I Believe I Can Fly!

So, I want to share this selfie, which I took after my run today:

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Here’s what I am celebrating: I am 45 years old, and I have had 4 children – the most recent one being a year and a half ago by C-Section, after being induced 6 weeks early due to severe pre-eclampsia.  The day after my 16-month-old was born, I weighed 198 pounds.  If you had asked me at that point, if I thought it was possible that I would EVER want to go running in nothing but a pair of running tights and a sports bra, let alone post a selfie of myself in that, I would have said, adamantly, NO.  Not in a million, gazillion years.  I really and truly thought that I was done with feeling strong, with feeling good about how I looked, with ever wanting to wear anything sexy again.  I felt broken.  I really thought I was on a physical downward slide that was just going to continue from that point on.  I put up a brave and optimistic front, but the reality is, I was devastated inside.  I felt like I could not trust my body anymore, and that I had no control over what it would do.  So the way I feel about this photo has nothing to do with narcissism – I love it because it makes me feel like I can believe in myself again.  Sure, its great to be able to fit into clothes that haven’t fit me in years.  To be able to wear a bathing suit with pride instead of shame.  To feel sexy and to not have to wonder when my husband looks at me in lingerie, if he really likes what he sees, or if he’s just looking past what’s on the outside because he loves me and what’s on the inside no matter what.  I feel like, to a certain degree, it’s maybe not PC to celebrate losing weight, and feeling good about how you look as a result, and I’m not striving for any kind of physical perfection, nor do I think anyone else should – that’s all definitely a myth.  What I am really celebrating here, is how I FEEL as a result of all of this.  How this recent weight loss and subsequent return to my former state of physical well-being has impacted my belief in myself, and sense of power and strength that has been both missing and missed.

So all of this brings me to the topic of running.  Running has just been my thing for my entire adult life.  It’s been my sport, my therapy, and a source of fun, friendly competition and accomplishment.  I love it.  But, since the birth of my youngest child, its just been really hard.  And I tried – I really tried to get back to where running felt good.  I ran and trained regularly over the past year or so.  I watched what I ate – I tried to make it all good quality food.  I did all the things that had worked for me before.  I got my weight down to around 170 pounds, and I just couldn’t get it under that.  Not by more than a pound or two anyway.  Just before Landon was born, when I was at the height of late pregnancy misery – I registered for the full-marathon at the Rock N’ Roll San Diego race in early June of this year.  I did it at that point because I wanted to remind myself that I would get back to being that strong, able-bodied person again at a point where I was so swollen, and so pregnant that if I dropped something onto the floor, I would just leave it there because it was just too hard to pick it up.  By the time the actual race rolled around, I was still stuck at around 170 pounds, and running was a struggle.  It didn’t feel good.  It was hard.  I had to downgrade from the full marathon to the half-marathon, and even that was kind of a miserable struggle.  I felt like a shadow of my former self.  Here are some photos of me from that race:

Sorry about the quality of the photos, but I actually really hate them, so I have no desire to purchase them.  But, as I think its easy to tell in these photos, I felt like crap.  I felt heavy and slow.  I ended up averaging around an 11 minute per mile pace in this race.  Which is a fine pace – there’s nothing wrong with that pace, but it’s not what I wanted for myself at this point.  I actually didn’t care about my pace in this race, I just wanted, more than anything, for running to feel good again.  It didn’t.  It was miserable.  I struggled through the entire race.  I didn’t know if I would ever really enjoy running again, or if I would ever run another full marathon – let alone run the Boston Marathon, which has been a long-time goal.

Fast-forward to now – 6 months later – and really and truly, I feel better than I EVER have, physically.  Since I’ve reached my goal weight, I’m slowly adding more calories into my diet while easing back into running, and I’m just thrilled because running has NEVER felt this good.  Every run this week has been great, but today, I ran two miles at a 8:39 pace, and I felt like I could have run all day.  I ran the second of the two miles at an 8:21 pace, which is a record for me. Here’s my stats:

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I’m finally back to loving running again, and I feel, once again, like anything is possible.  It is, without a doubt, 1 million percent due to the weight I’ve been able to eliminate in the past two months.  I’ve honestly never felt this good  – just strong, healthy and fit – not even back when I was in my teens and twenties!  I WILL be running the full marathon in San Diego this year, and I’m going to completely KICK ASS!!

So, today, I’m just celebrating that anything is possible, and its never too late – and that I’m a super-sexy 45-year-old-mother-of-four-running-super-hero!!

What’s possible for YOU?

Post-Goal-Weight Day One and This Week’s Meal Prep

I really should actually be studying right now, for the final exam for my differential diagnosis class, which is tomorrow night, BUT I feel like writing a blog post, so I’m gonna go ahead and do that while I feel like it, because if I don’t, who knows how long it will be before I get around to it again? I was supposed to be working today and tomorrow, but the urgent care that I just started working for is brand new and is still under construction, and there’s been a delay on opening, so I have an unexpected, but rather welcome, two days off.  I say that I have two days off, but in reality, I also have about 10 hours of lectures to catch up on and a final exam tomorrow….and a final exam on Wednesday……and one on Friday, but you know – it’s days off from work so that’s cool, and having extra time to study takes a lot of the stress away from the preparation for those exams.

SO! Today was the first day of my switch to the 4 and 2 plan, which means that I had 2 lean and green meals and 4 Optavia fuelings.  I also ran today – 1.5 miles at a fairly brisk pace.  I’m just easing back into running this week, so I’m keeping the distances short.  My full marathon isn’t until the first weekend in June, so I’m not going to start hard-core training for that until I’m 16 weeks away.

It’s weird, actually, now that I have developed the habits that I have on the 5 and 1 program, to be in a position now, where I need to watch my intake in order to prevent further weight loss.  But if there is one important thing that being on this program has taught me, it’s that it is absolutely essential to be conscious of what one is doing, nutrition-wise.  That was important when I was looking to lose weight, and its equally important now, when I’m looking to maintain where I’m at, and make sure I’m supported in staying healthy while I train for a marathon.  When I was on the 5 & 1, it was a no brainer – all I had to do was eat my 5 fuelings every 2-3 hours and make sure my lean and greens were on point.  Now, however, I’m using MyFitnessPal to track my status.  I have a Garmin watch, which works with MyFitnessPal – so they communicate with each other.  So the Garmin tells MyFitnessPal what my activity looks like for the day, and based on that, it adds to my recommended caloric intake in order to support the activity level that I’m at.  It’s great to have this technology – it makes it really easy.  I’m pretty sure a Fitbit and a hundred other devices can do the same thing.  But, before I get more into all of the details of where I’m at today, let me just recap food-prep Sunday.

So every Sunday, me and my friend Lara, who’s on the program, and for the past two weeks, my friend Sarah – who is just starting the program, get together and prepare our lean and green meals for the week.  This has actually become a really fun weekly event that we all look forward to – and it makes it SO easy to stay on track throughout the upcoming week.  We spend a total of about 3-4 hours every Sunday doing this, and I just think it is 1000% worth the time and effort.  I am an extremely firm believer in meal prep.  Period.  For me, personally, this whole program would have been a total fail without it.  That might not be true for everybody, but it’s definitely true for me.  And besides – doing it gives me a weekly opportunity to bond with my girlfriends, and for us to support each other in what we’re up to with all of this.  It’s just all good!

So this week, we made:

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Salad with shrimp, boiled egg, romaine lettuce and red pepper – this is 184 calories, 7.1g carb, 6.2g fat and 24.5g protein.  It is simply 2 cups of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup of red pepper and grape tomatoes, 3.5 oz of cooked shrimp and 1 chopped boiled egg.  I just squeeze some lemon over it and add some salt and pepper and it is really yummy.

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Grilled chicken with mushrooms and steamed broccoli: this is 206 calories, 7.6g carb, 6.9g fat and 36.6g protein.  It is 6oz of boneless, skinless chicken breast with carne asada seasoning on it, grilled on my cast iron grill pan with 1/2 cup mushrooms sautéed with cooking spray and 1 cup of steamed broccoli.  I know that this meal sounds very boring and simple, but the carne asada seasoning makes it quite delicious.  It gives it just a bit of kick.  Grilling the chicken just to a point where its a tiny bit pink in the middle makes it perfect and juicy once it’s reheated on either the stovetop or microwave.

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Turkey mini-meatloaf with miso-sesame green beans.  This is about 189 calories – 7.6g carb, 4.9g fat, 28.1g protein.  This is 5 oz of 85% lean ground turkey mixed with 1/4 cup of shredded zucchini, mushrooms and onion – which makes the meatloaf super-moist.  There is also some chopped fresh Italian parsley and salt and pepper in the meatloaf mix.  To make the green beans, I sautéed the shitake mushrooms in cooking spray, added garlic and then mixed miso paste, rice vinegar, water and sesame oil.  The steamed green beans, mushrooms and miso-sauce all get mixed together and then everything is sprinkled with sesame seeds.  And, OMG – this entire meal is absolutely TO. DIE. FOR.  It is so unbelievably good.  I mean, all of this food is good, but this one is a definite keeper!

So that’s our meal prep for this week.  We are all pretty excited about it.  Just to recap – the formula for the lean and greens is 5, 6 or 7 oz of lean protein, depending on what the protein is, and the lean-ness of said protein.  Along with it goes 3 servings of vegetables.  One serving is generally 1/2 cup, unless its some kind of raw greens, in which case one serving is 1 cup.  It’s that simple.  For the meals that we created this week, with the proteins purchased at Costco and the veggies purchased at Smiths, it cost about $35 for 7 meals, or 5 bucks per meal.  Not bad, if you ask me.

Today, for breakfast, I had an Optavia peanut butter crisp bar and 2 cups of coffee at about 6:30.  My mission today was to study, but we had to get groceries first so we dropped Landon off at daycare at around 8, and then went grocery shopping.  By the time we got home from doing that, it was almost 10 and I was famished so I actually ate 1/2 of one of the mini-turkey meatloaves that we made yesterday with a coconut La Croix.  I ate lunch at noon – I had the shrimp salad – and then I went for a 1.5 mile run at around 1:30.  At around 2 I had an Optavia mocha blast shake – it was a bit early, but I needed to have something post-run.  I also had a little bag of Medi-Fast sea-salt popcorn while I continued to study.  I took Landon to his physical therapy appointment from about 3:30 until about 5 and then when I got home I had the grilled chicken/mushrooms/broccoli, which really filled me up.  I gave Landon his dinner, played with him a bit, gave him a bath, read him some stories and put him to bed and that brings me to this point.  I have to study some more tonight, and while I do that, I’m going to have an Optavia spiced gingerbread with some sleepytime herbal tea, and that’s my day as far as nutrition goes.  In addition, I have had about a gallon of water and 4 cans of LaCroix, which is also basically water.  I find that the water intake is really important – I feel better and always have better results in terms of weight loss when I shoot for a gallon a day.

According to MyFitnessPal, this is how my day looks:

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As you can see in the second photo, I’m going to bed tonight with a 762 calorie deficit, which is probably a bit too much now that I’m no longer looking to lose weight.  Because I ran today, plus I walked over 11,000 steps, I burned 507 calories in activity and only consumed 955 calories.  What is crazy though, is I never for one second today, felt hungry, deprived, or like I wanted to eat anything that I couldn’t have.  So now I am in the position of needing to look to add healthy calories to my diet in order to meet my body’s needs to support my activity level.  Pretty cool.  Because being on Optavia over the past two months has had such an impact on my eating habits, I’m really not all that interested in eating all of the garbage that was sabatoging my efforts to lose weight in the past.  Now I get to really consciously think about how I can best add foods to my daily intake that I enjoy and that are also high in nutritional value so I can maintain what I’ve achieved, and stay healthy while I train to run the best marathon of my life.  Sounds pretty awesome to me!!

So that’s it for now!  If you’re reading this, and are interested in finding out more about the Optavia program, you can send an email to my wonderful husband, who is a health coach for the program: justintruelove@outlook.com – he can give you all the info you need, and I’ll always be available to share my experiences and help out in any way I can. I can honestly say at this point, being on the other side of 22 pounds down is worth it’s weight in gold! It has made my life better in a million ways.  So if you’re thinking about it, just go for it – give it a try.  And I’m saying that for one reason and one reason only: this program works.

Have a great night!!

 

I’ve Reached My Goal Weight!!!

It has been ages since I’ve written a blog post! The past few weeks have just been really busy – I’ve had 2 days off in the past 16 days, plus school, plus Thanksgiving, plus life with a toddler, and so on and so on…..BUT, I have continued to stay on track, and this morning my weight was 145.4 pounds!!!  The goal that I set two months ago was 145 pounds, so I’m calling it close enough – knowing that I will still probably lose a little more over the next few weeks, but I am going to go ahead and celebrate today!  I feel like a completely different person.  I have a ton more energy, more confidence, I sleep better, I’ve been off of my blood pressure medication for about two weeks now, and my blood pressure just now was 124/68, and overall I just feel happy.  I feel so good about where I’m at, how I feel, and how I look, I just feel like I can do anything,  Right now, with everything that is going on in my life, I could very easily be a miserable, stressed-out wreck but I just don’t feel that way.  I feel like I can handle it all, and I really think that the physical well-being that I’ve gained over the past two months has everything to do with it.

So let’s take a look at some before and after photos – the top pics were taken on October 1st.  I weighed 167.8 pounds and my body fat percentage was 31.5%.  The bottom pics were taken today at 145.4 pounds with a body fat percentage of 20.6%:

I really don’t know if the dramatic difference that I see and feel comes through in these photos, but I look at the top pictures and I can’t believe that’s me.  I notice details in the top photos, like my double chin and the complete lack of definition in my upper arms, not to mention that belly and it makes me so excited to be rid of all that now.  I can honestly say that I will never go back to that, because more important than how it looks, I haven’t forgotten how it felt.  It really sucked.  I felt like crap.  I felt old, unsexy and like my body was falling apart.  Now, I feel like the person I was 10 or 15 years ago, and I am extremely proud to say in the pictures on the bottom, that I am 45 years old!  All of these changes have not only been good for me and my physical and emotional well-being, but they have been really good for my relationship too – because when I feel sexy, I act sexy and when I act sexy, well, it just makes for a happy husband. 😉 (sorry if that’s TMI – but you know, these things are important!)

Here are the numbers from the past two months:

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Sorry, it’s a bit blurry – I’m a terrible photographer.  But what stands out for me from this is the total inches lost – since October 1, I have lost a total of 24.25 inches overall from my body.  That’s over two feet!!  So, sure, it comes from different areas overall, but the bottom line is I’ve lost over two feet of just MASS from my body.  It’s no wonder I feel like I can fly when I run now!

So, here’s the question that I am asking myself today: could I have achieved results like this, on my own, without the Optavia program that I’ve been on since October 1st.  And although it’s definitely not impossible for a person to achieve this on their own,  for me, my honest answer is no.  In the past two months, I have learned so much about the effect that my food choices have on my body, and whether those choices cause me to gain or lose weight.  It really is quite a delicate balance.  It is NOT as simple as just counting calories.  That’s the thing that I think is really key for people to understand.  It’s much more complex than that – because you have to consider how certain foods trigger insulin production.  You have to think about the glycemic index of the food that you’re eating.  If you want your body to burn fat, you have to balance things just right so that it will do that without holding onto the stores it has because it’s in starvation-mode.  So, if I were trying to do this on my own, knowing myself, I would give up at a certain point due to the yo-yo-ing and plateaus that would result from my nutrition plan falling short of what’s required to get the effect that I can get with the Optavia plan.  The single greatest thing about the Optavia plan is that is requires very little of the person on the plan.  It’s really pretty much a no-brainer.  The only thing that takes some planning is the lean and green meal – it’s got to be the right amounts of the right foods, or you could easily sabotage yourself.  But still, its pretty simple – its just a matter of planning ahead and setting yourself up for success.  But aside from that, you just eat a fueling every 2-3 hours for a total of 5 fuelings plus your lean and green meal, plus 3-4 liters of water, and if you do that, you will lose weight.  Rapidly.  And although its not always easy, its also not that hard.  The other thing about it that’s really cool is that I know that, if I consciously choose to eat/drink things that are outside of the plan on a particular day, because of what’s going on that day, I can expect that I will either not lose or even gain a bit depending on what I do, but then I know FOR CERTAIN that, once I get back to the plan, I will regain any ground I may have lost, and start losing again within a few days.  The results are fool-proof when you follow the plan to a T.

And finally, being on this plan, and carefully planning and preparing my lean and green meals, has made me really, really aware of the nutritional content of various foods, and just how much a tiny amount of the wrong thing can totally derail what I’m trying to do.  For example – I can eat a salad that has shrimp, boiled egg, red pepper and romaine in it – the whole salad is 200 calories.  But if I decide to put 2 tbsp. of ranch dressing on that salad, it will add 140 calories!!  If I put salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon instead of that ranch dressing, I could eat almost twice the amount of salad with the same amount of calories.  These are the things that set us up to fail – even when we think we are making the effort to eat better.  When I do decide to splurge a bit, I now know what foods are worth splurging on, verses the foods that will just kill everything I’m trying to accomplish.

So, that’s where I’m at as of now.   Today is Sunday, so I did meal prep for the week today with my friends, Sarah and Lara.  I’ll blog about the details of our meal prep in my next post, but Lara has been on this program for about a month and she has lost 13.8 pounds. The Sarah that did meal prep with us today is starting up on the program this week, so we will be cheering her on and excited to see her results.  My BFF, whose name is also Sarah, has been on this program for 6 weeks and she has lost 20.6 pounds.  Our friend Mariel has been on it for 4 weeks and she has lost 18 pounds.  Our friend Josiah, who was the person who introduced us to this program, has been on it for about 3 months and has lost a remarkable 73 pounds!!  So there is really no question as to the results that can be achieved with this particular program.  I know it sounds like I’m pushing the program, and honestly, I am.  But for one reason and one reason only – and that is because I know that it will work.  If you are a person who needs to lose weight to feel better, to be healthier, to avoid a myriad of health problems, if you follow this, it will work.  Plain and simple.

So this week, because I’m at my goal weight now, I’m going to start a 4&2 plan – which means 4 fuelings plus lean and greens for lunch and dinner.  I’m also going to start preliminary training for a marathon in June so that means running, yoga, and strength training, which will escalate over the coming weeks.  As the activity escalates, so will the nutritional intake.  Next week, I will go to a 3&3 program, which is what I will stay with – its important to keep eating small meals every 2-3 hours, but my main meals will evolve as my activity level increases.  Of course it will always consist of lean proteins and veggies primarily, but quantitites will increase along with some complex carbs in order to give my body the fuel it needs to prepare for a marathon.  One thing I know for sure is that it feels amazingly different to run with a body that is 22 pounds lighter!!

Have a great week!