Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Half Marathon and a Training Plan

Ok, so I'm have a tendency to do this early and registering for a small half marathon three months early might seem obsessive but hey, I saved 20 bucks and I'm guaranteed a spot.

Anyway, the point is I registered for my first half marathon, on the Historic Langley Half on February 21st which gives me 13 weeks, starting tomorrow (I've got a terrible head cold today and can't really breath and just got the swine-flu vaccine last night so I feel like a run might just put too much stress on my body and totally wipe me out) to train. I toyed with running the Mercer Island half marathon on March 20-something instead of this one, but this one is much closer to me (40 minute drive as opposed to three and a half some-odd hours) and therefore I wont have to pay for a place to stay or deal with crossing the US border. Furthermore I plan to run my full marathon in Seattle anyway as the Vancouver marathon is just a bit sooner than I'd like (early May), so I might as well save the Washington trip till then.

So I have a training plan which I feel confident about and I'm working on a food plan as my current one will take some adjusting. For the most part I feel like I do eat pretty well. I have to as I've definitely got one of those metabolisms that hangs on to weight (starvation genes, fat genes whatever you want to call them). This last year, however, I've been focused on losing weight and therefore have eaten the minimum number of carbs to get me through workouts and otherwise tried to focus on lean proteins etc. I'm not perfect, but I did a pretty good job of avoiding processed carbohydrates at any rate. Furthermore I enjoy learning about food and discovering new ingredients and tastes. Much of my nutritional overhaul this last year has been more an exploration in natural foods than a lesson in deprivation. For example Friday night dinner was quinoa with a broccoli pesto and broccoli and a mushroom casserole made from mushrooms onions brown rice cottage cheese a touch of sour-cream eggs and parmesan. Delicious filled with good fats (for the most part) protein packed and full of complex carbohydrates (check out, it will completely change the way you think about natural foods).

But now, I'm going to need to up my carbohydrate intake. I still plan to stick to whole grains and complx carbohydrates but I am starting to wonder what role GUs and energy bars might start to play particularly when I start heading out for 9-11 mile run. Either that or maybe I'll avoid the processed stuff alltogether and start bringing packets of dried fruits, or LARA bars as I have a fear of chemicals.

So here's the plan for next week (which I already know might not work out perfectly as I am graduating on Thursday and heading up to Whistler for the weekend on Friday):

Monday - Spin class (the plan is to register for it BEFORE I head to work Monday morning. If a 5:30 class is full at eight am then I give up)

Tuesday - schedule has an easy 2 miles... which really doesn't feel like much but I WILL stick to the schedule. I will, I will, I will...

Wednesday - weights/cross training (my weekly half hour on the elliptical oh how I hate you)

Thursday - five mile tempo run

Friday - easy 2 miles (again with the not feeling like much but I'll see how this first week goes)

Saturday - day off. I believe in one full stop day, at least for now. It may be eliminated later but I always find myself relieved when I get to take one day off. This week I will likely be skiing but that's not really that much exercise, particularly since I'm a mediocre skier, my boyfriend is a great skier and therefore I tend to spend a lot of time rolling down the black-diamond slopes he can tackle with the grace and confidence of an Olympic medalist (he's not, but he is one of those people with annoyingly perfect form who's never phased by anything on the mountain).

Sunday - seven miles run.

So Sunday's long run may end up being pushed to Monday as Sunday will likely be spent skiing and then driving back down to Vancouver, but otherwise I should be able to stick to it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Balance Fall Classic

So a year ago, I weighed 214lbs. Today I weigh 162, that's 52lbs gone. For any who are wondering, I am 5'7.

A year ago I couldn't run half a mile without keeling over and gasping for breath. Today I run 20-25 miles a week and I have a goal. A goal to run 26.2 miles at the end at the Seattle Rock and Roll marathon on June 26th 2010.

Today I completed my first mile-marker. I ran a 10k. I know its not very far, in fact it is a distance I have run before, but it was my first race. My first time velcroing a timing chip to my ankle and pining on a bib. My first time lining up at the start line and waiting, jumping up an down nervously for the clock to count down. My first time running a set 6.1 mile (10k) course (I know I said I've run 6 miles before, and I kind of have, but I measured the distance by driving the route with my car, I know I need to invest in a Garmin, and I don't run with a watch so I only have a vague idea of exactly how long it takes me to run a 10k distance).

I had a goal, my goal was to finish in an hour, just under a 10 minute mile for the whole race. Not very fast for most people, I know, but for me. For me who a year ago could barley run a 14 minute mile... It's huge.

So I got up this morning, at seven am, had some Irish soda bread toast with almond butter and honey (my favorite pre-run meal in the world), got dressed, stopped by Starbucks because lets face it I can't handle a day without caffeine, and walked over to the UBC student rec center where the race started. It was cold, windy, and raining, but my entire body was bubbling with excitement. This was the beginning, if I could get through this I could get through a half marathon... and theoretically if I can get through a half marathon then that marathon I want to run in June should be possible. Typical me, we arrived before the 10k check in even began, so we waited around, then picked up my bib and timing chip, and then sat down at a table to wait for the next 45 minutes or so. To his credit my boyfriend complained minimally about the amount of sleep he lost thanks to my obsessive, must-be-on-time nature.

I made two bathroom trips because the idea of having to go during the race made me nervous, and finally headed out of the warm gym to the start line, said bye to my boyfriend who headed out with the camera to key race points, and silently cursed myself for not grabbing a watch before leaving the house. Sure, I never run with one, but I don't usually have a time goal in mind whereas this time... This time I really really wanted to finish in an hour. I figured I could ask someone somewhere along the way, and then the clock ran out and the race started.

I started too fast, that much I knew, and as we headed over the first hill to the other side of campus I told myself to SLOW DOWN, to stop being so damn competitive and let the faster, fitter runners get ahead of me. It was ok, this was my first 10k, they were probably aiming to finish in 40 minutes or less, I was aiming for an hour.

The weather sucked, and my ipod shuffle headphones got waterlogged quickly which resulted in the voice over going on sporadically and random skips in my music. I was glad for the free throwaway gloves they handed out before the start. I threw them off at around the 3k mark, but they helped keep me warm until my body had warmed up enough to make them unnecessary.

Honestly I didn't think I'd make my time goal. I really really didn't. The middle of the race felt hard, I was fighting wind and rain and my legs didn't feel as powerful as they sometimes do. Furthermore I kept getting side cramps along my right side, not super painful ones, but annoying. At the turn around I said to myself, allright then, lets just finish this, hopefully it will be under 1:10, and at least I'll have completed it, we can look at what went wrong later. At around 7k I saw the boy standing there, soaking wet, smiling with the camera, I gave him a smile and a wave and dug in. At 8k I told myself I had less than a mile in a half left to go. I would finish, and I stared wondering if maybe I would make my time goal.

There were after all other 10k runners still besides me, and what's more, there were a fair amount of half-marathoners around me, glancing nervously at their watches in a way that told me they were trying for sub two-hour finishes, so at 9k I decided to give it my all. I picked up the pace down main mall to university boulevard, and then as I turned onto west mall, the last bit of the race, I was next two this couple, the girl was I think running her first half and the guy was telling her to give it everything she had, that this was it. I decided to listen to his advice and took off, my legs moving faster than I think they ever had before, and as I turned the corner and saw the finish line clock I just about passed out, it read 59:55, I ran even harder and made it in 1:00:06 (I don't have the official time off my chip yet as we left before they started posting them, and I know it took me about 5-15 seconds to get across the start line as I was back a bit in the crowd). I had done it, I had finished my first 10k in more or less exactly an hour. I was absolutely elated. I didn't think I'd care much about the time. I thought I'd be more excited about having finished my first real race, but I felt so incredibly proud of myself for finishing on goal. I got hugs from my boyfriend, his mom and the dog who had come out to the finish line to cheer me on, I couldn't stop smiling and repeating over and over again that I had done it. Because honestly I didn't think I would.

So this is just the beginning, now I look towards half marathon training and then towards a marathon, but I know I can do it. I know I can push, I know I can accomplish the weight loss goals (140) and the running goals I have set for myself. Although I started running to help with my weight loss, it has grown into something else completely. I have, as so many other have, fallen in love with the simplicity of it, the one step after the other, lose yourself in the moment, feeling of running and I don't know why I used to hate it so much, because I did hate it. I was that kid in PE who would lag at the back when we were told to run the mile. I was the one who hated soccer and basketball and all team sports because they involved so much running... and its amazing how much that has all changed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm running my 10k in a week and half, on the 15th...

But I'm continuing to go downhill in terms of food choices etc.

I feel like a year ago when I started this I was at a point where my health was at risk, where I had to lose the weight, or keep going up in to the 220s and so on until I didn't know when. Now I'm 164, and that's awesome. That's really, really amazing and awesome. But I've slowed down since summer.

On the one hand I'm running more than ever, I've gotten faster, my endurance has gone up, everything is getting better. On the other hand in the past four months I have only lost like seven pounds... which is really not very much at all.

I wanted to be 140 by Christmass, but now I know it's not going to happen. Twenty-five pounds in a month in a half is just not going to happen. It could have happened, if I hadn't always given in and gotten that extra cookie, or scone, or muffin, or whatever other slew of terrible terrible food choices I have made in the last three months. I need to get back on track, and I need to get back on track NOW, otherwise I will regain all the weight and last year will have been for nothing.

I need to do this, I need to lose these 25 lbs. I need to stop taking days off of running when I don't feel like going. Yeah, so I make it about four times a week, but I need to run five times a week, with one or two days worth of cross-training. I have to work out six to seven days a week. Why because I want to hit 140. I want to fit into those clothes, I want people to look at me and say wow you look great, and people do tell me that now, but only because of what I used to look like.

Today I cracked as I was leaving work, I got a polar bear cookie and a caramel brulee late. The cookie had 440 calories, the late 310. That's 750 calories, right there and I was already at 1000, which would have been fine if I had just waited for dinner. Then I said fuck it, and got a bag of chips on my way home. Another 300 calories.

I've been doing this about once a week for the past couple of weeks, and it HAS TO STOP. This is what I used to do, this is the way I used to eat. The craziest part is I haven't eaten this way for a year and I haven't missed it. Eating well, and making healthy choices made me feel good, it made me feel powerful and capable and strong. I want to be that healthy person.

My trainer keeps asking me how the food thing is going and I keep being unable to tell him... somehow I'm sure he knows, my weight loss has totally stalled which means having him is a waste of money. Exercise is only half the battle. Food is the other half.

I need to be that healthy person. So I have to find that motivation again.

I'm going to have to start over with food because all my bad habits have returned. I need to refocus and think about what I want to feel like. I don't want to crash in the middle of the day because I've had too much sugar. I don't want to feel nauseous because all I've eaten in a day is processed crap. I want to feel good and powerful and strong and like I'm doing good things to myself.

I need to get it together. I need to get it together badly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I have been struggling with food lately. I start out well and then by mid afternoon I'm at work and what's in the pastry case looks better and better and the fact that there are 500 calories in a cookie stops mattering to me. I don't think I'm gaining weight, I'm running too much to do that (which as a sidenote is going amazingly well), but I'm certainly not losing any.

It worries me, and makes me angry at myself because this is supposed to be a life-change sort of thing, and for the past year I have been very good at making sure that it is a life-style change and not a temporary 'diet.' I've looked at how I eat and I've changed it, and now I feel like I'm reverting. I haven't sat down with an entire bag of chips, but I've come scarily close to buying that bag, and I don't like it.

I need to regain the control over my diet, and figure out what it is that is making me do this. Figure out why I feel the sudden need to sabotage a year's worth of work when I am only 25lbs from my goal. After losing nearly 50lbs in the last year 25lbs should be nothing, yet if I keep going this way, I'll be back at 214 before I know what happens and then I'll have 75lbs to lose again.

That CANNOT happen.

So I need to figure out what I'm afraid of, what it is that is making me do this to myself. Am I scared that I'll hit my goal and still not be happy with myself? Or am I scared that I'll hit my goal and find myself unable to maintain it and then all the work will have been for nothing?

I'm just so frustrated with myself... I just need to remember, I control this, no one else and nothing else but me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ok, so it has been about three weeks since I updated. Life has been busy. I've been working, running, and trying to buckle down on this whole grad-school application thing....

But let's talk about the weight, and the running. After a frustrating two months at 170lbs I am happy to say I have broken through my plateau. Yesterday I weighed a beautiful 165lbs, a number I haven't seen on the scale since I was about 14? That's 49 pounds lost. Forty-nine pounds!

My 10k is in about a month, on November 10th, which is also, coincidentally the three year anniversary of my mother's death. I'm going to be running it for her, and wishing she could be there, waiting for me at the finish line. I've been thinking a lot lately of what my mother would say if she was still around. If she knew about what I've accomplished this last year, and it makes me sad that she's not here to see me accomplish this. My father told me that I started gaining weight when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I think he's probably right. So I find it ironically appropriate that I run my first real-distance race on the three year anniversary of her death. This one's gonna be for you mom.

Gotta run, it's Canadian Thanksgiving today, and we're having dinner at my boyfriend's mom's. I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday I tested out a new route. Instead of running down 16th and around up Chancellor, I ran up 16th and around the back of campus along Northwest Marine Drive. I've been looking for a route where I don't have to double back for the last 15 minutes to make a full hour of running, and I thought that running up 16th around the back of campus and then down Chancellor and back up either University or 16th depending on how long it took me might do the trick. It did.

I ended up coming back up University because 16th was too far (or I'm just still too slow). It is, however, good to know that when I get faster I can extend the route by going up 16th instead. It was a beautiful run. I headed out at about 6:00pm just as the sun was starting to set. For anyone who doesn't know UBC Northwest Marine Drive runs around the back of campus along cliffs that edge onto the water, through the trees I could see the sun sparkling off the ocean, and the mountains rising up around Howe Sound. It was a great run, and I once again felt unbelievably lucky to live in Vancouver.

I realized the other day that I've been running nearly a 10k everytime I go out, particularly when I run the full hour, at roughly a ten minute mile pace (still quite slow, I know, but give me time and another 25-30 pounds), I'm running about 6 miles, a 10k translates to 6.1 miles. Therefore I am thinking of trying to find a half marathon in February. Trouble is I don't think there is a half marathon in February, the earliest half marathon I could find is the one that runs along with the Vancouver marathon in May. I could conceivably pull of a half marathon in November, but it runs with the New Balance Fall Classic, which is the 10k I would like to do, and while a part of me is thinking maybe I should skip the 10k and move straight to the half, the rational, take it slow, don't push your body too hard, don't try and train for a half marathon in six weeks side of me is telling me not to. Maybe I can find a February half somewhere else, or maybe there's a group of crazy people out there somewhere who purposefully run a half marathon somewhere in southwest BC because they enjoy slogging through rain. If so, sign me up.

In other news I weighed myself this week and I think I've broken my plateau, on Monday night I weighed 166 lbs, four below that dreaded 170 I've been stuck at for a total weightloss of 48lbs. Twenty-six pounds to go! I must admit, I never thought I'd actually get this close. When I started I didn't think this was possible, I thought I would give up. But now, with everyday, with every added pound, I feel more and more certain that I will make it.

Today I drove my boyfriend to work, and am now planning to go back to sleep for half an hour, then go for a run before cleaning the house (which desperately needs it), heating up some soup for lunch, and then heading to work at three, I'm closing tonight which means I work till 11:30... Yuck. Oh well, at least I have the next three days off after that.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today I was again reminded of how lucky I am to live in Vancouver. A few months ago my boyfriend used to come running with me, not always, as he doesn't enjoy it nearly as much as I do, but a few times a week we'd run down to the beach and then slog back up the hill for a challenge. Then he started having knee problems, went to physio, and was told that he had to slow down on the running and run flats only.

So today, we did something I have wanted to do since I started really running nearly about four months ago, we ran around the false creek inlet. We considered doing the entire seawall and then realized its about 20k from Granville Island to the Vancouver convention center and we decided to save that for my half marathon training in a few months. Our route around the False Creek however, was almost exactly five miles and almost perfectly flat and therefore a good way for us to see how his knee held up. We drove down to Kits, parked the car, and set off. Today was beautiful, sunny, slightly cool, with a bit of wind and clouds hanging around the mountains making them look both stunning and ominous, similar to those pictures you see of fog covered mountains in Asia. The mountains were beautiful, and we ran by the Olympic village appreciating the really nice landscaping that's been done around the area. we ran around science world, past GM place and BC place and then along the downtown seawall, surrounded by luxury condo-towers, we finished off just after the Burrard street bridge and grabbed one of the little mini-ferries across the Granville Island where Basic Stock sweet-potato soup finished off the afternoon perfectly.

About halfway through our run, the boy turned to me and asked me how I was doing, I smiled and responded awesome. I was awesome, I had a perfect pace, the view was beautiful, and the weather perfect. I felt happy, elated, and completely content. A year ago what I did today would have been impossible. Simply walking it would have exhausted me, and what's more, I would have had no interest in doing it. A year ago I was dissatisfied. I was dissatisfied with my relationship, with my life, with where I was going, and I did not know why. A year ago I decided I was done being overweight, that it was time to stop eating so much and start changing my life. Today I fully realized just how much my life has changed.

Today I chose to spend my Sunday afternoon outside, on a run with my boyfriend. I chose to because I knew it would be a fun thing to do together. A year ago my definition of fun would have been different, in fact I don't think I even knew, a year ago that I could feel this good, that I could sprint to the end of a five mile run a huge smile on my face. People tell me all the time how good I look now, and I smile and say thank you, but what I really want to say is: "if only you could see how I feel inside, because how good I look outside is nothing compared to how damn good I wake up feeling every day."

I have changed my life, and it is so much better in every single way today than it was a year ago.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I have had a week of fantastic runs. Wednesday I ran in the rain. At first it was just a light drizzle, then about half-way through the downpour began. I had no choice but to keep going as I run a loop and was half an hour from home. I felt like a child again, I splashed in puddles and ran with a huge smile on my face as water dripped from my hair, my eyes, and my chin. When I got home I thoroughly resembled a drowned rat but I didn't care, I was cold, soaked, and exhilarated.

On Thursday I got home from work at about 5, exhausted, my feet hurt, my back hurt, I wasn't sure if I could push through the hour long run I wanted to complete. At about 6:30 I headed out, new playlist in hand, and went for it. I started fast and huffed and puffed through the first ten minutes until my body got used to the pace. Somewhere along the way I got lost in the running. I didn't think about where I was going or what time it was or how much time I had left, I just ran, my feet moving beneath me, hitting the pavement caught in a perfect runner's high.

I took Friday off. I've pushed my run time from 45 minutes to an hour and my legs felt exhausted. I figured it was best to give my muscles a rest. I sat at home after work feeling the muscles in my legs, looking at how much straighter the line of my leg is, where it used to bulge weirdly near my knee, feeling the slight tiredness in my legs from the week of hard runs.

Later that day I pulled on my current/elliot skinny jeans, a black tank top gifted to me from my boyfriend's step mom, and pulled out an old pair of boots and a loose knit sweater I haven't worn in years that now finally fits the way it was supposed to (loose, casually draped), and went to dinner with the boy. Looking at myself in the mirror before leaving I critically considered whether or not I was pulling off the jeans tucked into mid-calf high boots look that I have coveted on so many others, and I did. I really, really did.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yesterday's run was awesome. I reversed my usual route and went in the opposite direction, and for whatever reason it was the best run I've had in weeks. My legs felt springy, my stride easy and I kept a 6 mile an hour pace (which I realize is not very fast, but it is fast for me) pace while keeping an even breath. It was perfect, it was the kind of run that sticks with you, that convinces you to go out when you're tired and it is raining and you just want to stay in and sit on the couch.

Coincidentally today it is raining, and I am heading out for my run as soon as I finish this post. The question currently is do I take the rain jacket or not. It is just light rain, and the jacket is very bulky and despite being a shell, it is hot, well hotter than just running in a tank top is. On the other hand it does provide me with a safe place to store my iphone, which is 1. expensive 2. my favorite thing ever 3. not something I feel like having to replace. Furthermore if the light rain turns to heavy rain I will be glad I took the rain jacket. Regardless, I'll probably run a the same route today as I did yesterday.

I've realized I need to make a new workout mix as my old one bores me, and I find myself getting frustrated with the songs which makes me frustrated with my run which makes me start checking the time every two minutes which makes for a very long, and unhappy hour. Maybe I should do that before I go on my run.

On a food related note I am in love with Kashi go lean cereal, it is packed with fiber and protein, and a half-cup mixed with yogurt (I hate milk), provides me with a filling 215 calorie breakfast. I only wish they sold fage greek yogurt in Canada, because it is my absolute obsession. Unfortunately it can only be found in the states. I admit I am tempted to drive down to Bellingham and buy some from Trader Joes and then sneak it back into Canada, but it seems like a lot of effort.

In other news I successfully onsighted a 10.c on Monday night. It was amazing, it felt amazing. I was watching other people climb, and struggle with moves that I can now do. I feel so powerful, and so capable. I remember when I first started training almost a year ago, I was talking to my trainer about feeling frustrated at my inability to climb difficult routes, and he told me that in time I'd be able to. At the time, unable to lift myself a half inch when trying to do a pull-up, I doubted him, now a year later, I know he was right. I never dreamed I'd be able to lift my body-weight with my arms, that I'd be able to effortlessly (ok, not really effortless, but regardless) lift myself over a ledge, but I can, and it feels fantastic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yesterday morning I woke up early, drove my boyfriend's mom to the bus station because she was heading up to Whistler for the weekend, and then dropped my boyfriend off downtown at work before heading home myself. Yesterday was one of those jaw-droppingly beautiful, absolutely take your breath away, oh my god I can't believe I actually live here kind of days. It was sunny, warm, and perfectly, perfectly clear out. The mountains were perfect, the water, was perfect and I realized not for the first time how deeply in love with this city I am.

As I was driving home I saw so many people out running on Saturday morning, through the streets of downtown, across the Burrard street bridge (something I've decided I need to do even though it isn't close to home, because the view from there is beautiful), up Point Grey road and I realized that besides the view, the people, and the overall fantastic atmosphere, one of the things I really adore about Vancouver is just how active everyone is. It was 10 am on a Saturday morning and I saw more people than I could count sweating it out on their daily 3/5/however many miles runs, it was inspiring. When I got home, I didn't even hesitate, I changed, tied on my shoes and went out for my own hour long run. The smile never left my face, my stride felt springy, and at the end of it I felt like I could have just kept right on going.

There's an atmosphere in Vancouver, a love of activity, and the outdoors, and a general desire for health that I think works for me. It motivates me, it makes me want to be one of those people, out running mid morning on weekends, it makes me want to go backpacking, go climbing, and just stand there in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds me.

In other exciting news I climbed a 10.c on Thursday night. I not only climbed it, I climbed it without falling off. What was even better, I knew I could do it, every move felt solid, every time I went for a hold and my hand wrapped around it I knew without absolute certainty that I would be able to continue pulling myself up. My muscles felt strong and capable, and when I looked down from the top and called for tension so I could get lowered it was with a sense of happiness and pride at having made it. As my boyfriend said, it's amazing what not having to drag an extra nearly 50 pounds up a wall will do for you. Hey, it's about 25 lbs per hand!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I have hit a plateau. I guess I should be thankful that it didn't happen sooner, as most people hit one after about 20 pounds, but this one is frustrating. I have been stuck at about 170 pounds for the last almost two months. I've seen improvements in the way I look, and in my speed and endurance when running, which makes me think I'm losing weight, but every time I step onto the scale it still reads at just about 170.

If I am honest with myself, I think its a food problem. I think I really need to buckle down for a couple weeks and refocus food-wise. I've been giving into the things I want lately, I've been drinking that Snapple, or eating that cookie, and having that extra snack while at work. I had stopped doing that all of last year, and it needs to stop again. I want to lose these last 30 pounds, and it isn't going to happen by eating the way I used to.

I find myself apprehensive about these last 30 pounds lately. I mean, it's still a lot of weight, and taking off the last 30 is likely going to be harder than the first 45, my body was more willing to give up weight when I was tipping the scales at over 200 then it is now. What if I can't do it, and what if I give up completely and just let the weight come back on, slowly, pound by pound, until I'm 214 pounds again? This fear isn't allayed by the fact that my runs the last two days have been slow, painful, and boring. I think I need to get off the treadmill and go outside again... I find I have an easier time running outside to music, than to television on a treadmill. But that makes me nervous, because winter's coming and I will run in the rain, but I'm not hardcore enough to run on snow. That's not a problem if the weather this year acts as it normally does in Vancouver: one week of snow, and six months of rain as I can gym-it for a week... but if it's anything like last year I'm going to be slogging along on a treadmill for a solid six weeks.

On the flip-side, I am excited about losing these last thirty pounds. About running this 10k in November, a half marathon in the spring and a full one come summer. I am excited about fitting into the clothes I've dreamed of fitting into and feeling even more awesome about myself than I do now. I can't wait to cross the finish line next summer, having just run 26.2 miles (because I will finish) and have my boyfriend waiting for me, because he always knew I could accomplish this. On Thursday I ran my usual run (outside), and then headed over to the UBC track for the last 10 minutes of my run, and did a mile, as fast as I could considering it was the very end of my run. I completed it in 9 minutes and 32 seconds. So not really that fast compared to most other runners, but for me, who never ran a mile in under 11 minutes in middle school. For me, who was that person walking at the very back of the pack, it was a huge accomplishment, and knowing how far I've come motivates me to go even further.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So last week we were down in San Francisco. We went for a concert and to offer some help to my dad who is currently cleaning out my old house so that we can finally rent it. We drove down, in two days, and back up in two days. In the three days we were in San Francisco, we visited two different climbing gyms, and I went for two runs at the unbelievably well equipped San Francisco JCC with Kathy.

I realize I haven't mentioned climbing at all on here, and it's also a good segway into what I wanted to write about. I started climbing almost two years ago now after my boyfriend gave me an intro-course for Christmas (he's been climbing since he was 15). I put off the course for quite a while, terrified that the gym wouldn't have harnesses big enough for my thighs and that I would be too heavy for my belayer. I finally sucked it up and registered for the course. I had to use a fully adjustable harness and my belayer occasionally had to tie into the ground, but I was immediately addicted. Since then we've been regulars at the Vancouver climbing gym. It's a great workout, and one visit to the gym reveals the masses of beautifully sculpted long, toned muscles on those regular climbers.

I admit, I struggled with climbing. Despite climbing at least once a week, and more frequently twice, my weight limited my ability to haul myself up any route greater than a 5.9 (in non-climber speak, not very hard). A few weeks ago, the boy and I went climbing with his two best friends and I got to talking with one of them about whether or not my weight loss had affected my climbing. It has. It definitely has. Things that used to be impossible, are doable, I climbed half a 5.10c before falling off of it the other day... I could never have done that at 214 pounds. What's more, my ability to climb harder routes makes me feel strong, capable and like I want to reach my goals so I can finally climb that 5.11. So that I too can have those long lean muscles, so I can be one of those girls with the great arms.

On a completely different note being home was awesome. I saw all these people I haven't seen in ages and they all told me I looked fantastic. See, its weird because up here I just stared at a new store, and none of the people there ever knew me when I was fat, I can tell them, but I'm not sure they really know what it means, and everyone who has known me for a year has seen the weight come off slowly, and while most of them will tell me that I look fantastic, the reactions I got from people I haven't seen since November was awesome. Their reactions gave me so much validation and so much motivation to get to where I want to be.

Anyway, I'm out for today, its work, then the gym, then climbing tonight. I love days like today, my muscles feel completely exhausted at the end, yet unbelievably strong and capable.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yesterday I discovered that morbidly obese people have mold that grows inside their folds of fat. Think of that next time the urge for something unhealthy gets to you. If that's not motivation I don't know what is. Most people do a lot to avoid mold in their own home, let alone on their own bodies.

Similarly, while at work yesterday I had multiple conversations with customers about the difference between US and Canadian Starbucks, namely we discussed the presence of excess sugar in US drinks. Not because the drink formulas are different (as far as I know they aren't), but because people don't tend to order things half-sweet, or whipped-cream free as frequently in the USA as they do in Canada. It is no secret that the United States has an obesity problem, and while obese people do live in Canada, I have found, particularly in Vancouver, which is known for its active population, that there are fewer overweight people in general. Of course this makes it harder for those people who are overweight because they feel out of place and consistently embarrassed because of their size (or at least I did), but on the other hand it means the resources are there for anyone with the desire to change their lives. What's more the presence of these resources generally results in a greater awareness of health and well-being, explaining the frequent requests I get for drinks with non-fat milk, half the amount of syrup, or sugar-free syrup altogether.

For me, personally, food is a challenge. I love to eat. Indeed, my boyfriend and I consider ourselves foodies, and often joke that the money most college-students spend on beer, we spend on expensive meals for anniversaries and birthdays. We just really enjoy good food. Of course, food at nice restaurants, particularly in Vancouver, tends to be organic, of high quality and (mostly) reasonable portion sizes, but still fried in a ton of butter (because that is the true secret to delicious restaurant cooking), and high in calories. The combination of my love of food and desire for health, however, has resulted in a new way of eating.

A few years ago, two Vancouver reporters decided to eat local for a year, the resulting book: "The 100 Mile Diet" documents their year of local eating. Now, I'll be the first to admit that we don't eat 100% local, but we do eat about 95% organic, and buy any local produce available. Some things, like bananas, are simply not grown in BC, but other things, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, onions, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes... are grown in BC, and we make sure to buy them. The limits placed on our diet by our focus on local, organic food is that these food products tend to be more 'whole,' and generally contain fewer preservatives, and other chemicals. By focusing on something we really believe in, my boyfriend and I have taken our love of food and use it as an outlet to express some of our beliefs while indulging in organic local food which really does taste better than conventional food that has traveled thousands of miles to get to us.

That's not to say I don't still frequent restaurants, I do, but when I do I try to make conscious decisions about what I am ordering, and hell, it is ok to cheat, sometimes. Birthdays and anniversaries only come around a couple times a year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today I am going for a run, coming home, likely having smoothies for lunch (as we accidentally left the fridge unplugged and all our carefully frozen fruit is now unfrozen and must be used in the next few days for fear of losing about 30 bucks worth of organic, local fruit from the UBC farm market. We also must now make large quantities of pasta sauce to freeze as we had two pounds of organic extra-lean ground beef in the freezer as well which defrosted and can only be refrozen once cooked... I know what we're doing tomorrow), and then heading out to the climbing gym, before having to be at work at 4:30.

Yesterday I had a brilliant run. 4.14 miles in 45 minutes... it felt perfect, amazing... My mind cleared and I focused in on what I was doing and just went for it. I love that moment, about five minutes into a run when your muscles start to warm up, and your breathing hits its pace and everything just comes together. It's perfect and it's why I run.

Lately, I've been having a lot of the same conversation, it goes something like this:
Person x: "Wow, you look tiny, have you lost weight?"
Me: "Yeah, well since September I've been working to take off a lot of weight, I'm down 45 pounds now."
Person x: "That's amazing, how did you do it?"
Me: "By working out, and eating well. You know I'm at the gym six days a week, I started by biking, then the elliptical, and then running, now I run about 20 miles a week." (Sometimes I mention, the trainer, sometimes I don't. I realize it isn't something everyone can afford. For me, it was the right decision, and I don't think I could have been as successful without his help, but it was also a rather personal decision to hire him and I don't share that with everyone).
Person x: "Oh wow, I have good weeks sometimes but I don't always make it to the gym, and I could never run, besides I always have to force myself to exercise because I hate it."

This conversation, I'm sorry to say, annoys me. Anyone with enough determination (barring medical complications) can do this. It takes dedication, and yes, the first two months are hard. Forcing yourself to make time for exercise, and pushing yourself through workouts which are frankly more than just slightly uncomfortable takes dedication and mental force, but it is certainly doable. I had to force myself to go to the gym everyday for nearly two months until I realized I felt better if I worked out than if I didn't. Until I found myself addicted to the adrenaline rush, and endorphin high that follows exercising. Until I realized I'm a bitch to everyone around me if I don't get a good workout in.

Making time for the gym isn't easy, but is well worth it. I understand that people are busy, they have work, and other complications, but investing that extra hour in themselves everyday might just change their lives. Hell, it certainly changed mine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I find I compose posts while running... And promptly forget them as soon as I get home or step off the treadmill. But they're always brilliant, I promise.

Tuesday I met with my trainer, which involved the usual sets of sit-ups, 30-45 second planks, twists, squats, and pull-ups, which are our latest project. I can now do three, so long as you provide me with a ten second break between each one. Still, for a girl who a year ago would hang from a bar, pull desperately and get nowhere, I think it's pretty damn good.

Wednesday I had my schedule messed up by being called into work two hours earlier than expected. I therefore ran off to the gym at 8:30, which is a bit early for me... I really do best after 10:00 am. I got through twenty minutes on the treadmill, and ended up doing the last 25 on the elliptical as I never really managed to find my pace. Probably should not have given up so quickly, but at least I got the full workout in before going to my first day at my new store and realizing that my manager was not lying about us being crazy busy.

Thursday was my best run of the week. I ended up at the gym at about 3:00pm, did a five minute walk warmup, and then another ten minutes at 5.1 mph before kicking the speed up to 5.6 for five minutes, then down to 5.2 for five, and up to 5.7 for five, down to 5.3, up to 5.8 down to 5.4 and then up to 6 for three minutes, and then 6.5 for a minute and 7 for my last minute. Ok, so not super fast compared to what many people can run at, but I finished 4.14 miles in 45 minutes which is the fastest and farthest I have ever run. What's more the whole thing felt awesome. The entire run took place in that perfect tingly, happy, 'I feel like I'm flying' state of being. That awesome adrenaline rush at which point I am absolutely positive that I can make it down to 150/140 lbs. That all this weight wont come back on because how could it when I feel SO good about myself right now? Running makes me feel powerful and capable, and proud of myself. I love being able to say "I am a runner."

A caveat to close this entry from a recent event: last week I decided that my old running shoes were dead. I've had them for three years, I have been running 15-20 miles a week in them for the last six months, therefore all the padding and support was gone. So the boyfriend and I decided to go down to the local running shop, you know one of those places where they look at how you walk and give you the best shoe? Anyway, we get there, I tell the guy I'm looking for running shoes. He does the usual foot-examining thing and then before he goes to get shoes he turns and asks me, "so is this just a casual, occasional running thing?" As if a person of my size could hardly be a serious runner. Could hardly have the goal of finishing a marathon by the end of next year. I shook my head, no, and informed him I run about 20 miles a week at this point, not much compared to some, but enough to need a good running shoes, because I am a runner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So I've held off on shopping for the last year (mostly), figuring that anything I bought was an absolute waste of money as it would be too big in roughly three months. But yesterday, seeing as I am now down 45 pounds, I decided to reward myself, just a little, buy some things that could either be altered to fit in six months or that were over-sized anyway, and therefore likely to fit regardless of my size.

Now shopping is something I have always loved. Because I carried the bulk of my weight in my lower half I could always find tops, despite my size. Jeans were a challenge, but a few years ago I discovered that Lucky brand easy-riders in a size 32 fit me, and I proceeded to live in them for the last four years. Problem was, I adore jeans. Designer denim is an obsession of mine even though pulling on a pair was impossible until recently.

Every few months, in hopes of a miracle, I'd go to Holt Renfew, ask for a pair of jeans in a mid rise, with a bootleg or flare to balance out my lower half, in the biggest size they carried (32), and fail to fit into them. Two years ago now, I bought a pair of Paige jeans in hopes that I would soon, because I was of course on one of my many failed weight-loss kicks at the time, fit into them. The first time I actually fit comfortably into the Paiges was in April, a year and eight months after purchasing them. Now those Paige's are heading towards the 'too-big' end of the spectrum.

The real challenge for me though, was the skinny jean. Hours of scouring denim-blogs have revealed to me just how truly flattering the skinny jean can be when worn right, and I've been dying to get to the point where instead of looking like a fat girl trying to squeeze herself into slim-fitting clothing, I look, not celebrity-thin (something I should mention, I do not aspire to), but good in a pair of skinnies.

So yesterday, I decided, seeing as my Paiges were almost too big I would go shopping. I had to drop my boyfriend off downtown anyway, so I figured now was as good a time as any. I started at American Eagle. I had never been able to fit into their size 14 jeans and wanted to see if now I could. I grabbed a few pairs, and pulled them on, and promptly pulled them off; without unbuttoning them. The 12s were still a bit big, the 10s a bit tight. I was nearing a size 10, or a 30 in designer sizing. Not small by any means, but better than I'd ever been in my life.

I left American Eagle, without having bought anything, but with a giant grin on my face as I headed down to Aritzia, a much hated store by many for being overpriced and filled with small sizes, but almost as much a mecca for designer denim as Holt Renfrew not to mention having a serious sale. The girls set me up with a pair of Paige skinnies and a pair of Current/Elliot ones. Although I didn't end up buying them, I had to size down the Paige jeans to a 31, after which point I did a silent victory dance in my change room. Designer denim sizing is notoriously small, and with rises getting lower every year, the fact that my butt fit into a size 31 is significant. I fully expected to leave with the Paiges, but after trying on the Current/Elliots I was in love. The dark denim wash, the oversized pockets on the back and the way my legs looked in them, I left with them instead, as well as a beautiful dark green top and this gorgeous oversized draped sweater that is the coziest thing in the world. The bill made me cringe, despite the sale, but it was so absolutely worth it, because I own a gorgeous pair of skinny jeans that make me look and feel so damn good.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

45 lbs and Counting

So, back in September, I hit the tipping point. I was 21, weighed 214 pounds, wore a size 16 jean, and even carefully posed pictures in which I sucked in my stomach, tried to stand in a way that made my legs look long, couldn't hide it. I was fat. My BMI was 33.8 and my body fat percentage, which placed me indisputably in the obesity range, clocked in at 44%. My blood pressure was roughly 150/80 (which is considered rather high). Although my body's tendency to store fat in my butt and hips made me look about ten pounds lighter than my actual weight, the scale does not lie, and neither does a body fat percentage reading.

I did that thing people usually scoff at, and yet wish they could try, because who knows if it would actually make a positive, significant difference: I hired a trainer. He did not laugh when I told him my final goal was somewhere between 140 and 150 (a 60-70 pound weight loss), and he told me honestly that it would be slow, but it was possible. After a grueling maximum-heart-rate test and carefully examining the damage years of not exercising and eating too much had done to my body (my right side was much tighter than my left, and my hip joints so un-flexible I could barely complete a squat) he started me on a seven-day a week program which included an hour on the stationary bike five times a week, and meeting with him twice a week for a half hour of weight training followed by another half hour on the bike. I stopped snacking, cut down my portion sizes, and focused on eating whole, natural foods. I aimed for 1500 calories a day, although I did not always make it.

I lost six pounds in three weeks. I was ecstatic. It would be slow, but it was possible.

Today is August 9, almost a year since my September tipping point. The last time I checked, I weighed 170 pounds. I have lost 44 pounds. I still have 20-30 to lose, but I am not only convinced I can do it, I am excited to. I have in the past year discovered how much fun healthy food can be. My boyfriend and I now scour the weekly farmers market, and organic grocery stores looking for local, ethically sourced food which we can feel proud to eat. My love of food remains, it simply has a different manifestation. Equally as important, however, I have found a new addiction: running. After three months of biking, and two on the elliptical my trainer suggested I try running in 15 minute intervals with five minute walk breaks in between, soon it was twenty minute intervals, then 30, then I ran for a full 45 minutes, without any breaks, and it felt unbelievable. My goal is to run a marathon next summer. Although I am starting with a 10k this November.

My trainer recently recommended I do a blog, to inspire others he said, but its more than that too. Its for me, its so that I recognize, and realize what I am accomplishing on those days where I struggle, and its so that five, ten, fifteen years down the line I remember, how these last thirty pounds came off.