30 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday and my frustrations with SmartPoints

Starting weight: 259.8
Last Week: 259.2
This week: 263.6
Weight lost this week: +4.4
Total weight lost: +3.8

Oh, holiday season.

I can't even pretend to be surprised. I mean, between being sick and wanting only comfort foods (which are never scale friendly) and Christmas and holiday parties and, well, yeah. Four and a half pounds are bound to happen.

It's frustrating because I want to follow the Weight Watchers new Smart Points plan but I find it challenging. Really challenging. Not in a "I'm going to challenge myself to run a half-marathon!" optimistic challenging, but in a "This is impossible and I'm never, ever going to succeed" challenging.

In the beginning, I liked that sugar was now part of the calculations because I, like most people, eat too much of it. The problem I'm finding is that it the whole plan feels far, far more restrictive than before. It's not like I was binging on candy bars but I liked knowing if I wanted, I had the option to have a small splurge and go about the rest of my day. There are no small splurges. All those small splurges are now big, some really big points wise, and having one puts me over which makes me just say fuck it and throw the whole plan out the window.

I think my issue is that it feels less like a "lifestyle change" and now feels like a diet. Like a legit restrictive, confining, punishing, depriving diet. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of how I want to feel.

It's not even that I'm sabotaging myself. Playing off of what I talked about on Monday, this was my breakfast on Tuesday:

Two slices of this hearty whole grain wheatberry bread that I'm obsessed with. Two slices Gouda. Topped with 1/2 smashed avocado. Only thing missing would be some protein in the form of an egg, but I was doing this at work and didn't have any hard boiled ones to bring with me. 

Delicious. Tasty. Carbs, dairy, good fats. Kept me full until lunch. 

And almost 20 Weight Watchers SmartPoints. Add in the that egg and I'd be at half my daily SmartPoints just at breakfast.

So this is where I'm feeling frustrated because that is a good breakfast but if I were to make it Weight Watchers friendly I'd have to use some "light" bread or low-fat or fat-free cheese (granted, I could have gotten away with only one slice split between the two but Gouda).

Also, what exactly is the point of the FitPoints if we aren't encouraged to swap them? I liked the Activity Points. I liked the fact that when I hooked up my FitBit there was a baseline of activity I had to hit before it started counting it. I liked knowing that if I went over on Weekly Points there was that bit of a buffer of APs. I didn't work out just to eat more, but when I'm training I'm working out a lot which means I need to eat more to keep my body fueled which means I used those Activity Points.

Now, though, we earn FitPoints for basically do nothing all day and there's no baseline like before. Plus, while I know the official word is that yes you can swap if necessary, it's more of an opt-in thing, you have to go into your account and change the settings which suggests that, no, they don't actually really want you doing that. So then what, exactly, is the point of them? Especially if the threshold to earn is so ridiculously low?

On December 21st I stayed home sick. I literally spent the day in bed and by the end had 1092 total steps. WHY AM I EARNING 2 FITPOINTS FOR THAT?!

Ugh. I can't even with this anymore.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

28 December 2015

New Year, New You, and Nutritional Wisdom

As a librarian and writer, it's safe to say that books are kind of my thing. I read a lot, y'all. Like, I can't even. I also have a job where I get to listen to audiobooks while working so there's even more books. (That said, I'm horrible about keeping track of what I read. That's one of my goals for 2016.)

Lately, though, my book choices have been very deliberate:

For the past few weeks I've been looking at food through a much different lens. Instead of focusing so much on "good" foods versus "bad" foods, I've been trying to take a more...scientific approach, I guess. I mentioned a couple weeks ago I'm trying to stay away from "frakenfoods" and while I loathe the term "real food," these books are part of that approach. If we are talking about things other than fruits and veggies, this can sometimes be a flaw in Weight Watchers points systems because things that are nutritionally sound or nutritionally dense, like good fats from avocado and peanut butter or whole grain bread, can be higher in points than their "light" counterparts which are often lacking in any real nutritional value.

Runner's World Meals on the Run was a book that one of my guests mentioned on my podcast and I asked for it for Christmas and then I actually bought The Food Lab for my brother-in-law, only to have BC buy me my own copy!

So far, one of the most interesting things to come out of The Dorito Effect is the concept of nutritional wisdom. It's seen in animals in the wild who are able to recognize what nutrients and vitamins their bodies need and eat the foods that will provide those nutrients in the amount needed, no more and no less. They use these foods to keep their body in check. They know what foods provide what nutrients so if they are low in some vitamin, they'll seek food out that will provide it.

Reading about this provided a light bulb moment: sometimes after a couple days of poor eating I find myself really, really, really want a salad. Like a big, green dense salad packed full of veggies with some grilled chicken on top. Nutritional wisdom! That craving comes from my body wanting to balance out the prior food choices that were not nutritionally sound.

After having this light bulb moment, I was at brunch with BC and decided to listen to my body while looking at the menu. Sure, the carb heavy pancakes and French toast sounded good to my head, but what did my body think sounded good? I honestly wouldn't have normally gone for steak and eggs, but my eyes kept wandering back and the little 3 oz steak with eggs on the side was just what I needed. Considering the holiday weekend was spent eating far more sweets and cookies than normal, I probably was lacking in protein.

I always say that when I over analyze foods I tend to make worse choices, whereas I tend to make better choices when I don't think about it. But I don't think that's what it is -- I don't think it's a matter of not thinking about it, I think it's a matter of listening to my body versus listening to my head. It's mindful eating in some ways, but that just seems to, I don't know, leave so much to chance. Like, I understand the concept of mindful eating, but it's hard to trust your body after a lifetime of weight struggles. Adding science! and research! to the mix makes it easier to wrap my head around.

I've struggled with my weight my entire life. I've been on and off different diet plans for, like, ten years now. Probably longer. I don't want to spend the rest of my life counting calories or counting Weight Watchers points so if I can start making changes now that will stay with me, I can hopefully adopt this as a lifelong thing.

I also spent part of my time off catching up on my running magazines and in one I found out about publishing company Rodale U's online courses. They have these upcoming 21 Day Challenges and I signed up for the 21 Day Challenge to Take Control Of Your Eating.

It seems like I always start the new year with an intention to gain a better relationship with food, but this year I feel prepared going in. Like, it's not something I'm just going to wake up on January 1st and decide to do -- I'm doing research and seeing it as some big personal project, rather than just something I'm going to magically figure out with sheer luck.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday: Week Eighteen

This was my first full week on Weight Watchers new Smart Points system and while I did really well for the first couple days during the work week, when Friday hit so did a very, very busy weekend and a head cold. I don't know about you, but when I get sick all I want are comfort foods, which are not known for being the best choices. So I was pleasantly surprised to step on the scale and see a loss:

Starting weight: 259.8
Last Week: 260.6
This week: 259.2
Weight lost this week: -1.4
Total weight lost: -0.6

I'm sure Weight Watchers has their reasons for introducing this new plan right before the holiday season, but man. I mean, this time of year is hard enough with all the parties and such, it's difficult as it is just to survive without going completely off the rails, let alone trying to do that and get used to a new system where foods that were already splurges now use up even more points.

This past weekend was an early Christmas with BC's family and of course actual Christmas is this weekend with my family. I tend to do okay during the work week because it's structured and I pack lunches and such, but weekends are hard. Holiday weekends are the hardest of all.

The first two days of this week have, uh, not been good so, seriously: right now I'm just trying to make it through the rest of 2015 without gaining 10 pounds. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday: Week Seventeen

I finally figured out how to switch my weigh in day on the Weight Watchers app to Monday, which is the day I've been stepping on the scale for the past few weeks. (Although, apparently, this is something I'm technically still not supposed to be able to do but I found a random link in one of the WW forums that directed me to an assessment that gives the choice to change days so I think it's more like a back door kind of thing. Specifically, I suspect it's what brand new online members use when they first register, it's just an open link that can be accessed.) It's been kind of annoying because my app has been resetting on Thursdays, so I've been having to figure out my Weekly Points and Activity Points manually in a notebook.

Anyway, because I'm now able to officially weigh in on Mondays, I'm going to change my weekly weight update to Wednesdays instead of waiting until Fridays. So welcome to the first Weigh In Wednesday post!

Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 260.6
Weight lost this week: +1.8
Total weight lost: +0.8

So, last week was weird in that I spent Monday-Wednesday on the old plan and then Thursday logged into the app and the new plan had switched over so then I spent the weekend on the new plan and trying to figure that all out. The points were different and I was unprepared for some of the changes and then Friday was our work holiday party and I actually had two that day, one at work one later on that evening off-site, and I made horrible choices and so I am not at all shocked by the fact that my weight went up.

That said, I do like that the new Smart Points takes sugar into account, it's just taking some adjusting to mentally switch to the fact that it means things higher in sugar will be higher in points. Which, y'know, is okay, because that's one of those things I should cut back on anyway.

One easy way to do that is by swapping in more whole foods. Like, say, fruit for dessert.

I used to do this all the time and then fell out of the habit, but it's an easy swap and helps me utilize my daily points more effectively because fruit is still zero points on the Beyond the Scale system.

Recently I've started to shy away from foods that are low in sugar and fat and/or the reduced fat, reduced sugar varieties because I know that if they are removing the fat or sugar, they are having to replace it with something else. This is especially true with low fat, often it's given more sugar. For instance, the low-fat sour cream I bought last week has more sugar than full fat sour cream I bought this week so, yeah, I'd rather take the full fat stuff thankyouverymuch.

Fat isn't evil, it's why such a thing as "good fat," exists. But "good sugar" isn't really a thing unless it's the natural sugar found in fruit. So limiting sugar is definitely a good thing which is why I'm glad Weight Watchers is taking that into account now. More than anything I'm glad that the new system is forcing me to really think about these things in a way I never did before and after only a couple days it's already changing my eating habits while still leaving me feeling satisfied, which can only be a positive move.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 December 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Sixteen

Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 258.8
Weight lost this week: -1
Total weight lost: -1

Hey, there! Man on mangoberry it's so nice to see a negative on the total weight lost line. It's been awhile. 

I know there's a new Weight Watchers system out now but I'm still currently on the previous one, mostly owing to...not technical difficulties but I decided to switch back to an online only plan. When I started my new job in July I had to stop going to my usual meeting. I was going to the location during their open hours to just weigh in, but that seemed like an awful lot of money to spend on something I can just do at home (and did years ago and was successful at). 

Only I'd been weighing in on Thursdays and decided I wanted to switch to a day earlier in the week, but because the system is in transition I haven't been able to change my weigh in day on the app. I've been using a small notebook to track (and will probably continue to do so, even after the change) but because my "official" weigh in day was yesterday, I've only just been introduced to the new system. Luckily, though, my friend Mel was given a chance to try out the plan a few weeks ago and this week has been doing a daily series discussing different parts of SmartPoints so I went in with a bit of a head start.

So yesterday was my first day on the new plan and for the most part what I ate stayed pretty much the same. A few things went up 1-2 points, but not that many items. I even went out to dinner with a friend and felt completely confident ordering.

But then I got home and made a total rookie mistake -- I ate a piece of candy before checking the new points. Argh. The new system takes saturated fat and sugar into account, which is great, but it means that things with those items -- like, say, a piece of chocolate -- has more points now. That faux peanut butter cup went from 4 points to 8. Ooof.

So that's a mistake I won't be making again. Be sure to check back next week to see how my first week on SmartPoints went. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 December 2015

Big Book Announcement: Writing With a Police Escort

So, over the weekend I started working on a little project:

That's right, ladies and gents. My slow runner podcast is on its way to becoming a memoir. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have already seen this photo but you probably don't know how this all came about.

So, several months ago I attended a Told event where my friend Alicia was one of the featured storytellers. During her story she posed the question What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Now, I'd had the idea of a book about being a slow runner ruminating in my head for awhile now. I even had written down some quick titles for chapters. But I saw that question from Alicia almost as a direct challenge and soon was sending out queries to both publishers and agents. I got a few nibbles but then back in October got a big ol' bite.

Before going forward, however, they needed to see a formal proposal. That meant sitting down and focusing on structuring and organizing the vague idea in my head. I needed a synopsis, chapter titles, chapter outlines, and a market analysis. I also needed to write a sample chapter and I ended up using my experience at the Akron Marathon Relay as my inspiration for that, turning it into a chapter I titled The Tortoise and the Hares.

(I know, right? I'm so clever.)

A couple weeks later I sent the proposal off and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

In fact, I'd almost given up on hearing back, so when the official offer came through I gave an audible gasp, not really being prepared for it. I mean, it's one of those things, right? When you actually do that thing you'd do if you knew you could not fail, at the same time, there's that voice in your head that sort of expects you to fail. Because most times you do. Most times writers get rejection letters, not offer letters.

But I'm one of the lucky ones and for the next six months I'll be working on a book!

Last night I was thinking how hard non-fiction writing like this is, but then I realized I do it a couple times a week with this blog. Now, though, I get to go far more in depth and put a bit more creative flair on it. I mean, no one is going to sit through and read a 4,000 word blog post but a 4,000 word chapter is pretty standard. (For comparison purposes, this post, like many of my posts, is between 400 and 500 words.)


Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

07 December 2015

Race Recap: Christmas Story 10K

Back in January, when I committed to running one race per month for all of 2015 I knew, without a doubt, that the Christmas Story 10K would be my December race. I ran this in 2013 when it was the inaugural year for the race, skipped in in 2014 (mostly because I didn't like the medal design), but wanted to be back for 2015.

For those that don't know, part of A Christmas Story was filmed right here in Cleveland and the city is very proud of that fact. During the Christmas season, leg lamps are everywhere and the race has become an annual tradition.

After the cluster that was the Turkey Trot, I needed a good run and this race followed through, starting with the fact that they were strict about that 9 am start time and began right on schedule. They were also super supportive of slow runners and walkers. They even had an entire walking division -- along with the usual pacers holding signs for 8 minute miles, etc., they had someone with a sign just for walkers!

The course started downtown near Tower City, which houses the building that used to be the Higbees that was featured in the film as the department store where Ralphie visits Santa. From there it crossed the Lorain-Carnegie bridge into Tremont. The 5K race ended at the actual Christmas Story House while those of us in the 10K turned and headed back to downtown.

When I said this race was huge, what I meant was that usually in races that have a turnaround like that, I'm always on the "slow" side of the street and watching the faster runners head home. This time, by the time I looped back from the house and was heading back there were still walkers heading towards the house so I actually got to be on the "fast" side of the street for once! Most were doing the 5K so the back of the pack for the second half of the 10K was smaller but there were still several of us running/walking at roughly the same pace so we were kind of a pack all on our own.

The course finished right back at Tower City where we go out medals and they had hot Ovaltine (of course) waiting for us. And, of course, our medals!

It's a major award!

I finished in 1:37:58 which is super close to my 2013 time of 1:37:23. My overall pace average was 15:48 miles which I'm very happy with. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the 10K distance. It takes me usually a mile or two to warm up, which means the race is practically over by then in a 5K. But a 10K is a nice distance that is challenging but doesn't require as much training as, say, a half-marathon.

I always talk about how speed and pace can never be determined by size or weight and this is pretty much proof of this:

When I ran this in 2013 I weighed roughly 220 pounds. This past weekend I ran this weighing roughly 260 pounds. A 40 pound difference but my speed was nearly identical. The funny thing is, running over my recap from two years ago I wasn't thrilled with that pace and while I had a strong start and was running a lot in the beginning, I eventually had to start walking. This time around I did my 30:30 intervals so the walking portions were already built in (so to speak) and I felt strong throughout the whole thing, especially at the end.

Strength, size, endurance, and ability -- these things can't be determined by what you look like.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

04 December 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Fifteen

With Thanksgiving last week, I completely spaced on a Face the Scale Friday post and then this week I needed to do a final training week post because the Christmas Story 10K is tomorrow but then I realized that if I skip two weigh in posts in a row, y'all will probably think I'm trying to hide something. In truth, the exact opposite happened:

Weight lost this week: -1.6
Total weight lost: 0
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 259.8

Heyyyyyyy. Look at that! I actually lost weight after Thanksgiving! 

A month ago, at 260.6, I set a more long term view and plan of losing one pound a month and I came pretty close, so I'm good with where I am.

Things are busy busy busy here and it's race day tomorrow! I've spent the past two months training for this race and I can't believe it's here already. Right now I'm not registered for any races until May but I still want to keep up some running routine through the winter, even if just once a week on the treadmill at the YMCA. That said, there is a lot going on behind the scenes here, with a big announcement coming, so on the other hand I'm actually okay with not having too many races or that much training on the agenda but more on that soon!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

30 November 2015

race recap: Cleveland Turkey Trot

Ohmygosh, you guys. Tomorrow is DECEMBER. How did 2015 go by so quickly?!

I hope all of my American readers had a nice Thanksgiving, mine started with the 5 mile Turkey Trot in downtown Cleveland. This was my second time running it, the last time was in 2013. They added a 5K option this year which was really nice but I needed to do 5 miles this week for my 10K training but if they have the 5K next year I'll probably opt for that.

This was....not my best race. I'm not even talking in terms of speed -- I finished in 1:25:58 which is a 17:12 average and not too bad considering I had to walk far more than I planned: Wednesday night I was having some weird stomach issues that were still present Thursday morning. I did my RWR intervals for the first two and last mile, but I pretty much walked all of miles 3 and 4 because my stomach just felt all kinds of icky.

Now, I've run lots and lots of races run by the Hermes organization and have always usually had a decent time but man this was not their best showing.

So, as a slow runner I fully understand and support the fact that races need to open roads. Especially in a big downtown city like Cleveland on a holiday like Thanksgiving where lots of people are traveling and coming and going and such. In this case, the website said that the course would be open until 11:30 am. The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am so for a five mile race that gives you 2 hours which is a fairly decent amount of time, as in you could pretty much walk the entire thing and still finish in time.

Except, see, that only works if the race actually starts when it's supposed to. Instead, this race started  15 minutes late, at 9:45 am. Then because I a) follow the rules of racing and as a slow runner keep myself in the very back and b) because there were, like, 3000 people in attendance, it took me ten minutes to get to the start line. So right there, I lost 30 minutes that I otherwise could have used.

Then, while they said the course would be open until 11:30, what they meant was "If you take that long, there will only be one single, lonely race employee waiting at the finish line."  By the time I crossed the finish line at 11:20 am, it was a ghost town.

No finisher's food, all the stands and stalls had packed up and left. Not only that, there was nobody to direct us that final half mile -- no markers, no escorts. Those of us still finishing -- and trust me, there was a group of about 15 of us -- had absolutely no idea where we were supposed to turn to get to the finish. We had to ask other runners who had already finished to figure out where the route was supposed to go.

Like I said, I totally understand a race needing to open roads by a certain period of time. But if you're going to hold runners to any sort of course time limit then you need to make sure that the race starts on time, because when a race starts late, the only people being punished are the slow runners who need that additional time. Because of the late start and the time it took to get up to the start, before I'd even begun, I'd essentially lost 2 miles that I otherwise could have completed within the time frame.

Saturday is the Christmas Story 10K, the race I've been training for over the past two months and after that I will have officially completed my goal of doing one race per month for all of 2015!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

24 November 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Eight

Monday: 1.68 miles
Tuesday: JumpSport
Wednesday: 2 miles
Thursday: Walk at lunchtime
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Walk

My focus this week was my 4 mile long run. I knew it was going to be very cold this weekend and I wanted to try and get it in before then, which left running 4 miles before work on Friday. That was a new challenge as I've never run that far before work and certainly not in fall/winter when it's still mostly dark out at that time. For this slow runner, fitting in 4 miles means at least an hour which requires waking up early to make sure I have time to get the mileage in. Those that follow me on Facebook know I set a goal of getting out there by 6 am at the latest and I ended up being out and ready to run by 5:45 am!

Sunday was sort of a, well, not really "cheat day" but I didn't walk in the traditional sense. On my training plan, that's an option -- Walk or Cross-Training on non-running days and I tend to walk. BC and I went out to brunch on Sunday and we were in a shopping center with lots of stores and I needed errands to run so I just left my car parked in front of the restaurant and walked all around the shopping plaza. It doesn't seem like much, but I had maybe 1K steps before brunch and by the time I got home I had 6K. Had I just been lazy and driven around to the different stores I wouldn't have had the numbers to show it (plus I finally upgraded my old iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6 and bought some cute new sweaters on sale and picked up my packet for Thursday's Turkey Trot!)

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

20 November 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Fourteen

Weight lost this week: +1.4
Total weight lost: +1.6
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 261.4

As my friend Kelly likes to remind me, the scale is only one tool, one data point, to measure progress. So, what other pieces of information do I have?

Well, I know that I earned 27 Activity Points this week which is the most I've earned in several weeks.

I also know that some of those activity points came on Wednesday when I went out for a run before work and ran two miles at 15:21 average pace.

Obviously that might not be a big deal to most people, but as a slow runner who is trying to work on her pace, my ability to do this without even trying is a Big Deal.

I've also been much more diligent about drinking my water every day, thanks in no small part to this awesome insulated travel mug that BC bought me for my birthday.

The water bottle I have been using isn't insulated, which means that if I don't drink the water fast enough it gets warm and there is nothing worse than warm water. So then I just stop drinking it. But now I have a fun and fabulous mug to keep it cool throughout the day and I'm drinking frequently enough to need to refill it several times a day!

I made a decision a couple weeks ago to take the long view. That means there will be weeks like this.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

17 November 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Seven

Monday: 1.3 miles
Tuesday: Spinning at YMCA
Wednesday: Walk at lunchtime
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 1 mile
Saturday:  4 miles
Sunday: Rest

My annual autumnal ennui left me a little lax with regards to my 10K Training which also left me feeling a little nervous. Especially once I realized how quickly the Cleveland Turkey Trot, was approaching, which meant that the Christmas Story 10K is also just around the corner.

At 5 miles, the Turkey Trot will both fit perfectly into my training plan and also fulfill my November race thus killing two birds (pun intended) with one stone.

But, in recent weeks I haven't run anything close to 5 miles so I was starting to get a little anxious about the distance. Okay, more than a little anxious. (Also, how is Thanksgiving so close already?!) So on Saturday I woke up and made sure to get out the door early enough to get a run in.

I ended up at Lakewood Park which I had been to before, but not to run. It's actually really nice with a big loop about a mile so I did two on that then decided for a change of scenery to run out on Lake Avenue for a mile, turned around, then headed back to the park. Where I currently live I don't have access to solid neighborhood running, with, like, sidewalks. The plan right now is to move to Lakewood in the spring and I'm already looking forward to having access to better local running routes. Right now, if I want to get anything further than about 2 miles I have to drive somewhere. It will be SO nice to just open the door and head out.

The best part was, I stopped at 4 miles but easily could have gone a bit longer if not for the fact that I hadn't eaten anything before and was starting to get hungry. I got done feeling super confident about finishing the remaining couple weeks of my 10K training and rocking my last two 2015 races!

The day before, on Friday, I worked from home, which meant I had zero excuses regarding a lunchtime run.

Woo-hoo! 14:19, which is about 15 seconds faster than when I did this the last time!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 November 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Thirteen

Weight lost this week: -0.6
Total weight lost: +0.2
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 260

Who knew I could get SO EXCITED over half a pound? But, no joke: Hopped on the scale Wednesday morning when I first woke up, saw the number, and started grinning. 

After everything last week, I shifted gears slightly this week. By that, I mean instead of doing the Weight Watchers points, I counted calories using MyFitnessPal. That's why there is none of the usual information up there about Weekly, Daily, Activity points. 

Over the past nearly five years I've been doing this whole weight loss thing, I've done both Weight Watchers and calorie counting. Both have their pros and both have their cons. I've lost weight on both, so I can't really say one is better than the other.

For instance, yesterday was my 34th birthday and I admittedly overdid it a bit. But, I tracked all the food choices in MyFitnessPal so I know how many calories I consumed. But MFP is day by day. So those calories were consumed yesterday and today I get to wake up with a clean slate. I still ate those calories, of course, so they can still have the potential to come back to bite me in the ass when I weigh in next week, but they don't alter how many calories I have available the rest of the week.

With Weight Watchers, those extra calories would have made a dent in my 49 Weekly Points. Which, depending on the kind of week and mood I'm in, can be a bad thing because suddenly I'm two days into the week and completely out of Weekly Points and OHSHIT OHSHIT OHSHIT HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE THE REST OF THE WEEK?

That said, sometimes coming close to eating all 49 points helps keep me in check the rest of the week. Calorie counting doesn't offer that same accountability. Like I said, pros and cons to each. I guess part of taking a more long term view is recognizing that it's okay to not rely on one method 100% of the time. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

10 November 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Six

Monday: 2 mile run
Tuesday: Walk at lunchtime
Wednesday: 1 mile run
Thursday: Walk at lunchtime
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 3 mile run/walk/hike
Sunday: Rest

As you can see, this week was MUCH better than last week.

On Wednesday I woke up for a run but was limited on time and was behind on speedwork. So I decided to try something new -- see how fast I could run a mile. I'm not used to short distances like that, I'm build for endurance, not speed, but I wanted to know how fast I could be if I really focused.

I haven't seen anything like that in years. Of course, I don't know if I could maintain that for more than a mile or two, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is important. It was also kind of fun!

The weekend was spent in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for the gladsome retreat. Having this annual escape into the woods in fall is always so much fun and this year the weather was gorgeous. So, Saturday morning, myself and two other women who are also runners set out for a run. Our plan was to head to Brandywine Falls.

Now, we'd been told it was a hill to get there. We didn't know it was a HILL. It was almost entirely uphill -- to the point that we did less running and more walking/hiking.

We did do some running, mostly on those sections of the  trail that were flat for an extended period of time. Trail running is new to me, but I loved being out in the woods and hearing the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet. The other two women were slightly faster than me, but not by much so they'd run ahead a bit and I'd be a bit behind and eventually catch up.

It was about three miles round trip and we made it back in time for breakfast. To say we worked up an appetite was a bit of an understatement.

Then just the other day I realized the Christmas Story 10K -- y'know, the race I'm actually training for -- is only a month away! I also registered for the Turkey Trot which is Thanksgiving morning. At the beginning of the year when I committed to running one race per month for 2015, I didn't know how it would go but here I am, only one month and two races away from completing that goal!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 November 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Twelve

Daily Points: 38
Weekly Points used this week: 49/49
Activity Points earned this week: 17
Points remaining at end of week: -48

Weight lost this week: +5.8
Total weight lost: +0.8
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 260.6

I basically took off the past two weeks. I barely exercised. I didn't make the best food choices, although I tracked everything. That said, I definitely earned those nearly 6 pounds. So here I am, three months later, and I'm about a pound heavier than when I started.

Lately, I've been thinking a ton about this entire thing and I think I've been approaching it all wrong. In the beginning, five years ago when I weighed 311 pounds, weight loss was easy because it was my only focus. Now, life has changed. Priorities have changed. I've changed. What worked before hasn't been working again.

Since regaining weight, I've been trying to fit my lifestyle to a diet plan. But that's all wrong. That's like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and I think that's why I've been struggling and driving myself crazy. What's that saying about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? What I need to do is fit a diet plan into my lifestyle.

My birthday is a week away and it's, naturally, making me a little nostalgic while also looking ahead to the future. I turn 34 next week which means I turn 35 next year which means I turn 40 in six years. So then I asked myself, where do I want to be when I'm 40? How do I want to look when I ring in a new decade?

I want to be back down to 200 lbs. For some reason, that's a magic number to me. I liked 200, I looked damn good at 200, and I'd like to weigh it again. In fact, that's the number I've been striving for this entire time and not only not coming anywhere close to it, I've been yo-yoing and moving in the opposite direction.

So now, I'm taking the long view: I have a six year plan. Even if it takes me six years to lose those 60 pounds at 10 pounds a year, I'm okay with that. It's probably actually better than what I've been trying to do which is lose 60 lbs in a single year. Have I done it before? Sure, like five years ago when that was my only priority. That's not realistic right now. With the six year plan, it averages out to 1 pound a month which, granted, I know, seems like I'm selling myself short but in all honesty I'm just being realistic. Three months later and I'm up a pound, so clearly losing 1 pound a month is not easy for me right now.

Instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and feel bad and beat myself up in the process, I'm going to take a step back and reexamine my methods. Maybe that means following Weight Watchers one week and counting calories the next. I don't know what this is going to look like, but I do know that what I need to do is find that round peg to fit the round hole.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 November 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Five

Monday: Nada
Tuesday: Zilch
Wednesday: Zero
Thursday: 1.25 miles
Friday: 2 miles
Saturday: Nothin'
Sunday: Still Nothin'


This was a not good week on the workout front, as evidenced by the information above. I don't even want to call them "rest days" because, well, they weren't in the traditional sense of a training plan but calling them "lazy days" isn't entirely accurate either because it's not like I was choosing to be lazy. I wasn't choosing to move through the week like I was a slug lost in a fog.

Luckily it feels like that fog is lifting and I went for a 2 mile run before work yesterday which felt wonderful, so we shall see how it goes in the coming months as winter settles in. The one benefit to the time change was that there was daylight during my run!

But, I did realize there is one thing I haven't talked about yet: My new shiny toy!

I've been wanting a Garmin Forerunner for forEVER and thankfully had some extra money come through that was enough to buy one. Up until now I've always used some free app on my phone which is never accurate with distance so my pace is never correct, either. I've been running in my neighborhood enough to have a good idea on distance but then I'd always have to go online and find a pace calculator and it was just a million extra steps. This way I can get a clearer picture of how I'm doing.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

30 October 2015

the struggle is real

I don't really like calling it depression. I never have, mostly because I've never been clinically diagnosed. And while I've taken those little quizzes at the doctor or counselor and have been told I have mild depression and moderate anxiety.

Wait. Hold up. If I've taken those assessments at the offices of people in the medical field trained to recognize the symptoms and they tell me that I'm on the scale, does that mean I have been clinically diagnosed?

I realize that sounds super dumb but I think in my head I always thought for it to be, like, "official" depression it had to be severe and the kind that needs medication. But maybe not....?


Well. Certainly didn't see that coming.

So, anyway, this is my way of explaining that things this week have been....off and I haven't been blogging. I call it my autumnal ennui, a cyclical depression that hits every fall. Sometimes in September, often in October, never in November. So the timing is right: as summer sunsets into winter I fall into a sort of melancholia that burrows deep into my bones. Usually by the time the calendar flips to my birthday month I'm fine, which means once the weekend is over I should start to be able to peel back the covers and see light again.

For now, though. Well. This week I've done, like, zero exercise and my food choices have been horrendous. So much so that I didn't go to my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday.

I know, I know. That kind of goes against the whole "face the scale" thing, but I just couldn't. I wanted to wake up Thursday and start clean. Blind, I guess. I wanted to start blind. I wanted to be in a place where I made good choices and exercised because I want to, not because of the effect it would have on the scale. I mean, really, isn't that the ultimate goal?

On the exercise spectrum, I was up super early and made myself get out of bed and got on the treadmill for 30 minutes. It wasn't much, but after almost a week of sedentary days, it was a step in a positive direction.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 October 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Ten

Daily Points: 38
Weekly Points used this week: 49/49
Activity Points earned this week: 26
Points remaining at end of week: 22

Weight lost this week: +0.8
Total weight lost: -5
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 254.8

Oh man, I was so on this week. I made good food choices, I worked out a bunch with my 10K training, I earned a bunch of APs and only ate a few. I did awesome work.

And gained 0.8 pounds.

Eh. Can't win them all. I mean, I know I made good choices even if they are represented on the scale this week. All I can do is keep on keepin' on. And, taking the long view, 5 lbs after 10 weeks is 1/2 a pound a week which, to be honest, is pretty average in a long-term kind of way so I can't be too upset about that.

Love from the ashes,

20 October 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Three

Monday: 20 minute walk
Tuesday: 1.5 miles
Wednesday: 1.5 miles
Thursday: Speedwork
Friday: 25 minute walk
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: Rest Day

The problem with Sunday races when you're in training mode is that when Monday roles around the last thing you want to do is go run some more. At least that's how it is for me. My training plan had me scheduled for a 30-35 minute run but as soon as I woke up I knew that wasn't going to happen. At least not before work. So then I told myself I'd just do it after work. That rarely works out either and sure enough I got home Monday and hadn't planned well because I had a podcast interview that night, too, and I luckily managed to squeeze in a short 20 minute walk that was really just me taking advantage of my Wii Fit but whatever gets the job done, amirite?

Of course, walking on Monday counted towards one of my cross-training days so when I woke up Tuesday I knew I had to run, no excuses. This, alas, meant skipping spinning but sacrifices sometimes have to be made.

For my speedwork on Thursday I tried something new: Mona Fartleks. For these, it's time based instead of distance based: 2x90 secs, 4x60 secs, 4x30 secs, 4x15 secs. Between each repetition you recover for the same amount of time (I walked). I surprisingly really liked it. I say surprisingly because I'm not used to running for that length of duration -- ever since I started doing intervals, the most I've run has been maybe a minute, but I found it wasn't too difficult running for these slightly longer periods of time. Plus, the fact that the duration of the run changed kept the speedwork interesting and not super repetitive and I was done in 20 minutes. I'll definitely be doing it again.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 October 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Nine

Daily Points: 38
Weekly Points used this week: 49/49
Activity Points earned this week: 24
Points remaining at end of week: 23

Weight lost this week: -1.2
Total weight lost: -6.8
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 254

YOU GUYS. I went the whole week and only used ONE of my Activity Points! After weeks and weeks (and weeks) of not only eating all of my APs but eating above and beyond them, this is the best feeling and it definitely helped keep me on track for the rest of Thursday. I went out after work to one of my favorite restaurants and when it came time to ordering food I definitely had it in the back of my mind that I didn't want to lose my momentum and was able to have a beer and order something small and stayed within my daily points for the day.

Wednesday night I had the pleasure in taking part in a Google Hangout session with some of my fabulous FitBloggin friends. Specifically, friends that had also been part of the post-Ignite spontaneous chat in the lobby of the conference.

So here I am, three months later and, to be honest, I'm still not sure my weight is a priority. I want it to be, I think. I see pictures of myself and I'm not satisfied with what I see, but I'm still not putting in the full effort that I could be putting in.

Ultimately, I think I've finally accepted that this really is a lifelong thing. I know I've always said that from the beginning, but it's starting to sink in. So maybe it'll take me 10 years to lose 20 lbs. So what? That decade is going to pass anyway, maybe it's better to just keep doing things that support a healthy lifestyle like running and making good food choices and worry less about the weight loss that may or may not come with it. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 October 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week Two

Monday: 1.5 miles
Tuesday: Spinning
Wednesday: Speedwork
Thursday: 1 mile
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Walking
Sunday: Great Beer Chase 5K

This week of training was not very high energy. Most days it was like pulling teeth. Obviously I can't speak for all women but man, the week of my period just takes all motivation out of me. My speedwork on Wednesday was rough. So rough that I only wanted to do 2 sets and was ready to quit after that but I pushed through and made myself do the 3 I set out to do.

I'm also trying to figure out the right time to run. That is, the right time of day. With my schedule I can do it after work and have all the time in the world but by that time of day my legs are tired. I'm tired and the runs are always rough. I have a much better time in the mornings, but it's dark out and as winter comes it's going to continue to be dark out in the mornings. I do have the option of going to the Y in the mornings and running on the treadmill and just getting ready from work there and when it really gets cold and we start to get snow I'm sure that will happen.

With my new work schedule that has me home by 6 pm, I want to be an evening runner, but I don't know how to make my body adapt.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

12 October 2015

Race Recap: Great Beer Chase 5K

One of the best things about living in Cleveland is having first class access to Great Lakes Brewing Company. I live ridiculously close to their brewery, which means every winter I get to see crates upon crates of Christmas Ale being purchased from the gift shop on a regular basis. (I also fully admit to taking for granted how easy it is for me to walk into a grocery store and buying GLBC brew whenever I want. Of course, that also means that I'll frequently get texts from my sister asking me to buy stuff for her she can't get in DC!)

So when I heard that they were having a 5K as part of Cleveland Beer Week I absolutely had to sign up. Especially when I realized it was in October and would be perfect for this month's race!

Bonus, when I went to pick up my race packet I saw that thanks to the recent rebranding, Great Lakes was selling, at a discount, items with the old branding. Which means I got a metal poster of my favorite year round brew!

Sunday morning I headed over to the brewery bright and early. This race was interesting because it was called the Great Beer Chase and there was beer to chase -- along the course, five runners were designated and dressed up as five of GLBC's brews and if you ran faster than them you were entered into a drawing that won prizes during the awards ceremony at the end. It was kind of amusing, 'cause I was running along the course and saw this guy in a full-on old school Navy costume, including carrying a sword, and was like WTF....Oh, right. Commodore Perry!

The race was nice and flat and a basic out and back -- we ran from the brewery about 1.5 miles up the street, turned around, and headed back towards the brewery.

The whole race there was this women slightly ahead of me, walking the entire time. About two miles in I started to catch up with her in spurts, like during my running intervals. All of a sudden, whenever I started to pass her she'd start running. She'd been walking the whole time but at the possibility of being passed by me she'd pick up her pace and pull ahead. It was so bizarre but hey, I'll motivate people wherever and whenever I can!

Papa G. came to see me run, which was nice. About half a mile from the end I spotted him on one of the street corners waiting to see me and then he had to hurry back to the finish line to see me crossing it!

I finished in 47:30 which was a 15:19 average. Looking over my previous races, that's my second best in the past twelve months -- maybe that speed work I've been doing as part of my 10K training is working!

The medal was a beer bottle opener which, let's admit it, is THE BEST MEDAL EVER.

Obligatory post-race photo.

Because of course.

After, Papa G. and I went out to brunch and I spent the rest of the day lounging around. Naturally, I also had to work on my racing scrapbook page.

This is one of my favorite things to do after a race and it's always fun to go back and look through it to see past races as well.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 October 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Eight

Daily Points: 39
Weekly Points used this week: 49/49
Activity Points earned this week: 29
Points remaining at end of week: -1

Weight lost this week: -0.8
Total weight lost: -4.6
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 255.2

So I'm clearly still struggling with OMG MUST EAT ALL THE FOODS, but I'm getting better and it's obviously not mattering as much (probably all those activity points from 10K training!)

When I was there I noticed they had pretty much everything on sale (I guess they are redesigning the packages) so I may have stocked up.

I keep a snack drawer at work because sometimes you just need a little something! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

06 October 2015

10K Training Tuesday: Week One

Monday: 1.6 miles
Tuesday: Spin class at the Y
Wednesday: Speed work
Thursday: 2 miles
Friday: Kettlebells
Saturday: 2 miles
Sunday: Rest Day

First week of 10K training is in the books! As I mentioned in my latest podcast episode, my training plan this time around is a hybrid of plans from Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. The weekday schedule is Galloway and the schedule of long run distances is Higdon.

Part of my reason for doing this is because I'm training for 10 weeks. Most 10K training plans are 6-8 weeks while Galloway's is 13. But I've had such a high since the Akron Marathon Relay, I didn't want to lose it by waiting a couple weeks to start training. Plus, this way I can build my October race into my training!

Last week I talked about how I was adding in some speed work to help this slow runner be less slow and my Believe Training Journal came in super helpful with that because they have an entire section of drills. I decided to go with The Biter, only I adapted it slightly due to, well, mostly ability because running full on 200 meters is a bit out of my depth at this point.

That said, there is this small parking lot next to my apartment building with a sidewalk wrapped around it. I've started running there because it has the feel of a track so I don't have to worry about cars. It's smaller than a track though but I've measured it to be 75 meters per side so that's what I did. I followed the same drill only for 75 meters at a time and with only about a 20 second rest in between. I did three sets and walked a lap between each set. My plan is to slowly work up to longer distances.

The Galloway schedule has several Walk or Cross Train days, so I substituted one of those for speed drills. I like the flexibility of "walk or cross train" because it means that I can mix it up week to week, depending on how I'm feeling. During the winter especially waking up early is so annoying so I like knowing that if it's Friday morning and I am just so not feeling it I have the luxury of being able to go for a walk at lunch.

This Sunday is the Great Beer Chase 5K which is my October race and, of course, I'm training for the Christmas Story 10K which is in December. I'm about 95% sure the Turkey Trot will be the race for November. Not only is it one of the few races offered in Cleveland that month but the 5 mile distance fits in perfectly with my training. Bonus: I think BC might be joining me!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

02 October 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Seven

Daily Points: 39
Weekly Points used this week: 49/49
Activity Points earned this week: 36
Points remaining at end of week: -4

Weight lost this week: -1.8
Total weight lost: -3.8
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 256

Between the Akron Marathon Relay and 10K Training, this was the first week where I wasn't panicked over eating through all of my points and then some because I knew I had put in a lot of exercise and movement to earn activity points. I was also pretty confident in the food choices I made this week and luckily it all paid off on the scale!

Of course, you'll also notice that +9.8 lbs. So I realized after weighing in that it's been one whole year since I recommitted to Weight Watchers and here I am, 10 lbs heavier than I was a year ago. So, y'know, there's that.

Whatever. I've learned to not focus so much on the big picture like that. I mean, okay, sure, I'm 10 lbs above what I was last year. But y'know what? Between October 2013 and October 2014, I gained forty pounds. So gaining 10 lbs between October 2014 and October 2015 isn't great, but it could be so much worse. A year is also the longest I've consistently been weighing in at Weight Watchers in quite awhile.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that success comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and sometimes you have to look beyond the more obvious definitions to define it for yourself.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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