Changing my body and changing my life

I’m a real runner now

I visited The Running Room today. It seemed like the Thing To Do now that I’ve decided to run a half marathon. I have in the past felt very conspicuous if I’ve gone into any sport-type shop, as if the people there are looking at me and thinking, “Her? She’s fat. She’s not an athlete. She doesn’t belong here.” But it occured to me that there may be things that could enhance my running. Hubby went with and encouraged me to buy a book. So I bought The Running Room’s Book on Running by John Stanton. I have no idea if his ideas are backed by any kind of scientific research, but I’ll start somewhere and see how it goes.

Did going to The Running Room make me a real runner? No. But today I decided to think of myself as one. I think if someone had asked me “Are you a runner?” yesterday, as people are apt to do, I would have said, “No, not really. I mean, I run. And I’m planning to run a half marathon. But I’m not a runner, not like some people.” I’ve decided to think of myself as an athlete. This is bigger than it might seem. I’ve thought of myself for about 30 years in a few ways, first of all being I’m chubby/fat/overweight. This changed when I crossed that magic BMI line where the experts declared that now I am in the normal weight range for my height. But it’s still taking hold. I was recently talking to someone who is new in my life who is struggling with weight, and I shared with her that I’ve lost 75 pounds so I get it. And she said, “You mean you haven’t always been thin?” and I said, “You think I’m thin?” It takes awhile for this kind of thing to take hold.

The second way I’ve thought of myself is being non-athletic and uncoordinated. I’m starting to realize that after exercising regularly for 3 years and now getting to the point where I can train for an event, I am probably an athlete. No, I am an athlete. I’m a real runner now.

So my helpful tool today is thinking of myself in new ways, and transforming my identity.

Today’s training was to run 6.5 km. The rain made the treadmill the most reasonable way to do that, but after a week of running outside it felt a bit stifling to be down in the basement again. Outside I was finding I needed to stop and stretch every 2.5 km. I decided  to push for 3.0 today. At 3.0 I decided to push for 30 minutes, and at 30 minutes I decided to push for 4.0 km. So I did that straight running, no stopping. The last 2.5 km needed a lot of walking though; I was beat. I’m thinking to do my long run tomorrow (about 10 km) I should do a run walk cycle of about a minute walking every 10 minutes.

Eating wise – yesterday I ended up going out to eat for both lunch and supper. At lunch I was at Boston Pizza and chose a dish from their healthier selections area, which had whole wheat linguini, chicken and vegetables. It was disappointing – the vegetables were supposed to be steamed but they tasted raw, and I think softer vegetables would have suited the dish better. Hubby and I went out in the evening as it was our 16th anniversary. We went to Joey, and I had another pasta dish, asian flavours this time,  with chicken, cashews and lots of vegetables. That was wonderful, but I realized I was getting full and didn’t finish it. This almost astounded me as I’ve been a clean-your-plate person so much of my life, eating well past the point of fullness. To be able to say I’ve had enough and leave it is a pretty big thing to me.

What I continue to find challenging is figuring out the solitary and community parts of my life. How this relates to weight is in terms of the impact on my stress and emotional health, and my stress and emotions impact my use of food as fuel or as drug. I was thinking of it in reading the first part of the running book where he talks about running in groups and it being a group activity. Exercise is something I’ve done in relative seclusion. I do a lot of things in relative seclusion. On the Myers-Briggs scales I’m an introvert, and I’m fine with that, but I know it can, at times, get to a point of being unhealthy for me. I feel the need for community, but I’m not always sure how to meet that need.


Today I made sure to read my reminders, and I kept on track with eating. I even stood up and moved around when I was reading reports (Remember NEAT). So my helpful tool for the day is definitely reading the reminders. If I do it in the morning, it feels like it sets my mind in the right frame for the day.

Breakfast was a funky monkey smoothie – banana with chocolate milk and yogurt with vanilla (yes – the chocolate sauce fits in within the Mayo

plan) and an egg, cheese and tomato sandwich.


Then for lunch, some leftover turkey “lasagne” and a salad with orange, broccoli and feta.

I went for my run right after work, doing 7 km today. I stopped ever 2.5 km to stretch and it makes a difference. But my legs still hate me. I noticed later that while my toes aren’t hurting anymore, the second toe on my left foot looks reddish/purplish under the nail.

After that I had more freezer leftovers – the salmon and sweet potato patties with lots of carrots and green beans.

For the heck of it I ordered  the Atkins Starter Kit (which I refuse to link to) because they were giving away free protein bars. I had half of one for dessert. It was not too bad.

As for what I continue to find challenging – today I don’t feel challenged. Things went right.

Yet again…

It is embarrassing to keep writing the same thing over and over, but I lost it with the sweets again. Not just one sweet. Three different ones at different times of the day. So now I’m analyzing what is going wrong. What did I learn from the Beck book? To keep reminding myself of the self-talk I need to do before I need it, by reading my messages through the day. That’s what I’m not doing. I’m not reading my reminders when I’m sane so that they help me when I’m going insane. So what I still find challenging is to incorporate the daily reminders into my daily schedule.

I graphed out my weight loss since January. It looks like this:

Not hard to see that I’m merely staying in the range of the same couple of pounds for awhile now.

My basic meal eating, outside of the sweets, is still good. I had an egg, cheese and veggie scramble and oatmeal for breakfast. Making sure I have a full protein at breakfast is a strategy that seems to stave off hunger for most of the morning. Hey, let’s make that my helpful tool of the day. Lunch was some leftover pasta I made with chicken sausage in a tomato vegetable sauce and a salad. I’m loving Renee’s Ravin Raspberry dressing at 20 calories for a tablespoon. Supper was pizza as hubby had ordered in by the time I got home and I had the carbs left for the day.

Today was a rest day for my training. I’m following a plan I found on Runner’s World. I’m still sore, but not like I was on the weekend. Weirdest soreness – the second toe on both feet. Why toes? Why those ones in particular? Alas, an internet search turned up no explanation.

7 km today. I’m such a wimp. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh, this is so hard, I don’t know if I can do it!” And then I really start thinking about it and I realize that my heart is not beating that hard, I’m only taking about one breath per 4 strides, this is not a biggie at all.

My legs hate me, though. If my legs could talk, they’d say, “What the #@$%?” (YES! My legs would SWEAR!) “Here we were going 3.5 k a day in a nice walk/jog pace and now all of a sudden – pow! 12k! 7k! All jogging! And Running! She’s trying to kill us!” So they have conspired to seize up and prevent me from doing anything else. But I have a plan. I will keep stretching them out until they give in and just do whatever I’m telling them to do. I WILL WIN!

My eating has been falling apart over the last few days. Stress + temptation + not doing my daily readings as taught to me by Judith Beck = lack of progress.

Today – better. I actually feel sick to my stomach after allowing too much sugar into my pie hole. I didn’t actually have many cravings today. After work was the best time to have a run and by the time I got around to eating supper I was in the mood for health and had a mexican inspired chicken salad.

One of my helpful tools has been my Feeding Frenzy Plan. Feeding Frenzies are when I get in a mood that I want to keep eating and eating and it was little to do with hunger and everything to do with boredom or stress. My feeding frenzy plan is actually quite effective, when I use it

Feeding Frenzy Response

  1. Stop
  2. Get away from food. Leave the kitchen, go to a different room
  3. Breathe deep
  4. Identify what you’re feeling (Naming an emotion is quite a powerful tool. Once I can say, “I’m bored,”  or “I’m sad” the don’t seem to have the same influence over me)
  5. Pray
  6. Decide what to do instead.

The Beck book taught me that cravings will pass, hunger will diminish. Give myself a bit of time and things get better.

Something I find challenging is facing candy dishes at work. At least  3 coworkers like to have full candy dishes at their desks to share with people who drop in. Luckily, there isn’t a whole lot of candy I like, but every once in a while it happens to be something chocolate that tastes good. This is getting easier to deal with by using self-talk.

I have no idea.

A new challenge

I finished reading the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The book is about the concept of story – Miller was asked to make a movie out of a book he had written from experiences in his own life. He is a co-writer for the movie, and ends up editing his own life, thinking of it in light of what the story of his life is. He evaluates his present life as not that meaningful, and so starts to get up off the couch and try new experiences, such as a gruelling hike or a new romance. I’ll skip the new romance – my hubby might have problems with that, but the book has inspired me to do something different, something stretching, and something that involves my pursuit of health.

I’ve decided to enter the Manitoba Marathon.

I have never done ANYTHING like this before. In gym class, running was something I hated, as I huffed and puffed and fell behind everyone else and sometimes got migraines later. I bought a treadmill and started walking and  running not because of any affinity for it but because it required the least coordination, and I could watch TV on the treadmill and hopefully kill the boredom of it all. Over time, I have come to like how I feel after walking, and then jogging. But to race in an event? All new.

My options are the full Marathon (HA! No.) the half marathon (possible?) and the 10K run (I can go 7 km on the treadmill in an hour, so not much of a stretch). Today I decided to take my exercise outside and use the path near my place which is marked according to kilometres. I aimed for 10, put on a heart rate monitor and started jogging, stopping to walk only if my heart rate went above 162 (don’t ask where I came up with that number. I programmed it in to the heart-rate monitor when I first got it and can’t remember why). To my surprise, I was able to maintain a jog almost all the way, just doing walking about 4 times and at that, quite briefly. Somewhere along the way it was going so well I decided to just go the whole way and do 13 km and see if I could do a half marathon.

Any of you familiar with marathons are probably laughing at my right now, so let me tell you, within an hour of returning home I did realize my error. A half marathon is not 13 km, it is 13.1 miles. Still, I wondered if I could possibly do it – an increase of 7.1 km over what I did today, with 8 weeks to train. I looked up some training websites, and found a lot of people writing that the half-marathon is usually attempted after doing a few 5 or 10K runs. Which I’ve never done.

Still, I think I could do it. I don’t need to go for speed, the victory is in the completion. Even if I have to walk part way, I think I could complete a half marathon.

Middle child is interested in doing the 2.6 mile run after I told her about it; what a great thing for me to do with my daughter.

I have until May 8 to register for the Early Bird Amount, so I’ll begin training and see if it could be realistic to do the half.

My new helpful tool: Having a goal

My challenge is figuring out what to do about eating. If I’m training for a run, should I consider increasing my daily calories above the 1200-1400 level I’ve been trying to maintain? Do my muscles need more protein?

Yesterday had it’s ups and downs. I was feeling very stressed, but to be honest, the bad eating I did (too many peanut butter squares) started before I was feeling stressed.

I made peanut butter squares a couple of days ago. My husband said his dad really liked them and suggested I made them. His dad has terminal cancer, was given a year to live two years ago. He’s hanging in there but not doing great. And whatever might add a little joy that man’s life, as far as I’m concerned, he gets, as long as it’s legal and moral.

The fact that I love peanut butter squares makes it a bonus and a temptation.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am struggling with including some treat-foods without overdoing it. I figure to maintain my weight in the long run it’s a skill I’ll have to learn, because I’m not eliminating dessert for the rest of my life. So far, it is not going well. I brought some to staff meeting to share with my co-workers (because I love them, and because even if I can’t lose the last 5 pounds, if I get everyone around me to gain 5, I look comparatively better). I don’t actually know how many of them I ate, although because I cut them small, it wasn’t as bad as it otherwise might have been.

Then later on I encountered STRESS and so I had yet more of them.

Today – I had a lunch with my extended family. I made some good decisions: majoring on vegetables, cutting that piece of lasagne in half. But my sister commented to me that I seem to be off-plan today (she knows the tools I’m using) and she was absolutely right. I have no idea how what I ate today fits on the Mayo Clinic Plan.

I am also up by 3 pounds. I seem to retain water around the same time each month, so this is no surprise. I certainly didn’t eat 3 pounds worth of peanut butter squares. Still don’t like to see that.

I already aluded to my helpful tool for today when I mentioned cutting the PB squares small: smaller pieces and serving sizes. I first realized the power of this tool when I was a youth-care worker in a group home where many girls were overweight and obese. Grilled cheese sandwiches were a common meal, and I got good at estimating how many we would need – it was always more than 1 sandwich per person. We would always cut the sandwiches in half and pile them on a big plate. One day I did one thing different. I cut the sandwiches into quarters instead of halves. There were leftovers that day – the group had eaten far fewer sandwiches.

There is something psychologically satisfying about having more pieces of something, or taking a second portion. If I have left 2 carb servings for supper and have rice, for example, it somehow feels better if I have one serving on my plate first, and then go back and take a second rather than putting the 2 servings on my plate at the same time. Same with small desserts. 2 small cookies feels more satisfying than one big one, even if they are the same amount in the end.

What I still find challenging fits in with my series on families and eating: Mom-guilt.

I find that Moms seem way more concerned about their children’s eating and lifestyles than dads. I think this is imposed on us by society at large. Who is giving the kids Wonderbread with extra fibre? A mom. Who is in the 3 Participaction ads deriding parents who think that occasional activity is enough for their kids? 3 moms, not a dad to be seen.

Men, meanwhile, are encouraged to do manly things like eat cheese-burger pizza.

I  can’t find much research on fathers, children and food. Just that fact that you can’t find much in a simple Google search would seem to indicate it is off the radar for most people.

My guess, though, is that for many mothers, myself included, we absorb these messages unconsciously and end up feeling responsible and guilty. I know I deal with guilt about nutrition and lifestyle practices for my kids on an almost daily basis. How do I find the time to increase their activity? How do I get them to eat nutritious food without damaging our relationship? How often should I let them have treats?

I wonder then, how the mom-guilt robs me of peace and joy and actually sabotages my own efforts. Because stress only seems to interact negatively with being able to make positive decisions in my own life. I don’t feel I have good answers here, yet. Sometimes I vary widely between extremes of trying to control how my kids eat and live and totally giving up because nothing I do seems to make much of a difference.