Tag Archive | running

Healthy Living: An Ongoing Journey

1997? The delights of the 19 year old metabolism!

1997. The delights of the 19 year old metabolism!

It seems that I have always had a complicated relationship with my weight and my body in general. I was a bit of a pudgy child who turned into an overweight teenager. After I graduated high school, I did drop about 50 pounds over a 6 month period (oh, the delights of a 19 year old metabolism!), and I managed to keep it off for a while. But then, well, life interfered–I started a new relationship, I moved, I got engaged, I moved again, I got married, I moved again, I traveled, I moved again, and then I moved again, I traveled some more, I graduated college, I had two kids, I got a new (real) job, I started grad school, I got an assistantship, I quit grad school, and then I got back with my old (real) job. Yeah, that pretty much covers it. During all that time, I was always either starting a diet, on a diet, or coming off a diet, yo-yoing back and forth between 140 pounds and 170+ pounds.  I also alternately hated and did not hate my body. When I was close to the magical 140-pound number, my body was spectacular and wonderful. I looked younger. I fit into more trendy clothing. I received more attention and life was just generally easier when thin. But, the further north my weight climbed from 140, the more my body was the enemy; something to be battled and triumphed over. During those times, my body was nothing more than a shell that needed to be beaten into an acceptable shape by any means necessary–because doesn’t society determines a woman’s worth by how skinny/pretty she is?

It was so freaking hot that day!

July 2013. It was so freaking hot that day!

Regardless of the larger societal issues with which I am still struggling, that brief history brings us up to July 2013, when my family and I took a mini-vacation to Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun. At that time, I was in my “off diet” phase of life. Honestly, I’d been “off diet” since prior to the birth of my youngest son in 2010. The trip itself was great; the kids met Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, they rode new rides, played at the waterpark, and most important to this blog post, we took lots of photos and videos. When we got back, I was sorting through the digital files and deciding what to share. Up until this point, I had become a master at hiding my “off diet” body in still photos by strategically placing my youngest in front of me, or in my lap, and then peeking out from behind him. But, there was one waterpark video where I didn’t know my husband was filming. I was coming down a kiddie waterslide behind my son and in the video I was having fun, but

April 2013. You totally can't see how huge I am. Hooray children!

April 2013. You totally can’t see how huge I am. Hooray children!

watching the video, I just horrified at the state of my body. I was not only fat, but also just clearly flabby and unhealthy-looking. I looked old. And fat. I could not deny it—I was a fat mom. At this point, I am sorry to say that I deleted the video just as fast as I could, but I do still have this gem, which gives you an idea of my body state 10-ish months ago. Watching that video was a real wake-up call. I didn’t want to be a fat mom…a mom who had clearly let herself get so very unhealthy after having kids. After all, my “baby” was 3.5 years old at the time, sleeping through the night, potty trained, and just about to go off to preschool; thus, I really didn’t have any excuse not to be taking better care of myself.  I didn’t feel fat or old inside, but if I’m truthful with myself, I DID feel unhealthy. I wanted to feel healthy. I decided to take control and go “on diet.” Again. For what felt like the 100th time.

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Yummy new foods!

Of course, deciding to take control and become healthier is always the easy part. Actually taking control, getting healthy and staying that way, well, that’s the not easy part. Unlike times in the past when I have been “on diet” and lost weight, this time felt different. I felt different. I wanted this go-round on the diet wheel to be more than a diet; I wanted a permanent lifestyle change. I wanted to feel better and not just look better. I really didn’t want to be on some fad diet or magic bullshit Dr. Oz weight loss quacky-mcquack-quack pill. I knew there was no way I was going paleo (yeah, let’s eat like people did when they died at the ripe old age of 20! sounds great!), or giving up refined sugar and carbs (I’ll cut a bitch who tries to take away all my sugar), or going on a gluten-free diet (mmmmm….cardboard!), or slathering everything in some kind of disgusting powder (have you seen this shit? WTF is it?). I wanted to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. ALL food. I wanted to stop the on-and-off-again diet cycle. I wanted to learn how to be a healthy mom who eats well and exercises regularly to show the kiddos how to live a healthy lifestyle. There’s really only one way to do that–I started eating better. More veggies. More fruit. Less chocolate. More lean proteins. Fewer crackers. I began drinking more water; a friend recommended drinking half of my body weight in ounces of water. That meant drinking 90 ounces of water every single day. It is difficult, but it’s doable. I also downloaded the Loseit app, a calorie-counter that automatically calculates your needed intake based on your gender, age, and current weight, and I began tracking what I ate. Slowly, very, very slowly, my body began to change from unhealthy and icky to healthy.

run crop

It’s always so fucking hot during August in Iowa.

After about a month of Loseit and drinking more water in a day than I ever thought possible, I was down almost 10 pounds. I was thinking about the food I was eating and how eating that food made me feel, both physically and emotionally. It was interesting. I am definitely an emotional eater-when things get rough, I eat. But, eating when you’re upset doesn’t soothe the pain away. Emotional eating just makes you feel guilty for impulsively eating crap food you know you shouldn’t eat. So, instead of eating away pain, I decided to take up exercise. I don’t live too far from one of our city’s biking/running paths, so I took up running. It sucked. I have seasonal allergies and I hate the heat and humidity of an Iowa August. In fact, to be honest, I hate running.  I only kind-of-sort-of like the idea of getting ready to go for a run and most definitely like being  done with a run. But the run itself? Nope– that’s fucking torture. Regardless, running was/is a relatively cheap exercise that I could do almost every day. To keep my motivation, I signed up for a 5K and printed out a free training plan.  It wasn’t terrible. In fact, I did have some fun both

October 5, 2013. First 5k...Color Me Rad.

October 5, 2013. First 5k…Color Me Rad.

training for and running in the 5K. After that, I trained for a 10K, which I finished in March 2014. I have plans for running two 5Ks later this month and another in July. I think I might like to try a half marathon sometime next year, but my knees have been rather tender lately, so I’ve been taking it easy. At this point, 10-ish months into my life overhaul, I’ve lost almost 28 pounds and I’ve run close to 400 miles. My single mile time has decreased from over 18 minutes for a mile to 10:20 per mile, and I can maintain that new pace for almost 6 miles. I have about 10 more pounds to go to make it to my healthy weight, and I’d like to run another 400 miles, as well as drop my single mile time below 10 minutes per mile, before the end of this calendar year.

It's SOOOOOO easy!

It’s SOOOOOO easy!

Of course, the description above makes getting healthy and losing weight sound simple. I ate better! I tracked what I ate! I ruminated about food! I drank lots of water! I exercised! BING BANG BOOM—HEALTH & WEIGHT LOSS, BABY! It’s so easy…why doesn’t everyone do it? HA! HAHAHAHA! I think we all know and understand that being healthy and losing weight isn’t that simple. It’s not as straightforward as my previous paragraphs make it sound. Weight loss itself is a numbers game (creating a 3,500 calorie deficit will create a 1 pound weight loss), but it’s so much more than that, too. It’s willpower and sweat and frustration. It’s plateaus and triumphs. It’s eating carrots when what you really want is Cheetos. It’s being gentle with yourself when you eat the Cheetos instead of the carrots. It’s allowing yourself to eat the Cheetos without guilt because you have XXXX number of calories you can spend any way you want to every day (I really love Cheetos). It’s going to the gym instead of laying on the couch and watching another Futurama rerun. Once you get off the couch and into the gym, it’s running another quarter-mile at 6.2 mph on the treadmill instead of cranking it down to 3.0 mph or quitting. It’s all these things and more. It’s hard.  It’s so so so so very hard. But it’s worth it.

Compulsory comparison collage.

Compulsory comparison collage.

Ultimately, weight lost and health gained is a difficult journey and it never really ends. I think that for long-term health and maintaining any weight loss, you have to look at your novel eating and exercising habits as the new normal in your life rather than something you’re doing on a temporary basis to achieve an end goal. Personally, I’m approaching my desired weight, but I don’t plan on doing anything differently once I finally get there. And when I do arrive at the magical 145 pounds, I’ll still need to continue eating healthy and exercising. After all, it’s not like we arrive at our goal weight and then stay there if we revert back to the lifestyle that made us unhealthy in the first place. Plus, I’m still an emotional eater and I probably always will be. Over the past 10-ish months, I’ve learned a lot about healthy eating, exercise, and my food relationships. I’ve also learned to appreciate and accept myself and my body.  I no longer see my body as something that I have to beat into submission by any means possible, but rather a vessel that will change as I age. And the health of my body is what matters; no matter the number on the scale.

This doesn't matter.

This doesn’t matter.

I’m BAAAACCCCKKKK!

Well, I clearly fell off the radar of the blogosphere. I had started this blog years ago with the intention of posting a new entry every couple of weeks, and that obviously did not happen. As I now have more time on my hands, I see no reason I cannot pick up right where I left off. 🙂

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My Philosophy

During my time in hibernation, I gained quite a bit of weight for various reasons that will be the topics of upcoming posts. Everyone in my life was nice enough to not mention the sudden increase in my weight, but in August of 2013, I decided to take off the weight for good. As a part of that goal, I again picked up running-mostly because it was summer and all it required was that I buy was a nice pair of shoes–cheap and accessible is always a WIN! I doinked about my neighborhood, probably horrifying neighbors as I went jogging about in my shorts and running bra glory (hey, it was 90+ degrees out after the sun went down, you just have to deal with my stretch marks), and I found that I LIKED running. I felt free. It seemed to be the only 45 minutes of my day where I wasn’t someone’s mother or wife or daughter or teacher; there were no demands on me, no one asking me questions, and no expectations. I was just me. Just Juliane. It has been a long time since I was Just Juliane. It was my Just Juliane Time (JJT). I also found that when I finished my run, I was a better and more patient mother, wife, daughter, and teacher-and I started losing the extra weight. It was wonderful. I finished out the nice weather part of the year with a fun little 5k in October 2013. Of course, as I am wont to do, once the 5K was over, I stopped running…the weather changed, school took up a lot of my time, I was working at a job I loathed (more on that in another post), the kids needed me, blah blah blah excuse excuse excuse.

Fast forward to January of 2014. I regained about 5 pounds of the 20 pounds I’d lost. BOO! I’d worked way too hard to let that stand! I joined a gym (January in Iowa is not outdoor running temperature, no matter what those hardcore nuts say!), and I started running again as well as training on the weight machines. I thought about running in a race; I felt like I needed a goal. The next race coming up near my location was a 10k. In March. Questionable outdoor running conditions as March in Iowa can be anything from 10 degrees below zero with snow and ice on the ground to 60 degrees and sunny. The charity sponsor was one that I have mixed feelings on, but as they overall probably do more good than harm, I decided to be okay with that. The distance required would be a challenge…I’d NEVER run more than 4 miles at a stretch, let alone 6.2 miles. I felt like I was up for it…after all, the only thing I really had to lose was the $37 race registration fee.  I found a nice little 10k training plan online at Women’s Health and began trying to find time to train on the schedule. It was very difficult, not only time-wise, but also endurance-wise: Not only easy runs of 3 miles or so, but also speed training runs and distance runs of up to 7 miles. 7 miles on a treadmill? Really? Yes—and I did it and I didn’t die! I also got faster and stronger throughout the 8 week plan, going from a 14:00 minute mile to hovering around 11:30 per mile. Amazing! Although I did have to sit out a week in February due to a nasty stomach bug, I managed to complete most of the program and I felt ready for the big day. 

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7 miles on the treadmill.

 

Race Day!

For this race, I decided to pursue three reasonable goals:

  1. Finish.
  2. Try not to finish last in any category (overall, gender, age group).
  3. Finish in 80 minutes or less.
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6:30 am on race day

Early weather reports showed March 15, 2014, to be 55 degrees and sunny, but as the day got closer, the prediction changed to 40 degrees and cloudy with a brisk Easterly wind at 15 mph. Great. Still, I woke up feeling positive.

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Feeling better right before we left

After my mom arrived to take care of our boys (thanks, Mommy!), I put on my awesome race tutu and my hubby drove us to the venue.

There is nothing like the feeling/excitement/vibes in the air right before a race. Although most of us knew those elite runners (women who can run a 10k in about 39 minutes and men who can do it in about 39 minutes) would cross the finish line far before any of us, there is still a feeling of anticipation and camaraderie. For lack of a better description, it is a “We’re all in this together,” kind of feeling. It’s the culmination of 8-10 weeks of preparation to race against yourself and the official timing clock to try to set a new personal best (PB). If you haven’t ever been to a race as a participant or even as a spectator, I highly recommend it. It’s VERY addicting. At 5 minutes until the gun, the organizers had us line up according to our average mile times–jack rabbits in the front, turtles in the back. Clearly, I was lined up with the turtles as Imagemy best training mile had me at about 10:56 per mile. For me, being lined up so far back from the starting line made the beginning of the race a little anti-climactic; it took about 2 minutes to get from where I was to the actual start line after the gun went off due to the sheer number of people in attendance.

 

 

 

 

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Mile 4.5

The race route called for us to travel from Principal Park towards Fleur Drive and through Gray’s Lake Park, and then circle to the Principal River Walk and back into Principal Park. The Des Moines Police Department closed off W MLK Parkway, but the rest of the streets around the route remained open and we received many honks of encouragement from passing motorists. Although we runners were being officially timed using the chips in our bib numbers, I still activated my Runkeeper App prior to the start of time 10k so I could keep track of my mile times, as well as the overall distance I’d traveled and my total time. Even though I just wanted to finish the trek, and hopefully not dead last in any of the categories, I did really want to come in under 80 minutes, which was my fastest training time. Mile 1 to mile 3 was relatively easy…in fact, I was shocked when my app told me I passed the 5k mark at about 30 minutes. I’d NEVER been that fast; not in training, not in my last 5k, not EVER. I was barely sweating thanks to the 15mph breeze and I was not really winded or tired. The back half of the 10k, though, was significantly more difficult for me. For one thing, as we turned into Gray’s Lake Park, we were straight into the wind. Although I would have liked to have continued on my pace, it was simply impossible for me as breathing in the whipping wind froze my lungs and just generally made it hard to operate. And breathing is relatively important in both life and a foot race. Unfortunately, we remained into the wind off and on throughout the second 5k. My muscles were beginning to get sore and tired and I could feel my legs starting to flag in spite of my strength training. My most difficult mile was 4 into 5. Not only did I have the wind with which to contend, but we were to run through Gray’s Lake Park and then backtrack, which is always somehow disheartening to me. I just ran that stretch and now I have to turn around and run it again? WHY??? Better route planning needed! Once I hit mile marker #5, though, I felt a little better. I could see the River Walk, the state capital building, and, about a half-mile later, Principal Park…the locale of the finish line! As soon as we came out of the slight tree cover onto the River Walk, we were again running directly into the wind. There is nothing so refreshing as the smell of the Des Moines River in March (this is sarcasm—all rivers smell like sewage to me). At least as we turned onto the bridge over the river and headed toward home, we were no longer into the wind and I could no longer smell the wonderful river. Small victories.

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Principal Park and the last leg of the 10k

The Finish Line:

Although Al tried to snap some pics of me crossing the finish line, they just didn’t turn out. Fortunately, the folks at JMS Racing Services have a nice YouTube video of me coming over…I’m in the blue shirt and awesome tutu (obviously). Start the link at time mark 35:10.

Finish stats: Juliane finished the Leprechaun Chase 10K – Iowa in a Chip time of 01:10:19, a gun time of 01:12:14, overall place 884, gender place 538, division place 86.

I was in shock to see my time: 1:10:18.9 with an average pace of 11:18 per mile. In spite of the wind challenges, the muscle soreness and tiredness, I was able to make all three of my goals, and come in significantly under 80 minutes, as well as maintain a good average mile time throughout the 10k.  I am very pleased with myself. (Race Results)

So now what? I finished my 10k and set a new PR. Well, on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014, I start training for my upcoming 5k’s and a potential 10k in the fall. I’d love some company if anyone is interested! 

Run or Dye

The Glow Run

The Color Run