Tag Archives: Couch to 5K

What’s In, What’s Out:  Elimination Diet & Training Update

Jen April 2017

A month after my elimination diet and new workout routine, I’m feeling strong! I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost four years, and I’m happy to share that it keeps getting better!

Yes, I did it.  I survived a month on an elimination diet .  I managed to do this while starting a new workout schedule with a personal trainer.  Besides surviving and losing some weight, what are the results of the diet and training?  Here’s what I’ve learned:

*For a month, I avoided wheat, dairy, almonds and sugar.  Now that the month is over I’m adding a new food group for just three days and then waiting two more days to see if I can note any reaction.  So far, I added back in wheat.  The only response I’ve noticed is a bit of gas.  Not very ladylike perhaps, but not the worst reaction.  Will I keep wheat in my diet?  Maybe on occasion, but I didn’t particularly miss it.  When I reintroduced wheat-laden foods, I realized most of them weren’t healthy or particularly enjoyable.  I eat crackers mindlessly and that’s not good.  I stopped eating toast with peanut butter as a snack and switched to apple slices and sunflower butter.  As I test the foods I show a sensitivity to, I plan to be more mindful of how healthy that food is and if I really like it.

*Reading labels isn’t so bad.  In the beginning of the diet, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to read every food label for items like sugar and almonds.  It made me realize, especially with sugar, that there are ingredients in foods that really aren’t necessary.  Bacon without sugar is just as good, if not better than bacon made with sugar.  I plan to keep buying sugar-free bacon as well as the vegan Caesar salad dressing I discovered.  If I keep sugar as just a “sometime food” as opposed to an everyday food, I know I’ll continue to feel better.

*Making meals from scratch is getting easier.  To eliminate sugar from my diet, I found it easy to make some foods instead of buying prepared foods.  Yes, it takes more work to make meatloaf than to throw a preseasoned meat in a crock pot, but I got into the hang of it.  My Pinterest food page has more recipes for me to draw from.  I’m still searching for new recipes, but I’m more confident in my cooking skills.

*I feel a bit like a cavewoman with the meat I’m eating, but that’s a good thing.  Since my iron was at 2 when the range is 10 to 232, I knew I needed to eat more iron in addition to taking supplements.  While I didn’t follow through on my nutritionist’s suggestion of adding liver to my meatloaf, I did eat more red meat than in the past.  I’m happy to share in a month my iron went up to an 8.  While it’s improving I did have my first IV iron infusion this past weekend.  It was really easy actually and I didn’t have any reaction.  I’m going for a second one later this week and we’ll see what happens from there.  My symptoms of itchy skin and fatigue are gone, so unless eating a certain food bothers me when I reintroduce it, I think my low iron levels were causing them.

*An elimination diet is more than just finding out which foods are causing issues, it helps reset your eating habits.  For me, this past month was a good reminder that I need to eat mindfully.  Making better choices like eating less processed foods and more whole foods is making me feel better, I’m sure.  Also, even if I’m eating healthy foods, I need to watch the amount.  Macadamia nuts are better than chips, but they still have calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. This month has been a bit of reset to my old ways of eating after I had gastric sleeve surgery and with my four-year anniversary two months away, it’s been a good reminder of how I need to eat to continue to be healthy.

*Along with the diet, I began working out with my trainer with the initial goal of improving my running.  Yes, it’s improved my running!  When I first started, H., had me run 1.5 miles for a baseline.  I ran that same 1.5 miles last Friday and I’m excited to report I did it without walking.  As I’ve mentioned in many blogs, I’ve been a runner/walker since I started my weight loss journey.  And let me say that I think there is nothing wrong with doing intervals.  If you’re moving, you’re doing great!  For me, I wanted to improve my pace and see if I could improve my stamina.  After a month of twice weekly workouts and a day or two of working out on my own, I’m excited to say I ran that same 1.5 miles without walking and beat my original time by 1:09 minutes.  I will never forget when I started the Couch to 5K program, my pace was 18:30 minutes per mile.  Four years later, my new pace is 12:07 per mile.  My body can do more than I ever thought it could!

*This brings me to one of the best parts of increasing and improving my exercise routine:  I believe I can do more.  I know that it was my mental block that was part of the reason I couldn’t run without taking a break.  While I’m working on my muscle memory (my body getting used to working out harder), I’m also retraining my brain to be more positive and open to changes.  I’m learning to trust my body when I exercise.  When my head and body work together, I can accomplish my exercising goals.  

So after a month of “dieting” and a new exercise routine, I am excited with all the changes I’ve made.  Sugar and wheat are mostly out, but in on occasion.  Mindful eating is in, but mindless eating is out.  Cooking is in, but prepackaged food is out as much as possible.  Exercise and working with a trainer is most definitely in, but doubting my abilities is out.  As crazy as this month as been, I’m glad I followed the elimination diet and new exercise routine.  I feel healthy, empowered, and ready to keep going Down the Scale…

Jen April 2017 Part 2

With the spring weather approaching, I’m excited to have my sunroof open and the ability to run outside! My weight loss journey continues as Spring arrives!

I am a Runner

jenrace11115

I enjoyed running the Hot Chocolate 5K Race, but also enjoyed the treats at the end!  Can’t wait for my next race!

Naming this week’s blog post, “I am a Runner” is making me a little uneasy. Since I am not a natural athlete and regular exercise was never a part of my past, it feels strange to declare myself a runner. I am a runner even if I doubt it. I think declaring it publicly will help me realize it is true.

As a child and teen, I hated sports. I was always overweight and uncoordinated. I dreaded P.E. in school. Since I was bad at physical activities and I had to change in front of my peers in the locker room, P.E. was the ultimate nightmare. P.E. didn’t end with college unfortunately. I tried tennis and quit before I failed the course. Thank goodness for aerobic classes where I could hide my awkward self in the back.

As an adult I tried again to find a physical activity I would enjoy. I joined the YMCA with all the other moms. The treadmill was tiresome. I did the “Total Body Conditioning” class and struggled through each session. I used my second pregnancy as an excuse to quit. The Y turned into a place I took my kids for sports, not a place for me to exercise.

I did have a brief period of exercise enjoyment when I bid on a personal trainer for a fundraiser. I didn’t think I would win it, but I did. The ever-supportive husband and I worked with a great trainer for a few months. I can’t say I loved the strength training routines, but I survived. I did however enjoy the spin classes she made us go to at the Y. I was surrounded by toned and athletic people, but it was OK that I was fat and slow. When the instructor yelled to turn it up to ten, it didn’t matter that my ten was someone’s two.

Unfortunately our move cross-country put an end to my burgeoning exercise routine. For our first year in our new home I was depressed and instead of using my new walkable surroundings to my benefit, I ate my way around town. It wasn’t until my ever-supportive friend, N., suggested I try the Couch to 5K running program. Me, learn to run? At this time I weighed my all-time high of 283 pounds so the thought of running seemed ridiculous. N. offered to watch my kids so I didn’t have any excuse not to try. I had shoes and a babysitter so off I went. This was the beginning of my newfound love of running. I was slow as molasses, but I felt good. The Couch to 5K program and a gentle, but firm nudge from my friend started me down a new exercise path.

My running routine was interrupted a few times. After my gastric sleeve surgery, I took a break to recuperate, but I did walk until I could run again. Last May I had to stop running due to the pain of my abdominal hernia. About four weeks after my abdominal hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery, I started running again. It felt so good to be back!

One of the best rewards of my latest surgery was running a race on Thanksgiving. What turned out to be a five-mile race instead of three miles was just what a I needed to prove to me that I was a runner. As I wrote in my post, “Running Down the Scale”, I just told myself I had to finish. I did that and set a new PR (personal record) that I was proud of.

That brings me to one of the most important reasons I love running: it’s about my running pace and no one else’s pace. Sure, I don’t want to be the last person over the finish line, but if I am, that is OK. All I have to do is finish what I start. I strive to improve my pace, but not to beat anyone else’s. I may not be a fast runner, but I am a runner…just because I run.

The 5K Hot Chocolate Race I ran on Sunday really made me believe I should call myself a runner. I did this race with my 10-year-old son and his friend. Well, we started the race together, but after the first half mile, they were gone. At first I was annoyed and embarrassed. Didn’t they want to run with me? Ah, no, Jen, they’re two athletic kids who love to run and compete. Hanging out with the 45-year-old mom with a previous running pace of 13:22 wasn’t that exciting I’m sure.

It turned out to be good thing they ran at their pace, because I could then run at my pace and not kill myself keeping up with them. I put on my music and enjoyed the run. I walked some of it but I ran more than I thought I could. I finished with a PR (personal record) pace of 12:08.

The kids finished four minutes ahead of me, but we all enjoyed our chocolate treats together. No guilt for me when I indulged in hot chocolate and snacks! I earned it! And my gastric sleeve is my constant tool to keep me from overeating. I could eat a bit of the snacks, but nowhere near what I would have consumed in the past.

While I am already looking for another 5K race, I don’t believe racing makes me a runner. Just getting outside and running is what makes me a runner. This formerly uncoordinated and obese woman finally found her athletic grove. It took me over 40 years to find it, but it was well worth it. I think everyone can find some type of exercise to love. Whether it’s a group class, swimming or even walking, all you need to do is move. I am happy to call myself a runner, but more importantly I am happier to call myself a healthy woman.

Back to Normal…

jenweek31

Week 31 of my gastric sleeve journey! Back to running and eating better to lose the last 28 pounds!

Week 31 of my Down the Scale journey is here and with it comes only a half a pound weight loss. Yes, a loss is a loss, so I’ll take it. And I discovered that last week I miscalculated how much I have to lose to make my goal. Note to self: do not do math while drinking wine on New Year’s Eve! I have 28 pounds left to reach my goal of 112 pounds. Whoo hoo!

I know 28 pounds is a realistic goal, but some days it feels like such a long way away. Getting motivated again after the holidays has been difficult I must admit. Food and exercising issues have reared their heads.

The holiday treats are gone and I definitely didn’t indulge like I have in the past, but I’m having a hard time going back to my mantra of “protein first!” Crackers are my nemesis. Time to stop saying I’m buying them for the kids and admit I’m the one who is eating them. I need to clean out the refrigerator and pantry and get it back to its pre-holiday condition. This means snacks that the kids like, but I don’t like and better protein, vegetable and fruit options for the whole family.

Fortunately, exercising is easier to get back into. I let my running slip and decided to start the Couch to 5K program from the beginning. Today was my third day of week one of Couch to 5K and it felt amazing. Yes, it really is true that exercising is the best stress reliever. Today I wore my new running leggings. I thought it might help me run better, but more importantly it shows me just how much my body has changed in this last seven months. And I run faster because I’m worried my butt shows in these pants!

The fact that I have already lost 84 pounds motivates me more than anything now. I never thought I could lose this much weight! Some days 28 pounds will seem like a mountain, but I hope to get my head in check and remember how far I’ve come, not just have far I have to go. I hope going Down the Scale in 2014 will be as exciting and worthwhile as it was in 2013!

Peppermint can be Evil and Other Things I’ve Learned this Week…

Here I am with my turkey headband for the 5K Turkey Run on Thanksgiving.  Wish me luck!

Here I am with my turkey headband for the 5K Turkey Run on Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

I knew this week would come…zero pounds lost. Yes, it’s better than gaining, but naturally I want to lose every week. Here’s what I’ve learned during my zero loss week….

*Peppermint can be evil…well, not really evil, but perhaps too enjoyable is a better way to put it. I love the holidays and the arrival of Peppermint Mochas starts the season for me. Fortunately they do come in a “skinny” version, but I realize I am drinking too many of them. They need to be a treat, not an everyday occurrence.

*I am in my head too much. Both my ever supportive hubby and one of my ever supportive friends reminded me of this. I think about things too much and then I become stressed. And then I want to eat and I want to hide in my house. Fortunately, I have an amazing group of friends and family who are here for me and I need to learn to lean on them more. And more importantly, to let some issues go….

*I doubt myself! Yes, even though I have lost 75.5 pounds through my gastric sleeve surgery, I still doubt my ability to lose more weight and to become healthy. I am doing my second 5K run on Thanksgiving and I am worried about it. I did it last year when I weighed over 85 pounds more than I do today. To ease my mind, I did my own personal 5K yesterday and I beat my time from last year, so these doubts need to leave!

This week is a good reminder to me to let some stresses go, to be mindful of my food intake and to really enjoy my family and friends. That’s what the holidays are about and really, it should be what my Down the Scale journey is about, too.

Lost: Motivation. If Found Return to Jen…

Yes, I will admit here at Week 18 of my gastric sleeve surgery journey that I’ve lost a bit, OK, a lot of my motivation. I am still losing weight, in fact my total is 61.5 pounds. What I have realized the past few weeks is that I feel a bit complacent. Is it laziness? Is it boredom? Am I done?

It's Week 18 and 60.5 pounds are gone!

It’s Week 18 and 61.5 pounds are gone!

NO! I am not lazy. OK, I am a bit bored with the same foods over and over again. NO! I am not done! I still have 50.5 pounds to lose to have a healthy BMI. As it is with any long-term goal, I think it’s normal to lose sight of the goal and just be plain old tired of what you’re doing. While these feelings are normal, I don’t want to stay in this place of complacency.

What am I going to do? Time to reset some goals and make some new ones…

  • Running became my favorite exercise before my surgery and now that I am considerably lighter, I enjoy it even more. Last Thanksgiving I did the local Turkey Trot 5K and while I managed to finish, it wasn’t pretty. I want to run most, if not all, of it this year and actually enjoy the experience. This goal is one of my favorites as I will really be able to see the difference my weight loss makes. I’m following my Couch to 5K program religiously and feel positive I can accomplish this goal!
  • Cooking healthier and more interesting meals is an essential part of my journey and now that I can pretty much eat all kinds of food, this is even more important. My schedule is even busier these days so I am a big fan of my slow cooker. I search for new recipes that are filled with protein and vegetables and avoiding ones with heavy fats and carbs. I have a few things up on Pinterest that I like, and more importantly, my kids will actually eat! I know finding easier, quicker ways to cook healthier foods will keep me away from bad food choices.
  • I used to hate clothes shopping since the plus section doesn’t offer much variety or style. Now that I can shop in the “regular” section I am excited. My size is still on the upper end of the selection and can be limiting. Seeing the options I’ll have when I lose more weight is inspiring, especially with the holidays approaching. I want to look thin, healthy and cute in this year’s Christmas card.
  • This leads to me to one of my biggest motivators, vanity. Yes, I am losing weight to be healthy, but I readily admit my outward appearance inspires me… a lot. Now that I look at pictures from 60+ pounds ago, I can truly see how much older, tired and uncomfortable I look. I had to show my ID to a sales clerk this weekend and she literally did a double take. For a stranger to see that much of a difference in me, inspires me to follow this path to health and “cuteness”.

These are just a few areas that are helping me gain my motivation back. I’d love to hear the motivators for your goals. Whether it’s weight loss, changing jobs, writing the great American novel or just a happier, healthier life, I think it’s important from time to time, to re-evaluate your goals and plan of action. I will continue to face more challenges, periods of doubt, and lack of motivation, but I know that I will succeed as I go Down the Scale…

Time to Celebrate

Week 11 of my Down the Scale journey is here and I’ve decided it’s time to celebrate the positive aspects of my weight loss!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement!  Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

My running shoes and Garmin watch are out of temporary retirement! Looking forward to doing my 2nd 5K (with a better time!) this year!

First, I’ve lost 45.5 pounds! Losing 5.5 pounds this week was a surprise, especially since  I had a few days where I ate more than normal. No matter what I eat, even if it’s more than usual, I track it in MyFitnessPal. It is keeping me accountable for my food intake and does make me think about my choices. It seems a bit silly, but seeing what I eat in black and white really does help me make better decisions and think about why I’m eating.

That leads me into another celebration, my awareness of why I’m eating. Yes, I do eat when I’m hungry, but I also want to eat to relieve stress and anxiety. No, I haven’t lost my stress, but I am becoming more conscious of my feelings and trying to deal with them instead of eating them away. I can’t say I have a good handle on this, but I feel like I am more honest with myself. This will be a constant struggle, but I feel more hopeful than I have in the past.

Running is back in my life which is a huge reason to celebrate! I started  running last year and even did a 5K race. Tuesday I started day one of the Couch to 5K program and felt great! The energy and stress relief running gives me is priceless. I am also walking my kids to school and back each day which is a half a mile each way. Every bit of exercise I can fit in makes me feel great!

And the last “big” celebration of the week is the return of school! I love having my kids home, but as a stay at home mom, a little break is good for all of us! My baby boy is a 4th grader and my baby girl is a kindergartener! It is a year of new changes, new schedules and new rewards for all of us!

I am thankful that I have so many things to celebrate this week. I need to keep all these things in mind during the difficult moments and weeks. I am still struggling with food-centric activities like grocery shopping, eating out and parties. My guess is that I will always have to reign in my food activities and my stress related eating. I just hope that I can remember all the positive aspects of my lifestyle change and keep on celebrating my success, a pound at a time…

One Month Down…Blah….

Today is my four-week anniversary of my gastric sleeve surgery. I should be celebrating with balloons and confetti! Well, not confetti, since I would have to clean it up, but you get the point. And while I am happy and still don’t regret my surgery, I’m not feeling that excited about my success so far.

What the hell is wrong with me?” I asked after I weighed in this morning. I’ve lost 24.5 pounds and gone down one clothing size and one shoe size. Not too shabby for a month! As it is with most things, I wanted more. I wanted this huge statement, like 30 lbs! I wanted this huge difference in my body! Here are my photos from before and after so far, and my hubby promises me there is a difference. I do see less puffiness in my face and since my jeans are falling off I know my body has changed.

3 days after my surgery.

3 days after my surgery.

4 weeks after surgery!

4 weeks after surgery!

I had my pity party this morning, so now it’s time to give myself a swift kick in my now smaller rear. I feel good and my body feels healed. “Real” food is part of my diet although I’m nervous to try too many new foods. Fear of gaining weight and vomiting is helping me take this new part of my food lifestyle slow. After doing the Optifast liquid diet for six months, I threw up for about three months afterward so I’m erring on the side of caution. My focus is still on protein so chicken, real chewable chicken, is my mainstay.

What I know is really going to inspire me is exercising. I have been walking, but I’ve been given the OK from my doctor to start really exercising. Fast walking is on the schedule and then back to running. I have a new phone and new headphones so I can start back on Couch to 5K. This year, I’ll be ready for the Thanksgiving 5K race. Last year I did finish, but I was not ready physically or mentally for the race. I vow to be prepared this year and really enjoy it!

I realize this next month will be filled with new challenges like eating out. If I can spend two weeks on a liquid diet and then two weeks with pureed foods, I can handle anything can’t I? Yes, I can! I am the little engine that could….with a smaller caboose.