake that many, I just used enough batter for 12. The last thing I need is leftover cupcakes in my house!) I was pretty impressed with how good they looked, considering I can't bake to save my soul (I later realized that I'd only used two eggs for the cake when I was supposed to use three, so they were a bit crumbly... oops). The kids did a great job decorating! (I just realized I forgot to take a picture of the finished cupcakes--bummer.)

Anyway, it's important to note that I didn't eat any of the frosting! I wanted to, but I knew if I tasted it, I would want to just keep eating it. So after we decorated the cupcakes, I dumped the rest of the frosting in the trash.

We took the cupcakes over to my parents' house to surprise my mom. My dad made a stir-fry for lunch, and then we sang happy birthday. The kids each gave my mom one that they'd decorated:

My dad got that hat for her that says "Queen for a Day", haha

I refrained from eating a cupcake. I knew I could calculate the calories in it, and eat it guilt-free; but lately, I've been saving my indulgences for things that I am really craving. If it doesn't sound absolutely fantastic, and I wouldn't be heartbroken passing it up, then I will just hold off and wait until something does sound that good. It's been working out well so far!

Jerry was off work today, so we invited Nathan and Kendall to come over for dinner. They were supposed to come on Wednesday, but had to reschedule. This morning, Jerry, the kids, and I took Joey for a walk on the access road. Jerry was sure there was another path at the end of it, leading somewhere new, but we couldn't find it (I don't think it exists). Instead, we wound up at a small boat launch, which was perfect for allowing Joey to run in the water.

Eli is SO CUTE with Joey! When we were walking back home, he asked me, "Would you sell Joey for a million dollars?" I laughed and joked that it would be tempting, and then I asked Eli the same question. He said he wouldn't sell Joey for a billion dollars. Then, "I wouldn't even sell him for a money-making machine!" That was the ultimate sacrifice to Eli, haha.

Noah was in a bad mood, pouting because we made him go for a "family walk" ;) He was about 30 steps behind us the entire way. It's so funny to watch his attitude change as he gets older! At 11, I guess it's the age of feeling embarrassed of your family? Eli will still give me hugs and kisses in public--I'll be sad when he stops letting me do that! It sounds so cliche, but I can't believe how fast time flies after having kids. You don't realize it at the time, but it seems like you just blink and they're 10 years older. They grow up way too fast.

Well, I've got to get my house clean and start prepping dinner before Nathan and Kendall come over. I'm making these Chicken Lettuce Wraps (I made them a few times before, and they are DELICIOUS) and a healthier version of vegetable fried rice. I haven't seen Nathan since we were in Portland earlier this month, so I'm looking forward to catching up! Hope everyone has a great weekend :)

By the way, Wednesday was National Dog Day, and I posted a picture of Joey on Facebook. I asked everyone to share pictures of their own dogs in the comments, and I LOVED going through them! Here is a link, if you want to check out the adorable dogs or share your own.

August 27, 2015

Adventures in the cardio room

Yesterday, I wrote my post early in the day, because I wasn't sure if I'd get a chance to write later. I started thinking about how I wrote that I was going to make it a point to do the stair stepper machine at the rec center at least once this week, because my physical therapist recommended it. Rather than put it off all week, I decided to go yesterday and get it done.

I texted Kendall to see if she wanted to meet me at the rec center for a workout, and she did. I had to take the kids to the Metropark at 2:00, because my dad was going to take them fishing in his boat, so I planned to meet Kendall at 2:30 at the rec center. I had a stressful time trying to get the kids ready for fishing, and making sure I had what I needed to workout, and we finally got to the dock at the park to meet my dad. He had forgotten a third fishing pole, so he left the park to borrow one from his friend, while I sat at the dock with the kids.

I didn't want to be late meeting Kendall, so I left as soon as my dad got back to the boat. I was behind a really slow semi truck, and when I started to pass him, he sped up to keep me from passing. I just fell back and went behind him again, and the second I got behind the truck, it flung a rock up at my windshield and chipped it in two spots (one of them is pretty big). It was just one of those days where nothing seemed to be going smoothly.

I finally made it to the rec center, and Kendall and I went inside. I am not a gym person at all, and when I'm at the rec center, it's almost always for the indoor track or the pool. There is a cardio room, but it's really boring--it has two small TV's (without sound) turned to ESPN (I would rather watch the wall, honestly) and one fan to circulate a little air, but it's pretty stuffy. (The room was a racquetball court, and they put a bunch of equipment in there, if you can picture that).

Nobody else was in there, so Kendall and I got on the two stair stepper machines. My goal was to hopefully get my heart rate up as high as it gets when I run, so I wore my heart rate monitor and my Garmin to record it. I turned some music on my phone, since we were the only ones in there, and we started stepping.

Holy cow, is that ever a good workout. Just two minutes in, my heart rate hit 160 (86% of my max), and by 10 minutes, it had reached 170 (91% of my max)! My legs felt like Jello, and I decided to switch to something else for 10 minutes. I couldn't believe how hard the stair stepper was. I got on what I thought was just an ordinary elliptical, but once I started using it, I realized it was moving in a side-to-side motion. It's called the Lateral X elliptical, and I could really feel the motion in my hips, so I figured it would be a great exercise for what my physical therapist is trying to correct (a weak left hip). Here is a picture from the equipment's website (the yellow shows the direction your feet move)...

photo source
This was KILLER on my thighs. I was surprised at how much I could feel the burn, because the motion was actually really gentle (like an elliptical is), and it surprisingly felt very natural; but my thighs were on fire. I could adjust the lateral motion to be wider or narrower, and each time I did that, I could feel the burn in different areas of my legs.

I really liked this machine, and surprisingly, my heart rate was even higher on this than on the stair stepper. I did this machine for just 10 minutes also, and my heart rate was in the high 170's for the last 5 minutes.

First half is the stair stepper; second half is the Lateral X

According to my heart rate monitor, I burned 214 calories in 20 minutes, which was awesome. My legs were so wobbly after that, I decided to call it a day for the cardio equipment. I'm going to try and work my way up to doing more, even if it's just once a week, because it was such a good workout!

Kendall really wanted to beat her last plank time of 1:23, so we stepped outside of the cardio room, and I set up the timer on my phone. We both held plank and counted down the seconds (time goes SO SLOWLY when you're in a plank position, I swear). When I stopped the timer on my phone, I saw that it actually read my birthday: 1:25.82. I couldn't do that again if I tried ;)

I'm really glad that I went, and that I experienced a couple of new pieces of equipment. The cardio room is really boring, but if I downloaded a movie or something on my iPad and brought it with me, I could see myself doing it more often. And the calorie burn is the same as running, which is fantastic!

August 26, 2015

Two-week progress!

We have had some fantastic weather here for a few days! It almost feels like fall. On Monday, I took the kids to their baseball practice, and I actually wore jeans and a heavy sweater--and I was still cold! (I'm not complaining--I love this weather). It's been nice for being active outside!

Monday morning, the boys and I went for a bike ride around the neighborhoods. If you do the perimeter of all four neighborhoods on the peninsula, it's exactly five miles. I run that route often; and now that the kids are getting a little older, I don't worry so much about them riding on the streets (we don't have sidewalks), so we've been expanding where we can ride bikes.

Yesterday, I took Joey for two walks. In the morning, we just went around the neighborhood, to practice his leash walking; and then in the afternoon, we walked to the access road where he could run off-leash. It's funny how you can really tell what sort of "mood" a dog is in. Joey's a happy dog, but taking him to the access road is when you can tell he's just so happy he could burst. I don't really know how else to describe it!

Anyway, today is the start of week three of calorie counting. It has been going SO WELL. Essentially, counting calories is the same thing as counting Weight Watchers PointsPlus; but for some reason, the switch has been really refreshing for me. After counting PP for so long, I just needed a change.

I almost forgot about doing a Wednesday Weigh-in, because I had gotten out of the habit of doing them for the last year or two. But, when I got on the scale, I was very please to see that I'd lost two pounds this week!

My body fat was down 0.9% from last week, and my waist was even down by half an inch.

Seeing 153 on the scale was a big milestone, because it means I'm back at 100 pounds lost. I'm not sure exactly how long it's been since I was at the 100 pounds lost mark. I remember when I saw the 150's instead of the 140's, and I thought, "Oh crap, I'd better reel it in. A couple of days of being back on track, and I'll be back in the 140's." Then, after bouncing between 149 and 151 for a while, the 150's don't seem as scary. And, eventually, seeing the 150's became the new norm. I think that tends to happen with each "decade" of weight loss (going from the 120's to the 130's, and the 130's to the 140's, etc.).

This week, my calorie intake was similar to last week--just a little less on average, because I didn't burn as many calories as last week. Since I'm not running, my calorie burn is lower, but I've been trying to do something active every day. I've been deep water running (just once), a few short bike rides (5 miles or less), and lots of walking (30+ minutes per day, plus 90+ minutes on Sunday).

Going into this next week, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, and hope I keep seeing results. I really need to get in a long bike ride (20+ miles) because the Tour de Troit is in a little over three weeks! That's a 30-mile ride, so I want to get in a couple more rides of 20-30 miles. I'm also going to make it a goal to go to the rec center and use the StairMaster machine once this week--my physical therapist recommended that I do it, because it's low-impact but a great cardio workout.

Here's to another great week! ;)

August 24, 2015

Motivational Monday #119

Happy Motivational Monday! Despite my decision about the marathon, I had a really great week. I've been staying active by walking a lot, occasionally riding my bike, and I even did a deep water run once. I've been counting my calories, and staying within my allowance. I'm still really enjoying the switch from Weight Watchers--I was counting Points for so long that it became very mundane. I feel a renewed motivation from changing it up!

I'm not sure what my proudest moment was this week. I think it would probably be that I celebrated six years since I started this weight loss journey, and while I've had a lot of ups and downs, I'm so much healthier and happier than I was six years ago. Six years is a long time to work on something without giving up! I've changed up lots of things along the way, but the one thing I've always stayed true to is this: I never changed anything that I wasn't willing to do for the rest of my life. And it's worked out really well :)

Anyway, today will be a short and sweet Motivational Monday. Enjoy!

Amy ran her longest run to date yesterday... 8 miles! She is training for her first half-marathon, which is in November, and she felt 8 miles was a significant threshold to reach. She said she remembered how I struggled to finish an 8-miler (it took me three tries!) and it helped give her the confidence to finish. She finished with an 11:33 pace, and was "a sweaty mess" when she was done ;)

June and her husband were invited to visit her daughter in Africa and hike Mt. Kilimanjaro with her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend. At 160 pounds, June didn't feel ready to take on the challenge; so she started a strict program given to her by her sister, a trainer. She also started walking, interval jogging, and signed up for a Cardio Barre class. She hit 137 pounds before the trip, and she felt fantastic! She was able to stay very active--they hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro (a six-day, 44-mile hike up to 19,341 feet in altitude), and even did a 30-mile safari bike ride on dirt roads. She arrived home weighing two pounds less than than she did when she left! (June, you've totally inspired me to add Mt. Kilimanjaro to my bucket list!)

June is in the red

Allie has lost over 75 pounds in the past year! She started with light exercise on the elliptical and can now run and do boot camp-style workouts at the gym. She uses SparkPeople for to track her progress and to blog (her username is AJ0708). She just recently hit a couple of huge milestones--reaching Onederland (less than 200 pounds), and ditching the plus-size clothing!

Way to go, ladies!! I'm super inspired by the accomplishments this week. I hope everyone has a great week going forward!

August 23, 2015

A long training walk

Today ordinarily would have been a long run day, but since I decided to walk the half instead, I made today a "long walk" day. When I trained to walk the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon in 2009 and 2010, I used Hal Higdon's half-marathon walking program. It consists of five days a week of walking, including one long walk on the weekends.

I didn't realize until just now that I actually miscalculated which week I would be on in the program. I was thinking I would be in week five, but it should actually have been week four. So, I thought the schedule was for a six-mile walk today, when in actuality, it was a five-miler. Oh, well! Might as well go that extra mile ;)

I'm not following the program really strictly, but I want to at least have some sort of guideline as to where I should be as far as training goes. Each night after dinner all week, Jerry and I (and the kids) have gone for a walk around the neighborhood. This morning, my plan was to walk six miles while the kids were at church.

Normally, when thinking about how much time I'd need to get it done, I just figure a rough 10:00/mile pace. So, 6 miles = 60 minutes (easy peasy). But I had no idea how much time to calculate for walking, and I just guessed it would take me about two hours (double the time to run it). I had the same trouble when riding my bike--I'm so used to running that I have no clue how to time things when doing other activities.

Even though Joey is a pain to walk on a leash (he pulls and zig-zags like crazy--typical dog behavior, I guess), I would have felt horribly guilty going for a walk without him, so I brought him along. I also don't normally use headphones when running, but while walking I do, so I listened to The Moth podcast while I walked.

First, we took the long way to get to the access road/marsh in front of our house, and once we got there, I was able to let Joey off his leash. He was so good! Normally, when I take him there, it's just for him to play and run around (which totally wears him out); today, I was on a mission to walk, and he ran around but still stayed pretty close to me.

That path you see behind me used to be as wide as a road (it actually IS a road, that is opened only for emergencies). I've watched it get narrower and narrower all summer as everything gets overgrown.

Joey had a blast. I continued to walk while he ran all around me, jumping into and out of the water. When we hit the end of the access road, he let me put his leash back on without any problem. Sometimes I'm just amazed at what a great dog he is!

I walked him back to the house, which was at mile 3.2, so that I could do the last three miles alone and try to keep a good pace. I wore my heart rate monitor, because I was curious how many calories I would burn walking versus running. The first three miles that I did with Joey, my heart rate was between 107 and 116 beats per minute--not very high at all (on a run, it's typically in the 150's). I burned 78, 90, and 87 calories.

Once I started walking by myself, it was much easier to pick up the pace. I did a loop past my parents' house along the lake, and even though the water was a little choppy, it was gorgeous.

My heart rate was a little higher for the last three miles, at 125, 128, and 132 bpm; and calories burned were 95, 93, and 100. I was walking pretty fast, as fast as I comfortably could, so I don't know how I would get my heart rate up higher than that while walking. Lately, when running, I've been burning about 110 calories per mile, so I was happy with the calories burned during walking. Granted, I was out walking much longer than I would have been if I had been running. But I really enjoyed it!

August 22, 2015

Garage sale finds

After having a week to think it over, I am really happy with my decision to not run the marathon this October. Occasionally, I started to think I must have imagined the pain I was feeling in my ankle last Sunday; but then other times throughout this week, I've had the pain return, and my ankle has even swelled up. I'm not sure if it's re-fractured, but there is definitely something going on with it, and I don't want to risk doing some serious damage. My physical therapist never liked the idea of me doing the marathon in October, and tried to talk me into the half instead; but I begged and he relented.

Anyway, a reader named Lindsey left a comment on my blog suggesting that I switch to the half-marathon and walk it. That hadn't even occurred to me, but I really liked that idea! I loved spectating a couple of years ago, and waiting until the very last walker crossed the finish line--it was inspiring to see the people in the back of the pack! I haven't walked a race since 2010, when I walked the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

When I told Jerry my plan, he offered to walk with me. He had planned to spectate while I ran the marathon, but since that plan changed, he thought it would be fun to walk with me--and of course, I'll love having his company for nearly four hours of walking ;)  I've done the Detroit full marathon and the 5K previously, so now I'll have a new race experience. I changed my registration to the International Half, and I'm looking forward to it!

To prepare, I'm going to go for a long walk once a week, building up to 10-12 miles in the weeks before the race, just like I would if I was running it. I'll also make sure to get in several shorter walks throughout the week. I walked a half-marathon at my heaviest and with no training, so I know I can finish, but I like the idea of training for it.

As far as running goes, I'm probably going to wait until after I see the orthopedist next month to get his opinion. If he tells me to take several months off, I feel okay about that this time... I'm not working on a deadline, like I was before. When I got injured in December, I was worried about the Shamrock 15K in March, and then the Glass City Marathon Relay in April, and the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May. Finally, I was worried about Detroit. Now, there is no pressure, so I will be patient and do whatever the orthopedist suggests.

Yesterday, I went to some garage sales with my mom. I hadn't gone in a long time! I used to love looking for clothes in my new size as I was losing weight, and then when I was at goal. It's always fun to see what kind of bargains you can find at garage sales. After gaining 20 pounds, I kept thinking about how I didn't want to go again until I was back at my goal weight. Yesterday, however, I had nothing going on, so I decided to go.

I'm really glad I did! I found some really cute clothes, and I even got an authentic Coach purse for $15:

I've been wanting to get a new purse anyway, and you can't even find a cheap purse at the store for $15. This was in really good condition, and exactly something that I would have picked out.

My favorite item of the day, however, was a very cute lightweight sweater that screams "Fall" to me.

It was $5, which is a little steep for garage sale prices, but I fell in love with it and had to get it. I also bought those jeans I'm wearing (American Eagle, $1), and they're super cozy. Overall, I spent about $40, and I got quite a few things. I'm really glad I went!

August 20, 2015

My Fitness Pal vs. SparkPeople

I just started counting calories a week ago, so it hasn't been very long, but all week long I tracked my food on both My Fitness Pal and on SparkPeople. When I was losing the weight in 2009 and 2010, I loved using SparkPeople for motivation. Reading the success stories and looking through other Sparkpages of successful "losers" was very inspiring to me! I've used SparkPeople for years to calculate the nutritional info in my recipes, too.

Several people mentioned that I should try My Fitness Pal, so I wanted to give that a fair chance, too. I decided to try out both for the week and see which I preferred (and which one met my needs better).

Here is a (very unscientific) conclusion:

Both apps have a barcode scanner, which is really nice! When adding a food to your food log, you can just scan the barcode and the product will pop up. Occasionally (on both apps) the wrong product would pop up, or the info was slightly off, but usually, the barcode scanner was super helpful!

SparkPeople has a new app that is much more user-friendly than the old one. It's a lot cleaner looking, with less distractions and less ads than before. My Fitness Pal is also very clean and user-friendly.

They both have a huge database of food. I think there was only one item out of the entire week that I couldn't find in the databases.

You can connect your devices (such as a Fitbit) to each app. On My Fitness Pal, the calories you burn may get added to your "allowed" calories for the day. On SparkPeople, your activity level doesn't change your target calorie intake. I prefer being able to add calories for exercise, because when I do a long run, I certainly need more food than when I have a rest day.

SparkPeople gives you a "daily calorie goal", which is actually a range. The range recommended for me was 1200-1550. My Fitness Pal gives you a specific calorie target (not a range), and they recommended 1200 for me. There is no way that I could be happy on 1200 calories a day, so I made up my own target. You can choose your own target on either app (for SparkPeople, I think it the change has to be made on an actual computer, and not the app--I couldn't figure out how to change it on the app). I like the idea of a range better than aiming for one particular number; because if you're aiming for, say, 1500 calories on My Fitness Pal, and you eat 1502, then it kind of makes you feel like you did something wrong for not being under your calorie goal. Having a range, like on SparkPeople, is nice because you can aim for the middle, and eat based off of your hunger level that day.

I like to measure food in grams and ounces, rather than cups and tablespoons, so I wanted an app that would allow me to do that. Both apps had issues with it. SparkPeople gives you the option much more often to log by weight; but several times, I noticed that the numbers didn't make sense (if I used only half the grams in the serving size, the calories didn't always reflect that). I didn't find any glitches like that with My Fitness Pal, but it took more searching to find a product that allows you to log by weight instead of volume. Take a specific cereal, for example: you might have to look at 10 different listings for that cereal before finding one that is listed by weight. You can always add your own food listing, though, so I ended up doing that with several foods that I wanted to log by weight.

100 grams of grapes has 67 calories,
according to the USDA

The biggest deal breaker/maker for me was whether or not I could log recipes. The SparkPeople app doesn't allow me to access any of the recipes I've inputed over the years, so I can't log them on the app (on the computer, I can, however). The only way I found to work around this is to create a new food item with the nutrition info from the recipe... but that is a huge extra step that is really unnecessary. My Fitness Pal wins for sure in the recipes category. You can use the app to create a new recipe, either by adding each ingredients manually, or by importing ingredients from a recipe on a website. Since I cook dinner almost every day, this was important to me.

One of the things I like about My Fitness Pal is at the end of the day, when you are done logging your food, you click "complete this entry", and you get a projection of what your weight would be in 5 weeks if every day were like today. There is something really motivating about seeing the projected weight!

SparkPeople has a different sort of motivator in the form of "SparkPoints". You can earn points by doing things such as tracking food, tracking water intake, reading articles, etc. The number of points you earn determines which level of "trophy" you have. You can also use the SparkPoints to buy virtual gifts for your SparkFriends.

If you're into tracking water, the SparkPeople app has a water tracker right on the same page as the food log, which is nice. I searched, but couldn't find a water tracker on My Fitness Pal. (ETA: There is a water tracker! I don't know how I missed it. When you press the little + at the bottom of the app, there is a button for water.)

A nice feature on My Fitness Pal is that there is a green checkmark next to the food items that have been verified as having the correct nutrition info. Since anyone can add food to the database, it's nice not to have to double check everything. (I'm not sure who does the verification, however.)

With SparkPeople you have to add each food item to your log individually. On My Fitness Pal, you can select several items and add them to your log at one time, which is a big time-saver! I could look at my "frequent foods" and just tap the little circle next to them, and add them all at once.

If you like having a meal plan that is created for you, SparkPeople offers that as an option. The My Fitness Pal app does not. If you turn on the meal plans on SparkPeople, you'll see that things are automatically added to your log; so you can look ahead and do shopping for the week if you choose to follow their meal plan. (I always follow my own plan, because what I eat just depends on what I'm in the mood for). As you eat each food, you check off the boxes. You can also add your own items in addition to theirs.

An example lunch with the SP meal plan

SparkPeople also has a Coaching Center, which I think is pretty cool. There is a "coaching" tab at the bottom, which leads to "Today's Tip" (a short tidbit that may be helpful or motivating), as well as articles to read.

As far as the social part of the apps, I'm too biased to really comment on it ;) My heart is with SparkPeople, because I've met some really great people on Spark. I haven't used any of the social parts of My Fitness Pal, so I can't say what the difference is.

Overall, I decided that I like My Fitness Pal for food logging. It was the recipes that swayed me! If SparkPeople ever allows me to access my recipes on the app (and add calories for exercise), I may change my mind. I'm still keeping the SparkPeople app, however, for the articles, social aspect, and motivation.

Anyone else have thoughts on which app you prefer? Or if there is something major I'm forgetting, please share!

August 19, 2015

Wednesday weigh-in (and weight loss anniversary)

Today marks six years since I started losing weight. I cannot believe that it's been that long! I was trying to think of a good "anniversary" post, and when I read what I wrote last year, it still rings very true today. Last year at this time, I was really struggling with the weight I'd gained between March and August. I had stopped doing my Wednesday Weigh-in posts, because I got tired of seeing either a gain or the same weight I'd seen the week before. I wasn't getting anywhere as far as getting back down to goal, and posting the gain(s) week after week just felt sort of demoralizing.

I really like the post that I wrote last year about it. I had gotten a comment on my blog that made me feel kind of bad, and writing that post made me feel a million times better about what I've accomplished. Quitting the Wednesday Weigh-in posts was the right thing for me at the time. I've thought of starting them up again, but always chickened out. Until today.

Since I started counting calories a week ago, I thought it would be interesting to document how well it works for me--including the weight/body fat/waist measurement numbers. So, while I do this six-week calorie counting trial, I'll include my Wednesday Weigh-ins (good or bad). I hadn't done the body fat or waist measurements in a very long time, so I did those, too.

(Not a mole or melanoma on my toe... just an old ladybug tattoo)
My weight today was 155, which is down from 156 last week. Not a huge loss, but more than I was losing each week doing Weight Watchers, so I'll take it! (I wish I'd thought to take the body fat and waist measurements last week; but alas, I did not).

I am hoping to see these improve each week as I continue to count calories. Speaking of calorie counting, I've really liked the change from Weight Watchers! This week, my daily average calories consumed was 1,604. I'm going to stick with that number for another week, because I'm happy with the one pound loss on the scale.

I was using My Fitness Pal and SparkPeople apps this week, to see which I liked better. I can write a whole post about the differences, so I'll save that for later. But ultimately, I like SparkPeople for the social/motivation stuff, and and My Fitness Pal for the actual food logging. (I know some people have friend requested me on My Fitness Pal, but I haven't added any friends there--I'd like to keep my food log private, and since I don't use MFP socially, the food log is the only part I utilize).

I took Joey for a walk at the State Park today, and while we were walking, I thought about how it's been SIX YEARS since that fateful day I started losing weight. I realized that each year brings different successes and struggles, but if I compare where I am today versus where I was six years ago, I am in a MUCH better place. Here is a breakdown of the last six years (each year starting on Aug. 19):

Year 1: I counted every single bite of food that entered my mouth, and I was 100% on board with the weight loss. I lost weight every single week for 52 weeks in a row. I was extremely focused and felt like nothing could stop me!

Year 2: I broke my jaw, and spent a couple of months healing from that. I reached a low weight of 127.5 (thanks to the broken jaw; it was very short-lived). I ran my first half-marathon. I started researching skin removal surgery.

Year 3: I had a lower body lift, removing the excess skin around my midsection. I'm so so so grateful that I was able to have that surgery! I started marathon training, and my weight started to creep up. I ran my first marathon.

Year 4: My weight reached a post-weight-loss high of 156, and I joined Weight Watchers. I was very committed to the program and reached my goal weight of 133 in December 2012. I was really focused on my running, and got pretty fast. I ran a 10K in 49:23 and a half-marathon in 1:52:07. Maintained my weight for a year.

Year 5: Mark was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, which was one of the hardest blows I've ever taken in my life. I spent the next four months visiting him several times a week and doing everything I could to make him happy before the cancer took his life. He died in March of 2014, and I took it very hard. I gained about 20 pounds really quickly, likely due to emotional eating. My running took a backseat, and I stopped racing hard (if I did a race, it was just for fun).

Year 6: The toughest year so far, in weight management. I got a stress fracture in December, and took about six months off of running (except for a couple of weeks in the middle, where I refractured it). Not running was really hard on me mentally. Running helps with depression and anxiety (as well as weight control), so I had to learn to make do without it--it was tough!

Going into Year 7: I've gotten to the point where I'm not as interested in racing as I used to be, and I'd like to use running for fitness. My injury has flared up again, so I will continue to look for other ways to stay active. I just started calorie counting (instead of Weight Watchers) to see if changing that up will help me to stay motivated in getting back to my goal weight. I've accepted that I'm far from goal, and while I think I look okay now, I'd still like to get back to where I felt my best. (I'm going to reflect back on this in a year, so it will be interesting to see how Year 7 plays out!)

I came across this photo of Noah and me at the Mall of America in probably 2006(?) and I found a recent picture to compare it to:

When we were at the MoA, I remember getting on a ride with Noah that had a lap bar that locked in place. My stomach was so big that I couldn't get it to lock. The girl operating the ride came around to check it, and I was too embarrassed to get off the ride, so I asked her to push it down really hard, and I prayed it would lock. It did (but barely). The comparison picture on bottom is Noah and me at Cedar Point a few weeks ago. I may not be at my thinnest now, but I fit very comfortably in the rides!

When I first made that decision to lose the weight, it was because I felt like a horrible mom. Noah wanted to learn how to ride his bike without training wheels, and I was too out of shape to run alongside his bike and help. In that sense, I am already at my goal--I am an active mom (even more active than my kids are, haha) and I know I don't have any real physical limitations due to my weight. The fact that I've maintained such a large weight loss for five years now is somewhat of a miracle ;)

When I started losing weight six years ago, I never imagined I would reach my goal one day, or that six years down the road I'd be maintaining such a large weight loss. I had attempted to lose weight so many times before, and nothing really felt "different" about this time. Comparing where I am today with where I was six years ago makes me feel proud of what I've accomplished, and hopeful that I can continue to look back each year with more accomplishments to add to the list!

August 18, 2015

12-year anniversary (and new marathon plans)

Well, my long run didn't exactly go as planned on Sunday, and certainly not as I'd hoped.

On Saturday, Jerry and I went to his cousin's wedding. I wanted to make sure my run in the morning would be as pleasant as possible, so I didn't have a single alcoholic beverage at the wedding, and I ate plenty of calories at dinner to fuel up for 15 miles. I tried to get a nice picture of Jerry and me, but when he tries to smile instead of making the "Jerry face", he just ends up looking creepy ;) (It reminds me of that Friends episode where Monica is trying to get Chandler to smile for pictures.)

I left at around 9:00 so that I could be in bed by 10:00. I set the alarm for 5:00 in the morning, in order to get an early start before the sun made it feel a thousand times hotter than it was. Jerry said he would come with me, and ride his bike while I ran. I felt as prepared as I could be for this run!

We parked the car at 5:45, and headed out onto the bike path. Immediately, I felt a sharp pain shoot through my ankle, including the spot where my stress fracture was. I was totally taken aback, because  out of all the things to go wrong, I really thought my stress fracture was done giving me trouble. I stopped to stretch for a second, and heard my ankle pop (in a normal way, like cracking your knuckles). I though that had to have been the problem, so I tried running again, and I couldn't even do it without limping. I knew I had to stop. I also knew that if I skipped this 15-miler, there was no way to "catch up" on my training for the marathon.

When that realization hit me, as I was limping back to the car, I stopped and just sat on the ground and cried. I did everything right--seeing a physical therapist, doing the PT exercises, getting my training approved, taking it easy when I felt the need to--but it didn't make any difference. Jerry felt really bad for me, and kept trying to help make me feel better, but there really isn't anything that can help.

We stopped at Kroger before going home, because we were invited to a barbecue later and I needed to make something to bring. When I got out of the car, my ankle felt totally fine. I hopped on one foot--again, no pain. I ran around the parking lot, and there was nothing. It felt totally normal! I knew I hadn't made up the pain earlier, because it was so bad I was actually limping even while walking to the car.

I briefly thought about starting my 15-miler from Kroger, but I think my body was probably giving me a harsh warning earlier that I was doing too much, too soon. Even if I got through the 15-miler, I still have several weeks of training and the marathon itself to get through. What if the pain came back, and all the training for was nothing? So, I stuck with my decision to drop the marathon, as awful as that made me feel.

I was glad we had something fun to do on Sunday, otherwise I would have let the marathon bother me all day. Sunday was Jerry's and my 12-year anniversary. On Saturday, my friend Eric and his wife, Maris, put together a last-minute barbecue at their house on Sunday, with several of our good friends from high school. It sounded like a fun way to spend our anniversary!

Maris made grilled chicken, Mexican rice, and refried beans (all delicious!) and we spent the whole afternoon hanging out with friends. Eric and Maris's house is just around the corner from the chapel where Jerry and I got married, and someone suggested we go take a picture there for our anniversary. Amy and Maris even cut some flowers from Maris's garden and made me a bouquet! I thought the photos were a great idea, so Jack, Amy, Adam, Jerry, and I walked to the chapel, where we took some fun photos.

Adam, pretending to marry us

It was a super fun afternoon, and even though we had thought about going out afterward for our anniversary, we had had a great time and decided to call it a day. We spent the evening at home watching a movie.

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since we got married and 16 years since we started dating! In other ways, it feels like it's been so much longer. I can't even remember what my life was like before I met Jerry (as a junior in high school!). Our friends are awesome, and I feel so lucky that we still keep in touch.

The marathon was still on my mind all day, but there is really nothing I can do about that. I am just hoping that I'm making the right decision. I could drop to the half-marathon if I wanted (I have until August 26 to decide), but I don't even know if that's a good idea. I'm thinking maybe I need to focus on other things for the rest of the year--running short distances (10K or less) if I'm able, and doing more cross-training and "fun" ways to stay active (tennis with Noah, or riding my bike, etc.).

I have an appointment with an orthopedist next month for my back, but I'm going to talk to him about my stress fracture as well, and see what his advice is. For now, I have no "schedule" of what to do as far as exercise, so it feels odd; but I love the relief of not worrying about the marathon anymore. I was feeling SO much pressure to get my training in so that I could be prepared for it.

I also have some other news that is exciting (and a little scary)--I am going to be coaching cross country for second through fourth graders this fall! It's something I've been thinking about ever since I got my RRCA certification, and my friend Renee mentioned that she was thinking of it, too. So the two of us are going to coach the elementary kids. Renee came over this afternoon so we could plan. I was nervous, but after talking about it with Renee, I'm less nervous and more excited. Should be interesting, if nothing else! ;)

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