My Health History

Jessie @ Jessie’s Money asked: How did I get into running? I thought I would write a little post on my history with running and nutrition since I do seem to write about it frequently.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on anything fitness or nutrition-related. The things I did may not work for you or may not even be the best way to lose weight! For expert advice, consult a doctor. :)

I haven’t always been into running, or even being healthy for that matter. In high school I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t skinny either. I had bad eating habits, but was fairly active so that helped balance it out a bit. I went to college and the freedom of a meal card and late binge nights with friends led me to my highest ever: 155 pounds. That may not seem like a lot, but for a 5′ 3″ height it was certainly in the overweight category.

One day I wasn’t feeling well and went to put on my go-to baggy jeans and they were too tight. I mean these used to be saggy around-the-house pants and they wouldn’t even shimmy up my thighs. I realized then how much weight I had gained and that if I continued to live the way I had been, I would only get larger.

I wish I could say after that moment I changed my habits and lost 30 pounds in five weeks, but that’s just not the way this works, is it? Of course I did start making changes, but those first changes were also unhealthy ones like cutting out all carbs, all sweets, and all fats. I’d go on yo-yo diets and lose 10 pounds, then reward myself my overindulging my hungry body and gain that weight almost instantly again. Diets don’t work for me.

The way I lost weight was learning to eat. That sounds silly, but I feel like I’m still learning even today. When I was dieting, I would give myself 1300 calories per day and would use those calories up by eating a piece of cake or filling up with snacks, not balanced foods that sustain me. Slowly I “retaught” myself how to eat. I learned which foods would keep me full, which foods would trigger my hunger for more, and I’d find sweet snacks that were low in calories to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Once I educated myself on how to eat and stopped obsessing about losing weight, that’s when I started losing it. That was my senior year in college–almost two years ago. I was living in an apartment just one mile from campus. In hopes to save money (see, this does have a PF point!), I would walk to and from class every day. This was really my only exercise I was doing and it’s funny how just that little bit helped boost my weight loss so much. I walked everywhere!

But I’m getting off track. Jessie’s question was about running!

About a year ago I was feeling complacent with my weight and wanted a fitness challenge. Now naturally I am not very athletic. I went through all of my options of sports that I could do and decided my uncorrindated self needed something that didn’t require any kind of racket or another teammate so I landed on running. It doesn’t take anything but a pair of shoes and a good set of knees to run.

I signed up for my first 5K for November of last year. I also talked my mom and J to join me. Before training for the 5K, I had only run a very slow two miles. The challenge of a date really put my booty into gear. The day of the race was cold and drizzly and the last thing I wanted to do was go run 3+ miles. Once the race began the sun came out and the energy of running with hundreds of others pushed me harder than I had ever gone before. I finished in less than 30 minutes and had no idea I could even run that fast. It was an awesome feeling.

I’ve always wanted to be about 115-120 pounds. I rarely weigh myself anymore because I’d rather “look and feel skinny” than “weigh skinny”–but I think I’m about 127 right now. It’s not that difficult for me to maintain my weight, but it is very challenging for me to actually lose it. Again I felt like I needed a challenge recently this year to help reach my goal weight and two of my guy friends decided to run the Baltimore Marathon. They tried to convince me to run it with them, but no way was I running that with only a 5K under my belt!! So I decided the Half Marathon was achievable–and seemed pretty effortless compared to what they were about to endure. I’d love to be down to 120 pounds by the time October comes.

I have a confession though: I sort of hate running. I think it’s boring, I find it monotonous, and it is really really hard. And I’m kind of skeptical of people who say they love to run. Anyone who jumps out of bed in the morning excited to push themselves for miles and up hills has to be crazy. I also don’t like to eat very healthy. I’d much rather snack on chips than carrots. However, all of that pain is for the feeling afterwards. I absolutely LOVE the way I feel after running. I love finishing a run, taking a cold shower and slipping into the covers completely exhausted and satisfied that I did it. I love waking up with that skinny-morning feeling. I love being able to wear a size small in dresses and size four in pants. I love feeling comfortable with my body after years of self-pity and complacency.

Wow this post is ridiculously long and anyone who made it this far is incredibly sweet to continue reading. Point is, for all of you who are going through your own fitness/health challenges: I know it’s hard. I know what it’s like to eat a bowl of ice cream and then refill it just five minutes after and feel super guilty (ahem–last night!). I know what it’s like to go out for seven miles and only run four (ahem–last Sunday!). But I also know that it’s possible, achievable and in the end will be worth all of those hardships. If any of you are interested in running but don’t know how to start, I recommend just signing up for a race. It will give you an achievable date to work towards and forking out the registration fee will also help motivate you. I don’t want my $78 wasted!

Good luck my friends! :)

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  • I wish I was one those ‘I love to run’ people, but can identify with the way you feel after running.. I would love to run, but I just can’t get into it.. not sure signing up to a race would make me either… I’ll stick with my super fast walking…

  • I think running is probably the best sport out there. I actually do love running, but I hate starting to run. It takes me 5-10 minutes into a run to actually start enjoying it. And yes I agree, nothing beats that feeling afterwards.

    I’m the same way when it comes to running though. If I don’t have something to train for I get completely lazy.

  • I loved this. And I am so like you. The pounds crept on and I found myself a size way bigger than the 2 that I was when I graduated high school. But you are so right. When I just eat to feel good in the long run, that is what really helps.

  • wow, that was fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

    I feel similar in that I want to be more active; however I don’t want a big outlay of funds nor do I particularly enjoy team sports.

    I’ll be starting to ride horseback more often now, but I would like something that I could just leave the house and do…

    Running might be a good place to start.

    Thanks again!

  • That’s how I started too! Ran my first 5k last weekend and have a half marathon coming up in October. I’ve exercised off and on, but after committing to a race, my motivation really took off! I also made sure to tell all my friends what I was doing so that I felt more accountable for it. Hal Higdon has free training plans online that I follow which allow me days to mix up the routine with yoga or workout videos. I really love the mix of PF and fitness here :)

  • Sometimes I’m one of the “love to run” people and sometimes I’m not. I used to run or cycle just about every day in high school, college and grad school. But then the year that I defended my thesis I literally had no time, and that with stress and the 25 year old slowing metabolism didn’t help matters. Now I’m finding it so hard to motivate myself to do the exercise because I’m getting old enough that it is getting harder to get in shape quickly like I used to, which sucks.

    I made it all the way through your post though! ;)

  • I am totally on the same boat with you about hating running and not enjoying eating too healthy. Last year I signed up with Team in Training. I originally just wanted to run a half (it would have been my first) and somehow ended up changing my mind and doing the full! It was really intense, after the half point I felt okay but a full is a little much for me. I’m training for a half now and I still have a hard time getting up and actually going to run. I’d rather go take a class at the gym than run.. but I do also enjoy how I feel after! Signing up for races definitely gives me some motivation to do it.. but I’m still trying to figure out if I really like it or not =)

  • I love this entry. I am not a person who naturally enjoys exercise, and I’m a huge junk food junkie. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one; it seems like most of my favorite bloggers love vegetables and running. It’s nice to know that I have a favorite who is more naturally like me and has been able to overcome it!