Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 a runner's year in review

Here we are again! At the end of another year of running and just 2 months shy of my 3rd year runnaversary!! WOW. Time is flying.

Here's a list of goals I made for myself from last year and  how I fared:  

1.  Run 1012 miles. I was going to shoot for 1000 but figured I'd throw in the extra 12 for good measure. This year I think I'll come in just shy of 850 - so it's not an impossible goal to shoot for but still challenging. FAIL. Though, truthfully I am not disappointed. I feel pretty satisfied that I did the best I could - I ran more than 10 races this year - had a few PR's, tried new fitness things like boot camp, Zumba and yoga. Total Miles were 721 - I'll get 'em next year!

2.  Run a sub 2:20 half marathon.  Last year I ran a 2:24 - so shaving another 4 minutes off - will be challenging but not impossible. SUCCESS! My best was the Hollywood Half which was 2:19:58! LOL, so it was that close.

3.  Run another marathon.  I will aim for around 5 hours but am flexible when it comes to time. I am still in the 'just finish' zone of such a goal. NOPE - but again I'm OK with it. It wasn't my year to train for it and I think I would've resented the super long miles it would take to get another one under my belt. It'll happen.

4.  Continue this blog. SUCCESS! Here it is!

5.  Run a sub 28:30 5K.  My last 5K I ran in 28:48 so if I focus and work hard, I should be able to achieve it. SUCCESS! How does 26:46 grab ya!? Read about it here.

6.  Continue to maintain my weight loss. SUCESS! Just celebrated my 2 years firmly at goal!

7.  Remember to be thankful.  For family, friends, running, love, this blog, I am incredibly blessed. YES, of-course, there's not a day that goes by that I don't count myself incredibly blessed.

8.  Remember to ENJOY it.  At the end of the day - goals for speed, miles and marathons are great but the most important part is to embrace it. This isn't a chore, this is a privilege. If it becomes a chore then it's time to reassess - don't let anything steal the joy away. (But don't be too quick to give up either!) Yep. For the most part. I started running with Moms In Motion and began running with a few friends. It's been a lovely year in the running books even though I had some set-backs and fell (OK, very) short of the mileage goal - it's all good. I run because I love it. It keeps me healthy and happy and whether it's 70 miles, 700 miles or 7000 miles, I am grateful for every single step.

And what other goodies happened for me?

I turned 40, I got to travel all over the place, I met/made a bunch new endurance friends, I was on The Today Show, featured in Health Magazine, interviewed for NPR Radio and Cook, Train, Race, Eat TV and I was invited to run on a Ragnar Relay team - that race will kick off my  2013 race season and I'll be leaving in just 2 short days - and we'll be filming it for a documentary! 

2012 has been a pretty good year personally and professionally and I believe it's paved the way to make 2013 the best year yet to come!

I am still not sure about my goals for 2013 but will be thinking about it and will be listing them soon.

What was some of your 2012 highlights? What are you hoping for in the new year ahead?


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being worth it

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and got/gave some really great stuff! 

My husband prides himself on giving really great gifts. He takes great thought and care and it's one of the many things I appreciate about him. When it comes to gifts, he never just "dials it in."

This year was no different.

So, come Christmas morning, my husband handed me my gift, beaming. And I tore into two packages.

The first was a framed picture of us crossing the finish line of his second half marathon (my sixth of the year) together. I loved it:

Marty & Jen crossing AC half marathon finish line

The second gift. Oh my. I opened the heavy box to reveal a top of the line, brand-new MacBook Pro 15 inch computer.  Um I couldn't hide it. My reaction wasn't one of joy. It was one of, "Why did you buy this? It's way too expensive. We need to take it back." My husband was visibly upset - this wasn't the reaction he'd hoped for.

Now, I need a new laptop. My livelihood lies in having a computer, I am co-owner in a television/film company, I blog, I travel, I will be editing a movie on it and stringing out a television pilot (we just sold a show to DIY network!!)… I was working on a 7 year-old Mac laptop that couldn't even hold a charge anymore. It doesn't have the capability to edit and it's been hanging on by a thread, on the edge of death, for the last six months.

So, hubby really thought this through. It was a gift I needed and should've appreciated.

My argument was, I could get a cheaper one, a second-hand one. My company is finally beginning to generate a little cash flow and my partner and I discussed finding one for me (perhaps second hand but in excellent condition) and having it be my "business" computer. 

Who was I to have this $2000 gift!? Ridiculous. I truly did appreciate the generous thought. I hugged hubby tightly and said, "Sweetie, I'm sorry I can't keep this - but it was very, very thoughtful and I love that you wanted to do something so grand for me. But really, something less expensive will do."

My husband sighed disappointedly. And said: "I know you could've gotten a cheaper one through your company. I know that I could've bought you a less expensive version. I got this for you because you deserve it. You work hard, you will need something of quality to edit on. I saved for months for this for you because I KNEW you would never, ever buy something like this for yourself. You are doing big things, and I believe in you. You are worth a very expensive computer."

And then it hit me. My initial reaction was deep-down based on the fact that I didn't feel worthy of such an expensive thing. And that was the kind of thinking that led me to being overweight my whole life.

Successful people do not question their worthiness of such things. In fact they expect them. Now (even though I'm not a fan of his) would a Donald Trump (or any other top business guy) ever say, "I don't deserve the best." Nope. 

Cheap food, bottom of the barrel gym membership, second rate sneakers, whatever and everything - needn't be great because OK or good (or even in the case of my food) bad - was good enough. Once I started caring about myself, I decided that I was "worth" shopping at Whole Foods for once in a while and I was worth investing the money in a good pair of sneakers and even springing for a boot camp class or yoga groupon once in a while.

Since beginning this blog, so many people who are struggling with weight have reached out to me. And I keep seeing one common thread. Most are struggling to love themselves. Now many wouldn't admit it out loud but I can read it in their words, hear it in their voice. They feel like they've let their family, the world, themselves down. They feel embarrassed, ashamed, helpless, useless, weak, powerless and less than… not deserving. I believe this is the real root problem for many of us.

All emotions I once felt at 255. And my biggest advice to most of these people who reach out to me is to seriously work on stopping the self-loathing, work on getting rid of all those negative emotions and to start loving and honoring yourself. In order to make the good decisions and carve the time, money, effort and energy it takes to make change, you have to believe in your heart that you are worth working, fighting and living for. 

And I often had to fake it 'til I could make it. 

It took years and I still struggle with feeling worthy of stuff - whether it's a small expense, taking time for myself or a big expense. I often will still think, "I would love that coconut water but whoooa $1.79 for that little thing!? Who am I? I can drink tap water…" "I can't run another marathon, that requires so much time! Who am I to be so selfish with hours on a Saturday to run?" "A $2000 computer? I don't deserve that. No way."

That computer represented the small part of me that still sometimes feels unworthy of great things. Great things that possibly include good health and success.  

I kept the computer. 

Marty was right, I'm worth it.


Question to you: Can you relate? Do you ever feel guilty or unworthy of time away or a good pair of sneakers or anything else? 

PS: Worthy of something doesn't mean putting yourself in debt! If we couldn't really afford this - it would've gone back. While money is still tight - Hubby saved and planned for this expense and it's a true investment into my business. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two years at my goal weight

This week marks my being at my WW goal for TWO YEARS!

I'm doing a happy dance!

I can't believe it. It's no fluke. I lost the weight and I'm keeping it off. This makes me proud and I'm so grateful that I've been managing this. It's something that I always dreamed of being able to do and even though this has all become a "way of life" for me, the significance in this achievement is profoundly important to me.

And I'm happy because my weight is back in control to around 145.2 (It was up to 150 a month or so ago. 150 is my goal but i like to stick around 144/145).

I've always been a yo-yo person… I was either piling on massive amounts of weight or peeling it off. It's how I've lived my entire adult life prior. Not on purpose, of course. I just never could get it right. I was missing pieces of the puzzle in prior attempts.

Of-course a huge piece of that puzzle was consistent exercise and more specifically in my case, running.

And another piece of the puzzle was eating primarily junky-foods. And when I say junky-foods I'm not even talking about the usual suspects of fast food, ice cream or chips. No. I'm talking about the junky foods that I thought "were good for me." All through my prior dieting life I lived on highly-processed foods that used words like "diet," "low-fat" "fat-free." I would count the calories in instant mashed potatoes, 100 calorie packs, frozen low-cal meals, fat-free pudding, fat free chips, 0-calorie butter spray, artificial sweeteners, "sandwich thins," etc… I lived on packaged, processed junk and I thought I was being a healthy person by doing so. I truly think that what has made the difference in maintaining my loss this time around is eliminating almost all of that. I really enjoy eating more clean and much less processed.

And I'm not judging. If you rely on a frozen meal here and there or eat sandwich thins, that's fine. I just almost exclusively used those products. Personally, for me, I'm more satisfied and less hungry by eating whole foods and healthy fats.

Huh. Healthy eating and exercise works. Who knew?  ;)

I am happier, I feel better, and I'm more satiated. I strive to eat clean now-a-days though I am not always perfect. I will still eat chips on occasion, I will still have a little ice-cream, I love my martini's and Greek food Saturday nights… but I have been able to balance things better overall.

On a side note, lately many people have asked me about the difference between Spark People and WW since I talk about both programs a lot. I have been counting calories at Spark. My WW meeting was an anchor for me when I was losing because I loved the people in my particular meeting. I had a connection to my leader. I am social so I liked looking forward to going to my meeting on Sat. morning. It's kind of why I love my Moms In Motion group so much. I continue to weigh-in at Weight Watchers because it's free for lifetime members and knowing I've got that monthly meeting with the "official" scale has been working for me, so why now?

Spark People, though, is GREAT too. It's FREE for everyone which is the biggest plus over Weight Watchers - it has a tremendous social aspect to it and amazing resources. I kind of consider it the "Facebook" of nutrition because you get all this great nutrition/activity information but you can blog, post pictures, join groups, take challenges, send each other motivational stuff and make friends like FB. I was a Spark member as I did Weight Watchers - there are even Weight Watcher community groups on Spark. To me, it's all about support and surrounding yourself with the right people. So wherever you find those folks, is what matters the most.

I am happy, lucky and blessed. I'll never stop marveling on my good fortune of finding running and along the way, finding my way to this finish line.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miami Ragnar - I am freaking out

All these months in the making.

The race. The movie. One of the biggest events of my life.

All about two weeks away.

I. Am. Freaking. The. F***. Out.

I've been so focused on making the documentary part of this journey that I have forgotten my own "running" part of this journey. My three legs are: 4.2 miles, 9.9 miles and 4.1 miles.

9.9 miles. In the middle of the night. Who thought this was a good idea?

I can't tell you the panic that is trying to set in. I'm trying to maintain a sense of "WOO HOO - this is an adventure!"

But I haven't ran more than 4 miles since early October, I'm deathly slightly afraid of the dark, and I'm already imagining being chased by pumas, evading alligators and trying to escape boa constrictors  (and any other scary animals I can image live in Southern Fl.)

The thing is I'm very lame when it comes to wild life. Even running around my suburban neighborhood, I've been known to have my heart skip a beat by a pigeon who has swooped in a little too close, I'll cross the street if a squirrel looks a little mean. A dog off a leash (even a little one?) Stopped in my tracks. Yeah. I know. I'm nuts. So you can just imagine how I'm feeling about this crazy midnight run thru what I can only envision as a rain forest but probably will be more of a road/running path.

make no sudden moves and no one gets hurt

Perhaps the fear of the dark and animals will make me run faster?


I've been dealing with a chest cold that finally took hold of me last Friday. I'm pretty sure my immune system gave up fighting once I heard the Sandy Hook news. I slumped into a depression and numbness for most of the weekend and submitted to the illness. I just couldn't deal with that news.

But I'm starting to feel a wee bit better, even if I still have a cough in my chest and a heaviness in my heart, so, I did an "easy" four miles today.

But there was nothing easy about the four miles I did at a 11:30 avg. pace. It was tough. I coughed and panted. I thought about doing 5 or 6 but decided that not over-doing it would be better than the mental "see I can do 6 so I can do 9" game that I like to play, for right now. I'm hoping that the five half marathons I did in 2012 will be enough of a 'base' background training that though I haven't clocked many miles lately, those miles will somehow count.

My plan for last minute training is to do another 3 or 4 by Friday and then 6 over the weekend.

Next week, I'd like to do a 4-4-8 type thing.

And then a few miles the week of the race.  I think I'll be OK. I mean, it's gotta be OK. I'm not going to give up or let my team down, so I've got no choice but to suck it up and be great.

That's my plan for the miles. As far as the alligators? I've got nothing yet.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The way I stay healthy on the road

I do a lot of traveling.

Before getting healthy, my traveling was an excuse to eat more and exercise even less. MMM. Traveling meant fast food, room service, indulgent dinners, drinking too much and Cinnabon for the plane. I pulled all kinds of food crap that I would never pull at home. Inevitably, vacation mode would kick into high gear the minute I stepped foot in lovely Newark airport, suitcase in hand.

This is not a good plan if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight. Especially if, like me, you travel often.

This year I was on the road no less than 50 days! I visited California 4 times? (maybe more), Kentucky twice, Maine, CT, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, hell I even spent a night in NYC when we were making Linda over for her Huffington Post piece! Whether traveling a lot or a little - traveling does not mean you should or have to undo all of your healthy living.

Sure, being on the road makes things a little tougher. I still battle that "woo hoo, I'm on vacation thing." I also tend to really miss my family so comforting myself with food can be a temptation.

But, with all that practice with traveling, I have come up with a few ways that I keep on a track. I am proud to say that despite all of the traveling I did this past year, I'm just about upon my two year anniversary firmly at my weight loss goal!

So here are a few tips I do when I travel:

1. BYOF. Bring your own food. Yeah. It's a bit of a pain and takes a little planning. I don't necessarily pack a suitcase full of stuff but I have at least enough things in my bag to carry me through my flight. In my bag I'll have an apple, banana, pistachios, and something like a gluten-free snack bar. I might also have a packet of Justin's peanut butter or some baby carrots.

2. Grocery shopping. If you can, try to call your hotel ahead and see if they can book you into a room with a fridge and microwave. If you can score that, then that's great! My business partner and I will hit up a local grocery store and stock our room with essentials - water, veggies, fruits, yogurts, PB, rice cakes, frozen organic meals (I like Amy's) etc. Having stuff to eat on hand will help you to plan your day out.

hotel dinner - Amy's organic enchilada's
and salad with baby carrots

3.  Food on the run.  Sometimes it's unavoidable. You have to eat out. Well, first of all I am no saint. One meal (sometimes two!) per trip is typically a little splurgy. On my last trip to Ohio, I had a steak/potato and martini dinner! But, the rest of my meals, I do try to do the best I can with. I almost always start my day with oatmeal and fruit. Breakfast (for me) is the easiest meal to control and keep in check. It also makes me feel good and fueled for the day ahead and mentally ready to tackle the day.
Chipotle bowl
4.  Fast Food go-to's. I am not an advocate of fast food but if it's something that you're going to turn to when stuck at the airport or on the road, at least go in with a plan. I love Starbucks, for example. I like their oatmeal for breakfast in a pinch or hummus/grilled chicken and raw veggie thing for a snack or lunch. I also will go out of my way to find a Chipotle. I like their burrito bowl. I get mine with lettuce, brown rice, black beans, veggies, tomatoes and guacamole. I skip the meat, sour cream and cheese. This bowl is hearty, healthy, and gluten-dairy free. Au Bon Pan has some good options too. On a delayed layover thru Philly a few weeks ago, I was able to score some hardboiled eggs and a dairy-free/gluten free veggie soup. Paired with a giant bottle of water, I was set.
Starbucks hummus thing - I'm gluten free so
I skip the pita.
5.  Work out. Whether you take a local class, take a run around the neighborhood to check out the place or simple hit the hotel gym, make a little time to get a little sweat in. It really does make a difference. This year while on the road, I did Cross Fit in Northern CA, Barry's Boot Camp in Los Angeles, Yoga in WI, Running in MI - ME - CA - NYC - FL, Kosama in KS, Zumba in OK and hit up a gym in KY. Not only was it fun but it allowed me not to have that "out of my routine" feeling when I got home.

Working out like a celebrity in Los Angeles
So those are some of the things I do when I travel - I'm not always perfect but I do the best I can.

What are your tricks of travel?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Fat Girls

I caught this story the other day on a friend's Facebook page and then watched and read more about the story today. 

Three women went out to eat and written on the bill was the words "fat girls."

I suppose the server thought this was a good way to remember the table, you know, instead of using a system as complicated as "table 1" or "table 2."

At first glance (and even second glance) I bet many dismiss this as non-news. Or perhaps some might even (like the manager when first alerted) even snicker at the degrading description. I mean, if you watch the video you can't deny that the women, like many in America, they are indeed plus sized.

But that's all you know about them. 

How dare this guy write this on their bill and how stupid is he that he (or someone else) would so callously deliver this message to the people you degrade and the ones who by eating there, PAY YOUR BILLS.

Yes, I'm taking this personally. People who are overweight, know they are overweight. Most (and me included - when I was in that obesity boat) grapple, fret, try, fail, try again, cry, already feel some level of embarrassment,  suffer with depression over it, lose hope and pray for solutions. Losing weight isn't easy. It took me 20 years to get it right and while I live differently now there will always be a small piece of me that (even if irrational) lives with just a little bit of fear that it will someday come back. 

Even if these women feel none of those negative emotions in regards to their size, even if they are "large and in charge," no one (especially in service) should feel it is their right to use such awful descriptions of your customer.  

F you Jeff and your bullshit insensitivity. 

I did get a little choked up as I watched the video. Particularly for one of the women. I felt her pain. I remember how I felt when I was in those shoes. I remembered how I just didn't feel worthy of a lot of things… I was blessed to somehow find the strength to like myself enough to start rolling in the right direction but all-in-all I hated myself then and that's a vicious cycle. You have to find a way to like yourself enough to want to keep making the right choices and not turn to food for comfort. It's so much more complicated than just giving up a bowl of ice cream. I'm not sure how much my then fragile personality, at the time, could've coped with something like this. Now that I like myself, these words wouldn't have power other than to fire me up. I now have that back-bone and confidence to fight back, but back then, they would've just further have beaten me down.

But that's just me. 

All in all, these women look pretty strong, they were brave enough to expose the story, rather than sit in a corner and cry about it. I'm not afraid that they will crumble over the words and that's a good thing. 

We have an obesity crisis in this country. We have an over-eating, over-processed, under-moving society that has developed a comfort-stress-depression-selfsoothing approach to food. We do have to spring to action! There are ways to support and love people enough to lift them up to help them achieve  great goals and health but cruel labels are not the way. I'm sad to see that it's still OK in people's minds to reduce people to that.

If you want to learn more about the story, click here.

Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive but that's how I feel. 

What are your thoughts?


Thursday, December 6, 2012

You never know where the road may go

You never know where the road may lead.

It's funny. Never in a million years did I expect to be living the life I'm living. Running really changed my life and in ways that I could've never predicted.

Back in February of 2010, I was struggling with my weight (stalled for a long time at about half way to my weight loss goal). I had just lost a sister-in-law to diabetes, was still trying to get footing on the next chapter of my career. I went in and out of bouts of depression and was having a tough time mothering my child who was difficult and often frustrated because of some of the special needs he has.

Running led me to this blog, which in turn helped me pick up jobs in the writing world. Those writing jobs helped me to put food on the table while I continued to build my film & TV business.

Running and blogging about running led me to meeting some of my best friends in the world including running buddies and Moms In Motion.

Me, meting up with fellow blogger and dear friend Jason, Angela filming - on location 

at REV3 Portland Maine, filming Jen Small 
Running led to weight loss, good health, better mental mood, less depression, a magazine article and confidence. It's opened doors to opportunity that I would've never imagined.

When you do one positive thing in one direction, other things happen. Things fall into place without even trying. At least they have for me.

Fall races: Top left - Rik (Jerry) Katie - Rik & Katie are the ones who started the Ragnar team!
Top right - hubby and I, bottom - newest runner to the team, Carly, Jen S. and John H.
And my partner and I are making my dream film. A film that will inspire others to run, seek good health, find good friends and make their own dreams come to life. We even now have an IMDb film page now!

How did I get this lucky? All because one day back in Feb. 2010, I decided to start running.

On location with Ragnar film runner, Allison
It hasn't been easy - mainly because making a film is expensive and we've struggled to piece together enough money to be able to pull it off. Also, every week we've been traveling to film the 12 racers - MI, WI, ME, CT, CA, OK, KS, CA, NY, and today we go to Ohio. (I missed the trip to AZ for one of the racers). And finally we'll travel to the race in Miami, Fl in Jan. It's not easy to do all that traveling with little money and a family. My husband had been a rock star - he believes in me and the project. Even my son Ben takes it in stride, bigs hugs, "I love you's" and "see you in a few days, Mom!"

The traveling makes it tricky to keep up on all the running and fitness I want to fit in - but we do our best to keep it a priority -

Angela rocks the bike as I make the best out
of the hotel treadmill in Kansas City, KS
I know we are on the right road. I know that like any tough road or race that if we keep moving forward, even slowly, that we'll get to our finish line.

And as I have learned, staying on the road, putting one foot in front of another and crossing finish lines, is what its all about.

I am so grateful. It's hard to put into words. If I had woken up with a cold, or in a different mood, or if I didn't tell a bunch of people when on a whim I decided to start running… If I hadn't immediately plunked down too much cash on a race that was too big for me… who knows who I would be and where I would be.

What other gifts has running given you?