Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Long Run: I am not a Camel

So I was going through pictures from a recent vacation and found this picture of my sister and my kids riding a camel. I had to explain to the five year why a camel had a hump and how they fill their hump. That reminded me of yet another animal that I may act like at times, but  shouldn't.

I have a bad tendency after a workout, or perhaps just lunch in general, to eat large quantities of food or breads in particular. I eat way way over the suggested serving size. Before my transformation, I would binge almost and not worry about the calories, just eat less for dinner. You can imagine how well this went.  I would try to starve to make up for my overeating, and then binge again until I was overfull because I was so hungry. I was turning my self into a camel, only my hump was my big fat belly on the front.

Now I know better, and make sure I stay within my budget for the day. Yet I am still making this mistake with my portion control. By eating to much in one meal, my tummy gets overfilled and expands.  It doesn't feel very good. Not to mention, you body can only process and use so much food at a time, even after a big run. What do you think happens to all the carbs and proteins that the body can't process? That's right, it turns to fat.

That is one of the reasons we have all heard "experts" suggesting 5 small meals a day. It gives your body a chance to efficient process the fuel it's been given. If I give my body more fuel than it can use at a time, it's going to dump the excess, right on my bum, thighs and belly. Even if I am within my caloric budget for the day.

So I am standing up and saying no more. I am not a camel!! I don't like feasting and gorging and feeling like crap afterwards. Wondering where the entire plate disappeared, or if I even remembered to chew. How is that satisfying? It's not. So in about 5 minutes I am going on my long run, 15 miles today. And when I get back, I will find something to eat and savor every bite instead of shoveling it it and saving it in my hump for later.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Emotional Eating

My big fat waistline was a physical representation of an emotional issue. They were so inextricably linked, that I couldn't solve one without the other.

I was happy-- I needed cake to celebrate. Rough day-- Ben and Jerry's had a flavor custom made for the heart ache.

I personally had to take a good hard look as to why I was fat, and it wasn't just because of a love of food.

Take a deep hard look at your eating habits and figure out if a love of butter is making you hefty. Or is it more that the self esteem issues are keeping you from getting thin?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Potpourri:10 pounds a year

Here's a little something I read.

If you cut off 100 calories a day, (that's either by limiting your snack intake or walking one mile a day), you should lose 10 pounds over the course of a year.

Conversely, if you add a 100 calories over your daily budget, you will gain 10 pounds a year.

Scary to think that 5 stinkin extra starbursts a day could make you gain 10 pounds if you do that for a year.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dress for Success: If the Shoe Fits


Coolest shoes ever right? They look cool, but they'd be hell to run it.

Take it from somebody who knows, exercise wear starts with your feet. I've made ever mistake you can think of when it comes to shoes. I've bought clearance shoes that didn't really fit, but they were cheap. I've bought the cutest shoes that didn't have the right motion control. I've worn my shape-ups to run - never, ever, ever do this one!! 

Do yourself and your feet a favor. Go to a real running shoe store, not walmart, and get fitted for shoes. Here's an excerpt about my first running shoes from my book Finished Being Fat: An accidental adventure in losing weight and learning to finish coming to a bookshelf near you in January 2013.

            According to all the experts, when you started running, the first thing you had to do was buy a good pair of running shoes.  That couldn’t be too hard right? Go to the store get a cute size seven that’s cheap and be done with it.  When I got the running store I found out how wrong I was. First question the clerk asked me was if I was an under or over pronater? I didn’t think that was any of his business. Then he guided me to the never ending wall of shoes. Apparently there was more to picking a shoe than just color choices. Each pair of shoes had a different purpose - ones for stability, motion control, extra cushion, racing flats, those barefoot thingies that look like socks.  He explained the grave consequences of choosing the wrong shoe; arch problems, IT band problems, planter fasciitis, losing toenails, knee replacements. 
            It should be noted that I have a giant phobia of being wrong. It colors everything I do.  I have trouble picking the restaurant because I’m afraid I’ll pick the wrong one and no one else will like it, or someone will get food poisoning and then it will be my fault because I picked the restaurant. I had been ok with choosing my own shoes when I only had to worry about matching my new running outfit. Now this guy was telling me that my choice had bigger consequences than just a fashion faux pas. That freaked me out! What if I made the wrong choice and crippled myself?
             So as usual, I didn’t make a choice at all. I walked out of the store and started to run in my well loved, worn out hiking shoes. Turns out not making a decision was probably the worse decision I could make. Within a week my left knee hurt if I even thought about running. I had blisters on my heels, between my toes, and I think a blister might have started forming under my toenail if that was possible. Who knew hiking shoes did not make good running shoes?  Aside from you and probably ninety percent of the population, my husband did. That’s why the next Saturday Jarom packed kids in the car and marched me back into the running center.
            Of course the same clerk was there with a huge “I knew you’d be back” grin on his face. If he said I told you so, he could kiss his commission goodbye. Since I still had no idea what kind of shoe I needed, he had me try on a variety in the size sevens I requested.  When I didn’t like the feel of any of those, he wisely decided to measure my feet and then disappeared in the back room.  My best friend Misty had been preaching the religion of shoe shopping for years, but personally I thought this was more like purgatory than heaven. I looked over at Jarom, who was too busy taking a sports bra off my daughter Lily’s head to be of any help. 
            The clerk returned with a box that said Saucony.  Since I have really bad eyesight, I read it as Saucy, so when he opened the box I expected the shoes inside to reflect that and be cute and “saucy” -  maybe even pink. Boy was I wrong. They were ugly white sneakers with a blue slash on the side. But that was not the most offensive thing, the biggest problem was that the tag said size eight wide. Excuse me? Maybe I was being overly sensitive, but I was a little upset that this clerk thought that I had fat feet. When I pointed out that he had obviously grabbed the wrong size, he said nothing and laced them onto my feet.
            And so on my twelfth pair of shoes I had a Cinderella moment. The skies opened up, angels sang a heavenly chorus, and I knew these ugly, expensive, most comfortable shoes on the planet would take me where I needed to go. I was in love.
             I left that store two hundred dollars poor, but gained new insight. How many great things had I missed out on in life because I had been afraid of picking the wrong one? Never again would I let the fear of being wrong keep me from something I enjoyed. From then on when it was my turn to choose a place to eat, I was not going to defer to someone else and eat lukewarm Mexican. No, if I wanted sushi, then by golly we would have sushi and I would love it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Snack Smart: Snack with intent

How many times have I meant to grab a handful of chips for a snack, then before I knew it the whole bag was gone? More times than my five year old can count.

Easiest solution? Don't go for the open ended snack. Figure out exactly how many calories you have budgeted for your snack, set aside the correct number of your chosen yumminess, then have at it.  When its gone, its gone.

For me at least, I have a compulsory need to finish the plate, the bag, or whatever container its in.  I blame my mother and the whole "Finish your plate, there are starving children in China". So measure and make the bag smaller.

Pay attention to each bite, otherwise, the you might look down and find the bag empty and have no clue where the food went. Aside from the crumbs on your cheek.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fitness Tip: HIIT

Before you hit the weights, start with 5 minutes of HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training.  It will kick you into that fat burning zone before you do lifting.

Here's an easy way to do it: Hop on a bike. move the resistance up a few notches. The ride at an slow and easy pace for 45 seconds. Then for the next 15 secs. pedal for all your worth. Repeat this four more times for the 5 min total.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Long Run: Workout Barbie

Barbie: Every woman's has had one, nearly every woman wants to look like one.

How many of us actually do? Not a lot.

I've been going to my Zumba class work about 6 months now. There's a lady I have chatted up many times. Let's call her Workout Barbie.  She looks remarkably like the picture above. This Tuesday, I felt particularly frustrated with her super tight buns as I watched mine jiggle in the mirror. After class I went up to her and asked what I had been wondering for the last six months.

"So do you look like this naturally or does it take a whole lot of work and I'm just not working hard enough."

Luckily she had a sense of humor and didn't smack me. She actually answered.

"Some of it genetics, my siblings are both pretty small. But I come to the gym for at least 2-3 hours a day and starve like a barbie. It kinda sucks."

I laughed out loud. I couldn't believe she was so honest. "But it works. I mean don't take this the wrong way, but you're hot. And your butt is amazing."

"Thank you. I'm glad it looks good. But it still sucks."

That made me think. Would I rather live a happy fulfilling life and keep an imperfect body. (fit, but still a little jiggly around the edges) Or would I rather have the perfect body (as much as genetics allows and 5% body fat) and never look at a carb again and keep up a routine that makes me miserable?

It feels like I am miserable when I am fat. But trying to meet the Barbie standard makes me miserable too.

Guess I'll just have to stay fit and healthy and make peace with my flab-ulous imperfections

Friday, March 23, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Top 5

This is an exercise I really need for myself today. You can join along if you'd like.

List 5 things that you love about yourself. I'm going to be big and brave and post mine. I dare DARE you all to post yours in the comments section. Shout it out

1. Fuuny (or some people say snarky. either way)
2. Loyal
3. Open hearted
4. Kind (most of the time, unless there's traffic)
5. great at problem solving

Aww. I just gave my self a big ol hug.  Seriously though, it sounds cheesy, but I really do feel a bit better. A lot of time, we don't hear enough good things about ourselves. Now it's your turn...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Potpourri: Water Weight

Here's a factoid with something funny my friend said. The human body is made up of between 60-75% water. More when you are a newborn, and decreasing gradually as you age. That's probably why you get all wrinkly as you get older.

I was explaining this to my friend and she demanded to know, "So if we both have roughly 65% of our bodies as water, how come my water weighs so much more than yours?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dress For Success: Lose 10 pounds in 30 seconds.. or at least look like it


This tip is an oldie, but a goodie.  And one you've heard a ton from your mom and grammy.

Stand up straight! Go stand in front of a mirror. Now stop cringing, you look fine. Now experiment with different postures from the side view and front view.

When you round your back, you lose an average of 3 inches in height, but gain a nice big tummy roll.  Happens to the best of us. I am notorious for this. I have a very rounded back, and horrible posture from years of being heavy in front. Even know my husband regularly reminds me to straighten up.

Another thing to try is whether you prefer your look with hips tucked in or butt out.  Look in the mirror and try it. If you have a J.Lo booty you want to flaunt then go for it. Notice the way it may also puff your chest and ribs out, depending on your shape. For me, when my hips are tucked underneath, I seem to have a longer, leaner look.

Experiment and see what suits your frame the best.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Snack Smart: Swap out the sour cream

 Above is the Nutritional data for a cup of sour cream 

Now for the data on a cup of greek no fat yogurt

Way better for you. A great sour of protein, and without all the horrible fat. Next time you have a baked potato, try swapping your dollop of sour cream for a greek yogurt instead. I really like it and swear by it now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fitness Tip: Take the long way home

So you already know it's going to be a busy Monday huh? No time for the gym? Well instead of feeling guilty, bring the workout to you.  Do things throughout your day the hard way. Here's a few suggestions:

-Don't take the elevator, take the stairs
-Park your car in the farthest spot so you have to walk farther
-Do a few squats while you are doing dishes
-While doing housework, put on your jams and boogie
-Don't leave your shopping cart in front of your car. Return it all the way back inside the store to walk the most

Move Move Move. If you are busy anyway, making sure you keep moving all day (hey that rhymes!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Long Run: Compare and Contrast

It's that time again. the long run. Today is even a little longer, at least in the blog sense. I have already blogged about this topic today on a blog which I am a weekly contributor to. That post is about playing the Compare Contrast game against other people. You can check it out here if you'd like. Saturday So What: Compare and Contrast

For this post I want to shift the focus on playing the Compare Contrast game with yourself. This topic came up while I was visiting my sister this week. We were talking about my weight loss success and her lack thereof. A little background might be required. Growing up, I was always the fat one of the sisters. The oldest was a skinny twig, the 2nd one was a petite little elf, the 3rd child (the one I was visiting) was my closest in age and appearance. Only 6 sizes smaller.

She'd always been smaller than me and while I was eating carrot sticks, she was shoving down Oreos with nary a stray pound to show for it. Until one day she had some health difficulties and all that bad diet karma smacked her upside the head. Or more accurately, the waistline. Since I had always been fat, I would compare myself to everyone else in the room. My sister, being newly unskinny, chose a much more dangerous foe to compare with...herself.

While I was visiting she confided that it was very difficult for her to see me wearing some of her favorite "skinny" clothes. It reminded her of a time not too long ago when she could wear them. Now she was endlessly frustrated that she was not the same person or size she used to be.

I told her the following and I gonna tell you too. "You can never again be who you were." For good or bad, we are all constantly changing. My yoga teacher says Life is like a river, you never step in the same water twice.It's true. It's pointless to compare yourself to your high school days, For one, you were a lot younger and gravity hadn't had time to work its nasty magic. For another, you might have gone through ginormous changes, like children. Those little things move in for 9 months and totally redecorate the front and rear end of the property.

I like to say that you can't compare yourself to another person because they aren't living your life. That's why comparing yourself to your past is so dangerous. You fall into the trap of thinking that it's okay to compare since you are living your own life.  Ehhh wrong. You are not living the life you used to. You can't be. There are new challenges and changes that were not a part of the history you might be romanticizing. I believe sometimes you have to literally view who you were in the past as a different person entirely. That person doesn't have your current stresses, or health problems.

The only thing we can do is the best with what we have in front of us. Right now, for my sister, it's trying to be healthy, fit, and following a dietary budget. There are a few funky aspects to her health that seem to be preventing any weight loss, but in the meantime she is doing what she can. That's all we can ever do. It is not failure to grow and change from what we once were. We can't slow down the wheels of time. Your 40 year old self will not look like your 18 year old self -ever. Even if you're Heidi Klum. With any luck we get a bit wiser as time marches on too. And have better hair.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Exercise for the Soul: Finishing Friday

Ok so it's the end of the week. You're tired. The weekend is almost upon you. Do you feel like maybe this week hasn't gone as planned?

Well every Friday I am going to suggest an exercise for your mind and spirit.

Today I want you to think up on thing you need to do today. It can be something on your to do list or a goal you want to meet.
Here's some suggestions from my previous Fridays:
Track down funky smell from kitchen
Wash all ten baskets of laundry
Get through entire day without sugar
Get through entire day without yelling at kids

Be serious or have fun with it. The important thing is to make sure it gets done. Move heaven and earth if you have to. Just get er done.

The goal of this exercise is to prove to yourself that you can achieve your goals with a little will umph and intent. I promise that after you finish it you will feel a rush of satisfaction of actually doing what you said you'd do.

I personally do this everyday. I find it makes me feel more accomplished and helps build my self esteem because I feel like I made a difference and have control in my life

Like the little kid off the cereal commercial says "Try it, you'll like it"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food for Thought:Costco Pizza

Thursdays are going to be my random thought, fact or observation.

 Here's a little FYI  The by-the-slice Food court Cheese Pizza at Costco is 700 calories. That's for one slice people.  I used to estimate it at 350 tops.  ehhh wrong. The next time I'm in costco looking at that pizza, I'm gonna decide if that cheesy goodness is worth 700 calories of my daily budget. Some days yes, some days no. But at least I won't underestimate it again

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dress for Success: Lose the Muffin Top

This ones a little close to home today.
When buying clothes, go for fit rather than size.

I worked hard to go from 2X to a small pant size/ medium top. So when I went shopping for an outfit at a new store, Lucy, I was ticked when the medium active tank with built in sports bra fit more like a sausage casing than a supportive and lightly compressive yoga top. I did not NOT want to admit defeat and buy the much more flattering large. It took a few minutes to realize that, no, I had not changed shape since the last time. This was a new brand with a different size chart

But oh, my pride did not want to listen. I wanted to go find a store where the mediums fit. Even though this "large" top was probably the most comfortable well made and flattering item I had tried on.

In the end I did what I am advising you to do...ignore the size. In some brands you will be a M in others a L or XL. But guess what? The only person that ever sees that little tag is you. What everyone else sees is how it fits. So would you rather squeeze into the size 8 jeans that give you a horrible muffin top, just so you know you are wearing an 8. Or would you rather find a pair of jeans that make your butt look fabulous, even though it might be a size or two bigger in that brand.

Unless you leave the sales tag on, the general public will never know your size. And if you want, you can cut out the tag so you don't have to either. A proper fitted garment will make you look slimmer than an ill fitting smaller size or much too big size that swamps you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Snack Smart: Starbursts

Mindless snacking can be a killer You eat five Starbursts thinking "Eh, I don't need to worry about it. It's only 5".

Well did you know those 5 starburst equals 100 calories. You would need to run a mile just balance your budget.

If you are hungry, candy is not the way to go. Empty calories and you'll only crave more. Try fruit or a light yogurts. Still sweet but fills your tummy a bit more

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fitness tip: A mile is a mile is a mile

Here's a quick fitness tip. A mile is a mile no matter how fast you go. Walking you'll burn roughly 100 calories. Jogging at 10 min pace, roughly 110 calories. Killing yourself at 7 min pace 125 calories

So don't go faster and push yourself more than you are able for calories sake. You will burn far less calories running full speed for 2 mins and keeling over than if you walk until you are tired

Saturday, March 10, 2012

S.O.S Stuck Ostrich Syndome


I'm trying something new. I want to mirror my blog a little like my marathon training; one long run a week, and several short ones. So from hence forth, Monday-Friday will be filled with short blurbs with fitness tips and food for thought  Saturdays are reserved for the long posts - the long run. And just like my running, on Sunday I will rest.

Today's long run is about weight loss S.O.S - Stuck Ostrich Syndrome

Now I am not ragging on ostriches. They're pretty cool birds. They can run up to speeds of 40 MPH, their meat is super lean, and the males egg sit at night so the females can have girls night out. But I think almost everyone had heard some version of a proverb about the ostrich with it's head stuck in the sand. The idea is that the ostrich, afraid of something, buries its head in the sand so it doesn't have to see the big scary monster. Interestingly, this is a myth. The ostrich only looks like its head is buried in the sand because of its light color. Because it does lay down its head to hide, it can still see what's going on.

Now you're are probably saying, Wow that's fascinating. Thanks for the National Geographic update Betsy/ But what's this have to do with weight loss?

Well I'll tell you. In past incarnations of my attempts to lose weight, I would tell myself and anyone who would listen, that I had no idea why I wasn't dropping the pounds. I was doing all the right things: exercising, counting calories. I figured my body had some defect that demanded I be fat. My size was not in my control and I put blinders on to the prospect that I could be responsible.

But you probably guessed, I had my head buried in the sand. I didn't want to examine some of the behaviors that were keeping me fat. Sure I was exercising, but was I really putting in a full effort, or just kinda jogging in place? And when I was counting calories, did I actually measure a serving size, or did I eyeball it and estimate?  If it was a homemade meal I'm sure I drastically under estimated the calories while way overestimating what my portion size should be. Not to mention I never counted the handfuls of marshmellow cereal I would grab on the way past the pantry. There weren't enough calories in a single handful to make it worth my time to add right? Or if I finished of the kids plate? Midnight snacking?  The list goes on.

Then there's the excuses as to why I'm fat. Because my parents are fat. Because its all muscle (muscle can be really jiggly right?). Because I'm getting older and my metabolism is slowing.

It was easier not to know what exactly I was putting into my body. If I knew that each slice of banana nut bread was 200 calories, then I wouldn't be able to eat it. Easier to assume the Cafe rio salad was healthy since it was salad than to find out it was a whopping 1000 calories.

But like the ostrich (see told you I'd get back there) my head was not really buried in the sand. I may have been hiding, but I think I knew what was going on. I may have been covering my eyes, but I was peeking.  Even in my own self denial I saw the truth and that's one of the reasons I hated myself so much for it. The problem wasn't that I was fat, the problem was that I was lying to myself. And just like when you lie to someone else you feel horribly guilty (hopefully), your insides will twist up when you lie to yourself too.

So don't be an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, or lying on top of it. Hold your head high and stay informed. If you want to lose weight, the only way you are going to do it is by knowing what your eating and how many calories your body is actually burning a day.  Be  specific, be informed. Take control. See if that cinnamon roll tastes as good now that you know its 800 calories. If it does, rock on. At least you are consciously making that choice instead of deceiving yourself.

Information is power. Get some. Like GI Joe used to say, "and knowing is half the battle"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Want It All, and I Want It Now

Queen was right on the money with that song, "I want it all".

Everything about our lives is all about instant gratification. About the destination rather than the journey. We all want to be rich, to be thin, to be accomplished. We want it all, and we want it now. Don't worry, I count myself within the royal "we".

I'm getting ready for my run, it's an 11 miler. The way a marathon training program generally works is that you start out small with your miles. 4 runs a week : 2 shorts, 1 medium, and 1 long. Then every week you up the mileage about 10 percent or so. So you can imagine that going from 5 mile runs up to 20 mile runs, takes about 4 months or so.

So I find myself frustrated. I've already run a marathon. Why am I stuck back here again, doing training runs working up to the big cheese? Can't I just run 20 milers for my long runs every week and be done with it? I would enjoy adding the calories burnt to my budget I'm sure. But what I wouldn't enjoy is the injury to my legs. My body needs to work up to the longer, more taxing runs. If I try to do too much too soon, well just read about the eager beaver from last time.

Guess what? This applies to everything, weight loss especially. You want to be skinny, beach ready by summer. Let's see, do some math... that's maybe 10 lbs a month right? (Random numbers for you. It will vary) That's doable, that's setting a goal and making a plan. Wrong. I guarantee tears if you give yourself a required pound amount per month. Don't limit your success to an arbitrary timeline. Go ahead and make a budget that will help you maximize your weight loss. But relish each pound as it melts away instead of focusing on how many more are to go.

Would you be disappointed if summer came and you'd only lost 20 of your unwanted 30 pounds? You shouldn't. It's a process and if you're doing all the right things and sticking to your budget, then it will come off when its ready to. Each body is different and yours might want to hang onto those last few pounds for a really long goodbye. Let it. Don't beat yourself up. Your efforts have already made you a success and probably a much healthier person too.

So whatever you're doing: running, losing weight, writing, school, whatever -- don't rush over the little dips to get to the end. Celebrate each chapter, mile, and pound. Every one is an accomplishment and every one is essential to the pathway of your goal. Enjoy the ride.


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