Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update

Yowza, I don't know if it was the hills, or the miles, or the combination of both, but my legs were feeling that 9 mile run all day on Saturday...and even into Sunday as well!  Whatever crazy person who chose that route (disclaimer...that would be me) was not being very kind to our running group.  Sure, the race we're training for has some hills and therefore we need to practice them, but this was tough.  I'm thankful that I was doing the intervals because honestly, I know I would have walked up those hills had I not been on the 2:1 schedule.

Still, I have to say that I'm really, really pleased with how much better the long distance runs are going for me.  Running intervals isn't easy once you get a couple of miles in - even though our overall pace looks slow (because we're walking at least 4 times each mile), when we are running, we're running at a pretty fast pace.  But I'm doing it, and I haven't been plagued with the "I hate this, I want to quit" moments like I was last fall.  It's really nice to finish a long run and not feel bad about my attitude.

By the way, our group is back to running out of our regular meeting place - while it was fun to run with the local running store owners, that part of town is really crowded with traffic and it's not as enjoyable.  The official USAFit training program is over, but we still have access to the routes on Map My Run, so I've been picking one and posting it on our Facebook page, and one person drops a couple gallons of water along the way so we can refill our water bottles - it's worked out well.  Honestly, it's just fun to start out together - most of us end up separating out within the first half mile, but the camaraderie is there, and it's great to finish and compare how we all felt during the run.

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Tomorrow is the last day of the Planks-A-Lot challenge.  Not going to lie - this one has been tough for the the last week!  But, I am proud to say that I've done each and every one (a couple of times it's been close to midnight, but I've squeaked them in), and my abs and arms are thanking me for it (that is, when they aren't screaming in protest).  Did anybody else do this challenge?  I know Julia has posted about it - let me know in the comments if you did, too.  As for after this month, I plan on keeping up with doing them, but I think instead of doing one really long plank, I'll break it up into two shorter planks - maybe 45 seconds each? 

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The park where Jenny and I do our Tuesday morning runs at is also where a couple of running classes from the local colleges meet.  We were laughing yesterday during our run, because every time one of the coaches would call out to her runners, we'd do what she said - mostly it was "backs straight!" - not sure if she'd said "sprint" we would have done it, but hey - free training!  And yes, it did remind me of that scene in Bridesmaids, where the two main characters were sneak working out behind a tree at an outdoor boot camp! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Perspective

There's been several great posts on perspective from blogger friends lately, and I thought I'd add my lighthearted post to the mix...

Diet happiness is:  Putting on a pair of pants and realizing that they are finally too big.  Oh the thrill of knowing that you've lose so much weight that your pants don't fit - I never got tired of it!  And considering that I was busting out of my size 24s when I started my diet, I had LOTS of thrilling moments on my way down.

Maintenance happiness is:  Putting on a pair of pants from a different season and having them still fit.  I'll be honest - every time I pull a pair of pants out from my closet that I haven't worn in months, I have the fear that they will be too small.  It's not entirely unfounded, considering that it used to be my norm for too many years.  But this fall I pulled out my jeans from last year and they fit - whew!  And last week I pulled out my capris from last summer (it was warm enough to need them) and they fit!  Not only did they fit, but they were really comfortable...I won't go so far as to say they were loose, but they felt very good.  Wow!

Diet happiness is:  Trying on clothes and discovering that you are a new, smaller size.  After being stuck in the largest size tops that Lane Bryant carried, it was incredible to fit into smaller sizes - and eventually, "undergrow" all the clothes in the plus-size stores!

Maintenance happiness is:  Staying the same size.  I recently went shopping for some sweaters - and even though I know I'm almost always a medium, I grabbed size large to try on.  They fit, and looked OK.  I walked around the store with those sweaters, ready to buy them, when I finally forced myself to try on the medium sizes.  They fit much better and I felt great in them.  Sometimes, I still can't get over that I'm not getting bigger.  I'm the same size today that I was six months ago, and a year ago, and two years ago.  Maintenance...so this is what it's like!

Diet happiness is:  Seeing your reflection in a store window, not recognizing the thinner person staring back at you...and being thrilled when you realize that it's YOU.

Maintenance happiness is:  Seeing your reflection in a store window, recognizing that you are the thinner person staring back at you, and still being thrilled.  And I hope I never lose the excitement of being this new me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Mishmash

The winner of the HooRag giveaway is:

Alicia Ryan-Wynn!!!

Congratulations!  Please send me an email (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your mailing info AND your choice of HooRag pattern so I can give it to my contact.  If I don't hear from you within a week, I'll have to choose another winner.

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What does it mean when I receive these two items within days of each other:
Book courtesy of my BFF Barbara; laser lotion courtesy of the nice lady at the Clinique counter.

It means I'm heading toward a major milestone this year.  And honestly, I couldn't be more excited!  I was driving on the highway on Wednesday, radio blasting some good old rock and/or roll (the preacher from the Simpsons referred to it as that and it's stuck with me ever since), and loving life.  So what if I can't remember much?  If Nora couldn't, then it's normal.  NORMAL, I'm telling ya!

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I had to laugh at this comment from last week's FMM, courtesy of EmDub:
I really love how you love knitting, but sometimes when you explain stuff it sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher/adult :) But don't stop doing what you love!
I appreciate that y'all indulge me with all of my knitting recaps.  I DO love it, and I think I've found my creative calling.  That said, here's what I've been doing this week, knit-wise:

I've been trying to figure out what to knit with the yarn I received from my Secret Santa - the yarn is a  gorgeous Malabrigo Twist, and I wanted to do it justice.  I finally decided to make myself a cowl and hat, specifically so I could wear them next month while spectating Jeff as he runs the Austin Half Marathon.  Of course, the day I started knitting the cowl, our weather turned unseasonably warm (our high yesterday was 80 degrees...seriously!), but I'm working with the assumption that there are still some cold days ahead.  The pattern for is the Hunt's Lane Cowl; the pattern is just complicated enough that I end up chanting it as I knit (and this will make no sense to anyone who isn't a knitter): yo, sl1, k1, yo, psso (yarn over, slip one, knit one, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over).  It's the secret language of knitters!

Here's the beginnings of the cowl:
This is a fun one to see develop!

Remember the hat I was making with the yarn that my mom gave me for Christmas?  I loved the yarn, especially the purple - it's Rowan Lima, and incredibly soft.  I was close to finishing it (in fact I had started on the decreases) but I wasn't loving it.  I tried it on, and felt "meh" about it, so I ended up frogging it (knitter term for ripping it out).  I'll find something else to make with the yarn - it's too pretty to not be used for something that I love.
RIP purple hat.  You'll be reincarnated into something spectacular, I promise!

My most fun knitting project to date has been my Sarah Jessica Parker hat.  I saw a picture of her wearing a chunky hat with a giant pompom, and loved it.  I couldn't find a pattern like it on Ravelry, so I decided to make my own - it took me two tries, and I think I came pretty close.  I'm pretty thrilled with it, and I love that I was able to actually do this on my own!
SJP and me - hat buddies!

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Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update

I've run the gamut with my workouts over the last few years, from baby stepping my way into exercise by riding my sweet pink cruiser bike, to doing intense workouts with a small group (tire flipping, anyone?), to running and training for my first half marathon.  Now it seems like I'm moving back toward easier workouts, although I don't think that's entirely accurate.  More like, I think I'm being kinder to my body while I exercise, if that makes sense.  I no longer feel the need to punish my body.  I don't have to hurt in order to feel like I did something worthwhile.  It's OK to be able to move without wanting to cry the day after a workout.  And because of this approach, I'm liking exercise more and more.  Why it took me nearly five years to figure out, I don't know. 

So, what did I do this week?  Same old, same old...only I increased everything a little.  I rode the exercise bike twice and bumped it up from 20 minutes to 25 minutes.  Eventually I'd like to max out around 45 minutes, but obviously that is a long way off.  There's no deadline for me - this is just something I'm doing.  So why kill myself getting to 45 minutes, right?  I was surprised to find that when I finished my first 25 minute workout and got off the bike, I had jelly legs!  Just for a minute, but it showed me how different bike riding is vs. running for my legs.

I'm still doing a plank a day - today I'll hit 1:30.  That's getting tough, but I have to say, I'm enjoying how strong my abs are feeling.  I'll definitely keep this up after the challenge is over.

And as I mentioned in Monday's post, I ran 8 miles on Saturday.  It went GREAT.  Finally, we had perfect running weather - it was 37 degrees and clear when we started.  No rain, low humidity...ahhhh!  We ran doing 2:1 intervals, which continue to work well for me.  I just roll with the beeps and don't seem to focus on the miles as much, and before I know it, I'm done.   While this won't make me the fastest person to complete a half marathon, I'm getting confident that I will actually finish my next race by running steadily the entire way.  I need that, and if running intervals is what it takes to get there, then I'll run intervals.

Jenny and I ran yesterday - we got a nice 2 mile run in (before she went to go workout with Brad, crazy girl).  Erica and I will run our 2.6 mile loop tomorrow morning.  I love running with my girlfriends.  Quite the different conversation with them than I have with Jeff, that's for sure.

We have 9 miles on tap for Saturday and you know what?  I'm not even worried. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

HooRag Review and Giveaway!

What's a HooRag, you ask?  I wondered that, too, when I got an email asking if I'd like to try one out.  Turns out it's a colorful tube of wicking fabric, much like the buff worn on Survivor.  The company actually calls them bandanas, but I still think a buff makes more sense.  Anyway, I got to choose one to try out, and I picked the Groovy-Hoo:
Groovy colors, indeed!

The HooRag website shows a lot of ways you can wear this, like a neck warmer, a head band, a pirate rag, a beanie (seriously, they have a video that shows how to turn a tube into a hat), a balaclava, and a face cover.  I also think it would make a great lightweight wrist band that would be perfect for wiping down my sweaty face on a hot run.  The day I was going to test it out turned out to be below freezing, and at first I thought I might wear it to cover my mouth and nose - but we ended up waiting until the temps warmed up a bit (it was all of 36 degrees!), so I turned my HooRag into an ear warmer:
Bonus points for matching my blue top to the HooRag?

I just kind of scrunched it to fit over my ears, but I think you could fold it and it might look a bit neater.  I don't have an ear warmer headband, and this worked out great - it didn't slip at all during my run, and my ears were nice and warm without being too hot.  On a very cold morning I used it as a neck warmer - the HooRag did the trick for that without feeling too constricting or heavy.  After that run, Jeff asked me to get one for him, "in a skull pattern" - unfortunately they don't offer that, but I bet it would be really popular.

These retail for $14.95, which seemed a little expensive to me, until I realized A) how versatile they are, B) how handy they would be for travel - they take up almost no space, and would take the place of several pieces you might otherwise pack, and C) how much I've actually used mine.  HooRag has won me over - they sent me something I didn't know I wanted, but I ended up liking and using it quite a lot!

If you'd like to order one, HooRag has free shipping to the continental U.S. via their website.  If you'd like to try and WIN one, just leave a comment saying so - I'll have random.org pick a winner and announce it on Friday's post.  Open to U.S. and Canada residents only - good luck!

Comments are now closed as this giveaway has ended.

FTC alert:  I was sent a HooRag for free; HooRag will fulfill the giveaway portion of this post.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My New Normal

I laughed at myself Sunday evening, when I sat down to write this post.  I felt like I had the laziest weekend...and then I remembered that I ran 8 miles on Saturday.  When did that become something normal in my life, and not an occasion to shout from the rooftops?  I think the changes that I've made over the last four and a half years to my lifestyle have become so ingrained that this is, dare I say, routine.

And I had to wonder...who am I?

Well, I'm a person who exercises on a regular basis, day after day, month after month, year after year.  No more fits and starts - it doesn't occur to me to stop.  This is what I do.  And sometimes?  I run 8 miles.  Then I go on with my day.  From the outside looking in, that is pretty bizarre, if you knew the old me.  But I think I'm finally seeing the new me.

While I always wanted and secretly hoped that I would stick with eating right, exercising, and doing what it takes to maintain my weight loss, I had my doubts.  After all, I'd never been successful before.  Many times over the last few years, I've been asked what "flipped the switch" for me this go-round.  I honestly still don't know what that was, but I think I finally understand why I've been able to keep it going.  I don't want to trivialize, but it's pretty simple:  I managed to string together enough days in a row of eating right and exercising that it became a normal way of life for me.  No huge mystery, no great secret...I just kept at it, day after day, month after month, year after year.

And that is how I can both run 8 miles AND feel like a lazy person.  Welcome to my new normal.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Mishmash

Thank you all for the sweet comments on Sam's guest post.  He's done an amazing transformation, hasn't he? I'm so impressed!!!

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The winner of Book Giveaway #4 - The Digest Diet Cookbook, is:


Congratulations!  Please send me an email (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your mailing info so I can give it to my contact.  If I don't hear from you within a week, I'll have to choose another winner.  The last giveaway will be on January 22nd - and it's not a book...
  
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One of the men who works with Jeff is in the National Guard, and was recently called up to active duty in Afghanistan.  Before Christmas, Jeff and his fellow work people donated things to send them.  The boxes arrived a couple weeks ago and they sent this picture:
Now that's a lot of goodies!  Pretty dang cool to see that much support.

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My thoughts yesterday while reading my To Do list:   Vacuum?  No.  Clean bathrooms?  No.  Wash sheets?  No.  Knit?  OK.  I ended up starting off with knitting, then took a break and got the rest of the list done.  My priorities might be screwed up, but hey - I have some nice things to show for it, starting with my finished Honey Cowl:
 
I wasn't sure if I'd get much use out of the cowl, but I've actually worn it quite a bit already, and will definitely make another one, although I'll try a different pattern to change things up.

And my finished Scrappy Cap:
I just threw together this pattern in my head and it worked out.  I liked using up my yarn scraps, but all of the yarn changes meant I had 18 ends to weave in - that took almost as long to do as it did to knit the cap!

Plus I have a few projects in the works.  I started a Mystery Knit Along that my knitting guild is doing.  I'll be honest - I wasn't going to do this one, because I figured it was a shawl (it is), and all the lacework intimidates me.  But the lure of the yarn drew me in and somehow I ended up with yarn and needles - here's part one:
If you look closely, you can see the white dental floss - that's a lifeline, and it's recommended that you put them in on intricate projects, so if you make a mistake and have to undo your work, you know that it's good up to the lifeline.

Oh, and I crossed over to the dark side last Sunday when I was working on my sock:
 
I had to switch to double-pointed needles.  YIKES.  Talk about intimidating!  But there was no other way to work this pattern.  I will admit to some frustration with it - you are supposed to seam up part of the heel flap, and I must have tried at least 10 times to do that, but it just wasn't happening.  I read ahead in the pattern and it said you could do that part later, so I moved on.  Still, I'm not sure that this sock is going to have a mate...I love the yarn, but knitting a sock is not super enjoyable for me.

Also, when I look at any project that I've knitted, there's always some extras thrown in, in the way of dog fur.  I wonder why?
 
I have NO idea why that happens, Mom.

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Today is my rest day. No workouts - well, except for one measly plank, thanks to that January challenge I'm doing. Today is the day I let my body recharge and get ready for my 8 mile run tomorrow. Today is the day that I get to sit and drink coffee for a couple of hours without feeling like I need to hurry up so I can get a workout in. I love my rest day. My legs appreciate it, too.

Tomorrow we will do our 8 mile run in what should be great running weather - around 40 degrees! I'm really looking forward to it...I know - who am I???

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update

It IS January, correct?  I had to wonder because on Saturday, when we ran 7 miles, it was 72 degrees.  That's just wrong.  Plus, the humidity was just about 100% - yes, it was misting for most of the run, with our traditional heavier rain for the last half mile.  CRAZY.  The run went well, actually - doing the 2:1 intervals really seems to be helping my mind get through these distances.  Honestly, it feels good to see a hill and realize that I won't have to run up the entire thing - my timer is going to beep before I reach the top, and then I get to walk.  I only had one brief moment of "I can't do this" - not even sure what mile we were near, but I think it was mostly because the heat had gotten to me and I was experiencing the burning red face sensation that I get during the summer months.  Luckily a breeze kicked up and cooled me down, and I was able to continue with no other blips.

My favorite part of the run was when we came to a long downhill part - I blasted down it!  It felt great to run all out, and fast!  Heck, I even ignored the "walk" beep of the timer until I got to the bottom of the hill.  Sometimes, running like a kid is irresistible!

And speaking of having fun while running, at one point while Erica and I were running last Thursday, I said to her "this feels really good" - and I almost checked my Garmin to see our pace, but quickly realized that IT DIDN'T MATTER.  Feeling good while running was enough.  Which also made me realize how much time I've spent looking at my pace over the last year...to some degree it's important to know, especially when you're training for a big race, but on the other hand, just running is pretty nice. 

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By the way, I got confirmation on Tuesday morning that it IS, indeed, January - it was freezing cold and raining, even sleeting in areas.  Yep.  That's more like it.  Jenny and I postponed our run for a few hours since the rain was supposed to let up.  But then she had a photoshoot that ran long, and it was, quite frankly, still pretty dang cold, so we bagged the run.  I resorted to Plan B(ike) - no, not the same as running, but I was proud of myself for getting a workout in.  All part of Getting Lean in 2013!

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Having the exercise bike available has been great; I'm finally cross-training!  And I'm still keeping up with doing the Planks-A-Lot challenge - as of today, it will be a 50-second plank.  Yesterday I forgot to lock Paco in his crate before I started my plank, and spent the entire time with his nose in my face...wut you doin' Mom?  You need licks?  I give licks.
Plank-eye view of assistant dog...yes I know the picture is crooked; multi-tasking while planking is not my forte.

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Now that we're a couple of weeks into the new year, how are you all doing with your exercise resolutions?  For me, I'm doing well - I think that because I didn't overwhelm myself by adding a ton of extra things into my routine, and the fact that I can do them at home, has helped me to stick with them.  No excuse to not ride the bike - let's face it, if I can't find 20 minutes in my day to go ride the bike, then my laziness has reached new heights!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Giveaway - #4!

Here's another in my series of book giveaways...this cookbook is a nice companion to The Digest Diet, which I reviewed here.
In The Digest Diet, Liz Vaccariello and the editors of Reader's Digest sifted through the latest weight-loss science to develop a groundbreaking 21-day eating plan demonstrated to help you drop the pounds.  Real-life men and women who tried the plan - and lost up to 26 pounds!

The Digest Diet Cookbook will give readers 150 all-new fat releasing recipes so they can branch out with new foods but still maintain their weight loss results. In addition, the book will include:
  • Buying and storing tips for the 13 amazing fat-releasing foods
  • Guidelines on how to mix and match recipes to make your own menus
  • Quick and easy tips on organizing your kitchen and pantry to make cooking easier, shopping for and storing fat releasers, and scaling recipes to feed just the right number of people
  • More than 50 full-color photographs
  • Daily Menus for vegetarians, cooks on a budget, and other special needs
I have one copy of this book available for the giveaway!  Just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win.  I'll have random.org draw the winner and announce the lucky person on Friday's post.  Open to U.S. and Canada residents - good luck!


Edit:  Comments are now closed as this giveaway has ended.

FCC alert - I received a copy of this book; the publisher will be fulfilling the giveaway.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Post - My Son, Sam!

Sam has recently made a major life change by losing a lot of weight - I saw him for the first time in months on Thanksgiving, and was amazed at his appearance.  He's thin!  He's muscular, thanks to hitting the gym!  He's feeling great about himself, as well he should.  Jeff and I are very proud of all the hard work he's done to achieve a healthy lifestyle, and on a funny note, a couple of weeks ago when we went shopping, we would occasionally get separated, and every time I looked for Sam, I couldn't find him...because I didn't recognize the thin, fit and handsome young man standing a couple of aisles over!  I asked him to write a guest post, to give a twenty-something's version of weight-loss to my readers.  Here it is: 
Sam, November 2012

I started my "journey" in the very last week of July of 2012. After years of starting and stopping diet/exercise I finally snapped and decided that enough was enough and I needed to take action.

I've been big for the majority of my life. In middle school I was chunky and in high school/college I was fat. I wasn't happy with my appearance but that did not spur me to do anything about it. I remember in my sophomore year of college I was on a gym/diet spree (it started January 1st!). I lost an "ok" amount of weight (I went from 255 to 225). I had no idea what I was doing either. I just ate healthier foods (in part thanks to the healthy cafeteria at school). My gym knowledge was terrible. I just made sure to go three times a week. I did a poor combination of elliptical and weight machines. But what happened? I stopped going. I was pretty consistent for a good two months but that died off very quickly. Once you make the decision to not go that morning, or to start eating unhealthy foods (WHATABURGER I HATE YOU SO MUCH), it become that much easier to do it the next day, and the next day after that.
Left:  Sam with his college roommates at Whataburger; Right:  Sam after he'd lost some weight, sophomore year.

From then on I didn't really do anything. I went back up to the 250 range (I think 260 was my highest) for the next four years. I wasn't miserable but I was pretty unhappy with myself. Every once in a while I would run or workout for a week and then would stop. I don't know about most of you, but the "start and stop" process of diet/exercise got really old.
 Left:  May 2010; Right:  Christmas day, 2010.

In May of 2011 I graduated college and started working full-time as a technical trainer. My job has me travel 85% of the year. Usually I leave Sunday/Monday and come back Friday/Saturday (depending on the class). It's a rough schedule. Couple that with the fact that I have a near unlimited budget for food makes it very easy to over-indulge. Because the job has me on my feet for most of the day, I did not gain as much weight as I thought I would. I wasn't any healthier though, that's for sure. In fact, my heart rate and blood pressure were generally high (stressful job and terrible diet) and I felt fairly crummy. I had enough energy to do the job and that was it.

With the combined work schedule and bad eating habits, things just kept getting worse. In June I had an infected sebaceous cyst on my chest that had to be removed surgically. I panicked, not because of the surgery, but because I had to be weighed. This was something I've avoided for several years. I thought I would be 280 (I certainly felt like it) but I only weighed 246. Holy crapola that seems like a huge number now.  I had the surgery in early July and everything went well. Toward the end of July, I asked a girl out (ok, big motivation to start losing weight) and also was sick of feeling run down and of the way I looked. I thought if my mom could do it, if my dad could run a half-marathon, if countless other people were able to do it, I should be able to as well. So I used that to be the kick in the pants I needed to get started.
Left:  July 2012;  Right:  January 2013

I went cold-turkey with everything. I do not suggest this. I dropped diet sodas, fast food, carbs, sweets...pretty much everything that tasted so damn good but was terrible for you.

My diet is clean. I eat mostly non-processed foods, lots of vegetables and protein. I kept my total calories to about 1200-1400 a day. That's pretty low and I don't recommend it. It hurt sometimes and I probably should have eaten a little more, but the amount of protein that I ate kept me full for the most part. If I had to break it out it would look like:
  • Protein - 200g (whey and lots of 99% lean turkey and chicken breast)
  • Carbs - less than 100g (first 3 months I did less than50g)
  • Fat - 25-50g depending on if it's a rest or lifting day
I truly believe that fork put-downs are the best way to lose weight. I've heard the saying that weight loss is 80% diet, and I believe that to be true in my case. So if you are worried about gym time and everything else, work on your diet first. You will see big changes!
Favorite foods include 99% fat-free turkey, avocado, sweet potatoes, steam-fresh vegetables (non-frozen kind, you can find these near the salad section in most grocery stores), chocolate roast/cinnamon roast almonds, oats, Optimal Nutrition Whey (cookies and creme tastes pretty great, same with strawberry), mustard (for my turkey meal) and natural crunchy peanut butter.  I'm a creature of habit so I end up eating lots of the same thing over and over again. I don't mind, but I do try and spice things up a bit every once in a while.

Now, not only did I change my diet, but I tracked everything. In fact it was the tracking that got me on the right path. I used myfitnesspal.com to do it. It's a great app. I loved scanning all of my items and it really opened my eyes to how many calories I'm putting in my system. This is probably one of the greatest tools I've used in order to lose weight.

Along with the massive change in diet, I also wanted to go to the gym. I decided to join 24-Hour Fitness since I have one that's pretty close to where I live and I also can use while I travel. I became interested in weight-lifting, and after reading online I decided to try a program called Starting Strength. This is a basic barbell training program that has you do only compound lifts to gain strength. After my first week on this I wanted to die. My chest hurt so bad I could barely move. But after a couple weeks of going it got better and better. This is what I am still doing today and I still love it. It's intense (the weight is very heavy) and I feel like I had a great workout after I'm done. Not only has this been great for fat-loss, but I've put on some decent muscle too. I have biceps! I have quads! I have pecs!  And I can do pull-ups (never in my life could I do those)!

I've also taken up running (because if my parents can do it, I should too!). I'll try to get in 2-3 runs a week at around 2.5 - 4.5 miles. I want to do a half-marathon this year so I’m starting to run longer and longer distances. So far, running has been great. I also try to swim/bike at least every other week with the running. My endurance has shot up tremendously from this. I can run! I'm not winded going up the stairs! I don't sweat all over the place!

I've stuck with this for quite a while with very few cheat days. Sure, there are times when I couldn't get to the gym or when I was sick. Sure, there are times when I eat a little bit unhealthy. But I haven't gone crazy when it happens. That has been a huge factor in keeping the weight off so far and sticking with the program. I am in control for the first time in my life. If I want a piece of pie, I’ll have it and fit it into my diet. It's an awesome feeling being able to do that.

This has completely changed my life. In the short amount of time I've been doing this, I’ve lost 73 lbs. I now weight 173 lbs and have never felt better. I dropped from size XL to medium in shirts and size 42 to 32 in pants. I have more confidence and more energy. I don't feel lethargic. It's hard work doing this but the benefits are HUGE!! I'm kicking myself for not doing this sooner...if I would have known I'd feel this good with some life changes, I would have done this years ago.

Inspirations/Helpful links:
- My mom (damn, that girl can keep her weight off!)
- My dad (damn, that dude can run!)
- www.reddit.com/r/fitness
- www.reddit.com/r/loseit
- www.reddit.com/r/running
- www.myfitnesspal.com
- www.startingstrength.com

Thanks for reading my story!
 November 2012...looking mighty sharp, my son!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Mishmash

We had two days of really heavy thunderstorms this week.  Some of you may remember that Paco the Wonder Dog is a wee bit afraid of thunder, and he usually ends up on my lap during a storm.  He stayed for so long that I finally started taking pictures:
Poor scared pup, squeezing his eyes shut!

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The winner of Book Giveaway #3 - Stick with Exercise For a Lifetime, is:

Moss!

Congratulations!  Please send me an email (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your mailing info so I can give it to my contact.  If I don't hear from you within a week, I'll have to choose another winner.  The next book giveaway will be on January 15th.

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I've had some AHHH knitting moments this week...but also, unfortunately, a few ACK knitting moments as well.  A big ACK was when I realized that the cable on a pair of circular needles was hanging by a thread.  I like to use ChiaoGoo Red needles when I knit the magic loop style - their cables are thin and really pliable, and work great.  However, my heart nearly stopped when I realized that I was thisclose to losing my work - ACK!
Left:  cable hanging on by a thread; Right:  hat in progress.

The needles are guaranteed, and Steph, the owner of my favorite yarn store, is ordering more, so hopefully in a week I'll be able work on this hat again.

An AHHH moment with knitting came when, after I'd organized my leftover yarn and rewound some loose skeins into balls with my new ball winder, I realized that I had enough to make another hat.  Not just any hat - one that I'm designing.  I knew I wanted a wide rib for the brim, plus the multi-colored yarn in stockinette to show off the color; and I wanted to use the rose color for some texture with a thin garter stripe.  I couldn't find a pattern for it on Ravelry, so I just invented my own...and it's turning out - AHHH:
Changing yarn color frequently means a lot of ends will need to be woven in...but doing that means the project is finished, so it's a good feeling when you get to that point.

But I also had an ACK moment when I was going to begin the decreases - I counted stitches and was missing one.  It took me a few minutes to realize that I'd dropped a stitch a few rows back - ACK!!!  I had to put a locking stitch marker through the dropped stitch until I could get some help with it.  Luckily last night was our monthly knitting guild meeting, so I brought the hat there and my expert knitter friends got me back on track...whew!

Speaking of knitter friends, another AHHH moment came last Sunday, when I went to my very first Knit Along.  What is a Knit Along, you might be asking?  Well, it's where we all knit the same project at the same time.  The yarn store in Navasota hosted it, with one woman, who had already made the project, leading us along.  It was really great to knit alongside so many people, get help immediately when I got to a couple parts that didn't make sense right away, and just plain fun to be with knitters - AHHH!  Here's what I've done so far:

I know it doesn't look like much yet, but I think the hard part is mostly done because I've done the heel turn (the bump on the needle).  This is a sock - the pattern is Turkish Bed Slippers.  Honestly, I wasn't planning on attempting a sock for quite a while, but with this much support, how could I not try?

I'm also knitting away on my Honey Cowl, using some Madeline Tosh yarn that my mom gave me for Christmas...and this yarn is definitely an AHHH knitting moment.  I've heard a lot of people rave about MadTosh yarn and now I see why.  It feels wonderful to knit with.
So, so pretty - I can't wait to finish and wear it!

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Be sure to come back on Monday - I'll have a very special guest post up...and seeing as this will only be the second-ever guest post here on my blog, I promise it will be a great one!

Have a wonderful weekend - we're running 7 miles tomorrow morning, hopefully not in the rain.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update

I'm mixing things up a bit with my workouts this year, and so far I'm enjoying the new additions.  I'm biking a couple days a week using my new (to me) exercise bike - right now I've been doing 20 minutes at a fairly fast speed.  I figure that breathing heavy will help with my running, and even though I'm using the same legs for biking as I do for running, it feels like my muscles are getting a different workout, which is good.  An additional bonus is that the iPad covers the readout screen, so I don't keep looking at it to see how much time has elapsed.  And?  I'm getting to watch some TV shows that I haven't seen (currently watching Go On).  The only downside to the bike is that Paco loses it when I start pedaling - barking, whining, yipping - needless to day, he now gets to spend some time locked in his crate while I bike.

Another thing I've added to my workouts are planks - my friend Wendy is hosting a Planks-A-Lot challenge for January, and I figured this would be good for me.  Monday was the first day and she had a 15 second plank on the schedule...easy-peasy, right?  I've held planks for much longer than that!  But as I discovered, it's been a while since I've done them, and my abs let me know they weren't in tip-top shape.  Glad she suggested doing this - I definitely need them!  Here's the cute schedule she and her daughter put together:
I added my running and biking schedule to it, just to keep me organized.

As for running, it's going well.  Last Thursday Erica and I increased our distance by a little over half a mile, to run 2.6 miles.  We started at 5:50 am and it was literally freezing.  As much as I complain about running in the heat, I have to say, it's hard to get out there in that kind of cold weather, and takes a while to get warmed up once we start running.  There seems to not be a lot of happy mediums when it comes to getting some decent running weather in Texas...sigh.

On Saturday, we ran 5 miles with quite a few people from our running club - we met at our local running store, as the owners had offered to do a training program for the upcoming Armadillo Dash half marathon, which is two months away.  We weren't sure what to expect and I was a little concerned that a bunch of young, speedy runners would be there and I'd be the doddering old person lumbering after them - seriously, in this college town, it's a real possibility - but it turns out there was a nice assortment of runners and it was a good run.  Well, until the last half mile, when it started raining.  It was already cold; add the rain and brrr!  Glad I packed dry clothes to change into afterward!  Anyway, we ran doing 2:1 intervals and I felt great...so good, in fact, that I willingly changed my schedule because of forecasted heavy thunderstorms, and got up super early on Monday to run - who am I, making sure I get my runs in?!?

This coming Saturday we have 7 miles on the schedule, and I'm looking forward to it; at this point, the intervals seem to be working with both the physical and mental aspect of the long run, and I'll take it.

P.S.  In case you missed it, I have another book giveaway going on - this one is about doing what you love to do for exercise...you know I can get behind that!  Click here to enter...winner will be announced on Friday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Giveaway - #3!

Here's another book in my series of giveaways, and I actually read part of this book!  I agree with the author on the concept of having fun while you exercise - I know for me, if I don't like a certain type of exercise, I tend to dread doing it, which leads me to find excuses to avoid it, so as a form of self-preservation, I pretty much only choose things I love to do.  Here's more about the book:
As an adult, author, speaker and exercise expert Bob Hopper had trouble sticking with a traditional fitness program of jogging and weightlifting. On the other hand, he thrived in recreational activities like tennis, skiing, golf and swimming. Hopper realized his success was rooted in the fact he truly enjoyed those activities, and because he was having fun he was much more likely to stick with them on a long-term basis. 

“If you’re the type of person who dreads the treadmill or finds the gym boring, there is an alternative, fun way to get adequate exercise,” says Hopper, a former NCAA swimming champion and college swimming coach.  To help people find exercise they’ll love for a lifetime, Hopper looks at seven best practices used by the most successful exercisers to identify what physical activities works best for each person and how to incorporate them into their regular routine. These key principals include focusing on fun, getting coaching, joining a team and several more, which are detailed in the book.

I have one copy of this book available for the giveaway!  Just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win one.  I'll have random.org draw the winner and announce the lucky person on Friday's post.  Giveaway is open to everyone on planet earth - good luck!

Edit:  Comments are now closed as this giveaway has ended.

FCC alert:  I received a copy of this book, and this post is a mix of my opinion plus the publisher's press release.  The publisher will be fulfilling the giveaway.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Getting Lean in 2013 - My Manifesto

Nearly 5 years ago, I started what would be my last diet, and I had GREAT SUCCESS (please read that in Borat voice for maximum impact).  I lost over 100 pounds, changed the way I ate, started exercising on a regular basis, and kept the weight off.  Most importantly, I finally released myself from the notion of diet/eating success as defined by what the scale says - the scale had a hold on me akin to mental strangulation ever since I was a teenager, so this has been a huge milestone.  It's been well over a year since I weighed myself, and while the scale was a big part of my original weight-loss journey, I don't need it for validation that I'm doing well, or self-flagellation if my eating is less than optimal.  That said, I do think there is room for improvement in how I've been eating, and I plan on making some changes for 2013.

I will never fully let go of the overweight person that I was for so many years, and while I believe that you can't hold onto the past if you're going to grow, remembering some of the less-desirable things helps me with my commitment to stick with my healthy lifestyle.  I don't want to go back to being the person who stood (sat, really) on the sidelines and watched everyone else participate in all the fun things that life had to offer.  Been there, done that, for way too many years.  Nowadays, if I decide to not participate in something, it's by my choice, rather than not being physically able to do it.  This is such a gift - if you've never been overweight for long, you probably can't quite understand the magnitude of finally knowing that there really is nothing to stop you from doing things - well, except for your own mind, but that's another blog post!

This last year was a big one for me - I was able to start running again, and I literally had to start from ground zero.  But to go from walking with a tiny bit of running thrown in, to finishing the year out with a half marathon, is something I'm very proud of.  Becoming Runner Shelley version 2.0 was definitely harder than version 1.0 - not sure if it's because I was a couple years older, or that my injured ankle hurt me pretty much throughout the entire year, but I had a lot more mental stumbling blocks to get over, and I'm still working on them.  The important thing for me is that I AM working on them - I haven't given up.  The old, overweight me would have thrown in the towel long ago.

One thing that running allows me is to be less stringent with my eating.  I can get away with eating things that I used to automatically turn down.  Not gonna lie - it's been pretty awesome to be able to eat treats and not feel guilty, nor feel like I'm going to gain a bunch of weight by doing so.  But while it's been fun, it's time to rein it in before that kind of eating/thinking gets to be too automatic.  Plus, I'd like to see if by eating better and exercising a little smarter, I can tighten and tone up my body a bit more.  I don't have a specific size goal in mind, nor (obviously, since I don't weigh myself) do I have a specific weight that I want to get to...it's more that I want to do better by my body in the way of nutrition.  So things are changing a bit in our household.  Luckily, Jeff is completely on board - in fact, he wants to lose some weight (side note: I am SO GLAD that I'm not trying to diet with him, because I know how discouraged I would be to see how quickly the weight falls off of him).

What am I going to do differently?  In a nutshell, I'm going to concentrate on eating a bit more lean protein and a lot more vegetables and salads; I'm going to change up my lunches by having some smoothies/shakes, and I'm going to eat lower carb in the beginning of the week.  I still need to eat enough carbs on Thursday/Friday to carry me through my long run on Saturdays, plus I have to reduce the amount of veggies or else my stomach rebels during the run.  Fruit will be the main snack around here, and frozen yogurt will be limited to once a week.  Saturdays will still be our treat-meal days, which feels right for us since we run long on that morning.

None of this is terribly difficult, nor will it make me suddenly svelte - this is a long-term way for me to continue living life as a not-overweight person, feeling healthy and fit.  I'll be getting lean in 2013 - and beyond!  Join me?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Mishmash

I guess I'm the oddball who doesn't really have any New Year's resolutions, but I do have a few goals for this year - all a bit challenging, but achievable, I hope!  This is what I'll be working on throughout the year:
  • I'm going to (I will, I WILL) break through the mental block I have with running long distances.  I want to get back to that satisfied feeling I used to have when I finished, rather than feeling like I failed, which is where I am now (and yes I realize how ridiculous that is considering I FINISHED the run...my mind, it's not always a fun place to be).
  • I want to learn how to play a particular musical instrument - one that I've wanted to play ever since I was a teenager.  I should be getting it in June.
  • I will knit a sweater, sleeves and all.  This will involve measuring and some math calculations, neither of which are things I enjoy, but if it will get me to knitting a sweater that fits, then I'll break out the pencil, paper, calculator, protractor, slide rule and whatever else it takes.  And then do the fun part, which is knitting! 
That's it - well, these, along with my Getting Lean in 2013 plan.  I'm excited to put everything into motion!

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The winner of Book Giveaway #2 - Diet Rehab, is:

ZozoRetro!

Congratulations!  Please send me an email (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your mailing info so I can give it to my contact.  If I don't hear from you within a week, I'll have to choose another winner.  The next book giveaway will be on January 8th.

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I rearranged my office a bit and moved Paco's crate over to the corner behind my desk.  Apparently Kip immediately decided that this was a good thing, and took ownership.  He spends most of his day in the crate...and what's funny to me is that Paco doesn't seem to mind!
Is mine now.  Cats like cage, don't you know?

The reason I had to move the crate is because I bought a piece of furniture (the Expedit, by Ikea - of course) so I could organize my knitting supplies - not that I have a lot compared to other knitters, but I was stuffing things in different rooms and it was driving me crazy.
Plenty of room for (more) yarn!  I'd love to get some dividers in the top shelves (to go at an angle) - that would make for even better yarn storage.  I kind of cheaped out with the black bins on the bottom - they had much nicer bins, but cost around $15 each, and getting four of them would have been more expensive than the entire shelving unit!  These black bins are fabric and so far seem to work just fine.
 
Details:  Top left - the wire basket used to hold my yarn (my stash outgrew it months ago).  Now it's home to project bags and my yarn swift.  My knitting books fill one cubbie, and I finally got my patterns organized into the pink striped binder.  Top right - I bought the three little buckets and rack, which are storing my smaller knitting accessories.  Bottom - the bins, with "used" yarn (leftovers from projects I've already made), "new" yarn, finished projects and larger accessories, and big skeins of yarn.  (click on the picture to make it bigger, if you want to see everything in better detail)

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Speaking of knitting, I can finally show you a picture of what I was working on before Christmas.  I made a bathmat - specifically, Absorba, from Mason-Dixon knitting.  It's a log cabin pattern, and was pretty simple to knit...well, at first.  You hold three strands of yarn together, and just knit the strips, round and round, turning the project after every 12 rows.  It got heavy, because of the size and weight of the cotton yarn, and it got harder and harder to pick up stitches when I had to start a new strip - not sure if that was because I'm a tight knitter, or that I was using cotton yarn, but it got to the point where I could only work on it for about an hour at a time before my hands and wrists were tired.  I originally planned on making a bathmat for several people, but pretty quickly decided that wasn't happening.  So my parents got the one and only bathmat as part of their Christmas present. 
I should have blocked it, but I was afraid it would never air dry in time for me to get it in the mail!
My system for corralling the yarn cones - a beverage tub.

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Finally, Max got the last part of his Christmas present this week - a pet rat.  Meet Civi:
She is the sweetest little rat!  Loves to hang out on the back of Max's neck, and is not scared at all of Kip or Paco.  They've come right up to her cage and she goes nose-to-nose with them - too funny.  Henry hasn't noticed her at all yet.  I'll be sorry to see her leave in a week, when Max goes back to school.  Little rats make great pets!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday Workout Update

Jeff and I started the new year off with a run yesterday - in fact, we did a 5K!  It was quite windy, which made it a challenge - plus we ran the entire distance without stopping (not even for a sip of water).  While I didn't break any speed records, I did push myself, and I'm pleased with getting a strong run in on the first day of 2013.
3.1 miles, plus wind-swept hair.
Dueling Garmins - we started them at the same time, and ran side-by-side, but mine (on the right) says I ran 4 seconds longer than Jeff.  Overachiever?  Ha!

Did you start 2013 off with some exercise?  Chime in with a comment - I'd love to hear about it!

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Jeff and I ran 5.5 miles on Saturday, which made my yearly mileage total 502 - woohoo!  I should be able to do more for this year since I'm already running, but I don't have any particular goal I want to hit...just that I continue running, do the races I want, and enjoy the majority of the runs.  Not too much to ask, is it?

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Over the last year, it's been suggested to me that I add a bit of cross-training to my running.  I thought about what I liked doing best (after running) and biking came to mind.  However, my pretty pink bike is a cruiser, and while it's fun to ride, it's hard to get a good cardio workout on it.  I did like riding a spinner bike, back when I had access to one (either at Brad's, or at the gym), and I've been considering joining a small gym near my house.  They don't have contracts or initiation fees, and the cost isn't horrible - $35/month.  But that seemed like a lot to pay for just a few times of me stopping in to ride a bike, and honestly, I'm not sure that I'd do much more ("lifting!" - I can hear Lori saying right now, lol).  What can I say, if it's not something I love, I have a really hard time making myself do it. 

Anyway, it just so happened that our son Sam has an exercise bike that he didn't need anymore, as he's become quite the gym rat.  He very nicely gave it to us, and now it's set up in a spare bedroom - I plan on riding it two or three times a week for some short cardio sessions.  I figure that will also help with my endurance for running, plus biking should develop different leg muscles than running does.  It's all another component of my Getting Lean in 2013 plan!
We are so technologically advanced that the bike doesn't even have to be in a room with a TV - I can sit my iPad on the console and watch shows that way...how times have changed!

I'll be riding the bike for the first time today...wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Giveaway - #2!

Another book in my series of giveaways - as a reminder, I haven't read this book and have no personal opinion on it; I'm simply posting a brief description along with an opportunity for you to win a copy of the book.
Since food is the most socially acceptable “drug” out there, most people don’t realize that food addiction is akin to substance abuse.  Cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol alter your brain chemistry in ways that sheer willpower cannot control - and so does the wrong food. Now, based on a scientific study by Scripps University, renowned addictive behavior expert Dr. Mike Dow has created DIET REHAB: 28 Days to Finally Stop Craving the Foods that Make You Fat, a specifically designed diet plan that slowly replaces bad  “pitfall” foods and behaviors with good “booster” foods and behaviors.

When you eat fatty or sugary foods, your brain releases a surge of the feel-good chemicals dopamine or serotonin (dopamine for fatty foods and serotonin for sugars and carbs). If you eat like that consistently, your brain becomes flooded with those neurochemicals and eventually depends on you to provide them instead of regulating its own supply. And like addictive substances, it starts taking more and more serotonin and dopamine to just feel normal. Luckily, DIET REHAB explains in vivid detail how to stop this dependence on “bad” food without quitting cold turkey. The DIET REHAB philosophy is simple: use gradual detox to harness the power of your brain chemistry so that you’ll no longer feel like a victim to your fluctuating moods and cravings.

In DIET REHAB, there’s no calorie-counting and you won’t feel deprived. You can continue eating your favorite snacks—not diet versions of them, but the actual foods themselves.  After 28 days, you’ll find that you just don’t want them as much, because your brain is getting natural and healthy boosts of the feel-good chemicals you crave, instead of relying upon the foods you’ve become addicted to.  You’ll be freed of your food addictions because you’ll be able to get all the same mood-boosting effects in healthier ways. Eating will finally return to its rightful place in your life—and your new weight will show it. DIET REHAB is more than just a book—it’s an easy-to follow lifestyle overhaul that will create balance and happiness in all areas of life.


I have one copy of this book available for the giveaway!  Just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win one.  I'll have random.org draw the winner and announce the lucky person on Friday's post.  Open to U.S. residents only - good luck!


Edit:  Comments are now closed as this giveaway has ended.

FCC alert:  I got nothing for this post, not even a book!  No opinions were posted.  The publisher will be fulfilling the giveaway.