Friday, February 28, 2014

Weight Loss Confessions

Weight loss is hard, but I feel like sometimes my posts come across as overly "rosy" in an effort to be positive and upbeat. To be completely honest, though, I think being overly self-congratulatory (myself included!) doesn't capture the whole journey. It makes it a) seem easy and b) conceals the parts that continue to be struggles for me, even 15 months in.

But I made this blog to capture the truth, and I'm not sure I've accurately captured that lately. So here's some real talk on the parts of weight loss I still struggle with:

1) I bribe myself with food. All. The. Time.

This salad was a bribe.
My goal this week is to not drink pop at work. And I haven't (hoo-rah!). But I did bribe myself with Starbursts yesterday afternoon when what I really wanted was a 3pm Diet Dr Pepper (amiright?!). And after I bailed on my 5-mile morning run on Wednesday, I bribed myself with Pockets (my favorite healthyish neighborhood fast food place) if I ran the whole five that night. And I bribed myself with indulging in Bagel Friday at work a few weeks ago (I usually avoid it) if I could run a 5K in <30 minutes. So, am I bribing myself with french fries and beefy five-layer burritos? No. But I do bribe myself with "indulgences" on a pretty regular basis.

2) Drinking my calories.


I almost never drink during the week, but I make up for it when I do drink on the weekend (usually just one night). A bottle of wine is 500+ calories, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't qualify as a fruit salad.

3) "Cheat meals."


I hesitate to call them cheats, because I do plan for them. But I eat Jimmy Johns almost every week. And not an unwich because let's be real, the bread is the best part. A 750-calorie #16 Club Lulu with a bag of Thinny Chips (which, spoiler alert, are not much healthier than the regular chips). 

4) Portion control in social settings.


If I'm going to be in a social situation where food is involved (parties, mostly), I don't plan on portion control. I'll hoard my points/calories so I can eat "forbidden foods" to my heart's content. I don't keep most sweets, cheese cubes, chips or snacky appetizers around my apartment because -- shocker! -- I struggle with portion control. Needless to say, allowing myself to gorge every time I'm around these foods at parties isn't helping the problem.

5) Working out my weak zones.

Gimme those arms.
Know why I never want to work out my arms or core? Uh, because these are by far my weakest body parts and I haaaaaaaate arms/core workouts. Mostly core. Doing crunches until your muscles clench up and it hurts your stomach to breathe? I HATE IT. And yet I continue to not see much progress in these areas, and it continues to bother me, and I still do nothing about it. 

Noticing a trend here? Food always was, and likely always will be, my largest struggle. It's not easy to say no to random sweets around the office, and it's hard to stop after a serving size of Fritos at a party. And still, as much as I can control, I do control. I don't keep "danger" foods in my apartment, and I don't have drinks after work if I didn't plan for them. 

At the end of the day, the little things do add up to make a big difference. And ultimately I know that if I win enough little battles along the way, I'll win the war.

What are your biggest weight loss struggles?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weigh Late


Weigh In Wednesday

Last Week's Weight: 166.6
Current Weight: 165.6
Change: -1
Total Loss: -62.4

Is it bad that it's 9:40pm and I'm actually about to go to bed? Because I am.

Anyway, woohoo for a loss this week! I actually had a 5-miler on the schedule this morning, and mid-week long runs still intimidate me for whatever reason. So when it was -12 degrees at 6am, I did this:


And then I laid in bed for 10 minutes and the guilt started to overcome be because I already blew off Monday's run after I fell UP the stairs at the train station that morning and busted my knee and now it's ugly and bruised. So, basically, I couldn't afford to completely blow off a workout. I dragged my carcass out of bed and had a date with week 3 of Ripped in 30 (and a documentary on Netflix, obvi).

Randomly stumbled upon my friend's dad in the Netflix documentary
I was watching this morning?!

BUT THEN by a miracle of God, I rallied my running mojo on the way home from work. I told myself I only needed to do four miles, but by the time I got out there, I just figured I might as well knock out the whole five. Five down in less than 50 minutes, I'll take it!

So, considering I did a two-a-day that consisted of Jillian Michaels + 5 miles, I'm pretty sure that means I should wake up 15lbs lighter and with a 6-pack in the morning.

...right?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Running for Beginners

I've been running consistently (save for injuries) for about a year now, and I still feel like a fraud labeling myself as a runner. If I've learned anything from running blogs, it's that I'm not the only one who feels that way. I'm not a pro and I'm certainly not super fast, but I've come a long way from where I started. Especially for new runners, the sport can be extremely intimidating-- I still look at other runners and think "why can't I be like that? Why can't it be so effortless?!"

From 228 to 168, one year of running progress.
I certainly haven't figured it all out, but here's a bit about my story and my tips for getting started:

I started a training program for The Color Run in October of 2012, shortly before I joined Weight Watchers. I did C25K (Couch to 5K), although I wasn’t as consistent as I could’ve been. I have no idea how long it took me, but I’d guess about 40 minutes. Next, I signed up for a Santa Hustle 5K in early December, shortly after joining WW. I actually was slightly better about training, but I was disappointed with how much I had to walk this race, and I finished in the 38 minutes and change.

After those two 5Ks, I stopped running until about February of 2013. I had issues with shin splints, and I was frustrated with how poorly I felt about walking so much during the Santa Hustle. But I recommitted to running in February of last year and for some reason, it suddenly clicked for me. I was about 30lbs lighter than when I had started, I was noticeably faster, and I really wanted to stick with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad runs… but though discipline, hundreds of miles, a great training plan and way too many early mornings, it's gotten easier over time and I even did something I never imagined I'd do: run a half marathon.

From someone who started at the very beginning and worked my way into only moderately loathing, than tolerating, and now actually enjoying running, here are my top 5 tips for starting to run:

Old shoes and new kicks after my half marathon. 
#5) Get fitted for real running shoes at a real running store. Running puts a ton of stress on your body—it’s critical that you have your feet evaluated by a professional to make sure your shoes provide proper support! Seriously, you will be shocked at the difference that good shoes make in your running.


#4) Drink your water. Take your weight and divide it in half. That’s how much water you should aim to drink each day. Some experts differ, but this is my daily goal and running is much easier when you’ve properly fueled. That, and being properly hydrated will help you avoid the dreaded side-stiches that can be a symptom of dehydration.


#3) Start a training plan. It’s not realistic to go jog an easy 3-miles when you’re a new runner (even running 30 seconds might be difficult when you’re starting!). C25K is an 8-10 week program that works up from run/walking to running a full 5K. You can start a few weeks into the program if it’s too easy, or you can modify and repeat weeks, as needed, if it’s progressing too quickly. I used the Zen Labs C25K app for iPhone – it’s free!

My first race where I didn't walk at all!
#2) Endurance > Speed. When you’re a new runner, speed doesn’t matter. Focus on improving your distance or time spent running, rather than your speed. If you want to stop, just try to slooooow down instead. You can run longer if you don't gas yourself out by going too fast.

Can you guess which sibling got the running genes?
#1) Sign up for a race! You’ll be much more motivated to train when you have a goal race in mind! Give yourself at least 8 weeks to train for a 5K if you’re a beginner, and find a fun local race to sign up for. No matter your pace, running a race is a good way to feel like a real runner, and to see what a fun and welcoming community the running world can be!

What are your top tips for starting a running plan?


Monday, February 24, 2014

It Finally Happened

Fitnasty for Life

Hello friends! How was everyone's weekend? Mine was filled with bowling (confirmed that I'm just as terrible as I've always been), celebrating National Margarita Day, and being a couch slug ALL day on Sunday.

Oh-- and I had a 5-miler on the schedule for Saturday. I was pumped to get out and run, but I'm convinced the universe was conspiring against me. For starters, I've been having issues with iTunes radio. It'll randomly stop playing a song, and I have to go in and re-select the playlist. So that's annoying. Then Garmin got stuck on 1.22 miles for, oh, 15 minutes. And after a 9:15 first mile (speedy for me!), I'm pretty sure it did not take me 15 minutes to run my second mile.

Then... it finally happened. I ate it on the ice on the Lakeshore path. My pride and buns hurt (I have a sweet bruise), but I told myself that as long as I ran 50 minutes, I'd call this run a victory. Katy Perry's "Roar" came on next, which is exactly what I needed, and I finished my loop at 56 minutes. Imagine my happiness when I came home and found out my route was actually 5.76 miles!! Trust me when I say that I never expected to be so speedy (9:49 pace) on my first 5-miler in over 3 months. I've got big plans to work on my speed after the Nike Women's Half, but I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I've improved, especially since taking time off November-January.

Go home Garmin, you're drunk.
On with the goals! Last week's recap:

1) Get in 2 JM dates. Done and done! Man, I forgot how much those damn duck walks hurt.

2) 11K steps a day. Er, I totally slacked on this twice. I hit 15K on two separate days, so that makes up for it, right?

3) Grocery shop and meal plan. Yep-- packed my lunches all week, and only bought 2 meals out (dinner on Friday and lunch on Sunday). Success!

This week:

1) Re-start the 100 pushups challenge. I downloaded this app a million years ago and only made it through about 10 days of the challenge. Tank top season is coming and my guns could use the work.

2) No pop at work. Do you know how much I don't want to make this a goal? Let's be real, I'm never going to give up pop for good, but I don't need the 1-2 cans I drink a week at work.

3) Complete all scheduled runs. After my 5 miler turned into a 5.76 miler and working out 6 days in a row, I gave myself a pass on yesterday's 3-miler. I've been feeling strong so far, and, while I'm definitely sore from the jump from no miles a week to 15+, I want to stick as close to my plan as possible. This week's mileage is 3, 5, 3, 4, 6 for a total of 21 miles. Bring it on!

Your turn! What are your goals for the week?




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Power of "I Can"

Weigh In Wednesday


Last Week's Weight: 166.4
Current Weight: 166.6
Change: +0.2
Total Loss: -61.4


Last night marked the final meeting of the Chicago Achievers Project, and Andrea left us with some words that really stuck with me:


I told myself "I can't" a million times before I told myself I could. I told myself "I'm fine" and "I won't" a lot too. Unsurprisingly, that negativity got me exactly nowhere, except heavier. Heavier to the tune of 228lbs. 

Throughout the Chicago Achievers Project, I've been reminded of exactly how empowering it is to finally tell myself "I can." In part, because it's easier to understand what could possibly happen when you're on the other side of the equation. When you're still heavy, saying "I can" is a gamble. It's uncomfortable. It's unknown. At least when you say "I can't" you know exactly what you're setting yourself up for: complacency.

I never lost weight when I told myself I wasn't a morning person so I couldn't work out in the mornings. 

I never lost weight when I told myself I couldn't order a salad when there were burgers on the menu.

I never lost weight when I told myself I couldn't work out after work, I was too tired.

I never lost weight when I told myself that I'd already messed up, I couldn't re-start my diet until Monday (and I might as well eat all my favorite bad foods until then). 

I never lost weight when I told myself I couldn't run, my legs were sore.

I never lost weight when I told myself I didn't feel like cooking, so I might as well get takeout.

I never lost weight when I told myself I couldn't stop eating pita chips, so I might as well finish the bag.


I never lost weight when I told myself I couldn't pass up free food at work, so I might as well just eat it.

I never lost weight when I told myself I just wasn't meant to be small, because I'd tried before and failed. 

Noticing a trend?

One day, I stopped saying I can't. Instead, I started saying "I can" and "I will."

And I did.

I'm not done yet, but I'm a lot close than I was when I thought I couldn't.

Sixty-one pounds and counting. 

That's the power of "can."


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grocery Shopping for One

I get a lot of questions about what I actually eat and how I grocery shop for the week. I think grocery shopping is a little bit of an art and a science, but after much trial and error I've figured out what works for me. 



My basic approach to grocery shopping for one is to figure out 2-3 "recipes" for the week (I use the term "recipes" loosely, because sometimes it's just chicken and a veggie), and then I stock up on my snacks and other essentials. To be completely honest, I usually pick recipes based on 2 things: what I'm craving, and how many ingredients I'll have to buy. Often, I'll choose "recipes" that I can eat multiple days in a row, and just vary them slightly throughout the week. In all, I probably spend about $50-60 a week shopping, maybe slightly more on weeks I'm stocking up on high ticket items like protein powder and laundry detergent.

Taco chicken chili (only 8PP or 366 calories for all of this goodness!)
This week I'll be eating:

  • Buffalo shrimp and bell peppers over brown rice
  • The remnants of my taco chicken chili (a la Skinnytaste)
  • Simple chicken and veggies. 
I don't nearly have the time/patience to coupon-clip, but pre-seasoned chicken breasts have been BOGO at my grocery store a lot lately, which explains why I've been eating a TON of chicken :)

My buffalo shrimp will be almost this exact dish, except with shrimp instead of chicken
Before shopping, I'll take inventory of the fridge and cupboards to figure out what I need to make my recipes throughout the week. Often, I'll work backwards from what I already have in order to meal-plan with some existing ingredients. The buffalo shrimp, for example, will be made with a pound of frozen shrimp I had leftover from a few weeks ago, brown rice I already have, and Frank's Red Hot that I also already have. If inspiration and/or motivation to cook are lacking, my go-to recipe is chicken or fish (tilapia is my favorite) and veggies, which almost always means green beans or broccoli. Simple, easy to cook, and very few ingredients required!

Typical grocery haul.
Next, I'll figure out what other ingredients I need throughout the week for breakfast and snacks. Before starting the Chicago Achiever's Project, I ate the exact same oatmeal for breakfast every morning, so that was easy enough. Now that I'm focusing on increasing my fruit/veggie and protein intake, I've been having smoothies for breakfast every morning. I try to stockpile extra frozen fruit (mixed berries, usually) when it's on sale, or even fresh fruit I can freeze myself if there's a special. I put yogurt and/or protein powder in my smoothies for extra nutrients. I also always always have bananas around, both for smoothies and snacks.

Eating cukes off paper plates since '89.
For snacks I always keep the same staples around:

  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Green bell peppers
  • Apples
  • Better'n Peanut Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Almonds
  • String cheese

I don't buy all of these every week, but usually stock up on whatever I'm running low on, or whatever I'm craving. I've very much learned that failing to plan is planning to fail, so I always keep healthy snacks around. Keep your schedule in mind when snack-planning! For example, I'll bring a protein bar on Tuesday nights to munch on between the gym, Chicago Achievers Project meetings and home (since I won't get home until 8:30pm). Figure out when you'll be snacking, and what will work best for your schedule and eating habits.

So, that was a long-winded explanation for how I grocery shop! My disclaimer is that grocery shopping in the city is its own kind of beast. For example, I don't buy milk (so heavy to lug home, and I don't drink it anyway), or juice (again, heavy), and it's hard to buy big fruits like watermelon for the same reason. But if you adjust these tips to fit your own likes/dislikes, I think these general rules can work for everyone.

If I had to pick my top 3 grocery shopping tips, they would be:

  1. Make a plan. Some people need to plan every single meal throughout the week (props to those people, I'm not that organized!), or others just plan a rough idea of what meals to make. Either way, do not go grocery shopping without a plan; it's a huge timesuck, and you'll probably get home with a mishmash of random ingredients, of course missing that ONE thing you actually did need (not that I speak from experience or anything).
  2. Avoid the temptation aisles. As a general rule, the perimeter of the grocery store is usually filled with the highest quality ingredients: meals, fruits and veggies. The inner aisles are full of Chips Ahoy and bad decisions. If you can't trust yourself, don't go there. If you say no to tempting foods in the grocery store, you only have to say no once. If you bring the dangerous foods home, you'll have to say no every time you're in the kitchen.
  3. Don't shop while hungry! Unless you like tempting fate. If you shop on a full or semi-full stomach, you'll be much less likely to impulse-buy.
What are your best grocery shopping tips?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekly Goals Time

Is there any better way to start the week than by having Monday off? I THINK NOT. 

Don't mind me, I'm just over here binge-watching House of Cards (ohmygodohmygodohmygod) and coveting every single dress in Claire Underwood's wardrobe. I 'spose I can take a short break in the name of the Weekly Goals Linkup :)

Fitnasty for Life

First, checking in with last week's goals:

1) No unaccounted for snacks. Check! Although, I had to take drastic measures to keep myself from polishing off the Nutella:


For the record, I resisted. So far.

2) Print out training plan and complete four runs. Check-- not only did I do four runs, I did all five! I even found a slush-less path, which makes me far more excited than it should. But I knocked out 4 miles in 39 minutes on Saturday which is really speedy for me!


Valentine's Day. That candy actually remained untouched.
3) Make a dentist appointment. Uh. I got recommendations from friends to sort through. Making one this week. Promise.

4) Get in 11,000 steps every day. My methods were a little strange (I did laps at the bar from 11:47pm-midnight on Saturday because I was 500 steps short), but I got in 11K steps every day this week. #nailedit


Onward. Here's this week's game plan:

1) Get in 2 Jillian dates. When running picked up, I threw Jillian on the back burner (sorry, Jilly). But these arms aren't gonna tone themselves. Ultimately, I know working on strength will help me with running, so here's to doing a better job of integrating the two. BTW, have you entered my Ripped in 30 Giveaway yet?

2) 11K a day. Let's see if I can make this happen two weeks in a row. Even if it means going for an hour-long walk at 11pm on Sunday night to hit the goal (...again). 




3) Grocery shop and meal plan. I made this beaut (above) last week and it's DELISH. I kinda failed at meal-planning aside from this, though. Which maybe meant that I ate Pockets three times last week (unapologetically). Still, I can do better. PS - Blog post about my grocery shopping habits forthcoming, as suggested by Amy!

Alright friends, your turn!




Friday, February 14, 2014

Fab Five


TGIF. Is it just me or does the week before a long weekend always feel extra long? It's definitely been a busy one, but much better than last week! And now, it's [almost] the freakin' weekend! It's not exactly a cohesive list, but here's my Five on Friday:

[ONE]


I saw this article linked on on a post by one of my favorite bloggers (Iowa Girl Eats), and it's filled with some really awesome advice. Some of these are tips I already use (#14 is one of Jillian's famous tricks-- working multiple muscle groups in a single move) and I totally use cheesy mantras to keep myself going when I wanna quit (#13), but I love the idea of building a playlist by BPM (#3) for maximum power jamming. Anyone ever done that before?

[TWO]


Yesterday it was 32 degrees, so, basically summer after having who-even-knows how many days below freezing in a row. But perhaps I was too overeager when I left my gloves at home for my 4-miler. Oh, and you know what's harder to run on than frozen packed snow? Melting slushy snow. It's like running in sand, and let me tell you, my legs were burning by the end of it.

[THREE]


Funny nostalgia time: when I was a 19-year-old bebe visiting Chicago for Lollapalooza with my college roommates, Chicago was in the midst of the bidding process to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. At the time, I remember already making mental plans for how I'd attend all the events, because I hoped to move to the city after graduation. Of course, by now everyone knows Rio stole the honors... but did you know the next time Chicago might be a candidate city is not even until 2024?!?! Well, hopefully good things come to those who wait.

[FOUR]


Basically this is what I will spend my entire weekend watching. Unapologetically. FRANCIS UNDERWOOD IS BACK.

[FIVE]


Did you enter my JillyBilly Ripped in 30 giveaway yet?!

Any big plans this weekend? (House of Cards and non-stop Olympics watching counts)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Staying Disciplined

Here's a misconception: once you get into the groove of working out, it's easy to make yourself work out.

Uh, wrong.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but HAHAHA, no. 

You know how often I really and truly want to work out? Like, maybe 20% of the time. As in, there is exactly one day a week (of the five I work out) where I'm actually gung ho about changing into gym clothes and getting in a sweat sesh. 

The rest of the days are spent in various levels of knowing I need to get a workout in, but not particularly wanting to because I <don't want to wash my hair/am le tired/am hungry/am lazy/want to watch Honey Boo Boo...> you get the idea. But I make myself do it because I know I'll be happy once I actually get started.

Also because I like to eat.


Hello, beautiful.

So how do you lace up and get 'er done when you'd so much rather be laying on the couch watching Law & Order SVU and eating string cheese? 

Here's what I do:

Half Marathon Training, Round 2
  • Make a game plan.  Not just "I'm going to work out 5x this week," but as in literally write out what time and what days you will be working out, and what you'll be doing each day. Put that sucker somewhere where you'll see it all the time. Tell other people your plan. Blog about it (there's a weekly goals linkup for that!).  If you tell yourself you don't have time, guess what? You won't have time. But if you're truly committed, you'll make time.
When someone suggests I come to Zumba with them.
  • Pick workouts you actually enjoy. If you hate running, it will be really easy for you to blow off running. Find a workout program that you don't completely and totally hate. Maybe it's spinning, or hiking, or Zumba, or even simply taking walks around the neighborhood. If you like what you're doing, isn't it easier to make yourself do it?
The only proof I have that I actually
woke up this early for barre class.
  • Eliminate your excuses. I am THE QUEEN of excuses. But it wasn't until I stopped making them and instead started fighting them that I finally began to see results. 
    • Can't motivate yourself to work out after work? Set an early alarm and get it done first thing in the morning. 
    • Bad weather headed your way? Switch out a road run for a workout DVD.
    • Intimidated by the gym? Find workouts on YouTube, FitSugar, or Pinterest.
    • Mental fatigue? Let it out on the pavement/in the ring/on the 'mill. Because working out is cheaper than therapy.
    • Bored of your normal routine? Mix it up with something new.
    • Don't like working out with other people at home? Schedule your workouts around the times you'll have privacy.
    • Busy? Aren't we all! Whether it's sacrificing 30 minutes of shuteye or bailing on drinks after work, you can make time. I promise. Block off time in your calendar, set an alarm, whatever it takes!
60lbs and one year of races later. 
  • Have a goal. It is scientifically proven that it's 437% easier to train when you have a goal in mind. I made that statistic up, but it's still true. Make a goal that's realistically challenging, something that will require training time, but not 5 years to achieve. Whether it's just signing up for and completing your first 5K, or letting Jillian kick your butt for an entire month, pick a goal and stick with it. 

  • Treat yoself. I'm reward-motivated, sue me. Give me a chart and goals and stickers and you better believe I will fill that entire thing in just to prove I can. My parents learned this one early on... I was bribed with a chore chart in order to earn my way to the IX Indoor Amusement Park (suburban Cleveland's answer to Disney World... and they had a freaking catchy commercial to lure in the kiddos). Set up a rewards system for yourself once you accomplish your goal, or even mini-goals along the way. Great rewards might be things like new workout clothes, new shoes, a manicure, a movie night, whatever keeps you motivated!
How do you stay disciplined with your workouts?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sometimes it IS about the Scale

Weigh In Wednesday

Last Week's Weight: 169.2
Current Weight: 166.4
Change: -2.8
Total Loss: -61.6

FINALLY!

I know it's not always about the scale, but sometimes it is. Sometimes you just need the validation that YES, sticking to the plan and trusting the system and working out when you don't wanna is paying off. Today, thankfully(!), is that day. 

As I mentioned to my Chicago Achievers Project coach, Dave, it's been really frustrating lately to be stuck in the 167-172 range for what feels like months. Especially when my eating has truly been better (read: cleaner) than ever before. I aim for 9-11 servings of fruits and veggies a day (I consistently get 8+), and 80-100 grams of protein a day. 

For someone who used to rely a lot on low points/low calorie Smart Ones meals, it's a big change to be eating cleaner foods! Most days I do feel like I'm eating more food, which totals about 1400-1600/day (typically with one 2000 calorie day on the weekends). The extra protein has definitely made it a little tougher to stick within my WW daily allowance (currently 28PP), but between my weeklies and activity points, I've been able to stay within range for the week.

How was your weigh-in?

PS -- Have you entered my Ripped in 30 Giveaway yet?!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ripped in 30 Giveaway!

By now you've heard of my love/hate relationship with Miss Jillian Michaels (or JillyBoo, which is what I call her in my head to make her seem less scary).

I got suckered into a Groupon for 3 Jillian Michaels DVDs in November, and thus began my relationship with Jill. While I didn't follow the program exactly, I did the workouts for about 6 weeks, at least 3-4 times a week. Mostly while putting Jillian on mute and re-watching House of Cards instead. 

YUP.
As much as I whine, these workouts are actually pretty awesome. They all follow the same format of 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of abs, and then you complete three circuits of this within each workout. There are four weeks of workouts and they definitely progress at a decent clip. The moves build upon each other so that Week 1 exercises form the foundation for harder versions that come in later weeks. Plus, each circuit is so short, by the time you're cursing at the TV, you're already onto the next move.

My guns are not very impressive and never have been, but you better believe all those dang pushups and presses have actually made a dent in these bad boys:


Top is from July 2013. Roughly the same weight, but without any arm workouts.
Bottom is from January 2014. Baby guns in progress.

I've also definitely noticed some increased definition in my legs, specifically in my ham hocks-- I mean, quads. And my booty is noticeably firmer thanks to eleventy million squats. I'm actually pretty impressed with my leg differences, considering I thought my legs were already fairly muscular from running.



So, here's the fun part: the lovely Carmen, who was my blogger Secret Santa, sent me Ripped in 30 as  a part of the awesome gift basket she put together. Because one Jillian is more than enough for me, I told her I'd love to do a giveaway with the DVD. Now you, too, can share the pain that is Ripped in 30! 

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! The giveaway ends on Thursday, February 20 at 11:59pm central, and I'll announce the winner on Friday, 2/21.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 10, 2014

Grateful

Whine alert: Last week was tough. 

It started when I came down with a cold on Monday. The day I was supposed to start half marathon training. Of course.

On top of which, I had a really long day at work on Monday. Not bad long, but just tiring when I really wanted to face-plant into my bed and hopefully sleep off the sickness.

I started to bounce back by Tuesday, enough to struggle through a 2 mile dreadmill workout before our Chicago Achievers Project meeting.

Running outside was not a possibility because the sidewalks looked a little something like this:


PS my quads are like ham hocks. I blame Jillian's duck walks.
I don't hate it though, and I'll be excited to see my legs change
even more now that my running is picking up again.

So I moaned and groaned my way through 3-mile dreadmill workouts on Thursday and Friday. Nothing occupies me enough to keep me from counting down the hundredths of a mile until I'm done. I've tried House of Cards, documentaries, Nat Geo specials about the hellish process of joining military special forces units, listening to music and watching the HGTV. Seriously, I don't know how people do it.

This is what hell looks like.
Why am I whining about all of this? Because I had a planned 4-miler over the weekend that I dreaded all week. Real talk: my treadmill struggles had me really questioning my ability to train for the half marathon. I dread my 'mill runs and struggle to complete them without taking walk breaks. I thought taking time off for that pesky achilles injury had completely killed my endurance. I hadn't run more than 3 miles in nearly 3 months. I hadn't run more than once a week since November. I doubted my ability to actually run 4 miles. And if I couldn't run 4 this week, how the heck will I run 5 next week? And 6 after that?

But here's the part I'm grateful for. Every runner knows that sometimes you just really need that confidence-building run. That run that affirms your abilities and reminds you of why you do this silly sport. Yesterday was mine:


After putting it off all weekend, I finally laced up on Sunday afternoon and did the damn thing. Pushed the nagging concerns about snow out of my head, stopped with the stupid excuses and just did it, with an extra half mile for good measure. And despite the snow-covered paths, slushy sidewalks, and snot (sorry), it was exactly what I needed. And that's more than enough to keep me going.

On to the goals!

Fitnasty for Life

First, I guess I should come clean about last week:

1) Pack my lunch every day. Er, I cheated on Thursday. But is cheating in the name of an epic salad bar salad really cheating? I think not.

2) Make a dentist appointment. Straight up ignored this one.

3) Complete four runs. CHECK. One of them was shorter than prescribed, but I'll take it.


Now for this week:

1) No unaccounted for snacks. In a moment of weakness, I accidentally bought Nutella last week. And, uh, the jar is already 2/3 gone. I'd like to avoid the self-loathing that comes with knowing exactly how many servings that jar is supposed to be, so it's time to reel in the "just a little bit" tastes. That and I ate M&Ms and fun size Twix bars at work last week. More than once. Oops.

2) Print out training plan and complete four runs. It's much harder to talk myself out of running if I know I'll have to draw a big embarrassing circle around a missed run. My plan actually calls for five runs a week, but considering my low pre-training mileage, I'll be happy to complete four (as-scheduled) runs this week.

3) Make a dentist appointment. I mean it, self.

4) Get in 11,000 steps every day. For some reason (read: laziness), I always slack at least one weekend day. Time to be more accountable!

Your turn! What are your goals this week?

PS -- Exciting announcement coming tomorrow!!