I cried many times, but I laughed many more times.
Some days I ran so slow that it made me want to give up. Other days I ran so hard that I wanted to throw up.
There were moments, many moments, when I had to pull myself off the couch, brave the cold weather and drive my moody self to the gym.
But on other days, I was so motivated I was bursting at the seams of my soul.
At least 40.3 times, I pulled in a fast food drive thru -only to pull out a few moments later, realizing I didn't need nor want those extra calories. But in even more instances, I fell off the wagon and stuffed my face with burgers and fries. And dipped both of them in ranch.
On the toughest of days, I would break down and scream at Justin; yelling that I never wanted to eat a piece of grilled chicken again. Other weeks, I could eat grilled chicken for every single meal.
In one week, I could lose 5 lbs and then the next week I could gain 7. It was a constant battle. My weight will always be a constant battle.
But through it all, I learned a lot. About weight loss. About running. About fitness. About healthy eating. About myself.
I've had a few special requests for a blog post about my weight loss (and gain) journey in 2011. If you are looking for a blog post that will help you accomplish your new years resolutions, this isn't the right post. Rather, this is a blog post about tips for living a healthy lifestyle- not for a few months or until you hit a certain weight, but for a lifetime! I'm not a pro at this...people are healthier than me...smarter than me...and in better shape than me. But these 12 tips reflect what worked for me over the past year.
Without further adieu, here are my Top 12 Tips for Living a Healthy Lifestyle in 2012:
Find inspiration. I am a firm believer in inspiration. It does amazing things. Seek out people, blogs, stories, and events that inspire you. There will be days when you will feel hopeless and lost, and you will want to give up. But if you surround yourself with positive, inspiring people- you will pick yourself up very quickly when you fall down. People who inspire me include Meggie Dials (@meggiehd) and her husband / my co-worker Josh Dials (@jtdials) - both of them have amazing stories about their running journey. Josh is always asking me how my running is going, what races I have coming up and sending me positive bursts of inspiration - even if he doesn't know it. And he is the healthiest eater I have EVER met in my entire life. Seriously, just walking by his desk and seeing his giant, healthy salad makes me stay on track. And Meggie- holy cow- just met her once and you will FALL in love with her! She is positive, feisty and a ball of inspiration. But stay away from her cake balls, they are as addicting as her fun personality. You can read about her running journey and life here: www.seemeggierun.com. Another blog that inspires me (and I find myself reading daily is): http://one-twenty-five.tumblr.com. She is an incredible writer and exposes the ups and downs of weight loss and running. She is beautiful. Follow her journey and get inspired for life.
When you first start running, focus on distance or speed. This is the best advice I ever received from my inspiration queen, Meggie, which is another point...don't be afraid to ask for advice!! I always ask for advice and for people to tell me their stories!! When I first started running, Meggie told me to pick between distance or speed. I picked distance. I would rather go 5 miles at 14 minute pace than run a 7 minute mile. Why? Because at the end of the day I'm working out for a lot longer...pushing my body to new limits. One day I'll hit that 7 minute mile (okay, maybe 8:30 mile) but still...in the meantime, I am getting stronger and faster....and going longer distances. BUT maybe you want to work on your speed, so focus on your time. But for me, 2011 was about not obsessing over a number. So, this was the best advice and best decision I made for becoming a better runner.
Buy new workout clothes and good running shoes. The better you look, the better you feel. The same is true with fitness and working out, the more comfortable you are, the better you perform. On Dec. 26, 2010, I spent all my money from Christmas at Dick's Sporting Goods. I got new running tights, pants and shirts. I looked at it like I was making an investment in my health and my goals.
Drink LOTS of water. I can't stress this enough...when you are working out and running, you are sweating. And if you sweat your ass off in a snow storm like I do, then you will sweat even more when you are working out. You need hydration (water) to stay healthy and last longer in your workouts. Also, you will be less sore and have fewer headaches if you pump your body with water. I drink at every meal, have a glass of water (or 5) by my night stand, and drink it all throughout the day. If only I could give up my diet coke addiction...hey, I am a work in progress. So how much water should you drink each day? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
Try to go vegetarian for a few meals each week. There are some really amazing vegetarian meals out there...and I'll be posting a blog soon with a few of my favorite vegetarian recipes. But your body doesn't need all the processed foods and meats. So, try to eat earthy at least once a day (that is only 5 meals a week). A few ways to do this are: fruit for breakfast, veggie stir fry, veggie sandwiches, (Jimmy Johns Veggie is the BEST!!!), spinach and mushroom etouffee is unbelievable, black bean nachos or tacos, vegetable soup, and nothing beats a good salad! :) If you need some more veggie recipe ideas, ask my great friend Brittany Gerig -she knows a lot of healthy and delicious recipes!
Start slow - you are only racing against yourself! Another friend who inspires me is Melanie Allen (@mel_allen). She gave me the best advice during my first race. "Don't look at other people around you; you are only racing against yourself." People will pass you - just like you will pass other people. Don't compare yourself to other people - you will be miserable. Someone will always be faster, stronger, more talented- but as Maya Angelou once told me and hundreds of other people, "No more is more human than you. You can do anything." The run never gets easier, you just get better, faster and stronger. Don't be upset if you have slow days, you are still moving your body. I had some days when I would go to the gym and just walk. I wasn't feeling it, but I wanted to put in my time and miles. So I would walk and then run for a few minutes. Just keep moving. Don't give up. No matter how fast you go, you are still miles ahead of everyone on the couch.
Drink black coffee and green tea. I once read that drinking one cup of coffee with sugar and cream everyday will pack on 15 lbs a year. Maybe 10. But either way, that's a lot of weight to gain just from drinking one cup of coffee. And who really drinks ONE cup of coffee? It takes some getting used to, but I drink my coffee black most of the time. Or I'll add sugar free syrup. Americanos from Starbucks are heavenly. I also try to drink green tea in the afternoon or morning (if I don't drink coffee). Green tea has been proven to boast your metabolism! Drink up my friends!
Stop using condiments. When I first learned that I had a lactose sensitivity, I thought my world ended. Cheese makes EVERYTHING better. Burgers, pasta, pizza - it all needs cheese. But look at those items I just listed...most of them are unhealthy. If you are opting for healthier items in your diet, giving up fatty condiments like cheese and mayo won't be that hard. You don't need to pile on cheese and mayo with a veggie stir fry..they simply don't go together. If you want to add some flavor to your grilled chicken, try adding mustard -regular! Honey mustard is often made with mayo...so take it easy on that...and ketchup is the evil step sister to mayo because it's PACKED with sugar. If you are a ranch addict like me, there is help. Check out yogurt ranch dressing from Bolthouse Farms! It's half of the calories of regular ranch and tastes pretty good! Yes, it's slightly more expensive..but isn't living longer and healthier worth a few extra dollars.
Make commitments. Sign for a race, a gym membership, or start writing about your journey.Your commitments will keep you on track, accountable and inspired. If you want to go a race and are afraid to do it alone, PLEASE email me!! I'll gladly do any race with me (given I'm available) - and it's not like I travel the world for my job. I'd LOVE to do a race with you!!
Start cooking at home and packing your lunch. My good friend Sarah Frey (@sarahfrey6) is great at this! She often cuts up her veggies and fruit for the week on Sunday evening. I'm so inspired by her commitment to eating healthy and cooking new dishes at home! Not only does packing your lunch and cooking at home save you calories, but it saves you money! The Internet is FULL of healthy and fun recipes to try out at home.
Watch your sodium! If you are retaining water, you are probably consuming too much sodium. According to the Mayo Clinic Website, The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you're age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Consider that just one teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams (mg) of sodium. The vast majority of sodium in the typical American diet comes from foods that are processed and prepared. These foods are typically high in salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride, and in additives that contain sodium. Processed foods include bread, prepared dinners like pasta, meat and egg dishes, pizza, cold cuts and bacon, cheese, soups, and fast foods." So, what should you do? Try to eat fresh as often as possible! Freeze your own veggies and meals
Good luck in 2012!
And remember, whatever your goals are for this year...."Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." - Bill Cosby