Thursday, December 31, 2009

Au Revoir 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, I have to say, this year rates as one of my best years ever! Among other good times, this was the year that kick started my journey to health and fitness. Here are the highlights:

These were low months...I'd been working out consistently for the past year without losing any weight. I felt defeated and was at my heaviest point ever. In February I went to the doctor and discovered that my cholesterol and blood pressure were both high. She advised me to start watching my diet in addition to exercising.

I had begun paying attention to my diet in addition to going to the gym 3 or 4 days a week to ride the bike or elliptical machine. I used an iPhone application called Lose It! to track my calories. I also bought my first pair of running shoes and decided to take part in the 20/20 Challenge hosted by Ash Is Fit as a way to be accountable. I also discovered the Couch to 5K program and started trying to incorporate running into my workouts. Boy, was it tough. The first time the program called for me to run 8 minutes without stopping, I thought I was going to die!

By the middle of April, I'd lost almost 10 pounds. I'd taken my running outside and was doing short run/walks in the park.

In May I was down 16 lbs. overall and was back into a size 10 jeans. The day that I had to go get new jeans because my old ones wouldn't stay up was a great day. All the "sacrifices" I thought I was making to live a healthy life were really really paying off. I'd also decided to sign up for a 5k race since I'd completed the C25k program and could now get that far running almost all of the time.

This month I'd lost over 20 lbs. and completed my first ever 5k in just over 34 minutes. I was elated after the race, and all i could think about was finding another and improving my time. This month, I started upping my mileage as well. I found I could run about 4-4.5 miles at a time and I was gradually getting faster!

In July, I continued to improve on my the point that I signed up for a 5k in September and a 10k in October! Most evenings, I went with B. to the park where he biked after work and would do my own run while he was working out. Even though it was hot, I found I had more strength than I'd ever imagined.

When August rolled around, I'd lost over 26 lbs. My size 10s were starting to get too big! I went to the doctor for a 6 month checkup--She was shocked at how much my weight was down. My blood pressure and cholesterol were also back down to normal.

This month, I ran a 5k in under 30 minutes, something that had been my goal going into the race. I felt invincible! Before the race, B. took this picture of me, and while I wasn't entirely happy with how I looked, I realized my body had drastically changed for the better.

The month began with purchasing my first pair of size 8 jeans in ages! Then came the 10k. I was incredibly nervous going in. I wanted to be able to run the whole time, but as I'd never fun a full 6.2 miles before, I didn't know if I had it in me. Plus, the morning of the race was a cold one, and I didn't really know how my body would function in such cold temps. Turned out, I love running in the cold! I ran the whole race and finished in just over an hour. By the end of the month, I'd set my next goal, a half marathon in April 2010!

In November, I ran the Girls on the Run 5k and improved my time by a few seconds from my race in September. I also began running much, much farther...By the end of November, my new "farthest I've ever run" was 8.5 miles! Pretty good for a girl who could barely run for 8 minutes straight a few months earlier! On the weight front, I was 35 lbs down with only 15 more to go. When my birthday rolled around this year, I recalled my 30th b-day the year before and how I cried getting ready to go out b/c I hated the way I looked. This year, I felt AMAZING! Not just thinner but strong and healthy.

This month has been rough...My weight has seemed to stagnate around 163 lbs., 13 away from my goal of 150 lbs. It also got blistering cold, and I've had to move my runs inside for the time being. I'm trying to make peace with the treadmill and still get mileage in. I don't want to lose endurance between now and when it gets warm enough to get back outside and start focusing on 13.1 miles before April. This month, I've also started speculating on whether I can be prepared to run the Chicago marathon in October 2010 and if that's something I really want to commit to. Registration starts on Feb 1, so that decision will need to be made before I've even completed my half marathon...more news soon!

So, as you can see, it's been quite a year. If I had one word of encouragement to any of you who want to get fit but feel stuck or overwhelmed by the prospect: If I can come this far, you can absolutely do it. Commit and make 2010 your year. It's life-changing and worth it!

I'm super excited for all the challenges 2010 holds. I've joined a v-ball league, I'll be running, running, and running some more. And I WILL get rid of those last pesky pounds! Speaking's time to get in my last workout of 2009--Jillian's calling!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Themed Holiday

Last week was Hanukkah,and B. and I celebrated with one gift per night. Most of mine were running related (suprise, suprise). I got:
A Brooks Vapor Dry 2 headband:

A pair of Brooks Vapor Dry 2 gloves:

A Saucony DryLete skull cap:

A fuel belt for long runs:

A new iPod armband:

And the runner's best friend, a massaging foot spa:

Yesterday, despite the 20 degree temps, I suited up in all my new finery to go for a run...I was trying for 9.5 miles.

(There's no excuse for this cheezy smile...)

Sadly, even with my cold weather gear, it was just TOO cold for me. I've really enjoyed running in cooler temps. My body seems to work so much better at 40-50 degrees than at the higher temps from this past summer. But, apparently around the 20 degree mark is when I need to move it inside (at least for now). The wind was just too cold on my face and made it hard to breath, and I felt like my muscles/joints never really warmed up. So after 2.5, I was back home. Something to work on.

Any more seasoned runners out there have tips on how to improve the experience of running in very cold weather?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Think They Call This Cross-Training

If I could run every day, I absolutely would. But, I know my body, especially my battered knees and hips, and know that every other day is the best for me. That leaves the other days for cross-training. Generally, I do weight/cardio circuits or ashtanga yoga and call it cross-training.

One of my getting fit goals, though, has been to find a volleyball league when I was thin/in-shape enough. However, all the ads I saw for leagues at the YMCA or parks & rec places required an entire team to sign up. No one I know (who lives nearby) is very interested in volleyball. So, a while back, I decided to check the Craig's List activity section to see if anyone was advertising for an extra player for their ready-made team.

Long story short, I finally found one that sounded like a winner, and this past Monday, I went to an unofficial practice. I have not touched a volleyball in about 5 years. Let me tell you, I was nervous. Not only about meeting a bunch of new people but about not looking like a complete moron in front of said new people. I was rusty to say the least, but over the course of the evening, while we played 3 on 3, I managed a few good passes, sets, and even a hit and serve or two. Beneath the rust, I think there may be an inkling of skill left, and I can't wait for my next opportunity to play.

By the time I got home from practice, I knew I was going to be sore...My left knee was in need of ice after a poorly performed dive. I wasn't ready for what awaited me when I woke up the next morning. My back was SO sore. Not my shoulders/shoulder blade area. Not my lower back, even. But, in two vertical strips in the middle of my back on either side of my spine. The area of pull when you serve or hit. The area that apparently none of my weight lifting or other cardio activities even touches. Crazy!

I'm all better this morning, though. I'm definitely going to start thinking about other activities I can try to keep my body on its proverbial toes. What ways do you cross-train that surprises your body?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Playing in Traffic

First things first...Saturday I did a "long" run of 9 whole miles. It's my new "farthest I've ever run". 13.1, I'm coming for ya!

While I was on this run, I was feeling pretty charitable toward the human race as a whole. I was thinking how great it was to live in a city where the motorists really seem to respect runners and bikers (excluding city buses, of course. They'll hit you without thinking twice whether you're on foot or a tricycle...). Several times as I neared the curb to cross the street, a car would pause a beat longer so I wouldn't have to stop. Wydown Blvd. has a fabulous double-wide bike path on both sides of the street, and no one pulls the "I think I'll pass this slow car in the bike lane" bit. People turning right wait (as they should) to let the pedestrians use the walk sign before turning. I was pleasantly surprised that StL drivers (some of the dumbest in the world, in my opinion) seemed to be tacitly cheering me on with their motor vehicle kindness...

Fast forward to this morning. I went for a run that takes me (mostly on sidewalk) through this enormous condo complex. Usually drivers there are pretty decent. Not this morning. Old lady in the blue Civic, did you really swerve at me, seriously?? To the 7 cars waiting to turn right at the McCutchon light, it's customary to let the pedestrian cross when the little walk figure is blinking, and btw, USE YOUR BLINKERS!!! And, skeevy dude in the red truck, we've been over this's absolutely unnecessary to honk at me. I know I look awesome w/ my pony tail tucked into my wicking beanie like it's a swim cap.

Lack of faith in humanity restored!

Positive note? I get to play volleyball for the first time in like 5 years tonight. I'm so excited it's ridiculous--and it's just a team practice. Imagine what I'll be like when it's game time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Running w/ Garmin

Saturday was my first run with my new Garmin Forerunner 405 gps/hrm watch. Full disclosure: I spent a good two hours playing with the watch and trying out the functions detailed in the owner's manual earlier in the week. Since I started running in earnest back in March, I've worn a regular sports watch to track the time (You've seen how accurate that was in my estimated race times...) and used the map feature of to figure out distance. I had virtually no idea what my heart rate was. So, I was excited to know my stats for real and was hoping knowing what my pace was would inspire me to kick it up a notch!

Reviews I've read of Garmin watches said that sometimes it takes awhile to get GPS from the satellite. But, so far, I haven't had any problems. When I was first setting up the watch, the instructions said I'd have to go outside to get a satellite connection. Not so. I pressed the GPS button intending to look at the menu and go outside later. Seconds afterward, the GPS signal indicator showed up on the watch face. The two times I've been out with the watch, it's taken no more than a minute or so to get going. I haven't tried it out at the gym yet, but I'm hoping I can use the watch w/o having to order the foot pod.

The training mode features are amazing. Seriously, this watch does everything I've ever wanted to know during a workout. For my first run, I set up a Simple workout mode to run 6.5 miles. There's another mode, Interval, that you can use to set up your warm up and cool down walking portions as well as the run, but I couldn't remember exactly how to do that without breaking out the manual again. I was really excited to see that there was a setting for the watch to pause when I stop running. So, all those stop lights won't be screwing up my time anymore. That feature takes a few seconds to kick in and another few seconds to return to workout mode, but overall, it did a nice job.

I set the watch to scroll through my pace, time, and heart rate. The watch was already defaulted to include the "Virtual Running Partner". This screen shows two figures, you and your buddy, and shows how far ahead or behind you are depending on the pace set for the virtual partner. Apparently, my virtual partner was set to a much faster past, b/c he left me in the dust. In the future, I'll probably turn that feature off. But, overall, I loved knowing how many miles I'd gone and how fast I was moving. It really helped me keep a steady pace. That's something I'm having to work on: slowing down when I'm trying to run farther distances. I tend to start out too fast and get tired in the end.

I decided to try out the heart monitor on my first run as well. I've never worn one, and I was concerned that I wouldn't like the feeling of something strapped around my rib cage while I was running. But, it turned out to be pretty comfortable. Except for the time that it came unhooked when I yanked on my shirt, I didn't even know it was there. The read out seemed pretty accurate, based on heart rates I've taken myself at the gym. However, on Monday morning, I went for another run with the heart monitor on. I don't think I wetted the sensors good enough b/c the readouts during that run were really off. It said my average heart rate was 37...My resting is around 60, so I know those numbers were way off. I intend to try it again on my next run and see what happens.

Probably the most fun part of the watch is transferring the data to the Garmin Connect program. For each workout, I see a map of my path (and can even watch it as a video). I can see my overall calories burned, heart rate, speed, distance, etc. And I can also see the splits for each mile. I'm a nerd, and I love charting my progress, so this is a lot of fun.

Do you need a Garmin? It depends. I'm not sure I really "need" a Garmin. But, my goal is to be a "real runner" someday. And, I'm a perfectionist, so I want to be a good runner. The information I'm getting from this watch motivates me to improve, so in that way I'd recommend a Garmin for others with similar personalities. They're a little expensive, but if you look around (I got mine on Amazon), you can find some great deals. If you're a distance runner or competitive, a Garmin is the ultimate running accessory, second (in my opinion) only to an iPod.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Negative Reinforcement

Let's take a trip down memory lane to Psych 101...remember the rats who could be taught to perform a behavior for a food reward, or Pavlov's dogs who learned it was dinner time when they heard the bell? All positive reinforcements....

Lately, I'm more like the rats who were taught not to do something on pain of electric shock. For the last three weeks or so, since it's really gotten cold, after I get back from a run (and sometimes after an indoor cardio workout), I've been getting blinding headaches, sometimes full blown migraines. While I'm running I feel great. When I stop running and cool down, I feel great. Then half an hour to an hour later, I'm in tears b/c my head feels like someone drove a stake through my temple.

It could be allergy/sinus related b/c when I run, regardless of the temperature, my sinuses go nuts. But that wouldn't explain the migraines really. I think I'm well hydrated in general, and I drink a little water before I go out and drink when I get back. I don't usually eat anything before I run b/c I cramp if I do, but I eat within the hour of getting home. Not sure what else to do. Or, what to do differently.

I have a doctor's appt. in less than a month, so ideally I'll be able to hang on until then, but the migraine I had this morning made me two hours late for work, so I might have to suck it up and make an appt. sooner rather than later.

Any other runners out there have similar issues? What did you do to fix the problem?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Highs & Lows

I had my best run EVER on Thanksgiving morning. I woke up earlier than I intended thanks to my rascally little kitten, so I had time for a long run before heading out to my parents' house. It was a cold morning, but I bundled it up and took off. My original plan was a 6.5 to 7 mile loop from my house to Forest Park and back. Somewhere along Skinker, I thought, what in god's name am I doing?? But, by the time I reached the top of my neighborhood, I felt awesome and decided to take the back way through the neighborhood and take a quick spin through Shaw park. One hour and 35 minutes later I was done running. Could I have gone longer? Maybe, I don't know...I couldn't feel my knees anymore, so possibly. I mapped the course out on MapMyRun's website and was shocked to discover that I'd gone 8.5 miles. My farthest run to date! Makes me feel like 13.1 isn't such a distant goal.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I came down with a wretched cold that's been plaguing me all week. I'm drinking fluids, taking vitamins, and all that good stuff, but my throat has been raw and overall I've just felt crappy. And...I've only worked out once this week. I did my No More Trouble Zones dvd on Tuesday and was WAY more winded than usual during. The other mornings I've slept in. I feel guilty because my eating has been awful since Thanksgiving. I'm like an addict...I really can't have "just a taste" of decadent foods...b/c then I want them ALL the time. Pie, candy, ice cream, name it, I've been craving it, and since I haven't been feeling good, I've used that as an excuse to comfort myself with junk. Feeling gross and NOT looking forward to weigh in this Friday. I'm sure I've gained a few pounds. And, there's nothing worse than losing weight you already lost once. What a waste of time!

On a positive note...I order a Garmin Forerunner 405 gps/heart rate monitor watch with my birthday money and got an awesome deal on Amazon. It arrived moments ago. I'm about to break open the manual and get this puppy going. Have a feeling I'll be feeling motivated to run in the VERY near future! Yay!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Girls on the Run 5k Recap **Updated**

So, awhile back I ran across the organization Girls on the Run...Mentors work with girls in 3rd through 8th grade and use running as a tool to talk about self respect and healthy living. I'm really not what you'd call a kid person...much more likely to volunteer for animals than children...But, this program seems like a really great way to help girls channel their energy in a positive direction. And, I wanted to do something, so I signed up for their 5k, which doubles as a charity event and the culmination of the girls' running training.

I've done a 5k in Forest Park before, but it's a huge park, and the course mapped out for the run yesterday was totally different than the other race, with several uphills.

Since this is my third 5k, I was really focused on improving my time. When I ran in September, I finished in 29:27. I was aiming this time for somewhere around a 9 minute mile.

The start time was 9:00 a.m., and I'd already picked up my race packet (complete with an awesome long sleeve wicking t-shirt), so I rolled into Forest Park around 8:15. Good thing...The roads surrounding the event were already closed due to a 1 mile fun run earlier that morning. I ended up parking about a half mile away at the Art Museum and walking to the event. Oh. My. Goodness. There were little girls everywhere. I had highly underestimated the size of the run. About 3,000 people were participating, about 3/4 of whom were kids.

Jackie Joyner Kersee was the guest emcee and gave the girls a pep talk before the race began. I positioned myself toward the start of the pack in hopes of getting out to a quick start. The starting horn blew at 9:00:32 and I crossed the starting line at 9:00:51. This didn't turn out to be a great race to plan on making PRs...The program focuses on having fun running, but I don't think they discussed things like "race etiquette." It took me awhile to get through the herds...About a mile or so in, I finally found myself with a free space to move.

I slowed down for a sip of water at the 2 mile mark, otherwise I kept moving. I was a bit sore, and frankly my legs just weren't moving that well, but I crossed the finish line at 9:29:15. Based on my own watch (the official times from our D-tags should be out later this week), I figure I ran in 28:06. Not bad for the slow start.

My math skills are worse than I thought...Offical results are in and according to chip time, I finished in 29:08...about 20 seconds faster than last time, but no minute faster like I thought from my watch. Boo! Still, out of 2662 participants, I finished 265th. And among 2253 female runners I finished 174th. Next time for the 28!

Friday, November 13, 2009

8 Months Later

Eight months ago, I decided to change my life. At 30 years old, I'd been to the doctor for a check-up and discovered that my cholesterol and blood pressure were both borderline high. I was too young to be this unhealthy, so I decided it was time to get it under control. I'd once been an athlete, and I wanted that strong, healthy body back....
I started on March 20th as part of a small group of girls with similar goals through a weight loss challenge hosted by Ash Is Fit. I didn't blog much about my journey on here, not in specifics anyway b/c I was ashamed. Ashamed of the way I'd let my body go and of the unflattering numbers associated with it. But no more...Being honest (with myself mostly) has been a big part of my success. So here are a couple of before photos:

My starting stats were:
Weight: 198 lbs
Body Fat: 28.8%
BMI: 28.4
Body Measurements:

  • Bust - 40.5 in
  • Waist - 35 in
  • Hips - 46 in
  • Arms - 14 in
  • Thighs - 26 in
  • Calves - 16 in

When I started running, I did the C25K program and found even the interval running incredibly difficult. But I kept going...little by little, I was able to move farther and faster than I thought possible.

I also watched my calorie intake and came to really understand how many calories I had been consuming a day versus how many I actually needed according to BMR.

Fast forward 8 months...

Okay...these photos are from over a month ago but I haven't taken any of myself recently...need to work on that.

My current stats are:
Weight: 164 lbs
Body Fat: 22.8%
BMI: 23.5
Body Measurements:
  • Bust - 37 in
  • Waist - 31 in
  • Hips - 42 in
  • Arms - 13 in
  • Thighs - 21 in
  • Calves - 15 in
That's a lot of inches gone (2 full pants sizes)! My original goal was to lose 48 lbs by now. 8 months later I've lost 33 lbs. Two pounds a week was a bit ambitious it turns out. There were weeks I lost more than two and weeks I stayed the same or gained. I averaged about a pound a week. I'm not disappointed that I haven't lost all 50 yet...17 to go! If I can keep up an average of about a pound a week, I should reach my goal by the end of Feb/beginning of March!

Aside from the obvious health benefits, one of the biggest outcomes of all this has been the huge boost in my confidence. Not just in how I look, although shopping has become infinitely more fun again. But, I've really started to believe I can do anything. A year ago I never would have signed up for a 5k, let alone a half marathon. But, I set a goal to lose weight, and I have...I set a goal to become a runner, and I'm well on my way!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why I've Been MIA

There's been a new addition to the family...Meet Ozzie (as in Smith, not Osbourne). B. took me to a local shelter last Saturday to see if there was a kitten I wanted to adopt for my upcoming birthday. I was smitten with this little grey striped guy right away.
However, the transition at home has been rough. Karma, my other cat, has been an "only child" for four years and hasn't taken too kindly to the new kitten. No fighting, just lots of hissing. I think she's actually more afraid of him than angry. Which is weird b/c she's about three times the size of him.
Then on Monday night, I noticed that he was sneezing and wheezing a lot, so we had to go to the vet yesterday and found that he has an upper respiratory virus...That means we get to feed him (i.e., force into his mouth) antibiotics twice a day for 10 days. That's about as much fun as it sounds. Plus, I've been constantly worried that he's not eating enough or using his litter box. And, he stays up all night and sleeps all day. Yikes...if cats are this hard, what would I do with kids???
That said, I've skipped two workouts this week (partially from being exhausted and partially to rest my hip that was giving me trouble again). But, I've got a 5k on Saturday, so hopefully that will get me back into the swing of things!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: No More Trouble Zones & Banish Fat Boost Metabolism

In addition to running, I'm a big believer in doing strength work. I don't have any hard science to prove this next statement, but since I started strength training on my days off from running, I've experienced far fewer aches and pains in my hips and knees.
That said, I'm not a fan of regular old weight lifting. You couldn't pay me to lift at the gym with all the sweaty, grunting men who populate the weight area. So, I resort to doing dvds at home. I've tried Workout: One-on-One Training with Jackie, Mari Windsor: Pilates, and my favorite, 30 Day Shred. I love Jillian Michaels and the Shred was great, but I've been doing it on and off for over a year and want a workout longer than 20 minutes without having to do two levels in a row. I'd seen Jillian's newer dvds, No More Trouble Zones and Banish Fat Boost Metabolism but hadn't gotten around to picking them up until I saw both dvds on sale at Target for $10 a piece. It was too good a deal to pass up.

No More Trouble Zones is the strength training video. The work out is set up as a cardio warm-up (5 minutes), 6 strength circuits (40 minutes) and a cool down stretch (5 minutes). When I began the warm-up, I recognized some of the moves from the Shred dvd and was momentarily concerned that I was getting a lengthened version of what I was already burned out on. But, while there were a few repeated moves (plank row, squat/overhead press), there were plenty of different exercises to keep me interested.

I also liked the time break down in each circuit better than the Shred. Each circuit has about 5 moves that you work through twice. I don't have a ton of upper body strength, so it was nice to change moves frequently. It kept me from getting too tired and allowed me to really focus on that move. And, even though there was no cardio interval in this workout, the compound moves (lunges while doing curls, etc.) had my heart rate up, and by the time the cool down rolled around, I was covered in sweat.

One thing I'd recommend, though, that Jillian didn't mention until about half way through the circuit portion, would be to use lighter weights than you normally would. I started the dvd with 10 lb dumbbells and was having real trouble completing each set without resting. Then Jillian notes that she's using 3 lb weights even though she can lift much more because many of the circuits focus on the same muscle group nonstop for 5 minutes. When I heard this, I switched to my 5 lb weights and found it much more doable.

In addition to strength training, I also like to mix up running with a little cross-training. Banish Fat Boost Metabolism was made up of 6 cardio circuits of about 5 moves each repeated twice. Many of the moves were kicks and punches from kick boxing. I have also done Jillian's cardio kick boxing workout, and again there were a few repeated moves but plenty of new stuff I hadn't tried before.

I did this dvd for the first time right after I finished No More Trouble Zones...I was already a little tired, but it took no time at all before my heart was pounding out of my chest. However, Jillian alternated between calisthenic moves like jumping jacks and high knees to punches to kicks so that I felt like I had time to catch my breath and slow my heart rate a little between the harder exercises.

After I completed both dvds, I was dripping sweat and felt tired in the best way possible. The next day I was sore (not in a painful way, just enough to know I'd worked hard); my triceps and lower abs, two places I'm always trying to tone, were especially sore. Thus far, I'd have to say I'd recommend both dvds. I'm excited to see what the combination of these two dvds can do for me. I'm also interested to see how a stronger core and legs will improve my running ability. Two thumbs up, Jillian!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Creature of New Habits

The fall time change is my least favorite event of the year...I'm a summer girl. I love the heat and the sunshine that lasts until late in the evening. And, functioning as it progressively gets dark earlier and earlier is always a challenge for me. When I finish work and it's already dark, something inside me says it's time to climb into pjs and eat comfort food. This is a bigger concern for me this year, 1. because I want to stay on track to reach my goal weight (17 lbs to go!) and 2. because of my desire to run outside.

Even if I finished my work day at 4 p.m., which is iffy on most days, by the time I got changed and on the road, it would be well on its way to dark. So, the solution? To avoid the soul-killing treadmill for as long as possible (and to make sure I'm not too sluggish to workout in the first place), I simply have to work out in the morning before work. I work from home and have a huge amount of flexibility in my hours. I'm not a morning person in the least, but I'm even less of a treadmill/gym-going person.

So, this morning, I got up at 6:30, threw on my gear, and hit the pavement running. It wasn't terrible really. Sunrise was at 6:29, so it was bright out. There were very few cars. The temp was chilly but doable. And, best of all, by 8:30, I was showered and in my home office eating breakfast over emails. And when the day ends at 5:00 or so...I'm DONE!

I only run every other day (to keep knee/hip issues at bay), but I think the best way to make getting up earlier a habit is to get up at that time every day. I can do my strength training at that time too (check back later in the week for a review of the two Jillian Michael's dvds I bought last week). My downstairs neighbors are going to HATE me and my cardio circuits on paper thin floors at 6:30 in the morning, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just Do It

So, last week, I was trying to decide whether or not to sign up for the Go! St. Louis half-marathon by the October 31st early registration deadline...

I'm doing it! My registration form and check are in the mail as of yesterday afternoon. I decided I didn't have any really good reasons not to give it a shot.

Now, I just need a half training buddy or two...Trying to convince my two sisters to do it with me, although none of us live in the same city.

In other race news, I also signed up for the Girls on the Run 5k on November 14th. It seems like a great organization--it uses running as a way to help middle school girls build self-esteem and prepare for high school. If I liked kids, I'd totally volunteer with them. Since I don't, I'm going to donate and run their 5k...
I'm really going to try to shave some more time off my current "PR" (if you can call it that...) of 29.27. Probably a bit of a stretch, but I'd like to finish in 27 minutes.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Use It Or Lose It

Last night, during our short reprieve from the rain, I went on my first outdoor run since last Monday. Not for lack of desire, but last week I was a little sick, and then last Friday was the dreaded wisdom teeth surgery, which put me out of commission for a few days. Then came the incessant rain...
So, I found myself setting out not having run for 8 days. I didn't anticipate any problems, but it sure did start out hard. My chest felt like it was going to explode, my allergies kicked in, and I found myself taking a couple of 1 minute walk breaks.
But, sure enough, after about 3 miles, that recently familiar feeling of being able to keep going indefinitely kicked in. I ended up doing about two miles more than I intended when I started.
I didn't really want to stop when I did, but I had plans that evening that I needed to de-sweat for. I was just happy to get outside again and enjoy non-rainy fall for a minute.

I am concerned about this winter...I have cold-weather gear, and as it turns out, I run pretty well in the cold (possibly better than the insane summer heat), but when the snow hits, I'm gonna have to take it inside. Monday, I was at the gym and tried to use the treadmill....Yikes! I can't run as fast or as long on treadmill as I can outside. I feel like it makes me stride and hold my arms weird (to avoid flying off the back). Plus, it's so damn boring! I'll put gym going off as long as possible, but got to figure out something--Anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I'm sitting here this morning, contemplating the race registration for the Go! St. Louis Half-Marathon...To get the lowest registration fee, I need to send in my application by October 31st. The question is do I really want to run a half?

I started considering the idea of a half marathon after my successful 10k. Then, last weekend at a friend's b-day party, I was telling my friend Chris, who runs half and full marathons, about my experience and my possible desire to push farther. He convinced me that anyone who can do a 10k can do a half marathon and that the early April date of the Go! St. Louis half would give me plenty of time to train slowly. He also managed to convince me that if the half goes well to consider training for the full in Chicago...He made it all sound so simple!

So, what's holding me back now? Partly, I think it's laziness. Preparing to run a half means a lot of time devoted to putting in those long runs. Do I want to commit? I don't want to sign up for (and pay for something) that I'm going to end up giving up on half way through training.

Second is my fear that I'm not a "real" enough runner yet. I looked up a half-marathon training schedule, and it was full of things that I don't fully understand like fartleks, tempo runs, etc. And, I thought, "can't I just add mileage to my daily runs and build up each week?" Is that naive to think? I'm also put off by the need to refuel during long runs...those gel packs and beans make me want to throw up. I just can't do it. So, maybe long distance isn't for me.

Finally, I'm held back by fear...fear of failure, fear of injury. Long distance is when runners start to get hurt. I'm coming into this with "bad" knees and hips from the beating I gave them during high school and college volleyball. Can my body take it? I don't want to end up at the physical therapist's and unable to run at all.

I have the clarity to know that while some of my concerns are valid, mostly they're just excuses. If I put my mind to it, I can totally be ready for a half in April. I can listen to my body and avoid unnecessary wear and tear. And, by April, I should be at my goal weight, if not before, so there'll be that much less fat to lug around with me on a run. I'm still not sure about the technical training and fuels, but I can figure out something I'm comfortable with. That's what Google is for, right?

Anyway, I've got a few more days to decide what I'm going to do. Any advice is welcome!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Never Too Late...

This past summer (and the summer before that), one of my goals was to be able to run the entire outer path of Forest Park. According to the StL Track Club's website, that loop is 5.66 miles. Now, I've completed the loop many times with a combination of walking and running but never running the whole thing. After last weekend's success with the 10k, I knew 5.66 miles shouldn't be a problem. My only concern was that the south side of the park has several steep hills that have always given me problems.

So this morning, with the sun shining (finally!) although not doing much warming, I set out for the park to put a check mark next to another goal completed (even if it was a little out of chronological order). I started on Lindell near the Visitor's Center going clock-wise, that way I would hit the hilly section after only a mile or two. Some way, some how, without my realizing it, my legs have gotten WAY stronger. The hills really weren't that steep...I just slowed down when I needed to and kept careful watch over my breathing and form.

Another small victory...About 4 miles into the run, there's a very small hill, one that shouldn't give me any problems, but for some reason, whenever I've gotten to the top of the rise in the past, I've had to walk for a couple of minutes to catch my breath. Well, today, as I approached that section, I told myself, "This hill is so tiny compared to the others you've just conquered...the fact that you can't keep going when you get to the top is purely mental." And, it was. When I got to the top of the hill, I reminded myself to control my breathing to help slow my heart rate and to just keep going. It worked!

When I reached the end of the run, I still felt strong, so I pushed on for another quarter mile or so just to prove to myself that I could. I finished the whole run (5.66 + some) in 61 minutes. Not as fast as my 10k pace, but I was happy to cross off another goal, not to mention clearing a mental hurdle that's been holding me back. Now to get my eating back on track and finish off these last 16 unnecessary pounds. I think of it this way: the closer to my ideal weight, the easier it will be to run!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Legislating Health

I was listening to NPR this morning, as per usual, and on the Diane Rehm Show, she was discussing the proposed tax on soda and sugary drinks that would allegedly drive down consumption and provide revenue for the health care overhaul. The tax could be somewhere around a penny per ounce. So, a 20 oz Coke from the vending machine would be an extra 20 cents or so. It reminded me of a commercial I saw recently on the same topic where a "mother" bemoans the fact that in this economy even a few pennies add up to strains on their budget. The commercial was paid for by a coalition that, among others, included soft drink companies.

I guess you can figure out where I come down on this issue...I'm all for the tax. In fact, I think it should extend to candy, chips, and other non-essential foods. If the government can tax the heck out of cigarettes under the assumption that it will deter smoking, which contributes to disease, why not tax junk food in a similar manner in hopes it will steer some people toward healthier food choices? A Coke a day may not kill you as quickly as a cigarette a day, but it will eventually affect you.

And, the argument that it's going to put a strain on the working American's budget...Uhmmmm, have you considered removing soda from your budget? Tap water is extremely cheap. The problem of unhealthy food being cheaper than healthy food is an entirely different (very serious) issue. As is the absence of grocery stores in certain urban areas.

I realize a tax won't deter everyone. No amount of taxing or even educational campaigns are going to keep the majority of people from doing exactly what they want to do, no matter how bad it is for them. In fact, if the tax goes into effect, it probably wouldn't stop me from having the occasional Diet Coke. But, as long as I'm going to make a less than healthy choice, someone else might as well in the millions of people in our wealthy nation who can't get affordable health care.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Update on 10k Results

So, I did even better than I thought...According to the official results list my time was 1:01:54 (a tiny bit better than a 10 minute mile pace). The place info is WAY less impressive...The race was divided up into competitive and non-competitive categories. I signed up for competitive, b/c as I understood the flier, I thought non-competitive weren't getting timed. Apparently not. But as a competitive runner, I'm exceedingly slow. I finished 154th out of 176 runners in the competitive category (they didn't list the results for the race as a whole) and in my age group for the competitive category I finished 15th out of 17 runners. But, whatever! I'm psyched about that one minute time difference :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First 10k Result

When did this become a running blog??

This morning, I rolled out of bed around 5:30 and headed to Edwardsville for the Route 66 10k. And, it was COLD this morning! Earlier in the week, I saw a weather report that said it would be around 50 degrees at race time, so I went to Dick's Sporting Goods and bought some cold weather running clothes. Good thing...It was more like 35 degrees at race time. There were tons of runners from all over, and I have to say the Metro Milers (the club that hosted the run) was awesome! The volunteers from the club working the race were great, and the other runners were super friendly.

One lady I met asked me what my goal time was...I hadn't really allowed myself to think about it...I didn't feel ready going into this race, and since it was my first 10k, I kept telling myself not to be competitive with myself and just do the best I could and see where I ended up. But, I told her I hoped to finish in under 70 minutes. Seemed reasonable, right?

The run went through residential Edwardsville and then about half the race was on the trails that wind through that area. I made myself start out at toward the back of the pack and kept telling myself to
s-l-o-w down. It was cold, but my cold compression gear was doing it's job, and I felt good. There were a few medium-size hills, but nothing crazy. There was a race clock at the 5k mark, and it was 30.23 when I crossed there. I couldn't believe that I wasn't even tired yet. It's all mind over matter, so I told myself that from this point to the end is the about the same length as the path I run at the park regularly (everything up to this point was just a warm-up) =}

The last half was easier than I imagined. The race volunteers were stationed along the route at about half mile intervals cheering us on. At the five mile mark, when I knew there was only 1.2 miles left, I tried to pick up speed a little. Before I knew it, the finish line was in sight...Since my watch was trapped under my shirt and jacket sleeves, I wasn't sure how I was doing on time. When the race clock came into view, I was surprised to see 1:02:26. I sped through the shoot and handed in my time sheet....The official results aren't in yet, obviously, but I think my time is definitely under 63 minutes.

I was super shocked with my performance. I didn't even think that I'd be able to run the whole time and figured I'd need at least a little walking break. Nope! I feel like Superwoman today! If I can do this, I can do anything. My birthday is fast approaching, and I have to say, I think I'm probably in just as good of shape as I was ten years ago, if not better, definitely eating healthier! And, even though I've said in this very blog that a half marathon is not for me...After today, when I wasn't even tired after 6.2, makes me wonder if that could be in the cards in the future!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thoughts for an Early Weekend Morning

I'd rather still be sleeping. But...Nothing boosts confidence like doing something you never thought you'd be able to do. Since I was wide awake for no apparent reason at 6:30 am, I went for a long run near my neighborhood. It's a route with about 7 hills, two of which are super steep, the others which are longer gradual rises. When I first started doing a shortened version of this route back in like May or June, I walked most of the hilly parts. I just couldn't make it a Loony Toons character, I'd be chugging away and then grind to a halt part way up the hill. I've slowly improved on the hills and added mileage to the run. This morning, I made it up 6.5 hills and made the run a 4.5 miler. If I can do that, surely running 6.2 on a fairly flat course will be doable in about three week.
When it came to school or work, I've always been confident in my abilities. But in the past few years, I've felt that my body was on the downhill slide into old age and there was nothing I could do about it. I never thought I'd be able to run this far or fast again. I never thought I'd be able to get back in shape (30 lbs down 20 to go!). But I have, and I gotta say, it feels awesome! If I can do this, I'm pretty sure I can do anything at all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

5K Take Two *Updated*

This morning, I ran my second 5K, Strides 4 Kids, in Tower Grove park in south city. Like the superb boyfriend he is, B. got up early and came with to take pictures and cheer me on. My goal for the race was 30 minutes, although I secretly figured it would be closer to 31.

Here's me, pre-race, sleepy but ready to rock it:

I've never run in Tower Grove, so I didn't realize that most of the second half of the race would be an up hill battle (okay, maybe more like a slight incline battle...) In fact, after the 2.5 mile marker, with all the twists and turns in the road, I was completely turned around and was suprised when I suddenly saw the finish line in the distance.

This is me, realizing I'm almost done and trying to kick it up a notch:

I'd been keeping tabs on my time on my watch b/c this event didn't provide timing chips, and I wanted to know my exact time from when I finally crossed the start line vs the race clock. My actual time was about 10 seconds faster than the official clock:

Mission accomplished: 29:27 was my personally recorded time. Not only was I under my goal time, but I improved from my last race by almost 5 minutes...all that work is actually paying off. It felt great!
Now the question is: 10K? It's at the beginning of October...just not sure yet.

**Race results came out: out of 96 runners, I came in 56th, and out of 56 women, I came in 25th! I was so excited I went ahead and signed up for the 10K. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Logging the Time

A blog I recently discovered, Running Through Life follows someone who started running as part of a healthy lifestyle change, like me. I noticed just below the banner of her blog that she's counting down 1,000 miles run. I am intrigued! Granted, she runs half marathons and I run 5ks (maybe 10ks), but I still like the idea of keeping track of how far I run. I might just start doing that. I'm goal oriented...something about writing stuff down makes me do it better. For example, I use an old-school day planner to put X's on the days I work the end of the month, I figure out what percentage of the time I worked out, and at the end of the year I do the overall figure for the year. When I started watching my calorie intake, I started keeping a food diary on my iPhone. I've recorded every morsel I've put in my mouth for about six months now. So, maybe keeping track of how far I run will inspire me to go farther and faster.

Off to find a counter to post on my blog!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I'm so excited right now! You'd think something earth-shattering had happened...and depending on how you want to look at it, it just may have.

I was reading a fashion blog I visit regularly and discovered that The OutNet will be offering over 50 styles of Christian Louboutins for 50% off. Meaning, the $700 pair of shoes I wanted to splurge on when I met my weight loss goal may just be around $350.

My conundrum is this: If they do indeed have my size in the style I wanted, should I go ahead and buy them on the cheap and put them away for "Goal Day"? B. says no. He says I'll get them, see how awesome they are, and say screw it. I think I can handle it. Couldn't I order them, try them on to make sure they fit (of course), and then put them away until such time as I've reached the target? I'd like to think that the make-sure-they-fit try-on would be super motivational? As in, do you really want to eat an ice cream sundea right now, or do you want to put yourself that much closer to those beautiful beautiful shoes??

I'm thinking....In the meantime, I've gotta figure out what size I wear!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Good Morning for a Rant...

My first experience with the so-called "credit crisis": I received a letter yesterday saying that a credit card I've had since college had closed my account due to "inactivity." What?! Last year, I paid off the rather high balance and put the card away for emergencies. It was part of my attempt to get my finances together and use my credit cards responsibly. This is how I'm rewarded? Had I known this was a possibility, if they'd, oh say, sent a letter warning me this could happen, instead of just a letter saying the account was closed, I'd have made a small occasional purchase to keep the line of credit open. Instead, my credit score will take the hit. What a crock! I called to tell them so, and the representative's response was "Because this is mentioned in the terms of your credit agreement, there's nothing that can be done." Oh, the fine print in a document I haven't seen in 10 years. How could I have not noticed that?? What gets me is that they were way more into me when I was drowning in debt. When I was almost maxed out, they were more than happy to give me more credit, more rope to hang myself with. I was a "good" customer. One that would make them money, whether I survived or not. Now, ironically, I'm a "bad" customer, one who doesn't spend more than she makes and keeps her cards paid off. As far as I can tell from my online searches, this is perfectly legal under the current system. I really think that needs to change. It feels like all the laws protect the banks but less so the consumers. There's no neat conclusion here. I'm pissed! I don't know who to write angry letters to first. But first things first, I suppose: I'm off to buy a pack of gum on my other two no-balance credit cards...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Breaking new ground

I've been running consistently for about four months now. I started out small, running and walking my way through a couple of miles. Lately, I've been doing about 4 miles (including a 10 minute warm-up walk). I plan to do a couple more 5ks in September, but my latest goal is to run in a 10k in October. 6.2 miles is a looooong way for someone like me (someone who has to talk to themselves the whole time they run: "Don't stop, make it to that tree before you stop, okay, try to make it to the water fountain" get the idea). So, in preparation for this 10k goal, I decided I needed to up my mileage. I had some free time Saturday, so I headed to Forest Park (St. Louis's answer to Central Park) to run the outer loop that runs around the perimeter of the park. According to the Forest Park website, the loop is 6 miles. According to the St. Louis Track Club website, it's really about 5.65 miles. It also says there are "moderate" hills. I'd like to say that for a novice runners, this course has heart-may-explode hills. Either way, I told myself I was going to give it a shot, that I didn't have to run the whole time, but I did have to finish. About 75 minutes later, I returned to my starting point. I ended up walking about a mile and a half, but I ran a heck of a lot more than I expected. 10k here I come!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Show Me the Info!

When I started this whole "get healthy" thing, I started keeping close track of how many calories I was putting in my mouth every day. I started looking up the calorie count and portion size for foods I made at home and tried to do the same for meals I was eating out. Many of my favorite fast food places had pretty extensive nutrition info available online: Starbucks, Sonic, Wendy's, Arby's, etc. And, after seeing exactly how much of my daily allotment would be wasted (or even exceeded) on a Sonic burger and fries, I stopped going. Knowledge was power. I was able to pinpoint the thing that had kept me from losing the extra weight before: severely underestimating my calorie intake.

It got harder when we'd eat out, as our group of friends does frequently. Most of our favorite restaurants are locally owned and, therefore, don't provide nutrition info. I think it's ridiculous that they're not required to have this information on hand, but because they aren't chains, I can sort of understand. What gets me is the fact that so many "sit-down" restaurant chains refuse to make their nutritional information public. I assumed they'd be regulated by the same laws that force fast-food restaurants to publish their info.

Not so. Restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, TGIFriday's, Applebees, etc. don't offer any nutrition facts on their website. You have to rely on third party diet websites with estimations, if any exist. These places make excuses like different restaurants using different food distributors that might cause difference in calories between dishes made at different restaurants. Another, Chevy's, said that they change their menu to include seasonal items and local food and, therefore, can't maintain a nutrition list. Bull. There are a few restaurants I've found that do have their nutrition info online, like Houlihans and Ruby Tuesday. And, the facts they post aren't all that flattering to them...1200 calories for one burger?? The others are just hiding the fact that many of their dishes are worse for you than a Big Mac Value Meal.

I want restaurants (chain and locally owned) to be required by law to produce nutrition estimates for their food. Even if there could be variations between individual stores, I think those variations would be fairly slight. I already assume that there could be difference between what nutrition facts say and how an individual cook might prepare it (as in using more butter or oil in the prep process than they're supposed to, etc.). I just need a ballpark. Maybe if they're so embarressed by the poor nutritional quality of their food, restaurants would be compelled to create healthier dishes or find ways to prepare their current menu items in healthier ways. I realize that some people don't want to think about how bad the food is that they're eating. But some of us do. These places need to at least give consumers the option of making health choices that are informed by calorie/fat content numbers rather than personal guess work.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Hate SmartPost: A Mini-Rant

SmartPost, is in my opinion, the worst thing to happen to online shopping since regular USPS shipping. The worst is when the store slips it by you, and you think your package is being serviced by an efficient shipping company.
For those of you who haven't experienced SmartPost (yet), it's when a regular shipping company like FedEx carries the package to your town, and then, instead of bringing it to your door, they drop it off at the post office distribution center where it will languish for a few more days away from your greedy little hands going from distribution center to local branch to finally finally finally your front door. If possible, this takes even longer than when the post office handles the whole thing (with the exception that FedEx faithfully updates its status and the USPS can't be bothered).
Last week I ordered a few items from GAP on sale. It appeared FedEx was handling my order, and I saw last night that although the estimated arrival date was 7/24, the package had arrived in Earth City. Usually that means it'll be here the next day. Nope. SmartPost strikes again. Lots of government agencies suck, but the post office has got to be one of the worst, where the employees really truly don't give a damn about you or your precious mail. Remind me to tell the story of our beloved mail delivery person.

Why Do We Care?

I signed up for Twitter this morning...For quite awhile now, I've been a one social network kind of girl. I deleted the old Myspace site and moved it all over to Facebook. Then my brother tells me I must join Twitter b/c he doesn't do facebook. He made quite a case, capping it off with "Basically twitter is pre-election Obama and facebook is Sarah Palin." How does one argue with that? One doesn't. One signs up for Twitter.
What I don't get is why are we so fascinated with the minute, constantly updated details of each others lives? Why do we feel the need to comment on them or "like" them? I don't know, but I know I visit a select group of blogs every day, I can't resist clicking on the links people put up of their latest cooking creations, and I love watching drama unfold via status updates and comments. I'll waste untold amounts of time on this. In bumper-to-bumper traffic (to avoid road rage), in the waiting room, when I'm supposed to be working, while I'm allegedly watching tv, while I'm waiting in line at the coffee shop.
I can't speak for the rest of humankind, but maybe I like it b/c I can't just sit still...Social networking is the post-post-modern equivalent of needlepoint.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

Anyone else find it ironic that most of the people who are "concerned" by Judge Sonya Sotomayor's statement about a wise Latina woman making better decisions than a white man are...white men? Wouldn't it be horrible if their interests weren't the top priority of the entire establishment for the first time in centuries? I can only imagine the panic in the old boys' club.

Monday, June 8, 2009

My 5K

Although I ran in a race about 2 1/2 years ago, Sunday was my first 5k ever. I signed up to run in Make Tracks for the Zoo and convinced my sister to join me. I finished in just over 34 minutes, which was slower than I'd hoped but below my "realistic" time estimate. My sister is a rock star and finished in 27 minutes. Running in races is so much more exciting than all that running alone! I'm looking forward to my next one already.

My sis and me after the race...I'll blame waking up early and lack of makeup on my haggard expression :)

All the finishers got ribbons, which was nice...the winners finished in something like 16 minutes. Now there's a goal for the future!

Monday, May 11, 2009

On My Mind...

Just some things I've been thinking about:

  1. If I could give the world just one gift, it wouldn't be world peace. It would be the power to create a professional PowerPoint presentation. So few people can actually pull this off. If you ask me, that skill in itself could change the world.
  2. As much as I despise running, there's a very Zen element to it. Like yoga, where the teacher always tells you to "honor your body as it is today." I'm learning to tell where my limits are that day and whether or not I can push beyond them. I'm starting to know the ebbs and flows of my endurance. Kinda cool.
  3. Related to the above, I've decided what to do with my first million (you know, when I win the lottery I never play). A massage therapist on my personal payroll. I can't think of any better way to spend it.
  4. The problem-solving skills I learned in graduate school don't apply in all situations, sadly enough. Like many of the other things I learned in grad school that don't have real world applications...I wonder if my brain has the capacity to retrain itself? Hopefully.
  5. I just realized today that my 5 day weekend is a mere 11 days away. I think I can, I think I can.

Next time? A real topic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The End of Every Tunnel Needs a Light

Bribes work well to keep me motivated...So, as I reach mini goals during my healthy lifestyle/weight loss mission, I've been gifting myself with little odds and ends. This was my -10 lb. gift:

Not the whole bed unfortunately, just the quilt.

But, I'm thinking if (no, when, not if) I reach my ultimate goal of -50 lbs. I should treat myself to a really, really big present:

I'd like for Louboutin to be the light at the end of my tunnel!!! Whatever keeps you motivated, right?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Working It Out

I've occasionally (perhaps frequently) bitched on here about my weight and the fact that it seems to rise far more easily than it falls. Well, whining no more. I'm going to do something about it. I'm tired of seeing pictures of myself and being disappointed with the way I look.
Conveniently, one of my favorite bloggers, Ashlee of Ash Is Fit and A Year in the Kitchen is hosting a 20 lbs in 20 weeks challenge. She's 20 lbs away from her goal of losing 100 lbs. Her story is incredibly inspirational (seriously, check out her blog!).

I'm actually modifying her challenge for my own purposes...My goal is to lose 1.5 per week, putting me at -30 lbs by the end of the 20 weeks. All in all, I'll be doing my weight loss program for 34 weeks, hopefully putting me somewhere around -50 lbs by the beginning of November. All the better to be looking good for my birthday!

For some reason, I don't feel like this is just a ridiculous idea that I'll get sick of a few days or weeks from now. I feel prepared...Got places to record exercise calorie output and food calorie intake. I have my personal "equation" (no more than 1400 calories in, at least 500 calories out above my regular metabolic rate). I've got support from Ash and the other 60+ people who have signed up. I'm making this my mission for the next 34+ weeks! Wish me luck (or better yet, join in!)