Monday, December 14, 2015

"Run To Lose"

I started running a little over 5 years ago and my sole purpose was to lose weight.  I had always been an athlete my whole life.  I was on the swim team and played softball through high school.  I was originally on the swim team in college however I was doing an intense, accelerated program for Biology and Physical Therapy.  My academic schedule was such that I would miss practice at least 3 days a week.  I am not someone to half ass something so I made the decision to not be on the team.  Fast forward 6 years to when I was finally done physical therapy school, I had my doctorate but I also had at least 30 extra pounds.  Emir and I joined the gym and did lose a little bit of weight.
we lost some weight for our wedding but didn't keep it off
 Even though I am definitely athletic, I didn't know how to work out.  All those years I was active, I was always on a competitive sports teams.  Yes I trained every day but it was at an organized practice, just doing whatever I was told.  I really didn't know how to do this on my own.  Everything really fell apart once I got pregnant and Niko was born.  Obviously if you don't have any kind of system or organization in place for exercise, it's not going to happen with a newborn.  It wasn't until he turned 1 in August of 2010 that I saw pictures of myself from his first birthday party that I hit rock bottom.  "Holy crap I am fat!"  Honestly, I didn't even recognize myself. 
My dad saw this picture recently and didn't know who the girl was in it....
We didn't belong to a gym anymore but we did have a treadmill and a nice little walking path/trail close enough to walk/run to with Niko in the stroller.  Emir convinced me to try running since it would be the most logistically easy form of exercise and I could do it anytime I wanted such as when Niko was napping or even just hanging out playing in one of his baby contraptions.  I always hated running so it was not an easy feat to get me to try it.  It took a long time for me to adapt and grow to actually like it.  It also took a really long time for me to be able to run more than a couple minutes at a time.  But obviously it eventually happened.  I figured it would be good to try a couple 5K races to help keep me motivated.
5K race in October 2010

Then I decided to try the Rothman 8K associated with the Philly Marathon in November of 2010.  That race changed my life.  I went to the big expo to pick up my stuff and I saw everything set up for the half marathon and marathon.  It was so much fun being a part of all that.  I felt like I needed more.  I needed to be a bigger part of that weekend.  I wanted to run the marathon. 
Rothman 8K, November 2010
I didn't want to wait a whole year to run a marathon so I signed up for Plitvice Marathon in Croatia for June 2011.  Over the course of training, I lost about 65 lbs.

Plitvice Marathon, June 2011
I lost another 5-10lbs that summer before getting pregnant with Una.  Since then I have never stopped running, not even during pregnancy.  I only took the required time off after my c-section.  I DID NOT want to experience the same weight gain plus I just truly loved running at this point so it's just something I wanted to keep doing. 
Ran a Ragnar Relay while 9-10 weeks pregnant with Una
I dropped most of my pregnancy weight pretty quickly the second time around.  That said, I never made it back down to what I was at just prior to getting pregant with Una.  I've remained a solid 10-15lbs more than I was summer of 2011.
First race post Una, The Wild Half, August 2012
 But since coming back after that pregnancy I went back to running marathons and then in 2013 started ultramarathons so I did not have any concerns about this whatsoever.  I knew I was in shape, healthy, felt great and was happy with my body.  I also had added more strengthening and weights into my routine which as we all know muscle weighs more than fat. 
Our first ultra, Bear Mountain 50K, May 2013
The second half of 2015 has been a bit of a struggle for me which is why the opportunity to review "run to lose" could not have come at a better time.  You are probably thinking "what are you talking about?!?  You run ultramarathons, you could not possibly have to worry about your weight!"  But that's just not true.  I've definitely gained 5-7ish lbs in the last 6 months and it's left me feeling somewhat frustrated.  Also, just to clarify, I'm not upset about a few extra pounds because I think I'm fat or out of shape or unhappy with my appearance.  It's because I think it can affect my running and me reaching my own personal goals.
September 2014, steady weight throughout 2013-2014 helped with many PRs
I assumed that "Run to Lose" was basically about what it sounds like, running to lose weight.  I thought it would be for people who were like I originally was, needing to lose weight.  I figured it would be about how running can help someone lose weight and how to get started and go about the whole process.  I was surprised but so grateful that it actually is a book more for the person I am now.  It is for people that are runners but still struggle with weight.  Just reading the first few pages made me feel relief "It is NOT just me!  This is a problem for lots of other runners too."  Lately I had just been down on myself about the whole thing.  You know how in your running groups online people are always talking about food and how much they eat, hello RUNGER.  And when like me you have been running a ton but still putting on a few pounds, you really start to think "what the hell is wrong with me?!  Every other runner can eat whatever the hell they want and never gain weight!"  It also doesn't help that I have an ultrarunner husband.  I know that in general guys bodies just work differently than girls especially after having two kids and now I'm in my mid thirties but that doesn't make me feel better.  This is a true story.  Over thanksgiving, we ate and drank for a few days.  I totally gained 3-4 pounds that took me a couple weeks of seriously watching what I ate and drank to get it back off.  Emir on the other hand, not affected at all and in fact went on a work trip last week, ate out and drank beer all week, no issues.  WTF?!  And at times, he just wants me to let loose and eat and drink with him but I have to say no because I know how guilty I will feel after.  Sometimes it can be hard to explain and he assumes that because he eats and drinks a certain way that I can too.  Not that he eats bad all the time but he can deviate from healthy eating more often than me without fearing weight gain. 
Labor Pains 12 hour race, September 2015
Now I realize, there are plenty of other runners like me, I mean I assume so since they wrote a whole book about it!  ;-)   So that in itself made me feel 100 times better.  But there's so much more to the book than just sharing stories of people losing weight by running and watching what they eat. The authors not only explain the different types of foods that runners should be eating but also go over many different strategies to help stay focused and either lose unwanted weight or maintain your weight.   Since I started reading this book, I've already put one of the strategies into action.  I decided to go back to using MyfitnessPal which I used when I was training for my very first marathon to track my calories and the types of calories I'm eating.  Just as the book indicated, I think there are lots of times when I assume I can just eat something because I went running that day.  In reality, I probably eat more calories than I need to at least a few times a week.  Having that visual of what I'm actually burning and eating really helps.  Many times I would think to myself "this is what I ate today so I'm sure I have so many calories left that I can have a snack while I watch tv"  Now, I log my foods and workouts all day long and it helps me to not go for that snack because I don't want to add more calories to the total and I see that I'm not really in a calorie deficit even though I ran that day.  It is also helping me with the types of foods I eat by breaking down how much protein, carbs and fats I'm taking in which is also a huge part of what the book is about.  The authors explain in great detail different types of nutrients, why each kind is important to a runner and which ones are better before runs versus after and for recovery.
training for a 100 mile attempt left me constantly hungry and probably made some bad choices
I could go on forever about everything in "Run to Lose" but I won't because you would be bored.  Many times, I don't want to invest in purchasing a book because I read it and then never touch it again.  This book is different because it has so much more than just the stories of runners struggling to lose weight and the changes they make to become successful.  There is so much valuable information and charts that I definitely will refer back to it often.  Not every person is the same which is why not every runner has to worry about weight gain.  But there are a lot of us that do.  It's really been a life long struggle for me even when I was on the high school swim team which is why it's not really shocking that it's still a struggle.   As the book explains, your body adapts to the stress you are putting it under.  So while when I trained for my first marathon, the pounds melted away so easily, now my body has adapted to the training I put it through and I have to be more careful of what I put in it.  If you are like me then this book is definitely something worth investing in.
training run this past weekend

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