Losing Weight, Gaining Perspective {a guest post}

So I mentioned yesterday that my good friend Amy would be guest blogging today. (She’s a part of that healthy moms group I’ve mentioned a few times.) Amy is in the midst of a lifestyle change and….
Well, I’m just going to let her share her story with you
:  )

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Hi, friends of Helly! I am so honored to be here sharing my story with you. Helly and I are internet-turned-real-life friends. Our daughters are about a week apart in age and she inspires me daily with her infectious positive attitude and her commitment to her health and her family. It’s great to “meet” you all! This is a little slice of my life, and the journey I’ve been on the past couple months to lose weight and reclaim my confidence and self-worth.

Helly and my daugher M, October 2013

Helly and my daugher M, October 2013

First, a little background. Unlike most of you, my default state is sedentary. While I like endorphins (who doesn’t?!), I can’t stand to exercise. I’ve searched high and low and I haven’t found one type that I truly enjoy. It takes a huge extrinsic motivation for me to get up off the couch and move. At the same time, I love food. Cooking and baking (especially baking!) are my passions, but most of all I love to eat. A lot. It’s so extreme that I’ve sometimes wondered if I have a food addiction. I have gone very long stretches of time where I have absolutely no regulation over what and how much I’m eating. Plus the whiter the carb, the better.

The most recent post from my currently dormant food blog of 6 years

The most recent post from my currently dormant food blog of 6 years

Because of all this couch-sitting and food-over-enjoying, I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my adult life. Along with that has come a lot of depression and shame. In 2010, after recovering from a herniated disc, I finally decided to do something about it. Together with my husband, I trained for and ran the 1st Annual Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Disney World—very fitting for my foodie self! I still consider that one of my proudest moments ever.

At Epcot after our race

At Epcot after our race

My healthy momentum from the race carried me for a while, but over the past few years I have slowly slipped back into my mega-eating, non-exercising ways. Since then, I’ve been yo-yo-ing, and have been up and down within a 25 pound range.

A couple months ago, I found myself at my highest weight ever.  Despite adding in a bike commute to work (something I’m so proud of!), I hated how my clothes fit and I hated looking in the mirror.  I hated my obese BMI and I hated looking like I was 5 months pregnant. It was time to make a real, permanent change. I wanted to hold my head up high, have more energy, and set an example of good health for my daughter.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever but I will always regret how heavy I look; Halloween 2013

This is one of my favorite pictures ever but I will always regret how heavy I look; Halloween 2013

This change needed to be sustainable, given my yo-yo tendencies. This time I’m committed to setting myself up for success instead of expecting that I’ll fail. There are a million diets and methods and clubs out there to lose weight, but I started out simple. In early January of this year, I started a Dietbet (something that’s helped motivate me in the past). I bet $25 that I could lose 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks. My husband and about 75 friends and friends of friends joined us, and those of us who reached their goal (spoiler alert: including me and my husband!) split the pot.

To reach my Dietbet goal, I started logging every single thing I ate with My Fitness Pal. This has been so key to my success. There have been days when I’ve overeaten or slipped up, but logging it has helped me realize that I’m so very hard on myself. I’m allowed to mess up, and messing up doesn’t mean that I’m a total failure. AT ALL. It’s also helped with this sustainability thing. I can have a cookie for an afternoon snack once in a while or my beloved Chinese food in small doses and I can still stay on a downward trend of weight loss.

Now, about that pesky exercise. I’m about to share my dirty little secret with you, are you ready? Promise not to laugh at me. A friend gave me a series of workout videos by trainer Leslie Sansone. Her thing is “Walk at Home.” Yes, I said walk.  At home. I know it sounds ridiculously low-impact and I’m mildly embarrassed to share this on a running blog. But as out of shape as I was, it started out hard! She has a wide variety of workouts and I was quickly able to increase difficulty. I still find the harder ones extremely challenging, and I’m in much better shape now. I took her 30-day challenge to work out 6 days a week, alternating days of cardio and strength. I successfully finished that challenge a few weeks ago and have continued with her videos since. I couldn’t have done this without Leslie!

My favorite 4-mile "walk"

My favorite 4-mile “walk”

 I also got a Fitbit since I walk a lot at work, and these Leslie workouts have helped catapult me past my 10k step goal every day. I picked the Flex model; the fun interchangeable colored bands was a must for me! Orange and Teal are my favorites. Fitbit’s “gamification” of working out has definitely won me over.

I have started plateauing a bit with my weight in the past couple of weeks and have been ready for a new challenge, so I just started the Focus T25 program. I’m only 1 day in but WOW, that is a workout. I can’t believe I did that voluntarily. I’m really excited to see what kind of new results this adventure brings.

Now, for the punchline: Since I started in early January, I’ve lost 7.3% of my body weight and one pant size, and am no longer in the Obese BMI category!

Before and after my 4-week Dietbet. I've lost another 5 more pounds since then

Before and after my 4-week Dietbet. I’ve lost another 5 more pounds since then

That brings me to why Helly asked me to write this post. It’s been SO satisfying checking off my daily exercise and watching the scale tick down. But I have a lot of work to do on my mind and spirit. I still feel like the fat kid. When I look in the mirror, it’s hard for me to see what I’ve accomplished. I have some hard-wired patterns of self-doubt that are going to take a lot of hard work to undo. What I’m starting to realize is that this part is going to be as hard, if not harder, than exercising or counting calories.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m so proud of my progress, and I know the numbers don’t lie. I have accomplished so much. I can do more reps with more weight now, my endurance is so much better, and I really am holding my head up higher just like I had hoped. But this is just the beginning of the journey for me. As I continue to creep down towards my goal weight, my biggest challenge will be treating myself kindly. Yes, that means treating my body with respect, but also allowing forgiveness when I mess up, and knowing that I am strong and I am capable and I can do this.

Thanks so much to Helly and all of you for letting me be vulnerable for a few minutes. Writing out my story really helped me gain some insight, and I hope maybe you got something out of it too. If you’d like to stay connected and follow my progress (and see lots of pictures of my kid!), I’m amy_i on Instagram.

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Isn’t she awesome?? I’m so proud and honored that Amy shared her story on my blog. She’s been such an inspiration to me and I know that many of us can relate to the struggle that is weight loss and being good to ourselves. Thank you for visiting my page today and I’ll try my best to get Amy back here for a follow-up post soon :  )

Have you struggled with weight loss before?

Why do you think that even after losing weight we are still hard on ourselves?

Runningluv Giveaway Winner!!

It was another great giveaway turn out! Thank you all for participating and showing the love : ) We have one more giveaway in the works so keep checking the blog in the next few days…

Also, my next blog entry is pretty darn exciting!! My very good friend Amy, will be guest blogging and I’m very excited for you to read her story. Come back tomorrow to check it out–you won’t want to miss it!

Okay, and the winner of the free Runningluv towel is…..

Michelle Brigham

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Congrats Michelle!!! Check your e-mail inbox for a message from me :  )

Remember that you are all winners!! Use the code HELLYONTHERUN15 for 15% off your entire purchase at runningluv.com This code will be up on my home page under the tab “Connections” until it expires March 24th.

Thanks again everyone! Can’t wait for you to meet my beautiful friend Amy tomorrow 🙂

Lost Dutchman 10k Race Recap

This race had been on my list for quite some time as I’ve always heard people rave about it. The race has uh-mazing views and an awesome atmosphere. The story behind it is that it’s the rumored site of the legendary Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. Pre-race, there’s a campfire and racers get together and chat. I didn’t make it to that but I did get there pretty early. It’s a bit of a hike from where I live, about 30 minutes, but you’re driving to mountain views and that’s what you’re looking at when you run  :  )

Morning View Photo by: M. Kerschbaum

Morning View
Photo by: M. Kerschbaum

Photo by: M. Kerschbaum

Photo by: M. Kerschbaum

I arrived about an hour early than my start time. Quite a few members of my run club were set to run the 1/2 marathon which started before my 10k and I wanted to cheer them on.

After they were off, I was on my own and I just hung out and stretched. As go time neared, I made my wait to the corrals–there were no official set corrals, you kinda just chose your minute pace and hung out in that area. I was in the 8 minute corral when I found a friend–she’s the one that took those awesome pics ^. We talked all the way up to when they shot the gun; I had completely forgotten about the race because I was so caught up in catching up with her! lol!

Once I realized I had to get a move on, I started my Garmin and off I went. I had in my mind an 8:30 pace and wanted to try my hardest to maintain it. As I turned the first corner, I was met by Mr. Hill. Yep, a hill at the very beginning of the race. Of course I had looked at the race map but it’s still different when you see the hill in person. The race description read slight uphill the first half with a slight downhill the second. It was an out and back course which I actually like since that’s what I had trained doing.

Anyway, I battled that hill and then turned the second corner. Ahhh, once you turned that corner you were met with such a beautiful view. This is what you were running towards:

It truly was such a gorgeous thing to look at. It was about  a mile and a half of running towards that and then you had one last turn which led you to the turn around.

As I was approaching mile two, I hadn’t yet reached mile two, I already saw the first runner running back!! He was just hauling it! I could hear people around me murmur, “Wow!” “No way!” All I could muster was a shake of my head.

I kept going and was feeling okay. I could feel the uphill and knew this wasn’t going to be my best run. I definitely need to work more hills in my training. I didn’t feel like I was doing horribly; I felt good with my pace. I was getting closer to the turn around spot and could see people already coming from the other direction. I started counting off the women as they passed and then stopped at 15. I knew at my pace I wasn’t getting any overall awards but I was still crossing my fingers for an age group, but, after seeing so many girls pass me, I started to let that  go.

I reached the spot and turn the other direction. I started to see a few of my run club friends running towards the turn and we high fived. I love high fives : ) I also saw my starting line buddy and we shared a high five too.

I was hearing my Garmin beep the miles and my splits were all over the place. There was zero consistency in my pace and I was started to feel that in my body as I ran. I was just so tired. I started to think about how nice my bed sounded, how nice it’d be to stop and drink some cold water, how nice just not doing this sounded like. I even started to think about how I was looking forward to being done with training. It’s amazing what fatigue and struggle does to the mind.

Towards the back end of the race, you run through a “brick wall” where there are photogs. It makes for a pretty cool picture.

It was around this time I started to fall apart. Mile 5 was my worst mile at 8:47. I was just so tired. I was getting close to that downhill (where it was uphill at the very beginning) and I just let my body roll with it.

I turned the corner to start running towards the finish line and I told myself to finish strong. The last .2 I wanted to give whatever I had left. I crossed and stopped my Garmin at 53:01. I hoped to finish under that and crossed my fingers my official time would be a high 52 minuter. Either way, I saw my average pace was 8:32 and I was so happy!! For me that was a win since that was my goal. It didn’t feel like my best race but I was pleased nonetheless.

I made my way to my run club’s tent and saw that the screens with the rolling times were close by. I walked towards them and began looking for my name. Then I saw it: 52:57. YES!! I got it under 53 : ) Then I saw something else. THIRD PLACE in my age group!! I was in complete and total shock and disbelief. I seriously thought I had no chance considering how I felt during the race. I immediately called my husband and told him the news..

YAY!!

YAY!!

I’m so happy with how that race turned out. I had such negative thoughts as I was running and to still do well surprised me. I know that I need to work on my mental strength and add that to my training. It’s so easy to make sure you’re doing speed drills, tempo runs, hill work, that you eat right, get enough sleep, etc. etc. but it’s also so important to believe in yourself. That mental tug-of-war can trump any hard training you’ve done if you let it. I don’t want it to. Especially during my next race: My first marathon!!

–How do you deal with mental struggles during a race?

Don’t forget, the runningluv giveaway is still happening!! Click here to enter. The contest ends at midnight and tomorrow, a winner is announced!!