new readers

Just the Facts

When I first discovered the healthy living blog world I wanted to read ALL of them! I had never known before then that there was such a community. I’ve often wished that I had known it when I was trying to lose my 100 pounds. The support andΒ camaraderieΒ would have been nice.

Sometimes it’s hard to jump into a new blog when you haven’t been reading since the beginning. It’s like picking up Book 2 in a series without having read Book 1. I find myself struggling with this when I discover a new blog that I like and want to keep reading. There’s so much background, who are these people, what is the writer’s story and history? What are the things that made this person create a blog and share tidbits with anonymous readers every day?

A lot has changed from my very first blog post. My writing was rusty and brief and I sincerely hope it’s improved since that first post! A lot has happened since I started this blog and while I’ve tried to keep a list of the most popular posts I’ve written but there have been some that have fallen through the cracks in the 2.5 years I’ve been doing this.

This post is a brief background for new and newish readers, people who may feel lost at times.

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As of this post, I am 33 years old and I live in Portland, Oregon. Oregon is a grew place to live if you like outdoorsy things like hiking, camping, biking and snowshoeing, you name it. I’m originally from Seattle. I live with my boyfriend of four years, Michael, and my two crazy cats.

At one point in my early twenties, I weighed over 250 pounds. I needed to make a change. I lost the weight by counting my calories and swimming. Since losing 100 pounds and keeping it off, I’ve discovered a love of running and biking and I’ve also learned how to cook–something I used to hate doing! Check out this post on FAQs.

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It wasn’t always easy losing the weight and keeping it off. I definitely hit some bumps in the road:

Lose 100 Pounds, Lose Friends?

Dealing With Body Image Issues

Trying the Slow Carb Diet

I Struggled With Plateaus

I Felt Burned Out

I’ve Struggled With Injuries – too many to count!

How about some more personal things?

  • I wrote a book about how I gained and lost my weight and am trying to get it published. Stay tuned for news. πŸ™‚
  • I read way too much, friend me on Goodreads to find out.
  • I’ve been a fan of Michael Phelps for years and loved every moment of the swimming parts of the 2012 Olympics! Swimming makes me happy. Swimming makes me healthy. It’s the first activity I always suggest when someone overweight wants to start exercising. It’s safe and virtually injury-proof.
  • My younger brother, Andy, lives in Philadelphia with his wife who is in medical school. He’s a total smarty-pants and I’m really proud of him as he’s finishing his master’s degree in history. I like having academic discussions with him and it makes me wish I could go back to school myself.
  • I’m definitely emotional and at times too sensitive. I wish that wasn’t the case. I just don’t have a thick skin about stuff I shouldn’t care about.
  • I sometimes feel self-conscious about my body, even though I lost all this weight. I have big shoulders and arms from swimming, which can make clothes shopping a challenge. And I have some loose skin on my stomach that makes me unhappy. There isn’t much I can do about that.
  • I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but then, I live in Oregon where it’s dark and rainy for 9 months of the year, so I’m not all that surprised. Exercise helps a lot. So do vacation somewhere sunny!
  • My boyfriend and I are huge fans of Vegas and try to go once a year (it doesn’t always work out that way). Michael is a great poker player and I’m pretty good at roulette (which is a fluke I’m sure!).

Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I hope you stick around and keep reading!

QUESTION: Are you a new reader? Introduce yourself!

Repost: FAQ – Part One

Reposted for new readers: I love getting mail from readers! I get a lot of emails with the same questions and realized I never wrote a FAQ post addressing a lot of them! So here goes. πŸ™‚

FAQs

How tall are you and how much do you weigh now?

I’m 5’5 and I currently weigh 144 pounds. My goal weight was 150, so it makes me pretty happy that I was able to lose a little bit more and maintain it. I like having that “buffer” between my goal weight and what I weigh now.

How much did you weigh at your heaviest?

At my heaviest I was about 255 pounds. I started tracking my weight loss progress a month after I started swimming, so 250 was my first recorded weight.

Do you still run?

Not really. The IT Band injury I had in 2010 was a big setback. I eventually got back to running after months of rehab. I was consistently running about 5 miles at a time with no injury until November of 2011. My knee started to bother me again and I quit running. I want to get back to it. I’ve been slowly running 1 mile at a time when my knee feels up to it. I don’t know that I will ever really get back to running like I did before the injury.

What is your favorite fitness activity?

Probably swimming because it was my first love and it was the activity that helped me lose 100 pounds. When I was obese, I did not start doing any other fitness activities until I’d lost about 40 pounds. Then I added the elliptical and eventually started running.

How many calories do you eat a day now?

It varies. My base is 1,600 calories. If I exercise, I eat more calories. For example, on heavy fitness days when I burn 700 calories, I will eat between 2,000-2,100 calories. I’m not trying to lose weight right now, just maintain, and don’t restrict my calories on days my body needs the fuel. On rest days, I try to eat between 1,600-1,800 calories.

How did you start to lose weight? And where do I start?

I knew it was time to make a change. I started by swimming. I swam a few times a week for whatever I could handle. It wasn’t much and I had to rest a lot in between laps. Eventually I built up my stamina. I swam for about a month before I started counting my calories. Doing those two things separately helped me a lot. I didn’t get overwhelmed with trying to tackle both. Eventually my new lifestyle was fairly easy to maintain. Counting my calories will always be part of my life.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, start by reading this series I wrote:

Week One,Β Week One Check In

Week TwoΒ ,Β Week Two Check In

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

My suggestion is to use a system that works for you to record your calories or Weight Watchers points. There are websites, phone apps, or write it down by hand. Check out this guest post:Β The Battle of The Calorie Counters.

What was your favorite race?

This is a hard one. I liked a lot of races I did and they each had unique challenges. While Hood to Coast was a challenge (Why I Wouldn’t Do Hood To Coast Again), I don’t regret doing it and it was such an amazing event that I am glad I can say “I ran Hood to Coast.”

But honestly, I’d have to say that the Portland Century was probably my favorite race to-date. First, I trained better for it. I was more prepared and I recovered quickly, without any injury (bonus!). Second, the weather was absolutely perfect–sunny and warm and just a really fantastic summer day. Lastly, it was an event I did with Michael and that made me happy. I love that we can do activities like that as a couple and cross the finish line together! It just makes it all more special. πŸ™‚

Any advice for choosing my first race?

My advice is to start small. Don’t expect to run a marathon your first try. I did a 5k for my first race and built up to it. Consider the time of year and the potential nasty weather when choosing a race. And have fun!

Have you ever gained any weight back after losing it?

I have struggled. After losing 110 pounds and keeping it off for almost a year, I started taking a medication inΒ conjunctionΒ with also running a lot (i.e. also eating a lot more). I didn’t realize that the medication I was taking was causing the weight to creep up on the scale. I gained about 15 pounds and realized what was going on. I stopped taking the medication and the weight came off.

I want to buy a bike. How do I get the right one?

I have the perfect posts for you. Read these:

How to Buy a Bike – Part 1

How to Buy a Road Bike – Part 2

Bike Buying Mistakes

I want to start commuting to work on my bike. Any tips?

I have lots of tips! My suggestion is to practice the route you are going to take on the weekend and time yourself so you aren’t late for work. And check out this post: Tips For Commuting By Bike.

You eat a lot of meats. How come?

I was actually a vegetarian for over a decade. I was unhealthy and when I started running I found that I was craving meat. I tried to trick my body with the faux meats but it didn’t get rid of the craving. I am a full-fledged meat eater now and I feel a million times better. Our meals rotate. We eat a lot of fish (salmon, shrimp, scallops) alternating it with things like chicken, ground turkey, pork chops and on occasion steak.

How long have you been with your boyfriend? Do you ever struggle with staying healthy together?

Michael and I will be celebrating our 4 year anniversary this June. We were friends for about 5 months before we started dating. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 4 years! Michael is a wonderful addition to my life and I am so happy that we are together. He challenges me, he supports me, we have fun together and it’s just nice to come home to a smiling face that makes me happy.

We’ve lived together almost 3 years. Moving in together posed some challenges for me. I realized pretty quickly that my eating habits would change because I was living with someone else who also had a say in the food we bought. There was a transition time and we eventually worked things out. Compromising helps. If he wants pizza, we get the deLite thin crust (lower calorie) pizza. He’s more open to eating veggies. πŸ™‚ We work together to enjoy our dinners together, eat healthy and have fun too!

This concludes the first FAQ post. Keep the questions coming! Especially from the new readers. πŸ™‚

QUESTION: Do you have a burning question you need answered?