Friday, December 23, 2011

It's been a fun long!

As this blog wraps up, I've been thinking about my goals for the year. I made some great progress as a runner, training and running my first half marathon, and even lost a little weight along the way (about 10 pounds!). I still remember how emotional I felt on race day, how I could feel all that hard work paying off and how happy I was to get through that last mile and cross the finish line. Thanks to everyone who left comments and emailed me words of encouragement and running tips. Having your support really made a difference.

Over the spring and summer, I took on the 100-day burpee challenge with my husband and we both lived to tell the tale. It was a tough challenge and there were many days toward the end when I threatened to quit. One great benefit of blogging about it: I was held accountable and kept going. By day 100, I felt stronger and a little leaner.

The fall has been hard because I managed to catch a couple bad colds, but I'm getting back into my groove now. It was frustrating to lose momentum on running and to have to rebuild some strength after taking more days to rest than I'd like.

But I'm still working and my running has gotten easier again. I've decided to sign up for Charlotte RaceFest again this year and have even recruited a friend to run the half with me. So it should be a busy winter of running for me. I'm going to keep working on my goal of being able to do a pull up. I didn't quite make it this year but that gives me something to work on in 2012.

Good luck with your fitness goals for the New Year!
Elizabeth Templin McCamic

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wrapping up a year of pounding away

Ellyn Ritterskamp

I want to thank everyone who's been supportive and encouraging this year on our blog.

I've lost about ten pounds, not what I'd planned, but better than nothing.

I've learned that tracking calories helps me stop eating at the end of the day, and not graze while reading or watching a movie.

I also confirmed that having an event goal (5K, sprint triathlon), or making a date to exercise with someone, both keep me motivated.

Thanks for being a part of my journey.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I've changed what I eat

One of the things I wanted to work on this year was being more careful about what I eat. To me, that meant making sure I was eating well-balanced meals that made my body feel good but also that I was eating more foods that came from local and organic sources.

We've added a lot more fruits and vegetables to meals at my house and have gotten in the habit of eating only vegetarian meals three to four times a week. Some of that has to do with the cost of meat and some of it has to do with the simplicity of preparing a meat-free meal. We also got used to eating less meat, and it just feels right. Instead, we're eating way more veggies, beans and other legumes. Soups and stews have played a big role in this change as have big salads, sauteed kale with tomatoes and eggs. One thing we tried not to do was replace meat with carbs.

It's gone really well and my husband and I both feel a lot better when we eat healthily. We do notice a difference.

I've also been working on cutting out the occasional diet soda (my afternoon source of caffeine) and drinking water instead, which also feels much better.

The biggest and most time consuming change we've made is I've started to bake all of our bread. When we do eat carbs, it often is in the form of toast. I wanted to buy fresh whole wheat bread but found that it was pretty expensive. Over the last couple of months, I've been baking a loaf of whole wheat bread about every other week. It takes a little more than three hours because the bread rises twice before it's baked, but it's totally worth it. We get to eat freshly baked bread and it doesn't have any preservatives or other stuff added to it and it's much less expensive - it just requires a little time. Added bonus: it makes our house smell wonderful!

I know one day, we may not have as much time for things like baking bread. We don't have kids right now so it's just right for the two of us.

Just in case you were wondering, I have been slowly getting back to running after being sick on and off this fall. More on that Friday.
Elizabeth Templin McCamic

Monday, December 19, 2011

Auf wiedersehen

The year is all but gone, and this is my final post on this blog. I dropped (and kept off) 12 of the 15 pounds I hoped to lose. Now my goal for 2012 is to convince myself that the ancient Mayan calendar is accurate and Armageddon is around the corner, so it won't make any difference if I eat cakes by the carload. No, wait -- I mean, to lose 10 more pounds. Yeah, that's it. Ten pounds.

Thanks to all of you who made comments or wrote me personally. I was grateful for the supportive folks and willing to let the trolls have their say; my skin is thick, and I know insecure people need to put others down to feel better about themselves.

What did I learn? That I feel better if I exercise at least 30 minutes a day and break a sweat. (In fact, that I feel incomplete if I don't. Who knew?) That I don't have to eat a substantial dessert every day. That "full" means "satisfied," not "stuffed." That it's OK to leave food uneaten on a restaurant plate; I now carry wax paper and aluminum foil in my car to take leftovers home, because they're better for the environment than styrofoam boxes.

Best of all, I learned that it's never to do late do something positive about your body. Fifty-plus years of laziness can't be eradicated by one year of exercise, but I've got decades ahead of me (I hope)
to improve my habits. And as I've said, if I can drag my butt onto a treadmill every weekday morning and push away the occasional cookie, anyone can do it. Best of luck with your own quests, my friends.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perverse Christmas carols

Lawrence Toppman

When you are losing weight -- or NOT losing it, though I seem to be making progress just now -- everything seems connected to your trials. If you quit the office just before the holiday party spread goes down, as I did yesterday, self-satisfaction makes the rest of your day a little brighter. (I've tried not to let it swell into smugness.)

When Christmas music plays on an intercom while you're grabbing dinner before a movie, the lyrics reshape themselves in your head. Burl Ives might be singing "Have a Chubby, Tubby Christmas."  Dean Martin croons, "O Come, Grab a Plateful."  Bing Crosby chimes in with "Do You Eat What I Eat?"

You look around at the people swarming around malls and noshing on popcorn and lattes and ice cream as they go and wonder how they can eat all day long. (Forgetting, of course, that YOU were once capable of the exact same behavior.) It's not obsession with eating habits, exactly -- at least, I hope it isn't -- but you reflect on food at least once every day.

As long as this behavior doesn't become compulsive, I suppose it's healthy. I tightened all my belts this year from the third to the fourth holes, and today one actually fit into the fifth hole -- not comfortably, as I had to suck in my gut, but it did go (before I loosened it again). I must be headed in the proper direction.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Learning to breathe

Ellyn Ritterskamp

Mental health is part of fitness, too. I did a quick exercise in class yesterday about how to breathe into your belly, and how to exhale for a long count, and the spookiest part of all: leaving a small space after you exhale, before starting to breathe in again. That little place is scary at first, but then exhilarating in a way I cannot describe. I think it is different for each of us.

I did the breathing thing because when I asked the students to choose a virtue to work on in themselves, several mentioned anger and patience. Learning how to lower our blood pressure and heart rate helps alleviate some of those issues.

Dr. Andrew Weil's 4-7-8 breathing exercise is here, along with some other breathing exercises:

Be well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mr. In-Between

Lawrence Toppman

I tipped the scale at 182 today, 2.5 pounds short of my goal, and I'm in that weird place where my pants are a little too large. If I let them hang down, I look like an elderly white hip-hop artist; if I cinch my belt tight and tuck my stomach underneath, I look like a farmer out for his first big night on the town since the election of Bill Clinton.

I can strive harder and drop a few more pounds, thus getting into the next smaller size. Or I can buy new pants of the same size I have now and hope that a good long baking in the dryer brings them down where I need them to be. (I tried this with a sweater once and ended up with a garment that would have been form-fitting for a dachshund.)

I suppose I could always go the dashiki route. One of my college roommates bought one in order to disguise a burgeoning belly and told me that, with a dashiki, no one could tell you needed to lose weight. I was too polite to point out that anyone who saw you in a dashiki automatically assumed you wore it BECAUSE you were hiding a paunch. (Later, when we fell out, I spitefully made this clear to him.)

I believe I'm going to slump around with slightly overlarge clothes until I slowly get down to a size 36 waist and make sure I can stay there. The main advantage to this plan is that people always say, "My, you've lost weight" when they see a gap 'twixt gut and jeans. If you wear clothes that fit properly, you miss out on those compliments.