Tag Archives: Walking

Running for the Win

Many changes have happened from my first 5K in 2012 to my first 10K in 2015!

Many changes have happened from my first 5K in 2012 to my first 10K in 2015!

My almost two-year gastric sleeve journey brings so many rewards. Better physical and mental health are the biggest rewards naturally. After completing my first 10K race this weekend, though, I’ve realized the best reward really is the confidence and pride I have in myself. All it took was running 6.2 miles to get this through my thick head.

When I signed up for this race I admit I was a bit cocky. I ran my last 5K race with my best time ever so I figured it was time to push myself. So what if my pace was still pretty slow and that I still walk and run? I found a 10K race set for about two months later. Perfect! I would be ready and confidant.

As the weeks passed, I started to reconsider my decision. My hamstrings and shoes were bothering me. I missed a week of running due to a cold. Excuses, excuses, I know. I got over my cold and went right to the store for new shoes. I was back on track.

Well, until I looked at the race course. I picked this race because it included running over the Golden Gate Bridge, but in my excitement I forgot I would have to go up hills to get to the bridge. Oops. So with two weeks until the race I added hills into my training. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast. “I am going to die” kept going through my mind as I stumbled up hills.

While I was nervous up until the race started, I did manage to keep my mantra in mind: “all you have to do is finish.” Before every race my 7-year-old tells me she hopes I win and I always tell her I’m running to finish, not to win. This past Sunday when I said it I realized I actually am trying to win. I’m trying to beat my previous pace, but really I’m trying to beat my doubts, my lack of confidence and my fear of failure.

So, how did the race go? The first quarter-mile was a lovely start and then the first hill appeared. I braced myself to be passed by “real” runners, but it didn’t happen. Yes, some people were running, but others jogged up and some even walked. Woo-hoo, I wasn’t the only runner/walker! It was a huge relief to know I wasn’t alone in my running method.

Before I knew it I made it to the Golden Gate Bridge. My Facebook friends know from my photos that I have a slight obsession with this bridge. It’s beautiful, spectacular and iconic and I can never get enough of it. To run over it and back was the highlight of the race. It was difficult to navigate at times as the walkway isn’t wide, but when I turned my head to take in the view, it took my breath away…more than the running. I couldn’t help but smile as I ran over the bridge. I’ve lived off and on in San Francisco for over 20 years and this was the first time I ever ran on the bridge.

The bridge is 1.7 miles each way and while it was amazing, the crowds, inclines, and staircases made it difficult at times. I am still getting used to confined spaces and the lack of personal space in races. I was bursting with pride when I stepped off the bridge, but self-doubt tried to creep back in. I paused for a second as I realized I had about two more miles to go. As if on cue, my ever-supportive husband texted me. I laughed and regained my confidence as I scanned his text and saw the words “Pull yourself together! What will you do? Is this a question?” It’s from my favorite Pixar character, Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Hearing hearing her voice and thinking of my husband’s support, got me back on track.

Well, until the last mile when my hamstrings ached and I calculated that I wouldn’t make my goal of finishing in 1 hour and 15 minutes. My spirits dipped and I considered just taking it slow, but I was able to brush off the negative attitude and kept going. I couldn’t finish in 1 hour and 15 minutes, but I could make it in 1 hour and 20 minutes and so I did!

Pancakes and beer with a gorgeous view after the race!

Pancakes and beer with a gorgeous view after the race!

Crossing a finish line never felt so good! The pancakes, sausage and beer breakfast afterward was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. I sat down on Crissy Field with my breakfast and new race t-shirt and stared at the bridge. I sipped my beer and smiled as I then and there decided I really had won the race. I pushed aside my doubts. I kept believing in myself. I came out a winner.

Pushing myself out of my 5K comfort zone into a 10K unknown experience was just what I needed for my continuing weight loss journey. While I’m all for comfort and stability, I know that I need challenges and goals to keep motivated and inspired. While I’m learning to enjoy where I am in my life, I know that I need to push my boundaries and limits from time to time.

I’ve also come to realize that disappointments and failures will come along with the successes. While at times I think of my slower pace and my run/walk style as failures, deep down I know they aren’t failures. Change and growth aren’t always comfortable, but for me they are well worth it. If you told me 3 years and 100+ pounds ago, I would run in a 10K race over my beloved bridge, I would have laughed and said, “Oh, no, not me.” But here I am the winner of my own personal race. Now, that is winning, isn’t it?

I am a Runner

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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.

Keeping It Going Over a Year Later….

16 months and 106.5 later, my gastric sleeve journey continues here at Down the Scale. To keep me motivated, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the positive habits I have made. I think it helps to remind myself of all the things that go into keeping myself healthy and happy as I continue to strive to lose weight.

For me, the most important change I made was to eat smaller portions of healthier food. My smaller stomach helps with this, but I still need to think about what I eat and how much of it I eat. I prioritize my food by protein first and then vegetables. I eat fruit as a snack or part of my breakfast occasionally. I rarely eat carbohydrates as they fill my stomach very quickly. I haven’t cut them out completely, but when I do indulge, it’s usually only one piece of bread or a small portion of rice or pasta.

Now, I must admit I still indulge in less healthy food from time to time. I still drink alcohol, but only one or two glasses. I do splurge at parties with a small piece of cake. The difference now is the amount and frequency I eat higher calorie and sugary food. It’s supposed to be a treat for a reason and now I finally “get it.”

I also have finally learned that I need to cut some foods out completely. Really, I wasn’t eating trail mix for the nuts…who does? And Chex Mix is banned from my home. I never once measured out either food like I said I would when I bought them.

There are times I do need to measure my food and track it. When my weight loss stalls I find that recording my food intake helps. Using the app My Fitness Pal is an easy way to keep an eye on my eating habits. I only have to do it for a few days to get back on track.

A year does make a difference!  On the left is last year's visit to the pumpkin patch 4 months after my surgery.  On the right is this year's photo.  I'm looking forward to comparing these to next year's photo!

A year does make a difference! On the left is last year’s visit to the pumpkin patch four months after my surgery. On the right is this year’s photo. I’m looking forward to comparing these to next year’s photo!

I also use My Fitness Pal to record my weight. I “officially” weigh-in once a week. Making my weight only count once a week keeps me from focusing solely on the numbers in my weight loss journey. While I would still like to lose seven pounds, I prefer to concentrate on maintaining my current weight loss. To do this, I have a “weight window.” It’s a five-pound range I want to stay in. This keeps me aware of my weight, but allows for those weeks where I indulge a bit. If I go above the window, I start tracking my food immediately.

If I go below the window for a month I know it’s time to adjust the window. I just changed it a month after my hernia repair and tummy tuck surgery since I lost about nine pounds. Some of that loss was from the excess skin removal and lack of eating after surgery. Now that I’m a month out and I’m maintaining a new weight, I adjusted the window to keep myself on track and motivated.

Exercising is a big key to maintaining much of my weight loss. And when I say exercise I don’t necessarily mean exercise in the sense of a dedicated activity for a set of amount of time. I do think that kind of exercise is important and I’m looking forward to running once again. And I do know that I must start weight lifting to tone my body. But I think it’s the everyday physical activity that is essential to my healthy lifestyle. Walking as much as I can is extremely important to me. I could tell how much both physically and mentally I missed walking during my surgery recovery. Now that I’m back to walking my kids to school, I am happier. Adding more activities to my week keeps me healthy physically and mentally.

16 months of concentrated weight loss has been daunting at times. I find when I get frustrated, bored or depressed, I need to go back to the basics:

*Eating better

*Tracking my food

*Getting on the scale only once a week to see if I’m in my weight window

*Adding more exercise, either structured or relaxed

And last, but not least, I remind myself how far I’ve come in my journey…106.5 pounds gone for good! Feeling healthy and happy really are the best reminders of how important taking care of myself is for me and my family. I’m thrilled to still be going Down the Scale…