Back From A Break

It’s been a few weeks since I posted. I’m really sorry about that. I hope you can forgive me. Life seems to have gotten in the way of not only blogging, but also running. First, work started getting busy and then we had a holiday, which kept me away from the glory that is the interwebs. But, we came home this weekend and it’s back to the usual. And most importantly back to running.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

So, what have we been up to? Well, despite being busy we did our best to keep running the past 3 weeks. The first week we managed to run twice, and the last 2 weeks we ran only once. Not so great. My biggest concern was losing what we had worked so hard to achieve with running. But in the meantime, the weather, which has been my nemesis all Summer long, has finally taken a break from being a total pain and the days are actually beginning to feel enjoyable – to the point where a walk outside no longer ends with us looking like we took a shower in our clothes. In fact, we have had a few days of rain, which has been sorely needed around here. With the cooler weather we managed to run better even though it wasn’t often enough.

When last I left you guys we had achieved running one hour in 2, 30-minute intervals with a 3-minute walking break. We were debating how to get to one hour of full-on running. We had 2 choices: gradually add time to the first running interval or decrease the walking break. By the next run we still hadn’t decided which option we would take. I think we were both just playing it by ear and leaving it up to how we felt at the 30-minute mark.

When we did hit the 30-minute mark on the next run we just kept going, and going, and going and we ran 60 minutes without a break at all. It was AWESOME! We’ve been waiting all Summer to do this, but the heat and humidity had kept us from doing it. So, it was quite an achievement to finally do it. My hubby was more thrilled than me actually. I didn’t even take a few seconds to walk and grab some water. By the way, I’m going to have to learn the art of running and chugging water simultaneously. It was not graceful. I took a mouthful of water and could not swallow it. I think I’ll have to pause a second to drink water until I figure it out. Despite my water issue, it was a great run.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

In the 3 weeks since that first run of 60 minutes, we have continued to run 60 minutes without breaks. We are running about 8.5 km in that amount of time, which is not so fast, but I feel like we can improve upon that with a little more time and more frequent running. Since we could only find time to run once a week for the last 2 weeks we could see our performance was suffering. But, I think if we can organize our work hours a little better we will be running farther in 60 minutes soon.

In other news, we’ve also decided to forego any races this fall. Summer temperatures really held us back from advancing in a decent timeframe. I mean, it was basically a battle all Summer to just run and survive it. And the sporadic running we managed in September didn’t help us improve much either. I don’t have the confidence to run a race for a couple of months at least. We still haven’t reached 10 km yet, which is the distance of the race we were going to enter. So, instead of putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves we decided to put races on the back burner for now. But, October is almost here and a new month helps me mentally wipe the slate clean and start fresh, not only with running, but losing weight as well.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

Being busy with work and taking a holiday did not help either my hubby or I lose weight. The good news is that we managed to maintain our weight – I’m at 95 kg and he’s at 102 kg – despite the holiday indulgences of alcohol and fatty foods we thoroughly enjoyed. So, not only are we getting back on track with running, we are refocusing our weight loss efforts in terms of diet. No more alcohol for a while, no sodas, no fries (I’m so sad about the last one).

I have been lingering near 95 kg for what feels like an eternity. I’m really done seeing that number on the scale. I’ve made up my mind that by the end of the year I really, really want to weigh 90 kg. I think it’s something I can manage in 3 months. It’s just going to take some will-power on all fronts.

So, we’re back on track. I hope all of you have been continuing to run and I hope you have been getting closer to achieving your goals as well.

Pizza + Burgers + Beer ≠ Happy Scale Numbers

From the title you may have an idea of where this is going…

We weigh ourselves every Monday morning. It’s our little weekly ritual my husband and I do. Sometimes we are greeted with the satisfying news of having lost weight and sometimes the not-so-great news that we stayed the same or, horror of horrors, gained weight.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

I’ve learned through these past few months that running is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. I’ve also realized that losing weight is quite similar.  It is a mental game of endurance, similar to running. Where your head is at is so critical to performance in both. I think I was under the misconception that running was mostly physical – how strong your legs were and how much your body could take. Likewise, I thought that losing weight was only about what you ate. But, this is really not the case.

So, today is Monday and we weighed ourselves. All I can say is that I’m a bit disappointed. I actually gained some weight and my initial reaction was “How is that possible?” I sat annoyed for a good hour. I couldn’t understand the mechanics. I eat well, I walk, I run… My friends last night even said I looked like I’ve lost more weight since I saw them 2 weeks ago. So why can’t the scale just affirm all this? Why does my scale have to be a jerk?

I was convinced that somehow everything was working against me, especially that stupid scale. Then, my husband, who lost almost a kilo this week, reminded me I had pizza 2 times this week and burgers (homemade, but still they are burgers) and a beer last night when we ate at our friends’ place. All I could think was “Oh, crap.” I am actually the one responsible for the lack of weight loss. I forgot about that sometimes unpredictable factor in the weight loss journey – my head and most importantly what I like to eat. It should be obvious that having pizza, burgers, and beer will not help me lose weight.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

So, it’s the start of a new week and I’m going to be better this week; more mindful of what I put in my body and I will aim to make the smarter choice. In terms of running, I hope the weather man is right and that the temperatures will be cooler this week, which will allow us to run without feeling like death is just around the corner. Hopefully, if I can run every other day like we used to and eat better I will see a better set of numbers on the scale next week.

Creaky Hips Running

An old creaky door sounds like I feel. After every run, especially as we get closer to that final goal of running a full hour, the aches and pains set in. Yesterday I literally felt like I was hobbling around. My right hip is tired. I don’t know if it’s possible for a hip to feel or get tired, but that’s the best way I can describe it. I’m icing it when I can, but I’m not sure if it helps.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

And yet, even despite the heat, I’m walking like a gazelle through an open plain. I walk so fast now. I know I’ve probably said it before, but walking got easier as we have lost some pounds and extended our running time. I wasn’t struggling to walk before we took up running, but the ease with which I walk now due to my now impressively strong legs makes me wonder how much work walking really was before.

I’m not the only one who is hobbling around. My hubby, yesterday, said his legs just felt tired. I think the Summer temperatures and still being heavy runners is taking its toll on us. I wish some pounds would just melt away already, because I am curious if running will get easier and if being lighter will make a big difference in everyday life.

The good news is that the heat wave seems to be dissipating and there is even a chance of rain tomorrow. I would literally kill to have the chance to run in the rain at this point. I have only run in light sprinkles, when we first began running in March or April, but I’m starting to have small daytime fantasies of running in the rain.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

Do you like running in the rain?

The Benefits of Running

I think most people know that running has a lot of health advantages. In fact, benefits abound. It’s different, however, reading or just plain acknowledging the benefits and seeing them transform your body.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Obviously, running can lead to weight loss if you watch your diet. We made the mistake of just running at the very beginning and saw some benefits. I think in the first 6 weeks to 8 weeks we lost 5 kg. But, in the third month things sort of plateaued. That’s when we started watching our food intake more carefully and we immediately started losing weight again. We are about halfway through what our initial weight loss goal was, 27 kg, so I hope this continues.

Aside from weight loss, though, we have both reaped some anticipated and unexpected rewards. My husband has had a high heart-rate since I’ve known him. And when we met he was a toothpick of a guy (post-marriage we really did start packing on the pounds). He had worked out before when we met, but wasn’t doing anything at the time. His high heart-rate was always a strange anomaly. But, more recently, we noticed his high heart-rate was getting higher. Resting it was always somewhere between 90 to 100 bpm. That is too high. Running has completely changed things. After just a couple months of running it started to decrease. Now, I’m so happy that it has settled around 70 to 80 bpm, within the normal range. Sometimes it is even in the 60s. I knew running would help this issue, but a 30% decrease was unexpected. We are both so pleased that he has experienced this healthy turnaround.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

Another benefit of running that I didn’t quite expect was how it affects the shape of our bodies. I never thought running would slim my legs as much as it has. I have always, even at my slimmest, had big legs. Since I was young finding pants/jeans was always a little tricky because my waist was smaller than my thighs. Finding jeans was a challenge because my legs were proportionally bigger. Since we started running in March, the opposite is now true. Despite the visible muscles I now I have in my legs, which is pretty crazy, my legs have really slimmed down. It’s to the point where my waist is now proportional to my legs. I actually anticipated the opposite to be true, but I have been pleasantly surprised. And the same is true for my husband. He already had muscular legs, but they got even more muscular and thinner at the same time. I never read about this effect of running, but I’ll keep it!

Running has also strengthened my back, which has always been an issue for me since I had a car accident in my 20s, and it has really helped me strengthen my abs. Both of these have helped reduce the number of times my back has had pain, which normally happens 3 or 4 times a year and can put me in bed for at least a few days. I’ve only had 1 flare-up since starting running and it was not as bad as previous ones.

We also have more energy. We are moving more and feel more energetic. Don’t get me wrong, I still get tired, but yesterday for example we walked more than 3 hours during the day because we chose to walk instead of drive or take a taxi, and we don’t feel any residual fatigue this morning (I hope that off-sets not running yesterday). That would never have been the case prior to starting running.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

Running has also given me more confidence. Because we are following a plan that started very small – running 1 minute / walking 1 minute 8 times – we have very gradually bumped up the running time to 3 intervals of 18 minutes. It feels like this has happened so quickly. But, it is very satisfying to have a running goal and meet it every time. If any of you are interested in starting to run, I highly recommend using run/walk intervals because we didn’t have any muscle aches or pains or undue fatigue, and if the two of us chubbies can do this then I know everyone can.

What are some of the benefits of running that you have experienced?

Are You A Runner?

I ask this question of myself from time to time… “Am I a runner and everything that entails?”

When I tell friends and colleagues that I’ve started running they automatically give me a once over with their eyes. Sure I’ve lost weight, but I still have a lot more to go and I can hear their thoughts, “She doesn’t look like a runner.” I have a long way to go and I don’t have the physique of a runner, but yet aren’t I a runner?

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

In my mind, someone is a runner if they pull on their running shoes and go run on a regular basis. The distance or speed doesn’t matter as long as they run.

I think it’s hard for people to consider you a runner when you don’t fit the physical stereotype of lean and muscular. Being on the heavier side of things, this is definitely not me or my husband. Maybe people don’t think we are runners, because we started running to lose weight. Perhaps they assume we’ll quit when we reach our goal weight.

But, while I can’t speak for my hubby, I don’t plan on quitting running. In fact, the last week or so of running has been exceptionally good. I’m getting stronger, faster, and building up my endurance.

I had to buy a new pair of running pants because I wore mine out, I bought shoes I use exclusively for running, and I’m eyeing a Garmin as a future purchase because I want more precise numbers on my distance and speed that my phone’s app can’t provide. I have runner’s guilt when I don’t run and when I do run I feel like it’s been a productive day. When I’ve injured myself and couldn’t run, I’ve gotten runner’s depression.

To the lay-non-runner, however, they don’t know what this means. They don’t know what an accomplishment it is to go from running 8 minutes a session to 48. I hope I am able to continue running for a long time.

Running: A Solution to Male Pregnancy Syndrome

There’s nothing like the feeling of putting on your jeans and noticing that they are getting bigger, or rather noticing that you’re getting smaller. I’m wearing a size down in jeans from where I started, and now it’s my husband’s turn. He’s lost 8 kg, but it looks like so much more – maybe the scale is only reading 8 kg less because he’s gained some (or a lot of) muscle.

Prior to us starting running in March he had symptoms of male pregnancy syndrome. By the size of his jelly belly I was sure that we were expecting twins, but things changed quickly once we started running and watching our diet, and now I think I saw the beginnings of what looked like an abdominal muscle.

A couple weeks ago, as my husband was getting reading to go out, it became very obvious that his jelly belly had shrunk. He was wearing a 4XL shirt (4XL in Europe is like 3XL in the US) that suddenly looked like a tent. And his jeans had so much room in them.

This shirt used to be tight a couple months ago, and those jeans are about to fall off.
This shirt used to be tight a couple months ago, and those jeans didn’t have any extra room.

What seems like ages ago (4 years to be exact) I bought a pair of jeans for my husband when I happened upon a sale. He wasn’t around to try them on, but I guessed they would be fine. And for $11 for fancy-brand jeans I was willing to risk it. When he got around to putting them on for the first time 6 months later (typical), they were already too tight for him to wear.

From a 42-inch waist to a 38-inch waist.

Fast forward to this week, when the jeans he has been wearing were literally falling off his body and he rummaged in the closet and found the jeans from 4 years ago and a shirt that he couldn’t fit into for years, because it was too small at 2XL.

From 4XL to 2XL

It’s like traveling back in time seeing him fit in these clothes. I’m really proud of him. He has worked really hard and even though he’s not always crazy about going for a run, he has been really supportive.

Look how these smaller clothes fit. This would have been impossible just a little while ago.
Look how these smaller clothes fit. This would have been impossible just a little while ago.

Although, I have a new nemesis… A few, actually. I think the waitstaff at the cafe where my husband can be found most days enjoying his daily cup of coffee is out to sabotage his very obvious weight loss. They started bringing him little cookies and chocolates to go with his latte unsolicited. At first it was just one waitress, but then it spread to the male waiters. I think they’re trying to fatten him up again, like a Christmas turkey, or maybe they think I’m starving him. Whenever I go with him they don’t give him any free offerings. Highly suspect… They must think I’m a terrible wife.

Running Makes Your Derrière Perky

I spent the last couple weeks running, staring at the back of my hubby’s head. I jog along watching him gradually pull farther and farther ahead of me. I don’t particularly mind the view, his derrière is definitely looking really good these days (a benefit of running that is seriously underrated).

We used to run side-by-side, but as our running intervals got longer and, therefore harder, I haven’t been able to keep up. His legs are longer and stronger, and sometimes I feel like it’s a miracle to just be able to run on my stubby, tree trunks that I have for legs.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

I’ve been slowing down to what feels like a crawl in the third interval of our running program, and while I’m struggling not to give up and walk, my hubby is often 200 – 300 meters ahead of me, sometimes completely out of view if the park is a little crowded.*

Even though he can maintain a faster pace, he’s having issues controlling his breathing and he’s at the upper limits of what his heart-rate should be. His hips are also quite stiff post-run, and the following day. So, while it appears like all is well, he is in fact suffering.

I’ve got my own issues: I can’t keep up the pace towards the end of the run and it feels physical, but I have a feeling it is mental.

Last week my husband, unbeknownst to me, had decided to run with me so that he could work on his breathing and test whether his speed was causing the hip pain. The outcome was unexpected. Of course he slowed down, but I, surprisingly, sped up. In fact, on the second day of actually running together we ran further than he was when I was lagging behind him. It was really helpful to have him next to me. I suppose I was trying not to make him suffer through my snail’s pace, but in doing so I had the mental motivation to keep up the pace and go faster. Not only did I keep up, but he had an easier time breathing and his hip was less painful.

We’ve been running buddies this entire time, but this last week we actually ran as buddies. It was incredibly helpful running together. I’m the type who is perfectly happy working out on my own, never seeking people out to exercise with, but I must admit there are advantages.

Do you workout with a buddy? Or do you workout alone?

*After reading this post, my husband strongly disagrees with me and says I’m “exaggerating.” He claims he is only 20 to 50 meters ahead of me. I maintain my original point.

A House Divided

I’m so happy to be able to say that last night we went for a run and not only was the humidity at a lower level than it’s been for a couple weeks, but there was a steady breeze that made our run feel more like resistance training. It was so nice to be able to run without feeling like I was going to suffocate from the thick, muggy air. Last night we ran farther than any other day and we have finally surpassed 5 km. It was still a hard run and it was still quite hot, but it felt good.

photo courtesy of pixabay

As we walked home we started discussing what to eat for dinner the rest of this week, and we couldn’t agree. There’s been a “long-standing” argument of sorts (does 2 months count as long?) brewing in our house since we started watching our diet. My hubby and I disagree on the right way to approach food. He thinks that building muscle is more important than losing weight in the short term, because we will be able to burn more calories in the long-term. Therefore, he thinks eating a diet higher in protein and not limiting carbs is the way to go. Essentially, he says if it’s protein there should be no limit.

I, on the other hand, can’t agree. I think that we should follow a low-calorie diet and not eliminate carbs, but limit them. Our goal should be losing weight, because it will make running and exercise in general a lot easier, and I’m not convinced that we are going to build that much more muscle by eating more protein. So he advocates eating spaghetti and meatballs while I think salad with some grilled chicken would be more appropriate.

photo courtesy of pixabay; this is my husband’s fantasy

We also disagree a bit on how to approach running. He thinks we should run longer, which is part of the reason we’ve changed our goal from running 5 km to 10 km. I think that it is better to run more frequently rather than longer. Under my husband’s approach, we could only ever run 3 or 4 times a week at most since I’m betting we’ll need a rest day between long runs, but I think it would be better to run less time, but more often.

It’s hard to know what to do. This week on our way to the park we walked past the cafe we used to sit at for hours on end, and we ran into our regular waiter. We haven’t been there in months having made the conscious decision to cut out unnecessary sugar and calories. The waiter was awe-struck when he saw us. “Your faces changed, your stomach shrank, what did you do?” he said. It was really funny, and obviously we’re doing something right. We eat breakfast and dinner together, but for lunch we are apart. He eats protein-heavy and I eat calorie-reduced. We’re still both losing weight.

What’s your approach to food and running when you want to lose weight?

Apps and Weight Loss (Update 2)

If I had been good about inputting what I ate into the myfitnesspal app this would have marked the second week of using it to keep track of what I eat. Instead, I think I stopped using it last Wednesday. I got really bored entering all the food and portions, etc. It’s not a total loss, however. I learned a lot using the app. It surprised me on more than one occasion.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

I learned that food we think is “healthy” isn’t always as healthy as we think (I’m talking about you whole wheat pasta with your ridiculous number of calories). I also learned how much I can eat in a day and remain under my 1,750-calorie limit (as many veggies as I want). Getting an idea of what 1,750 calories actually looks like was probably the most helpful and valuable part of using the app. I’ll try to be better about using it this week.

As for my goal to lose 5 kg by July 6, I seem to be on track. Last week I lost .6 kg (using the app) and this week the scale told me I lost 1.2 kg (without using the app). So, I think that I learned how much I can eat. So, I have lost 1.8 kg (almost 4 lbs) in 2 weeks, which is not too bad and I haven’t been that restrictive about what I eat. A piece of chocolate cake met its match on Sunday.

I recently met a friend of mine who’s also trying to lose weight, but solely with the aid of the myfitnesspal app. She’s been doing it for a month and a half and lost 15 lbs. Unfortunately, she hasn’t found the time or motivation to workout. I’m not so sure that just dieting is the best way to lose weight. What do you think? Can you lose weight by just dieting or do you diet and exercise?

When People Notice You’ve Lost Weight

Well, it finally happened… People finally noticed we’ve lost some weight. It happened on Tuesday by a client I hadn’t seen for 2 weeks, and then a couple of friends we hadn’t seen for 6 weeks. I hate to admit it, but I’ve sort of been wondering when this would happen. I’ve now lost 10 kg and my hubby has lost 7 kg thanks to our running program and watching what we eat. The funny part is that people have been telling my hubby he’s lost weight, but not me for weeks. It got a little frustrating.

It’s probably my fault that people haven’t said anything. We made the conscious decision not to advertise to everyone we know that we are trying to lose weight. So, my frustration is most likely a product of this fact. Of course, the people we did tell have consistently commented that we are “looking good,” but they just know we’ve started running. They don’t know that we have become salad monsters and that I am counting calories.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay; I wish there was this much room in my jeans. Maybe if I put on my husband’s.

There are a few reasons why we’ve been low-key about this whole thing. First, I was and still am embarrassed when talking about my weight. The term “body-shaming” may be new terminology, but it has existed for a long time.

Another reason is the fact that if you do tell people you are trying to lose weight and are on a diet and/or working out they sub-consciously sabotage your efforts by insisting on eating out or pushing rich, chocolate desserts on you (hmm… I must be hungry).

Telling friends and family about trying to lose weight somehow, miraculously makes it the only topic of conversation anyone wants to talk about. A friend of mine quit smoking and she regretted telling people, because every conversation was about how hard it is, the low success-rate, methods, etc. Every conversation made her want to take up the habit again. Whenever I’ve told people I am trying to lose weight in the past, it’s all anyone could talk about. Conversations become obsessed with talking about the food we crave, the food we love to eat, and the food we wish didn’t exist. I already think about our diet and exercise too much without the addition of other people’s chatter.

So, by not telling but a few people, it took longer to hear any positive reinforcement, but now that it’s started it feels pretty good. The downside is that I’ve started planning how to celebrate my next weight-loss milestone, which I think will be 90 kg. Pizza and beer is sounding pretty good right about now so for the time being I think that will be my reward.

Until I get there I’m staying tight-lipped about trying to lose weight. I know it can’t be denied since it has become obvious. Our jeans are getting rather baggy and our shirts are hanging a little loose. In fact, the other day I rummaged in the back of our closet and found old jeans for both of us that are a size smaller than what we are currently wearing. I saved them hoping that this day would eventually come.  The happy news is that they almost fit – just a little too tight to wear for now.

Does telling people about your new diet or workout program to lose weight help or hinder?