Monday, November 24, 2014

Steph Says: Weight Loss- An Epic Miniseries

Losing weight is like a never-ending, constantly-renewing, seventy-five part miniseries. A sweeping, epic television event with life-altering situations, multiple plot twists, villains, star-crossed lovers, award-winning cinematography, a heroine in disguise and a cliffhanger at the end of each season that keeps you coming back for more. It's a Netflix bingefest-worthy week-long spectacular that makes you stay up way later than any dignified lady should because you just. Cannot. Get. Enough. And you must know what happens next.

Except it's all in your head. And you're living it each and every day. It's a game you must play in order to survive and have your name show up in the opening credits of the next episode. Because nothing sucks more than when your favorite character is killed off mid-season. I'm still pissed off at Shonda Rhimes for killing Denny in season what? three? of Grey's Anatomy. Sorry if that needed a spoiler alert. It's been like a hot decade though, so can it really still be considered a spoiler? I digress. 
Girl, I feel you.
The life-altering situation: One day you wake up and you realize something's gotta change. And much like that awful movie Groundhog Day, you wake up with this same realization over and over and over again until you finally DO something about it. You do a workout DVD in your living room. You get rid of all the trashy food in your pantry. You start jogging. You join a gym. You stock up on fruits and veggies. You go for a walk. You do SOMETHING. And that one something turns into a lot of somethings and slowly but surely, those somethings become a part of who you are. And you start to love it.

Multiple plot twists: You will slip up. You will pig out on some chili cheese tots from Sonic (yea no that sooooo did not happen last night. Not even.) You will skip your run. You will get too busy to set foot inside your gym and you will make excuses. But the good news about multiple plot twists is that your perspective will shift, your schedule will miraculously open up (because you MAKE it open up), and you'll remember why it was so important for you to run/eat healthy/work out in the first place. And you will get back at it with a vengeance.

Villains: There are countless villains that will try to trip you up on this weight loss journey. There will be people who don't believe in you. People who liked you better when you were bigger (haters). My biggest villain has, and always will be, food (remember those chili cheese tots?). I adore food. The unhealthier, the better. Maybe it's a southern thing, or a fat kid thing, but when I saw one of those "I run so I can eat" workout tanks it SPOKE to me. I've been stuck at the same weight, give or take four pounds, since the end of July. I lost 83 pounds in 14 months and now I'm maintaining like my life depends on it. But I want more! I am capable of more. But there's that age-old villain lurking in every fast food drive thru, calling out to me...
Star-Crossed Lovers: You are your own worst enemy in this weight loss love triangle. You constantly want what you can't/shouldn't have (chili cheese tots, anyone?) and you have to fight through the desire. It's a lot like being in a really unhealthy relationship. Think of dear old Romeo and Juliet. If those kids would have taken a MINUTE to slow their roll and think about the choices they were making, they could have saved us all a lot of trouble. But then I wouldn't have been able to teach the joy of Shakespearean tragedy to my poor freshmen...and then they wouldn't be the fine, upstanding young men and women they are today. Make good choices, do good things- I would tell my students this a lot, and the same applies for my star-crossed love of Salted Caramel Mochas. Ain't no way to "skinny" one of those bad boys. You just have to make sure the good choices outweigh the bad. Otherwise you might end up stabbing yourself or drinking poison from an apothecary. Or a venti frappucino with whip from Starbs. Same difference. 
Award-Winning Cinematography: One day, after lots and lots of good choices, you will wake up and see the changes in your body. Your jeans will fit just a little bit better. Your arms will get a little more defined. And then, maybe one day you'll catch a glimpse of yourself in a storefront window and not realize it's you, because that girl is way skinnier than you and there's no way that's you but oh wait I have that jacket and those are my sunglasses and HOLY CRAP THAT IS ME.
Heroine in Disguise: Again, you. You have been in disguise for so long, and you're finally coming out of your shell. You're proud of the changes you've worked so hard for. You LIKE getting dressed (even though you have, literally, six outfits that fit that aren't workout clothes). Your smile is getting more and more real because you love yourself, not just the inside anymore either. The outside is finally starting to match the inside. You know how far you've come, and you are shining just a little bit brighter than you were before.
Outfit 2 of 6
Cliffhanger: The slip-ups, the bad choices, the skipped workouts...they're gonna happen. They will happen, and they will derail you for as long as you let them. That's where the cliffhanger comes in. You get to decide what direction you will go. You get to choose your next challenge. You get to write your own story. And that power, the power that's within your hands, is what keeps you coming back for more. It's the cliffhanger at the end of each and every far will you push yourself tomorrow? How many miles will you run? How many reps can you do? How will you make yourself better? And how will you make sure that you come back stronger and fitter in the "new season" of your miniseries? The beauty of it is that YOU get to decide.

The miniseries starring me?
I. Just. Cannot. Get. Enough.
And I'm so excited to see what happens next.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meg's Musings: Phase One of my 3 Months of Hell.... I mean Health

This is Part One of my "Getting My Life Back" post. A few people asked me what exactly I was talking about when I referred to all of the health issues I have been trying to fix so here it is.

Well, the first part of it, at least...

Just a few months ago, I was in that desperate position where nothing I'd tried could help me feel better, no doctor could tell me what was wrong with me, and no amount of medication could help me without damn near sending me into a coma of miserable side effects.

I had had enough. Enough of being tired, enough of being sick, enough of feeling like the floor was falling out from under me. Literally, actually. I remember standing at my podium once with about 27 people giving me the "what the hell are you talking about" look. And I was probably giving them the same look, because I didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I felt like I was on an elevator... you know how you get off the elevator and it still feels like the floor is moving? So here I am holding onto the podium like it's going to keep me from falling over, and I'm trying to figure out what the hell I had just said and what I had meant to say and what I was supposed to stay next and wondering why there is no naptime in high school. Because I need a nap. And by nap I mean hibernating for a few winters and then maybe considering rejoining society somewhere around 2019. Maybe.

It had started the year before, at first just with these debilitating headaches that made me want to consult my friend, Google, and ask if you could actually die from pain. I'm pretty sure at some point I was hoping it was possible.

Ever seen the movie Shutter Island? When the doctor is explaining what a migraine feels like he says "Imagine someone sawed open your head, filled it with razors, and shook it as hard as they could." If you've ever had a migraine, you know how accurate that statement is.

So eventually that pain starting spreading all over my body until I was hospitalized for a few days and sent home with no diagnosis and no end in sight. "Take these pills and get some sleep. Sleep deprivation does strange things to the body." Ok, Doc.

But that didn't work. I was hurting. I wasn't sleeping. I felt like I had aged about forty years. And I looked like it, too.

Those bags under my eyes could talk, and they said "I NEED TO REST"

And then one day I was like hmmm, I need to get my dryer fixed. It's shrinking all of my pants!!!

And whatever bug broke my dryer also lived in my scale because that thing was broken too. It said I had gained a good twenty pounds in about 3 months. (Okay fine. It was probably closer to 30)

And then my camera broke and all of a sudden when it snapped a picture, it made my face look so puffy and bloated I could barely find my eyes...

Okay fine, it wasn't just my camera. It was every camera on the planet. So I did the sensible thing. I stopped getting on the scale and avoided cameras like the frickin plague. Avoid the problem and it goes away, right? So I avoided the problem for a while, took my 12,000,000 milligrams of ibuprofen, tried to start working out, pulled muscles and sprained ankles about once a month because my body couldn't take it, occasionally just gave up altogether, and then eventually decided to stop ignoring the problem.

That's Phase One: Stop ignoring the problem.
Mission: stop ignoring the problem started this July in the middle of a doctor's office in Houston when I told him I couldn't go anymore. I was done. But I wasn't done. I was just starting. Here's what I learned in Phase One....

Apparently the bug that broke my dryer, scale, and camera wasn't living in my appliances. He was living in my body, and it would take three months to get him out. THREE MONTHS?!   

Yep. Three months. And a lot of discipline. And a lot of medicine. And some hard work.

The three month regimen to fix what was going on in my body consisted of

1) An intense and wildly strict eating plan
2) Dietary Supplements
3) Hormone Treatments (yes sometimes people actually need them long before middle age)

So my summer looked something like this


It was hard. Wait, no that was an understatement. It straight up sucked. But it got the bug out of my body (and my scale and my dryer and my camera).

And now all of those pants that "got shrunk in the dryer" are way too big for me, and I look at the scale and see 28 pounds worth of progress. And I still have those damn bags under my eyes, but they are slowly going away.

My body still hurts sometimes, but it has gotten a hell of a lot better. And when I look in the mirror, I can tell when I am on track, and I can tell when I need to get stricter with my regiment. But most days, I'm okay with what I see and I'm proud, because I worked so hard to get there.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Steph Says: Cajun Cup Recap

The Cajun Cup holds a special place in my heart.
One year ago, my friend Amy convinced me somewhat against my will to sign up for this 10k... and for that, I will be forever grateful.
That 2013 race marked the beginning of my re-inspired hatred love of running, and one year later, it's been rekindled tenfold.
After finally falling asleep Friday night, and despite waking up randomly at 3:00 a.m., I woke up refreshed and ready. My sister-in-law Erin had been peer pressured lovingly coaxed into running with me, so she came over and we headed out around 6:45 a.m. to drop off Rascal Mae with the Hubs's mom and head for downtown Lafayette. Parking was decently easy to find (win) and we headed over to Parc Sans Souci.
My Sis-In-Law!
 There were people galore, and the air was filled with excitement. There's nothing quite like a race day morning- if you haven't experienced one, I highly recommend that you do! My first stop was the Zydeco Marathon tent where I officially signed up for the full on March 8th. I got a sweet "In Training" t-shirt to prove it, too!
That says "2015" en francais. I had to look it up. Shame. 
After that, I met up with Elle Noel and was introduced to some of the girls in her run group. After a quick jog to my car to drop off my jacket and new t-shirt, we headed for the start line and ran into another good running buddy from Team RWB. It felt like everything fell into place. This was going to be a good day and a great race. 
The gun went off and we inched forward toward the start line. The first half mile was pretty tight. I mean, there were over 1,200 people fighting for space right outta the gate- but I like to think of it as run camaraderie instead of claustrophobia.
Around the first mile, everyone kinda thinned out and found their stride, so that's when it really got easy. Just after hitting two miles I recognized that I was at the same spot where last year I started to walk. That brought tears to my eyes- here I was, only one year later, and I wasn't even tired yet. Talk about empowering. Miles two and three flew by. Around three and a half, my feet really started hurting. I'm not 100% sure of these Mizunos for long distances because after three miles, the balls of my feet really start to feel like they're being rubbed raw. They're fine, but they don't FEEL fine, which may become a real problem when I start running these long distance weekends.
But as luck would have it, I finally caught up to Erin right before mile four. She is usually WAY faster than me, but due to the longer distance she was pacing herself a little slower. We finished miles five and six together.
Once we hit Jefferson Street, I said panted, "The finish line is right around the corner!" We started encouraging each other to finish strong. I remember her yelling "PUMP YOUR ARMS!" Well...Jefferson Street is a heck of a lot longer than I remembered it to be. Somehow we made it to the end and crossed the finish line!!!
Thanks for the finish line pic, Mike and Natalie!

I finished in 1 hour and 8 minutes- 24 minutes faster than last year with an average pace of 11:01. I am so stinking proud of myself, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! Four minutes faster per mile in a single year?! Holy cow, people.

 I'm also really excited to add to my collection of race bling. My Zydeco half medal was getting pretty lonely! Next one will be the Cajun Country Half! I heard their medal is an alligator-shaped beer bottle opener. I mean just what every runner gal needs, amirite?

After the race, I picked up Rascal Mae, got cute, and went out to brunch (I burned almost 1000 calories- so I cheated just a little!) and shopping with my girl MC. She's a former student/forever sister/Europe travel mate/running partner whom I love dearly. Seriously, God didn't give me real sisters, but He's given me some wonderful women to call sisters. 
This. Girl. Right. Here.

It was a fantastic weekend with some fantastic girls, fantastic triumphs, and fantastic food. Y'all know I love me some food. 
This week, I'll be running and Body Pumping- which BTW I'm one of 15 people still on track with the six-week challenge at the gym! Holla! Told ya I never back down from a challenge!

Till next time, go give ya sister a hug.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Steph Says: Cajun Cup Insomnia

I am excited.
Too excited to sleep.
Tomorrow is the Cajun Cup 10k.
Last year I finished the 6.2 miles in 1:32. With my current pace, I'm planning to finish as close to 1:05 as humanly possible.

My kicks and gear are ready to roll out tomorrow morning!
Jacket: Target // Shirt: Abundant Heart // Bra: Under Armour //
Tights: Old Navy // Socks: Balega Hidden Comfort // Watch: Polar FT4//
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Creation 15// Sunnies: Oakley Daisy Chain

In other news, a picture showed up on my Timehop (anyone else obsessed with that app?) a few days ago, and it really took me back. It was one of my first "outfit selfies." I so clearly remember taking that picture because I felt like I was finally seeing some progress in my quest to lose the baby weight.

And there I am on the right, almost exactly one year later. I feel incredible. I'm three sizes smaller and I don't even know how many pounds lighter, but I'd guess at least 50. I couldn't even pull the boots up all the way last year. I'm wearing capri pants on the left barely tucked into the tops of the boots, and now they fit over my jeans. This hasn't been an easy year, but I'm always floored by how far I've come.

Another amazing occurrence today- I stopped by Old Navy to get some new compression tights and on a whim I grabbed a medium in this slighty-awful maroon pattern. I also grabbed a cute tank in a medium because they were fresh out of larges, which is what I usually wear.
And they fit.

Yea, the leggings are hella tight. Yea, the pattern is atrocious.
So naturally I got them in black. This is a major thing, y'all, because when I started running post-kiddo, I was barely wriggling into an XXL. Now I'm comfortably in a MEDIUM. They look tight, but they feel great. And the shirt is pretty freakin' cute, too! My choice of socks is questionable. But they were hidden under boots all day. Cut me some slack.

Now for the bad news- I'm not going to want to wear my large tights anymore, and this unemployed Mama can't be spending all kinds of money on a new workout wardrobe!

The struggle. It's real.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Steph Says: 5 A.M. Club Status

It's 5:32 a.m.
I just finished a half-hour of Body Pump and I'm about to head out for a 3-mile run (hopefully as the sun comes up, because it's dark out here y'all).
Who am I?
A year ago (hell, 3 months ago) I LAUGHED at the thought of waking up at before the crack of dawn to WORK OUT. 
Then one fateful day, a friend texted me and said, "Hey Steph, a mutual friend tells me you go to the gym at 5 a.m.?" I surely spit out my Spark. You MUST have me confused with someone else. But my sweet friend had a good point. With my workout over and done with before Rascal Mae is up and at 'em and the Hubs still snoring peacefully, I wouldn't have to do it later. There would be less of a chance of me being too tired. Or too full. Or too lazy. Plus, I'd get to spend more time with my family in the evenings, and nothing is worth more than that. 
"Family Time": Where a simple you know mom, I'm just not feeling this carrot and broccoli mix you made microwaved for me, but thanks anyway would suffice. 

On another tangent, I gotta throw a shout out to the poor, long-suffering Hubs. He has been so supportive of my weight loss journey and I couldn't have done it without him. Seriously. It was soooo easy to go for a run sans kiddo. I wish I had taken better advantage of it then, but alas, I didn't. So now if I want a good, quality run without my janky-wheeled running stroller and general lack of coordination (it's a sight to see, lemme tell ya), I need the Hubs to be on Rascal-wrangling duty. And with MARATHON TRAINING (yea that'll probably be in caps every time I type it, sorry) upon us, I'll be needing him more than ever. So THANK YA HUBS!

A little before 6:30 a.m. I was back in my driveway doing some stretches and hoping no neighbors were awake to witness them (see the aforementioned lack of coordination).

And sure enough...
The sun came up.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Steph Says: November Challenges

November is a big month around here, guys.
And with those two elements competing for my time and attention, I have decided...
It's time for MORE CHALLENGES!

Challenge Number One: 
I have hit a plateau. I've been the same weight, give or take three pounds, since JULY. I've been so proud of my gym accomplishments, but my diet hasn't been on point in quite some time. I'm determined to break through this plateau this month. And yea, yea, yea, the scale is just a number, it's about how you feel in your clothes, blah blah blah. I like the number. Sue me.
According to my calculations, there are exactly 24 days from Monday, November 3rd to Wednesday, November 26th.So my challenge is to eat healthy, track my food on MyFitnessPal, and stay within my calorie goal for 24 days straight. Apparently I have a thing for 24-Day Challenges.
I'm still going to treat myself to my coffee every morning with my Dunkin creamer and sugar-free salted caramel syrup. Have I mentioned that I love anything and everything salted caramel? 

But everything else will be fairly healthy and basic- proteins, veggies, complex carbs, hummus, Greek yogurt, etc. Very little processed food.  I'm a creature of habit, so I have no problem eating the same thing over and over again... I see a lot of chicken blegh and ground turkey in my future. On run days and 5:00 a.m. workout days I'll probably throw in an extra breakfast bar so I don't pass out.

Speaking of run days, this week begins my 18-week MARATHON TRAINING program.
I'll be following Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Training Program with one change-Mondays will be my cross-training days instead of Sundays. That brings us to...

Challenge Number Two:
Pile On The Miles with RunEatRepeat!

I've challenged myself to run 65 miles in November. Last time I ran that many miles was in March of this year, when I ran my first half marathon. I'm so fired up for this. A full freakin' marathon, people. That's 26.2 MILES. And I'm going to do it.

Challenge Number Three (ongoing):
I am right on track with the 6-week Body Pump Challenge at my gym. Nine classes down, nine to go. I'm seeing a change in my shoulders, but I'm excited to see what happens on the scale and with the measuring tape when I pair it with healthy eating!

I may or may not be saying goodbye by eating this cheesecake tonight.
With help from The Hubs, of course. If I don't stab him with my fork.

Now the real challenge will be getting back on track after the Thanksgiving feast! Hmm... guess I will start cooking up some kind of challenge for December.

Happy November, lovelies!