body changes

Things That Have Helped My Running

I was talking to a friend recently who is training for Hood To Coast and she was talking about how she hates running. Or at least, hates it until she gets out there and is actually doing it. Two things: 1) I think part of the reason I think a lot of people hate running* (*but want to do it anyways) is because it’s HARD and sometimes it HURTS….and 2) I love running. Love it. It’s hard. Sometimes it hurts. But I love it.

I’ve loved it since I started running 10 years ago. I started running because I was getting pretty close to my goal weight and I was full of ENERGY. Tons of it. Going from being obese and not very active to suddenly being athletic, I had tons of energy and it was just a natural progression for me to start running.   Some of my favorite running memories are the places I’ve run.

#1 – Hawaii! The below photo was from a run in Kona I did years ago. I absolutely loved running from our condo to downtown Kona, partially along the coast, and seeing the sights on foot. Whenever we go on vacation, my desire is to go for a run and see my new environment that way. Also, running with Michael in Maui on our honeymoon is one of my favorite memories of our trip, too. (And it started his interest in running!) The scenery was so gorgeous and the weather was perfect…and running along the ocean is amazing. It cannot be beat!

#2 – Vegas! I’ve run in Vegas many times and it’s so fun. You can see parts of the Strip that you don’t normally visit, a little off-the-beaten-path. The nice thing about running in Vegas is that you aren’t stuck in the Casino gym, you can people watch, and you are usually up early enough that it’s not as crowded. #3 – Santa Monica When we went to LA and Santa Monica a few years ago, I didn’t run in LA/Hollywood but I did run in Santa Monica on Muscle Beach. There was a boardwalk and path so you can run “on” the beach. 🙂 It was gorgeous. I seriously need to live somewhere with warm weather and beaches. 😉

#4 – Bend Back in May, we took a family trip to Bend for the time not in winter! It was so nice to be in the high desert in the summer time, with the sunshine and warm weather. And being in the desert, my body aches and pains vanished. I clearly need to move the desert. Basically somewhere warm where my body doesn’t hurt. #5 – Arizona Lastly, Arizona. I’ve been to Arizona a few times now and went for runs. The first time was with my dad. It was fun running with him (even though my 60+ year old dad was a faster runner than I was!) and we saw this snake: Obviously running with my dad was a fun memory. I also ran by myself the last time I was in Tucson for a friend’s wedding. It was nice just being out on the road with me, my music, the sunshine and the desert.

Running Injuries

This post is about tools and tricks that have helped me start running, become a better runner, and get over running injuries I’ve had in the past. It’s no secret that I am The Queen of Running Injuries. I think I’ve had most of them. Whomp whomp.

Runner’s Knee was the worst of them because it really sucked, it hurt even to walk during the worst of it, and it took forever to get over it. I think what makes me LOVE running so much is that for awhile there, I couldn’t do it. Not being able to run when you really want to makes you want it more. At least, it did for me.

Now on to the list!  

Knee Straps

For awhile there I was using K-Tape. I know a lot of people swear by it and I used it for a long time to help with my runner’s knee injury (that lasted several years) but the tape really did awful things to my skin. It ripped my skin, made it red, made my skin itch really badly…it looked terrible and if you were really sweaty, the K-Tape wouldn’t stay on. So, I did some research and found runner straps for my knees. CUE ANGELS SINGING. Thank goodness I found these “jumpers knee” straps on Amazon because they were seriously a life saver. They worked like magic with my runner’s knee and didn’t irritate my skin! I swear by these and still use them when I run, mostly out of habit now–not sure I still need them but slightly nervous to try running without them.

Garmin Watch/Heart Rate Monitor

When Michael got me a Polar Heart Rate monitor 8 years ago, I’d never used one before, didn’t really know much about them and didn’t understand why I needed one…until I started using it. It was like a light-bulb went off. I was suddenly able to see how inefficient I was at running and I used the heart rate monitor to help me train better and pay more attention to my heart rate in relation to pacing. Also? I was able to get a more accurate number of calories burned from each activity I did, instead of just guessing based on an internet website calculator. This REALLY helped me with my weight loss goals! I’ve recently switched over to a Garmin watch and absolutely love it. Check out my review here.

Foam Roller We now have a collection of foam rollers in our house and Michael uses them religiously every night. I use the foam rollers after running or some activity that I can tell I will be sore from (lower body weight lifting, for example). I seriously suggest anyone who is even sort of interested in running, or who does a lot of working out, to invest in your own foam roller at home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a kink somewhere in my body that it fixed.

Strength Training and PT Exercises  A lot of things helped me become a better runner and get over my various injuries but I would have to say the most important has been strength training problem areas that are causing the issues. According to my physical therapist, runner’s knee is due to weak glutes. So I do a lot of focused work on that area and I’ve noticed a difference when I do it on a regular basis.

Check out these old posts about that:

Favorite Lower Body Workouts

Physical Therapy exercises

Oddly enough, what really seemed to help a lot with my Runner’s Knee issues was having a baby. After I had Logan and started getting back into running, I didn’t seem to have the same issues I had pre-baby. (Knock on wood!) One things I did have? Hip issues and low back issues after having a baby. Basically, I had no core. I’ve been working so hard for the last year to strengthen my core and get back into running shape. PT and core exercises have done wonders.  

Regular Massages/Chiropractor Visits Thank goodness for insurance! I can get 1 massage a month covered by insurance so I only pay $25 a visit in order to get a massage or see the chiropractor. In the past I could only get a massage a few times a year. Doing it monthly really has helped a lot to keep injuries from becoming worse. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover any of that “alternative care” options (sometimes they do but don’t tell you) and take advantage of it.

Runner’s Up: I wanted to add a few things to the end of this list. I think it’s really important to get fitted for running shoes at a running store, by a professional. It made a HUGE difference in the early days of my running. It’s often free, too, so what do you have to lose? Go get fitted! And don’t forget to replace your running shoes a few times a year.

QUESTION: What has been the biggest help in your running?

Reflections on Losing Weight

Recently a reader asked why I wasn’t trying to lose weight this time like I did the first time. I wanted to address that.

When I lost weight the first time, it was definitely “easier” (weight loss isn’t really easy, but looking back, it was definitely easier then than now). I was younger, I was living alone and in complete control of my diet. I cut out trigger foods entirely–no pizza or ice cream. I counted my calories and was somewhere between 1600-1800 calories during the duration of my weight loss journey.

I ate the same things every day. I had a fake egg McMuffin for breakfast (an English muffin, egg beaters microwaved and a slice of cheese) or oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch was a turkey and cheese sandwich on low calorie bread with a serving of Wheat Thins. A snack was an apple. Dinner was a Lean Cuisine with a salad. And dessert was sometimes a rice krispie treat (90 calories) or a chocolate Fiber bar (150 calories) and a glass of milk.

I didn’t drink my calories. I drank a lot of diet soda. Then eventually I cut out diet soda and switched to sparkling flavored water.

That was pretty much my diet for 16-ish months. Small variations here and there. Sometimes for dinner I’d cook a chicken breast on my George Forman grill and have a salad and some cooked vegetables. Sometimes I’d splurge and have a cheat meal in a restaurant.

Once I reached my goal weight and maintained it for a little while, I changed my diet. Eating so much processed food was not great. Yes it helped me lose weight because I could accurately count my calories and I had built-in portion control, but really it wasn’t something that was a lifelong thing. Eating processed foods like that helped teach me portion control and realize how I should  be eating.

When I moved in with Michael (a million years ago), I started eating REAL FOOD. I’d have Lean Cuisines at work for lunch because they were easy and portion controlled. But other than that, I wasn’t eating a lot of processed foods. And that has pretty much been my life for the last 8 years–eating real food.

I maintained my weight loss for 10 years–give or take a 5-10 pounds.

Then I got pregnant.

I did really well when I was pregnant. I didn’t go nuts and say “I’m pregnant! I can eat anything!” I wasn’t “eating for two”. I gained 33 pounds while pregnant. I lost about 18 of that right away, I’m sure part of that was just baby. LOL

But then I struggled. Breastfeeding became my focus and my goal and whenever I tried to lose weight my supply would tank. So I decided to just wait until I was done breastfeeding to actively try and lose the weight.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been trying a few different things in order to lose those last 15 pounds. The reason I haven’t done “what I did before” is because I don’t really want to do a highly processed food diet in order to lose the weight. Sure it worked last time, but I don’t necessarily feel like it would be the healthiest option for me now. I am not sure what to do or why what I’m currently doing isn’t working.

Part of me wants to just be ok with being 15 pounds overweight. I want to be one of those people that loves my body no matter what size. But I really struggle with that. It’s weird to feel like I did when I was 250+ pounds. I KNOW I am not back to where I was, but psychologically I feel stuck in a weird place in my head where I am overly critical of my body, I hate that none of my clothes really fit properly — even though I’m not really in a much bigger size — and I hate having my photo taken.

Then I think, is this the message I want to pass on to Logan? Do I want him to grow up and be critical of his body, self-conscious, or have food issues like I always had? No. I don’t. I don’t want to look at certain foods and thing “these are bad” and I don’t want Logan to feel that way.

I realized recently that my brain had changed into that “Bad food, Good food” frame of mind. Doing this diet recently that’s limiting carbs–I am now looking at foods that are high in carbs and thinking “I can’t eat that, there’s too many carbs in it.” It’s very weird–especially since 6 months ago I would have eaten that rice or English muffin and not even thought twice about it.

I’ve seen it creep into my brain in regards to everything. “Bad Food.” Logan is exploring eating “real food” and I’m trying different things. I caught myself the other day when I was making him breakfast of a frozen whole wheat waffle with peanut butter on it (one of his favorites) and I thought “carbs are bad.” Um, he’s 16 months! He doesn’t need to limit his carbs. Absolutely ridiculous. But that’s where my brain is these days–being critical of “Bad Food.” I don’t like it.

Since March I was doing the lower carb diet thing and lost about 7/8 pounds (gaining and losing the same 2 pounds since the initial loss) and lately I’ve kind of stopped for a few reasons. First, I stopped losing. Second, I was tired all the time. Third, I was feeling frustrated that I was restricting and not seeing results. Lastly, I didn’t like how much I was focusing on “Bad Foods.”

I’m not going crazy eating carbs now, but I am eating more of them on occasion. I’m still trying to keep it to a minimum but I’m not being super restrictive. I’m staying the same in weight. Several of my pants are loose and baggy, but I’m not seeing results on the scale.

I emailed my doctor and spelled out exactly what I eat in a day and what my exercise looks like in a week. I was honest and told her exactly what I was doing and said it wasn’t working. Her response? “Wow, you’re already doing everything I would suggest.” GREAT. 🙁 Except she said eat whole foods, drink more water, and reduce my calories to 1400 a day (instead of the 1500-1600 I was eating). Okey dokey! Reducing my calories it is.

So that is where I am at currently. I’m considering tracking my macros on Cronometer instead of tracking calories (a friend suggested tracking macros instead of calories because it is working well for her). I am also considering turning off the calories I burn exercising in MyFitnessPal so that I am not eating back those calories I burn. I will keep you posted on what I decide.