My Continuing Fitness Journey

How is it that you can wake up one day and suddenly realize you’ve let yourself go.  That is what happened to me.  Pants that had been getting tighter no longer fit at all so I stepped on my enemy, the scale, to realize I was heavier than I have ever been, including when I was pregnant.  Now I know ladies are known for not wanting to say what they weigh but I’ve never understood this.  We are what we are and we should not compare ourselves to anyone else. I was 165 pounds and a size 12.

My giggly self before the 21 Day Fix program

My squishy self before the 21 Day Fix program

I’ve never been thrilled with my body image but neither was I depressed by it.  I just didn’t have the drive to do anything about it.  I was great at making excuses and finding reasons not to put the effort into myself.  As a mother there are always things your kids need or want, whether those things have a monetary value or a time value they still kept me (at least in my mind) from anything close to a health/fitness plan for myself.

When I got married I weighed a mere 112 pounds soaking wet but for years I thought that was how much I was supposed to weigh. How was that possible?  I rarely ate and when I did it was all crap food.  I was also dealing with an ulcer. I may have been skinny but I was far from healthy.

Fast forward to a few years ago I started running and then playing roller derby.  I had set a goal to run the Tower of Terror 10 mile race at Walt Disney World and it kept me focused.  Honestly, any excuse/reason to go to WDW will keep me focused. I soon saw the benefits of those activities in how my clothes fit; however, with the activity came an increased appetite.  I was again eating anything I wanted, whenever I wanted.

My first ever outdoor run for a 10 km race a few years ago.

My first ever outdoor run for a 10 km race a few years ago.

With all that activity it would seem I was on my way to healthy town but my path took a major detour.  I received a severe MCL injury from an awkward hit while playing roller derby and I was sidelined for over 6 months.  I tried to return to activity too soon and made matters worse.  The injury did a nasty number on my psyche too.  After one setback from early activity I was terrified of doing anything more that would re-injure my knee so I did nothing for over a year.

I thought that setting another goal to run a half marathon this year was going to help but without having registered for a particular race it was back to the same old same old procrastination for me. I had been hoping to register for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World but was on a plane when registrations commenced and it was sold out before I landed.

That was quite a list of excuses wasn’t it?  It is time for some accountability.

About a month ago I saw a friend, Michelle, post that she was going to be starting a fitness challenge group.  Maybe having to report in daily would be what I needed so I decided to give it a try.

Michelle is a Beachbody coach and talked to me about what I wanted to accomplish.  She suggested I try the 21 Day Fix with Shakeology.  I’m not normally one to take any type of supplement or meal replacement but figured why not give it a try, it couldn’t hurt. I appreciated that she let me purchase a few samples of flavours before I placed my order so I didn’t order something I could not drink.  I must confess I actually really enjoy the vegan chocolate especially when I add a banana and a little peanut butter.  So yummy and it does wonders for curbing my after dinner munchies craving.

The 21 Day Fix program is not what I consider a diet but more of a portion control meal plan with an exercise program.  Aside from the reduced carbs and missing my large glass of OJ every morning, I haven’t found it hard to follow.  Even when I no longer actively participate in the program I’m sure I will continue to follow the basics of the food plan and in particular pay attention to my portion sizes.  It’s amazing to think what I used to consider a proper portion size was.

The program also comes with 2 DVDs of workouts that are 30 minutes long.  These workouts are planned to cycle through all major muscle groups, while working multiple muscle groups at a time to burn more calories.  The workouts are set up in rounds with varying numbers of exercises within each round but each exercise only lasts a minute at a time with a 15 second break in between.  Easy enough right.  “You can do anything for a minute” is what the instructor, Autumn, keeps reminding us.

I really appreciated that there is a modified version for those of us who aren’t initially up to the intensity of some of the exercises.  I cannot for the life of me do a push up so the fact that there was an allowance for this eased my anxiety of the program.  Don’t get me wrong this program is not a walk in the park.  A minute worth of non-stop burpees or surrenders will get the blood pumping and if you are anything like me make you yell at the instructor on the TV as you tell her where you want her to go for thinking up this particular torture.

I’ve now finished my first round of 21 days and fully intend to do another but I am rather happy with my results to this point.

I have lost 9 pounds and 10 inches total in 21 days.  My legs no longer have that jiggle that continues for minutes after I have stopped and my pants are no longer threatening to split at the seams.

My before and after the 21 Day Fix

My before and after the 21 Day Fix

Another angle of before and after 21 Day Fix

Another angle of before and after 21 Day Fix

I didn’t start writing this blog post with the intention of it being a promotion of the 21 Day Fix but rather a commentary of my journey; however, the program has been a large part of my recent success and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make a change and is willing to put in the effort to get the results they want.

I fully intend for this lifestyle of clean eating and exercise to be a permanent change and I’m looking forward to the future.

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An Unexpected Benefit of Running

When I started running I did so knowing I needed to be more active and get healthy.  A sedentary office job was starting to take its toll on my body. I had a lot of aches and pains and had a standing appointment with my massage therapist, Angie, to work out the kinks.  In particular the muscles under and between my shoulder blades were always badly knotted from sitting in one position at a desk typing on my computer all day. I think those muscles are called the Trapezius and Rhomboids but whatever they are called they caused me a great deal of pain on a regular basis.

v2.My back

During the first few weeks of running Angie had to deal with tight muscles in my legs and hips when I showed up for my appointments and didn’t get to spend as much time working on my shoulders as she usually would. Once my body got used to running Angie no longer had to work on my legs and returned to my shoulders but to both our surprises my shoulders were not in nearly as bad a shape as we expected, especially since they had basically been neglected for a few months.

It seems that for me at least, there is an added benefit to running. The motion of pumping my arms as I run also seems to loosen up the stiff muscles in my upper back and shoulders and I couldn’t be happier about this unexpected side effect.

Now if only I could figure out how to pay for my next trip to Walt Disney World for the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon to really stretch out those muscles, life would be almost perfect.

I AM going to run a half marathon this year!

So after a year off from running and roller derby due to a knee injury and life getting in the way I’ve set myself a new goal.  I AM going to run a half marathon this year!  There I’ve said it and put in it writing.  I can’t turn back now.

I haven’t always been the best at keeping fitness goals I set for myself so my thought is that by putting it out there for everyone to see I am forcing myself to stick with it this time.  I know I need to make myself accountable but if the prospect of public embarrassment is what it takes I’ll do it.

I’m lucky enough to be married to my best friend for 20 years this summer and have tentatively booked a Disney cruise to celebrate but I hope to run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon while we are in Florida just before our cruise.

wine-and-dine-logo

Well, now that I have a goal and a date it’s time to get started with the training plan and deal with my 2 biggest excuses.

Firstly, running for me (and many others) is a mental game as much or more than it is a physical game.  In this game I have realized that it doesn’t take much to distract me from my runs so my husband came to my rescue and bought me a treadmill for Christmas.  Why does this help? Because I get bored when I run and then the mind games start.  On the treadmill I can put a movie in the DVD player and lose myself in the story while running.  This means I don’t get bored and want to quit.

Secondly the treadmill is inside.  I know this sounds silly, but to state the obvious, inside means warm.  I truly dislike winter and since I live in Canada winter is long and cold.  With the treadmill I don’t have the excuse that I can’t run because it’s too cold, dark and slippery to run outside.

Well now that I have those excuses defeated I have no reason not to train for a half marathon.

Wish me luck.

I will do it.

Running – Fun For All Ages

When I started running it was never with the goal of running a marathon, a half maybe, but that is still a long way away.

I’ve met a lot of supportive runners along the way but also a few that treat me as somehow inferior because I don’t run long distances. My race of choice is a 10 km and I enjoy that distance.  It’s long enough to get the blood pumping and give the muscles a good workout without being so long that I get bored and am exhausted for the remainder of the day or even the next day.

Case in point, my longest run to date was 10 miles at runDisney’s Tower of Terror race last October and it was so much fun there was no way I could get bored but it was longer than I was prepared for.  I was so exhausted for 3 days afterwards that I didn’t get to see as much of Walt Disney World as I wanted to on that trip.

Me and Lotso at Tower of Terror 10 miler

Me and Lotso at the Tower of Terror 10 miler

I know if I really wanted to I could find the time to train for a marathon, but honestly I don’t want to find the time.  It is a huge commitment that I am just not prepared to make.

Why not?  Well, I have kids at home that I like to spend time who are not as committed to running as I am and a husband with a bad knee that refuses to have surgery on it so I often train alone.  My kids on occasion run with me and I enjoy their company but 5 km is about all I can get them to run and even that is a challenge some days.  That is until a fun race is coming up.

Enter races like Run or Dye where it’s more about the fun and less about the speed.  While many runners refuse to enter these types of races I enjoy them because they give me a chance to run with my kids and have some fun.  The first time I ran one of these races was with my daughter and it was a miserable, cold, rainy day but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our hair and bodies where dyed for days but just as important on that miserable day was we still got out there, got our exercise and did it together.

My daughter & I at Run or Dye in 2013

My daughter & I at Run or Dye in 2013

 

It was so much fun we decided to do it again and this time my son and my daughter’s friend joined in the fun as well as my friends, Candice (who is expecting) and Rob, with their three children.    This time the weather was much nicer and in fact warmer than I like to run in but it was still preferable to the prior year.

I must admit (sorry Candice) that I was a little leery about running with a 3 year old but he was amazing and proves my point admirably that running is for all ages.  MacArthur ran his little heart out until his legs just would not go any more.  He made it about half way before he asked his dad to pick him up for a while.  After a brief respite he was back at it with much less complaining than many others I heard on the track that day.

Rob & MacArthur.                                                                   MacArthur was such a trooper.

Rob & MacArthur. MacArthur was such a trooper.

 

Yes, the course was hilly; yes, there were people walking that slowed sections down; and yes there were no water stations along the route, but seriously 5 km is not an excessive distance to go without a water break and there was plenty when you reached the finish line. Not all races are the same just as not all racers are the same so take the time check out the race you want to enter, think about what you want out of the race and why you are doing it.

This race was not fast by anyone’s standards but we were not expecting it to be with a pregnant woman, 6 kids (including a three year old) and a few people nursing injuries. Fast was not the point.  The point of running for me is to get out there, get some exercise and have fun.  If this happens, then the race was a success for me.  We all came home totally dyed with lots of great memories and had our exercise for the day.

My son, daughter, her best friend and I.

My son, daughter, her best friend and I.

 

Will I ever run a marathon and be looked at as a true runner by some, not likely, but I don’t care. I am happy running my shorter (and more fun) races with family and friends and will continue to do so.

A Most Empowering Day!

Well after months of training “sort of” it was finally here, the Tower of Terror 10 mile race weekend (race day was October 5, 2013) and I was so looking forward to it.

I said training “sort of” because I started out training a lot but then I joined roller derby and my runs seemed to get fewer and farther in between.  My longest training run to date had been just less than 8 miles and here I was heading off to run 10.  It was a daunting thought but I was up for the challenge or at least I hoped so.

This was also going to be the first trip to Walt Disney World Resort (“WDW”) for my husband and I without the kids. It was a novel experience planning it without first considering what the kids wanted.  We could finally do some of those adults only things we’d talked about.

As luck would have it that weekend WDW Radio was hosting an event with dinner inside the Great Movie Ride, but that is a story for another day.   1gangsters

My husband is a bit of a daredevil and has bungee jumped before but I am terrified of heights and would never consider such an adventure.  Well, somehow I talked myself into conquering my fear of heights and going parasailing. It was one of those things my husband had always wanted to do so I signed us up as part of my anniversary present to him.

The day we were to parasail dawned clear and bright and with it my fears returned with vengeance.  Could I really do this?  Could I allow myself to go 400 feet up in the air and watch my feet dangle with nothing below me but Bay Lake?

Wayne was determined, he was going with or without me so off we went and checked in at our scheduled time.  I was so scared at this point but knew I could back out up until the last possible moment on the boat.  I allowed myself to be put in the harness and listened to all the instructions.  It was suddenly go time and it all happened so fast I didn’t have time to think about chickening out.  We were attached to the parasail which was already deployed out behind the boat and up we were going.

It was surreal.  I still get chills thinking about it.  We were on the deck of the boat and literally 10 seconds later we were 400 feet up in the air.  The ascent was fast, but not shockingly so, and it was so smooth.   I admit I was hanging on pretty tightly at first but I managed to relax somewhat as time went on.  Looking around and seeing Magic Kingdom Park from that point of view made all the nerves worthwhile.  It was an experience I will never forget.  Unfortunately our GoPro camera died that day so we didn’t get any pictures from up in the air of the amazing view.  IMG_6689

I’m not sure I would have gone up had it not been for Wayne and his support that day.  However, having done it once now, I would gladly do it again.   To anyone who is thinking about parasailing at WDW I would highly recommend it.  The staff at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre were professional and amazing.  They seemed to realize the more time they gave me to think about it the bigger the chance I would back out.

Parasailing day also happened to be race day.  We had decided early on that after parasailing we would take it easy so I wasn’t exhausted before the race even started but there was just no way I could be that close to Magic Kingdom Park and not go in to ride at least a few rides.  One of the rides we decided to tackle was Big Thunder Mountain.  For me this was another scary proposition.  I am not a fan of roller coasters, but again I mustered up my courage and plunged head first into an abandoned mine on a runaway train car.  When it was done I was pleasantly surprised.  It had not been that bad after all.

As race time approached I put on my running costume, Minnie Mouse.  For the third time that day I was getting nervous about doing something I’d never done before.  10 miles is not exactly a short race.  While I realize it’s certainly not a marathon, it’s nothing to look down your nose at either.  Having never done a runDisney race before, or any race with more than 100 participants, I did not know what to expect and decided to head to the staging area early.  This was probably the only thing I would do differently next time.  I did not need as much time to get organized as I allowed myself.   Hopping on the bus and heading to the staging area was an experience all its own. I never expected to see 80% or more of the runners dressed in costumes.  A few crazies like me but not almost everyone. Me before the race

The build up to the race was great, with all the music and fireworks.  Based on race times I submitted for previous 10km races I’d run I was placed in corral D which rather surprised me but I was happy to not be in the last corrals and have to worry about keeping ahead of the balloon ladies.   I was not expecting this to be a fast race for me for a few reasons:  1. I’d never run this far before; 2. I knew I was going to stop and take a lot of pictures along the way;  and 3. I’d never run in such heat. It was still 27°C with high humidity at 10pm when the race started.

The race started out well and I was pretty happy with my pacing. The character stops for pictures were almost perfectly timed for when I needed to slow down and take a break.   me and stitch2

By about mile six I was starting to fade and the heat was getting to me but I was drinking lots to stay hydrated. I think this was the point in the race where we were on a dirt/gravel path headed into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  The lights had gone out on part of this path and it was rather difficult to see.  A rock got wedged up in the sole of my shoe and I had to get out of the way of other runners so I could stop and remove it, all in the dark.   me and kript keepers2

At mile eight I hit “the wall”.  I thought about quitting but knew I would hate myself if I did so I pushed on.  My husband who was getting status updates on my time told me later that he was starting to worry a little as he watched my interval times get slower.

Somewhere around mile nine we were entering Hollywood Studios and I knew the end was near so I caught a second, third or maybe even fourth wind at that point.  I ran around a corner by the back lot and there was Wayne cheering me on.  I was so happy to see him I almost cried.  I remember thinking I must really be getting close to being done and around the next corner must be the end, but it wasn’t.  There were still more photo ops to stop for before the finish line. me and lotso2

It seemed like the run through Hollywood Studios would never end but alas it finally did.  My time was 2 hours 20 minutes.  I accepted my medal and box of snacks and made my way to bag pick up while eating my banana.  Never had a banana tasted so good to me.

I did it.  I had run my first runDisney race and my first 10 mile race.  I was exhausted and a little sore but overall happy with my performance based on the conditions and my now very apparent lack of training.

Actually I was thrilled with myself.   I was 41 and not even a full 10 months earlier I ran for the very first time after leading a rather sedentary life for quite a number of years.  I was pretty damn proud of myself.

After the race I met up with Wayne and we headed to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride.  It is one of my favorites and the lines are usually long so I had to take advantage of the chance at a short line.  The line was not short (or fast) enough for Wayne.  Imagine if you will, an enclosed building with 100’s if not 1,000’s of sweaty racers who were either in line or had recently been in line.  Me, being one of those sweaty racers hardly noticed the “aroma” present as we waiting in line but Wayne, who has a super sensitive nose and who did not run was quite literally gagging every time we entered a confined hallway and there was movement making the scent waft around us. He could not get out of there fast enough.  I must admit at 1am after having run 10 miles I found his discomfort rather amusing.

We didn’t stick around long at the after party as it had been a very long eventful day.  Back in our room as exhausted as I was I just could not sleep.  I was so exhilarated with everything I had done and accomplished.

I’d conquered by fear of heights and parasailed.  I’d set aside my fear of roller coasters and ridden Big Thunder Mountain and I’d not given up and run my first ever 10 mile race.    It was the most empowering day I think I’d ever had.  I felt like I could take on the world.  I can’t sufficiently put into words just how emotional I was that night and what all I was feeling but suffice it to say I was amazed at myself.

I sincerely hope a trend started that day and I can continue to face my fears that have been holding me back and continue to enjoy all that life has to offer.

How I put my jealousy to good use.

1st race 4

It was about this time last year after being sick and feeling run down that I decided I was going to try and get healthy and exercise more, so off I went to the gym and started to run on the treadmill.

Why did I pick running as my exercise of choice when I had a whole gym worth of equipment at my disposal?

Well to be honest, I was jealous of all the runDisney race posts and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, etc. from all my friends after they had run various and multiple races at Walt Disney World and Disneyland last January. They were all having so much fun and I was wishing I was right there with them. I wanted to run through the parks and get my picture taken with the characters too.

Reading all these posts, I came across a number that talked about the Galloway method of training so I looked it up. Now this was a training program that I thought I could do. Never having run before the prospect to getting on a treadmill and running for a half hour or more straight intimidated me and I felt set me up for failure, but a program that mixed running with walking I could manage.

After a few weeks of running I was actually starting to enjoy it and felt impressed with my progress. I could do this; I could be a runner, so why not sign up for a race, which is exactly what I did.

My first race was in April. Living in Canada I know spring races can be cold but I was not expecting -2°C with biting winds in which to run my first 10 km race. I was the third last racer on the course but I finished in an hour and 10 minutes which for me was a win. I figure most of the more casual/recreational runners were smart and stayed home instead of racing in those temps.

With a 10 km race under my belt I decided I could tackle a 10 mile race in October. This gave me 5 months to train but more importantly (to me anyway) it gave me an excuse to go to back to Walt Disney World. I went home and immediately registered for my first runDisney event, the Tower of Terror 10 miler.

Once registered it was just the motivation I needed to keep running and not give up and go back to my sedentary ways. Training for a 10 mile race was about as difficult as I imagined it was going to be and finding time for my long runs did create a challenge some weeks but I did it. I’ll post later about my Tower of Terror 10 mile race experience.

Running is now a part of my life although at the moment I haven’t run in a while due to a MCL injury sustained playing roller derby but I truly miss it and that is something a year ago I never would have imagined I would ever say.

Running has been a great experience for me, or more accurately a great many experiences. I’ve run a number of races now and learned a lot about myself along the way. I am so thankful for what running has brought me: strength, stamina, friends and memories, all of which I would not have obtained without it.