Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No title. No excuses. Just life.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am the most unreliable blogger ever. I'm also the most inconsistent runner ever. I am incapable of sticking to my weight-loss or running resolutions.

I am, essentially, the most fickle runner you will ever meet.

That's changing now. It has to.

In 2007, I ran my first and only marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I raised money to go to cancer research and patient support, even though I had no direct connection to cancer - my family had always been lucky in that regard.

That changed on September 22, when I found out that my father has Stage 3 stomach cancer.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My parents told me over the phone, and I just completely broke down. My girlfriend had moved out temporarily that afternoon, and it was like my entire life, my entire safety net, everything that I believed in and looked to for strength, had up and left.

My lifelong struggle with weight has always upset my father. I ran my first race with Dad, and when I decided to run the Rock & Roll Marathon, I tried to convince him to join me. Dad is a runner, a health nut, an avid gym-rat. Until he got cancer.

Dad was also overweight as a child. He worked to get it off, and he's worked ever since to keep it off. Dad has always been one of the healthiest people I know.

He's staying strong, he's not letting the chemo get him down, and he's actually gained back some of the weight he lost when he was really sick and unable to eat. But if there was one thing Dad has always wanted for me, it was to end this struggle with my weight.

I'm running the NYC Half Marathon with LIVESTRONG, and am raising money to help the fight against cancer. I have a personal connection now...I have someone to fight for.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So There's This Shirt...

This past Halloween I was already well on my way to being the largest I have ever been. Some people see this as ironic: "Didn't you just run a marathon relay? 7.1 miles? Aren't you running a 5-mile race in a few weeks?". Yes, yes, and yes. I was still gaining weight like there was no tomorrow.

This is a picture of a bunch of people who went out on Halloween. We were in Provincetown, MA, and the lady and I were dressed as Bad 80's Prom. She's in the awesome fuscia dress with mullet, and I'm in the blue polo with craptastic plastic sunglasses.


Maybe you can't really see it here, but my belly is overflowing my pants, and you can actually see my belly-button through the shirt.

I'm wearing that same outfit right now (when you unpop the collar and remove the craptastic sunglasses and sweater around the shoulders, it's actually a decent work outfit. Promise). And...It actually fits. Better than it did then.

So far, I'm down 7 pounds and have begun working out in earnest. I'm going to post some pictures from Christmas below (right after my surgery, and when I think I actually weighed more than I did when I started Weight Watchers). After that, I'm putting pictures up from this past weekend. Let me know what you think.

Christmas (that's me and my two brothers - one human, one dog):

And this is last weekend. I was one happy kid, don't you think?

Anyway. I'm pretty pleased with myself so far :-) Here's hoping that I hit my 5% goal tomorrow when I weigh in.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Weekends are disasters for me

Yeah. I've been slacking with the blogging. Partially because I'm embarrassed of my complete lack of willpower on the weekends. Partially because I gained .6 pounds last Friday at my weigh-in (pretty much expected, which I'll get into later). Partially because I can't figure out how to eat healthy while maintaining the lifestyle I had before. It's really difficult, to be honest.

So, last Friday, as I mentioned, I gained .6 pounds. I expected this. I had lost 5.6 pounds the week before, and anyone who watches The Biggest Loser knows that there is a Week 2 curse. This essentially states that if you lost a lot of weight in the first week, you'll probably stay the same or gain the next week. I also had been really, really slacking with my water consumption. Really, though, I was just glad that I only gained .6. It could have been A LOT worse.

Weekends are tough. I don't have the structure of a workday to base myself on. I have a fridge full of food that I can munch on at any given time. If I'm away for the weekend (like I was this past weekend), I always end up going out to dinner.

But I'm trying to make better decisions at restaurants, too. Let's review last weekend, shall we? The lady and I were going to West Long Branch to spend the entire day looking at apartment complexes. We stopped at Starbucks to get some coffee and breakfast, where I had a tall one-pump skinny vanilla latte. Points? 2. Breakfast was the Perfect Oatmeal with brown sugar and dried fruit. Points? 5. A 7-point breakfast, but not bad for 10AM. Later in the day, while walking down the boardwalk, we stopped for a cappuchino. I got both made with skim milk and no sugar. Again, not bad. And then....

And then...

There was gelato. And it looked delicious. We both wanted some. Normal me would have bought two smalls, one for each of us. I looked at her and said, "we can get it, but we have to share the kiddie size.". It was PERFECT.

She had surprised me earlier in the day with a night away from life at a local hotel. It was great. We really needed some time to ourselves, with no family or roommates or friends to bother us. We needed to recharge our relationship batteries. But of course...That meant that we would have to go out to eat for dinner.

We shared an order of wings, because we're both addicted to wings.
She got a crock of french onion soup, of which I had a spoonful.
For dinner, she had crabcakes and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. Grilled chicken, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, onions, an a balsamic vinagrette. Delicious. I cut it in half, took half the chicken off of one half, and ate only one half. I was pretty proud of myself! I also had two Michelob Ultras with dinner, but at only 2 points apiece I treated myself.

It's not about limiting yourself, I'm realizing. It's about allowing yourself to have what you want, but being conscious of how much you're having. Past-me would have eaten the entire sandwich and not thought about it. Healthy-me knows better.

The other night, I went out for karaoke with the lady, her best friend, his husband, and two of their friends. Apparently karaoke also includes dinner now. I had a chipotle ranch chicken salad, and got grilled chicken instead of chicket cutlet, and kept the dressing on the side instead of pouring it all over the salad. I ended up using only half the dressing they gave.

It's the small changes that can really make or break a meal. I probably saved a few hundred calories on that chicken salad by switching out for grilled chicken, and dipping the salad into the dressing.

So what did all those small changes add up to this week?

A 2-pound weight loss :-D I'm down 7 pounds in three weeks. My goal is to lose 3 lbs next week, so that I can hit an even 10 in one month.

Coming up this weekend - a behind the scenes tour of Yankee Stadium, lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Stadium, and a St. Paddy's Day pub crawl. Let's see what small changes I can make to my antics to save some calories.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowpocolypse: Redux

The snow was supposed to stop THIS MORNING. I'm very disappointed with you, National Weather Service Alert System. Last night, you told me the "Winter Storm Warning" was in effect until 6AM TODAY. Now, it's in effect until 6AM TOMORROW. This morning, my neighborhood was a winter wonderland, and while the majority of the time that's awesome, today it was most definitely NOT.

See, today was my first weigh-in. And I'm still scared shitless of walking on slippery, snow- and ice-covered sidewalks, because if I slip and fall my shoulder is gonna go all tear-y on me again. And honestly? Do.Not.Want. So I was faced with this decision today: Stay home from work and miss my weigh-in, or make the Walk of Slushy Doom and take my chances.

I opted for choice B. Because I've worked damn hard this week, and I deserved to see if my work paid off.

It did. To the tune of 5.6 pounds!

Damn straight. I hit the five pound goal in one week.

Total weight lost: 5.6 lbs.
Current weight: 193.6.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birthday Celebration Dinner

The first time I joined Weight Watchers, you only had your allotted X points for the day, and that was it. You could earn extra points by working out, but you had to use them that day. As far as I can remember, you weren't allowed to bring over unused points from one day to the next. Use'em or lose'em.

Now, they have these things called Weekly Points. It's X number of extra points that you get to use however you want to during the week. Also, any points to accrue by working out can be used at any time during the week.

At my current weight, I have 35 weekly points to do with as I please. I also earned 5 extra points on Monday for cycling at >12mph for 30 minutes. So, that's 40 points for me to use and abuse. Or just use.

Yesterday was the lady's mothers birthday. Her mom passed away five years ago from cancer, and every year on her mom's birthday and anniversary of her passing, she goes out for a cosmo to celebrate her mom's life. Cosmo's were Margie's drink, the lady says, and she could drink three of them and still walk in stiletto's without spilling a drop. I have three beers and sometimes spill out of a pint glass while walking in sneakers, so that is a feat to be very much admired.

So, yesterday I took the lady out for a cosmo and dinner. Date night! She had a cosmo, I had a vodka and club soda. 3 points! Then, I splurged. I had a grass-fed cheeseburger (the burger was grass-fed, not the cheese) with a side-salad instead of fries. And, before I count the points in that, can I just say that it was the best burger to ever have graced my mouth? I can? Awesome, thanks.

It was the best burger to ever have graced my mouth. By far, one of the best meals I've had out in recent (and not-so-recent) memory. And something I can actually, truly, appreciate because I've stopped eating crap. Perhaps that's why it tasted so good - I'm looking back over my food journal, and all of the refined and processed crap has pretty much been cut out of my diet so now there is a greater appreciation for food that is actually good.

The salad was damn good, too.

It gave me a pretty big hit on the points, though. The burger itself ended up being 8.5 points, plus another 3 for the bun and two for the cheese, and 3 for the dressing used on the salad (a basic balsamic vinaigrette, it tasted like, but I'm adding a point or two just in case - I'd rather overestimate than underestimate). So 16.5 points for dinner.

It put me at 33 for the day, which is using 6 of the Weekly Points and leaving me with 29 Weekly Points left, and 5 Activity Points.

I learned, though, that I CAN go out to dinner. That I shouldn't avoid eating at restaurants if it's a special occasion. I'm able to go out, enjoy myself, and NOT FEEL GUILTY AFTERWARDS. I think that was the biggest step for me last night - I didn't feel guilty after eating, because I knew that I had allotted for it and I didn't go overboard.

I weigh in tomorrow. I'm nervous. The lady said that she can already see in my face that I'm not as 'puffy' as I was. We normally spend every night together, but she went out to Jersey early Monday morning and didn't come back till after work last night, so she hadn't seen me for over two days. She said she can definitely tell a difference already. That was exciting :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Routines Work

I've heard that it takes two weeks to really get into a routine, to break bad habits, to become accustomed to doing new things. Two weeks seems like a really long time, doesn't it? I mean, that's half a month. 14 days. 336 hours. Oh. Well, when you put it into hours, it really doesn't seem that long.

Anyway. People say that the first two weeks are always the hardest. You're not used to the new things, you want to fall back into your comfort zone and just check out that menu and order takeout, especially because you left the apartment at 7:30AM and didn't get back till 7PM, and you had TWO appointments to get the shoulder checked out (post-op no. 3 and physical therapy) and it's kind of sore and tired and achey, and it's LOST night and you still have to shower and it's raining and nasty, and lunch still isn't made for tomorrow (maybe Subway wouldn't be a bad idea...), and you have to pack a bag because you're going to see the lady the next day in Jersey, and a whole slew of other things that makes you not want to make dinner.

Not that I ran into any of those issues last night. Nosiree.

But if one DID run into all those, and was still just on day five of a new lifestyle, it would be ok if one just did takeout, right?

NO! As much as I didn't want to cook ANYTHING, I ended up throwing together a pretty nice meal for myself. As soon as I got home, and mentally ran through everything I needed to do and whether I just wanted to skip (or order in) dinner, I decided to just do it. I didn't even change out of my work clothes. I boiled a cup of whole-wheat pasta. Cooked a thin piece of chicken fillet. Stir-fried some brocolli and carrots. The end-product? An excellent recreation of something my mom used to make for me and my brother when we were kids. Total time? Twenty minutes.

I took another ten minutes to put together my lunch for the next day after I ate and cleaned up after myself. I'm beginning to actually enjoy the routine of getting everything ready for the next day. I feel like I'm actually taking care of myself. I made my 'normal' sandwich - two slices of whole wheat bread, two slices of American cheese, three slices of deli turkey, baby greens, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a bunch of alfalfa sprouts. It's pretty much a salad on bread. And it's made of AWESOME.

I feel...healthy. I feel lighter. I'm sleeping well at night, I wake up rested and ready to go in the morning, I don't get tired during the day, and I'm happy when I get home. Is this how you feel when you eat correctly? Man, why didn't anyone ever tell me this?

Coming tomorrow: How I handled the Happy Hour I'm going to tonight.

Ashley: 4, Hunger Monster: 0.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ashley: 3, Hunger Monster: 0

I'm very proud of myself so far. It's been hard, but I've been able to stay under my allotted points every day so far. I've had a lot of temptations, the worst of which was on Saturday night. The lady and I had a party to go to, where there would be copious amounts of alcohol consumption. Instead of buying beer like normal, I opted for a flavored vodka and diet club soda. When we got home that night, my roommate tossed in some pizza to heat up and I immediately started salivating. I wanted a slice SO BAD. Drunk hungries are bad hungries. I asked, instead, if I could have a single pepperoni from one of the slices.

It was disgusting. I opened up a bag of carrots and hummus instead. Hunger monster: Defeated!

Earlier that day, the lady cooked breakfast for us. I had a single egg (2 points!), three slices of turkey bacon (1 point!), and a whole wheat english muffin (2 points!). I finished eating before the lady, and instead of finishing her plate I went and grabbed my food journal and a mint or two. I removed myself from a temptation that I otherwise would have given in to. Hunger monster: Defeated!

The next morning, instead of my usual post-drinking breakfast of a bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel, I got egg whites, fresh turkey and a slice of cheese on whole wheat toast. Six points! And mostly satisfying. Hunger monster: Defeated!

I'm learning that I can make healthy choices and still be satisfied. And that I am able to remove myself from situations where I would otherwise make poor decisions.

T-4 days till I weigh in.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking The Leap

Today, I did something that I haven't done in about ten years.

I joined Weight Watchers. For the third time in my life. They say third time's a charm, right?

First time I did it, I lost about thirty pounds. I was 13.

Next time I did it, I was in high school and was too ashamed to admit to myself I was doing it again. I lost five pounds, and stopped going.

This time, I'm hoping things are going to be different. It's a new decade, and my hopes are that this decade aren't as tumultuous weight-wise as the last one. Let's recap the past ten years, shall we?

In 2000, I was in high school. While I was overweight, I was never fat and was still a nationally-ranked field hockey player. I was being recruited by numerous Division 1 schools, as well as the US Military Academy. I probably fluctuated between 160 and 165 all through high school.

In 2003, I entered the US Military Academy and began the hardest, longest, most strenuous, and healthiest six months of my life. I dropped about 25 pounds during that time, weighing in at my lowest ever of 143. I had (probably) around 20% body fat, and muscles galore. I almost had a six-pack, for crying out loud, and could do 3 sets of 6 unassisted pull-ups.

Then they kicked me out, because I'm a big old homo. Depression set in, and I gained almost sixty pounds over the next year and a half. I was going to college, binge drinking every weekend, not working out or taking care of myself, and not really playing any sports.

In 2005 I found out that my college was getting a field hockey team, and the coach would be someone who had recruited me during my high school days. Over the next year, I whipped myself into shape and dropped down to 170. I was also able to run a sub-8 mile, and beat half my team at the majority of the speed and endurance drills we did (as a goalie, that was not expected or required).

In 2007 I started training for, and ran, my first marathon. I also ran a half-marathon that year. I ran my second half-marathon, and my first triathlon, in 2008. I was probably hovering between 165 and 175 those years.

I moved to New York City and discovered the beauty of take-out. I've been living on my own for three years, and I still haven't learned to cook. I've been fighting injuries, and I just had shoulder surgery which has kept me from working out for the past 2+ months. I've also entered into a relationship with an amazing woman, and with that came the requisite relationship weight-gain.

Since my last serious foray into racing, when I was fluctuating between 165 and 175, I've put on some serious weight. I weighed in at Weight Watchers this morning, and it broke my heart to see how much I've let my body deteriorate over the past two years.

The final number? I weighed in at 199.2.

I've never weighed this much before in my life. And I will never weigh this much again. I am tired of my seesawing weight. I'm tired of having clothes in my closet that don't fit me anymore (for bad reasons. I'd love to have clothes in my closet that are too big for me!). I am, in short, disgusted with myself.

I have a lot of issues with food. Right now, I have peanut butter bars in the drawer of my desk that I bought at the meeting this morning. I can't concentrate on ANYTHING because all I want are those damn bars. If there is food in the vicinity, I will eat it even if I don't want it. That's one of the reasons I do take-out so much - it gives me a certain amount of food, normally with no leftovers. If I have food in the house, I WILL eat it. Even if I'm not hungry. Even if I don't necessarily like it. Even if I have to sneak it.

I have an obsession with food. I've always had an obsession with food. I need to END this obsession with food. It won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight. But it WILL happen. It HAS to happen.

And I WILL do it this time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Running Fail

I tried to run. I really did. I warmed up for five minutes, like the program instructs. Then I broke into a SLOW jog. I'm talking 5.2 mph on the treadmill. I was able to keep it up for 1/8 of a mile.

Why? Not because I was tired. Not because I was out of shape.

My damn shoulder hurt.

I guess I'm still not ready to run :-(

Ended up walking for 30 minutes, with an incline ranging from 3.0 to 9.0.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life Post-Surgery

I really need some sort of electro-shock therapy to keep up with this blog. I blog for two or three weeks, ignore it for two or three months, rinse and repeat. Oh well.

Life has sucked the past two months. I had surgery on the 21st, for the injury I mentioned in the last entry. It ended up being a bit more invasive than anticipated, and instead of just reattaching the cartilage in the shoulder, the doc had to drill a hole in my bone to reattach my bicep tendon as well. I was immobilized for two weeks, and in a sling for four. I've been doing physical therapy for three weeks now, and I can finally break the plane that runs parallel to the floor. I'm still not allowed to do anything that uses the bicep muscle though.


Last week I got cleared to run. Well, not run. But move forward at a slightly faster-than-walking pace for brief periods of time. My plan, therefore, is to begin doing the Couch-to-5K training plan.

This is a bit of a hit to the ego. Less than three years ago I ran my first marathon. I ran my most recent half-marathon less than two years ago. I've been running (although not consistently) ever since. Even when I take time off, I can normally go right back to running a 33-minute 5K.

But it's OK, I keep telling myself. I need to let me shoulder heal. I need to start slowly so that I don't kill myself.

And, let's be honest. I've gained a significant amount of weight since the surgery.

So that's why I'm starting the Cto5K. With the jog/walk/job intervals, it will keep me honest about not overtaxing my shoulder. It will allow me to safely get back into running. Since it is a 3x/week program, I can do it on the days I don't have physical therapy.

And because I do have a fairly significant running history, I'm not starting at the beginning of the program. Cto5K is typically an 8-week program, building up to run a (duh) 5K at the end of the 8 weeks. I'm going to start at week 4, day 1. This has me doing 2 miles today, but not running more than .5 miles at a time.

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
I think I can handle that. We shall see.