Monday, April 19, 2021

Weight loss goals: Should I keep setting them?

I haven't posted much about my weight loss, mainly because I didn't want that to be the focus of my journey towards being the best me I can be.  I still weigh myself every morning (I know, I know, may people say that's not a good idea, but it's what I do. Don't judge!), but I don't stress when it goes up a lb or so from one day to the next, because it does that all the time and I know that it's normal.  I just watch to make sure it doesn't stay on an upward trend more than two days or so.   So far, so good, and I haven't had to make any adjustments in diet or exercise to see that number continue to go down, albeit slowly.

I'm tackling things the right way, very slow and easy. No goal to lose 20 lbs a month for me! Again, while of course I DO want to lose weight, that hasn't been my primary mission.  I'm concentrating on eating good, healthy, real foods and staying away from anything processed, and the bonus is the resulting weight loss.  Go figure.  

I've met two goals so far, so need to set a new one.  At various points in recent years I weighed a little over 200 lbs, but when I started this particular journey towards a better me in June 2020, I weighed 190.5.  My first goal was to get under 160 and see 5 as that middle number, and when I made that, I decided to shoot for being within the Marine Corps current height/weight standards, which I believe for my height is 151 lbs (that's if I'm still 5'4").  Wanting to get below that, I set the second, smaller goal to get out of the 150s.  

Last week I reached that goal.  I'm now officially at the lowest weight I've been since probably 1998, a year or so after retiring from the Marine Corps (has it really been 24 years?).  

While of course I'm excited about the lower number on the scale, I'm more excited about the way I perceive myself.  I feel better physically, but just as important, my emotional health has skyrocketed.  I don't struggle with viewing myself as overweight anymore. I used to wonder who that person was, because even though I was looking at the mirror, it wasn't me I was seeing.  I don't know who that fat person was, but she disgusted me.  She doesn't anymore.

So having met those two goals, what's next?  At 148.5, a loss of 42 lbs so far this go'round, I wouldn't mind losing a few more, but I'm not unhappy where I am.  Should I set another goal or just see what happens?   

I haven't wanted the goal number to be something that I had to work hard for every day, something to stress about and get anxious over if the number went up a bit or plateaued, and that's worked out ok.  Concentrating on maintaining my nutritional goals and seeing the number go down as a result has been good for me, physically and emotionally, so I don't think that picking another lower number is a bad idea in my case.  I think sometimes setting too lofty a goal can set us up for failure, but I think my head is in the right place with it.  Again, if I stay close to where I'm at now, I'm good.  

Having said that, the new non-goal goal is to see that middle number a 3. If I get down to 139.5, that would be a loss of 51 lbs from when I started this particular journey, and over 60 from my highest in recent years.  Don't know if I'll ever get there, but I won't be disappointed if I don't.

Nine lbs to go ... or not.

~ Marie Anne  

Monday, March 8, 2021

Monday Ramblings: Every Runner's Nightmare

It was a frosty 26° this morning and since I had done plenty yesterday, I wasn't going to work out today, or at least not do much. I still need to pace myself so I'll be well rested when I attempt that 11-miler later this month. Of course by the time I went out for a haircut and a few groceries, it was bright and sunny and high 50°s, so maybe I would get out there after all.

I was hungry when I got back from town, so decided to fix a small salad. That would have been fine if I hadn't just made the decision to get a run in. I usually run fasted in the morning and have my healthy smoothie after I'm home and finished stretching, so running with something in my stomach is new to me. Still, this was just salad, nothing heavy, so I didn't think it would be a big deal, so rather than put it off, I laced up my shoes and off I went.

It was a big deal.

Within minutes of hitting the street, I felt like I had to use the bathroom.  I debated turning around, but I need to get a 3-mile run in three times this week for a challenge, and I really wanted today's run to count as one of them.  The distance needs to be run in one activity and there is a time limit, so taking a break to use the facilities and go back out might have taken up too much time.  I'd either have to nix the whole thing, or start a new activity and start the three miles over.

On any other day, the little extra would have been no problem; I normally run a 5K or 10K  (3.1 and 6.2 miles), and occasionally a mile or two more, but I just wasn't into it today.  I had it in my head when I stepped out the door that I was going to do my 3 miles and be done with it.

It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon for a run, and other than worrying if I'd make it back to the bathroom in time, it might have been a good day for one of my longer runs.  Parts of me felt amazing, like I could go on forever, but other parts?  Let's just say that I was worried things might get a little messy (and because it was so nice out, I was wearing a short running skirt and short-sleeved shirt, and it's the one day I didn't have at least a handkerchief with me.  Hooooo boy).

I started talking to myself.  So ... speed up to get home quicker?  Or would that (gasp!) speed other things along too?  Maybe it would be better if I slowed down.  No, I just want to get home.  I opted to just maintain a steady pace, and pray.  It was touch and go for a bit, but I did manage to make it home without incident, and at a pretty good time for me while still keeping my heart rate on the low end.

To say I was relieved would be an understatement.  I'm normally prepared for just about anything that might come up, so I don't know why today was different.  I do know that I won't be going out for a run any time soon after eating a salad with kale in it.  I haven't eaten kale in a while, so I'm assuming that was what set things in motion, so to speak.

After a chilly start, it ended up being a pretty good day after all.  I took care of some errands, checked off one of the runs I need for the week, and grabbed some extra Vitamin D when romping in the yard with the pups.  Now I think I'll take their cue and jockey for a spot on the couch and find something to binge-watch.

~ Marie Anne

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Team RWB March Madness Round 2 - March 7, 2021

Sunday, 7 March brings us to Round 2 of Team RWB's March Madness Challenge.  The brackets are set up by state (with a team for overseas participants too), and my team (NC) had a poor showing last week so is already out of the running for the bracket challenge.  There's still an open category, so I'm going to continue get my max points every week in hopes that we can finish with some level of respect.

There are three different events on challenge Sundays, worth 1, 2, and 3 points, and if you complete and check in on all three events, you can grab six points for your team.  I ran over 6 miles last Sunday so got them all, but I  mixed things up a little this morning.  

I started off with 26 pushups for the free-throw (had to do the one extra for Chesty Puller, ya know), then a 3+ mi run on the treadmill before breakfast for the 3-pointer.  Around noontime I grabbed my pack and went out for a 2-mi ruck in my neighborhood, capturing that 2-point layup before fixing lunch and settling in for a relaxing afternoon.

I think that'll be it for me today in the workout department, but since it's nice out I'll probably spend some time in the yard with the dogs, in between binge-watching sessions while parked on the couch. I don't want to overdo it as I still hope to walk that 11+ mile route on base sometime this week, in preparation for running the Marine Corps 17.75K.

What're you up to today? Whatever else you're doing, make time to get up and move!

~ Marie Anne

Friday, March 5, 2021

Putting Taji 100 to bed, planning for Marine Corps 17.75K

February was intense for sure. I was doing the Taji 100 again (run/walk 100 miles in the month of February), and most of my team wasn't logging their miles, so I no idea where we stood from day to day, so even though I pushed and got my miles in a full week early, I kept going to get the extra miles to get the team over, and didn't take any rest days. I overdid it, several times doing two- and three-a-days, but I was determined if we didn't make it, it wasn't going to be because I didn't give it everything I had! I ended up with 150.18 mi for the month, a crazy amount for me.

Of course we DID make it as several members had been running but didn't log their miles until the last day, so we were well over the finish line, making the extra miles I did be for naught. I wasn't a happy camper as I really did put myself at risk for injury for the team, and I should have known better. Definitely will be attacking things a bit differently next year.

Coming off that, I'm taking it a little easier this month. I do have a 11.03mi (Marine Corps 17.75K) virtual race to do between tomorrow and the 20th, but not looking to set any records there, just want to finish without injury. I'm not sure yet what day I'll do it, but will definitely be allowing some rest and easy run/walk days leading up to it. I only walked a couple miles Mon and Tues, ran about 6.4 on Wed, and did a 2+ mi power walk yesterday, so I'm already on track with that loose plan. I still can't decide where to do the 11-miler; last year I just ran around my own and a surrounding neighborhood, but there's a place on base where I can do it as an out-and-back and not have to worry about so many turns.

The downside to that is that I'll be alone, and even though it's along the main road, a good stretch of it is fenced off and not accessible except by foot at either end of the trail, so if I had an issue and had to call in help, it wouldn't be as easy to get to me (not really hard, just take a few minutes longer). Being an old lady, I have to take lots of things into consideration that spring chickens might not even think about. That trail also has a few hills. Not a game-changer, but a flat course would be nice,.

Since I have a couple of weeks to get this run done, I was thinking about walking that trail the entire distance first. About a week ago I started at one end and ran just over 3 mi and turned around to get at least 10K in, then the next day I power-walked starting at the other end, logging just over 5K ... not enough to meet up to the place that I turned around the day before. I'd like to experience the whole thing so there won't be any surprises the day I run it. It will also help me figure out fuel/water requirements, since that will be a longer distance for me than normal. Will have to check upcoming weather to see what day might be best to do that.

So that's an update of at least the last month or so, and my short-term plans/goals. I'm going to try to update this blog more regularly to journal my activities.

What's up with you?

~ Marie Anne

Weight loss ---> -38 lbs

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

How I prepared my body to complete my accidental marathon, Part I - Fat Adaptation

If you haven't read my earlier post about how I completed a marathon I didn't know I was going to run, please do that first so that you have the background on how it came about, and understand why what I'm going to share today is so impactful.

So I completed a marathon the other day (I won't say I 'ran' a marathon, because much of it was at a walk, but I did complete the distance).  At 63 yrs old and still overweight (for now), with various injuries under my belt and at risk for more, completing even a half-marathon was only a dream.  

In recent years I'd been running off and on, sometimes doing between 3-6 mi almost daily at a slow run, but never really improving in speed, and it didn't help with weight loss.  They say you can't outrun a bad diet, and I'm here to tell you that is the absolute truth.  You could run a marathon every week, but if you suck in the nutrition department, you won't realize much benefit from it.

I don't know where it first started, but in following some running and general fitness blogs and podcasts, I landed on the term fat adapted, which in general means re-training your body to burn fat while exercising, and not to rely on carbs for energy. You've likely heard about carb-loading before a race (the traditional spaghetti supper the night before), and most people carry gels and/or carb-laden snacks for fuel during a race.  Until a few weeks ago, I was one of those people.  But the problem with relying on carbs for fuel is that your body will burn those up quickly and need refueling often if you're going any distance at all.  If you keep replenishing carbs as you burn them, guess what?  You never get into fat-burning mode, and if weight loss is your goal, you're probably not going to see much for positive results.  So you probably tell yourself you need to work longer and harder, and since you're still adding the wrong type of fuel, the cycle continues.  Sure, you're burning more calories, but only those you just added when you scarfed down that energy bar.

I've been pre-diabetic/insulin resistant for years, and a sugar/carb addict (yes, it IS a thing).  I've never been able to go a couple of hours without eating something, and the thought of working out before breakfast, or without at least some sort of bar or snack seemed unattainable to me.  Running on an empty stomach?  I'd never make it around the block!

But you know what?  Our bodies are amazing works of creation!  We're adaptable, and with minimal effort, they can be trained to do all sorts of things we didn't think we could do.  And honestly, I don't think we were originally designed to have to eat something every few hours, or require sugar for energy to carry us through a race.  Did our ancestors carry energy gels or Honey Stingers in the pockets of their leggings to get through a day's work plowing the fields, or stalking prey for hours to bring home dinner?

Hardly.  They ate real food, and I seriously doubt it was every few hours or full of carbs.  I could go on about this for pages, but I'll limit this post to just share what I've been doing, and point you to some good information from the experts out there. (I am not a medical professional in any capacity, nor do I have formal training in nutrition or fitness.  I just follow some professional, very knowledgeable people, and am living proof of the benefits of what they preach).

My usual routine of late is to have cup of black tea when I get up, then do a one or two mile walk (if barefoot), occasionally 2-3 miles at either a fast walk or walk/slow run (if wearing shoes). I'm an early riser, so all that takes place well before sunup at this time of year (and yes, I'm wearing appropriate safety gear).  When I get back home, I'll wait an hour and often two before fixing breakfast, which usually consists of a smoothie and a hard boiled egg.  (See what I put in my smoothie here).  My body has adapted to this just fine, and I haven't yet felt the urge to eat something before heading out the door.  Even if you don't work out every morning, you can still enjoy some of the benefits of fat adaptation by delaying your first meal and encouraging your body to be fueled by your fat reserves.

How this helped me get through my unplanned marathon 

I'd been following this morning routine for just a couple of months, and because I had been going such short distances (intentionally ... again, a topic for another post), I wasn't sure what I might need to carry me through whatever distance I ended up doing Saturday morning.  I had eaten a light dinner earlier than usual the night before (chicken vegetable soup with a homemade bone broth base, no rice or noodles, and a small bowl of salad greens), so when it was decided that a couple of us were going to be up very early to help a friend with his virtual marathon, I figured I'd better pad that a little, so I drank a small smoothie before bed.  I had peeled two hard boiled eggs to have ready for Saturday morning pre-run, but only ate one of them about 4:30am.  I loaded my camelbak with a small amount of water, and tucked a snack-sized baggie of mixed nuts, and a couple individual packets of trail mix (with the little M&M-like candies) between the bladder and case and called it good.  Oh, and I found a Honey Stinger Waffle in there from a previous run months ago! 

We set off Saturday morning around 6am or so,  and I didn't take in anything until I think around the 17-18 mi mark, which was hours later because we were going so slow.  I ate a handful of nuts then only because my legs started to cramp and I wasn't sure of the cause, because I'd never pushed my body that far and experienced that before.  The weather was perfect and I never did break a sweat since we were going so slow, so I don't know if I was lacking sodium, but whatever the reason, the nuts apparently helped, because that cramping sensation went away shortly afterwards. I never felt tired or that I couldn't finish because I'd run out of gas at any point during the 26.2 mi.  I was on my feet for probably 12 hrs before all was said and done, and still wasn't hungry!

Read that paragraph again.  An overweight, senior, pre-diabetic woman who has been prone to carb binges (and I mean REAL binges) for decades, completed 26.2 mi and a total of 12 hours on her feet on just a hard boiled egg pre-run, and a handful of mixed nuts halfway through, and never felt hungry or felt any loss of energy.  Meanwhile, my partners in crime had snacks at several intervals ... energy bars, granola bars, gummy bears, energy gels, etc.  I'm not bashing or shaming them; they gave their bodies what they needed, and it worked for them.

By working on the fat-adaptive approach recently, I had been training my body for this event without even knowing it. If my experience that day isn't testimony of what eating right and teaching your body to use proper fuel can do for you, I don't know what else would.

Now for acknowledgements - my biggest influence while following the fat-adaptive regimen has been Dr. Mark Cucuzzella - Physician, Professor of Medicine at WV University School of Medicine, Air Force reserve Lieutenant Colonel, owner of Two Rivers Treads, author of Run for Your Life, Executive Director of the Natural Running Center, race director, and competitive runner for over 35 years with 24 marathons completed in under 2:40.  (None of these are affiliate links; I'm not compensated in any way for sharing them).

In addition to the above, you can find a vast amount of nutrition, running, and general health information by searching Dr. Mark's name to find articles, blog posts, and podcasts where he has been a guest contributor.  Warning ... there are a lot of them, but all worth a read/listen. 

That's Part I of what got me through my first marathon experience.  Stay tuned for further installments on how good nutrition, and footwear (or lack thereof) made it all possible.

~ Marie Anne

Monday, November 2, 2020

Unplanned debut marathon

So, Saturday I did a thing.  Totally unplanned, totally unprepared, but totally amazing.

I completed a 26.2 mi marathon.

Yep.  At 63 yrs old, overweight, with osteoporosis and at risk for fracture, a propensity for injury (both from overuse and plain ol' clumsiness), pre-diabetes, very high cholesterol, moderate arterial blockage, and never having done even a half-marathon distance before (even walking), I completed a marathon.  Oh, and I did it fueled only by a hard-boiled egg a couple hours before start, a handful of mixed nuts at about halfway, wearing $15 Walmart shoes with almost zero padding and support (and I even took out the insoles), and working on about 4 hours sleep. (Much more on the 'whys' of the nutrition and footwear another time).

So just how did this all come about?  Let me tell you the story ...

A few of us from Team RWB were going to get together to do a couple mile walk/slow run Saturday morning.  A fellow team member mentioned the night before that he might see us on the trail somewhere as he would be doing his virtual Marine Corps Marathon along that route.  He had been doing a half-marathon just about every weekend up until last year (sometimes a full marathon), but the whole COVID thing set him back (emotionally as well as physically), he had put on a few pounds, and hadn't been out and done ANYTHING since March.  Oh, and he had no crew along his route to support and check on him - he was flying solo.

Ummm, no.  Carrie (our Team Captain) and I decided that wasn't acceptable, so at 10pm Fri evening we agreed to meet up with him at zero-dark-thirty to at least start him off and maybe take turns doing a couple miles with him. Again, no real plan, we were flying by the seat of our pants.  I met her at the main gate on Camp Lejeune at 0545 where I left my car, and we drove to the designated starting point in town to meet up with Mac and help him do this thing.  Another member, Terri, jumped in and said she'd crew for us, and planned on driving to various points with snacks and water available should we need them.  (She also had the traditional motivational Eye of the Tiger blasting as we went by each station. She rocks!).  Terri had run the Marine Corps Marathon 50K (just over 31 mi) virtually the previous weekend, alone.  (Yes, she's a bad-a$$!).

Headlamps in place, Mac rucking 20+ lbs and carrying Old Glory, Carrie with the Team RWB banner, off we went.   I hadn't been doing more than a mile or two at a time for months, mostly at a walk barefoot, so the basic plan was that I'd stay with Carrie and Mac to the main gate (just over 6 miles), where I'd get my car and drive to the next stop, and maybe jump in with him there for a couple miles, and Carrie could drive my car to the next stop, and we'd leapfrog. Well I got to the gate and decided that as slow as we were going, I could definitely do more.  Terri was available to pick me up if needed, so I felt confident in continuing.

After a couple more miles, I decided that since we were so close, I'd at least stick with it to the halfway point so that I could scratch the half-marathon off my bucket list.  I guess 13.1 mi wasn't enough, so since Mac had slowed down even more, I waved Terri off and we kept going, sometimes at a walk, sometimes a slow trot.  We got back to the main gate (18ish mi) and Carrie needed to leave for other commitments, so Terri drove her back to the start to get her car.  That left me and Mac, and there was no way I was leaving him alone out there, so I shrugged my shoulders and we set off again.  

Mac has a number of previous injuries from his time on active duty, including nerve damage, so because he hadn't been training at all for months, and was carrying some extra poundage, he was hurting pretty bad.  The last 6 mi or so were seemingly at a crawl, and the muscles in my legs were tight and starting to seize up, so for a couple of miles I trotted loops back and forth around him, just to stretch a bit while still keeping him in sight.  I relieved him of Old Glory during that time, doing a hand-off later to allow him to finish with flag waving. 

We did it.  Super-slow and much of it at a walk, in well over the 8 hr cutoff had we done the in-person event, but we did it (there is no time limit on the virtual).  Could I have done it faster had I not stayed with Mac those last few miles?  I'm sure, but this was his day, his marathon, so it never entered my mind to leave him and do my own thing for a better finish time. 

Neither of us could have done it without Carrie along for support, and of course our super-crew, Terri, cheering us on and providing fuel at numerous points along the route.  They are both active duty Marines who are spread pretty thin already, and they willingly gave up their Saturday to help fellow Marines get 'er done.  (I think there's something wrong with  my eyes right now; they seem to be leaking for some reason).  And I wouldn't have even been out there at all had it not been for Mac's determination to complete his 8th consecutive Marine Corps Marathon.

It's a Marine thing, and also what Team RWB is all about.

So there you have it.  I crossed something off my bucket list that wasn't even ON my bucket list.  

Could I have done it (without feeling hungry or needing fuel for energy) without having made the nutritional changes I've made the last few months?  Nope. 

Could I have done it without injury had I not been doing the barefoot/minimalist footwear thing I've been working on the last few months?  Nope.  

I made those changes, not in preparation for any race (much less a marathon!), but for me.  The fact that they allowed me to go a distance that I never in my wildest dreams thought possible is a testament that you can make changes at any age that will allow you to do great things, and feel great doing them. 

~ Marie Anne

 (Part I of how I unknowingly trained my body for this event here).

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Breaking out and trying new things

Thursday morning at MA's house started off with black tea, a 1.6 mi barefoot walk, then my usual smoothie (I forgot my hard boiled egg ... oops!).

I mentioned in an earlier post that I bought a mini air fryer and that I was loving it so far.  This morning I picked up a couple of chicken breasts (with rib meat and skin on) and threw one in the fryer to fix for lunch.  I just added a little seasoning (no breading or oil) and let 'er rip.  It came out amazing!  I ate several bites of it as soon as it cooled enough, and just threw the other one in the fryer and will use it and the rest of the first one for homemade chicken soup (after I eat that yummy, crunchy skin) .  I'm fixing a small salad to round out lunch.

I don't put noodles or potatoes in my soup (those carbs, ya know?), but onion, broccoli, cauliflower, and maybe a small amount of carrots usually make it into the pot, along with the chicken, my own bone broth, and some Better Than Bouillon. As I was cruising the produce aisle this morning trying to think of something different I could add, the bok choy spoke to me.  Mind you, I've never cooked or even tasted bok choy in all of my 63 years (not knowingly, anyway), but I thought it looked pretty, so into the cart it went.  As soon as I'm done typing this post, some of it will be chopped up and added to the soup, which is already simmering for tonight's dinner.  I've got some pretty red, orange, and green peppers to brighten it up too.  I'm making a good sized pot, so it will carry me through several more meals.

I need to get out and rake leaves, but it's windy today, so I might wait until more of them have fallen and just do it once.  Maybe I'll get to them tomorrow since it's an off day as I'm meeting a couple of Team RWB comrades Saturday morning for a walk/ruck/run/whatever, and I don't know how far we'll end up going.  I'm learning that taking a break and not working out every day is better for me, and probably you too, and I'll expound on that another time.

So what will I fill up the rest of my Thursday with?  An exciting load of laundry, and likely TV and crochet.  

I hope your day is blessed!

~ Marie Anne