Friday, March 30, 2012

Following up on the barefoot hiking/running idea..

Because I am a nerd and an anthropologist, this article stood out to me:

Lose your shoes: is barefoot better?

Some key points I found:

"Barefoot running, even more than bare-knuckle boxing, reveals the ways that very simple technologies, if used consistently enough, become part of the developmental niche of the human body, shaping the way that our bones, muscles, tissues, and nervous system develop.
Strong evidence shows that thickly cushioned running shoes have done nothing to prevent injury in the 30-odd years since Nike founder Bill Bowerman invented them, researchers say. Some smaller, earlier studies suggest that running in shoes may increase the risk of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and other injuries. Runners who wear cheap running shoes have fewer injuries than those wearing expensive trainers. Meanwhile, injuries plague 20 to 80 percent of regular runners every year.

A number of groups advocate barefoot running for a host of reasons: health, injury prevention, greater sensation, enjoyment, and overall well-being (e.g., Driscoll 2004; Robbins and Gouw 1990). 

The padding in running shoes changes the way that we run, even though we may be completely unconscious that our gait has compensated for the change in the biomechanical properties of the feet produced by footgear (see Divert et al. 2005; but c.f. De Wit et al. 2000).
Robbins and Gouw (1991) argue that, with padded shoes, ‘a perceptual illusion is created whereby perceived impact is lower than actual impact, which results in inadequate impact-moderating behavior and consequent injury.’"

So, while in general, I don't care what other people do and I never preach that my ways should be your ways, I do think it is important to, in general, share information so that everyone can make an informed decision.
So this is me sharing information!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

This is me smiling!!!

I weighed in today just to check in. Still at 134.8! That is great for me, it means that my first weigh in where I weighed 134.8 was not a fluke!

::does a little dance of happiness::

That means I only have five pounds to lose to get to goal.

Now, I know those will probably be the hardest five pounds to lose, but I think it is more than possible. I have to tidy up my calories (the past two days I went over calories, not enough to gain by any means, but definitely enough to make sure I didn't lose). So that issue needs to be dealt with. Exercise is going great, however! Cardio four times a week, strength training twice a week, and yoga once a week. Add in hikes, walking, and biking on the weekend.

Had a good session at the gym. I stayed a half hour longer than usual because I am going to a friend's birthday celebration at the bar tonight and I wanted to have a beer. So I figured I had better earn it!

One weird thing I noticed today at the gym: I suck at running on the treadmill. After a half mile, my body kind of started to hurt and my breathing was irregular and so I slowed it down to a walk. I hate running. It hurts my joints (knees and hips) and I feel so jostled around. Yuck. I do mostly biking or elliptical for cardio at the gym.

But I find it strange. Isn't running natural? We are supposed to be able to run well. It was pretty important for survival evolutionarily and everything. I do run outside better than on a treadmill. I do 5Ks in about 30 minutes. So, not a rockstar but not a slouch, either!

No more treadmill for me.

The other thing: when I run, I wear Vibram five fingers (those awesome shoes that fit your toes and imitate barefoot walking). And I don't wear my five fingers to the gym. That's probably problem number one.

I love my Vibrams. Love, love, love, love. I am a barefoot walker. I wear flipflops till it is cold and then I wear soft boots without laces or anything to mimic barefoot walking. Actually: I walk on my toes most of the time. Chris thinks I force myself to, hahah (why would I do that! sounds like a lot of effort). But I don't. It's been that way since I was a kid. I remember my mom bringing me to the doctor to try and fix it. They gave me special shoes (yuck) but as soon as I was out of the shoes, back on my toes!

Hiking is so much easier with the Vibrams, because I can walk on the ball of my foot and also walk a lot more gently. I don't stomp into the ground in Vibrams like I do in hiking boots. In hiking boots, I will just simply not be as careful or thoughtful with my feet. Strong proponent of the whole back-to-natural movement!

Shoes are weird. I am a girl and I find high heels sexy. But still! In general, I am amazed at what a difference shoes make to our natural gait. I have a friend that grew up in Hawaii and only wore shoes about 25% of her life, if not less than that. She says it was hard to adjust to shoe wearing. Our little feets were designed to be barefoot in warm climates! But I certainly don't live in a warm, dry climate. So shoes for me (but as little as possible).

Chris doesn't adhere to this way of thought because he has kind of a screwed up ankle and needs the support good boots and shoes can give him.

Not I!

I actually once climbed one of the highest and steepest mountains (Dix Mountain) in NY barefoot. No boots, no Vibram five fingers, nothing (long story as to why). My knees and hips had NEVER felt so amazing after a hike as when I did it that day. It led me to get the Vibrams so that the sole of my feet would still be protected from sharp things (thought I didn't have even the smallest of cuts on my feet after the hike!).

So I guess that's just another weird factoid about me: barefoot most of the time, imitating bare-footed-ness the rest of the time :)

Peace and kind thoughts!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Struggling with my day off...

So. I am taking a day off from the gym and from any really purposeful workout.

I am trying not to be too obsessive about working out (just like I am trying not to be too obsessive with food!). So I used my logic-brain-parts and decided my hips and my muscles would really appreciate a day off from working out.

I have always had problems with my hips. When I was younger, I worked a retail/fast food job and stood for 8 hours on a concrete floor several times a week. My hips would SCREAM in agony by the end of my shift.

Once I lost the weight, that kind of pain went away. However: after any particularly long hike or many days in a row of intense cardio, my hip will ache a little. I don't want to damage it.

Also: I noticed that my intensity in my workouts was steadily declining every progressive day I went. I am tired.

So LOGIC dictates, take a day off! Eat healthy and clean, but REST and chill and enjoy a day of healing for your body.

Oy. Logic is smart.

Crazy disordered part of me is whispering bad things though. Things like, I am slacking. This is the start of a downward spiral of you not working out. You are going to gain weight. Be ultra strict with your eating today OR ELSE.

That stuff is nuts. I won't wreck myself with a day off. I certainly don't plan on overeating today but it wouldn't hurt to recuperate my body.

I am still pretty mental over all this health and fitness stuff. It is why I have started this blog. One: to keep myself in check and make sure someone/something is holding me accountable to TRUE health. Two: to let everyone else know this is a struggle even after the weight is off and it is important to work out your mental crap sooner than later.

I haven't really gotten all that mental crap in check yet!

But I am trying :)

My pledge to myself: Balance is key. Love your body and don't overwork it too much. Let yourself heal and feed yourself well. Don't switch to the other end of the spectrum. Find the middle and be truly and completely in balance and well. Be gracious and understanding of things inside your body and outside in the world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Morning Yoga

So, completely against my nature, I have started joining Chris on early morning Tuesday yoga. It is at 6:30 AM, giving me a 6 AM wake up call. Tuesdays are usually my lazy sleep-in days because I have no classes on Tuesdays.

I feel like it is a testament to the mind-change I've had in the past few months that it is now more important to me to get in an hour of activity rather than sleep in. It doesn't hurt that I have an accountability partner in bed next to me! (Running theme: Chris helps keep me strong and focused on this journey)

I could do that hour any other time in the day, but I've realized:

1. It's nice to wake up with Chris and share the morning with him
2. Getting up earlier and getting the workout over with earlier means an extra long day for me
3. A instructor-led yoga course does WONDERS for my body and I feel super-human all day

So that's what's up :)

I've written super long posts the past couple of days, so I won't ramble on this time.

Leaving you with another picture of my inspiration and happiness:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hiking = Health (mind and body!)

View from Rocky Peak Ridge, Adirondacks

So far today has been pretty lovely! I did an early morning gym run of mostly cardio. Proctored a test and am about getting ready to settle down and grade them all! I thought I would make a post to procrastinate that a little, though :)

I wanted to make a post solely dedicated to hiking and what it has done for me both physically and mentally. All the pictures in this post are taken by me!

If you've read my introductory posts, you will know that I have always wanted to be "outdoorsy" and a real wilderness girl. Even after I lost the majority of my weight, that dream seemed ridiculous. Excuses: "I just am not that type of person" "I don't know what I am doing" "It is too hard" etc etc!

I definitely got outside, for sure. Spent a lot of time in my early 20s (more like 22-25) after I lost my weight in nature preserves and around little ponds and lakes and things in the area.

There was an itch inside of me that was not getting scratched, however!

Summer of 2009: Chris and I became closer friends (brought together by drama in both of our separate lives!) and we were an escape for each other from all of that. We are traveling archaeologists in the summer and that year we were in Peekskill, NY. A small little city surrounded by AMAZING hiking.

We used this hiking as our escape-mechanism. We would work from 8-4 and immediately jump right in the car and go to a hike! Imagine how many hikes you can do in a month if you do at least 4 a week, haha... we explored that area inside and out. Bear Mountain, Breakneck Ridge (scary one done in the rain!), Anthony's Nose, Stormking, etc, etc. We were doing anywhere from 3-8 miles after work with a lot of elevation change!

I was starting to fall in love (with both Chris AND hiking :D).

View from Anthony's Nose

So after a lot of talk about hiking and DOING a lot of hiking, I started to feel strong and capable. Chris and I made a handshake promise to do the Northville-Placid through hike. It is about 120 miles from Northville, NY to Lake Placid, NY. Backpacking all the way!


That's the trail! We fulfilled this promise to each other in the summer of 2010. We were just about the proudest little hikers you could ever see :)

However, before doing the Northville-Placid hike, he took me into the Adirondack High Peaks for the first time. I fell HEAD OVER HEELS in love with this wilderness. It was everything I have ever wanted.

Steep mountains, clear lakes, isolation, a little bit of danger, wildlife, quiet, gorgeous summers and intense winters. I hiked my first High Peak in 2009 with Chris. There are 46 of them. Currently we have done 38! Some are very difficult, requiring long treks into the heart of the wilderness (because roads do not go to most of these mountains!) and some do not have maintained trails or trails on the map. We are finishing this year (more pride).

We hike year round. Not a month has gone by since summer of 2009 where we have not hiked. I have microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes to battle the winter elements :D

I have also hiked a number of the High Peaks several times at this point. I love to bring friends and family to mountains I love. We are pretty much every weekend hikers!

I want to give you a few pictures of these High Peaks before I explain the benefits these mountains and this activity have given me:

Haystack looming ahead!

View of Mount Marcy from Haystack

Gettin towards the summit of Mount Marcy (highest peak in the state)

Me at the top of Mount Redfield (most recent hike)

So benefits:

- Getting to be in (and sometimes live in!) the awe-inspiring beauty of our natural world.

That is enough for me, really! But there are some side benefits that have helped me in my journey more than I could ever really say.

- The physical aspect of it is clear: Averaging 10-15 miles per hike, using my full body to cross the landscape (these are not just flat dirt trails, but require scrambling/climbing), has given me a level of cardiovascular fitness and muscular strenghth I never really dreamed of.

I may not always be as THIN as I want to be, but since 2009, I have never truly felt out of shape. My body is strong and that is the main goal.

- The mental aspect, which may not always be as clear. I have accomplished athletic feats I never dreamed of. The Northville-Placid trail was much more mental than physical. I was in the woods for 12 days without creature comforts, using my body to exhaustion daily. I can't forget how proud I was of myself when we finished.

I haven't always been mentally strong. Sometimes I still am not. I am full of anxiety and worry and self-doubt. Absolutely full of it.

Then I think of mountains I have climbed, bad weather I have endured, cliffs I have conquered, rivers I have crossed, and I remember that I didn't think I could do any of it. I didn't feel capable. I felt like a chubby dork who didn't belong outside. But I continually prove myself wrong. And that has leaked into other parts of my life, too.

I will stick with weight loss analogies, but this has affected me in a dozen other ways, from professionally to socially, I accomplish more than I think I could have, because I have already proven that I can.

When I got down about my body, I felt like I could never get to a place where I would be happy with it. "Thin" was for other people. "Sexy" was not me, for sure. Gorgeous clothes, I didn't deserve them.

While these thoughts plagued me, I kept hiking. I kept proving myself wrong. I got stronger in every way.

All of my (self-inflicted) challenges have helped me conquer what's before me. Why not with weight loss? I decided last fall that I could be all of the things I wanted to be, even if I have never seen myself there. I put my mind to it, I put all the effort into my weight loss that I would have wanted to put into a hike. It is a longer journey, requires more endurance, but I am ready for it!

So much of the changes in my life have occurred because of or in conjunction with the progression of my hiking career. It is a feed-back loop, absolutely. But without hiking, I don't know that I would be where I am.

I am still anxious, I still worry, but I am better equipped to handle it now. I have faced moments when my life or my safety was COMPLETELY and utterly in my own hands out there in the mountains. And I am still here :) It gives me the confidence to talk to people, to get out into the world, to make the moves I need to make to be happy.

We are planning a British Columbia trip soon where we will, obviously, be doing a lot of hiking. I know I will LOVE it. But the Adirondacks will always be my first love and special to my heart. I volunteer now with trail maintenance and things like that. This is a lifetime thing, just like my health!


Top of Phelps

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My fridge!

Thought I might post a picture of my fridge. Just got back from doing a little weekly grocery shopping after hitting the gym with my boyfriend (it so helps to have a partner that is as interested in health and fitness as I am!).

But as a side note: I weighed in at 134.8 today. Now, I am not crazy enough to think that is TOTALLY realistic since I just weighed in last week at 135.8 BUT it was really nice to see. I am sure that will vascillate up and down a little this week (which is why I probably won't weigh myself for a little over a week) but I intend to use this as good motivation to just keep on going. Clean eating, lots of activity, and doing things that make me smile (seeing my horse and dog, bubble baths with candles, and watching Game of Thrones on DVD!)

So coming off the good vibes I got from the weigh-in, I wanted to make a post about my food.

First, here is the picture:

Quick list of what is inside:

Cage free/ Hormone free eggs
Egg whites (so I don't waste the yolk!)
Apple butter
Greek yogurt
Red grapes
Leftovers from last week (organic pasta and veggies)
Roasted beets
Raw beets
Pepper jack cheese
Dill havarti cheese
Multigrain pizza dough from Hannaford (all real ingredients and AMAZING dough)
Shredded cheese (we usually don't have this much cheese in our fridge, haha)
Whole chicken
Local apples
Brussels sprouts
Seeded organic whole grain bread (a treat for us)
A cheaper bread (Sunbeam) but still with only real ingredients from Hannaford
Oat and flax pitas

Freezer (we don't keep a lot of frozen stuff):
One bag frozen veg
Jennie-O Turkey burgers
Lavender and Dill from last years farm basket
Vodka (hahahaha)
Chicken breasts frozen from a big pack

The pantry usually has:
Irish style oatmeal
Organic udon noodles
Wild Rice
Basmati Rice
Sweet potatoes
Black beans
Red kidney beans
Array of canned soups (all natural)
Whole wheat flour
Corn meal
Lara bars

And an extra this week: I made pumpkin muffins that are OUT OF THIS WORLD. I substituted agave nectar for sugar and I freaking LOVE THEM. I almost ate the whole raw batter because it tasted just like pumpkin pie (a weakness). But I prevailed :D

So..... disgustingly healthy, right? I don't know when I became this person!!! But I LOVE LOVE LOVE my food. Love it. I love it so much I don't obsess about it during the day. It just is.

It helps that all of it is real fuel. I use it as fuel. Now, when I DO use it, I want it to taste out of this world amazing. But still: I am learning to treat food as something practical and non-emotional. Big change for both of us in this house compared to even a year ago (much less 5 years ago).

Reading through the list of foods makes it pretty clear what my rules are: whole foods. nothing processed. no empty sugars.

I try to eat a lot of protein, but I don't closely regularate my fat/protein/carb intake. If I notice that my carbs are getting a little out of control, I scale back.

That's the rules!

As I noted before, I try to eat just under 1700 calories a day (so that I am in a deficit of about 200-300 calories even if I don't work out) and for every 200 calories that I burn with exercise, I eat 100 of them back.

So today: I burned between 350 and 400 calories at the gym. So I am adding just under 200 calories extra to my total for the day. I can eat almost 1900 calories (which is a LOT with the foods in my house).

I am down a total of (if you count my weigh in today as real, which I do hope it is) 14 pounds since October. Not too shabby. I am pretty happy :)

Lots of love!

I'll leave you with a cute picture for the day:

My horse is the little one with white hair :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Overdoing it!

So, I was so pumped up over my low weigh in yesterday, I think I had extra energy and oomph and overdid it on the activity!

Total activity for yesterday:
9 miles stationary bike
1 mile elliptical
10 minutes free weights
3 mile dog walk
1 mile walk for the BBQ
5 hours on my feet at the BBQ

To put it in perspective: This was coming off of the previous day's really intense strength workout and 40 minute cardio session and recouping from the 20 mile backpacking trip this past weekend!

My body said: STOP! REST!

My muscles were screaming for it.

So all I did today was a super chill 2 mile nature walk with the dog to this awesome creek with natural pools and waterfalls. Since it was around 60 degrees, I let the dog play in the creek till he exhausted himself.

A couple of pictures of the day:

Pretty sweet, hmm? This is about 20 minutes outside of the city. So it is quick and easy and cheap! Lovely Saturday and a beautiful rest day :)

Also, a side note from yesterday: I did not overdo it at the BBQ! I had 1100 calories saved up because I ate super smart during the day (still got in a good amount of protein and vitamins, too!) so that I could enjoy the BBQ. I ate: one shrimp, a spicy tuna sushi roll (weird BBQ food!), a couple bites of amazing maple beef, a few slices of potato, and 1.5 servings of chips. I know chips are totally garbage and everything, but I wanted to indulge since I had the room to do it. Ended up not going over calories, so success!


I love summer food, but it looks like this season is getting off on the right foot and I am not going to sabotage myself.

Calling for rain tomorrow, so no nature hikes most likely. Probably the gym in the morning before our co-op shopping. We are both students (I am in the PhD program and my boyfriend is finishing up his Master's) so we get 10% off at our local co-op on Sundays. WINNING.

Till next time <3

Friday, March 23, 2012


So I weighed myself early this morning: 135.8... new low for me! (well, new since I gained some weight back last year, haha, but still!)

This is a comfortable weight for me. I look good in my clothes, my pants fit, I feel pretty strong.

I celebrated by getting my butt to the gym. Did a few weights and 9 miles on the bike and 1 on the elliptical. (I was watching a True Life on MTV and didn't want to get off the bike!)

I am still aiming for 129, I just want to see if I can do it and what my body will look like with these extra 6 pounds off me. I have never been below 130 in my whole adult life, I probably surpassed that around 13/14, but I never weighed myself then, so I can't be sure.

Even if I never get there (but I hope I do, because I want to reward myself with that tattoo) I am happy with my body right now. I felt proud and smiley at the gym this morning.

Tonight: another BBQ. I think I am officially telling myself no alcohol this time. I had an indulgence this week already. And alcohol CERTAINLY leads me to make decisions I wouldn't have otherwise. Byebye inhibitions :D

I plan to have fun, though! And my gym workout certainly will let me eat a burger if I want it, so that's pretty awesome.

Have a great day, everyone. Peace!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good day, good thoughts.

So the BBQ wasn't *perfect*, as I had a beer and some chocolate covered cherries. I don't regret either! I haven't had a beer in over 3 weeks and this was a delicious heffe that felt amazing! The cherries were organic and also amazing. I ate a total (for the whole day) of about 2200 calories.

For weight loss, I try to eat around 1600, but to maintain, I would eat around 2000 (with my level of activity). So eating 200 extra yesterday doesn't send me into a depression or anything!

However, I didn't weigh myself, mostly because of the beer. Instead, I went to the gym this morning and did 40 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of pretty intense strength workout. I liked my reflection in the mirror and that's what matters most to me!

Going to eat clean today. Ate an egg white omelette with some shredded chicken breast and green peppers after my workout. Immediately felt like the food was going to work for me, which is what I like best. I like putting fuel in my body and feeling like it is doing some real good (and not just heading right to my fat stores, haha!).

This balance is hard to find. I want a good, healthy, happy, full life. And that means I can't NOT participate in life. But there needs to be give and take. One beer is fine and won't ruin my health, but it needs to be compensated by with some extra effort in activity and food at some point!

Bright side: since I have stopped drinking beer with my friends several times a week (still hang out, just drink water instead!), I really only need ONE beer to get a good buzz on. Better for my body to not drink too much AND cheaper, too!


Have a good, bright day, everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


About to head out to the BBQ, I will report in tomorrow with a report of my (lack of?) willpower!

I wanted to weigh myself tomorrow, but I don't know if I will after a BBQ! Note about myself: I weigh myself once every week or so, it all depends on my frame of mind. I used to weigh daily, but the fluctuations really got to me, mentally!

So, here's hoping for a good night with friends but not with overindulgence.

From non-athlete to...?

Writing the first few posts really sent me to nostalgia land. I sometimes forget who I used to be. I think it is good to remember and let that keep me from making the same mistakes.

I never seem to remember that I always said "no" to things (social or physical things mostly). I can't believe that was ME who spent her high school years on the computer at home, alone. But it was. I was described by myself and other people as clumsy, non-athletic, nerdy, etc. I was fat, I didn't use my body (those two things do NOT have to go together).

Ever since I was small, I have loved the outdoors... and not just being outside in the neighborhood, but being in the woods, deep in the woods, lost in it. I am not really a beach/tropical person. Give me green forests and dark, dark dirt. Give me high mountains and rock and forest creatures. I was "average" till my mom died, and was a girl scout and went camping with my dad and did summer camps, all that jazz. My mom died and the whole family became hermits and we didn't go outside.

Then, I was fat. And it was a faraway, impossible dream to climb mountains or to even just get my body deep into the forests. I wrote about them. A lot. I dreamed about it. I watched shows and read books where people survived off their own wits and their own strength outdoors.

I believed that was never for me. Even that day where everything changed for me, I still believed I was not an "outdoorsy" person anymore. I never really thought about it as a real possibility.

I started out the first year or so walking. Just walking, with maybe a little aerobics thrown in here and there. I would walk to a neighborhood pond with a small walking trail (it was .7 of a mile around the pond) and I would walk around it till I was EXHAUSTED and then walk home. I got up at 6 every morning and listened to Howard Stern on my headphones and did this walk. Lost most of my weight that way.

Later, when I was thinner, and less embarrassed, I tried running around that pond. The day I ran a mile without stopping was amazing for me. I got better and better. Eventually signed up for a 5k when I was 24ish. Then signed up for more. Ran more and more and more. Felt pretty damned confident!

I started to believe little by little that I was capable of more. I did little nature walks in local mountains. I am lucky to live in Albany, NY, we have the Catskills and Lake George and a number of other areas within an hour's drive. I liked being outside, I was putting my toes back into it. But I wasn't really satisfied with these short 2 or 3 hour hikes that were pretty "safe" (as in close to civilization and easy trails) and didn't feel like a confident, outdoorsy mountain woman!

It all changed with a little help from my now-boyfriend. A few years ago, when we started hiking, he started pushing me. We were just friends at that point, so it worked really well. He encouraged and urged and pushed me to do some real mountain hiking. Steeper, rockier, smaller ledges, deeper into the woods, finding hidden little treasures, getting caught in storms, hiking till I had blisters, getting so scared sometimes I would cry!

And I loved every second of it!

As we got closer together, our hikes got more intense. Finally, he brought me to the Adirondack High Peaks (google it if you don't know the area, it's gorgeous!). 46 of the highest peaks in New York State. Remote and beautiful. Stand atop any of the mountains in the great range and you won't see a house or a road even though you can see for miles.

Some were easy. Most were not. Most tested me mentally and physically (and I can say I've passed those tests, haha, though not ALWAYS gracefully). We have hiked 38/46 of those High Peaks. This year, we will finish the ones we haven't done and become Adirondack 46ers (only about 7000 people have done this since they started keeping track and I cannot wait to become one of them!).

It dawned on me at some point: I am an athlete. An honest to goodness athlete and outdoors person who can use her body in a myriad of ways! I run, I climb, I swim, kayak, canoe, ski, snowshoe, horseback ride. I use my body and have the energy to do it.

When did this happen?!

Even though I just typed out the progression of my athleticism, I still can't quite see where the mental change happened. When did I become a "YES YES YES!" person instead of a "Uhhh, no" person?

The other day, while discussing what it would be like to be on Survivor with our group of friends (we have a weekly Survivor TV night where we drink and eat and yell at the TV and bet on who will win, it's pretty fun), one of my friends said "You are the strongest girl in our group, you would dominate!"

I shook my head, not believing it. But Chris confirmed he thought so too. Me?! I was the chubby, academic girl who got picked last for kickball and could never measure up to the basketball players or cheerleaders in my school. I realized that now, a lot of people are impressed by my athletic feats (especially hiking!) and consider me a fit, strong, healthy person.

It's hard to wrap my head around sometimes. I don't really think of myself that way. But I am trying to, because I want to keep this new person inside me alive and well!

Maybe I always was an athlete? Maybe we all are??

I think it takes time and effort, but I think it really is possible. It wasn't even my goal at the beginning. All I wanted was MORE out of life.

It is hard to see myself now and the girl I was 10 years ago. It isn't just the age difference, it is a whole life difference. It feels like I am living a second life, like that was my first shot and I kind of screwed it up and here is my new chance!

I don't go a weekend without thoroughly using my body to BE in this world, to explore it and experience it. It is usually hiking (or skiing in the winter) but also biking, kayaking, or just walking and walking and walking. It's an important part of my life that I hope keeps me where I want to be.

Today, I had to teach labs in the morning, had a greek yogurt and a half PB&J on that awesome co-op bread I mentioned earlier in the week. Feeling full and strong.

Have to go to a BBQ tonight (social eating is hard for me, I usually eat way too much) so I made pepper, onion, mushroom, zucchini and squash skewers for it and hope to fill up on veggies and NOT on chips or beer. I hope to continue to feel strong. It is really hard to lose these last 7 pounds!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kind of liking this....

Okay, so that first post of mine felt really cathartic and I felt cleansed. I might keep trying this whole blogging thing. It felt good just to WRITE, actually. I haven't taken the time to write something that wasn't academic in a long time.

I just got back from an hour of yoga and forty minutes of cardio at the gym (I don't do strength on yoga days, downward dog is all the strength training I need!).

I was thinking last night as I laid in bed about my whole process, my transformation. If you've read my first post, you know this has been years in the making. But this year, I feel brand new. I feel like a healthier person than I was when I was 131 lbs and running all the time. Now, I am only about 5 pounds heavier than that now, and it might not seem like much, but I can definitely notice that 5 pounds on my body. For someone with kind of screwed up self-esteem, it is hard to deal with. But, realistically and logically, I know my body is stronger and cleaner than it has ever been in my life!

I attribute a lot of the changes in the past year to research and reading (both academic information and real-person blogs). The first blog I ever really followed was Jen at PriorFatGirl. She is a similar age to me and, when I started reading her, she was mostly in maintenance mode. She is working more now on losing some gained weight now, so I still feel something in common with her! She posted daily and honestly and I loved knowing that I was NOT alone in this. I don't do everything she does, I don't do everything ANYONE does, I do what I have decided is right for me.

I branched out and started reading blogs by people in all stages of their journey. It helped me to remember where I was, remember what I had gone through years ago. It helped me to remember I could not let myself backslide too far, in fact: forward progress is best!

Over the past year, I have obsessively read a few people's blogs. I have cheered for them and cried for them and shook my fists in frustration at them! But all silently. I never did think it was my place to tell them what to do, I am not in their life and I know it is not easy.

I took little pieces from everyone. I learned some good things and some bad things. I cared more and more about proper nutrition, most of all, after reading blog after blog debating about types of food, amounts of food, etc, etc. I think I will do a more focused blog post JUST about my food in the next couple of days, what I eat and why I do.

But for the short form: the only rule is UNPROCESSED. I especially avoid high fructose corn syrup (I have a sneaking feeling that is a huge culprit in many health problems), any wheat products that have any words in front of wheat (enriched, unbleached, etc), and anything hydrogenated.

I made the wheat change a few years ago, HFC a year ago, and set down a firm rule right before Thanksgiving: nothing processed, no refined sugars. I made that rule because I thought it would help me avoid some of the junk at holiday time. I could still have homemade yummies, and that was enough.

I noticed these rules completely changed my diet. Compared to 5 or 6 years ago, I am 180 degrees different in my eating.

I eat vegetables every meal. EVERY MEAL. I never thought I would say that. I come from a family where veg wasn't important. My 96 year old grandmother hates vegetables. Haha. But I love them. I love the really nutritious ones, too: beets, brussells sprouts and spinach are staples in this household.

I don't eat bread with every meal. Also a big change for me. I love bread and bready items. I substitute sweet potatoes and rutabaga and other "starchy" items to satiate me. Also get bread made with less than 6 ingredients most of the time. Hearty bread!

I drink only water and tea (aside from the occasional alcohol of course!). Soda doesn't exist for me anymore. When I started hiking, I glommed onto Chris' (my guy) habit of downing a diet soda on the ride home to stay awake. I got completely addicted to diet Dr. Pepper. Wow. I had previously given up full sugar soda since as a kid I drank 4-5 cups of soda a day. Then I found myself on diet soda two years ago... ew! Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals. The no-processed food rule went into effect I and I gave it up. I had some cravings, but I haven't touched the junk since. It's been good for me.

Wow, so that's not a short version, huh? I am word-vomiting out all my thoughts all at once!!!

I don't really talk to anyone besides Chris about these things. My friends probably never noticed my changes, I never made a big deal about it, just quietly went about filling my house and my life with good fuel. But I like talking about it. I think it is important.

I think I will stop now. Time for breakfast (I had grapes between yoga/cardio but now for some serious good stuff): farm-raised egg, egg white, peppers and onions and this amazing bread I got from my local co-op with seeds and flax. Oh, man, that bread is out of this world!! I only have one piece though :D

As my yoga instructor said to us as we left today:



Monday, March 19, 2012

First Post

This is my first post on this blog. I don't honestly know how much I will use this.

To be completely honest: I mostly wanted to start a blog to keep track of all the blogs I read!

It wouldn't hurt for me to be a little more accountable, though, for those moments when I get close to slipping.

A little about me, so I am not a complete stranger creeping on everyone:

I am a newly turned 30 year old archaeologist. I have an amazing boyfriend and a life I would never dream of changing. But it wasn't always like this. I lost my mother when I was 10. Raising two kids by himself was hard for my dad. We ate whatever we wanted and he kept us supplied in junk because it was easy and it soothed ALL of us.

Lead to years 12 - 21 being pretty sad for me. I felt alone and only had a few friends with whom I shared my life. I didn't participate in much. I was heavy and I never looked in mirrors. I don't have many pictures of myself from my teenage years (wow, looking back on it, I really did lose out on my whole teens!). I had a host of disordered eating problems. I had health problems (weird liver pain from eating too much fat, hip and knee pain from just plain being too heavy.) I felt destined to have a lonely, empty life.

At one point, I got on a scale. I saw a number that was almost but wasn't quite 200 pounds (I am 5'4). It was a big moment. And not just an "aha!" moment, I had had plenty of those where I would try to be "healthier" or "exercise" (looking back, it was quite a joke!). It was THE moment. I was shocked and sick and my mind changed right then and there. I would never see 200 on the scale. And I never did.

The next day, everything was different. I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing, but I was going to do something. I went for a walk. I ate bland salad. I didn't have those cookies. I switched soda for water. The next day, my weight was down a fraction of a pound. It was enough and I kept going.

I wasn't perfect. I slipped sometimes. I had weird OCD eating habits. I didn't know about proper nutrition. I didn't know what exercise and sweat and good-old-heart-pumping-movement really was. But I was doing it. And I did it a little better every month and every year.

I got down to 145 pounds without much fuss, really. It was my goal. It took a good portion of a year. I wanted 145 to be healthy. I wanted 135 to be h-o-t hawt. 135 was much harder.

Remember: a lot of this is taking YEARS, years to learn, years to become active, years to eat a nutritious and well-rounded diet that still didn't go over calories. I didn't undo that decade of bad habits and destruction of my body quickly.

I took up running, not just walking, and just got more involved in life. Being an archaeologist helped: it is a pretty active job when you are in the field. I eventually got down to 131, when I was running 5ks and feeling pretty awesome at life.

I re-met an amazing guy from college (he knew me when I was fat, he wasn't skinny either!) ... we had both slimmed down! We worked together, became friends (insert lots of life drama, a year or so going by where he or I were with other people, etc etc) and eventually got put on a project together near a huge hiking area. We would work every day till 4, then go hiking till the sun went down, have a fun dinner and do it all the next day. We made a promise to each other that we would go on an epic hiking trip: a two-week trek through the Adirondacks called the Northville-Placid Trail. The summer ended and we started dating.

Hiking became a part of my life! We did do that trip, by the way :)

So: new activity I fell in love with and a new guy I fell in love with. The two of these balanced each other out and I maintained my weight.

Last year, life got hard and confusing. I got a little depressed. I almost got up to 150 pounds again. It was a wake up call. A huge one. Years of work coming undone within months.

2011 Holiday Season: weight loss initiated again. I would not do this to myself. I did not indulge in holiday extravaganzas of food. We have been skiing and snowshoeing and being mindful. We have completely eliminated processed food from our diet. I stay within a calorie limit (which changes based on my activity for the day). Five months in and I am down to 136 pounds.

My goal is 129 pounds. If I can get there healthily and with strength and maintain it, I am going to be rewarded with a full thigh tattoo of a wolf (you might get to know the wolf thing about me if I keep posting!).

Other little facts about me:
I love wolves
I love German Shepherds (and co-own one with my dad)
I am working on my PhD
I love Survivor and go to a weekly TV night where all my friends watch it with me!
I will be a 46er this year
I am a newly discovered cat person
I read fantasy obsessively
I used to write a LOT, hope to again someday
I am a huge weirdo
I am utterly and completely in love with life

Things I might write blog posts on in the future:
How hiking has helped my weight loss and my mental strength
How having a dog has done the same
What I eat and why
How I went from clumsy non-athlete to the exact opposite
The effect of losing my mother at an early age
My plans for this being my forever-habit
General thoughts on the blogosphere
My disordered eating and my disordered idea of my own body
Pictures? Maybe!
Joining a gym for the first time
The connection of the wolf to my inner strength
How fragile it all is