September 30, 2015

Week 7 weigh-in (and new undies!)

I was SO sore all day yesterday! It's odd how a two-mile run can make me feel as sore as if I'd run a marathon. We had cross country practice last night, and I was walking around so stiffly. It was raining all day, so we didn't have many kids show up for practice (probably half the team), but it was PERFECT running weather. The rain stopped about 20 minutes before practice, but it was very overcast, nice and cool outside.

The grass was really wet, so instead of doing the hill game, as I'd planned, we just had the kids see how many laps they could run on the paved trail. The kids get pretty competitive when we do that! To try something new, I divided them into groups based on pace, so that they would have other people to run with. I wanted them to help encourage and push each other (and maybe drive up the competition!). They ALL got in 2.5-3.5 miles! Normally, they get about half that distance, so they were pretty proud.

This morning, I was planning to run again--and really looking forward to it--but I was still crazy sore. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be good to try another run, even if I am stiff and awkward ;)

Today was my Wednesday weigh-in, and I had another great week...

I was 142.5, so I lost 2 pounds this week (it's getting so predictable now!). My body fat was 26.3%, which is down 0.2%. My waist was down about half an inch, too (a little less than that, but I rounded it). I am now less than 10 pounds from my goal weight, and I am so close to being back in the 130's!

The only thing that was different this week was that I didn't have my very high calorie day like usual. Normally, I choose one day to eat a high number of calories--about 2,500--but this week, my highest calorie day was only 1,800. On Saturday, we went to Anson's (our favorite pizza place) in order to try their stuffed burgers (my brother said they were awesome). I planned on that being my high calorie day, so I ordered a stuffed burger (it was stuffed with cream cheese, jalapeƱos, and dried Michigan cherries, which sounded fantastic).

When I took a bite of it, I wasn't crazy about it at all. I adore dried cherries, but they just tasted odd with the meat. So, rather than eat the burger anyway, I decided not to. I had that one bite, and then I was done with it (I didn't want to order something else, because Jerry and the kids had their food already, so I just ate when I got home). I had a busy few days, so I didn't have a chance to do another planned high calorie day. But, as you can see, I lost the same amount of weight without the high calorie day as I have been losing with it. This weekend, I definitely plan to do it!

I decided to go weigh in at Weight Watchers this morning, too. I'm still going to count calories, because I really like it, but I miss going to meetings. And, I think that weighing in once a week will help keep me accountable. I was very excited when I got on the WW scale to see that I'm a "free" Lifetime member again (I don't have to pay for meetings or e-Tools anymore! ...As long as I weigh in once a month and I'm not more than two pounds over my WW goal). It was nice to sit in my old meeting, and see all the familiar faces.

After the meeting, I went to Victoria's Secret to use some coupons. I had a coupon for 7 panties for $27.50, a coupon for free panties, and a coupon for $10 off a bra. I'd never bought a bra from Victoria's Secret before, but I wanted to get a cute one for my boudoir photoshoot; and, I felt like treating myself for getting my weight back down to a "normal" range.

I'd also never been measured for a bra, so I had no idea if I was even wearing the correct size. I asked someone to measure me, and I measured at a 36B, which is what I've been wearing (which means I probably should have been wearing a bigger bra a couple of months ago!). I picked out a bunch to try on, and ended up choosing two (I couldn't decide between them). I was surprised at just how much more comfortable the bras were than the cheap ones I usually wear! Considering I wear a bra every day, I am going to start wearing a good one. (And Jerry never complains when I spend money at VS! haha)

It's kind of funny how wearing nice underwear makes me feel so much better about myself. Nobody but Jerry sees them, but something about wearing a cute, matching bra and panty set makes me feel prettier and more confident. If that's all it takes, I really ought to do it every day :)

Paige and Caitlin, both from my Sole Mates Ragnar team, had a trip planned to come visit me tomorrow through Sunday. We've been looking forward to it for a couple of months! Unfortunately, Caitlin's dad is very ill in the hospital, so today, we decided to reschedule the trip. I'm disappointed I won't get to see them this weekend after all, but I totally understand Caitlin wanting to stay with her dad. Hopefully we'll get to do it in the next month or two!

I do have some fun plans this weekend, though. Tomorrow, I'm going to see my friends' old band from high school play a reunion show. They were locally pretty famous back in the day, and hanging out with that group is how Jerry and I got together (Jerry was friends with the band, and so was I). Anyway, I haven't seen them play a gig since high school, so I'm really excited about it! They're playing at a local bar, and I'm sure it'll probably be like a high school reunion in there, which should be fun.

September 29, 2015

Weight loss and running

I went for a run yesterday! The first run in six weeks. I'd felt a few twinges in my ankle last week when I was walking across the grass for cross country, so I was a little nervous to run; but even if it was fractured again, after six weeks of no running at all, it should have been okay. My physical therapist had told me that twinges were normal, but pain was not.

Anyway, I decided to try and run two miles. I didn't want to mess with the run/walk method that I did last time, because I have no intentions of doing runs longer than six miles (at least for a very long time). I don't have a "deadline" that I am trying to hit (like an upcoming race), so I can take my time and build up mileage slowly. I figured I'd just run what I could.

After I got the kids off to school yesterday morning, I decided to head out for the run before I chickened out. I wore the new Brooks Ghost shoes, because they were so comfortable when I tried them on and wore them to cross country practice. I started my Garmin and began running down the street.

I couldn't believe how DIFFERENT it felt. I'm going to try to describe this the best that I can... 

The last time I ran was six weeks ago, when I was 155 pounds--and even then, I was doing the run/walk method. The last time I really ran a couple of miles straight I was probably 160-ish. I stopped running for six whole weeks, and in that time, I've dropped down to 144. Normally, when you run to help with weight loss, you don't feel the difference that the weight loss makes, because it's so gradual. You continue to run as you drop a pound or two each week, and you have no idea how the weight loss really affects your running.

Because I started losing weight right when I stopped running, I didn't have that gradual adjustment. I ran a few miles at 160-ish, and then ran again at 144. Holy smokes! I felt like I was FLYING yesterday. Imagine running around holding two gallons of milk (16 pounds), and then setting them down and running again--that's what it felt like to me. My feet felt like they were barely touching the ground, and like I was running on clouds. I'm not really sure how else to describe it.

It was awesome. I was tempted to run farther than two miles, but I didn't want to overdo it. The last time I ran at least two miles without walking or stopping was probably in April for the marathon relay. My pace was 11:27/mile, and it felt SO hard. I really wasn't even sure I could make it through my leg of the relay. 

Yesterday, I didn't want to look at my pace, because I didn't want to get discouraged; so I'd set my Garmin to show just my distance. When I got home, then, you can imagine my surprise to see that I'd run a 9:47/mile pace! The first mile was 9:54 and the second was 9:39. This was after six weeks of not running a single minute.

I'd read in numerous places that weight loss can make a difference in your pace, and there are ways to calculate about how much of a difference it can make. I read the book Racing Weight (Amazon affiliate link), which talks about your ideal weight for running, and I do believe that dropping weight can make you faster. But yesterday was all the proof I needed! I'm not even back down to my ideal racing weight yet, but I already feel a million times better when I run. 

Best of all, I didn't have any ankle issues the entire run, so I'm very happy about that. Later in the day, I felt a few twinges, but no pain. I'm hoping that's normal. I'm going to make sure to only run every other day (I won't do two days in a row), and keep the distances short--right now, 2-3 miles is good for me. 

I was extremely sore when I woke up this morning! I never used to get sore from running, because my body was so used to it; but this past year has been so out of the norm that I'm not surprised. I felt a runner's high all day from that simple two miles. And now, knowing how much better it feels to run at a lower weight, I'm even more motivated to get back down to my ideal running weight. I would love to work on PR'ing my 5K and 10K next year, and I don't think I can do that without dropping the extra weight. 

Anyway, that simple two miles yesterday really fired me up again into an "I love running!" mode. Haha, we'll see how long that lasts ;) I still plan to ride my bike for the rest of the season, and then I'm not sure what cross training I'll do during the winter. Maybe I'll take swimming lessons to learn how to swim for real (ha! Not likely, but always a possibility). 

September 28, 2015

Motivational Monday #122

Happy Motivational Monday! I have had a very busy couple of weeks, and this month has absolutely flown by. I'm thrilled that I'm still losing weight, and I'm now about 10 pounds from my goal :) The last few pounds that I lost have made a world of difference in my clothes. Yesterday, Jerry kept saying, "I can't believe how skinny you are!" and he started calling me "Sticks", haha. I wore a pair of jeans yesterday that I hadn't worn in AGES. It feels good!

Anyway, I have quite a few motivating stories for you today. Enjoy!

Darby (on right in photo) recently ran a very unique race in Prince Edward Island. First, the backstory:  In 1980 a young man named Terry Fox set out to run across the country to raise money for cancer research. He was 21 at the time and had been diagnosed 3 years previously with bone cancer and had one leg amputated above the knee. Unfortunately, he didn't make it across the country before succumbing to his disease, but during the months that he ran, he ran upwards of 25 miles/day. Since then there has been a fundraising run in his memory every year. To date, the Terry Fox runs have raised 700 million dollars for cancer research. This year, the run was held on the Confederation Bridge (the longest bridge in the world that spans a body of water that freezes). Darby ran the entire length of the bridge--13K! She and a friend trained all summer, and finished in 1:46:37.

Amy hit her goal weight in May, and has been adapting to maintenance ever since! She'd been overweight since about 2000, and topped out at 126 kilos (278 pounds). She said she put some real effort into loving herself--she took control over her binge eating and began to love working out. She reached her goal of 79 kilos (174 pounds) in May, and is now working on maintenance.

Emily (far right in photo) recently ran her first race in a very long time! She is part of a running group called the Sunset Coast Striders who meets three days a week to run. Emily ran the whole 5K race without stopping, and finished in 32:03--a personal best! (Emily's Blog)

Amanda is thrilled that she was able to run her first half-marathon! It's something she's wanted to do for years, and she finally did at the Brewers Mini Marathon at Miller Park. She didn't set a time goal--she just wanted to finish--but she did great, crossing the finish line in 2:34:52! She even celebrated with a margarita afterward :)

Cathy started running over the past year, and decided to train for a half-marathon. Many pounds, and 953 miles later, she did it! She ran the Chicago Half Marathon in 2:27 at the age of 51 years young.

Tiffany completed her first full marathon this weekend! She's lost 113 pounds, and started running just over a year ago. On Saturday, she ran the Mill Race Marathon, and is now proud to call herself a marathoner!

A huge congrats to all of you! Thank you for sharing your success :)

September 27, 2015

A day of baseball and cross country

Yesterday, we had our second cross country meet; but first, the boys had a baseball game. Thankfully, Jerry was off this weekend, because we had a lot going on. At around 8:30 yesterday morning, we all got in the car to head to the game. I brought Joey with us, because I brought him to all the summer games and he really likes going.

Yesterday's game was at a different park, which was about 30 minutes away. The kids had practice before the game, so we were there an hour before the game started. When we began walking to the field, someone who works at the park came up to us and said that dogs weren't allowed. I had no idea!  So, I had to drive Joey all the way back home, and drop him off, then drive all the way back to the game. I made it back just in time.

Their first game was two weeks ago, and I wasn't able to go because I was at Nathan's 50K. Last weekend, their game was canceled due to rain. So this was my first time watching their fall ball game. I always get nervous watching them play, but yesterday, I learned that they are allowed to steal bases now (they have never been able to do that before). Noah was the starting pitcher, and every time someone would steal a base, I felt really bad for him. Noah throws good pitches, which always makes the game interesting, because kids actually hit the ball (the worst games are the ones where everyone is either walking or striking out).

My nerves were totally shot while watching him pitch, because it seemed like the other team was constantly rounding the bases. Our team didn't do very well at batting this game, either, and the final score ended up being 15-1! It was hard to watch. ;)

After the kids' game, we went home to have some lunch. Jeanie was just arriving in town from Illinois, so we stopped at my parents' house to see her for a little bit before going to the meet. The meet was at the State Park, and I was shocked to see cars backed up for a couple of miles out onto the main road! I didn't remember the meet being so huge last year. Thankfully, I still made it in time, but not as early as I would have liked. I LOVE the back of my cross country shirt, by the way:

"Our blood, our sweat, your tears"
This meet had the boys and girls running separately. The girls started first, and then 20 minutes later, the boys lined up. I stayed at the starting line with the boys, while Renee went to the finish line to cheer on the girls as they came in. We could see the girls from where we were standing, so I got all of the boys to cheer for them as they ran past.

The boys lined up, and I had them do a couple of strides (running out about 20-30 yards and then running back to the starting line). They had seen the older kids doing it, so I think it made them feel cool ;) The gun was fired, and the boys took off. I quickly made my way over to the finish line, because the race was only 1.15 miles, so it wouldn't be long before they finished. Jerry, Nathan, and my mom were there also, so we lined up to cheer.

A couple of minutes after we got there, we saw a girl finishing up her race--she was crying, and she had her coach (I think) and maybe her dad with her as she moved through the chute. We started clapping for her, and then the whole crowd started clapping and yelling words of encouragement. Of course, I got all emotional watching it.

Just a couple of minutes later, the boys started finishing. The first boy came FLYING past, and I was just amazed at his speed and his running form. He looked like an elite, and his feet were barely touching the ground. Renee's son, Ben, was the first boy from my team to come through (her whole family is really fast!). Each time I saw one of the boys from my team, I started reminding them, "Cheetah! Cheetah! Cheetah!"--because I'd told them that once they see the finish line, they should run like a cheetah (sprint) to finish. It was really fun to watch, and I was super proud of all of them!

Noah hit a big milestone, running an 8:56 pace! It was his first sub-9:00 mile. Last year, his pace for this same meet was 9:38. He really improved a lot, especially considering he didn't train all summer ;)  Eli did really well, too, finishing in 13:58 (a 12:09/mile pace, about 20 seconds per mile faster than his first meet on Wednesday).

Don't forget! Tomorrow is Motivational Monday, so if you have a photo to submit, please get that to me tonight. I will be getting the post ready tomorrow morning, because I have a busy day tomorrow.

September 25, 2015

Friday night bullets

I haven't done bullets in a while, and I love reading/writing bullet posts! This weekend is a super busy one, so here goes:

  • Our cross country team had their first meet on Wednesday. All the kids finished and had fun! 

  • It was Eli's first cross country meet, and he did awesome! He was really nervous, but he ran about a 12:30 pace, and did his best. I let him wear my Garmin, but he forgot to start it for a while, and then he forgot to stop it ;)
  • I ran a little at cross country practice yesterday, and it went well. I just did a slow jog with the kids for about 2/3 of a mile, so I could check their running form. I think next week, I'll incorporate a couple of short runs for exercise. I'm kind of excited to do it!
  • Speaking of running, I haven't missed it nearly as much over the last six weeks as I did the whole first half of the year. I think that's because I finally really started to enjoy bike riding, and finding ways to stay active without sticking to a rigid schedule. Before, I was so focused on what I couldn't do that I didn't even want to think about what I could do (that totally sounds like a line in a commercial or something).
  • Yesterday, I helped my friend Andrea move across town. I've been seeing her quite a bit lately, and it feels good. We are very much alike in a lot of ways, and she is one of my most trustworthy and honest friends. 
  • I'm having a hard time getting hooked on another book. I've started several in the past week, but they haven't really held my interest long enough to want to finish them. A lot of the newer books that were recommended to me are on hold at the library
  • Likewise, I'm not watching anything on Netflix right now, either. I need a new series! (Well, I really don't *need* a new series to suck me in, but I kind of wish I had a go-to favorite show that I could watch in the evenings.
  • Yesterday, I got a fun package (a "blogger box") in the mail from Shape magazine (and Brooks, the shoe company). I'm still amazed at all the doors this blog has opened for me! I've gotten introduced to some really great companies. This was in the box from Shape and Brooks:
  • When I saw the Brooks Ghost shoes in the box, I thought there was no way they'd fit, because I have wide feet. But they fit perfectly, and I really like them (I LOVE the color)! I wore them to cross country practice yesterday, and they felt great. I still love my Altras, of course, but one of the things I learned from Golden (founder of Altra) is that it's good to have different shoes to rotate so that your feet don't get used to the same ones.
  • Today, Jerry and I did a lot of yard work (well, mostly Jerry did it... I just kind of got in the way when I tried to help). After building the garage last fall, our yard looks terrible. We have piles of dirt that has to be spread out, bare patches with no grass, a TON of weeds, and broken up concrete from the driveway that has to be disposed of. 
  • Jerry got creative with the concrete, and built a really big fire pit! I was very impressed.
  • My job was to spray all the weeds with a weed killer. A tough job, but one of us had to do it ;)
  • We really need to paint or stain our porches and deck, but that is a huge project. It may have to wait until spring.
  • Today, I booked a boudoir photo session (insert "shocked" emoji here) for October 9th. I'm so nervous, but it's something I've been wanting to do since my early 20's. I've always thought I'm not thin enough or my skin isn't clear enough, or whatever... but I'm not getting any younger, and I'm feeling pretty good about my body right now, so I might as well just do it. Eek! 
  • Tomorrow, the boys have a baseball game in the morning, and then a cross country meet in the afternoon. It's a busy day for them!
Anyone want to sum up your week/plans this weekend with a single bullet? :)

September 23, 2015

Week 6 weigh-in and calorie counting check-in

Well, I made it through six whole weeks of calorie counting! When I first started this experiment, I honestly wasn't sure that I'd make it through the whole thing. I like doing little experiments for short periods of time (six weeks is about perfect) to see if I like it and if it works for me. I'd counted calories in the past, so it wasn't new to me; but I was feeling desperate to get back to my goal, and I was willing to give it 100% effort for six weeks.

Today's weigh-in was the best one yet, believe it or not:

My weight was 144.5, meaning I lost 2.5 pounds this week! My body fat was down by 0.7%, and my waist measurement was down nearly half an inch from last week. I felt a big change in my clothes this week, also, fitting into some jeans I couldn't wear just a couple of weeks ago. I didn't do anything differently this week (average daily calories were 1527); but I was super excited to see that my BMI is now in the "normal" range again.

For my six week totals:
I lost 11.5 pounds.
(I didn't take my body fat or waist measurement from Day 1, unfortunately; but from the weigh in after the first week, my body fat is down by 2.8% and my waist is down by 2 inches.)

As far as calories go, I basically tried to keep my calories under 1500, except for one day a week, where I would have a lot more (typically about 2,500). I like having the high calorie day, because then I can fit in things that may not fit in otherwise--like pizza Friday with the family, or a restaurant meal.

One thing that really helped me to stay on track is that I didn't actually have a "target" number of calories. I usually wound up eating about 1400-1500 per day (except for the high calorie day), but I wasn't actually aiming for that number. I just ate three meals and one snack a day, with "normal" sized portions, and that's what the calories usually ended up being. By not having a target, I never felt like I went "off plan" when my calories came in over 1500. And even on my high calorie day, I didn't pig out all day--I still had three meals and one snack, but they were higher calorie choices.

I find it easier to think of the calorie counts per meal rather than per day. Breakfast ended up being about 300-400 calories; lunch and dinner are approximately 400-500 calories; and then snack is typically 200-300. This helped, because when logging my lunch, for example, if it was 600 calories, I knew I should probably plan a lighter dinner. Or, if my lunch only ended up being 300 calories, I knew I could eat a heavier dinner.

As far as exercise goes, I haven't been following a routine. I've just been trying to find opportunities to stay active. I've been riding my bike, which I've written about, and I've been walking quite a bit. I've also done the stair stepper about once a week when I want to do something quickly. Sunday will mark six weeks since my last run, and I think I may start to incorporate some running again next week. I still feel twinges in my ankle, but my physical therapist says it's normal to feel odd twinges (not pain, like I'd experienced six weeks ago). To be safe, I may give it another week or two, since stress fractures usually heal in 6-8 weeks.

Anyway, like I said, I'm going to continue to count calories so that I can get back down to my goal weight. I really like having just ONE number to worry about when choosing what to eat (going out to eat is much easier, because a lot of places list the calories on the menu). A few people have asked if I'm tracking macros, and I'm not. The calorie counting appealed to me because it's just one number to think about, rather than trying to hit several numbers (carbs, fat, protein). I'm not saying that one way is better than the other--but for me, personally, I prefer to just keep it simple with the calories. And it's working well for me :)

I know there were several readers who mentioned they were going to try a six week challenge as well... anyone else want to check in with your progress?

September 22, 2015

Scavenger hunt, tire change, and pecan pie

We had another good cross country practice yesterday! Sorry I've been writing so much about cross country lately--it's been consuming a ton of my time, and I really enjoy it, so I've been thinking about it a lot.

Yesterday, I went to Dollar General to buy some hula hoops before heading to practice (I thought it would be a fun game to put four kids in each hula hoop and have them race the other teams while the hula hoop held them together), but they had gotten rid of the summer stuff. I had to head to the school, so I came up with a different game on the fly. I bought 10 small buckets and a package of plastic toy food items (50 food items in the package).

For the game, I wrote down the names of the food items on index cards (one item per card). Then I put a few of those items in each bucket (there were 26 kids there yesterday, so we used 26 items--about three items in each bucket). We put the buckets in the field where we practice, spread out from each other. Then we divided the kids into four teams, and handed each kid an index card with a food item written on it.

The object of the game was to find their toy food item as quickly as possible, relay-style. The first runner on each team ran off to look in the buckets (running from bucket to bucket) to find the item written on their cards. Some of them may have gotten lucky and found their item in the first bucket they looked in; and some of them had to look at several buckets until they found it. Once they found their item, they ran back to their team, and the second runner got to go search.

The kids were allowed to tell their teammates what they saw, so if they knew their teammate was going to be looking for a potato chip, for example, maybe they saw a potato chip in the red bucket while they were looking for their green apple. They could tell their teammate where it was. The first team to get all of their items was declared the winner.

It worked out pretty well, although there are a couple of things I'd do differently next time. I would put the buckets closer together (they were spaced pretty far apart--we had a quarter-mile loop marked off with cones, and the buckets were spread throughout the whole inside of the loop). I would also have more teams with fewer kids on each team (we had 4 teams of 6-7 kids each, and I think it would be better to do 6-7 teams with 4 kids each). Anyway, it was a fun game.

Before they played the game, we had them run easy laps around the 1/4 mile loop, with the goal of running four laps. Normally, we have practice on Tuesdays as well but the kids have their first meet tomorrow! I'm excited (and a little nervous) to see how it goes. It's a 1.3 mile race, and it will be for K-6 graders from several schools. Lots of kids running at the same time!

I don't know if I've said this yet, but I really love coaching this team! It's fun to see some of the kids get excited when they do something they thought they couldn't, or when they hit the laps goal that I give them. I also like getting creative with games that keep them running, but are fun to play. Lots of the kids tell me that they had fun, which makes me happy. Even though Eli will be at the middle school next year, I think I'd like to continue to coach this age group if I can!

I taught myself to change my bike tire tube yesterday! I watched some YouTube videos, which made it seem really overwhelming, and I wasn't confident going into it. I bought a few spare tubes, and when I got home, I changed out my flat front tire. I took a time lapse video (the video is 24 seconds, but it took a lot longer than that to change it out! I'm not sure exactly how long, maybe 15-20 minutes?)

I spent a lot of time trying to find the leak in the old tube, but I never did figure it out. I saw on one of the YouTube videos that I should try to find the leak, and then line it up with the tire so you can find out what caused the flat (to see if there was still an object embedded in the tire). I eventually just carefully felt around the inside of the tire to feel for anything that may have caused it (I didn't find anything).

I was surprised at how easy it was to actually change out the tube! It was a little time-consuming, but I imagine with practice, I'll get faster at it. Joey was hanging out in the driveway with me, and kept coming over to check it out, which you can see in the video ;)

After I changed out the tube, I decided to practice taking off my back tire (something I've never done before). That was much harder than I thought! The chain made it a little confusing, especially when putting the back tire back on. And my hands were covered in grease when I was done! But again, I imagine with practice, I'll get better at it.

Even having just changed the tire once yesterday, I feel a million times more confident about being able to do it during a ride if needed. In a way, the flat tires on Saturday were a blessing in disguise, because now I know what to do when it happens again.

Last night, after we got home from cross country, the kids and I made my dad a pecan pie for his birthday. I'm not sure when I started the tradition of doing this, but pecan pie is his favorite dessert, and I make him one for Father's Day and his birthday. It's the one thing that I am really good at baking!

I decided to calculate the calories in it, just to see what the damage would be if I decided to have a piece. Uh, yeah, 1/8 of the pie has 571 calories! If I had really been craving a piece, it would have been worth it; but I wasn't feeling very good all day, so I decided to pass.

Today was the last day of my six-week experiment with calorie counting. I don't plan to quit counting, because I really like it and it's working well! I'll write more about that tomorrow :)

September 21, 2015

Peace of Mind (Women Inspired post #3) (sponsored)

This is the third, and final, post in the Women Inspired series from Prudential. In the first post I wrote about how I became the person that I am today. In the second, I wrote about my aspirations and inspirations. And in this final post, I've been asked to write about what I learned about myself through this process and in sitting on the Prudential panel at the BlogHer15 event.

As I mentioned in the second post, sitting on the panel was very out of my comfort zone. I'm a shy introvert by nature, and the thought of speaking to a room full of people was really scary for me! However, I also wrote that I know I need to step out of my comfort zone to achieve my goals (or even to experience some great opportunities).

In situations like that, I have this little trick I play on my mind - I pretend that I am someone else, an actress, just playing the part of Katie. I'm still ME, in the sense that I am totally honest; but by pretending that I'm acting out a script, I have less anxiety about the whole thing. Now that I write this, I realize how silly this sounds, haha!

Anyways, I didn't come away from the experience with a ton of knowledge about finances - I'm not sure what I expected, but I had hoped I would leave NYC knowing exactly what I needed to do for my financial goals, step by step. That did not happen.
However, that, in and of itself, was a huge learning experience for me. I realized that I am the sort of person who hates to make decisions. The responsibility of being the decision maker is worrisome because I would hate to screw something up for somebody else (like my family). By attending this panel, I hoped a financial advisor would make all these financial decisions for me - basically give me a list of things to do in order to become financially secure. That way I wouldn't risk screwing things up for my family.

I have that mindset with many goals in my life. When I lost the weight with Weight Watchers, for example, I followed the plan right to the letter. That way, if I didn't lose weight, I would know that it wasn't my fault. When training for a race, I still tend to choose someone else's training plan - even though I am certainly qualified to write my own plans. That way, if I don't reach my goal, I can think of it as a faulty plan. Realizing all of this was pretty eye opening for me! I've discovered that I really need to take chances, and take more responsibility when things don't work out. Things don't work out EVERY TIME for anyone, and I'm certainly no exception.

Hearing the other bloggers speak on the panel was very inspiring. Most of them have blogs that are businesses, and they had to do quite a bit of work to build them that way. They had to make a lot of decisions (and mistakes!) along the way to get where they are now. They are very proactive people in general, and I realized that I am not. I tend to be very passive and wait for opportunities to come along.

I've been getting better at stepping out of my comfort zone when opportunities arise. The key is, I wait for opportunities to arise rather than seek them out. I believe that is the big difference between actually getting things done, and just dreaming about them.

Regarding my financial goals, there were two things at the top of my priority list: 1) Start building an emergency fund, and 2) Get life insurance. A third big goal, although not entirely financial, was to write a will. While Jerry and I don't have much in terms of possessions, I wanted to legally appoint a guardian for the kids in case something happens to Jerry and me.

I left the panel feeling very inspired to be a more proactive person when it comes to my goals (financial and otherwise). Since I wasn't handed a list of things to do to become financially secure, I went home and started researching on my own, like a real grown-up. I set up an emergency account to begin building - we now have money automatically deposited there each week, and it is not for spending. It may take a long time to build up a large fund, but it's more than what we had a couple of months ago ;)

Jerry and I each wrote a last will and testament, which was actually kind of fun, and opened some interesting conversations. It feels good knowing that our wishes for the kids' guardian are now on a legal document if something should happen to us.

I won't tell the boys who their guardian would be, because they just may start planning Jerry's and my demise... ;)

Finally, the life insurance is still in progress. I truly knew absolutely nothing about it until I started reading about it after I got home from NY. Hopefully by the time this post goes live, we'll be covered. I was surprised to see that insurance wasn't nearly as expensive as I'd imagined. I had always assumed it would be a couple hundred of dollars a month, but it's nowhere near that.

To sum up this jumble of thoughts, my learning experience from this program with Prudential really boils down to my own introspection. I learned that I love to set goals, but have a hard time being proactive. I worry that I will fail, so I tend to wait for someone else to tell me what to do or point me in the right direction. I learned that I have to take risks in order to reach my goals, and take responsibility if I fail to reach them. I am very grateful to have discovered all of this about myself, because I took charge of a few goals on my list and knocked them off in just a couple of month's time!

September 20, 2015

Biking the bridge, goal clothes, and pasta

Last night, I was still feeling disappointed that I didn't get to finish the course for Tour de Troit. I decided to look for another ride to do, hopefully this fall. And it turns out that Tour de Troit hosts another fall event called "Bike the Bridge" in October:

This is a unique ride, because you get to ride over the Ambassador Bridge (into Canada), which normally doesn't allow cyclists. I ran over the bridge for the Detroit Marathon, and it was awesome--I think biking over it will be really great as well! Then afterward, you go for a 20-mile bike ride around Detroit. This is a much smaller event than Tour de Troit (it's capped at 750 cyclists), but I went ahead and registered Jerry and I for it yesterday.

Between now and October 11th, I'm going to practice changing my tire tubes over and over until I'm good at it. And I'll bring at least three spares for the ride! Now that I know what to expect, I feel confident about the whole thing (although, biking uphill for the bridge is going to be tough!).

It was kind of cool outside today, and I impulsively decided to try on the goal outfit that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Last time I tried it on, I could button and zip the jeans, but I still had love handles, and I didn't feel confident about wearing them. Today, I put on the jeans and the long-sleeved top, and I was really surprised to see that they both fit well! The jeans were really cozy, fitting just how I like them to (tight, but not in a I'll-have-to-peel-these-off-later kind of way). And I didn't have any love handles sticking out ;)

I tried on a few more pairs of jeans that had been close to fitting before, and I was able to move two of them over to my wearable pile. In about 10-12 more pounds, I should be able to wear ALL of my jeans again! Right now, I need a new outfit to set my sights on, so I went through some pictures, and this is what I chose:

I absolutely love those jeans (they're incredibly comfortable, when they fit); but right now, they're really tight. So, I'm hoping that in a month or so, I'll be able to wear this outfit again. (My friend Stephanie took that picture of me--she did a photoshoot for me when I was at my goal weight.)

I made a really good new recipe for dinner tonight! I saw this recipe for Chicken Fajita Pasta on Pinterest, and it sounded great. I decided to use mushrooms instead of chicken, though, making it vegetarian (I'm not vegetarian, but I'm pretty picky about meat, and mushrooms just sounded better today). I also used half-and-half instead of heavy cream, and made my own fajita seasoning mix. It was delicious!

It was spicy and creamy, a great combo. And a pretty large portion (just under two cups) was only 411 calories.

I'm sorry for this, but I'm not going to be able to write a Motivational Monday post tomorrow. At noon, I have to launch the third post that I wrote for Prudential--I wish I could choose when to post it, but they choose that. So anyway, I'll save the Motivational Monday submissions for next week!

September 19, 2015

Tour de Troit ride report

Yesterday, my mom, her friend Myrtle, Kendall, and I went to Detroit to stay for the night, since we were going to be doing the Tour de Troit bike ride today. My brother had a free room at the Hilton that was going to expire this weekend, so he let us use it. I have never actually stayed the night in downtown Detroit--we live about 40 minutes away, so there has never really been a need to stay there. But I love Detroit!

A mural next to the hotel parking lot


We went to dinner at a restaurant called Redsmoke Barbecue, which was recommended by someone at the hotel. I ordered a caesar salad with pulled chicken, and it was AMAZING. Their caesar dressing was fantastic, and the smokey flavor of the chicken went really well with it. Everyone really liked their food, so I am going to keep that place in mind for when we are in Detroit again.

After dinner, we went to Greektown Casino. I'm not a big gambler (I play Keno occasionally at the bar, but I never go to casinos), so I didn't play; but Kendall really likes playing roulette, so I just went with her. I never understood roulette, so Kendall explained it to me, and it was actually really fun! I'm kind of glad I didn't have much cash with me, though, because I'm sure I would have played ;) Kendall played $25, and ended up winning upwards of $400 (walking away with $180, though).

My mom and her friend went up to the room, but Kendall and I went down to the hotel bar to chat. We stayed late! I don't remember what time we got back to the room, but I think it was around 1:00. We got up at 7:00 this morning for the bike ride. It was raining on and off, which was a bummer, but we just hoped that it would clear up.

Myrtle, me, my mom, and Kendall

Kendall and I went to Wave 2, and my mom and Myrtle were in Wave 1, so we split up before the race started. We stood around in the rain while we waited for the start. I've never seen so many bikes in one area. There were about 6,000 people registered for this ride!

Kendall and I waiting for the start

Roosevelt Park, where the starting line was

This was when we were waiting for Wave 2 to start

As soon as our wave started, Kendall and I just tried to stay together and find a little breathing room (it was pretty crowded). I was loving the ride--it was an awesome way to see Detroit. At around mile four, we had to go under a bridge, and there was water over the road. At the last second, I made the split-second decision to go up on the sidewalk while I rode under the bridge--a stupid decision that affected the rest of my ride.

It was really dark under the bridge, and there was a lot of litter on the sidewalk. There was also mud, and some glass. I couldn't see very well, and I heard a pop at one point. I got back onto the road after the bridge, and my bike felt "off" (hard to describe). I asked Kendall if my back tire looked okay, and she said it looked low. I pulled over, and my tire was completely flat.

I had just bought a spare tube yesterday, so I had that with me; but I had no clue how to change the tube. I watched several YouTube videos over the past week about changing bike tires, but it was just too overwhelming and I couldn't remember anything. I told Kendall to go ahead, and I would just walk back to the starting line--I didn't really have any other choice. I walked back about half a mile, and there was a tent set up that a few people were changing tires in. I was so relieved! A really nice guy changed my tire tube, and then I was able to ride again.

Unfortunately, I was now at the back of the pack, and even the sag wagon had passed me while I was waiting for my tire change! On the plus side, there weren't many people back there, so I was able to ride much faster (and pass the sag wagon). I wanted to try and catch up to Kendall, so I did a few fast miles. Then, I noticed that my front tire was looking pretty low. I pulled over again, and it discovered it was leaking air. I rode it as far as I could, but it only made it a couple more miles before it was totally flat. I didn't have any other spare tubes.

I started walking, hoping that maybe there would be an aid station or something that I could maybe patch it. After a mile or so, a guy who was riding by asked if I needed air. I said, "Yes! Thank you!" and he let me use his air pump. I hoped the air would buy me some time to ride to an aid station or something. It was leaking faster at that point, and only lasted a couple of miles before it was flat again.

At that point, I knew it was over. There was no way I could walk 20 miles to finish the course, and I didn't have any more spare tubes to fix my tires. I used Google Maps on my phone to see how to get back to the hotel, and it was about six miles away. So, I started walking, while pushing my bike with me. It took me nearly two hours, but I finally made it back to the hotel. I put my bike in my mom's car, and just sat in the car (because of course it was raining again!) to wait for the rest of my group. Jerry called me, and I asked if he could come pick me up. It was only 12:40, and I knew it would be a while before everyone else finished and got their food and drinks at the finish line (the finish line was another 2.5 miles away, otherwise I would have walked there, too).

Jerry picked me up from the hotel, and drove me home. I can't even begin to describe how disappointed I am that I couldn't finish the ride! I had NEVER gotten a flat tire before, and today I got two. I did learn quite a bit, though, and I will definitely do this ride again next year. I'll make sure to bring at least three spare tubes, and an air pump (I had an air pump on my bike, and I swapped it out for a water bottle cage yesterday! Doh). I will practice changing the tubes, so that I can just do it myself if needed.

Over all, it wasn't a super fun day, but I really did like the ride when I wasn't having tire problems. I wish I could have finished it, but it just wasn't in the cards today. Lesson learned!

September 18, 2015

Hill workouts for kids' cross country

Yesterday evening, I had cross country practice. I knew I wanted to do some sort of hill work with the kids, but I was having a hard time thinking of a way to make it FUN. Hills are tough! Just asking the kids to run up and down a hill is boring, so I wanted them to want to do it. The problem was, I Googled it a thousand different ways and couldn't find anything online about fun hill work for kids. I decided to go to the dollar store and see if anything inspired me to make some sort of game.

I'm really glad I did that, because I came up with a very fun game that would also be a great hill workout! We don't have a budget for the team, so whatever we buy has to be paid for out-of-pocket--therefore, I had to get creative, but that's a good thing.

The supplies:

Two bags of marbles in different colors--I got one blue and one green; and some sort of containers to hold them (four total--I was able to buy 5 for $1). Total cost of the game was $3.

For the game, I set the bucket of green marbles halfway up the grassy hill, and I set the bucket of blue marbles at the very top of the hill. We divided the kids into two teams, and each of them got an empty bucket, which was placed at the bottom of the hill. Here is a picture of the hill (it's steeper than the picture makes it look, honest!)

To play, the green marbles (halfway up the hill) are worth 1 point, and the blue marbles (top of the hill) are worth 3 points. The object is to get as many points as possible for your team. Each kid can only get ONE marble at a time, and they can choose whether to run halfway up the hill for a green marble, or all the way up for a blue marble. Then they have to run back down, and drop the marble in their team's bucket. All of the kids are doing this at the same time, so there are kids running up and down the hill constantly until all the marbles on the hill have been moved to the team buckets.

When all the marbles had been moved, Renee and I tallied up the points for each team, and declared the team with the most points the winner. The kids loved it! They had been pretty tired from the time trial we'd just done before the hill game, but they were really focused on getting the marbles. It was interesting, because most of the kids decided to go for the blue marbles first, so they ran all the way to the top of the hill. Once that bucket was empty, then everyone went for the green until they were gone. The whole thing took probably 10 minutes, and the kids got a heck of a workout running up the hill multiple times.

I had a couple of other ideas for hill games as well. Instead of marbles, we can put puzzle pieces at the top of the hill. The kids can only bring down one puzzle piece at a time, and the goal is to complete the puzzle at the bottom of the hill. (Again, this could be done with two teams, each working on their own puzzle. I found some puzzles with 50 pieces at the dollar store, which would work well for our group.)

My original idea was to get a bunch of silly clothes and accessories (hats, glasses, etc), and put those at the top of the hill. The kids would be divided into two teams (one for Renee, and one for me). They would run up the hill and grab an item, then run back down and Renee and I would have to put the items on. The first team to get all of the items on us would be the winner.

Another one I thought of was a matching card game. I bought a deck of cards with animals on them, typically used for a memory game to try and pair up the matches. I figured the kids could run to the top of the hill, grab a card, and bring it back down. Then run up again, get another card, bring it down... and keep doing that until they get a match. (Working as individuals rather than a team)

Finally, and I didn't buy this because it was too expensive, I thought of using the game Connect 4. The tokens would be up at the top of the hill, and the kids would have to bring down one at a time. The Connect 4 game would be at the bottom of the hill, and they could make their move as they brought the tokens down. It would help to be fast, because the faster their team brings tokens, the more likely they are to connect four. This would probably work better with a smaller group of kids, maybe 6-8 total.

Yesterday's practice was great, and I'm loving coaching this team!! It's been awesome to come up with ideas to make running FUN for kids. It makes me so happy when the kids tell me that they have fun at practice. Noah told me that he likes our cross country practices better than the ones for his middle school team, so that made me feel good ;)

Yesterday, I had plans to meet Jessica for a walk. We were going to meet at the State Park, so I decided to ride my bike there (I figured it would be about six miles each way). After I got the kids off to school, I had some breakfast and then headed out on my bike.

I had been hoping that there would be a spot for me to chain my bike while Jessica and I walked, but I figured that I could chain it to a tree if nothing else. There was a small fence post at the start of the trail, so I chained my bike there and just hoped that nobody would mess with it! It was gorgeous outside--a perfect day for a walk.

When Jessica got there, we walked around the 5K loop plus a small detour to make it 3.5 miles total. I hadn't seen Jessica pretty much all summer, so it was fun to catch up with her! She said that she'd be interested in doing a 10-mile walk with me, which is awesome--I need to do one sometime before the Detroit Half. We made plans to do the 10-miler on October 7th.

We are both working on getting back to our goal weight, so we each set a goal for October 7th. We decided that if we are BOTH at that goal by the time we do the 10-mile walk, then we can go to La Pita for lunch after the walk. Reminds me of when we were marathon training in 2012! ;)

I got in over 12 miles of biking and the 3.5 mile walk--it was a good morning!

Well, tonight I'm staying the night in Detroit, and I'll be doing the Tour de Troit tomorrow morning. Please cross your fingers for good weather for me! Right now, it's looking very, very bad--thunderstorms all morning. As long as they don't cancel the ride, I'll be doing it!

September 17, 2015

Inspirational Running Story: "My First Ultra Marathon!" (A guest post by my brother)

As you already know, my younger brother, Nathan, completed his first ultra marathon on Saturday. He ran the Freak 50K, a part of the Run Woodstock weekend of races through Hell, MI. I'm still rather awed by my brother's drive when it comes to running.

Nathan started running in the early spring of 2014. After finishing his duties with the Army, and returning home from Iraq several years ago, he'd put on some weight and got out of shape. When my sister started running in late 2012, Nathan was the only one of my siblings that wasn't a runner. He saw my older brother, my sister, and I having fun doing races, and I think that influenced his decision to start running.

I'm SO GLAD that he did! Nathan and I were not close at all a couple of years ago. I only saw him a few times a year, and I just wasn't sure what to do to fix that. When he asked me if I'd like to go for a run with him one day, I was thrilled. We finally had something in common we could talk about, and an excuse to get together.

At first, we were running close to the same pace; but as Nathan started getting faster, I started getting slower. And as Nathan lost weight, I started gaining weight. Still, I ran his first 5K with him, which was fun (even though he and Brian left me in the dust at the finish line, haha). I've gotten to watch as he progressed from completing his first 5K to his first 10K, first half-marathon, first marathon, and now his first 50K.

First race with all my siblings!

When Nathan does something, he really puts his all into it. He's only been running less than two years, but he's already gotten pretty fast and can run 32+ miles at a time! Anyway, I wrote about my experience watching his first 50K, but several people asked if Nathan would write about his experience... and although he was a little shy to do so, he obliged ;) I hope you enjoy this guest post by my brother!

In the days leading up to my first 50K, I started to really question if I had trained enough, and was worried that I would end up bonking toward the end of the race. I looked through all of my training runs on Garmin Connect and that boosted my confidence. I added up the total mileage since I began my training plan and also saw that I did five runs of 20+ miles with another long run the following day. The back-to-back long runs were generally not fun at all but proved to be valuable by learning to run on tired legs and while glycogen-depleted.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 3 a.m. so that I could eat a good breakfast before we left at 4 a.m. I had a big bowl of oatmeal, a banana, a Clif Bar, and some Pop-Tarts. Katie and my mom came to pick my girlfriend, Kendall, and I up; and we drove about an hour to Hell Creek Ranch, which is where the race started. The weather was perfect for running, about 45 degrees with a forecast high of only 65 (I had been worried, because just a few days earlier it was really hot and extremely humid). I had a hard time deciding  to run with a hydration backpack and handheld water bottle or to just use a handheld bottle and carry another bottle in a waist pack. I wanted to have one with Gatorade and one with water but wasn’t sure what to expect at the aid stations so I opted to use the hydration backpack and handheld bottle.

The atmosphere at the starting line was completely different than any other race I’ve ever run. It was very relaxed and nobody even lined up in the corral until about a minute before the race start. There wasn’t a big build-up with music playing and everyone cheering or anything. We all just lined up in the chute and someone said, “go”.

The course circled around the campground for about a quarter mile before entering the woods on a single track trail. At that point, it was too narrow to pass any other runners and the pace seemed quite slow; but it was nice, because it kept me from going out too fast. Everyone was very friendly and making jokes such as, “50K? I thought this was the 5K!” and as everyones Garmins beeped for the first mile, someone said, “only 30 miles to go!”. We ran in the dark for about the first 45 minutes and then it started to get light enough to see without a headlamp. During that time, the runners started to separate.

I didn’t expect to see "Team Nathan" (my mom, Katie and Kendall) until the second aid station around mile eight, so I was surprised to see them at the first one. The aid stations were really well stocked with all sorts of food, soda, water, Gatorade, GU, etc. I grabbed a cup of clear liquid (assuming it was water) and one of the volunteers said it was pop but I drank it before the words registered in my head. It turned out to be Sprite which made me feel bloated for a while, but luckily it didn’t give me any other stomach problems! 

After realizing how awesome the aid stations were, I decided that I’d drop my hydration backpack with my “crew” the next time I saw them and just go with a handheld and waist bottle (which is lighter and a little more comfortable).

I made it a point to take in a Huma Energy Gel every four miles with a few ounces of Gatorade every mile and water whenever I felt I needed it. (I used Huma gel for nutrition along the course. They weren’t sponsoring me or anything! It just tastes great, has the needed carbs/calories, is all natural, and makes me feel full from the Chia seeds.) I realized during training that I sometimes would not take in enough nutrition because I was feeling good at the time but it would catch up with me in the later miles.

I can’t remember exactly when, but I think it was after the second aid station that a few other runners and I found that we were all running at roughly the same pace and ended up running most of the race together. A woman named Laurie was out front; and trailing her was myself and two guys, both named Matt. We talked and tried to encourage others to join our “team”.

Some runners would hang with us for a while and either pass or fall back. I know it sounds kind of crazy but we’d get excited when we started up a steep hill because that meant we could take a break from running and walk up! Running with them was awesome because the miles seemed to fly by and we were able to keep each other motivated.

I wasn’t sure how often I’d see my mom, Katie, and Kendall, but they were able to meet me at every aid station which was great! It not only gave me something to look forward to every few miles but I was also able to add/drop gear and refill on gels and Gatorade. I packed a bag with a extra pair of shoes (I was running in Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes), shorts, shirt, hat, gloves, a bunch of fuel and anything else I thought I might need.

I asked Kendall if she could make sure it was with her whenever she’d see me along the course. At the second to last aid station, which was around mile 25, I was still feeling great and had plenty of fuel, so I told them to skip the last one and just go to the finish line.

Shortly after leaving the last aid station, I looked behind me and we had somehow lost Laurie and one of the Matts. I was hoping to all finish together but they were nowhere to be seen so the other Matt and I decided to push it pretty hard for the last 4 or 5 miles. It seemed like quite a while but finally we could hear the music playing at the finish line! As we came off the trail and into the campground he said, “All right, lets go!” so we both sprinted (or it at least felt like we were sprinting!) to the finish line.

After we crossed, a woman there asked my name and age and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I took first place in my age group!

Overall, if I had to sum up the whole experience in a word it would be, “AWESOME”! The event was very well organized and all of the other runners were extremely friendly. Whether you were passing somebody or they were passing you, they always gave a compliment, words of encouragement or a high five.

I knew for a long race like this that it would be important to fuel properly, so I made sure to stick to my plan. I think that helped me avoid hitting "the wall” and I felt great the entire race. The support along the way from my mom, Katie, and Kendall was great, and definitely much appreciated!

My only goal was just to finish my first ultra but I was kind of secretly hoping to do it in under 5:30. I ended up finishing in 5:21 which put me in 11th place overall! Trail running is a whole different animal compared to road running but it’s a blast and a nice change of pace--literally!

September 16, 2015

Week 5 weigh in (and ortho appointment)

Today started the final week of my six-week experiment with calorie counting. I've been doing really well with it, so I can already spoil the ending by saying that I'm going to continue with it after the six weeks are up ;) I started today off with my Wednesday Weigh-in:

I was 147 this morning, meaning I dropped another 2 pounds this week. I'm thrilled with that! It's kind of odd how consistent my weight loss has been... for each of the last four weeks, I've dropped exactly 2 pounds. I've never had such consistent losses!

My body fat was down by 0.6%, and my waist was down by another 1/2 inch. I've really noticed the weight loss over the last couple of weeks. My love handles are almost gone, and I can fit into a lot of jeans I couldn't before. All it took was five weeks of being consistent with my calorie counting. I wish I could smack myself a year ago and made me do it then!

Several people have asked me why I think I'm more successful with calorie counting that I have been with Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers worked really well for me in 2012. When I used Weight Watchers in 2009-2010, I was doing their old Points system (Flex Points, I think it was called); but in 2012, I decided to give their new PointsPlus system a try. I was kind of bitter about the new system, because I was used to the old one, and I didn't want to have to learn everything all over again. But I decided to give it my all for 10 weeks or something like that.

During that time, I was following the program very closely, and I didn't know any ways to "cheat". I measured out my portions, counted the PointsPlus, and the weight came off pretty quickly. Eventually, as I started to get comfortable with the program, I started picking up on the "cheats". I learned that 5 grams of peanut butter is 1 PP, but 8 grams of peanut butter is also 1 PP. Naturally, I'd want to have 8 grams. (I put "cheats" in quotes, because I was technically still following the program, just finding ways to push the rules a bit.)

As I learned how much food I could have to get the most out of my PointsPlus, I was probably taking in quite a few extra calories--all those little grams add up! And once you learn the PointsPlus system, you can't really "unlearn" it; so even when trying this past spring to stay 100% on plan (and I did), I wasn't dropping much weight.

By counting calories, there isn't any leeway. If you have 5 grams of peanut butter, you log the 5 grams. If you have 8 grams, you log the 8 grams. You also log your fruits and vegetables, which you don't do on Weight Watchers. You count every calorie you eat, so there isn't really away to cheat the system.

That's my best guess as to why the calorie counting has worked so well. Next week, I'll write more things I've noticed about calorie counting versus PointsPlus counting--after my "experiment" is over.

I had my appointment with the orthopedist today. I originally scheduled the appointment after seeing my general practitioner for my annual physical--I mentioned that my back pain has gotten much worse over the past year, so she scheduled an MRI, x-rays, and had me make an appointment with a specialist (the orthopedist).

While I was waiting to get in to see him, I had issues with my ankle again, so I decided to bring it up at my appointment. Well, when I got there today, I learned that he only sees patients for back pain, not for other orthopedic issues. So, I didn't get to ask about my stress fracture. I think I'll give it a few more weeks of cross-training/rest, just to make sure it's healed, and then start slowly with running again.

I did learn a surprising fact about my back, though. The doctor pulled up my MRI images on the computer while I was there, and even I could see it plain as day... I have mild scoliosis, of course, but two of my thoracic vertebrae (right where the pain is located) have pretty large bone spurs on the right side. I couldn't believe that it wasn't mentioned in the MRI report. The doctor explained that those two bone spurs rub together when I bend or move certain ways, which is likely causing the pain.

I felt so much better after seeing that--of course, it sucks that I have the bone spurs, but I was feeling like I was crazy for being in so much pain from "mild" scoliosis and "mild" arthritis. I've had the back pain for years and years; and the doctor said that judging by the size of the spurs, they've been developing for a long time.

As far as treatment, he mentioned a steroid injection for the pain (that will be a last resort for me--it sounds terrible); also physical therapy to improve my posture, and a topical cream to rub on my back for the pain. The only way to really remove the spurs would be with surgery, and there is no way that I want to do that. The doctor even said that he wouldn't recommend it right now anyway. Even though the news wasn't that great, I'm really glad to know what the reason behind my back pain is!

After my appointment, my mom and I went to pick up our packets for the Tour de Troit bicycle ride on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to it! It's looking like it's going to thunderstorm on Saturday morning, so I'm crossing my fingers that the forecast changes.

September 15, 2015

Speed work for kids

My second cross country practice was yesterday right after school, so I got stuff ready for that. I made up a plan for speed work--I wrote the names of four different animals on index cards (turtle, pig, horse, and cheetah) and then taped them to sticks to tuck into some orange cones. I figured we could place the cones around the path for the kids to run, and use those as cues to walk, jog, run, and sprint.

I also bought some rubber bands to keep track of laps. Since we have so many kids on the team (28!), it would be impossible for us to keep track of their laps. Some kids are much faster than others, and could do twice as many laps.

Anyway, I figured that each lap around, they could put one rubber band on their wrist. Renee had measured out 1/4 mile path for them to run, so each rubber band was equivalent to 1/4 mile. Then, at the end, we could just count their rubber bands, multiply by 1/4 mile, and give them their total distance run.

We started by doing a dynamic warm-up (light jogging alternated with dynamic stretches). Then, we started the animal speed work. I told the kids they could do as many or as few laps as they wanted for 15-20 minutes, but gave them the goal to get in at least three.

I brought a bag of candy, and said anyone that gets in at least three laps can have a piece. That worked well to keep them motivated ;) The kids really liked the rubber band idea, and wanted to collect as many as they could, so all of the kids did at least three, but most of the kids did more. It worked out really well!

We let them take a water break for a few minutes afterward, and then we set up to play a game. We organized them into four teams of seven, and had them do a relay race. I gave the first person from each team a stick to carry and hand off to their teammate, and the first team to have everyone finish was the winner.

We did three rounds of that, and then it was time to go home! It went by really quickly. I collected the rubber bands and gave each of the kids a small slip of paper with their total distance written on it, so their parents could log it on their mileage chart at home. Most of the kids got in 1.5-2 miles, which was great. The kids seemed like they had a really good time, so I'd say it was a successful practice. :)

Watching the kids practice really makes me want to run! I am going to see the orthopedist tomorrow, so I'll see what he says about getting back into it, and hopefully come up with a plan. Crossing my fingers for good news!

After a very busy weekend, I still managed to get in a lot of activity yesterday. In the morning, I decided to go for a long walk to help prepare to walk the half-marathon next month. I ended up walking over five miles alone, and then planned to walk three more with Joey later.

Yesterday was Jerry's birthday, so I wanted to spend some time with him. He was sleeping while I was out walking, but when he got up, I asked if he would want to ride bikes to Subway for lunch. It was really nice outside! I estimated that Subway was probably about five and a half miles away, so it would be a good place to ride to.

We headed out on our bikes, and I was in front of Jerry. The wind was so strong! I almost suggested turning around and going back home, but kept reminding myself it was "only" about five miles there. I was blocking the wind for Jerry, so he didn't understand why it was so tough. When we got to Subway, I was exhausted and my heart was racing.

I didn't know Jerry even took this picture until he showed me at Subway. Clearly, I have awesome posture while I'm on my bike ;)

I got my usual veggie sub, and was totally disappointed when they said they don't have guacamole anymore! I love guacamole on my subs. If I had known ahead of time, I may have gotten something else, but my veggie sub was really good anyway. After we finished eating, we started the ride back home.

It was MUCH easier with a tail wind. On the way TO Subway, our average speed was 12.1 mph; but on the way home, it was 14.9 mph--big difference! The effort level on the way there was harder than on the way home.

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