Since hitting about 70-75 pounds gone, I seem to have crossed the threshold “in real life” where most people can tell I’ve “been losing weight, haven’t you?” When I say yes, I’ve lost a bunch, they always ask how I did it. I find myself telling the story over and over, so I figured I’d put it here for posterity.
- June, 2007: I started the Couch to 5K program. I used Robert Ullrey’s podcasts, which are available here, to keep me going. On Week 7 of the program, I ran my first 5K, an Independence Day run. The program works!
- When I was about eight weeks in, I started doing South Beach. Starting a diet while simultaneously starting a running program isn’t advised, since your body needs extra calories for energy at first. Mind you, you shouldn’t necessarily eat more when you start running. By eight weeks of running, I had just reached the point where my distances and running times were beginning to add up to enough to cause weight loss on their own, and when I started South Beach, the pounds began to fall off.
- July, 2007: I discovered that I suck at dieting. When I cut back on bad carbs, I fell way short on total calories without realizing it, and it took several disastrous attempts at running for me to figure that out. I joined SparkPeople.com as a way of simply tracking what I was eating so as to avoid doing that again. I continued to use my own eating plans, based on South Beach (SparkPeople’s menus are not my cup of tea).
- When the time changed and I was no longer able to get runs in before Eric left for work in the morning (I don’t like running in the dark by myself!), we joined a gym and I started using the treadmill on work days. It’s boring, but it fills the need. I also started doing two days of weight training between running days.
- Now I’ve reached the point where I’m playing fast and loose with the South Beach guidelines, but I’m continuing to use the calorie, carb, and fat trackers on SparkPeople, which have kept me losing weight. I also do a lot of shopping online through PeaPod, and that helps encourage me to plan meals in advance, for which I frequently rely heavily on SparkRecipes and on the South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook (the foods in which involve low prep times; a big criticism many people have about South Beach is that the regular cookbook has you chopping for ages).
- Winter, 2008-2009: A discovery! Apparently, Seasonal Affective Disorder can cause sugar cravings. I’m focusing on keeping those under control now. Mostly, I’m in weight maintenance mode at this point, at about 120 pounds down since the beginning, but I’m struggling with how to maintain while training for my (gulp! And yay!) first marathon. This kind of mileage apparently requires more calories each week than I’d been getting, but trying to make sure that I’m getting that much in terms of foods that will actually be helpful and healthful for me is a challenge. I’m getting there!
That’s it! Any questions?
Flash-forward seven years…
Well, I’m still running! I did have a hiccup when I lost perhaps a bit too much weight, and my body decided it needed to shut down reproductive capacities, just in case we were starving to death. I put a bit back on, and now things are just fine again. And I ran that marathon I mentioned back then, and then I ran some more, and then I ran a couple of 50Ks (that’s 31 miles, for the folks counting at home), a timed 6-hour race, and a 50-miler.
No, haven’t lost my mind yet. Not even on any of the spills I’ve taken on the trails often involved in those longer distances. Did you know you need a certain level of coordination to do those without falling? I haven’t done anything too serious (cracked a couple ribs, tore something in my shoulder, etc.), but I’ve backed off a little on the truly technical trails until I can improve my proprioception (basically, your understanding of where your body is in space as you move, so you don’t trip over stuff).
Oh, and then I had to take some time off in 2013 for a completely out-of-the-blue medical bonanza that involved mysterious internal bleeding and inopportune fainting. Coming back since then has been difficult, but I’m still at it! Next race (as of now, September of 2015) is a marathon next month, in which I do not anticipate doing well, since grad school has kicked my training’s butt, but I’ll finish, by hook or by crook. Story of my life, right?