Weight Watchers Re-start!

April 3, 2016

Well, I went back to a Weight Watchers meeting yesterday morning after being gone for probably about 1 1/2 – 2 years. I went back to the same familiar place and same day/time – Saturday at 7:30am. It felt all too familiar, but still somehow different. Since I had been there our beloved leader, Nancy, had retired. She had been through it all with me, the ups and the downs. Even the receptionists were all different. The room was redecorated and the chairs were facing a different way. The Points system had changed too and I was very confused. I kept telling myself that “change is good” and lectured myself about being open to a different situation.

Let me back up a bit to fill in the gaps. I had begun my third time on my WW journey back in 2008 and decided this would be THE time to not only make it to lifetime member status (again), but to stay there. I shed 46 pounds and became a lifetime member in November of 2009. I went to meetings every single week, started menu planning and cooking lots more at home, but the one single biggest thing that I credit my weight loss success to was starting running!!!! I started walking, but that did not last long. I should have known I was much too impatient to walk! One thing led to another and I became a runner! I started doing races, discovered yoga as the most essential cross training and life changing practice and the rest is history.

I maintained my loss for a long time and kept going to weekly meetings all the while maintaining my running and yoga. Slowly, but surely I began to be a little more lax on my tracking of food. All through my loss I was extremely dedicated to tracking my food and activity. Somewhere along the line I stopped going to meetings too. I started letting portions get a bit bigger and the scale started creeping up. At first I was in denial about this. I’m a runner, afterall! I can eat whatever I want!! Not true. I am also 46 and will be 47 next month so I probably have mother nature going against me too! So I have gained a few pounds and figure I have about 25 pounds to shed to get back to goal weight (and not paying!!).

But the thing that is different about this time going back and doing a re-start, if you will, with Weight Watchers, is that this time the one thing that has stuck and has not gone by the wayside is my dedication to my activity. My life totally changed when I became a runner. I have to do it and I love to do it! It is ingrained in me and woven into my life as habitual now and I’m so happy about that!! If given the choice between being at my goal weight, and not having a habit of regular exercise or having some extra weight and having a regular committed activity plan I would choose the later every day and twice on Sunday!!

So this is the fence I straddle going back into tracking mode to shed some extra weight and, very practically, have my clothes fit a little better. I know I’m exactly where I need to be and I respect what I’ve trained my body to do. I just got done running 8 miles this afternoon. That wan’t done by a body I should be ashamed by. No, not at all! I prefer to look at it as becoming more aware of what I am putting into my body, being more mindful and giving it the respect it deserves and demands in order to perform at its best. I am not going into the downward spiral of deprivation for that is a dark place for me to be. No, I prefer to look at it as giving my body more of what it deserves and less of the other s**t. Sounds pretty simple, right? Okay, now, let’s talk about dinner…

This one’s for the girls!

So yeah, today was National Running Day and I was so pumped that it fell on a Wednesday because I was planning to run with the Wednesday Warriors at lunch! Here we are in all of our glory before leaving this afternoon. We were minus one today as Marilyn couldn’t join us…bummer. And yes, this was taken in the actual locker room. Don’t judge – I checked it out first – the only people in there at the time were us and the photographer!

It was a hard run today, at least for me as I have not been running at all on the weekends lately. But we all commented on how much more fun it is to run with other people. We pushed each other more and just enjoyed it, talking a bit and dodging cars! We have a couple different “usual” routes that we do (thanks to Mary Ann) and today we did our 4 miler. It was actually about 4.5ish. I’m so thankful for these fellow “warriors”. It is just fun to get out there, sweat, do something positive for ourselves and have fun too. Yay!!

Weight Watchers – a Hard Habit to Break (thank God!)

So in my Weight Watchers meeting we celebrated our three year anniversary. Yes, three of my dear friends and I started attending Weight Watchers meeting 3 years ago today!! Very cool. We were all there to acknowledge this and celebrate our persistence in this regard. We are all lifetime members and have had our own triumphs and challenges. One thing we have in common is that we keep coming back. No matter what. I started thinking about it this afternoon. I kept thinking about these questions in my head. Why is it that I keep going to Weight Watchers ALMOST every week (even Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve this year!). I mean they say it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, but 3 years?!! And reflecting back on three years ago, how is my life different than it was before??

Okay, first question first. Why, do I still go to meetings? I’ll list it in top 10 format just for grins and giggles:

10. To keep myself accountable on and off of the scale
9. To be inspired by my friends – old and new
8. For the Panera bagel, peanut butter, and coffee (they charge for peanut butter now, can you believe it??)
7. Because I have nothing better to do at 6:30 on Saturday mornings?
7. To get Bravo stickers on occasion which keeps me motivated! It is all about the stickers…still.
6. Because I like to be able to start over occasionally and the meeting is a great way to do that – it is like a bookend to my week.
5. To be able to hear new ideas and share some of my own.
4. To be reminded yet again, that I am not alone in this journey.
3. Because it works, folks!!
2. Because our leader, Nancy, is the bomb!
1. Because sometimes I need a meeting – and sometimes a meeting needs me!

And now for the second question. So, how is my life different than 3 years ago before Weight Watchers?

10. I sweat a lot more often now – usually 6 times a week. Basically, my day really doesn’t feel right unless I have a sweaty sports bra in the dirty clothes.
9. I have purchased more pairs of Nike Pegasus shoes in the last three years than I probably have any athletic shoe in my entire life.
8. I now feel comfortable saying words like vinyasa, shevasana and hip opener on a regular basis.
7. I have rediscovered fruits and vegetables that are now just a part of my every day.
6. My favorite Christmas gift was a watch, but it didn’t come from Jared’s!
5. I now have this blog where I can write and share my experiences!
4. I cook tons more now and like to be creative and try new things.
3. I enjoy good food more now and don’t waste time or points on gross or bad tasting food (including gross chocolate!)
2. I don’t buy pop often and stay away from processed food as much as possible.
1. I love to talk about running, yoga, nutrition and like to encourage others to make changes in their lives to reach their goals!

So raise your water glass to good and healthy habits! Thanks, Weight Watchers! Cheers to many more years together!!

The Ripple Effect

So, last night was Zach’s first football practice. They do conditioning with just their cleats on for the first 4 days. Zach was super excited to go and be a “veteran” this year. Going into 4th grade he is among the oldest on the team this year which is cool. Mike and I were excited too. I spent the entire time getting caught up with football parent friends that I hadn’t really seen since November. I was very inspired by one of the women who I got to know well last year. I remember sharing with her all about my running last summer and more specifically my experience with the Girls Tri Too Triathlon last September. (I had been inspired to do the tri by my friend who had done it the year before: one ripple) Back then she was so impressed with my commitment to do it and had talked briefly about doing it the following year. But she hated running and wasn’t really sure if she could/would do it – she regularly ran about 1 1/2 or 2 miles and didn’t really enjoy it. I kept encouraging her to do it and shared with her what a great experience it was.

Cut to July 4 – I ran into her and her husband at the Firecracker Run. They both ran it!!! 4 miles!!! So cool! I didn’t get to talk very much with that day, but we said we would talk again at football.

Cut to last night. Guess who is doing the triathlon? My friend!!! She has herself on her own training program made up swimming, biking and running. She now says she really misses it when she doesn’t run and sometimes she just “has to run”! Fantastic. Two ripple. Oh, and if that wasn’t inspiration enough, her friend (another football mom and new runner) is also going to sign up to do the tri…with her daughter. Three ripple, four ripple. I was able to answer some of their questions about the course, and share my experience with them which made them feel more at ease. Talking about it and hearing them so excited about it made me want to participate in it again this year. However, the marathon is the week later so I’ll be sitting this one out. I may actually just go and cheer them on instead, however!! Ripple, ripple, ripple.

Firecracker 2011 Results!

So they posted the results for Monday’s run!

Zachary’s time was 16:10 for the 3K! He came in 14th place out of 123 people and 2nd place in his age group (even though they had his age listed as 14 for some reason). Pretty cool!

My time was 39:34 and I came in 353 out of 487. But the best is that I came in 13th place out of 26 for females in my age group 40-44. I was pretty happy with that!

Nick’s time was registered as 39:35. Somehow I must have slipped past him in the finishing gate, but he totally beat me, obviously. He said he was hardly breathing during our run!! Okay, yes, I’m not the fastest, but I can run me some distance. Hey, I know my limits. I was pushing it hard on Monday and it was pretty awful and I still didn’t place in my age group or anything. Yes, I made my own personal goal of under 40 minutes, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as my distance runs when I can go my own pace. I felt better physically after the 1/2 marathon. It is interesting how that works. I think there are some people who just prefer distance over speed. The other thing is that I haven’t really done any speed training either which could be why it was tough. I think it is good to add speed work into my training schedule, knowing that my ultimate goal is distance running. A sprinter I am not and I’m okay with that, but I certainly can always improve!

Dissection of a playlist

Music or no music? That is the question.

Do you use music when you work out? There are lots of runners who do. There are also lots of runners who are what I would call “old school” and do not use music at all. They are just happy to hear the cadence of their breath and their stride. I pretty much fall into the use music category. The only exception to that would be if I’m running with someone, which is rare, because my need to talk supersedes my need for music. Or if I go on a short run and my iPod is on the fritz then I kinda enjoy the quiet. Forced solitude.

Oddly enough sometimes the music is just in the background and I don’t even listen to it. Sometimes I just have it going just because. I’m mainly using my iPod to track my distance and for the woman’s voice to give me periodic updates like “3 miles completed”. For example, I had my music on during the 1/2 marathon, but I didn’t really listen to it. Too many things going on – lots of people. It mostly just helped me get into the zone and tune other things out. Does that even make sense.

But as I ran last night I was deliberately thinking about my playlist as I ran. Perhaps I was just trying to make the run go by faster. It was friggin’ hot. So, I thought I would share it with you, plus my thoughts on it. Yes, I risk ridicule, but I can take it!

First, I have many playlists on my iPod: there there are the shorter and older ones: Runningfaith (mostly contemporary Christian songs); Runninggaga (all Lady Gaga); Runningmad (empowering women songs), and Running2 (a mixture with some old school – Centerfold!!). A little bit newer I have LongRun3, which is only 14 songs, but is still named that…not sure why. Then I have my actual longrun playlist which is called LongRun and has 48 songs on it. I have never heard them all yet. According to iTunes I have gotten through #38.

Here is Lisa’s LongRun (don’t judge!):

  • Something Beautiful by NeedtoBreathe – love this song…not too sure why, but it is a good starting point.
  • Free to Be by Francesca Battistelli – she is awesome live!
  • Forgiven by Relient K – a little slow, but like the message
  • Scars by Allison Iraheta – one of the American Idol top 12 a few years ago…good song
  • Last Name by Carrie Underwood – hey, its Carrie!
  • Cotton Eyed Joe by Crazy Frog – from my son’s CD – makes me smile!
  • It’s Not Over by Daugherty – starts the empowering series
  • What About Now by Daugherty – “yeah, what about now?!!”
  • Money for Nothing by Dire Straits – 80’s throw back that I adore
  • Sin Wagon by Dixie Chicks – usually I’m singing along by now
  • Goodbye Earl by Dixie Chicks – yes, it is vigilante justice…and the problem with that is??
  • Not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie Chicks – many times I get choked up with this one…not sure why…I will not be “nice”!
  • One of those Days by FFH – this song reminds me of my husband so it makes me smile
  • Urgent by Foreigner – another throw back that never gets old and makes me run faster
  • Blue Sky by Francesca Battistelli – makes me think of summer
  • Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls – I like the one this song builds – good at the end of a run
  • The Reason by Hoobestank – this is another one that reminds me of my husband – good harmonies
  • Strength, Courage & Wisdom by India Arie – okay, she is the Queen of empowering!
  • Centerfold by J Geils Band – yeah, I’m clapping at this point
  • Speaking Louder Than Before by Jeremy Camp – this sucker moves
  • Who I Am by Jessica Andrews – a little bit country girl/family stuff
  • If Not You by Jo Dee Messina – general good one to sing to
  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall – catchy little diddy – usually either really tired or almost done at this point or both!
  • My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson – because it is Kelly
  • Since You Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson – still Kelly
  • Gone by Kelly Clarkson – bring it on home Kelly!
  • Live Like We’re Dying by Kris Allen – American Idol winner some year – great message!

That is not the entire thing, but at least through song 27. Man I’m tired just thinking about it!!! Maybe I should make a new playlist….

Vince, you are my hero!

So its hot. If you live in Northeast Ohio, you might have realized this.

Given that I’m training again and will be running regularly in summer-esque (or apparently Hades-esque after today) weather, I decided to make a trip to Vertical Runner after work to get a water belt (excuse me – fuel belt).

I had hoped to just slide under the radar (I’m always a little intimidated in running stores), go to the back of the store and get my belt and be on my way. No such luck.

A gentlemen approached me and asked if I needed help. Crap, an employee and a real runner-dude is talking to me, I thought.

“No thanks, I’m just looking for a water belt,” I said.

“Are you training for a race?” he asked me.

“Yes, for the Akron marathon,” I said, rather hesitantly.

“Oh, have you run a half before?”, he asked sort of skeptically with concern.

I felt myself starting to stand up straighter as I heard myself say, “yes, I ran the Cleveland half in May and it was great!”

Then, he started asking me some other questions and gave me a card with contact information about a running group. I reluctantly took the card.

He helped me select a water belt and then I said with my new found confidence,
“What else do I need?”

He then pointed me in the right direction for some other things I might need for my training. As I was getting ready to check out he told me that I was a little ahead of the folks in the running group – they were all first time 1/2 or full marathoners and they were in a 6 month training program so their long runs weren’t that long yet. He asked me what my time for the half was and I told him – 2:31 and he said, “oh, yeah, you would be perfect for this group.” With the words “you ” and “perfect” in a sentence directed to me about running, I thought I had indeed escaped Hades and died and gone to heaven instead!

I walked out with the following haul:

One (1) 3-bottle water belt
One (1) container of Glide
One (1) giant container of Blueberry Pomegranate sports drink powder mix
Four (4) different types of energy/protein chews to try
One (1) connection to a cool running group to try and
One (1) boost to my “running self esteem”!

So you want to run your first 1/2 marathon?! Read this first!

So I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to running. Far from it, actually. I definitely still consider myself a beginner. What I have done is complete my first 1/2 marathon and I thought I would share a few tips that I have learned along the way. I would have liked to read something like this as I was preparing to undertake this goal. The other thing I want to say is even though I mention the 1/2 marathon in the title, I think these tips really could apply universally for training for any distance. Whether you want to run your first 5K, 10K or whatever, these things may be able to help you get started on the right foot, if you will (pardon the pun).

1. Be realistic – Think about where you are in terms of fitness and plan accordingly. While you want your goals to be lofty, you also want to set yourself up for success. If you are new to running, you may want to start out with a 5k and save the 1/2 marathon distance for a few months down the road. I started running in May of 2009 and ran my first 5K in September of 2010. I started training for the 1/2 in Feb of 2011.

2. Sign up first! – Once you determine what distance you are shooting for, sign up for a race!!! I would recommend doing that before you start training rather than vice versa. It helps hold yourself accountable and gives you a goal to shoot for so you’ll stay motivated. If you wait to sign up when you “feel ready” in terms of training, you are giving yourself an easy out and you just might not ever sign up! There are always tons of races going on around the local community and beyond. Active.com is one good site to check that lists races. I signed up for the Cleveland 1/2 Marathon in January 2011 for the May race date.

3. Find a good training program – No matter what the distance, it is important to have a training program! It keeps you on track, keeps you motivated and gives you some structure. It also helps keep you from doing too much too soon which can happen easily. There are tons of on-line training programs out there for free for all levels of runners! You can google them. I used the one that was linked to the Cleveland Marathon site for beginners. It was great!

4. Get support! – This is huge! If you live with others have a conversation with them about your running goals. Explain to them what you need in terms of support in terms of training and encouragement. Let them know how they can help you because they cannot read your mind! If you live alone, seek out help with running groups, fitness clubs, magazines/books, on-line groups or social media. There are tons of people out there to support you – you just have to seek it out. I involved my family in my training by putting the chart on the fridge and checking the workouts off as I went. I talked to my husband about my goals and we worked out a plan to be able to make it work. Plus I leaned on my runner friends on facebook and at Weight Watchers for advice, support and motivation. It is amazing how many cool people you meet along the way!

5. Cross Train! – Okay, to be honest, before I started training for this race I was not even sure what “cross training” actually was besides a type of shoe! I learned that training for a running race involves much more than running. Cross training is an activity that you like that does not involve running or walking. It is important to strengthen other muscle groups besides your running muscles in training. It could be things like the elliptical, strength training, pillates, or yoga. I did mostly strength training and yoga as my cross training activities.

6. Don’t give up! – This sounds like common sense, but it is not always easy to do. I’m here to tell you that you will have some bad training days. Just know that going in. There will be some days that you just don’t want to do it. Do it anyway. Put the time in even on yucky days to get the result you want for your end goal. I promise you, it will be worth it.

7. Listen to your body. – This is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of runners. We like to push ourselves and sometimes we do so in spite of our body saying, STOP! No matter what people say, you really should not have to run with pain. You will eventually figure out the difference between normal muscle soreness which comes with the territory and an actual injury. But the first thing to do is to listen to your body and act accordingly. If you are having an issue, talk to someone about it. I would recommend talking to other runners, a physical trainer, a massage therapist or all of the above if you have any problems. I had a calf issue towards the end of my training that got resolved by lots of advice, a really good therapeutic massage and rest.

8. Be flexible. – Even though the training program is rigid in black and white, you don’t have to be. Be patient with yourself and allow for modifications in your schedule if you go out of town, go on vacation or have a change in your home or work schedule. Have other options besides your “go to workout” that you can replace and still stay on track. I was fortunate to be able to have a couple of times in the day to potentially get my workout in. I preferred early morning, but could also make use of my lunch hour as my schedule permitted. The important thing is to get it in somehow because life is messy sometimes!

9. Go at your own pace. – Running is very much of an individual sport. I like it because you can set your own goals and compete with just yourself. Whether you have a time goal, a distance goal or just plain old want to finish, your goal is your own. This one has been especially hard for me. I am competitive and always seem to want to compare myself with others. I think through this last race, however, I have finally realized that I can own my pace and be okay with it. You will too!

10. Celebrate! – Some training programs can be very lengthy so it is important to celebrate along the way. This will keep you motivated and ready to start that next week of training. Whether you treat yourself to a massage, some new running clothes, a new book, or a night out with friends, it is important to celebrate small goals in order to stay motivated. Figure out what works for you and do it! I found that tracking my training was a motivator for me. I blogged about my workouts in order to keep myself on track and share my progress with others.

I hope these tips can help you in your running goals. I also hope it can inspire you and give you the tools to make that decision to reach for a lofty goal that you never thought was possible. I have found running to be such an empowering thing for me. It has really changed my life for the better. It can change yours too! See you at the finish line!!!

The Cleveland Half Marathon 2011: My Incredible Journey

So all I want to really do right now is go to bed, but I figure that I probably should blog about my 1/2 marathon experience while it is still fresh in my memory.

What an incredible experience! As you may know it was also my birthday today (42) so that made it extra special. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We got up a 4:30am in order to get the dog out and get downtown by 6am. Mike and Zach dropped me off and then went to find a parking spot. Their plan was to meet me at the finish line! I was meeting the group of the “Living Person” runners at the cathedral for a picture. This group was coordinated by Father H.Paul Kim from John Carroll – his goal was to get at least 125 people to run in either the 10K, Half or Full marathon to commemorate the 125 anniversary of John Carroll University. It turns out, he got 155!! He is such a great guy. He even had a special Mass last night for runners and their families followed by a pasta dinner. We attended to support the group and it was a very touching service.

After the picture, we made our way to Brown’s Stadium – about a 15 minute walk. When we arrived we had just about enough time to go to the bathroom before starting (which is very vital for me! Only twice this morning, however!!). The national anthem was sung and then we started. I was concerned at first because I was outside the fenced in staring area at first, but that worked itself out. Thankfully my iPod worked as it was supposed to and I was off. It was an emotional start. I was overwhelmed by the size of the crowd of runners, and the size of the crowd of spectators cheering us on and overwhelmed by the wonderful feeling of getting to this moment after such a long time of training. My legs felt good and strong and I started to hold myself back from going too fast. That was the big warning that everyone kept telling me about. The adrenaline of the day and running with that big group can make you have the tendency of running faster than you really should. I finally settled in about mile 4 and felt really great. It felt like it was really going fast then. I remember seeing the clock at the 6 mile marker and thinking that I was okay for time. I finally took a water break then and again at mile 9 and 11, I think. Some was powerade and some was water. That seemed to do the trick. I did not need to eat the “sports beans” filled with caffeine that I purchased at the Expo the day before!

The route was pretty cool. I enjoyed going through the neighborhoods a lot. There were a bunch of people out with their coffee cups cheering us on and some random bands playing in the neighborhoods too. Plus it felt pretty easy in terms of hills. There were just a couple and they weren’t that bad. I think I’ve run worse ones just in Hudson!

I felt myself getting tired around mile 11. At that point I just got into my music and focused in on seeing my family at the finish line. I saw Zachary hanging over the fence cheering for me and I held back the tears again. I pumped it and finished strong as I was trying to beat 2:30, but ended up a bit over that – 2:31:12 to be exact. I’m happy with that for my first time for sure!! Plus my other big goal was to do it with no walking. Aside from taking a few steps to get the water, guzzle a couple of sips and toss the cup, I ran the entire thing with no walking. That is a win.

After the finishing line, I was handed my medal, which is way cool (the guitar spins!), and I grabbed some water and chocolate milk and found the fam.

Even as I write this I cannot believe that I did this! I cannot believe that I, Lisa Pillsbury Ramsey, the girl who despised running in gym class, and the woman who did not start running until two years ago ran a 1/2 marathon – 13.1 miles without stopping. I remember signing up for this back in December and really second guessing myself. At that point the furthest I had ever run was 4 miles. I couldn’t conceive of running that far or for that long! I remember thinking, I could either drive to Columbus or run 13.1 miles – yikes! The fact that I accomplished this has little to do with my abilities, that is for sure. It is all due to the fact that I was diligent with a realistic training program, had great supporters and advice givers, and was just plain old determined to do this!

I firmly believe that if I can do this, anyone can. You just need the desire, the commitment and the plan. So, what is my next goal? Not sure yet, but I know one thing. There WILL be a next goal. I’ve got the bug now. But first, a reward – tomorrow is my spa day. Goal setting will have to wait for a day or so!!! Mama needs a massage!

Unofficial results are in!

Wow, what a morning!! So, I will blog later about my half marathon experience. For now, I want to report my “unofficial results”…here they are:

Lisa Ramsey – Runners | Bib 7677 | Hudson, OH – USA | Female | Age 41
Start Time: 7:04:20
10K: 01:12:21
Finish: 02:31:12
Chip Time: 02:31:12
Clock Time: 2:32:36
Pace: 11:32
Overall: 5419 (out of 6627 runners)
Gender: 3022 (out of 3935 female runners)

I think it is funny that they still list my age as 41 even though it is my birthday today and I am indeed 42!

My iPod results were a bit off from the chip timing. According to it I ran the following:
Distance: 13.72 miles
Pace: 11’04”
Time: 2:31:58

The time was almost right on, but the distance and pace were different. Hey, I’m just glad the friggin’ thing worked!!

So, as of tonight, here are my official results:

Age group results (40-44 females):
Place 375 out of 513
Distance MAR
Clock Time 02:32:38
Chip Time 02:31:15
Overall Place 5550 / 13303
Gender Place 3069 / 7398
Division Place 378 / 972
Pace 11:32.2
Split10K 1:12:23