Happy New Year!

Yup, it's February and like every year, it finally feels like a time to embrace the new year as opposed to just keeping my head above water with work projects and long hours in December and January.  I mentioned this before here;  it's an annual event.  I do know that I kind of attacked Jan 2014 with a little more organization and as a result more progress, but I'm not sure I would have been able to pull that off this January.  I guess sometimes the on-call gods don't smile down at you.

I'm not sure what kind of #2015Goals I'll attempt this year, but I'll probably chop up the goals into shorter time frames.  Starting off for now, will be to clean up my diet (and get those last pounds off, finally) and schedule my exercise again with goals and plans.

Since no post is any good without a photo, here's one from Sept 2013 when G was doing a little fishing along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley.

The Triathlon That Wasn't

This is where I was going to recap my first ever Triathlon.  Unfortunately, just 6 days before the event, I found out that I was going to be asked to work on the weekend in support of a big project.  On Wednesday I found out that I would have to work in direct conflict with the event.  Needless to say I was really disappointed.   I'm trying to apply a "in the grand scheme of things" mentality, but to miss the event that's just 2 miles away and one I'd been preparing for was a bummer.

I'll likely sign up for the Ramblin Rose event in Chapel Hill.  It's not until October, so I'll have to adapt my plan a little as I'd been planning to just focus on adding running distances in the hopes of running a fall 10k.  To be fair, there's no reason I can't prepare for both.

So I take this unexpected bump in the road as a chance to be better prepared.


Running at Fort Pickens

I only ended up getting 1 run in on #myspringbreak, but considering the weather, I suppose that'll work. This is a collage made on my iPhone using photos I took along the way and the app, Diptic. It was really, really windy when running West, but still fun to run in a new place. I ran the length of the seawall around the Fort, Park Buildings, and a Battery (whose name escapes me...think it's just a number). I'm not sure I'd ever been on the gulf facing section on the seawall even after all these decades. It was 2.something miles. For whatever reason, my Nike+ app wouldn't load. I randomly picked a run from my old Couch 2 5K app, but it ended before I was done.



This was one of the "nicer" days I was there. Probably the 2nd "nicest" day, and you can see it wasn't all that nice!

What I've Learned About Fitness (so far)

This is not really what I've learned about fitness, but more what I learned about myself and fitness. I've been putting an emphasis on fitness for 18 months now. Sure, I had stints of "doing things" on and off most of my adult life, but for the last 18 months I've been trying to keep it in the forefront and my approach has been different, more organized. And I've learned a few things about myself.

I've realized that I am MUCH more successful if I have both a goal AND a plan. So instead of saying "boy I'd really like to be able to run", I decided to use a Couch To 5K program. It worked. I didn't cheat. I didn't quit. If I was supposed to run a certain distance, I did it. If I was supposed to run/walk a certain interval, I didn't stop running early and call it complete. I repeated steps that I didn't feel I'd done well or that I didn't feel comfortable doing. It worked.

After 5 months of "running", I decided I should add something else, something in the core/strength area. So I signed up for a 3x/week Crossfit Bootcamp (basically Crossfit without the free weights). I showed up and someone told me what to do and I did it. I never cheated on reps or sets.

After 6 months of Boot Camp 3x/week + running 2 times a week, they discontinued the bootcamp I was attending. So I decided to re-join the Y. I figured there were tons of classes from which to choose, options for running when it was too hot or raining, plus a bunch of other stuff. It was actually cheaper for the whole family than the bootcamp class.

The Y has been great, but I noticed something. After trying out a variety of classes (and not yet finding something I like as much as bootcamp) I found myself using the machines most often. I ran. I did elipticals. I did DIY boot-camp-like exercising. What I didn't do was push myself. In the fall, I went for a run outside and realized how my fitness level was not what it was in the Spring. I found this a bit distressing.

I tried picking up a Couch to 10K program about halfway thru, but found that I didn't feel comfortable with the times/distances that it required. I'd bail out of a run segment and that felt awful. It was frustrating. So I started over. I started from the beginning of the program, even though I wasn't "on the couch" anymore. That's working. Give me instruction and I'll follow it.

Again, I found myself thinking I could/should do more. About a month ago, a Groupon opportunity came up for a new Crossfit Gym ("box"). I grabbed it.

Thursday night I attended a Crossfit session. It's been a terrible, long January work-wise (already!), and I'd had to bail on 2 plans to run/crossfit already this week due to overtime work. So on Thursday, I had the choice of running or Crossfit or a Y cycling class I'd been thinking about trying out. What I really wanted to do was put on my flannel PJs and curl up with a book or in front of the TV. I opted for Crossfit. Why? Because I didn't have to think or negotiate with myself on a plan or distance. Because I knew once I showed up, someone would tell me what to do and I'd do it. And I did.

And since I don't have a photo of my new Crossfit "box", I'll just post these iPhone photos. On the left, one from a short run I took today, taking advantage of this gorgeous January day off. This cool little feature in the Nike+ App that lets you tag photos with your completed run. On the right, an iPhone photo from when I sat down at the beginning of the month to map out my workout plans.

Fall Back....Reset

I pretty much hate it getting dark so early after the end of Daylight Savings time, but there is one silver lining. It gets light early enough (at least for now) for me to get out and exercise before I start working. I don't like to run in the dark so being able to run at 7am again is a big plus. After joining the Y in the summer, I've really been pretty haphazard about exercise plans. I went from 3 runs a week last fall, to 2 runs a week + 3 days of bootcamp in the winter/spring, to kind of whatever after that. I took various classes, did some stuff on my own, used the elliptical and treadmills at the Y, etc. Then I kind of skated thru September (vacation 'month') and October (birthday 'month') with random days of exercise before trying to get back into a groove.

I decided I'd try to focus on being able to run a 10k and downloaded a new app on my phone and tried to jump in at the point where you can run a 5k. I'd been running mostly on the Y's treadmills and found that running on the street was more difficult (naturally) which was frustrating since that's all I did for my first 8 months. So, a long way around to finally decide to use this program and start from the beginning. The program varies a little than my C25K I did last fall so I figured I'll just do the whole thing from the start and get back into the groove of running in the mornings (which I was faithful in doing for over 6 months). I'll also be able to do some stuff at the Y in the evenings, but I'll have to figure out if that's classes or something else.

So, Week 1 Day 1 was today and talk about a confidence boost! It's definitely nice to not be starting from "the couch".
(iPhone photo)

How I Lost Weight, The Exercise Part: Keeping Active

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I lost weight. I listed things that I felt had contributed to my success and figured maybe I'd expand on those individually. This is what I wrote about fitness:

Added Exercise, little by little, but in an organized, programmatic way.

Then I went on to list the things I've done (prior entries are Couch to 5K and Bootcamp)

Weekly Walks/Hikes

This is so self-explanatory it doesn't really require an entry, but here's one anyway. On the weekends, we try to take the dog on a long hike/walk. Sometimes it's just a couple of miles around the neighborhood or nearby greenway, other times it's a longer trail at Umstead. We're always trying to find somewhere else to take the dog so this past Sunday we actually took her out to the CASL fields on a Sunday morning (when they were vacant) and walked thru the complex and back to the new-ish Neuse River Trail.

I've even added distance/time by walking from our neighborhood over to Lake Lynn's greenway, which adds 2-3 miles to the 2+ mile loop. It's a long walk (over 90 minutes) but I know I've gotten some good exercise in on that walk (hills), especially with the dog.

Here's a photo of us last spring (I think) along the Crabtree Creek Greenway.

How I Lost Weight, The Exercise Part: Boot Camp

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I lost weight. I listed things that I felt had contributed to my success and figured maybe I'd expand on those individually. This is what I wrote about fitness:

Added Exercise, little by little, but in an organized, programmatic way.

Then I went on to list the things I've done.

Started attending a "Boot Camp" class 3x/week
Just as I'd added some aerobic exercise back in August, I felt like it was time to add something more to the fitness side of things. I had hit my first weight loss "plateau" around the holidays (no wonder!) and it was a perfect time to add some new goals at the first of the year. I had done some "research" (google) about boot camp type classes and decided to try one run by a local Crossfit gym. It runs Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 6am. It was perfect for my schedule (other than the getting up at 5:30am part).

I started in mid-January and have been going ever since. I do miss a day here and there, but not very often. I'm ALWAYS glad I've gone and I've found that I'm pretty productive (grocery story run, fill up my gas tank, do some chores at home, etc.) from the time I'm done with the workout to when I start my workday, so it's been a good thing all around.

So, what does it entail? A little bit of everything! Every day is different (each day is actually led by a different "coach"). It can run for 15 minutes...or 40 minutes, but usually somewhere in between. We do pushups, situps, pullups, planks, squats, dips (or a form of them!), work with dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, rowing machines, TRX Suspension Straps, jump rope, and lots more. We have a small group that shows up so it's almost like a personal training session. It's not cheap, but so far I've been very happy and think it's worth it. (It's less expensive than the Soccer dues we've been paying all these years!) I'm usually a little sore somewhere all the time (and sometimes REALLY sore), but I guess that's a good thing. :-)

The trade off has been that it's given me less time to run and recently I've found it harder to get up and run on the boot camp "off days". I think I need to just do a little planning each week and schedule in an off day rather than negotiating with myself each morning. Eventually I'd like to start a "Bridge to 10K" program and enter a 10k race, so I've got to figure out if I can do both. That's not likely to be the case until the fall, so I'll put off that planning for now.

Here's the only photo I have of my "box" (using Crossfit terminology for gym) that I took with my phone this winter:

How I Lost Weight, The Exercise Part: Running

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I lost weight. I listed things that I felt had contributed to my success and figured maybe I'd expand on those individually. This is what I wrote about fitness:

Added Exercise, little by little, but in an organized, programmatic way.

Then I went on to list the things I've done.

Starting and Completing a Couch To 5K program
This was something I'd thought about for a long time, but never started for whatever reason. About a month or so after I'd started Weight Watchers (WW), I thought it was time for me to add real exercise. I figured it was long overdue for my general health (weight aside) and it might help keep up the progress of my weight loss that I presumed would slow down.

I downloaded a free iPhone app for a Coach 2 5K program. Mine was from active.com, but there are plenty to choose from. So the idea is simple, you run/walk in intervals three times per week. The program runs for 9 weeks, and at the end you should be running 30 minutes without stopping (you actually don't run intervals beyond Week 6, if I'm recalling correctly, but the time per run increases). Obviously, this doesn't mean you are running a 30 minute 5k, just that you are running for 30 minutes, but if you can run that long, odds are that you can run a 5k.

I got a little freaked out after Week 3 because I found the longer intervals very challenging. I made the mistake of "looking ahead" and realized in Week 5 you run a 20 minute interval. I just knew I wouldn't be able to do it. But I did, which was really satisfying. When the daylight got shorter in the Fall, I did find it harder to get out between daylight and work time (I wasn't interested in running before daylight), so I kind of stayed in the week 7/8 time frame for a bit and finally wrapped up the program in December. Then I decided I wanted to run a true 5k length and ran at a nearby greenway around a lake which was pretty rewarding too (I actually went 3.4 miles, which seemed really impossible a few month earlier). Since that time, I've run in a 5K "race" and run that distance a number of times since. My longest run is 4 miles (again on a local greenway).

Using a specific playlist on my iPhone has proved to be helpful. I found songs that had a good beat that matched my cadence. I also use a specific playlist for the 5k race, leaving 3 of my favorite "running songs" for last so that I would have some level of confidence that I could run through those final songs to the finish line.

I'm still running, but since I added a "boot camp" in January, I've not been as consistent, which bothers me a bit. I'm really proud of finally being "able to run" and don't want to lose that, so a goal is to find the time and motivation to continue. I know that "pre-planning" is really a huge help, and I need to be as good about that as I have in the past.

One of the things I have done that helps is making use of "dead time" that I normally would just waste. For example, in all the years I've been a "soccer Mom" and having to bring kids to field an hour ahead of the game, I'd usually just read a magazine or the newspaper or talk to other parents or run an errand. This year when we've had to travel to games (meaning we ride together), I've made sure to use that time for exercise. Last weekend, we went to Winston-Salem for a 9am game, meaning we were at the fields at 8am. I dressed in running clothes and despite the wind and the drizzle, I put my time in. I wasn't sure how long a loop around the fields was, but ended up running 1.3 miles. Since that was kind of short and I still had plenty of time, I went over to a small field with cement "bleachers" and ran those for another 15 minutes. I have to say it was probably the most fun I had exercising in a long time! Using my running playlist made a big difference. Here's the "bleachers" (iPhone photo):

BB&T Soccer Complex

I try to do the same thing if I find an hour that's "available" on the weekends. I can get a 2+ mile run done in under 30 minutes, so if I've got an hour, I can probably squeeze in a run and shower in an hour and change (counting drying my hair). So if we've got somewhere to go at 9am, I can certainly find the time to get up, run, shower and still feel like I "slept in" as compared to most mornings!

Running in different places (like soccer complexes and greenways) also makes it fun too. Picking a new spot, planning on when to run there, and then anticipating it makes it easier to keep that exercise appointment. I mentioned it in this post about walking and then running at Umstead State Park, which really reminds me that I need to go back again!

How I Lost Weight

I figured it made sense for me to document/share how I have lost weight over the last 9 months. This website/blog is really just a personal photo journal, but I've read blogs of all varieties over the years and I often enjoy reading about other people's journeys to health & fitness.

So here's my story.

In late June 2013, I decided to join Weight Watchers. A new 'store' opened up very near my house and I'd had some success (until I stopped) with WW several years ago. Starting the next week (first week of July 2013) until December 24th, I lost weight every single week. Sometimes it was several pounds, sometimes it was .2 pounds, but most weeks it was somewhere around 1 pound or so. By that Christmas Eve weigh in, I'd lost 40 pounds. Since that date, I've lost another 7 pounds, but have been stalling and/or bouncing around a little bit. I need to pick my "target" weight at some point, but I'm thinking I'd like to go down another 5-7 pounds. Weight Watchers gives you "Lifetime Status" when you reach your goal, which allows you to continue the program free of charge, provided that you stay within 2 pounds on either side of that weight.

There are some things that I think were "key" to my losing successfully that I'll list here. Maybe I'll post each one in more detail in the future.
  • Used Weight Watchers iPhone App to track my food and exercise
  • Didn't Quit. Simple, but really the most important thing I did
  • Added Exercise, little by little, but in an organized, programmatic way.
    1. Starting and Completing a Couch To 5K program
    2. Started attending a "Boot Camp" class 3x/week
    3. Added weekly hikes/walks as often as possible
  • Started reading more fitness/wellness articles, magazines, blogs

And now for the hardest part....the before...and after. I can't imagine I have a full length "before" photo, but if I find one, I'll post those as well.

leenie_before eileen_after