My running story

Feb., 2006  "Finishing"

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! :mrgreen: 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?

Midway through the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon 50K, 2014.

Midway through the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon 50K, 2014.

39 comments

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  1. Daphne

    Congratulations. You look fabulous. And I’m sure you feel even better! Would you be comfortable sharing what your calorie, carb and fat numerical targets are each day? Thanks.

  2. Carrie

    Not a problem! They’ve changed over time (SparkPeople adjusts them automatically for you), but as they stand at present, my calorie goal range is somewhere between 1200 and 1550; my carb range (which I can never seem to hit using South Beach) is 163 – 236 grams; fat gram range is 32 – 56; and protein should fall between 60 – 127 grams.

  3. Cristen

    You look fabulous! The husband just dropped from obese to overweight. I’m just waiting to drop a pant size. πŸ˜›

    Thank you for the link for the couch to 5k! I’m thinking it would be good for the husband, dogs and I.

  4. akemi

    Add me to the list of people you’ve inspired. I did my second day of couch to 5k today. So far I’m loving it! Thank you!!!

  5. Vena

    Congrats, you’re an inspiration to me also. I had lost 80 lbs but my weight loss stalled for the past two years. Thru you I discovered couch to 5K and although I never thought I could be a runner, I’ve been running for the last two months. I’ve lost 10 more lbs and only have 10 more to goal. Keep up the good work and thanks for the link.

  6. Carrie

    Best advice I can give for you guys starting C25K: sign up for a race that’s scheduled about the time you’ll finish! Paying the registration fee and putting it on your calendar will give you incentive not to give up, even if you don’t quite make it and have to walk a bit during the race (I had to on my first one, and lots of people do!)

  7. Shana

    You look incredible! Good for you. πŸ˜€

    I started running several years ago, then got pregnant. Three pregnancies later, and I’m pretty fat now. I broke my leg in 2006 that left me in a cast for 7 months, and now I can’t run anymore. I’m wondering if an eliptical would have the same affect.

    Anyway, you look like you feel good and that’s wonderful.

  8. Sarah

    Did you say that there are pod casts to go with the running program ?

  9. Carrie

    Yep, linked up there! πŸ™‚

    Ooh, Sarah, I hope you do the program! Come running with meeeeee! I’m actually thinking of starting up a Family Club running/walking group come warmer weather – sort of combine with the stroller walkers, maybe – if I can find enough circular loops that we could at least pass each other on a regular basis. πŸ˜‰

  10. Kelly

    When you reach a year on your weight loss, you are eligible to sign up with the National Weight Control Registry, which I think is really cool. Their website is at http://www.nwcr.ws.

    Also, I wanted to recommend subscribing to Nutrition Action, which is the newsletter to the Center For Science in the Public Interest. The newsletter is short and sweet to read, and they pack a lot of great information in it. Their website is http://www.cspinet.org.

  11. Kathie

    Wow you are an inspiration. Do you think a 56 year old can do the Couch to 5K progam? I recommited to Weight Watchers but need to exercise too!!!

    HELP!!

  12. Carrie

    Oh, definitely! C25K is such a gentle, gradual program that I’d recommend it to anybody! Of course, if you have other medical issues (bad knees, etc.), you’d want to ask a doctor, but otherwise, I can’t see why it would be limited to younguns! πŸ˜†

  13. wendymc

    I was looking for an email contact for you, but will just post here instead.

    THANK YOU for posting about the C25K program. Your success with it was a huge factor in my taking it on this year. I’ve always (since I was like 10!) wanted to be a runner, but am just not built like a runner, so I didn’t give it a go. But with this program, I did it! I started in January, and ran my first 5k on March 17th, and rocked it! (21minutes!)

    I haven’t lost any weight, but I’m hopefull I can do that soon, too!

  14. Jasson

    Hi, I am Melissa Goines brother Jasson. Take it from someone that has lost weight 3 TIMES now, went from 273 to 191 pounds, then back up, then back down, then back up, back down and unfortunately back up AGAIN, that you have done an AWESOME job! Melissa told me you did the TEN MILE light house run and you did it with 9 minute something miles, that is GREAT! You are totally an inspiration and you UNLIKE ME have kept it off so far! Way to go, BIG difference, I had seen you at least once and remember what you looked like, now you like like an athletic person! All I can say I wow!

    Jasson

  15. Meghan

    I am starting the c25k program this coming week. I need to lose 100 pounds and probably then some. You have inspired me. I would love to be able to email you for support on my journed. I can’t afford to give up this time. I am 31 and I want to get healthy so that I can have children. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. You always think in the back of your mind no matter how motivated that you can’t really do it and seeing people who have is proof and it helps stay motiviated. thank you!

    Meghan πŸ˜‰

  16. HaggisGirlie

    I have just finished week 5 of the c25k program and I have to say the 20 min run almost finished me off… however, I did find myself listening into the first few mins of the week 6 podcast to find out what next week holds for me – so I can’t have been put off entirely! I wanted to let you know that I don’t think I would have started this program / believed in it if I hadn’t read your story – so thanks! The question I have is this… I think I am a similar size and body type to where you started. I am headed into week 6 and have only really seen about 2-3 lb weight loss although I definately feel better / fitter. I haven’t added in any more exercise above the program and while I do feel like I am making better food choices I haven’t really attacked the food side of the equation yet. Need to get some internal energy up to address that. So… based on what little you know of my journey thus far.. is there any indication of when I will start shedding the pounds, assuming I stick with the program and begin to address my food intake. I think I remember reading that you noticed a difference in weight loss around week 8. Thanks again – you are an inspiration!

  17. Carrie

    I didn’t really start losing weight until 8 or so weeks in. It was about at that point that the weekly mileage began to reach a number that could affect weight loss, and it’s when I felt that the running was a strong enough habit that I could start looking at food and other areas of health. You do need fuel to run, so at the beginning, it makes sense to only focus on the running and not try to focus on food as well. One thing at a time. πŸ˜‰

    Good for you, Wendy! πŸ™‚ That’s an awesome time; beats my PR! πŸ˜€

    Sure, you can email me, Meghan. πŸ™‚ I’d encourage you to journal about it, too; having records on which I could reflect was immensely helpful to me.

  18. Renee

    Hi Carrie – used to read you on LJ but I’m not there anymore. Wanted to come back to this site because of everything I have seen online, your experience makes the most sense. I’ve gone on and off Couch to 5k and am more recently on it for the last couple of weeks. What you said about weight loss showing after about eight weeks makes sense, in fact, everything you said here makes sense. I need to lose about 50 to 75 lbs in total and I wanted you to know that I have directly drawn inspiration from your journey. Many thanks, Carrie.

    Renee.

  19. Laura

    Hey there, inspiration! Time to update this page to include what you’ve done over the past six months or so to be so TINY! I’m really proud of you!!!

  20. Missy

    I’m terribly excited. I was reading here a few weeks ago, and was so inspired by your story, and so enjoyed reading your blog, that I popped off and joined SparkPeople (I’ve been working on this baby weight for a loooooooong time.) Then I forgot where I was reading, and how I got here in the first place. Lucky for me, you commented on another blog I read. So I found you!
    Thanks for the recommendations, and I look forward to starting my own journey.

  21. Tamara

    You are an inspiration! After having three kids back to back I have found it hard to lose weight AND have energy! I ran/walked my first 5k a few years back and came in almost last. I wasn’t prepared and want to go for it again this year. I am going to look at the sites you listed and go from there! Thanks for sharing your success story!

  22. kate

    Carrie,

    I used to read your blog, but after I had a baby in July of 07, I had less time on the internet and stopped. So I hadn’t stopped by until just after you started the C25K program.

    Anyway, came across a link to you and thought, “Oh yeah, I remember Carrie,” so I clicked on it….and WOW. You look fantastic! Congratulations, that is just so impressive. I just started working out a couple of months ago, and it’s so nice to see such an inspiring story!

  23. Joy

    You are one AMAZING woman, Carrie and I’m so proud of you:-) JOY

  24. Hilary

    Omigosh. I used to read your blog years ago when I was big into blogging myself. We had kids around the same time so it was always fun to read about someone going through the similar experiences in raising toddlers.
    For one reason or another I fell away from blogging and only today ran across your name which led me back to your blog. Wow! Look at you! Fantastic! Three cheers for a job amazingly well done! You are an inspiration.
    Happy New Year!

  25. Anon

    Incredible! And absolutely inspiring!

  26. Monica

    Hey Carrie! I used to read (and blog) way back when, and I was checking in on you. You look fantstic. You have inspired me to start the c25k program once more.

  27. BH7272

    Hi Carrie,

    I just read one of your very funny posts on SparkPeople (about the running/pushup workout), and not wanting to start now since you’d be face down in snow every 8 to 9 min! Then I got here from your SparkPeople page, and I think you are amazing! I know several people who think they can’t drop this type of weight through diet and exercise, but you prove it can be done. You should be in the next People magazine “Half their Size” issue. You rock!

  28. McFletcher

    Oh… My….. Gosh! Carrie – I didn’t even recognize you!! I found your blog in 2000 maybe and read pretty regular for a couple years. Reading your blog felt like keeping up with a little sister. I cheered with you when you got pregnant with Sam and then again with Gabe. I identified with your marriage and financial struggles and triumphs. I could remember feeling those things myself and I enjoyed watching you grow through the challenges. You’re a great writer and I enjoy your perspective.

    Anyway.. I was cleaning up my bookmarks and found your site tucked in a folder. I decided to check in on you (it’s been probably 4 years!) and I honestly thought my link was wrong! Who was this cheesehead on my screen? Your cousin? Lol. You still have red hair but you look nothing like you used to! You’ve always been pretty but now you’re HOT girl!! I’ve enjoyed my quick scan to see what you’ve been up to lately. Your boys are growing into fine young men. How does that heppen so quickly? I am so proud of you, not only for this transformation but for who you are as a person. Your words and perspective have been are an inspiration to many people and now your self discipline and hard work is too.

    CONGRATULATIONS on all you’ve accomplished!!

    McFletch

  29. absinthe

    I came across your website oh so many years ago…your first son was just a baby at the time. I occasionally checked back in to read your blog, but haven’t for the past few years. Just tonight I remembered I used to like reading your blog, and discovered that ever so much has been going on in your life! You look fantastic! I am so happy for you that you have escaped the prison of obesity. You are an inspiration!

  30. ashley

    Time for me to change my sugar-laden ways (weighs?).

    I’ve just seen a new GYN. I’m between 30 and 50 pounds overweight. And my blood pressure is high: 139/90.

  31. Running Betty

    I’ve had to learn that carbs are not evil, but white carbs may be. THus 100% whle wheat bread, long grain rice, quinoa, carrots, etc are carbs – but help me get energy. Whereas bagels, white bread, white pasta, white rice, and you can buy in a box with sugar in the first 3 ingredients is probably a bad carb and going to make me gain weight.

  32. Jeni D.

    Found your blog through a friend of a friend. Thank you for posting your progress, I really appreciate reading your journey. I started C25K in January, and I’m 4 runs from graduation. Started off as someone who was 35 years old, 300+lbs, and now I’m 20 lbs lighter and running almost 30 minutes continuously. I haven’t really noticed a shape in my body yet but I’m so addicted to the running itself, I can’t see how I would stop at this point. BUT I’M RUNNING!

    Anyway, I just wanted to post and say “Thank you” for being such a great motivator.

  33. hilda

    Congrats on your wonderful weight loss and life changing, accomplishment!! What wonderful changes you have made and I’m sure bad habits you have overcome. As someone recently posted, you have broken out of the “prison of obesity”. I SO agree with this. I SO want & need to do this as well!!! I was introduced to C25K last year and did it successfully for 3 months, never having been a runner before. I was amazed I was actually beginning to run! It was especially good for me mentally as well as physically. Then Christmas season came & in January my dad passed away & I stopped my C25K routine through this very stressful time. I started back this week! I want to stick with it this time and finally lose the close to 100 lbs. I need to lose! THANKS & again CONGRATS!!!

  34. hilda

    Question…I have an ipod nano & would love to run while listening to my music and a C25K app. Anyone have a place I can download that from? thanks!

  35. Carrie

    Now, that I don’t know, though I know I’ve heard some folks talking about doing it. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  36. Club Penguin

    Would you suggest that I go to the gym or diet to lose weight?

    1. Carrie

      Either. Both. πŸ™‚ I don’t like the term “diet” as it applies to the idea of widespread deprivation, but it’s a wise idea to examine what you’re putting into your body for fuel, certainly. Most of us are overfueling for the tasks we’re requiring of ourselves, and we’re using “dirty gas,” so to speak. And you don’t need a gym, but pushing your body to see what it can do is a hugely rewarding thing, even just done for itself and not for weight loss. If I never lost a pound from running, I’d still have done it, simply because of how much better I feel as a runner than I ever did before. But, yes, certainly it’s a wise idea to combine exercise with more thoughtful eating when trying to lose weight.

  37. Pat "Mo" Daley

    Carrie,

    Kathy W. gave me your blog site. Its intelligent, fun, and honest. Not sure you remember me at all, but I marched in the Pride as a tuba player. I was talking to Kathy about doing a race called Warrior Dash, and have a plan to get me there (8 months away). The plan was Couch to 5k. Also, I had signed up for Sparks a couple weeks ago. I see what you have done, and am inspired by it. I wish you the best on your weigh management and will get back in touch with you as to how I am doing with the program.

  38. Meredith

    Hi Carrie!

    I work for the Half Size Me show, which is a podcast dedicated to helping people lose weight and maintain their weight loss. Heather, the host of Half Size Me, has lost 170 pounds and is working to spread the word that losing weight and getting healthy is possible. She loves your message and would like to interview you for the show.

    If you would like to check out the Half Size Me show, you can listen to past episodes in iTunes, Stitcher radio or at http://www.halfsizeme.com. If you are interested in scheduling an interview, Heather records week nights at 8pm EST ​over Skype or the phone. Interviews last about an hour. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks,
    Meredith

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