Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Weightloss Story: Part 2

If you missed part one of my story you can catch up here.

So there I was at the end of the marathon, 216 pounds, feeling totally fit and amazing, eating a bagel and cream cheese...thinking this was as good as it was going to get.
Was I really destined to be the Athena athlete beating the odds and tromping across the finish line of every race statistically too big to be there? Was I really happy with the way I felt about myself and how I looked? Decidedly not.
My big fear was, now that the ultimate challenge was complete, what was there to motivate me? If 216 pounds was as good as it got, How the heck was I going to maintain It when running 10 or more miles a day was the standard for the last 9 months? What if I didn't feel like running anymore ?
Rather than think logically, or scientifically, I immediately signed up for a half marathon and went head long into more training. You know the story by now, lots of running, lots of food (mostly grain and vegetables as I was following the running mantra of carbo-load and protein is bad...). I could not imagine fitting in more training (like weights or cross training) it was just too much work! I hurt and I was exhausted...and still stuck at 216 pounds.

Not long before my next big race, Mr. Dad decided to do some shake up of his own. He also ran the marathon and was just sick of running at this point. He did not want to lose the progress he had attained from training so he opted to try a new sport instead.

Mr. Dad had heard of a gym in our little town that was more weightlifting classes than the traditional gym experience. He told me it was like personal training and group exercise rather than running the treadmill and doing machines. That sounded great until I saw this:

Now, I got to the part of the video with the guy doing the ring handstand push ups and totally disconnected. NO ONE wants to do that, right? Who the heck wants to work THAT HARD?!

I patted him on the head and wished him well...then I went to watch my movie and run 10 miles on the treadmill.
One month after the marathon and my weight held steady with no signs of dropping. I regularly consumed fast food and restaurant meals along with a big portion dinner. AND if I wasn't running on my mill, I was sitting on my but looking at the computer. I was totally unmotivated, lonely, and had no real goals to get me to a different place.

Mr. Dad came home from his first class at the new gym totally covered in sweat and red in the face. "CrossFit" had kicked his butt. He told me all about his workout and the fact a 68 year old woman had left him in the dust. This only reinforced in me the idea of it being totally scary and NOT for me.

"You would love it" he says. "They make it so you can do it, you would start slow"...
Well, eventually I would be expected to do all the crazy stuff in that video wouldn't I? Isn't that the goal? Isn't CrossFit supposed to kick your butt everyday and make you an ubber athlete or keep special forces guys in shape for there job? My confidence was so low, I really never thought I could do any of that...specifically because I had not clue how to do it right then and knew I didnt have the ability to if I wanted. "I can't even do a push up". I kept making excuses for myself.

Eventually the curiosity in me caught hold and I wanted to at least watch Mr. Dad do his thing. He was more motivated about this workout class than anything I had seen him do in years.
Before I went, I stumbled upon another video or two as I research a reason not to try this thing out. This one really spoke to me...

..."Everyone knows your name"...
..."If I don't go, someone calls me"...
..."My gym is not fancy"...

I went and checked out the workout. It WAS different. It WAS doable. It Was hard...and it was a competition. The fact they held you accountable by time and not just completion threw a twist I had not anticipated. I LOVE competition.
The next day I did the Filthy Fifty workout with Mr. Dads class.

MONDAY 061204

For time:
50 Box jump, 24 inch box
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings, 1 pood
Walking Lunge, 50 steps
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press, 45 pounds
50 Back extensions
50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Double unders
Post time to comments.
Compare to 060910.
Posted by lauren at December 4, 2006 2:10 PM 

It was totally scaled and totally slow...but I had a blast getting through the work. I loved seeing all the people around me working so hard, I wondered how I compared in ability. I thought I was a pretty impressive girl, having just finished a marathon...
I quickly realized I was NOT in shape but just a good long distance runner.
I was motivated to see some improvements. I wondered if I could slim down working out so hard in an hour and skipping the two hour sessions on the mill.

Mr. Dad knows me well, I did love it. It was nothing like that first scary video.

I was in love with the community of the gym. It was my little family. Yes, we bonded. Finding friends who wanted the same things in life and struggled by my side to do amazing things...was awesome!!

On the first day of my commitment to trying something new, I took pictures. I hoped to one day not be totally humiliated by them but to use them as a tool for inspiration for myself and others. This is me on the first day of CrossFit January 6, 2012:
216 pounds and 31% body fat (as a marathon runner!)

I gave myself 3 months. I would do the workouts 5 times a week and work hard to see what might happen.
At the 5 month mark I was still going strong pushing bigger weights and running faster than I ever had. My marathon training had all but stopped because I was easily getting in 7-10 miles of running each week during workouts and I felt really good.
And at 5 months I had dropped 7 pounds of fat even though I had not changed my eating one bit. The idea of doing diet and food...seemed like too much to do. It was my reward for working so hard! I like hamburgers!

Surely I would continue to drop the weight if I just worked out hard enough...
29% body fat

At the 10 month mark of my training I was motivated and inspired! I loved the new sport so much.

 I wanted to teach, to inspire, to be a part of the ground floor of the new fitness movement. I went to San Antonio and got certified to instruct.
As the training go harder and the workouts more complex, the frustration over my size was mounting. It was not a frustration over my pants size anymore, my new frustration was the absolute inability to do things smaller people could! If I was so "good" at this sport and so inspired to work hard and compete, why were there certain things I just could not do.

At last the realization had come. I had to really focus on food. It was the food...It had to be better for me to be better. Any heavy person can tell you, they know exactly what they are NOT supposed to eat. Finding the right balance of the right food is the real challenge.
I started with the Paleo diet. Then I got the flu at my 1 year mark of Crossfit training. I don't know if it was going "paleo" or getting sick, or resting for a week that did it but I immediately lost 10 pounds.
27% body fat

Within a month another 5 pounds and I was seeing results in my workouts and weight on the bar.
I totally cheated on paleo eating. I drank beer, I had bread once in a while...
90 percent of the time I ate fruit, nuts, seeds, veg, and lots of meat. I did not deprive myself of meat. This worked but I was tired without carbs ( I wasn't eating enough!!)
27% body fat

I did the CrossFit open, totally scared and overwhelmed...but all that is good for the confidence. I love the quote: "Do something everyday that scares you."- Elenore Roosevelt
It has become my mantra.
In May, I took another rest. Almost two weeks of nothing but rest and a bit of weightlifting for my Olympic certification. I dropped another 15 pounds...almost over night.
Rest? Was rest the magic pill???

The summer has proved eventful. It has been full of joy and sorrow...and it has tested my confidence. Through everything life has thrown at our little family (fires, floods, cancer...) the CrossFit sport and my training has saved me.
It is not a strait arrow to health. CrossFit alone will not make you the picture of amazing achievement you see in so many athletes. For me it was the combination of Consistent training, good clean food in rational portions, and rest.
IT DID NOT WORK WITHOUT THE FOOD IN CHECK. I'm only just beginning to understand how my body works. Food is still a mystery and my nutrition knowledge grows by the day. I read. I learn. I am my own science experiment.
Recently, I asked my trainer what to do with myself now that my "goal weight" had been attained.
22% bodyfat

Her response was simple and true: Keep going. Make new goals. See what this body can really do.

Your never done. Right? There has to be more. The scale has become only a tool to keep my mind in check. I know when I have overdone it with food or training. You HAVE to listen to the body. After almost two years, I don't want to screw things up...I just want to get better.

You must learn all you can.
Never be afraid to try something new to see if it works.
Be consistent when something feels right.

Getting to the sweet spot with your body takes effort. Not just gym effort, not just food effort, not wishing or hoping for better.

But you just have to keep going. Be inspired.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Weightloss Story Part 1

I was always the wannabe athlete. I had the build to be one heck of a great volleyball player or swimmer. When I was young people told me I was tall enough to be a model or a great basketball player, all before they even had a chance to know me well enough to know if I was even interested in such things.

As a child I loved music and ballet. I remember in kindergarten being told tall girls were not built for ballet so I might as well go do something more productive with my youth.
In high school I was socially awkward and most definatly unique compared to the rest of the girls in my school. I was terrified to really be around the other athletes because I was sure I was not as good as they were, having not spent years on the court or in the pool. So I played in the band. I was told I was a waste there because I should be on the court where I belonged. No mention of if I liked music or enjoied what I was doing.
As you can imagine, this presented a few conflicting thoughts on my young mind. I was an eater. I ate when I was lonely or angry...sad or frustrated. Unfortunatly, that was often. So I was not only tall, but a heavy, often unhappy tall girl.

When I meat Mr Dad in college I was a solid 190 pounds (my lightest in college) and pursuing my interest in competitive mountain biking and keeping my mind away from the heartbreak of my first serious break-up. It didn't take long for the pounds to creep on when Mr. Dad was treating me to restaurant meals and away from the trails and active life I was trying to lead.

So marriage eventually came and so did the dreaded 200s on the scale. The 210 mark followed within the first year and by the time we had our first daughter in 2005 I topped out at my pregnancy at 265. I never hurt so badly in my life as I did at that weight carrying a baby. I fought the weight by working vigurously at my job as a PE teacher. I played touch football, ultimate frisbee, swam, and managed 300 students and the equipment all myself. It never occured to me the slice of carrot cake and fried chicken I fed myself each day might be keeping my pregnancy weight higher than anticipated.

I gave birth and expected the weight to fall off and back down to the then comfortable 210 range. Who knew taking care of a baby and working full time made you too tired to exercise and cook well?

When the oldest daughter turned 18 months old I was still in the 220 range and feeling awful. I went off to Weight Watchers and they taught me the good ol' point system. I of course lost weight and got to eat all the junk food along the way...just as long as I stayed within my points.
An average day:
Mcdonalds sausage mcmuffin 7pts
instant oatmeal 3pts
lean cuisine meal 7pts
Chicken breast and salad dinner 7pts
Snack 3pts

As you can see, it was a terrible nutrition profile...but I lost weight. Isnt that what I wanted?
I began running and pushing my comfort level as an athlete. I felt accomplished when I ran my first 5k. At 29 years old I began believing there might be more to this body than I gave myself credit. I felt like a real athlete, not afraid to push my comfort zone...much.
In 2007 I became pregnant with my second daughter and remembering the pain I put myself through being so active during my first pregnancy, I immediatly stopped all active efforts and dropped back into the fast food line two times a day.
Guess what? I gained every pregnancy pound I had lost. I tipped the scales once again in the 260's at the end of my term.
It was only a few weeks after my youngest childs' birth that I began walking her in the stroller. Eventually I ran.
I still ate like crap. I never lost any weight.

My father became very ill in the winter of 2011. We were sure he would not be with us long. To show support and maybe a little desperation (who can do much for a cancer patient 1000 miles away?) I vowed to run a marathon in his honor. I wanted to do something hard, impossible, something worthy of my fathers respect. I also wanted to get healthy and get as far away from cancer as I could.
I trained for 40 weeks for my first marathon. Diligently, I ran according to the ultra novice plan I found on an internet search.
I lost some weight. Not much.
I crossed the finish line at the 2011 San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon in 5:37 and weighing in at 216 pounds.
I spent 20 hours a week running my tail off. Miles and miles and miles...
I never changed my nutrition.
So the big question was, why was I still so big? I was a runner, I ran 10+ miles a day, I ran a marathon!! I needed to eat!!
I was broken. I needed to find the answer and inspiration within myself. I thought I would have that at the finish line of the big race. Instead, I found a bagel and cream cheese.

My answer did come...stay tuned for part 2

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paleo Stroganoff and Zuchini Noodles

It's been a while since I created a recipe and with the local athletes doing a clean eating challenge, I was inspired to get in the kitchen and make something new. It's not surprising that we have been living off the grill and big salads in the Texas summer heat, but I do actually cook on the stove sometimes. Because it is so hot and I am so lazy. It is important that each meal be quick and simple (with few ingredients...).

I was trolling Pinterest a few days back looking for something other than a salad or grill marinade and stumbled upon a very involved paleo stroganoff. If you grew up in the 80's like me, I'm sure you had your fair share of box meal stroganoff or some crazy mix of cream of mushroom soup and ground beef (like at my house). It is a very basic European stew with beef, mushrooms, onion, and various additions depending on the region. Usually, big ol egg noodles laid under our meal...back in the day.

So, I didn't have all the ingredients for the labor intensive Pinterest stroganoff. I DID have  bunch of stuff that might make something similar to the description, or with hope, just taste edible. 
So off I went to the test kitchen (this is a lot  like the Bat Cave without the fancy lighting or man servant to do my bidding). 
This picture was not taken at my house or by me, but they look fabulous

So, anyway, back to the test kitchen. 
The NOODLER! Sounds like a diabolical evil mastermind and it was created by such, no doubt. This thing is amazing. It makes noodles out of stuff. I tried zucchini first because children hate zucchini and I love torturing my children at dinner.
The noodler worked like a charm! It made long ribbons of fancy zucchini and it was very pretty sitting in the bowl on the counter. The device cleaned up faster than the actual "noodling" and that is a huge plus for my lazy ass.
If you have not invested in a NOODLER! is highly recommend one. I got mine at for about $25. 

While noodling, I set a large pan to heat with 2 tbsp. butter on the stove. You could use Gee but I'm Not So Paleo. 
Here is what I did for the stroganoff:
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
2 tbsp butter or gee
1 1/2 cup mushrooms quartered 
1/2 cup Prego spaghetti sauce (heart healthy, gluten free, low sugar = good enough)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
Pink sea salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

- Once the butter was melted I softened the onion and browned the beef together
-Once the beef was browned, I added the mushrooms, Prego, and coconut milk
-I let everything simmer on low for about 15 minutes
-In the last few minutes before serving, I threw some butter and the "noodles" into another pan for a quick cook. I finished them off with some salt and pepper

I guess if you want a creamier texture you can add arrow root to the mix but I liked the texture fine without it. 
The final product was filling, hearty, sweet and flavorful. I loved the new creation and know it will be a welcome addition to my dinner rotation. The real winner is the noodler. I bought it back in June and this was my first meal using it. I can't wait to try sweet potato noodles and maybe carrot twirls! My kids might learn to like zucchini...