Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inspirational Weight Loss

There are so many inspirational stories out there of the person that went from a size 22 to a size 2 and those stories are awesome, but if I'm being honest, those stories aren't really relatable to ME because I've never been a size 22.  The stories that are most inspirational to ME are the ones that I can associate with myself.  Enter my friend Candi... I hope someone else is able to relate.  

Without further adieu here she is..... 

It began about 13 weeks ago, but it really goes much farther back than that. Like anyone who has
achieved weight loss success, it was a string of events that helped me to achieve my goal – in this case, a
goal I didn’t realize I had.

Running and I have had an on again, off again relationship. We were ON every spring during middle
school and high school during track season when I was a below average middle-distance runner. We
were OFF during pretty much all of college. We were ON again after I graduated, broke up with a four-
year boyfriend, and realized I had gained quite a bit in four years. I was working two jobs, often going
stretches of two months without a day off (that’s retail for you), and I still managed to work my way up
to 10 miles on the treadmill at the gym. Feeling confident, I pursued a promotion at one of my jobs, and
I soon found myself working late hours as the managing editor for 21 weekly newspapers. Running and I
were OFF again.

Sitting at a desk all day, I settled into a size 8, where I stayed over the last five years. I started taking
kickboxing classes over three years ago. Being only 5 feet tall, I thought size 8 seemed like a “big” size,
but I had great cholesterol and blood pressure, and I was relatively active.

At some point between 1 ½ and two years ago, I started reading Susan’s blog. Wow! I met Susan in
college, and I knew she liked to do Tae Bo, but I had never, ever heard her talk about running before.
Here she had run a half-marathon and was training for a full! She had three kids and managed to
accomplish this – in her mid-30s! Around the same time, another friend recommended the book “Born
to Run,” by Christopher McDougall. McDougall’s book talks a lot about ultra marathons, which I really
have no interest in doing, but he explores the pure joy of running and having run (let’s face it; there are
days where running feels awful, but it pretty much always feels good when it’s over!). With Susan’s blog
igniting some dormant passion for running and McDougall helping me to feel that people were built to
do it, I became reacquainted with running again last summer.

Although I did become more tone, I stayed right around the same weight and pants size. Maybe I
had been creeping up toward size 10, and the running brought me more solidly to an 8. I remember
completing my first welcome-back mile. The first mile is the hardest, but wow, what a sense of
accomplishment! It wasn’t long before I was regularly running between two and four miles and the
occasional five. I also completed two 5ks in the fall – the Run for the Cows and the Jingle Bell Run (26:31and 27:56, respectively).

The second week of January of this year, I went to visit Susan in Texas! She asked me what I wanted
to do, and I said that I wanted to run and eat. I had read about her Tour of Food, and I was excited to
partake of the yumminess. We went on two runs, a three-miler and seven-miler. The seven-mile run was
at the Town Lake Trail and was the farthest I had run in about eight years. Susan planted a little seed,
telling me that I “needed” to do a half-marathon. I should note that despite having run ten miles on my
four-day vacation, I still came home a pound heavier (We were wrapping up a holiday Maintain, Don’t
Gain program at work, and my final weigh-in was the day after I returned from Texas).

The Thursday after I returned from my trip, my mom ended up in the hospital with shortness of breath
and chest pains. A couple days later, around midnight after her 54th birthday, she passed away. My
mom had psoriatic arthritis, and her health issues had made staying healthy a priority in my life. She
had been undergoing many, many types of treatments for the pain and for the psoriasis. Through a
series of events relating to her weakened immune system and other factors that we probably will never
understand completely, she went into cardiac arrest. I do not want to downplay the impact of this issue
by spending only a paragraph on it, but I’m not ready/able to discuss it further and not capable right
now of expressing my feelings beyond tears and a longing to hug her again. I miss her and think about
her every single day.

I’m a determined person, and I became determined not to let my grief overcome me. The seed of
Susan’s suggestion started to grow. Running had helped me before (running five miles alone gives you
a lot of time to process thoughts and emotions), and having a goal, a focus is something that meshes
well with my personality. Susan was deciding whether or not to do the Pittsburgh Half, and so was I. I
mentioned it to a co-worker, and ultimately we decided to give it a go.

In February, my work started a Biggest Loser-type contest. Even though I knew I was going to start
training for a half-marathon, I didn’t bother signing up. I knew that I really never lose weight and had
been consistently the same size for the last five years. It’s unlike me, but maybe I was afraid of failing.
The goal for the contest was to lose between 8-10% of your body weight. I knew that was not possible
for me. That said, I decided to go along for the ride unofficially. My official half-marathon training
started the last week of February/first week of March.

Knowledge is power. That cliché was key when it came to losing weight for me. I downloaded the
MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone, and recording my food was the awareness that made the factors fit
together into weight loss success. It was slow going at first. There were weeks where I weighed in the
exact same as I had the week before. I initially managed to lose two or three pounds and then stayed
where I was for a week or two. As the weeks passed, however, the weight came off easier and easier –
to the point where I got to increase my calorie intake. I should note that around the end of the Biggest
Loser contest, I had achieved around 7%. I’m now around 9-10%, just three weeks later. I am hovering
between a size 2 and 4, both sizes I thought I would never, ever be in again. I have lost 13 pounds. 

Here are some tips that I have learned through the MyFitnessPal experience:

  • Discipline is required. Absolutely do not starve yourself, but do you really need a second helping of chicken parmesan? Probably not.
  • Exercise earns you more calories! Getting off the couch means more food. Yay!
  • Some restaurants have literally nothing good for you. You don’t have to cut them out altogether, but “planning” your meals so that you are eating a healthier lunch and breakfast those days is helpful.
  • Don’t open your food diary to Susan (aka MomSwimBikeRun). She will make fun of you for eating hard boiled eggs and beer for dinner (I had a big lunch!).
  • A Russel Stover candy from a box of chocolates is equal to a mile walk for me! Is it worth it?  Sometimes the answer was yes, and sometimes it was no. Stale office candy = not worth it.  Homemade peanut butter eggs = totally worth it.
  • It’s important to eat nutritious foods, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have ice cream and
  • potato chips.
  • Try not to get too discouraged if you don’t see any results some weeks. It doesn’t mean you won’t have them the next week.
  • Going over your calorie allowance a couple times a week is OK. It doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight. Remember that the calories that FitPal gives you are in accordance with losing weight, so staying under that number is not necessary.

So now it’s less than one week until the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon. I ran my last long run, 12 miles (my
longest distance ever), in my training plan 2 weeks ago. I have been ON again with running for
almost a year, the longest continuous relationship that we’ve had, and have no intention of stopping
anytime soon. I’m nervous about setting a specific time goal for my first half, but I’m lining up in the
2:10 corral. It’s scary to get that in print, but the countdown is on!

Thanks for sharing your story Candi.  I know that you have inspired me and I hope you'll inspire at least one of my readers!  


ron o said...

great post!! Congrats Candi!

XL MIC said...

What an awesome story :) Way to go, Candi!

tracey smith said...

Wow! Very inspiring. Great job putting in all of that hard work.

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