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Going With The Garmin - Shamrock Shuffle 8K Race Report!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The heat was on (pun intended) for me the morning of Sunday, April 10, 2011 as I awoke early to gear up for my first 8K race. Race day jitters promptly interrupted a fine dream about puppies and kittens (seriously, I'm not kidding...I was dreaming about puppies and kittens running through grassy fields) at 5:30am as my alarm sang out and the sun began to peep through my blinds. Though I hit the snooze button once for good measure, I knew I wasn't going back to sleep. My brain had pretty much been awake and rarin' to go since about 4am. I was nervous. And well I should have been - my last long training run for this race ended disastrously - my body tanking after 2.9 miles due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. And already the thermostat read 66 degrees at 6am. It was going to be a HOT one - and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to handle it.

But I had my plan in place. The Saturday before the race, I made sure to look back in my Spark Nutrition Tracker to see exactly what I ate before the last time I remember having a REALLY GOOD run. Sure enough, it was a really healthy day - oatmeal for breakfast, Subway as a treat for lunch, and a homemade chili-mac with beans that is totally delicious and down home comfort food for dinner. No surprise either that the dinner included pasta which made for great fuel the next day. So I decided to repeat that day verbatim on Saturday - not only on a nutritional front, but also for the mental prep. Just knowing that I was feeding my body things that had made for a great run the last time was an added boost of confidence for this time around.

I went to bed early and surprisingly managed to fall asleep relatively quickly, despite one final text message from work asking about a late-night show that was going in.

So back to race morning - I didn't have the ingredients to make the same breakfast I had had the last time I had a great run, but I was confident that my prior evening fuel was equally as important and that what I needed to do right now was to just manage to get something in there and keep it down! I started with a bowl of organic chocolate puff cereal topped with chocolate almond milk (a delicious little treat) and then while watching an episode of my favorite tv show on Hulu, crammed down a bagel & cream cheese topped with a banana. Seemingly a lot of food, I was definitely STUFFED at the time, but I also knew I had another 3 hours til race time which would end up to be perfect timing to digest and yet still be sufficiently fueled. I washed it all down with a bottle of water and a large cup of tea.

The time had come to gear up. I had packed my race bag the day before with a change of clothes and socks if I needed them, a bottle of water, my Garmin and heart monitor, iPod with rocking new playlist and race day information. At the Expo I was lucky enough to score a new adidas tank and a new Moving Comfort sports bra for cheap and a set of new BondiBands - one matching my new tank perfectly with a bejeweled "run" written across my forehead. I donned all my spanky new equipment. I looked like a runner! And a fashionable one at that! My nerves quelled at this point. I took a couple of deep breaths and smiled. Let's do this.

Laced on my shoes, zipped up my purple Fila running jacket (though I really didn't need it), and stepped out my door into the early morning. Transportation to the city was a breeze - bus to train (packed with other runners!) and a short walk over to Grant Park. Though the crowd seemed to be moving quickly, I just kept telling myself to slow down. Take it all in and just relax. I knew I had a ton of time before the race started, and I needed to save my energy for the run.

I arrived at gear check and deaked over to the Port-o-lets straight away because the water I had already consumed was kicking in and because you gotta use those things EARLY or else it's gross. Then I headed to the gear check tents to wait for Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER). Try as we might, we never connected before the race, but I was really happy that I at least got to text her before I checked my phone to wish her a fantastic race.

A first look at the gathering crowds and the city skyline in the background:

Gear safely away, I headed to the start Corrals. I was in G, but they were pretty poorly marked so I ended up standing in H for a good long time, looking for Kathy until I figured out that G was further up. She had the same problem turns out - I must have moved to the real G right before she got to H, so I ended up ahead of her and she never was able to move up. But I kept myself busy and my mind occupied looking for her green shirt among the thousands of green shirts and her pink princess BondiBand.

I had learned a lesson at the 5K I ran in November. I get nervous dry-mouth syndrome right before I run - I have later learned from listening to a really informative RadioLab podcast that this is the normal human reaction to stress. In times of deep stress, the body's digestive system shuts itself down, and digestion starts with your mouth and saliva - so naturally when you're under pressure, your saliva dries up! So I grabbed a cup of water before entering the corrals and was hanging on to it until just before I started running. Worked like a charm! I took a swig and ditched my cup right before my corral took off for the race.

Unfortunately, that wasn't until 9:40am when the race officially started at 9am!!! Each corral was held back 2 minutes from the end of the previous corral - so since I was all the way back in G, it took a LONG time for us to advance to the start line! The sun was beating down at that point and the temp was nearing 75 degrees. I was thankful for the lake breeze for sure! But then, all of a sudden the people in front of me started moving, and then jogging and then there was the start line right in front of me. We were on our way! No more time to think about the weather, let's get a move on.

The first portion of the race lead us under a tunnel which was damp and cool and lovely. Lots of excited racers were whooping and hollering - their voices echoing off the tunnel walls. I laughed to myself - taking in the feeling of absolute joy with my fellow athletes. After a short incline, we were back out into the sunlight and rounding the corner to Grand. I had memorized the race map in my head and I could visualize my little GPS marker moving along the streets as I ran...beep beep beep beep. Steady as she goes, always moving forward! As long as we were in the shadow of the buildings, this race wasn't all that bad. And check it out! We're running through the streets of Chicago! A turn of another corner and we were on State Street and I could see the Chicago Theater sign. I almost got teary eyed at that point it was so beautiful. You see all the advertisements for the Chicago Marathon and various other races in Chicago with athletic-looking people running past this iconic image, but somehow I never imagined that one of those people would actually be me someday. But today it was!

Here's where it got tough though. In my head map, the trek down Jackson wasn't as long as it actually was. In my head map, the streets were also totally flat - which wasn't the case as we were rolling up and down the bridge overpasses - not "hilly terrain" per se, but certainly not flat either. The bridges were also tough to run on because unlike the paved streets, they are corrugated metal and I could feel the difference through my shoes.

Luckily, my killer 8K playlist saved the day. I am proud of myself for knowing my own running psychology well enough at this point to plan a playlist accordingly depending on how songs make me feel. Song after song hit the spot perfectly, and to get me through the tough stuff, I was literally spitting aloud the lyrics to P!nk as I was running down the street to the 5K turnaround. Call me a crazy person, but I sing, laugh and talk aloud to myself during my runs. It gets me through and keeps me focused, not to mention I think it helps in side cramp prevention. Spitting out words and exhaling my lungs fully during my runs really helps with my breathing - so I don't know if there's any truth in it - but hey - whatever works, right?!

At the 5K split I looked down at my watch. Already 2 minutes faster than my PR! Yahoo. I was right on schedule and so planned to slow at the 2nd rest spot for a Gatorade. I know you're not supposed to do anything differently on race day, and I've never fueled during my runs, but at this point I was fading and I knew I needed it. We turned the corner into another cool underpass and I saw the cup litter - I had reached sustenance! Which also meant I was solidly into the last stretch of the race. I slowed to grab a cup of the neon yellow liquid and drank it down as quickly as I could while keeping up a slow jog. How do people not get this stuff all over their face? Cause I sure did! But it tasted great - and whether or not it "really worked" my brain was refueled and since I assume that it worked, that means that it did!

Back out of the cool tunnel and into the hottest stretch of the race for sure. Wide open and blazing sun all the way back to Michigan Avenue on Harrison - temp at this point had to be a solid 80 degrees - it was SWELTERING. Really thanking myself for grabbing that Gatorade at this point. I new I had to push it to make it through, just keep running, one foot in front of the other. "Move Along" comes on my iPod and I feel a smile work through my entire body. Ever since SLIMKATIE posted her weight loss video with this song as the theme it has made me think of all my Sparkfriends and everyone who loves and supports me through challenging moments. I thought about Kathy and where she was on the route, and I imagined her cheering me on with the rest of my Spark Buddies waiting for me at the finish line. Don't worry about time at this point, just worry about finishing and finishing strong. Running. No walking. No. Don't even want to talk about walking. We're not gonna do it...

And then we rounded the final corner. And there before us was THE HILL. Remember how I said I talk to myself out loud during my races? I think at this point I said something to the tune of "Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!" Unlike other people who have run this race before or who were prepped in advance for THE HILL at the end of the race, I knew nothing of this. In hindsight, it's probably a really good thing that I didn't or I may have talked myself into walking a portion of the race. But it was too late now. No turning back. And no walking as we started the steep incline to the top. Eminem was shouting his profane lyrics in my ears and I was listening to him word for word. Don't you dare stop. Don't you dare give up. Just keep pushing to the top of this - you will overcome! And overcome I did. It was a slow run, but I ran that hill. And when I was done running the hill I could see the finish line. With the heat it was like a mirage in the distance - hazy and just out of reach.

I don't remember much of the distance between that hill and the finish. I was in the zone at that point and I tuned life out completely. I know that the song on my iPod changed, but without looking I couldn't really tell you what it was. All I was focused on was my heartbeat, and my breath and my feet on the pavement. Bang, bang, bang in my ears as that finish line got closer. And then, it was right there. Right there in front of me and I felt the rubber mat through my shoes as I crossed it. I let out a yelp of joy. And then another. I had done it. I had run the whole race! And a quick look down at my watch to hit stop told me that not only had I done it, but that I did it in record time!

Still in a daze catching my breath, I stumbled over to the Finisher Photo area:

I downed a bottle of water and headed for the gear check area which was already starting to fill up. I knew I needed to get to my phone because we had a Spark meet-up planned for 11am and already it was 10:50am. I got my gear without too much of a wait and started to walk to our meet-up location when I got the call from Kathy. She had finished and was on her way as well! We exchanged excited congratulations and hung up quickly to get to the meet-up location.

Finally allowing the post-race release to kick in, I snapped a commemorative picture of my Garmin:

It's the best time I've ever run. I shaved 4 minutes off my previous PR. I couldn't have been more excited. I called my mom & dad and left them a message that I had finished and finished well and was just so happy and riding a runner's high for sure as I arrived at our meeting location.

The first person I saw was Hope (CHICAGOHEALTHY) who was just as excited to meet me as I was her. She has boundless energy and we twittered back and forth excitedly about our race experiences. Hope runs like the wind in my opinion and also PRed with a sub 50 minute time - woo hoo!

Kathy (LOTUSFLOWER) was next on the scene with her family whom I haven't seen since the Hot Chocolate race in November. It was nice connecting with what feels like old friends at this point though we only first met last year.

They were followed by Glenn (GLENNYB) and Rachel (TETICH) and we all posed for multiple pics together - all of which I absolutely LOVE.

Look at us! We all look like we could be in a magazine shoot!

I also posed for what I am now deeming my "Who Just Ran A ...K? THIS GIRL DID!" pose. More to come - I promise!

One more essential pic - an updated shot of me and Kathy before she headed out to brunch with her family. We have a bunch of these now and I'm looking forward to MANY more with this girl. She is such a special person to me and I love sharing these race experiences with her. We inspire each other along the way - but I derive so much energy from her, she is just so wonderful!

After parting ways with the group (and a promise to pick up some tea for Rachel when I go to Kenya - her home country!) Hope & I took a minute to stretch out in the sun:

No longer afraid of the heat, we headed over to the post-race party at Buckingham Fountain and soaked in the delicious rays (and a delicious low-cal beer!) as we walked around the festivities and took in the people sunbathing and relaxing sore muscles:

On the way there we met up with one of the official race photographers who offered to take our pics as "the last 2 of the day" - of course we obliged!

Finally it was time to part ways and secure some food, so we walked to the train and hugged goodbye and promised to see each other soon (hopefully at another race). I enjoyed the air-conditioned trip home and the lovely long shower that followed. My babies were quite content to join me for an afternoon nap to top off a pretty perfect day:

Race results were in amazingly fast, and by 7pm that night I had already gotten my finisher's email: Congratulations on your finish at the 2011 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K!

When I opened the email, however, I was a little disappointed. My official chip time was no where near my Garmin time and what I had thought was a sub-1hr race, turned into one minute over:

I tried to talk myself out of being disappointed, but I have to admit it was a bit of a blow to my high. The important thing is that I finished. But I thought I had finished REALLY well. Either way - I set a PR. But it's not what I was expecting to see.

However, in a conversation I had today with a friend of mine who used to be an avid racer, he let me in on a little racing secret. Chip times are based on the time you cross the finish line, not the time you cross the start line. I don't know this to be true for the Shamrock Shuffle, but it would make sense with my times. The clock is started at the "gun" for each corral, and depending on how long it takes you to get to the start line in your corral adds to your overall race time! So since I was near the back of my corral and it took me a few minutes to get to the start line, that time was added to my race finish time. When I started my Garmin the second I crossed the start line and stopped it the second I crossed the finish line, technically, my time WAS more accurate than theirs. That made me feel so much better!

Regardless, I ran a great race. All my pre-prep and planning paid off and I am happy with the results. I've had a good 4 days of rest now and am looking forward to getting back out there this weekend. Next goal - a 10K sometime this summer and the Hot Chocolate 15K in November. I'm also going to start training for a Half without signing up for one, but we'll see what the fall brings. I think I might actually be ready to sign up for the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Look at me go!

A huge thank you to my Sparkfriends and everyone who supported me and commented on my blogs leading up to this race. I took all of you with me in my heart, and each and every one of you helped me through it!

Here's to "Running Lucky" again next year!!!

*photos courtesy of MarathonFoto, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K and Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ERIKAROIS 5/2/2011 9:45AM

  I was there that day. My husband ran. I honestly remember seeing a woman in teal who was built like me PASSING a ton of runners. Hubby and I stopped to watch you and he told me that that could be me. I just happened on you post and saw your pic and was happy to think I cheered you on for a bit! I am going to walk my first 5k in monee, il this fall. It's the monee in motion walk run. Thank you for the inspiration.

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MEHECSKE 4/28/2011 12:33PM

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience. Thanks for writing it all down.

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SARAWALKS 4/27/2011 1:21PM

    I so enjoyed reading this and seeing the map of your route in the Loop area! Wow, you are inspiring and you're looking great! I'll think of you as I keep training to run more 5Ks, and maybe eventually I'll do an 8K too! emoticon emoticon

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RUNMELLY 4/20/2011 1:21AM

    What a great account of your race! I really enjoyed reading and now makes me want to run (lol). Congrats on all your hard work!!

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TETICH 4/19/2011 10:42PM

    It was really great to meet you and the others too! And what a wonderful blog, I remember the cool under the bridge, then trying to ran wherever there was shade, then realising that the course is not flat at all, and finally, blessedly, the finish line!

Lets keep running emoticon emoticon

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FOZSPARK 4/18/2011 10:09AM

    What a great, detailed write up. Awesome.

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PAMEDEN 4/17/2011 10:08AM

    WELL DONE!! That is amazing!

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MRS.PRINCIPAL 4/15/2011 7:26PM

    You are an inspiration and motivation! Congrats on your run. It was a really warm day that day (I'm in the burbs), glad you his a new PR!

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LAURIETAIT 4/15/2011 3:15PM

    Awesome run! Sounds like a fantastice day. Thanks for sharing.

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SHELLEY202 4/15/2011 1:36PM

    Great job!!!!

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BROOKDOESLIFE 4/15/2011 11:58AM

    Wow! Way to go! This is awesome. Congrats!

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KKINNEA 4/15/2011 10:58AM

    Awesome job! You guys make this race sound like fun - I'm going to have to look it up next year. You rocked it!!

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CHICAT63 4/15/2011 7:54AM

    Love your race report, just AWESOME time and so very happy for you:) Keep it up, you are a RUNNER:)

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CHICAGOHEALTHY 4/14/2011 11:11PM

    emoticon It was fun hanging out after the race with you! Your blog is a great re-cap of the Shuffle. We were SO LUCKY with the weather. I wouldn't have wanted to do that run today. Hope to see you at another run. emoticon

Keep up the awesome work! emoticon

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CRISPINI 4/14/2011 11:06PM

    AWESOME race report. Really enjoyed it!

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/14/2011 10:17PM

    You have accomplished so much, congratulations on a great time.

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/14/2011 10:08PM

    p.s. I got the Gatorade all over my face too!

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REDDIRTRUNNER 4/14/2011 10:07PM

    Yeah! Great race recap! Congrats on a great run. emoticon

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/14/2011 10:07PM

    I love your race report!!!!! I am so proud of you and for running it STRONG and running up that darn hill too. You and I are so much alike. We both orchestrated our play lists to fit our needs and we both had the same song and had it play at the same time! You inspire me, motivate and push me. THANK YOU for being the person that you are. Oh, and your finisher pictures? STRONG and LEAN girl!!!!!! I love them. Rock it 'cuz you GOT IT. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MARINO124 4/14/2011 8:11PM

    emoticon What a wonderful accomplishment! You're inspiring... I can't wait to read more of your journey! emoticon

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KSGROTHE 4/14/2011 7:23PM

    emoticon It looks like you had a great day and sounds like you had a great experience! emoticon

I look forward to reading your next race report! (And all the blogs in between!)

- Karen

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Benefit Events and Black Dresses

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Some of you may recall these pictures I took of myself all dressed up for a benefit event with my theatre company in October of 2010:

I was just down 50 pounds at that point and feeling like a queen. I had received a ton of compliments at the benefit and I was feeling really great.

Flash forward 6 months to tonight and another benefit event. Different black dress, but another overwhelming night of compliments and praise from people who, in some cases, haven't seen me in the last 50 pounds:

In so many ways, I feel like exactly the same person I did (almost) 100 pounds ago, so it surprises me sometimes when people make a huge deal about how much I've changed. I guess the difference this time is that while my body is clearly changing on the outside, who I am on the inside is very much the same and only getting stronger.

There is one person in my life right now who keeps making reference to the fact that I'm "a mere shadow of the person I used to be" - to which my response is - I'm not a shadow at all! Though I know he means it in good spirit, it sounds like such a negative thing - to be only a shadow of your former self. I may be smaller in body, but mightier in essence - there is nothing about ME that is fading away, I can promise you that.

I have said it before that I believe that one of the reasons people struggle with weight is because being big gives us the PLACE in the world that we so desperately need. Physically, we are present because we take up (more) space. When we begin to lose the weight, we need to compensate for that physical space that we're also losing. If your spirit and essence and personality DON'T grow to fill that space, then I don't believe you can be successful at keeping the weight off because you are neglecting yourself and the space every human needs to feel present in the world. The fact that I DON'T feel any different now than I did 50 pounds ago tells me two things: 1 - that I was ready to make the journey in the first place, and 2 - that I have done a good job so far about compensating for my physical loss of space with growth of spirit. With any luck, that will be all I need to see this through to my ideal way of life at a weight that is comfortable and healthy.

But for tonight I will continue to rejoice in my physical accomplishments - cause damn, I DO LOOK GOOD emoticon YAHOO!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KMKILROY 4/18/2011 3:19PM

    You're in inspiration!

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AUBRAZILLA 4/18/2011 12:23PM

    What a cute chin!

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ANDREA963 4/15/2011 10:33AM

    LOOK AT YOU!!! You do look damn hot! Great job woman!!!

Great dress choice. It's beautiful and sexy! emoticon

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AMBERLEIGHM1 4/12/2011 10:04PM

    I came across your blog late but I wanted to congratulate you on losing the 100 lbs and making that important connection with yourself. I view the journey as a complete mind/body/spiritual experience and plan on enjoying it to the fullest. Thanks for sharing your journey. You look fabulous, celebrate and I hope you had a wonderful evening.

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MORELIE 4/9/2011 5:27PM

    You look wonderful! Hey, I have a formal thing next week, can I borrow your dress? :) emoticon I found it very eye opening about people saying "you're a shadow of your former self" when in reality, the real you is growing - you're growing into yourself, who you're supposed to be. Keep up the good work!

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MARINO124 4/8/2011 8:27AM

    Interesting how you explain that we are emptying one aspect of ourselves by physically loosing "space", but in order to keep balance, we need to fill another space of ourselves. This is totally in line with your concept of mind-body connection. And so inspiring! Thanks for the food for thought, yet again! And way to go on your success! Enjoy the compliments, they are well deserved! emoticon

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LEIAFRUMA 4/7/2011 5:55AM

  You look amazing - but what strikes me the most is the sparkly clarity in your eyes! Yay you!

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SNOOKUMS19 4/5/2011 6:45PM

    Enjoy your evening! You look beautiful! emoticon Live, Laugh and Love. I think you are 3 for 3!

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KSTARANNE 4/5/2011 3:40PM

    Congratulations you goregous Thang :)!

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    Beautiful! Congratulations!!

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SHELLEY202 4/5/2011 2:07PM

    Way to go!!!!!

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MOMMASCAR 4/5/2011 2:06PM

    You have a beautiful spirit!! (and you look great in your new black dress!). Congratulations on your continued progress. Your success is so much more than numbers on a scale. Realizing your worth and coming to that place where you are happy in your skin......that is where it's at!


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    You have so much to be proud of in mind and body!

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LAURIETAIT 4/5/2011 1:41PM

    You look terrific and really confident and at home in your skin. You rock!

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LMLOPEZ 4/5/2011 1:24PM

    Jen, you look fabulous and you even look like you feel more comfortable and confident. For your next dress you need some pops of color so you shine even brighter!!!

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TEENY_BIKINI 4/5/2011 12:59PM

    "I have said it before that I believe that one of the reasons people struggle with weight is because being big gives us the PLACE in the world that we so desperately need."

WOW! I never thought of it that way - but it is very thought-provoking. I love when you share you insights :)

You look beautiful, btw. Cheers.


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MANLEYSANDY 4/5/2011 12:55PM


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JENJESS48 4/5/2011 11:03AM

    You are sooo gorgeous! Congrats on all the compliments - you've earned them.

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/5/2011 10:11AM

    Jenn, my beautiful friend!! You look beautiful, radiant, and your presence has totally changed. But yes, you are still YOU on the inside and you are amazing. emoticon

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KATYMACK 4/5/2011 10:08AM

    Amazing. You have such a beautiful glow.

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FREECANDY 4/5/2011 10:01AM

    You look amazing!

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THEAPPLESASS 4/5/2011 9:54AM

  your curves look soooo hot! seriously- you look gorgeous! have a great night!!!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 4/5/2011 9:45AM

    You look amazing, even your body language has even changed.

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CHICAT63 4/5/2011 9:35AM

    Woohoo, you look absolutely radiant !!!!

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PAMEDEN 4/5/2011 9:25AM

    Wow!! You look great! Well done, hope you enjoyed your evening.

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SLFRISBEY 4/5/2011 8:45AM

    Looking good!!! I love your confidence! You're a total rock star, don't ever forget it!

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REDHEADMOM2U 4/5/2011 8:26AM

    Awesome job!

I agree with the space thing...although I used my space as a reason to be I lose I have to compensate by being more outgoing...

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  You look fantastic!

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-POOKIE- 4/5/2011 6:35AM

    Yes, you look damn good!!

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Too Hot To Trot

Monday, April 04, 2011

Today was my last long run training day before running the 8K Shamrock Shuffle next weekend. I had decided that I was going to run 6 miles today and then put in 2 more short training runs this week. I woke up this morning pumped to "get er done" and made myself a big breakfast of a tomato basil omelette, toast and coffee (my secret weapon for long run days to keep me fueled and energetic since I don't normally drink it during the week).

Outside the sky was beginning to threaten as I laced on my shoes and slammed back a couple more glasses of water. I checked the weather quickly - at the time it was hovering around 45 degrees. Warmer than the weather I have been running in, but still cool enough for the running jacket over my tank (I thought).

The minute I stepped out the door I knew it felt warm. I debated going back inside and ditching the jacket, but I was already all tucked in and ready to go so I unzipped at the neck a bit and took off anyway. A mile and a half into my run I knew that was a big mistake. Already I was totally parched. I don't take water with me when I run and unfortunately the fountains in the park aren't operational yet. I opted to keep running, feeling the sweat trickling down my back already.

2.75 miles in I was fading fast. I kept telling myself to slow down and relax, but even at the slower speeds my body was tanking without water. At 2.9 miles I had to walk. As I slowed to walk I felt a wave of nausea pass over me. This is CRAZY I was thinking. I've never experienced this before. I peeled off my running jacket and tied it around my waist. There was a nice breeze at that point and just the cooler air on my body felt good. I walked for a half mile and then decided again that I would run. No big deal - I'll just run the other 3 miles now and call it a day. I still hadn't had any water, but I started on a second lap around the park. Another mile and a half later, I just couldn't go anymore. I stopped to walk again. Angry with myself now for not being able to run and not having brought any water with me I decided to head it home. I was able to run for another couple of short stints, but after the last jaunt of 0.34 miles, I was cooked. Quite literally. Sweat was pouring off my body, I could barely open my mouth because it was so dry, and my body was so weak I was having trouble even moving. I ascended the stairs to my apartment as quickly as I could and found my water bottle filled and waiting for me. As I made my way back outside with my water bottle and a grapefruit for some quick sustenance I caught the weather report again still on my computer screen. 73 degrees!!! In 90 minutes, the temperature had climbed almost 20 degrees. NO WONDER I was out of sorts! I sat and drank my water, ate my grapefruit and did some stretching. Still feeling faint, I decided to jump in the shower anyway to attempt to revive myself. Mistake # 2 of the day. I almost passed out in the shower - never fun - and then immediately started feeling sick again.

Now, after having had a big dinner, lots of water, and an evening of sitting at the rehearsal table for the show I'm currently working on, I feel MUCH better. It's still very hot outside, but the thunderstorms that have been threatening all day and that brought in the heat wave have finally started, so temps should drop again for tomorrow.

All I know is - if this happens again next Sunday, everyone running the Shuffle could be screwed. So far in my running life, I've dealt with the temperature dropping and managing to adapt and run outside all winter. That was a change that I grew accustomed to and ended up quite liking as I tend to run very hot anyway and never needed much more than a simple running jacket all winter. 30 degrees is the perfect temp for me for a nice, long, outdoor run. Now I suppose it's time to get used to the seasons changing all over again. I'm not sure I'm going to like spring much - especially when it throws random HOT & HUMID days at you from out of no where and since I have slight allergies which the warmer weather always likes to mess with. Heat on a runner's body all of a sudden is not something to joke about. It's better to warm up gradually - and quite clearly I wasn't ready for this today. Now I know what the runners in the Chicago Marathon felt a couple of years ago when it was over 90 degrees in the middle of October. I think I remember hearing that one person actually died from heat stroke.

So moral of the story kids - be careful out there as the weather starts to warm up. Sure it's nice to get back out on the roads again for people who have been running inside all winter, but for those of us who are used to running in cooler temps, let's all make sure not to stress out our bodies too badly and make for a gradual change to accommodate the fluctuating temperature changes! I should have planned for a shorter run today. It's disappointing when the weather doesn't cooperate with your planned schedule, but we all need to learn to make adjustments. I'm glad I didn't really push myself to run the whole way - it could have turned out much worse than it did. Even though I was "angry" at myself for walking, I have since forgiven myself knowing that the temp spiked that much while I was out there. We can only do as much as we can do and I think given the circumstances, I still did pretty great today. Just hoping for cooler, clear weather for next weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JMMANGEL 4/7/2011 8:57AM

  I'm a hot weather runner (my husband says my father must be an iguana); but my body temperature always runs a little cold. I always drink water before, during and after a run, especially when it is warming up. Have you thought about getting a camelback? I can't run with anything in my hands and it helps immensely.

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TEENY_BIKINI 4/6/2011 3:37PM

    Oh my! Your running stories are just the best! I know they are true - and it did sound scary - but dang you tell a great tale. [Thanks for making work interesting, by the way.]

I am just glad you are okay. I remember the stories you told about running in the winter too - you are some kind of warrior.

Go girl!!


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LAURIETAIT 4/4/2011 6:46PM

    I don't do well in he heat either. I usually try to run in the evenings during the summer. Hope you have optimal weather for your 5K. Take care of yourself.

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JENJESS48 4/4/2011 2:27PM

    Ugh, that's one thing I don't miss about the Midwest. Would a Camelbak slow you down too much on long runs? It may feel silly, but it could really help you out. I use mine when I'm even gardening for long stints and don't want to get a glass filthy, lol. Sometimes ya gotta look ridiculous to stay healthy. :) I'm so glad you're okay!

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MORELIE 4/4/2011 12:34PM

    I think you should congratule yourself on knowing your body well enought to know there was a problem, and not to have pushed yourself! Congratulaions on all your success.

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    Girrrrrl... you gots to be careful! of course I live in an area where it's 100 and windy which really fakes you out because the sweat evaporates as soon as it gets to skin level and you can be down and OUT before you know it.. drink drink drink!... as for you 8k.. you got it girl.. own it!

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LOTUSFLOWER 4/4/2011 8:09AM

    I'm sorry this happened to you Jenn. Hopefully the weather will stay sane on Sunday. I am glad you are OK and that you walked and cut your run short. That was smart of you and I hope in no way you feel bad about that anymore. I don't bring water with me when I run either and never thought about the consequences. I'm hoping for a gorgeous running day Sunday!! Love you.

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-POOKIE- 4/4/2011 4:47AM

    *hugs* scary, Im glad you are feeling better now x

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MERRIKATE 4/4/2011 12:22AM

    Scary, dear Sparkler! There must be ways to take water with you -- even a canteen strapped to your tummy -- as it's wayyyyyyyyyy too easy to knock your system into heart failure due to rapid dehydration. (Even merely walking in heat, or working on strength exercises at my air conditioned gym, I go through a litre of water at least in any given hour.)

Bet you can very promptly get used to having some kind of device with you & protecing your progress! Maybe take a boo at this site, where helpful tips may make a diff for your enjoyment of your excellent training:

(You may have to copy/paste)

You are such a smart person; stay safe too, please?

emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 4/4/2011 12:24:53 AM

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REDHEADMOM2U 4/4/2011 12:06AM

    Glad you are okay!

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Voted Popular Blog Post: View All Popular Posts

When It Gets Easy

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I've been in a weird and wonderful place for the past few weeks. But much like Alice's venture down the rabbit hole, it hasn't come without apprehension, fumbling around, and quite honestly, a deep seeded fear.

I find myself these days in that mythical place that every morbidly obese person only dreams is possible, but never expects to find. The place where all of a sudden, all of "this" just gets...well...easy.

I pack my lunches and prep my dinners, I have my running schedule, and Zumba classes and swimming nights, I'm managing at my job and not worried about what might happen if a cake shows up at the office, and I have my general plan for the week and how it's going to turn out - and most of the time, I'm not that far off. I'm LIVING! I'm living my life and nothing hurts. Nothing seems unmanageable, or insurmountable, or impossible. In fact, spring has sprung and everything is pretty damn peachy. Holy optimism, Batman!

And yet somehow I feel that just putting all that optimism and good sentiment down in writing makes me as vulnerable as a new blade of grass, ready to be crushed by a big, fat, farmer's boot. I feel like putting it out there in the world makes it possible for someone to take it away from me.

But only for a split second. Because deep down I know that no one's taking anything from me, because I'm not in a place anymore where I'm going to let them have it. I like my "easy". I've grown very fond of my "easy" and I'm getting quite comfortable in it. So to those that want to take away my "easy" I say - GO GET YOUR OWN EASY!!!

One of the major things that always held me back from losing weight and keeping it off in the past was this idea of "easy". I didn't think it was possible. And because it was so unattainable in my mind, I figured it was pointless to even try working towards it. It was too far in the distance to be seen - it could only be imagined. But that's the difference with Spark and the idea of taking baby steps. Not focusing too hard on the distant future and what it might or might not look like. For me, I know that I'm about to enter totally uncharted territory as far as my weight is concerned. But there's an ease that comes with that too because every day I live right now, I know that all I'm doing is taking it one day at a time, and that's all that matters. That's all I can control. Today is mine. Tomorrow will be mine tomorrow, and not until. And 20, 30, 50 pounds from now, I'm still going to be living - one day at a time. (And hopefully with as much ease as I've learned to enjoy these past few weeks).

It was also a shock to me to learn that exercise could also be easy - and that that's also OK! It's ok to "only run 3 miles" and then stop. That's putting in your time. You don't have to kill yourself with sweat every single day to be successful here. That's not a sustainable way of life. But that's also not the easiest fact to digest. As fat people, it is somehow drilled into our subconscious on a daily basis that the only way we are ever going to succeed in weight loss is to remove ourselves from the rest of the world, check into a ranch for 6 months, work out 8+ hours a day and eat 1200 or fewer calories to compensate for it. I'd like to say I'm living proof that that method couldn't be further from the truth. Especially if you can't afford to take a 6 month leave of absence from YOUR LIFE.

When you do it like that - check out for weeks on end to "deal with the weight" - integration back into a normal existence is often extremely unsuccessful. Your life is happening now - all of it. You can't just put certain pieces of it on hold to go deal with other more pressing issues, because what then happens is that the stuff you put on hold becomes the pressing issue. You have to live the whole thing - all at once. It isn't always pretty, but at least then the pieces all move together.

I have learned that I don't lose weight when I'm stressed about an issue with a significant other. Why? Because the weight part of my life is waiting for the relationship part of my life to catch up. I am one unit. All of my parts move together. Once I deal with the issue that's bothering me, I see a drop on the scale. And it's happened like that over and over and over again. Enough for me to know that this is now a truth with me. My psychological issues are intrinsically tied to my weight (and the gain or loss thereof). Learning to live a COMPLETE life with ease means that eventually my body will find it's own ease and will settle at a weight that is comfortable. And THAT'S a faith that I can get behind and continue to believe in.

8 weeks ago I dropped a day of running in my schedule in order to take a salsa dancing class. Calorie wise - they don't compare. I can burn up to 700 calories in one of my regular 2-5 mile runs, the salsa class burned maybe 200-300 calories if I was dancing all the time. But that salsa class was FUN. I made new friends and had a great time socializing. I also dropped 9 pounds in those 8 weeks - even without the running. I'd like to think it's because I was getting my social life in order, which is undeniably a huge component in everyone's daily existence.

Lesson learned? It's about the sweat, but not all of the time. It's also about the food and the friends and the job and the love life. It's about asserting yourself and taking what YOU want from life because when you feed yourself with what you REALLY want, you're not hungry all the time.

I'm a self-confessed, classic, overachiever. I have always defined myself by my accomplishments and how hard I had to push myself to get there. I took pride in my sacrifices. The greater the sacrifice the greater the achievement. But ultimately what I ended up sacrificing was myself. I was a person with a bunch of achievements but no real sense of who I was. I didn't have my "easy," and I certainly didn't have enough to show for all my accomplishments to fill in the missing pieces of the person that I needed to be.

It is only recently that I've learned that REFUSING to sacrifice is the bigger struggle and the tougher (and more worthwhile) accomplishment. That pulling ALL of my pieces along together, kicking and screaming and dragging them into existence, is what leads you to the "easy." Fighting the urges to kill yourself daily with strenuous exercise and lack of proper sustenance, both in actual food and meaningful personal relationships and a satisfying career, is the real challenge. Finding the "easy" is actually...really damn hard!

But it's worth it. And that's why we do it. Because it DOES exist. And you may be closer to it than you think.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOVEMYROTTI 5/2/2011 9:21AM

    Love This Blog...............................

"THANK YOU" emoticon

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DANCINGBRAVE 4/17/2011 10:22AM

    This is such a great blog. Not only does the unattainable become attainable, it is actually within our grasp. The integration thing is diffucult but we have to make it work. Thank you for this.

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HEALTHRAY1 4/7/2011 1:49PM

  thank you very much for this blog....i WILL keep searching for that easy! emoticon

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STRUMERCAT 4/7/2011 11:20AM

    Thank you for taking the time to share this. So much of what you express rings true. Great job!

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MAKALANI22 4/6/2011 8:59PM

    Wow. Amazing blog! Thank you for this. I totally agree that everything is interconnected within us and have seen the same phenomenon on the scale when I've dealt with issues/written/etc.

Keep up the great work!

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MKARNOLD96 4/5/2011 10:20PM

  You are speaking my language, sister! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights!

Way 2 Go!! Wishing you continued success on your journey!

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WEDDLEACE 4/5/2011 10:56AM

    GREAT blog!! Thanks for sharing!

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BIGOLEDIVA 4/5/2011 2:27AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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4EVER21B 4/5/2011 2:11AM


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GREENBEAN17 4/4/2011 3:22PM

    What an awesome blog. Thank you for sharing.

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ARGYLE-RUNNER 4/4/2011 1:58PM

    thank you for sharing - just what I needed today :)

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LETSLOSE11 4/4/2011 1:40AM

    I love your blog. Everything you said really makes sense. Keep up the great work.


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RUTHDEN1 4/4/2011 1:10AM

    Thanks for posting. So true. emoticon

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35MOM2 4/3/2011 11:49PM

    thank you for posting.......

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BARBRUN 4/3/2011 9:11PM

    Good for you. Glad to hear it is easy and that you are the one making it easy. It's all in your hands, your brain and your attitude. It's great to mix it up and have fun. Live life to it's fullest - the easy way. emoticon

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    Oh ...what a great blog ! So much of this rang true for me too. Thanks soooo much !

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    Great post! Thank you for posting!

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TRAVELGRRL 4/3/2011 8:39PM

    You've really given me a lot to think about. Thanks for writing this blog, because it really, really makes sense.

I know I've worked pretty d*mn hard in the past, but I was working against my body and not with it. And that can't work.

Thanks for putting some of your lessons into writing for the rest of us to learn from!

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CHATTIEGIRL 4/3/2011 8:18PM


Living life is a lot of ups and downs and as long as we go with the flow and have more good days than bad it will be great. The journey that we are on is always changing as our body changes and we look at life in a different respective. Continue with accomplishing your healthy life style. God bless and keep you safe. Learn from Spark people each day to help us along.


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MERRIKATE 4/3/2011 6:43PM

    Wow and WHEW! -- thanks so much for addressing and neatly dispatching the lurking fear of the Easy's evaporating if we dare identify it out loud -- that has haunted me too, till now.

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LMMIMI 4/3/2011 6:41PM

    Great Blog - Thank You! emoticon emoticon

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JILLTBNAGART 4/3/2011 5:47PM

    Thank you!

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FUSCHIA6 4/3/2011 5:33PM

    I love it! Thank you!

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RUNANDRUN 4/3/2011 1:09PM

  So agree with you! It's easy to figure it all out in your head, but to actually live it? Hard, but so worth it.

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BELLEFAITH42 4/3/2011 12:38PM

    Incredibly insightful and just plain brilliant!

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BACKINNB 4/3/2011 10:39AM

    emoticon WOW you have answered alot of unasked questions. I wonder if it becomes easy if that means I am (a) not working hard enough now or (b) if i need to step it up. Thank you for assuring me that Easier does not mean less it actually means so much more......

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RAGIONERE 4/3/2011 10:22AM

  Great post! Thank you for articulating something that is often difficult to find the words to express!

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PAULINE1123 4/3/2011 8:53AM


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MOTHERUV2 4/3/2011 8:44AM

    You are right on the mark! I think for most of us the "easy" is right there.......within front of our noses....but it is buried in all of the muddle that you described above. What I got from your post is LIVE LIFE, BE HAPPY, DEAL WITH WHAT COMES ALONG AND THEN MOVE ON....that's when we'll find our "easy". Thanks so much for putting it into words that explain it so well. I am celebrating you today and the fact that you are in a good place!


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JPRICE217 4/3/2011 8:38AM

    Great blog emoticon

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CHICAT63 4/3/2011 8:14AM

    Love this ! Thanks for sharing:)

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USE2BWILD 4/3/2011 2:25AM

    Babe!! Have you ever read Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evonovich? (fun books) I just had to call you Babe!! (a huge compliment.) You are spot on!! This is beautifully written and very inspiring!! Your profile picture is adorable! Congratulations on your amazing journey! Continued success and much happiness to you! From, mcgee emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DWILCZKO 4/3/2011 12:45AM


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TOTALFOCUS 4/2/2011 11:25PM

    Great Blog!

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    Great blog.. best part? "Lesson learned? It's about the sweat, but not all of the time. It's also about the food and the friends and the job and the love life. It's about asserting yourself and taking what YOU want from life because when you feed yourself with what you REALLY want, you're not hungry all the time. "... sooooooo needed that!! bookmarking this one for sho!


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1WOMANCRUSADE 4/2/2011 8:24PM

    Well said. I never believed "easy" was possible either, but after trying for so long I finally found it too. And its not just about food but the whole thing, being balanced, loving ourselves and living! Thanks for putting it out there. Great blog! And great success to you.

emoticon emoticon

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    AWESOME!! This is EXACTLY where I am in my journey too- right up to the "psychological reasons" for holding weight! I jsut wrote a similar, yet not nearly as well written blog, about how this is working for me. I sooooo agree with the holistic look at our health! GReat work on your journey! Keep it up! emoticon

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CORTYB 4/2/2011 6:50PM

  Thank's for sharing emoticon

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LANI62 4/2/2011 4:50PM

  Today is my first day and WOW!! You hit the nail on the head with balance in your life and how it effects your body. Great explanation..Keep up the good work!!


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LEIAFRUMA 4/2/2011 2:49PM

  Wow. Thank you for sharing this!

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BLUE_KARMA 4/2/2011 1:17PM

    This essay is almost as fantastic as *you* are!!! Thank you for sharing.

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    Excellent post....Thanks for sharing....

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TURTLERASKIN 4/2/2011 12:25PM

    This is just what I needed to hear; congratulations on all your hard work!

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NANCYE43 4/2/2011 12:25PM

    Thanks for laying it all out there so clearly. I've experienced the same thing - when everything is in balance in my life, and when things are not. I'm looking for that balance now.

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PATTK1220 4/2/2011 12:25PM

    Easy is good! Thanks for sharing your great story!


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RIPLEIGH_MICH 4/2/2011 11:50AM

    Great post!

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IRISHLASS117 4/2/2011 11:23AM

    You've built yourself a nice place to live, Bravo!

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GRNBTL 4/2/2011 8:54AM


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TEENY_BIKINI 4/2/2011 8:31AM

    Right on!

I like easy :)


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ABRAMOS913 4/2/2011 8:12AM

  Reading this could not have come at a better time. Thank you. emoticon

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Furry Little Cheater

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is a fun little tidbit (quite literally) for your day.

I keep my scale in the kitchen because it's the hardest and most even floor in my apartment (and quite the deterrent from another trip to the fridge at night since I literally have to step over my scale to get to the fridge). I also keep the cat food in the kitchen. My little boy (cat) likes to chase, pounce on, and kill his kibble before he eats it. I attribute it to the fact that he was born ferrel and is therefore predisposed to "wild like" activity. I adore it, it's so cute.

Anyway, I have learned before that a HUGE scale drop in the morning usually means that there's a trapped kibble under my scale. So when I stepped on this morning and saw 214.2 (only a pound away from my 100 pound loss) I thought there must be something up.

Sure enough, I picked up the scale and sitting directly under it was a pink, heart shaped, cat kibble.

Thanks buddy. I know you love me, but mommy's not cheating with your food, regardless of how lovingly it was delivered.

Tee hee.

*However - I AM down another pound today which officially puts me at having lost 30% of my starting weight! A whole 30% - YAHOO!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAMMYLBEAR 4/3/2011 8:10AM

    Our cats have always been treasures. Your furry friend must be a hoot to have around. Congrats on the 30%!

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RAD062010 3/31/2011 12:36PM

    Awesome on hitting 30%....

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APMAC_D 3/31/2011 9:38AM

    Awesome WAY TO GO!!!

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MANLEYSANDY 3/28/2011 2:19PM

    Great idea to put the scale by the frig! My kitchen is too tiny or I would do it too!

Gotta love those furry friends!

You are awesome... emoticon

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WYND10 3/28/2011 1:10PM


That's funny :). Congratz on your 30% btw! You go girl :)

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ON2VICTORY 3/27/2011 7:47PM

    thats TOO funny!!

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ALOFA0509 3/27/2011 3:18PM

NICE!!! Congrats on the weight loss.. emoticon

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LAURIETAIT 3/27/2011 12:28PM

    Isn't it nice to know that whatever life throws at you, your pet is there to get you through it. Congrats on the 30%. That is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!

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CALLIKIA 3/27/2011 12:19PM

    HAHA! Mine is in front of the fridge too, and by the cat food. I have the same issues some times. ;)

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KT-NICHOLS-13 3/25/2011 7:49PM

    Love the little fury friends!

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JENJESS48 3/25/2011 7:13PM

    He's just trying to help! Pat and I had to move our scale to the office, underneath a cabinet that sits about .5" above the floor - our little Shadow kept sitting on it in the bathroom, confusing the digital scale and throwing it off. Silly creatures! But what would life be like without them? emoticon

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CHRISTINA791 3/25/2011 6:07PM

    Awww, he's a helper.

Mine gave me the shock of my life once. I was weighing myself on the Wii, and didn't realize the cat was resting his paws between my feet during the configuration part of it. When it did the actual weigh in, I was suddenly ten pounds lighter than I should have been. Nice to know we have their support!


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TRAVELGRRL 3/25/2011 5:59PM

    Cute story! Thanks for sharing!! I never was a "cat" person until a feral cat adopted I can't imagine life without one! They do worm their way into your heart... emoticon

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VBPARROTHEAD 3/25/2011 5:40PM

  OH how I miss having a cat!! Even the "wild" ones love us and show us in such "kitty only ways". The last one that we ahd brought us a snack, a huge pigeon, and even a small cat fish from the creek on our property!

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SONGOFLONGAGO 3/25/2011 5:33PM

    Kibbles and Bits....Kibbles and Bits...I'm gonna get me some kibbles and wait a minute, that's for dogs!!

Great blog!! little boy "Bud" helps me with weight loss by crying for food a hundred times a day forcing me to go up and down steps. He loves his Mama. emoticon

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KARVY09 3/25/2011 5:24PM

    HAHAHA... That's happened to me too!

Congrats on the loss!

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RICEOWL86 3/25/2011 5:15PM

    Be glad it was kibble--my baby left me a dead mouse this morning! Hope you and your little boy have a great weekend!

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SONNYG1 3/25/2011 5:14PM


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