Friday, March 30, 2012

Afternoon Inspiration

This ten year old girl squatted twice her body weight - 215 pounds. In perspective, I would have to squat 388 pounds to accomplish the same thing.
Something I struggle with daily.

Lastly, I'd like to point you towards a very humorous comic from The Oatmeal. It's a comical look about who is looking at whom when working out in the gym.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The fitter I get, the more fun I can have!

I am determined to reach my fitness goals, and to stay fit and healthy for the rest of my life. I am always looking for ways to be active and have fun - in other words, playing.

I am determined to become a Runner. My current goal is to complete a 5K without stopping, but then I'm moving on to the 13.1 half-marathon, and then finally the 26.2 mile marathon. Will I ever go for an Ultra-Marathon? I don't know as of today - it seems impossible to think that someone like me could ever do that. But a marathon? You got it.

I am determined to enjoy being fit. As I become more comfortable in my body, I'm going to let more of it show. I will buy myself new clothes instead of food as rewards and I will learn to be happy with the way I am - I may have big, thick legs but have you seen my dead lifts?

I am going to do more physical events, because I enjoy playing. I am going to run another mud race in April - the Mud Crusade. In May, there is a Nude 5K, then in November - there is this amazing Run for Your Lives event, involving zombies. And if that isn't enough - Tough Mudder is in December, and the day after, is The Color Run.

I will be training hard all year to prepare for Tough Mudder, as it will the most difficult event by far. I will keep attending CrossFit as often as possible - sometimes 5 times a week. I will begin trail running, and I will work on my upper body strength on monkey bars and learning to climb a rope.

I am trying to shift my goals from the way I look to what I can do. Increasing my performance is of the highest priority, and everything else will fall into place from there.

I have the support of my friends, my family, my co-workers and my husband behind me. I can do this.

Because this girl, is a total BAMF.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

6 Inches Forward, 5 Inches back.

This morning I stepped onto my scale again, and I cried.

I've gained 6 pounds back, and I have officially hit 200 lbs again. 200.

I had managed to keep under 200 for the better part of 4 months, but somehow despite my best efforts, it's creeping back up at a steady pace.

The question is: why?

In theory, you must consume an additional 3,500 calories to gain one pound. In other words, I would have to consume an additional 21,000 calories in addition to what I actually use in order to gain that weight.

While I don't count calories, I can tell you I did not actually eat 21,000 extra.

This is another reason I don't count anymore – it's not exact. Eating 1500 calories a day in sugar isn't the same as eating 1500 calories in protein – and I'm fairly certain my body would reflect that difference.

What other things affect my weight?

I lift a lot of weights, so I realize some of that weight is likely muscle composition. It's very hard to measure by the scale itself.

I also sit at a desk 40 hours a week. I do try to stretch and move periodically, but due to the nature of my job I am tethered to it quite a bit and usually on the phone.

While I try to exercise daily, I'm also leading a very stressful life. With my husband away, I try to fill my time with as many activities as I can – often overextending myself and sometimes taking on projects I just don't have time for – to the point where I feel guilty if I take time for myself to just relax.

How does my weight affect me?

My largest goal on my trek to fitness – is losing weight. I've been so heavy for so long, and I know how unhealthy it is. Carting around all of this extra weight is bad for my body – my knees, ankles, joints, back... are all going to suffer long term from my excess weight.

One of my worst habits with my weight, is to obsessively watch the scale. I know how bad this is for me. Every time my weight drops, even .1 lbs, I gain instant confidence boosts and I feel like my hard work has direct effects.

However, it's a double edged sword for me. If my weight swings the other way and I gain, I become depressed, angry, and bitter. I begin the path to self-loathing all over again - 'I hate my body', 'I hate the way I look', 'I hate myself', 'I'm so fat and disgusting'.. and a various trend of other things that really shouldn't be repeated. I end up lashing out at people who don't deserve it, and then I beat myself up for a while until I run out of energy to cry, and I 'comfort' myself with awful food choices in a moment of 'I just don't care!'

Which brings me to this morning, and today's episode. Realizing how much weight I had gained, I cried for a good length of time this morning. I was angry and bitter, so I barely spoke a word to my friend in the carpool this morning. Even though I am sore and having a hard time moving my arms and I feel a rest day is needed, I feel guilty and lazy for taking it. In my anger, I erased my positive messages on my white board at work and replaced with you 'YOU ARE FAT!'

I don't need criticism for these actions, once I calmed down and regained rational thought, I realize how unhelpful and damaging all of those actions are.

What I need is a way to measure progress beyond the scale. How do I know I'm improving? How do I know what to look for if I can't use the scale as a way to check progress?

If my goal is to lose weight – what is a fair way to measure it?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maybe I was Born to Run

As important as it is to talk about things I excel at - I feel it's also important to share when I'm not so good at things.

Having inadequacies makes me human.

My major shortcoming lies in my cardio type activities - especially running.

For some reason, I have yet to really get a grasp on this. I try every morning at Crossfit to run in the warm ups - usually distances between 200 - 800 meters. After 6 months, I'm still coming up short!

I've managed to run the 800 meters once without stopping, but it hurt so bad. I've not been able to do it again,and I'm still struggling with the 400 meters.    

I attempted to run a 5K this weekend, and, I did not do nearly as well as I had hoped.

I was on the line of thinking that if I signed up for things, I would naturally want to train harder for them. And in a sense, it did.

However, it also meant that even though I had tried to train harder, I still wasn't ready for it. I still can't even come to close to running a 5K - and the embarrasement was pretty bad.

It took me 56 minutes to finish it - meaning I have roughly a 19 minute mile. To put it another way, it means I was barely going any faster than walking for any length of the race.

Then there was also pulling off the road to dry-heave for about 10 minutes. I'm not sure what caused this - although I'm suspecting it's my thyroid/iron medication. They tend to upset my stomach when it's empty.

I still got a medal at the end of the race, and I'm glad I completed it, but I'm so unhappy with my results.

There's nothing to be proud of - that may be my worst timing around the lake yet!

I really don't understand why I can't run. It's a combination of things - I become unable to breathe very fast, my back aches, and I get stitches in my side and sometimes nausea.

My plan was always 'run until you can't, then walk until you can' and repeat; but it doesn't seem like this plan is panning out for me very well.

I have a friend on Fitocracy who is working through the Couch to 5K program - and I'm wondering if this might benefit me as well? It certainly can't hurt to try - and if it works, it works.

It will mean trying to find yet even more time to exercise, but perhaps I'll take T.A.R.D.I.S. for a run with me and we can use the time not just to run, but to bond with each other and explore our neighborhood and city.

I want badly to be a runner, and I always get what I want.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How is my progress?

I started Crossfit in September 2011 - and it is now March 2012. What kind of an impact has this had on my body?

On the scale, I have only lost a little bit of weight - I started Crossfit at 206 lbs and I am now 194. I feel better, and I'm being told I look better.

How do you really know? In my case, I took photos.

The photos I am going to share with you are done so with an immense amount of courage. I am extremely sensitive about my physical appearance, but I feel the need to be very public with my struggle so that I am held accountable.

I have not edited these photos except to crop them and set them side by side. Not even a color adjustment has been done.

On the left, you will see how my body looked in September 2011, and on the left, is March 2012. This is twelve pounds and six months of hard work.

I feel like my breasts have gotten smaller and at the same time sit higher, my neckline looks a little different, and again I can see some change in the way my stomach is looking.

The largest change I notice here is how much space there now is between the sides of my stomach and my arms.

I feel you can see the greatest change in the side view. I can better SEE the actual size difference in my stomach, and I can notice the difference between where my arm rests and my back.

These are not the drastic before and after photos I would like to show you. I started at a very high weight, and I still have a lont, long way to go.

Hopefully in another six months we'll see a very large change!

An Interesting Look at Food Options

I am not going to claim that I am the best person to ask for advice on nutrition. I suffer with it a lot, and I make a lot of bad choices. I am a slave to things that simply taste good.

That said, I had to make a choice this morning in regards to my breakfast. I feel like sharing how I made this choice, because maybe someone has to make the same choice somewhere else - and it's always comforting to know someone else has been there.

Normally, I make breakfast at home and pack it up to bring to work to eat after CrossFit. Sometimes it's scrambled eggs and chicken sausage (one of my favorites!), and if I am running short on time, I keep a box of instant oatmeal at home. (I do realize that instant oatmeal is not the BEST option, but it is a BETTER option than say, pop tarts!)

I am all about convenience when it comes to breakfast. I don't like cereal for breakfast because having to pack the cereal and milk separately and bring a bowl and a spoon to eat it with just isn't convenient. Lazy may even be a better word, but there you have it. I like foods that I can pop in the microwave for a moment and eat, or like with the instant oatmeal, simply put it into a cup and add some hot water and drink. (I like my oatmeal fairly liquid, it's like a slushie!)

This morning, I failed on two counts. I did not prepare my scrambled eggs and sausage because I overslept (and also did not make it to Crossfit this morning, something I need to remedy this afternoon), and I mistakenly thought I had an extra oatmeal packet at my office and did not grab one as I ran out the door.

When I got to my office and realized I didn't have anything for breakfast - my first reaction was 'this means I get to eat out! yay!'.

For so long, I realize, I have been looking for a reason to justify my fast food purchases. I immediately wanted to go out and get a chicken, egg, and cheese bagel from Chick-Fil-A. Just thinking about it made my mouth water for that wonderful, awful sandwich.

That wonderful bagel that would cost me gas to drive there (and at $3.89 a gallon, I am not looking to drive more than I need to!), the $3 for the bagel, then 490 calories and 1230 grams of salt. Yes, it does have 28g of protein (and I do try to eat a lot of protein)... and I had a coworker with a box of instant oatmeal here, willing to give me a packet for nothing.

I admit I spent more time mulling over this choice than I am proud of. The oatmeal. Bland, boring oatmeal, only 130 calories, free, and right there - or this awesome chicken bagel! Is this what I've become? Such a slave to fast food that I view as a treat? Is it really that good?

Remember I don't count calories anymore, so that value doesn't hold as much importance as the salt content to me. I try to limit my salt intake as much as possible, and 1230 g is 51% of my daily recommended intake. That is a lot of salt in one tasty little bagel.

Still, the craving was there. I wanted it so bad. I had to take the time to talk myself out of it (which is even harder, when you actually are hungry), and take that oatmeal packet and eat it.

It was not as tasty as the bagel would have been. Maybe even the bagel wouldn't have been as tasty as I imagine it.

I'm sure a lot of people who are reading this are wondering why am I bothering to make such a big deal out of something as stupid as a bagel for breakfast. I'm sure many of my friends wonder that too - and I still am a little baffled by the whole thing myself.

I'm fighting hard to keep myself healthy, to eat right, and to lose weight. These little choices are key in that fight - one bad choice won't destroy me, but letting myself get away with it time and time again? That's how I got here in the first place.

So dear bagel, as much as I love you, and you will remain one of my favorite breakfast items of my past life, I say goodbye to you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Afternoon Inspiration

I am giong to attempt to try to have at least a once a week regular post - Friday afternoon inspirations.

It will consist of anything I find that inspires me to move - and I hope it will inspire you too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why I Stopped Counting Calories

I have tried several approaches to managing what I eat - the most recent failure was probably calorie counting.

I am sure that for some people, this works great. There are many products and services out there (most of them free, even) that help you count calories. In fact nowadays, you can get an app on your smart phone to input your food right away!

You can now obessively count every calorie that goes into your body.

I was using MyFitnessPal to do this for some time. I did successfully manage to lose a little weight this way.
In theory, to lose weight one must burn more calories than one consumes. I've also often heard 'abs are made in the kitchen', meaning what you eat is vastly more important that how much you can exercise - because you can not out exercise a bad diet.

So, then why did I stop?

For me, this was a terrible plan. I tend to become obsessive about things very easily. In a few short weeks I went from just being myself to being cranky, short with people, and obsessing over my next meal.

I mean - obsessing.

Based on the site, I was suggested to aim for 1200 calories a day. If you split that up between your 5 small-ish meals a day, then you could eat approximately 240 calories at a time.

If you slipped up and had a soda, however, you had to skip a meal to make up for it. Or if you exercised a little, that meant extra calories to spend!

In my case, I found myself scrimping on food during breakfast and lunch so I could have better dinners - or occasionally indulging on a candy bar to find out I couldn't eat the next two meals to make up for the calories.

There are smarter ways to go about this, I realize. I was so frustrated by such an arbitrary number. I was constantly hungry, tired, and moody. I lacked energy and my workouts were suffering. I finally, in a fit of fustration, mentioned all this to my trainer.

Her advice? For one, I probably need closer to 1800 calories a day based on my activity level (CrossFit is murder), and if counting calories makes me miserable - stop!

Stop? Is it that simple? Are all these articles I read about counting calories worthless? Is the idea not sound, was I doing this all wrong?

Well, it was that simple. There is no reason to continue on the path if it makes you miserable and does not work. The idea is sound itself, and for many people counting calories works just fine. It didn't work for me because I failed to address the real problem - what I eat.

If you eat 1200 calories a day in McDonald's, it is not the same as eating 1200 calories in lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. By sticking to such a low number and trying to spread them out - I never had the energy when I needed it. My sugar levels would drop throughout the day and make me insanely cranky. (There is a better word for this, but in the interest in keeping this blog family-friendly, I'll simply say it rhymes with itch.)

Since I stopped calorie counting, I've been more careful about what and when I eat. I know that if eat about 45 minutes before a workout, I'll have more energy. I also know that if I eat something sugary, like yogurt or fruit around 3 in the afternoon I don't 'crash'. I do not skip breakfast, and I try to eat some protien with each meal.

Over the past few weeks, I'm happier, more energetic, and I look forward to coming up with healthy meals. I'm cautious about serving sizes (a cookie is ok, a dozen is not) and I avoid my triggers. I don't keep snacks in the house, and I don't bake.

I have added some evening workouts (running and occasionally boxing) in addition to CrossFit, and this modified plan has really come in handy.

I don't have a clue how many calories I eat in a day, and I don't care. I eat when I am hungry and I listen to what my body tells me it needs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting temptation...

Imagine, for a moment, that delicious aroma of McDonald's french fries. Everyone knows what they taste like. If I'm hungry, I can not only smell them - I can probably taste it even now. I know that if I walk into a McDonald's, that smell is going to trigger me into buying them. They will taste great, especially with ketchup, (or Sweet and Sour sauce, if you're like me!) and will go wonderfully beside my Big Mac and giant soda. The meal will be cheap, it will be tasty, and I'll be full.

I will be full of salt, grease, and whatever else is mixed into their 'food'.

I know McDonald's is bad for me. I know this. I don't need anyone to tell me, and I don't need to read the nutritional facts to figure out that there is a lot of salt in everything they serve.

Yet, I eat it anyway.

I would love to claim that I haven't eaten fast food in a week now, but I'd be lying to you. No, I didn't go for it today - but the opportunity was there. Twice, really.

Last night - I neglected to prepare for today. I didn't cook breakfast, and I didn't make anything for lunch. I was exhausted after an evening CrossFit session and a failed attempt at using a hot tub (it was cold! What kind of atrocity is that?!), so I came home and went straight to bed.

When I woke up at 5 AM, I was very tempted to go back to sleep. Knowing I have my puppy class tonight, however, I can't make it to the 6 PM class - so I pulled myself out of bed anyway. I was tempted to just grab my gear and go - I can get any variety of fast food for breakfast! Chik-Fil-A's chicken, egg and cheese bagel! McDonald's sausage, egg and cheese biscuit! Krispy Kreme! So many options just on the way to work - but am I really working out this hard to burn off those calories, to eat fast food?

No. I got dressed in a hurry, and in about ten minutes, I scambled three eggs and some chicken sausage, put it into my lunch box - and I had breakfast to go. In another five minutes, I put together a turkey sandwhich, a peach, and some greek yogurt for lunch. It took me 15 minutes to prepare for today. 15 minutes.

Those 15 minutes not only saved me from putting a lot of junk into my body, but I saved about $4 from what I would have spent on breakfast, and probably $10 from what I could have spent on lunch. $1 a minute to eat healthier? Yes, please!

Oh, but dear readers, I have a second obstacle in the day. It's not always as simple as bringing a lunch with me. You see, I sit at a desk, all day, every day. In an office, with no windows. I have no break room at work - in fact the only place to sit and eat is the table outside in the smoker's area - and I am really not going to try to eat while having smoke blown in my face, or ciggarette butts all around me. As if that weren't temptation enough to get out of the office - I'm incredibly social.

My lunch hour is my opportunity to be with my coworkers, several of whom I would consider dear friends. When they bring their lunch with them, perfect! Everyone's happy. But when one of them doesn't - they were busy, didn't have time or just plain didn't feel like it (not to throw anyone under the bus, I do this all the time too!), then the next suggestion is to simply go out and get something. Often times, I end up going right along with them - even when I've brought my own food. That temptation to go out and socialize over hot, delicious food is often times too much for me to resist!

Within a 5 minute drive radius of my office - I have an Outback Steakhouse, Red Elephant, 7-11, Tijuana Flats, Beef O'Brady's, McDonald's, KFC, Publix, Starbucks, Marco's Pizza... oh, and Jimmy John's delivers. There's more than that, but that's all I care to think about - very tempting, you know.

Today, my resolve was strong. I stayed in my office, eating my food. I'm choosing to write about this process instead of engaging in it. Perhaps being honest about my struggles with food will help to remind me about making the right choice in the future. Maybe being public about my weaknesses will shed light on them so I remember to stay strong.

I'm not perfect, and I make bad choices all the time - but I will keep fighting the good fight. Every time I make a good choice in food I'm making my body stronger and healthier. I'm learning to establish better habits - and I have no idea how much money I would save by simply brown-bagging my lunch every day.

It's a struggle and a journey to find one's path on the road to fitness. What works for some doesn't work for others. What works for me one day doesn't work the next.

Never give up, and if you fall down, get back up again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Savage Race

Saturday, March 10th, 2012 was the date of the Savage Race.

The Savage Race was the first event I've ever signed up for. I don't know why exactly I decided to do this before something simple, like a 5K - but there it is. I did it.

I set my goal: Finish.

You know what? I finished.

I did every single obstacle. I skipped nothing. I ran the entire way, and I gave that beast everything I had in my body.

It was exhausting, and it was hard. More than that though, it was probably some of the most fun I have ever had. I did not expect to love it so much!

The day started easy enough - two friends of mine came with me to take photos, pump me up, and be my personal cheerleaders. I was running as a part of the team for my local CrossFit, CrossFit Lake Mirror. I drove seperately and arrived very, very early (I am very nervous, and so I do things like skip breakfast and arrive super early when I'm nervous) so I barely met up with them before the race... and shortly after it started, they quickly pulled away from me. Not a problem though, I was going to take it at my own pace and make sure I finished.

Here I am at the start of the race. I have my bib attached to my shirt, my race clip on my ankle. I am clean, and ready to go - albiet nervous. I knew there would be swimming, so I wanted to wear tight fitting clothing - and as few as possible. I am still nervous about my body shape, however, so I elected to wear light shorts over my leggings because it made me more comfortable. Although tight clothing wasn't all that flattering - I am incredibly glad I thought to do this. My clothes gave me no problem, and held onto very little mud and water.

I also decided to wear my Zem shoes because I did not want my shoes getting sucked off in the mud, or becoming heavy when water logged - or worse, sand in my shoes around my feet rubbing my skin raw. This ended up being another excellent choice - they were perfect on the trail running, they were light enough that I felt barefoot, and I didn't have to waste time taking them off for events like swimming. They held up well, and were insanely comfortable the entire time. I will officially consider then a success.

I also made sure to warm up pre-race. I know warming up is essential before a workout, but I was so fidgety and nervous I almost forgot. Thankfully my friend Daniel was present, and he reminded me and pushed me through a warm up - some push ups, a light jog, and plenty of stretching.

My wave started at 10:30. Everyone bolted out of the gate , but I decided I would jog and save my energy. My friends weren't able to get photos of all of the events due to the way the race was set up - but I did find a video on YouTube to give you an idea.

Some obstacles are more physically demanding than others - the ones that involved crawling really wore me out fast. Some challenged me more than physically - I am deathly afraid of heights for example, and more than once I had to climb to heights that nearly paralyzed me in fear.

I am not exactly sure how high this was, but it was pretty high, and the structure wobbled a bit - nevermind the rope moving around as people crawled on it.

The water slide was exceptionally enjoyable - and refreshing, after a 35 foot sand dune to get up there. It was also one of the few times you felt... clean.

Here is one, the Nut Smasher. I fell off of this after just a few steps. What you don't see in the photo is that I am also being pelted with water balloons! I don't think I saw anyone clear it, but I'm sure some did effortlessly.

Then there was of course, the ice bath. When I tell you this hurts, I mean it hurts. It almost burns your skin, and you can fell all of your muscles immedietly tight up and it becomes incredibly hard to move. And it's not as easy as just getting to the other side, no, you must go completely under water to clear the obstacle in the middle.

Once you are fresh out of your ice bath, you get to climb this wet, slick wall while your body is still numb and tingly. I did slip at the top, but fortuantely another competitor caught me and pulled me over.

Towards the end, there are small fires to jump over. I managed to clear them, and this photo is half a second before I fell. I landed hard on my hip, bruising it quite badly - but at the time I was so pumped up that I barely felt it. Instead, I managed to push myself up and finish.

In case you had any thoughts of staying clean after your ice bath, your last obstacle is a crawl under barbed wire though the mud.

Finally, there is payoff at the end. My medal, my t-shirt, and my free beer.

My final stats had me finishing the race in 2:03:21. I came in 230th place in my division, and 2310/2506 overall. I don't care about that. I finished.

I had trouble with some obstacles I don't have photos of - the 8 foot wall, for one. If not for the other very helpful racers, I don't know how I would have gotten over it. Someone gave me a boost to the top so I could pull myself over.

The tower of hay bales also nearly stumped me - I was almost too terrified to move once I got to the top! I had three people talk me down slowly and gently on the other side.

This event was not easy - but I loved every minute of it. I was dirty and nasty and sore at the end, but I've not felt a sense of accomplisment like this before. I did this.

I did this. I could say it all day and I am still going to be in awe when I hear it. I finished.

Now what?

There are several 5Ks coming up in my area I am going to run. Then, there is Tough Mudder. The Savage Race was 4.7 miles - Tough Mudder will be 13. I am hearing Tough Mudder as a huge step up in difficulty, and somehow I'm hearing this and I'm not afraid - I'm excited.

I will return to the Savage Race next year - and I will be better. Faster, stronger.

If you ever plan to compete in an event like this, here are a few things I'd like to mention:
  • Wear sunscreen. I rarely do, and I am burnt on the tops of my shoulders, face, and neck.
  • Wear SNUG shoes. There is a reason the Vibrams are so popular - sneakers will get sucked off your feet in the mud.
  • Wear clohtes you don't care about. They will be filthy.
  • Wear tight fitting, nylon clothes. The less water they hold, the better. It gets pretty heavy when you're soaking wet.
  • If your thighs touch (mine do), wear tight fitting shorts or leggings. You don't want to rub yourself raw.
  • Work on your upper body strength. You'll be pulling yourself up - a lot.
  • Work on endurance. It's 4.7 miles of trail running.
  • Help others who need it. If you can clear an obstacle - great. If the person beside you or behind you needs a hand, lend it. I'll be forever grateful for those people who took a few seconds to help me with some of the harder obstacles.
  • Drink the water at the water stations, but don't drink too much.
  • Practice swimming.
  • When you run through the mud, land on the balls of your feet. You're less likely to lose your shoes.
  • There is sometimes waiting for obstacles. Use that wait time to catch your breath, but don't stand still. You'll feel yourself stiffen and fatigue if you don't keep your blood pumping.
  • Cover your legs. There is a lot of crawling, rolling in the mud, over hay bales, and various other opportunities to cut or scratch yourself. If you like your skin, cover it.
  • Bring a set of clean clothes, including shoes and underwear. And a towel.
  • Eat well the day before, and eat breakfast. You'll need the energy.
  • Do not skip your warm up.
  • Don't quit, and don't be afraid to be dirty.
Lastly, remember that if I can do this - you can too. The race is built to be hard. It's a challenge. Challenge yourself - do something amazing. Feel proud of yourself. Hang the medal on your door, wear your hard-earned t-shirt.

Oh, and enjoy it. It's amazing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Get Physical

Tomorrow morning, I will be partaking in my first atheltic competition since probably middle school.

I hated P.E. classes in school, and thanks to a constantly changing schedule - it wasn't even a requirement in high school to graduate - so I opted out of all of them and took Art classes instead. Then when I went to college, I was so busy trying to maintain grades while working full time, that I let my health fall by the wayside. I kept steadily gaining weight, but I was enjoying the company of my friends and all the delicious food Houston had to offer.

I moved to Florida and the trend continued. Once I hit 180 lbs, however, I started to think I wasn't going down the right path. The constant eating out, the all nights with video games, and working at a video store at the time meant a LOT of my free time was spent plopped down in front of the TV.

I did try - I would go for a walk maybe once a month. Then I tried to join the YMCA, actually managing to go for a few weeks at a time before quitting in frustration. Nothing seemed to work for me, and I kept ballooning.

Then in September 2011, I found Crossfit, and I have made significant changes in my life. I lift weights, I do cardio, I jump, I run, I play. I found a group of people who are not just enthusastic about their own fitness - but who care about mine too. I'm no longer walking into a gym that reeks of sweat feeling self concious and trying to ignore the dirty stares of the cardio bunnies. I just show up, I do my best, and I go home satisfied.

Crossfit has pushed me more than I have ever been pushed in my life, and 6 months later - I'm running in the Savage Race tomorrow. I used to think people who signed up for these events had to be insane. Why would you do that to yourself? What is the point of running up a sand dune, climbing an 8 foot wall, or jumping into an ice bath? Is that free beer at the end worth it?

I can't answer for everyone who signs up, I can only answer for myself. I feel good about myself and my abilities. I don't have any grandeur thoughts of coming in first, or second, or even third - as long as I finish, that's all that matters. I'm signing up to challenge myself. I look at the obstacles in the race, and while I am intimidated by some of them, I'm also very, very excited about the whole ordeal.

I'm excited to go run in the mud with other fitness enthusiasts and be part of something bigger than myself.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Shoe Saga Contines and a Race is Looming

A few days ago, I posted about the ongoing issue I have finding comfortable shoes. I had thought I had found the answer in a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence, but the more I wore them the more I didn't like them.

I am insanely pick about things at times, and I will always choose comfort before anything else. No matter the price tag on a shoe, if it doesn't work - it doesn't work. I was still taking them off as soon as I could - I tried running Lake Hollingsworth in them (3 miles) but I was still unable to finish. I would take my shoes off in less than a quarter of the way, and finish it barefoot.

There HAD to be a better answer out there. I did some research, learning about the different tyes of barefoot shoes out there. I am unable to wear Vibrams, the New Balance Minimus, or even the Skeletoes due to my feet being very wide and my toes being very short.

I finally came across a company who makes barefoot shoes - getting the idea from playing volleyball on the beach in South Florida. They kept developing shoes with people like me in mind - we just... love being barefoot! Once I found the company, I thought the design of the shoe might work so I read more reviews, and finally purchased a pair of them.

I have 15 days to return the Brooks, so I thought I should try these at the same time to see which ones I liked, and then return the others. I ended up purchasing a pair of Zem 360 running shoes, and bonus points in that they come in pink!

They look very flimsy - like little more than water socks with a rubber bottom. I put them on, and they have a very snug fit - you can feel the shoe pulling itself into you and molding to your foot. They felt a little odd but not uncomfortable. I wore them to my obedience class for about 2 hours, then decided to go for a run around Lake Hollingsworth.

I managed to make it the entire run without taking them off. My feet were a little sore, but the kind of sore one gets after pounding 3 miles of pavement with basically your bare feet. What's important though - is that I liked them. I'm very pleased with them so far, and I will be returning the pair of Brooks this week. My Zem shoes are far more comfortable, and only 1/3 of the cost. I don't know how long they will last as the bottoms are very thin, but I can replace them 3 times for what I paid for the Brooks, and I'd rather do that then be unhappy on my feet!

Speaking of feet, my race is on Saturday - the Savage Race. I've never done any type of competitive athletic event. I am sure I will be one of the last to finish, but my goal is simply to cross that finish line with my head held high.

I'm very tempted to wear my Zem shoes, too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rest Days

Proper diet and exercise are essential to a healthy lifestyle.

As is rest. Rest is something I often over look - many times pushing myself well beyond my limits. I can hear my body screaming for extra sleep (I regularly hit somewhere between 5-7 hours) and I ignore it, thinking I have just too much to do.

As a result, I sometimes catch bugs. I rarely become completely ill - I suffer mostly just the common cold, which is what is currently pulling me down.

I started the week strong - my medications were giving me energy I haven't felt in ages, and I began adding 3 mile runs in the evenings to my regular workouts of Crossfit. I'm not going to say the extra work caused me to fall ill, but the extra strain and exhaustion on my body probably taxed my immune system enough to let some germs creep in.

The result? I've got a terrible cold - I can barely speak (which directly impacts my job, unfortunately), I'm exhausted, and I ache all over. So I'm resting. I'm not going to feel guilty about missing a workout for a few days, becuase I know if I let myself rest and recover for a few days - next week, I should be right as rain.

I would much rather give up the workouts and recover completely than stretch the sickness out by stressing my body.

I'm losing out on points in Fitocracy, and I'm sure my main competitor is going to pass me again shortly (he does currently have the lead by one point!); but I can't let my ego and competitive nature override what my body needs.

Oh, and there's the Savage Race next weekend. So I absolutely need to be well in time for that.