Thursday, November 29, 2012

Work in progress

Today was my 4th half marathon clinic.  We did a 6.1K run and even though I felt like I was running like a snail, I still had a pretty decent pace of 6:37/kilometer.  I decided to pull my mileage back this week.  I normally run 40+K per week, but by the time everything is said and done, I'll likely do between 30 and 34 this week.  There's a couple of reasons for this.  I'm way ahead of my half marathon group and I really should follow the curriculum since I am training to run a half marathon. I was also a little sore the past couple of days after my last massage and didn't have great runs the last two days.  I think my body is telling me to take it easy this week.  By the time the week's done, I'd still have only rested for one day (Friday), but my other runs would have been shorter distances.

I'm not running my usual 12K this week.  I have my Learn to Run's graduation race on Saturday morning.  The Santa Shuffle which is a 5K fun run.  Since it's a fun run it is not timed.  But there is a medal of course.  How exciting for my clinic.  For some of them, it will be their first race.  I'm hopeful that none of them will show for the Sunday morning practice run. If no one shows, I can do the half marathon clinic's long run.  It's only 9K, but better than nothing!  Although it bothers me that I'm reducing my mileage this week, I know that I need to listen to my body and rest.  I will end up getting injured and we all know how that would play out.  It would drive me insane if I couldn't run.  I would be the nastiest person EVER to be around and the consistent sobbing would be extremely annoying.  Running has become such an important part of my life that I can't imagine not doing it.

Something that I get a lot from people who comment on my weight-loss is that I must have great will power. I suppose, but I always make it very clear to them that every day is an on-going struggle.  I'm a binge eater and every day the thought of binging enters my head.  I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy.  The thought is there, but I am able to prevent myself from acting on the thought...most days.  Something that stays in the forefront of my mind is that I am thisclose to binging again.  And I have acted on it, but it's what I choose to binge on that is different from my binges fifteen months ago.  I'll eat an entire head of iceberg lettuce for the crunch, or a bag of baby spinach right out of the bag like I'm eating chips, or an entire stalk of celery.  Better choices for sure, but it scares me that the behavior is still there.

I have permanently cut pasta out of my life.  Even though I could have whole wheat pasta on maintenance, I won't.  When I used to work in residences for troubled youth thirteen years ago, I'd do a lot of overnight shifts.  My charges would be asleep and I'd have access to tons of food.  The food room was like a small grocery store.  I'd boil pasta in liberally salted water,  then serve it with melted butter and Parmesan cheese.  I would eat huge amounts of pasta.  Enough that at 290 pounds, I was stuffed and unable to move.  That was my binge of choice.  This bingy behavior with pasta never left me until I began my lifestyle change in September 2011.  Even when I made pasta for my hubby and I, I'd always make too much for a regular serving and I'd just shove the rest of it right from the colander down my throat.  Makes me cringe to think of right now.  Pasta would definitely be a trigger for me.  That's why it's not worth going down that road again.

Running keeps me from binging.  Nothing kills the thought of binging quite like lacing up your shoes and pounding the pavement.  Running keeps me from a lot of things...a social life with people who aren't constantly sweaty, time with my family, television.  So television is not so bad, but I always feel guilty that I'm not home as much as I was in the past because of the running.  I need to let it go and accept that I need to do this for me so that I can be there for my family.  I'm a better, more active mother because I lost 117 pounds.  Running is therapy for me.  It makes me feel good about my health and has built up my confidence as well.  Without running in my life, I don't know if I would be as far along in my journey as I am.  I need to remember that taking care of myself is an important piece to taking care of my whole family.

Self acceptance is something that is an on-going struggle.  Don't think that when you've reached goal, that all your problems will be solved.  There's so much emotional baggage that goes along with losing weight that you may never fully heal from obesity.  My outside may look good,  but inside, I'm a bit of a mess. That's the truth Ruth and I'm not ashamed to say that counseling could be my magic ticket.  Counseling or daily affirmations.  I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!  I'm definitely still a work in progress.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You're only as good as your next healthy meal

April 11, 2012
One month after I began
November 21, 2012
Eight months after I began

Second to how I lost weight, the most common question I get from readers is about running.  I thought I would do my best to answer everything in a post. I've always been fascinated by runners. Not just recently, but always. One of my very best girlfriends used to run cross country when we were kids and I always admired her for that. I couldn't because by middle school, I was already morbidly obese.  When we had to do laps in gym class, I was the kid that would be walking and getting yelled at by the teacher.

Anywho, I regress.  In January 2012, I met Enz from Downward TrENZ and she talked to me about running and how it had enriched her life.  We decided to take a Learn to Run clinic through the Running Room and we started that clinic on March 9th.  I weighed 230 pounds when I started running.  I completed the LTR clinic, then signed up for the 5K clinic.  After completing the 5K clinic, I started teaching the LTR clinic and I'm just about finishing up my second session of teaching LTR with my gal Beverly.  Over the summer, I ran by myself and was able to get myself up to 12K,which is my farthest distance to date.  I currently run 40+K per week and am training for my first half marathon which will be March 3, 2013; 6 days shy of my running anniversary.

Running has changed my life.  I am happiest when I'm running.  Although I procrastinate on my long run days, I have never come back after a run and said, "I wish I hadn't run today".  Just this past weekend, I didn't want to go out on Sunday morning to lead my 5k clinic run. I bitched and complained the whole way because it was cold and snowy.  After the run, I looked at my clinic participants and thanked them for coming out but also confessed that I wasn't feeling it that day...until I actually started running.  There is absolutely no better high (for me) than the way I feel after a run. Dare I say it is better than sex!  Okay, maybe not, but it's definitely a very close second!

I learned to run using the LTR program through the Running Room.  Couch to 5K (C25K) is another program that lots of new runners use.  You can download the app on your phone and it prompts you when to run and when to walk.  There is also the Ease into 5K program which is similar to C25K and comes with a downloadable program as well.  All good tools if you want to learn how to run.  I'd suggest a LTR clinic through the Running Room if you're a social person.  It's always nice to run and chat with people who are into the same sport.  I'm not going to lie.  It was hard and I wanted to quit many times when I first began.  But I persevered and it was totally worth it.  I can't imagine not running now.

If I could offer any advice in regards to diet and exercise, find an eating plan you can stay on forever and a physical activity you enjoy and can maintain.  I LOVE running and know that I can do this for as long as my body will let me.  I went for my second massage today and had my quads stripped.  It wasn't as bad as I anticipated and I only wanted to shank my massage therapist a couple of times.  He said he couldn't wait to strip my quads with his elbows.  WTF?  It sort of sounds sexual, but trust me it is so not.  I don't find elbows particularly sexy.  Especially when he's using those elbows to dig into my glutes.  That hurt like a mother...

Another reason why I love running is because it's changing my body so much.  My legs are getting more muscular by the week, my stomach is firming up (shoulders back and stomach in works yo!), and I'm finally losing some of the outer thigh fat that's been stubbornly hanging around.  I also eat a lot more than I ever have and I'm losing sizes.  Not necessarily pounds, but sizes.  In the photos below, there is only a 4 pound difference.  In the photo on the left I'm wearing snug size 12 jeans, in the right, size 10 jeans that fit comfortably.

September 16, 2012
Size 12
November 27, 2012
Size 10

Although I'm going to continue going for my weigh-ins and I will still visit Dr. Stephen for maintenance, I know that for me, the scale really is just a number.  My body is changing regardless of what my weight says. I'm continuing to maintain, but jeans I couldn't get over my hips and button two weeks ago, fit me like a glove now (see photo above right).  I'm going to fit into a size 8 when everything is said and done.  That is my goal.  I've never been a single digit size before and I believe I can get there and maintain that size.  After all, I don't have to eat any different than I'm eating now because on the most part I'm maintaining now.  The running will continue to firm me up, and I'll continue to eat the low carb, low sodium, low fat diet that I have become accustomed to.  As a runner I need to eat well so I can  perform my very best.  I need that high.  And I'm only as good as my next healthy meal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Unrecognizable me

Checkout the frost on my headband, eyebrows
and was COLD!!!!!!!!

This weekend's run was tricky. Yesterday I was better at getting out for my long run, but it's still hard to do longer runs alone.  Only one weekend left and I can run with the half marathon clinic for long runs.  Really looking forward to this because with the cooler, winter weather, I'm basically alone on the trail.  Except for a few bikers and dog walkers, there are very few runners out.  I also had to be conscious of the ice patches.  That would truly suck if I fell and broke something.  What a nightmare for me!  And this morning was just cold and snowy.  Getting out is half the battle. Once I'm out and running, I always feel better!  It took a much longer time to warm up this morning once I started running.

Last week at work, a few people approached me and told me that they didn't recognize me.  They would have only seen me the previous week, but for whatever reason, they insist that I look different from last week to this week.  I don't think so.  Maybe my hair was different or something, but unrecognizable?  Not likely.  I do get ignored by people every once in a while who haven't seen me in over a year.  That I get.  I do look very different from last summer to now.  When I see myself reflected in a store window, I often don't recognize that person as me.  My husband asked me how that made me feel.  I'm not gonna lie, it's strange. Getting used to the way I look is going to take some time.  I still see myself as a 300 pound woman.  Regardless of whether I am needing to accept myself as an obese woman or a "normal" sized woman, self acceptance is an on-going process.

May 2011
November 2012

Last night we went to the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade.  It was extremely cold and Julien didn't feel great.  He complained of a sore stomach pretty much the whole time we were there.  My feet were numb, Jules was under the weather, and it was cold, cold, cold.  We ended up going home after a half an hour.  That's too bad because the parade is so nice.  It's all lit up with lots of lights and bands.  Perhaps we will fair better next year.

Waiting for the parade to begin.
My brother-in-law is also in this
pic, but refused to let me post it
with him in it... 

This afternoon I went to my friends Elin and Scott's house for a Grey Cup party.  I didn't actually stay for the game, but I was there long enough to lose to Elin's SIL Heather at ping pong.  I also enjoyed some delicious Jackson Triggs Shiraz and some roasted almonds.  They had lots of yummy treats including these...

Elin works at a cupcake shop called Bitten and these were picked up for the Grey Cup party.  Now these were not tempting in the least and I'll tell you why. First off, it's been many, many, many months since I have had any kind of processed carbs.  And it has also been many, many, many months since I have had processed sugar.  I eat carbs and sugar found in fruits and veggies. That's it.  Having one of these would have made me feel sick, no doubt.  And I would have spent the night on the toilet.  So not worth it.  It is also not fuel for my body.  It is junk.  And junk I do not need.  I need good wholesome food that will keep me running my absolute best.  Running and not weighing 300 pounds ever again is my motivation.  What's yours?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The difference of 14 pounds...

So tonight was my third 1/2 marathon clinic. I missed the tempo run yesterday because I had to run with my Learn to Run clinic, but I realized as I was plugging along on the 5.6k run we had tonight that I am doing a tempo run when I run with the clinic. My average pace alone is around a 7 minute kilometer.  When I'm with the 1/2 marathon clinic I run at a 6:34 pace or better. Tonight was better.  I ran 6:32 per kilometer.  I was tired when I was done, but felt great!

Last night I had a bizarre dream. I dreamt that I got lost during a clinic run and ended up running for hours alone.  When My clinic instructor Carol found me, she told me that I ran the equivalent of a full marathon and perhaps the 1/2 marathon clinic wasn't the right fit for me.  As if!  I can't keep up with the serious runners in my clinic, so I know that I am right where I'm supposed to be!

I don't know if I said this during my last couple of posts or not...I love running!  Running has changed my body, allowed me to eat more than most people and been the best therapy I could invest in.  Check out these pictures.  There is a 14 pound difference and at first I didn't think it was very noticeable, but I can definitely see it in my arms, boobs, hips and abdomen. Not so much in my legs.  And although I still follow mostly Phase 2 of Dr. Poon's Diet, I will admit that I have never measured the measurable veggies. I have always eaten as much as I want because running takes care of any additional calories for me.  I have also been following some of maintenance this month, mostly on long run days because I burn 1000+ calories during those runs.  We'll see how or if that affects the scale next month.

A couple of weeks ago, my elderly neighbor cat called me!  Shocking I know, but it's in his nature to do something so crass.  So he sees me about a week ago and apologizes by saying that he hopes I wasn't offended, he was just shocked when he saw me.  Said he couldn't get over my body and my long black hair.  My hair is brown and ick that he was looking at my body!  He also said that if he was younger, my husband had better watch out...or something to that effect. Then he says that my hubby had better put a chastity belt on me. WTF does that mean?  That I'm gonna start sleeping around because I lost weight?  Or am I a slut?  My parents taught me to be polite to my elders, so I just smiled, got in my car and drove away.  I'm letting it go because he's likely developing dementia or something.

I bought a pair of size 10 (very) skinny jeans a few weeks ago that I couldn't do up.  I tried them on last night...and they fit!  Picture to come soon.  I'm going out with my BFF Nokomis tomorrow night.  Perhaps I will wear those skinny jeans and get her to snap me.  She a professional photographer and I'm sure she'll take a much better picture than my regular photog (my 5 year old son).  Good night beautiful people, and I hope all of my American friends had a very Happy Thanksgiving that does not find them regretting anything in the morning:)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food is fuel NOT therapy

It took me 41 years to realize this.  I used to eat for comfort, out of boredom, for entertainment.  I have been successful at weight loss.  One of the most important things I changed to make this journey successful was the way I thought about food.  I used to obsess over food.  It would be the first thing I thought of when I woke up, and the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep.  Food controlled me. It made me happy, and miserable.  It was my best friend and my worst enemy.

When I explain to those who ask how I have lost weight and detail the diet I've followed, they often scoff and say, "I could never be so limited in my eating".  I usually just nod and move on.  It's not my place to make judgments.  But in my head I'm judging.  What if the option is limiting what you eat or dying young riddled with disease that could have been avoided?  Would you limit what you eat then?  I didn't get it until last year.  Even though I was morbidly obese, I made excuses and justified my obesity. I argued that I was still fairly healthy so therefore had time to adopt a healthier lifestyle later on.  Just another cop out if you ask me.

I'm not going to dwell on the what ifs.  I've played this over and over in my head during the last year enough times that I have ALMOST let it go. What if I did this years ago?  What if I was able to make the changes I needed to when I was 31, or even 21?  Well truth be told, I just wasn't ready then.  You absolutely need to be in the right mindset or whatever diet you are entertaining will not work.  This is where the yo-yo diet effect enters the equation.  You are either ready or you are not. I know that the people who need to make lifestyle changes and scoff at  my eating plan are just not ready to make the change in their own life.  And maybe they never will be ready.  This is a lifetime commitment, not something that you do until you reach goal before going back to your old ways.  Changing your whole lifestyle is hard work.  If it was easy, everyone would do it and we would all be fit!

If you want something bad enough, you will do it.  For whatever reason, something clicked in my head and I was ready.  Perhaps it was for the love of a child.  Perhaps I finally discovered the love I had for myself.  Either way, the planets aligned and I was able to commit to something I have failed miserably with the past 30+ years.  I have dieted consistently over those 30+ years and lost and gained weight.  The past 14 months is the longest I have ever stuck to a "diet".  That is because I have accepted that this is now my lifestyle.  It is my "normal".  I will have to do this for the rest of my life.

Others wonder how I can walk away from tempting treats and my old trigger foods.  It's very simple.  The food I put in my body now is fuel so that I can run my next 12k.  I eat so I can function at work during the day.  I eat so I can keep up with my 5-year-old.  I eat so that I can enjoy every other aspect of my life that I missed out on because I was morbidly obese.  I eat to keep myself healthy.

At this moment, I am the healthiest I have been in my entire life.  I have worked hard to get to where I am today.  Eating junk and processed crap is just going to get me back to where I started and I have invested too much time, energy, sweat and tears to go back to 300 pounds. Squandering my investment would be bad business.  Very bad business indeed.  Perhaps the single most important thing I have learned over the past year is that I am definitely worth investing in.  Think long and hard about where you are in your journey.  Aren't you worth the investment?  Be kind to yourself, you definitely are!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The post about a mountain run, free coffee and winter vegetables

Yesterday morning was a hard one for me.  I procrastinated until 10am when I finally hauled my ass out the door for my long run.  I don't know what was wrong with me.  It was cold but sunny.  A nice crisp morning for a run.  It's getting harder and harder to do long runs by myself.  I'm not going to run more than 12k by myself.  I'm ahead of the half marathon group in long run mileage, and in a few more weeks, I can do my long runs with them.  I just have to finish up the clinic I'm currently teaching.

Me at the fork.  I took the path to the left.  If you look closely,
you can see the reflection of an overpass in my glasses.
I'll explain in a minute!

I ran 12k on the trail near my house.  You know, the same one with the fork in the path.  I decided to be a bit adventurous and see where one of the paths went.  I took the windy path to my right and ended the top of the escarpment!  I don't know why I didn't realize I was at the top last week.  The path ended about 400 meters from the fork and brought me to a residential neighborhood.  So this is what I learned.  It's exactly 6.5k from my front door to the top of the Niagara Escarpment via the Rail Trail.  I took a few minutes to explore my surroundings and when I saw the intersection where the trail ends, I was quite far from home.  I felt great though because even though I bitch and moan about going out for my run, once I'm out and about, I love the way I feel.  I really do love running. I was just pissed that I didn't get my butt out the door sooner. I had a late start to the rest of my day because of all my procrastination.

Although we call the
escarpment "the Mountain",
It's not really a mountain.
I took this from the overpass you see in the
reflection of my glasses.  That's my trail...heading
back down the escarpment.

Funny story to share.  I did my long drive to Peterborough on Friday. All in all I drove almost 600k by the time my day was done. On my way back from Peterborough to Hamilton, I stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and grab a coffee.  As I walk into the Tim Horton's there are four young construction workers sitting at a table.  The place was dead because it was in a pretty desolate area.  I can tell by the way they're looking at me that they're talking about me and I immediately get all anxious.  I hurry into the women's washroom and do what I need to do, then leave and make my way to the counter without making eye contact with anyone.

I order my coffee and just after I place my order, one of the VERY young men slides up next to me and says, "I'll pay for that".  I respectfully decline his offer and he smiles and says he insists.  I tell him again that I can pay for my own coffee, and he just looks at the confused girl behind the cash and says, "I'm paying for her coffee".  So he pays for my coffee and asks, "Are you from around here?".  I tell him that I am not, and I am on my way home to my son and husband.  I quickly thank him for my coffee and leave in haste while his friends start laughing at him.

So I get home and tell my husband this story.  I've been getting attention from men lately, and most of them are very young men.  Like in their 20's young men.  I'm shocked and a bit confused. My husband tells me that when he was in his twenties, he also went with older women because they were easier to "score".  Well I don't know if I should be flattered or insulted.  Did the construction worker think I was younger than I am, or does he think I'm desperate?  After much deliberation and thought, I've decided to not care because I got a free coffee out of it!  Score for me! And as a side note, I wear my wedding band 24/7.  Some men have no scruples.

I love eating the way I do now.  I love winter vegetables and have forgotten how much I loved brussel sprouts, rutabaga, parsnips, turnip, squash.  And my crock pot is being used almost everyday.  I'm making roasts, curried chicken, Bolognese sauce, stews and soups.  I swear that I eat better meals now than I ever did when I was my heaviest.  My husband concurs.  Every time I make something new, he says it's his new favorite dish.  He's mastered the making of the ratatouille and is ready to move onto something more complex.  Perhaps we will do the curried chicken with parsnips tomorrow.  This was his new favorite dish two weeks ago.

Last week a nutritionist came to my clinic to discuss nutrition for runners.  She said that runners needed to have carbs for fuel.  She was talking about pasta, cereal...those kinds of carbs.  I didn't say anything, but I run 40k per week and I only eat carbs that I get from veggies and fruits.  When I started running, I ate even less carbs than I do now.  I'm full of energy and don't feel tired or sluggish on my runs. Something that I have thought about that makes me a bit nervous is once I start getting into longer distances and I have to fuel during the run (ie: Gu), it may not sit well with me.  I haven't had anything like that in my body for 14 months.  I'm scared I'll get the runs while I'm running.  And that would be truly shitty!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The post where I let a man (not my husband) touch me

Well I had to do something I didn't want to do.  I had to put the word verification back on for my blog comments.  I've been getting way too much spam and when I tagged them to go directly in my spam folder, real comments were going in there too and I was missing some comments readers were leaving.  So incredibly annoying.  I don't know what is worse, the spam or having to do word verification!

Today was another first for me. Well third actually.  I went for a massage.  Probably my first massage in at least 5 years, but I think even longer than that.  I've only been for a massage two times before today and both experiences were horrible for me.  It was painful and I was tense and on edge the entire time.  I met the massage therapist I used today at a running clinic speak.  He's also a runner and a karate instructor so he specializes in sports massage.

Now here's where I tell you to do as I say, not as I do.  If you run, or are thinking of running, it is a good idea to stretch your muscles after a run.  It's good practice for injury prevention.  Me?  I never stretch.  Bad, bad, bad.  The fact that I have never been injured since I started running this past March is still a miracle to me.  I decided that even though it made me nervous, I had to bite the bullet and start receiving regular massage so I could at least be manually stretched.

I was super nervous going in because my last experiences were so horrible, but I actually had a great massage and felt relaxed afterwards.  Now Mark (the massage therapist) admitted he went easy on me because it was my first massage in so long, but he really took the time to listen to my concerns about getting a massage and it worked out just fine.  I'm booked to see him again in two weeks and he told me he was going to strip my quads at that time.  I'm not going to lie, that scares the crap out of me because he warned me it would hurt.  Basically he's going to find all my muscle knots and work them out.  And I know there are lots, 'cos I never stretch.  Oh the joys of being a runner!

I wonder if my good experience today had to do with the fact that the other two times I was massaged, I was also morbidly obese and the masseurs had to work me extra hard to even feel my muscles through my substantial layer of fat.  I'm pretty bony now and  it wasn't hard for Mark to find my tight areas and work them.  He only did my back and my quads, but also stretched out my hamstrings.  Next time I'll get him to work my calves too because they feel a bit achy tonight after my fast 5k with my half marathon clinic.  All in all I'm glad I went and I think he's a keeper!  I know a couple of other runners who go to him and they have nothing but nice things to say about his technique and professionalism.  I was booked for a half hour, but I didn't leave for 70 minutes!  I'm sure he massaged me for at least 45 minutes then took some time to ask me more questions about my running program and showed me some stretches to do.  A very helpful and informative visit.

Tonight I ran with my half marathon clinic.  We did the exact same route we did last week, and I did the exact same pace too.  6:34/km.  I felt like I was going sooooooooo slow, but turns out it was all in my head.  Last week I ran with people, tonight I ran alone most of the time.  I chatted with a couple of the serious runners who passed me.  They mostly mentioned the article from the Running Room magazine, then moved on.  It's a big clinic, 30+ people and I know a few of the participants by name and many more by sight.  I really need to brush up on the names.  I'm so bad with names.  Once someone tells me their name, it immediately goes out of my head.  When I meet new people whose names I must remember, I repeat their name a lot during conversation. That's the only way I'll remember, and they likely think I'm strange.  "So Justin, you mentioned that you liked cliff climbing Justin.  Don't you think it's a dangerous sport Justin?  Doesn't your mother worry Justin?"  Weird right?  But seriously, the only way I can remember names.  It's an occupational hazard since I'm constantly meeting new people.

I'm off to bed.  Tomorrow I have to spend the day in the car.  I'm driving from Hamilton to Peterborough to Oshawa to Peterborough to Hamilton.  So almost 600 km by the time the day is done.  I hope I don't feel the after affects of my massage tomorrow.  That would truly suck.  I think I will treat myself to a Tim Horton's double cream coffee during my travels.  Something I'll likely need when I hit the wall of sleepiness in the afternoon.  I'm off to dream about running, and I'm not kidding.  I've fallen asleep more than once reliving a good run in my head.   I know, I know...STRANGE!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Which path will you choose?

I feel like I haven't blogged in forever!  It's been five days to be exact.  This is the longest gap between blogs I've had in a very long time, if not ever.  Life just happened this weekend which prevented me from blogging.  That and I'm reading some prime smut that I can't seem to tear myself away from at night.  So I'll keep this as precise and to the point as I can.  Gideon and Eva are waiting for me.

My hubby's aunt spent the weekend with us.  We had a good time and it was nice to spend time with her.  Saturday began with my usual laid back (Saturday only!) morning.  I procrastinate until about 9:30 every Saturday, then I haul my ass out to do my long run.  This Saturday past I was faced with a dilemma.  I ran so far up the trail from my house that I discovered this.

Where to go from here?
This fork in the path was right at the 6k mark, so I didn't have to decide on Saturday which way to take.  I just turned around and ran back home.  But the fork was a bit cathartic because it made me think of making choices in my life in regards to food and exercise.  Which path will I take?   There are only two possibilities.  The path that will lead me to good health and a long life, or the path that will lead me back to where I started.

My family came over for Sunday dinner this weekend past, and I mentioned that Dr. Stephen suggested I go on maintenance now.  My father agreed saying that I looked good and didn't need to lose anymore weight (but I knew he'd say that).  My father asked if that meant I could eat anything I wanted.  I chuckled and said, "only if I want to get fat again".  He's going to be 82 in a couple of weeks and comes from the "old school" of nutrition.  Lots of meat and potatoes!  He was a bit disappointed to hear that I couldn't have the things that I used to enjoy.  Like potatoes, pasta, bread and sweets.  My father will never understand the obese.  He's eaten what ever he wants his entire life and never gained an ounce.  Yes, he's one of them!

I told my dad that I'd have to eat the way I do now for the rest of my life.  This is just the way it has to be and I'm okay with that.  We're talking about food here, not me having to lose a limb or something.  Basically all I eat now are whole foods.  Just in case it's not obvious, I only eat things that have a single ingredient.  Chicken, beef, pork, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, raw get the idea.  I rarely eat anything that has ingredients (except on weigh-in days when I eat a couple of the fake pecan chocolates from the nutrition store and cinnamon almonds).  I make things from whole foods (ie: curried chicken, ratatouille, spaghetti squash with bolognese).  And since I make my meals from scratch, I know exactly what's in them.  I cannot be lax or lazy in my new lifestyle because that will get me back to where I started and I made a promise to myself to never go there again.  I'm worth more than that, and I could never do that to my son.

It's hard work to change your entire lifestyle.  I went from being around 300 pounds and sedentary, to 172 and a runner.  I also went through most of my life in denial about my weight, and those around me were in denial about it too.  I know that a friend or loved one won't necessarily come right out and say what they should about weight issues, but it was the no nonsense demeanor of Dr. Stephen that probably helped me the most in my weight-loss efforts.  He never sugar coated anything and told it like it was.  I appreciated that, and once I started the diet, I made promises to myself.

I promised myself that I'd never cancel an appointment because I had a bad two weeks (and possibly a gain).   I promised myself that I'd stick to the diet as closely as possible.  I promised myself I'd listen to everything that Dr. Stephen told me and learn from his expertise.  I promised myself that once I began to run I'd never miss a clinic or a practice run unless I was deathly ill (it only happened once due to vomiting).  And I promised myself that once I reached goal, I'd never go back to 300 pounds again.  I kept all of those promises to myself with the exception of keeping the weight off.  It's too early to call that since maintenance is still a month away.  I'm hoping my maintenance promise will be as successful as all the others I've made and kept.

I keep a before picture of myself on my smartphone. Every time I feel like straying, I pull it out and reconfirm to myself that whatever I want to eat that's off my plan is not worth it.  I've worked hard to get to where I am today.  But it was just over a year ago when I had 130 pounds to lose.  At the very beginning it felt like it was just too much to lose and that I'd never get here.  Today I weigh 117 pounds less and I'm almost at goal, or maybe I already am.  The next month will tell me where my weight is meant to be.  I chose the right path 14 months ago.  I need to stay on that path from here on in.  Straying just isn't an option. What path will you chose?

Almost 300 pounds.
What is up with my  hair?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The post where Dr. Stephen tells me to STOP losing weight!

I want to start this post by thanking everyone who has sent me their condolences in regards to the passing of my birth mother.  I was overwhelmed to see that so many people cared.  And not just family and friends, but people I only know through the blog world and Facebook.  Thank you for the touching comments, emails and text messages. It truly made dealing with everything over the past week a little easier.

Just in case you forgot (and how could you),
this is my gal Beverly!

Next, I want to give a shout out to my gal Beverly who wrote an awesome article about me in the Running Room magazine.  She is truly an amazing woman and friend and I'm so touched that she took the time to write such a great article about me and our friendship.  You can read the article here.  Sadly, Beverly's going to be out of commission for a couple months starting the beginning of December for medical reasons, but I can't wait until February when she'll be back in full force to start training for The Bay with me.  Have I mentioned before what a great running partner and friend she is?

I had a day of firsts today.  Today was the first time since I began my lifestyle change that I had a gain on the scale.  I gained 2.5 pounds.  I wasn't feeling too bad about it, and Dr. Stephen was actually pleased.  I gained 2.5 pounds of water, and lost 1/2 a pound of fat.  He determined that the water gain was because I'm  on my period.  Then he looked at my body fat percentage and talked to me about going on maintenance even though I haven't reached my desired BMI.  My BMI is 27 and it should be 25 to be considered in the healthy range.

According to Dr. Stephen, since my body fat percentage is 4 percent below what they want it to be, I'm likely never going to reach my BMI because it will not take into account the muscle I have gained from running.  My body fat dropped another 1.5 percent even though my weight went up. This conversation made me nervous.  It took me out of my comfort zone.  Dr. Stephen told me that he didn't think I needed to lose more weight.  Today was the first time in my life that a medical professional has told me that I should stop losing weight. Although he wanted me to agree to go on maintenance today, I came up with a compromise.  I said I would continue to follow phase 2 and some of the maintenance phase of the diet for one more month.  Wherever the scale and my body fat percentage is next month is where I will stay.  Dr. Stephen agreed to my compromise.

Then he took my blood pressure which was normal (125 over 80) and said I had the pulse of an athlete. He called me an athlete!  He was impressed with the running and said that he could tell by my pulse that I was in great shape.  I have NEVER been in great shape.  Between my pulse and the muscle definition on my legs that he commented on, I actually left my appointment with the 2.5 pound gain feeling like a million bucks.  In one more month (5 weeks actually, I snuck an extra week in before my next visit...shhhhhhhh) I will be on maintenance.  To make myself feel even better, I went into the Gap right after my appointment and tried on a pair of size 10 jeans that fit me with room to spare!  Didn't buy them though.  I'll find a similar pair at a thrift shop and pay $7.99 for them because I'm cheap like that!

Tonight was my first Half Marathon clinic.  There were about 30 participants there!  Big clinic.  We had a talk about the Running Room stuff to begin with.  It was my 5th time hearing it...but it never gets old.  Carol is a great instructor and I'm so excited she's teaching it with another woman named Kelsey.  My two former running gals are in the clinic with me.  Tanya and Dawn.  I guess that makes them my current running gals again:)

Tonight was the first time that I ran 5k with a 6:34 pace.  I was all nervous that I would be at the back because a lot of the clinic participants are serious runners who take the clinic over and over again just so they have people to run with.  But I was right in the middle.  We ran down Cootes Drive then turned around and ran back up.  Running down was a breeze because it's downhill, running back up is a tad bit more challenging.  But I kicked my own ass and ran my fastest 5k ever.  I can't wait to see what my pace will be at the end of the clinic.  Once I start doing speed work and hills, I think my running is going to improve dramatically.  Stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The catch-up post

This whole costume cost  under $10 from
the thrift and dollar store.
Overalls $4, shirt $3, hat $2, gloves 60 cents.
He thought he was da bomb!

I've been MIA for the past four days.  Nothing really notable to tell.  Just puttering along with life. Halloween came and went.   My little guy is so adorable. And not just because of the Super Mario costume I put together for him.  He goes trick-or-treating, comes home, takes out the 3 bags of chips and 1 bag of cheesies he gets and some marshmallow thing he wanted to taste, then gives the remainder of his candy to the kids who come knocking on my door.  It's his absolute favorite part of Halloween and he's done it for the past three years.

I have no problems staying out of Halloween candy.  I got it on sale, hid it (on my hubby not myself), then made sure I gave all of it out (again not because of me, but the hubby does not need chocolate either), so all the Halloween treats we had left in the house were Julien's chips and cheesies totaling 4 treat sized bags.  I did cave and save 4 Reese Peanut Butter Cups for my husband (which he ate all four that same night).  I'm glad I only saved four for him or he would have eaten all the candy that was left over.  The man has no willpower!

Friday was my 10th wedding anniversary   It was pretty uneventful   In light of  the passing of my birth mother, I didn't feel much like celebrating.  Hubby and I will go out for dinner at a later time when emotions have settled...and we can rustle up a babysitter.  I had big plans for my tenth wedding anniversary, but none of them were likely to happen.  My plans involved money and time away from the boy.  Neither scenario is ideal right now since we have no money, and have never been away from the boy overnight.  I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself if I knew he was missing us.

My exercise and eating have been less than ideal over the past week.  I skipped a run one morning because I just couldn't get myself out of bed.  I felt such an overwhelming sense of sadness that I just wanted to lay there and do nothing.  I did have a couple of really good runs though too.  I ran my first 12k on Saturday.  Running alone really makes you think about a lot.  I did come up with a way I could honour both of my mothers, and I will share that at a later time.  I just don't want to talk about it right now.  It's hard to run and cry at the same time.  Although I got emotional a couple of times during my run, it was one of the best runs I ever had.  Very therapeutic.

Eating has been ok. I haven't eaten off plan, just had a bit too much red wine a couple of days over the weekend, too many raw almonds, and I haven't been drinking enough water.  Don't know how or if that will affect my weigh-in on Thursday, but I'm okay if I have a smaller loss, or no loss at all.   I have all the time in the world to lose the last 13 pounds.  I'm in no race, and I just want to keep eating the way I am now and when the weight is ready to come off, it will.  I start my 1/2 marathon clinic this Thursday.  I will likely see a big dip in the scale again when I start doing speed work (interval training) and hill repeats which is a sure fire way to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Any stubborn weight kicking around will find it's way out of my body then. Until that time, I'm happy to continue doing what I'm doing 'cos this is my "normal" for the rest of my life.  I may as well get real comfortable with it!

Giving out candy!

Taking a water break.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Always in my heart

Our first meeting.  April 24, 2010.

This is such a difficult post to write.  I don't want to fuck it up and I hope I give it the justice it deserves.  As I write this, tears stream down my face.  I didn't think I would have such a strong reaction to what happened yesterday, but I find myself highly emotional and on the constant verge of tears.  My birth mother passed away.  I don't know why I am so emotional.  Is it because I didn't get enough time with her?  Is it because I know all too well what her children and loved ones are feeling right now? Is it because it has brought back so many memories of my mother's passing nine years ago?  Is it because I mourn for a woman who had to make a decision that no mother should have to make?  Is it because my birth mother had to struggle through a life I can't even begin to imagine?  Maybe it is all of those things.  All I know is that her passing has affected me much harder than I thought possible.

Not because I didn't care about her.  Just the opposite.  I cared very much.  But I've only seen her three times my whole adult life and spoken to her maybe a dozen times on the phone.  We were strangers. Strangers that were connected by blood.  We kept a comfortable distance from each other.  I know that she was uncomfortable around me, and I was around her as well.  Even though that barrier was between us, I still always cared and I know she did too.

The last time I saw her was in February of 2012.  I met her in Toronto after work with one of her daughters and we had dinner at one of her favourite restaurants.  It was a nice visit, and it was more comfortable than our last visit which happened during Christmas 2011.  She lived on the reserve which is a six hour drive from Toronto.  She had to come down to Toronto for a couple of visits though because she had to have some medical tests performed.  Her health was not good. She was a type 2 diabetic.

The last time we spoke was in late spring.  She told me that she'd had a couple of stints in the hospital but that she was feeling better.  She didn't let on how serious her health issues were, and I know she wouldn't.  She didn't want others to make a big deal or to worry.  So I didn't worry.  But I should have.  We had a pretty private relationship.  Our contact was sporadic, but meaningful when it happened.  I'm glad I made the decision for her to meet my son and husband over the Christmas season last year.  Since I've had contact with her, I have not forgotten her birthday, Easter, Christmas or Mother's Day.  I always sent a card with pictures.

I knew a couple of weeks ago that she was in the hospital in Elliot Lake and I made a plan with her youngest daughter to call one night so I could speak to her.  I chickened out at the last minute because I didn't know what to say.  I knew she wasn't doing well, and conversation never came easy to us.  I also knew that she was bedridden but the medical staff wanted to start rehab with her the following week.  So I thought I had time.  Time to make a plan and make it up to see her before the snow started falling in the north. I'd hoped to go up before the end of November for a quick visit just to see her again, and at least let her know by my visit that I did indeed care.

I got a Facebook message from her granddaughter on Tuesday afternoon, and a phone call from her youngest daughter that same night telling me that things were quite dire and she wasn't expected to live much longer.  I was shocked.  I had no idea that things were that bad.  By morning I had received a message from another daughter begging me to go up and see her.  I just couldn't.  And I know they may not be able to understand this but I wanted to remember her the way she was the last time I saw her.  And I would have been a stranger intruding on an extremely private family moment.  For many of the family  members by her bedside  it would have been the first time they would have met me.

Once she passed yesterday afternoon, I had already made the decision that I couldn't attend her funeral.  Again, I would be seeing much of her family for the first time and I would have felt overwhelmed and exposed.  My birth mother and I had a private relationship.  She kept me a secret until we made contact in the winter of 2010.  Not even her children or siblings knew I existed.  I know she would understand my need to honour and mourn her privately.  She's being buried on the reserve and I will go up at a later time to say goodbye to her.

She was a woman who had a hard life and had to make tough decisions and sacrifices for all of her children.  My heart breaks for her family and for myself.  She was taken from everyone too soon. There were questions I still had that only she could answer.  Those questions will remain unanswered.  My mother told me that my birth mother gave me up because she had no other options at that time and she wanted me to have a good life.  She was a single mother with six children (seven counting me) and just couldn't manage one more at that time.  When I was made a Crown Ward at six months, my birth mother came to court and my mother actually let her take me for an hour and spend time alone with me.  I asked how she knew she would bring me back and my mother said, "because she loved you and she wanted what was best for you".

I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to meet her.  I'm thankful I gave her the opportunity to meet my son.  I'm thankful that she made the sacrifices she did for me.  I'm thankful I have pictures from her past to remember her by.  And I'm thankful for the new memories that we created together. She will continue to live on in my heart...a place I've held for her my entire life.