Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013: Time for some resolutions!

Happy New Year! I haven’t blogged a lot lately, and I’ve realized I NEED to blog to help keep me accountable on my wellness journey. So here goes! 

2012 in review: This time last year I was just beginning my fitness journey. As part of Covenant Health’sBiggest Winner Marathon Team I’d committed to competing in one of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon events in April. Those of you who have known me throughout this entire journey know that that goal was COMPLETELY outside of my comfort zone! Well, I did it! I completed not only one half marathon in 2012, but two half marathons in 2012. Who would’ve thought?! Definitely, not me!

I logged into my HumanaFit account earlier today where I log all of my fitness activity, including my daily FitBit steps. I pulled a 2012 year-end summary. In 2012 (give or take a few steps/miles/etc.) I walked 1231.07 miles, which included 2,251,808 steps, 905 hours of activity, and over 425,312 calories burned. Definitely a far cry from the couch potato I was when I started this journey.

The past month has been tough. I was rear-ended while driving (actually while stopped) which took a minor toll on my back, and I’ve been battling sinus crap the past month off and on … so since Thanksgiving my activity has been somewhat limited. I can’t handle this level of inactivity much longer, so pray that my coughing spells are short-lived, and I’m back to my old self again soon!

Even though my aerobic activity has been somewhat limited, I’ve started easing back into my stretching routine, with a plan that come Saturday, come hell or high water … I’m back on track! I miss my teammates whom I’m used to seeing weekly! The holidays are great and all … but really can take their toll on the best of routines.

When thinking about my New Year’s resolutions, I looked back at my blog from this time last year. I never set definite resolutions, but set some guidelines… 
“Since it's New Year's day I'll wrap it up with this ... I want the rest of my year to be like yesterday. Not the pain, the fear or the anxiety that I might not make it back down the mountain in one piece, but that exhilarating feeling of finishing something I was determined to finish! I want to always make the choice to do something instead of do nothing. I want to continue to step outside of my comfort zone, knowing that is the only way I can grow. I want to continue to believe in me, and what I'm capable of achieving.”

I don’t think I could define my goals for 2013 any clearer that I did at this point a year ago. Instead of nit-picking things I want to change about myself, I want to continue to challenge myself, and grow myself. I don’t want to set my goals in a negative framework, like, “I need to quit doing this,” or “I need to start doing this,” implying that the way I’m living my life is not the way I intended to. 

 In 2012 I took charge of my own destiny. I wrote my own plan. I took care of my most valuable life-asset … me! And it felt great! Why not do it again in 2013?
As far as my fitness goals – I have signed up for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon (Half Marathon) in April. I’m not 100% sure my body can take it again … but I’m going to try!

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me, and encourage me! Your words of kindness and encouragement mean more to me than any of you will ever know! Also, thank you to the amazing friends I’ve made along this journey! LeeAnn and Melody have kept me going physically and emotionally through many a rough patch, as well as all of the other folks on our team, and our coaches! 

The new Biggest Winner team has started their weight loss journey, and I see so much of us and our insecurities, but also our excitement, in them! Don’t get me wrong – they are their own group with their own identity, but I certainly hope that they embrace this challenge head-on! It’s worth it! Happy New Year! 

As always, a little closing inspiration from Pinterest! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Setting the next goal

Well it's definitely been too long since I've blogged, and if I've learned nothing else, I've learned that typing the words going through my head whether they make much sense or not tends to make me more accountable ... so here I go!

In my last post I'd registered for the 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga! Well, my 2nd half marathon has come and gone, and I'm trying to figure out my next fitness goal! 

The 4 Bridges Half Marathon had its ups and downs! Fortunately my teammate, and now good friend, LeeAnn, signed on to walk this event with me. Actually it was all her idea! It was a beautiful fall weekend in Chattanooga, and most of the course really showcased the natural beauty of the Chattanooga area! 

The race started at Coolidge Park -- which is absolutely beautiful! This is where we picked up our packets the day before the race. 

Walking the race we were at the back of the pack most of the time, alternating with a hand cyclist. This meant that we had a police escort for most of the race. :)

We crossed the Tennessee River 4 times (ironically enough) during the race. Here's the view from two of the times.

Both of us had a lot more pain than usual during this race which really slowed us down. Unfortunately we both didn't do things exactly the way we had every other walk day, which really hurt our feet.
But, we made it!! One more medal to add to my collection! :) 

 I'm almost fully recovered from the half marathon ... read:  almost have a solid layer of skin on the bottoms of my feet! 

Yesterday was Thompson Cancer Survival Center's Buddy's Race Against Cancer. This is a great event! It allows folks to honor cancer survivors and raise funds for those who need assistance who are undergoing treatment for cancer. I was excited to walk yesterday for 2 very important reasons!

1. My friend and colleague Michael Holtz, who has been a huge inspiration to me in my career, as well as my fitness goals, asked me and LeeAnn to join his Buddy's team. Michael is truly an example of how much you can improve your health by doing things the "right way." Unfortunately this year Michael was diagnosed with cancer, and has been fighting his battle for some time! He's kicking major butt!   Team ACS/Michael's Warriors!

2. A year ago the Buddy's Race Against Cancer marked the beginning of my fitness journey. The race was the first athletic event that my teammates embarked on together. It truly has been a life changer for me! 

Here's a self portrait of me, LeeAnn, and Coach Missy Kane from yesterday! 

Here was our team at last year's Buddy's Race! 

Here's we are 1 year later! Me, Randy, LeeAnn, Julie (team before ours), Erin (this year's team), Arielle, Missy, and Beth (one of our team assistants). 

Here's another ones with some other past teammates, some of Missy's hiking pals, and one of this year's team members!

This was an awesome day of celebrating how far I've come on my personal fitness journey. I keep calling it a journey b/c I have no idea where exactly it's going ... just that I want it to keep on moving!

Including Buddy's Race last year -- here's the races I've participated in since then! In my 34 years prior to this one I hadn't participated in this many events combined!

Needless to say, I'm ready to make some new goals! Not quite sure what those are yet, but I'll let you know when I figure them out.

I'm so excited for the newest Biggest Winner team members! I've been in their place, and know they must be excited, nervous, and a little anxious about the journey that is ahead of them -- but I wish to convey to them that as long as they are true to themselves and use the tools they are given this experience can truly change their lives!

A little parting wisdom!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back on track!

The deed is done! I'm officially registered to walk the 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga in October. LeeAnn and I have been talking about it for awhile, and now we're all official and stuff. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I can't allow myself to have any doubt about whether or not I can actually accomplish this since I completed a similar task once already this year.

Yup, that's right. Two half marathons in one year. That's certainly not a goal I ever thought I'd accomplish. Isn't it amazing how quickly goals can change?

 This time last year I don't think I'd even considered applying for Covenant's Biggest Winner Marathon team. One simple decision that truly changed my life, my habits, and my goals. If anyone's interested they're currently accepting applications for next year's team! If you've even considered it once ... go for it!

In the last year I've gained strength, courage, determination, not to mention some amazing friends whom I couldn't imagine my life without.

Anyway ... back to Chattanooga. The good thing is that we've never stopped our walking routine, so we're in pretty good shape starting back with our distance training. Here's our basic guide we're going to follow (thanks to Coach Kane's training guide):

Week 1 (Sept. 1): 3-4 miles
Week 2 (Sept. 8): 3 ½ - 5 miles
Week 3 (Sept. 15): 4 ½ - 6
Week 4 (Sept. 22): 5 ½ - 7
Week 5 (Sept. 29): 7 – 9
Week 6 (Oct. 6): 7 ½ - 10
Week 7 (Oct. 13): 9 – 11 miles
Week 8 (Race Day on Sunday):
Monday (Oct. 15): Rest day if you are feeling really tired.
Tuesday (Oct. 16): Easy 20–35 minute walk
Wednesday (Oct. 17): 2 – 4 miles.
Thursday (Oct. 18): Fifteen minute light workout and stretch well. Be drinking more water and eating good sources of carbohydrates over the next few days.
Friday (Oct. 19): Off.
Saturday, Oct. 20: Walk around 10 –20 minutes at an easy pace. Make sure you know what the last one or two miles of the course look like. Hydrate yourself well the night before the race.
Oct. 21: Sunday:  Race Day!  Good luck and have fun.

So there you have it ... my next couple of months in a nutshell! I'm so glad that I've been keeping up with my workouts and strength training -- even though it's nothing compared to our group workouts with Chris. The foundation of strength has really helped me realize that this training shouldn't be too bad! 

I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about getting back into training ... just some parting wisdom from Pinterest.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Setting new goals

Well, it's official, I'm signing up to walk another half marathon. Sunday, October 21, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Seven Bridges Marathon/Half Marathon! Two of my teammates from my Biggest Winner team are planning on walking with me -- LeeAnn and Darla. I'm happy to say that LeeAnn and I haven't stopped walking since our half marathon in April. We made up our minds to stick with it, and we have!

I am beginning to again question my sanity, though. I mean...who really thought I'd ever complete a half marathon in 2012, not to mention TWO half marathons in 2012?! Certainly not me.

Why am I doing this? Don't worry, I've been asking myself the same thing. The simple answer is: I need it to stay motivated. I've figured out I do best with short-term goals that are easy to measure my progress.

I'm still working on my weight loss goals. Despite working out 5-6 times a week I've plateaued again with my weight. I'm still seeing my clothes fitting looser, so I'm hoping that I continue to convert fat into muscle.

I've been doing pretty well with my eating plan, but have to admit that I've had some weak moments lately (read: enjoyed a cupcake during a girls-night-in), but I choose not to punish myself or talk down to myself for those moments. Every once in awhile you have to enjoy eating something without worrying how many calories you just ate, or how long you'll have to workout to burn off your yummy smack.

So, between now and October my goals are to become stronger, and to keep enjoying the new body I'm building for myself. I appreciate everyone's support!

I'll wrap this up with a little Pinterest wisdom!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Counting my blessings

Today I am thankful for many things.

  • I'm thankful for this glorious rain that we've needed for awhile. 
  • I'm thankful for the temperatures that are finally below the 90s this week. 
  • I'm thankful for my two legs that although parts of them hurt a lot, they're still my two legs that work right most of the time. 
  • I'm thankful for my strong arms. Although they're still kind of jiggly on the underneath side, the rest of them look pretty good! I actually looked at my arms the other day and thought, "damn, look at my arms!"
  • I'm thankful for wonderful friends and family who are encouraging and supportive, and always seem to know what I need.
  • I'm thankful that through my Biggest Winner challenge I've learned how to better manage stress.I truly believe that sweat helps melt it all away. If you aren't a believer ... try works!
  • I'm thankful that I can still depend on my teammates for weekend exercise, and look forward to that email or text on Friday saying, "where are we walking tomorrow?" 
  • I'm thankful for the delicious vegetables that I bought at the Farmer's Market last Saturday that were part of my dinner. I cooked eggplant for the first time tonight. While it tasted delicious ... it sure stinks! 
  • I'm thankful that I continue to choose to make the decision that I'm worth this. I'm worth the time, dedication, sweat, and sometimes tears. I'm worth the time I'm taking for myself, to become a better me. 
I hope you take the time today to be thankful for the blessings in your life. Whether small or large, if you don't take the time to account for what you are thankful, sometimes it easily slips away! 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's been awhile

I've missed blogging. I've mentally blogged several times in the past few months, but have never made the time to sit down and make it happen. Guess that's what happens when life gets in the way.

Yesterday I got a pep-talk from a nice lady whom I'd never met before in JCPenney. We were both digging through the "lowest price" workout gear. She struck up a conversation about how much she loved the shirts, and how cool they were to walk in. I agreed. Then she told me that if she made it to her birthday she'd qualify for Medicare, and that was her short term goal right now. I kind of chuckled and agreed that was a good goal (to make it to your next birthday).

I started thinking about my goals. Since the half marathon was completed in April, I accomplished several short term goals, but hadn't reexamined my long term goals. Fortunately I'm still driven to become a fitter person, physically and mentally, so that continues to motivate me to exercise and live a healthier lifestyle.

The lady at JCP told me at least 10 times, "honey, you're young. It's so good you're doing this now, so hopefully when you're my age you can just enjoy the life that you've built, instead of struggling with weight and being sick."  I was taken back to one of my initial reasons I felt compelled to get in shape...I felt like I was getting old. I want to have kids at some point in my life before my baby-incubating parts no longer work. For the past year I think I've put myself up against the clock ... hurry up, and get fit. Hurry up, and feel better. Hurry up, before it's too late.

Yesterday made me realize it's never too late. 35 isn't old. Sure, it's older than 25, but it's younger than 65. I've still got plenty of years left to keep building myself into what I want to be -- physically, emotionally, mentally.

Since I've last written I finally joined a gym. My friend and teammate LeeAnn and I both joined YMCA of East Tennessee. We were both interested in a facility that had a pool, and organized exercise classes. So far, I've been pretty happy! We've tried Aqua Zumba at 2 different locations. The class this past Friday was at the West Side Y, and it was awesome! The instructor was high energy, and really gave us a great work out!

I've also taken up yard work! I've always helped in the yard, but usually my husband does the mowing, and I do the weed eating, etc. Well, I asked him to show me how to mow. I've learned I enjoy the challenge, and I know it gives me a great workout! I wear my heart rate monitor most of the time I mow so I can track my progress.

Another thing I'm contemplating right now ... and it may be a sign that I have truly lost my mind... I may do another half marathon this year. October 21 is the Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga. However, if you do the half you only get like 3 or 4 bridges. lol. The thought of this challenge scares the crap out of me, which is how I felt when I committed to the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon in April, and the Covenant Health Biggest Winner challenge that proceeded it!

So, I'll keep you posted! A few of my teammates are considering this race as well. If we decide to do it we'll have to start re-training in late July to be on track! I kind of like the idea of a good challenge. A few of my favorites to leave you with ...

Monday, May 14, 2012

How fat is too fat?!

Vacation seems like such a memory now, even though I've only been "back to the real world" for a little over a week. My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful 5 day trek to Las Vegas! It was a combination of relaxation, fun, and awesome shows. Here's a very windblown self portrait from our last night in Vegas. We'd just finished walking to the Bellagio to see Cirque du Soleil's "O"!

One thing I did, that I have NEVER done on vacation before...I worked out! I've always asked, "who really uses the hotel gym," any time I've cruised past one on the way to the pool on previous vacation. The answer this time is ... this girl! Despite a fair amount of relaxation I worked out 2 mornings, and I logged over 30 miles on my pedometer throughout our stay!! Needless to say, I did not feel guilty at all about indulging in some delicious food during our trip! It was an awesome vacation! 

I witnessed a random weight-related situation one of our flights home that I've been contemplating blogging about and I keep going back and forth. Obviously something about the situation bothered me, or stuck with me, because I'm still thinking about it ... so here goes.

On our last flight, from Denver to Knoxville we were seated in the last row of the plane. Before the flight departed our flight attendants were hanging out in the back of the plane. A lady came down the aisle and put one of her carry on bags in the overhead bin about 4 rows in front of us. She then put her other bag in the aisle seat on that row. She didn't sit down, but instead came straight to the back toward a flight attendant. I could hear the frustration in her voice, and the conversation.

Passenger: There's no room for me to sit in my seat.
Flight Attendant: What do you mean? Is someone else sitting there?
Passenger: No, but the guy in the middle seat is spilling over into my seat ... there's no room for me.
Other flight attendant: Yes, I had to take him a seat belt extender a few minutes ago.
Passenger: Is this a full flight, or can I sit somewhere else?
Flight Attendant: I think we're full. He has to be able to put the arm rest down in between your seats. That's our policy.
Passenger: Do you really want me to try that?
Flight Attendant: Why don't you just wait back here and we'll see if we have an open seat.

OK, I went to Frontier Airlines website and can't find anything about overweight passengers and a policy. I guarantee they have one...even if it's not on their website! A little googling and I found this article mentioning that some airlines have started charging passengers if they require two seats. It sounds like most airlines are probably doing just what our crew did ... found the "offended" passenger a new seat.

My more important question is ... America, how did we get so fat? True, I think that many places like airplanes and arenas have downsized trying to make more room for more people to make more money. However, even at my heaviest I never had trouble buckling the seat belt on an airplane.

I keep replaying the scenario over and over in my head and can't decide if I am happy with how it was "handled," or if the gentleman should've been confronted. If there had been no extra seat on the plane, what would've happened? If he had been confronted, what good would the embarrassment have done? Or maybe the confrontation would've been his wake up call that he needed as an intervention of sorts? Emotional, physical, whatever ... maybe that would've been his proverbial straw that broke the camel's back? 

I try not to be judgmental, and I tell myself when I get frustrated seeing the very overweight women in the motorized carts at Wal-mart, that I don't know their situation, and I don't know if their handicap contributes to their weight, or if their weight is their handicap. I want to yell at them when I see the cart full of processed food, sugary sodas, and plain old crap ... "give a damn, and you can do something about your situation!!"

I know that change is hard. And I know that our society makes it pretty easy to just stay the way you are, and never grow out of a difficult situation. We enable people to make poor choices and live lazy lives. I don't want to be that person. I wish that somehow I could facilitate a change in that man's life so that he's never the topic of a flight attendant's conversation again. I wish I could waive a magic wand and make the pain associated with being overweight go away for those who physically hurt because of their weight. But I know those thoughts are ridiculous.

One thing I do know is that I'm glad my desire to change came from within me, and was no spurred on because I realized I was too fat for an airplane, or too fat for my job! Just this past week someone told me about a Texas hospital that has decided to not hire people with a BMI over 35. Granted, I've never been a fan of the whole height/weight chart that determines a person's BMI. I prefer the awesome tool we used during our Biggest Winner competition that calculated the number through a high-tech scale. 

I've always thought that as a group healthcare professionals are some of the most unhealthy people around. When you figure in the physical demands of most healthcare jobs and the stress ... and the fact that we're the last people to take care of ourselves, we're gluttons for punishment. This Texas hospital isn't taking any more excuses for being overweight. Their policy states "an employee's physique 'should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,' including an appearance 'free from distraction' for hospital patients."

Surely you're thinking -- employers can't discriminate against you because of your weight! Well, guess what? Only the state of Michigan and six US cities (including San Francisco and Washington, DC) ban discrimination against the overweight in hiring.

Although I don't agree with the hiring practice I have to say I'm not at all surprised! In this day and age when medical insurance is so expensive for employers to carry on employees. I'm glad that I work for a company that is trying to motivate us to get healthy by providing an incentive-based wellness program, earning points for positive lifestyle habits, and positive health changes. I've almost reached the highest tier in our wellness plan, and try to do things on a daily basis to earn more points.

I'm sorry this blog has rambled. But I've had all of these thoughts floating around for days! I want people to be inspired to improve their quality of life through their own choice. I don't want people to start their journey on a negative step, feeling like they were forced to lose weight for a job, or forced to lose weight so they could fit into their air place seat! The best step I've taken in a long time is to lose weight for me. I want to lose weight to improve the quality of my life. I want to lose weight to build a better future.

Thanks for bearing with me!