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I’m A (Slightly Hobbled) SuperJane!

me and Kerina, SJR social media star!
me and Kerina, SJR social media star!

A few months ago, I was thrilled and honored to be nominated as a SuperJane, aka an ambassador for See Jane Run. This was such a fantastic thing for me, because I have loved and adored SJR ever since I ran in my second 5k back in 2009. There’s nothing more joyous and celebratory than getting a champagne flute and chocolate at the finish line of a race! (I also love SJR for awarding medals for a 5k race – THAT is so awesome and validating)

Me and Pubsgal, See Jane Run 2009
Me and Pubsgal, See Jane Run 2009

I was so excited to do my first SJR Half Marathon coming up this Saturday. But ever since March, my hip has been getting more and more zingy/painful. I think that I may be finally getting down to the bottom of what is causing this pain (should have final news by next week), but it has meant a serious curtailment of my training. This has been really disappointing.

I have finally had to come to grips with the fact that I’m either going to be doing the See Jane Run 5k verrry slowly this weekend (walk/jog), or I’m going to be a cheerleader. Which is prety cool in and of itself. There’s nothing like cheering on other runners, especially beginning runners. My second See Jane Run, last year, was also really special because I was able to run with my friend Mary, who was doing her very first race. This race is one of the friendliest, well organized and encouraging races for women of all abilities, speeds and sizes. Which is why I love them.

Me and Mary (her first race!), See Jane Run 2012

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling kind of glum about not being able to do the half marathon like I had planned. I then spent a fair amount of time feeling like SJR had made a complete mistake in asking me to be, of all things, a “Super Jane.” But then I took a look at their manifesto and it brought a lump to my throat and smile to my face.

manifesto

A bunch of members from my Weight Watchers meeting have gotten all excited about participating in the race this weekend. They’ve designed a group T-shirt and are all full of enthusiasm. For most of them, it is their first race. I am so happy for them and will be so thrilled to be at this event with them. It’s okay that I’m not running at my best pace. It’s okay that I’m not going to do the half marathon (this time). Some of them will be walking. I will  hang with them and have a rockin’ good time. This is what being a Jane is all about.

It will be a beautiful day. Bring on the bubbly and chocolate!

 

Finish Line Heartbreak (for Boston)

Boston. Oh Boston. Boston MARATHON. The finish line of the Boston Marathon. Seriously? Really? I’m shocked and hurting and outraged and upset. And taking it very personally.

The finish line is… oh, I can’t even describe it. It’s that place of such overwhelming emotion. Every single time, no matter how long or short the race, no matter how painless or excruciating, how much of a struggle it was or how joyful. Because that finish line is the exact spot of DAMN. YOU DID THIS.  You finished the thing you set out to do.

I’ve shed many a tear at finish lines. I’ve renewed belief in myself at finish lines. I’ve shocked and stunned myself. I’ve been heart-explodingly moved by the support of team, friends and family at finish lines. I’ve cheered others on and screamed and jumped and cried on their behalf. At the Oakland Running Festival a few weeks ago, the race was organized so that the half marathon starters got to see the 5k race finishers right before we lined up to begin. It was so exciting. The adrenaline, the joy, the YEAHHHHH! Of the people who crossed that line – sprinting or dragging themselves. It was wonderful to be there and a very energizing way to start our own race. To me, finish lines are sacred spots where amazing, miraculous things happen.

So the bomb attacks at the finish line of today’s Boston Marathon hit me right in the heart. I read this on Twitter.

I agree that bomb attacks anywhere in the world are terrible and tragic. And I also agree that having this experience in our own midst is a way that maybe we can wake up to the fact that many people in the world have to live with this on a regular or daily basis.

And yet, this feels very personal. Someone intentionally set out to hurt runners, and runners’ loved ones (spectators), and race volunteers and other people close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

It’s as if someone had specifically targeted a conference full of physical therapists, or writers, or adopted people. Or my family. Yeah, this was like targeting my family.

I didn’t ever have plans or dreams to actually run the Boston Marathon myself. It is an elite event for runners who are much faster than me, and 1) I don’t think I could ever qualify; and 2) I also don’t think a full marathon is in my cards. But I have such profound admiration for so many of my friends who have qualified, and who were indeed running today. I was especially thinking of my Weight Watchers leader-colleague buddy Dani, whom I met at Fitbloggin’ last year.

holding up our blinking ActiveLinks!
holding up our blinking ActiveLinks!

She has had such an amazing transformation in such a short time, and I am so inspired by her and proud of her. Just this morning I saw this awesome photo of her posing by the Boston finish line. It gave me goosebumps.

Dani Finish
photo credit: Dani Holmes-Kirk

In the afternoon I started peeking at Facebook and Twitter, hoping to see a photo of her victorious finish. But then I started seeing posts, like “My ❤ is with Boston” and “So sad about the #bostonmarathon” and was like… whaaaaa? I soon found out.

It really is too distressing, to upsetting to comprehend. For a while I was completely frantic trying to find out news of her safety, as well as the status of one of my old college friends and his wife. All were accounted for. What a relief. But the tragedy. Incredible. Dani’s wife, who was standing just a few feet from the explosion, wrote this frightening blog post about her experience.

The idea is for people who are part of (or who stand with) the running community, to wear a race shirt tomorrow. Or running shoes. Or ANYthing to show support. Blue and yellow anything, which are the colors of the Boston Marathon. I’ll be wearing this.

Oakland-to-Boston love
Oakland-to-Boston love

Book Review: Craving

IMG_0902

As I read Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough, by physician Omar Manejwala, MD, I found myself nodding like a bobble head doll, and also reaching for my pen to underline something on pretty much every page. This is a topic I can relate to. It opens with the question, “What explains the mysterious urge to do something that has caused so much damage in the past?” In other words, haven’t I learned YET?

I read this book to see if I could learn something new for my blog readers, my Weight Watchers members, friends and family that I care about, and of course myself. And while much of the content of the book wasn’t NEW, it was certainly reaffirming and validating of many of the steps I’ve taken that have helped me (and explained how and why I’ve had setbacks).

The book opens with a definition of what craving is: a strong desire that, if unfulfilled, produces a powerful physical and mental suffering. They can range from a passing urge to an all-out, consuming addiction.  The author mentions something called “apparently irrelevant decisions” that can lead to a relapse. Then he explores why cravings matter: because they are uncomfortable, because they cause us stress, and because people who experience cravings are more likely to relapse into behavior that isn’t good for them or aligned with their goals. (nod, nod, underline, underline)

It deals with all different sorts of cravings – from alcohol to food to gambling, smoking and sex. He addresses ways in which these are universal issues, no matter what the substance or behavior.

There’s a big chunk in the book on brain science – the neurobiology of cravings, why they happen and how our brains lie to us to make us do things that we know don’t benefit us. I happen to be a total geek for brain science, especially when it relates to this topic. I find it both reassuring and encouraging – it takes it out of the realm of “I suck because I can’t get a handle on this” and sheds a light on exactly WHY it can be so hard sometimes. The studies that are cited are fascinating.

The good news about our brains leading us around, is that we can actually re-draw the map and get our brains to work in ways that are more beneficial to us. Again, this isn’t new news, but for me, obviously, it is something that I need to learn and read over and over again, and this book does so in a way that is so straightforward and nonjudgmental.

The other good news is that a lot of things that I am already doing, are the things that are proven to work. Group support is key. KEY! (yay Weight Watchers, yay online blogging community, yay friends) Writing things down (i.e. tracking, food journaling etc) is KEY. Forgiveness is key. (One of my favorite, and most startling lines in the book: “Only love can neutralize shame.”)

What can I say? It’s a good book. It’s SOLID. It’s filled with good science, which I find both illuminating and reassuring. It’s filled with concrete, positive suggestions for addressing the issues of craving. It’s also compassionate at its core. It’s like, Give yourself a break. There are reasons you do this stuff, and it’s not your fault, but it’s not helping you, so here are some good tools that can give you a way out.

It so happened that I finished reading this book while alone on my writing retreat. I’m away from home, and out of my normal routine. A little excited (vacation mode), a little anxious, a little lonely here and there. Perfect breeding ground for cravings! I could feel myself veering into potentially dangerous territory. Reading this book was like a little life jacket being thrown my way. It was a voice saying, “You know how to do this. Remember?”

Some of my favorite underlinings:

  • Cravings… are deeply personal. Comparing your cravings with what other people experience is a losing game and can only serve to undermine your success.
  • There is no such thing as a permanent craving; all cravings eventually go away, whether or not we act or act out on them.
  • The ideal time to address your cravings is when you are not actively craving.
  • Another important brain function is to lie to you.
  • Health, happiness and even longevity benefits come from being helpful to others.

It’s good stuff. Check it out! You can pre-order here.

Disclosure:

I was fortunate enough to recently receive a copy of this book for review. For the record, I often get offers to review a product for this blog. My policy (and I am up front about this) is that I will accept things to review, but unless I really like it, I probably won’t take the time to write a review. I don’t really have time for negative reviews. Unless I really, really really DON’T like something. 😉

100 Pounds Gone!!!!!!!

Go Henry!!!

Summertime is usually a kind of sparsely-populated time around Weight Watchers. A lot of people are traveling, on vacation, or just not in the mood. Maybe they’re out earning lots of activity points. But at any rate, it’s not usually one of our busiest seasons. But this year, for whatever reason, my Wednesday night meeting is hopping. Last week was a huge one. I had over a dozen “celebrations” (where people are recognized for milestone weight losses, from 5 lbs on up) and the most fantastic one was Henry, who celebrated his 100 lb (actually 103 lbs) loss. (and counting)

Henry joined about a year and a half ago. At first he just charged out of the gate with huge losses every week. Then things started slowing down. Then he hit a plateau. And his weight went up a bit. And up. It went up and down. But through it all, he never stopped coming. Even when things were not going the way he wanted, he smiled and said, “Well, I’m here.” He came to meetings no matter if the scale told him good news or not.

A few months ago, we had a “Success Stories Live” event, in which we profiled several really successful members from our local group. One of Henry’s relatives was featured. At that night, he came up to me and said, “I’m going to be one of those people up there” (being featured) next year. And I saw that look of absolute determination in his face. From that night on, he just dove back into the program one hundred percent. It has been amazing to watch. Once he decided, it was pretty much all but done.

I could not be more overjoyed for him and his family. He first joined because his baby son had some medical issues. He wanted to be there to be a good role model, to provide for his family and to prevent health issues in himself. He is doing that all in such an amazing way. Add this to the face that Henry WORKS IN AN ICE CREAM STORE and also is a cake baker. Whaaa? Yes.  He is a professional baker who works in an ice cream store and he just lost 100 pounds.

(side note: he actually baked the delicious wedding cake for my triathlon buddy Lily’s wedding this weekend!!!!)

It is so inspiring to have Henry sitting in our meeting room, which is one reason I think the meeting is busting at the seams, especially for a summertime meeting. We have had to bring out extra chairs the past couple of weeks, which is great. The energy is high and the contagion of his success is spreading.

Every year, Weight Watchers staff have a special event with awards and recognitions and stuff. There is a special award for leaders who have had members who have lost 100 lbs or more during the previous year. I have never gotten that award. It’s really only a small handful of leaders who do. I have looked around at those leaders and thought, those members have really stuck with it. It’s a huge milestone and it takes so much dedication and commitment. I’ve had people come in with the goal of losing 100 lbs, but at some point they have drifted off.  Henry is the first person I’ve had who has hung in there through many ups and downs. I am fully confident that he will reach his final goal this year. I’m so happy for him and proud of any part I may have played in his achieving it.

Truly one of the highlights of my Weight Watchers career.

 

Triggers, Anchors and Hill Repeats

Finally – an old fashioned blog post that isn’t a race recap! How ’bout that! I’ve been so busy lately at my newish job – which I really like – but which requires so much paperwork that often at night I am catching up on doing that rather than blogging. I’ve missed it.

Anyway, today I was having an awesome run in the cool foggy woods (we are soooooo lucky to not be in the Heat Wave) and I was mulling over a couple of things (great things to do during a run). I ended up doing several kick-ass hill repeats, which made me feel so strong and happy. And I realized that part of the reason I was doing hill repeats is that last night when I went to see President Obama (!!!!!!!!!) I ended up running into two of my triathlon coaches, Holly and Mark. It was so great to see them. We were all pumped up for this fantastic event.

I think seeing them stayed with me a little bit this morning. So when I saw a hill coming up in front of me, I didn’t slow to a walk as I generally do. I charged UP the hills, especially the steepest ones. And it felt so good. And I felt like part of me had been sparked by seeing them last night, and remembering the hill repeats we did during training, and I wanted that feeling again. I often don’t push myself hard when I’m alone. But I felt “triggered” somehow – in a good way- to do this, thinking of the ways they had pushed me beyond my (perceived) limits.

At Weight Watchers, we often refer to the word “trigger” in a negative way; ie “trigger foods” are those that can start an avalanche of bingey or unhealthy eating. We eat one cracker with peanut butter and before we know it, the jar is gone, or we’ve then gone and eaten half the pantry along with it. Stuff like that. But in this case, I felt like I was “triggered” to do something positive, to do something MORE than I would’ve done without it. I felt kind of shot out of a cannon this morning. And I think it was a combination of things. I was still all high from seeing the President. I had been in contact with my triathlon training coaches. I remembered seeing the TNT Marathon team in the same park on Sunday, and this sign.

(Same statistic goes for triathlons, I think!)

So that combination of “triggers” (as well as getting a text message from a running buddy this morning) all conspired to get me going, out the door, on the trail and not only on the trail but doing hill repeats. And it reminded me of how important it is to be part of a community that shares my healthy and active goals. It pops up and helps me in so many ways.

Another phrase we use at Weight Watchers is “anchors.” Anchors are positive reminders, people, thoughts or images that “anchor” or ground us and keep us from floating off-track or away from our goals. But I also thought about feeling an anchor as a heavy weight, sometimes dragging me down, keeping me stuck to couch or bed or routine.

Triggers and anchors. They can help us or hinder us both. What are yours?

Goalaversary Number Two! The Neurons Converge!

photo credit: Hybridotus, via Flickr

Today is my two-year anniversary of reaching my Weight Watchers goal weight. I “celebrated” rather sheepishly and quietly, mostly because I am a couple pounds over goal due to certain Hormonal Influences of the Week. But also because it’s been a rough patch of time lately and I just wasn’t feeling as exuberant as I did last year.  I didn’t go out and have cupcakes. However, at my meeting last night I fastened some curly ribbons to my nametag and at the end of the meeting, I did announce my 2-year goalaversary and I told the members they could ask me anything they wanted.

One person raised their hand and said, “What do you do when you feel stuck?” Ahem – like RIGHT NOW? I stood and thought for a moment. And then I said, “I change things up. I look for something new to do. A new book, a new kind of exercise, a new recipe, a new way of looking at things. Anything to move things and unstick them.”

And just as I said it out loud I knew it was true.

THEN we had Celebrations and we celebrated one member losing 11 pounds. She said it was due to “earning LOTS of activity points, and joining Team in Training!” We all clapped. Then I remembered when I had joined Team in Training in 2000 and completed a marathon (walking). I remembered what a wonderful experience that had been.

This morning, I was still thinking about it. I thought about another member who came up to me after the meeting and said he was “doing pretty good” with his food, but that he wasn’t getting much activity in. Then the neurons in my brain started sparking and I thought, “Hey! I should recommend that he try Team in Training! How awesome would that be!”

Then it jumped to, “Hey. Maybe *I* should re-join Team in Training! Maybe I should do a marathon!” I had gotten a flyer from Team in Training just last week (I’m still on their mailing list, 11 years later). I started getting excited.

Then on the way to work I remarked to Mr. McBody that I was contemplating something biggish. I told him. He said, “That’s a great idea!” But then he said… “But you know, I’m not sure these long distance events are really a good long term plan.” (speak for yourself, dude.) And he went on to say that maybe I ought to mix it up and do something other than running.

I was about to get all defensive and upset and tell him I was going to be running long races into my eighties (um??) and then an even bigger bunch neurons exploded in my head, and the words “triathlon – running- biking – swimming- TEAM IN TRAINING!” all merged together at once and I let out this huge “Ahhhh!!”

As soon as I got to work I went on the site and looked at the upcoming events. Marin County Triathlon. November 5. My heart started pounding. And I registered for an info session on the spot.

I’m going to do this. This is my new thing! This is my shaking it up!

I’ve whispered and mumbled and thought about the word “triathlon” in the past. But then I never started and I knew that I was just plain CHICKEN. Of the biking/swimming part. And I know without a doubt that the ONLY WAY – the ONLY way in the entire universe that this will ever be possible for me, will be if I have a coach and an entire HERD of people doing it with me.

My big, giant, annual work event finishes up on July 22nd this year. Training for the Marin County Triathlon begins on July 23rd.

Um, isn’t that, like… fate?

So THIS is how we celebrate the 2nd goalaversary. First year, cupcakes. Second year, triathlon. Okay.

Anyone want to join me?? I’m going to an information session in San Francisco on July 7th!!

Oh, and: this is what I love about working at Weight Watchers. It’s SUCH a two-way street. I need to be in there, and I need my members as much as they get support from me. Thanks for throwing some sparks into my brain, people!

Healthy Beef Stroganoff – YUM! A Guest Post by TJ!


me and TJ!
I’m excited that Tracey (aka TJ) is sharing one of her awesome healthy recipes on my blog today! Her blog is full of fantastic, easy recipes that are super WW-friendly. Check out her fantastic progress – inspiring isn’t it?? One of her greatest strategies is coming up with wonderful recipes to keep her satisfied and on track. Take it away, Tracey!
——————–
Hi guys! Tracey here from tj’s test kitchen! Special thanks to Foodie McBody for allowing me to post a recipe over here today. 🙂 I made this just this past weekend with my Mom and the whole family loved it. Beef Stroganoff SCREAMS comfort food if you ask me but sometimes with comfort comes calories. My mission along this weight loss journey is to make the foods I love…. HEALTHIER!
Beef Stroganoff
serves 8
4PointsPlus
*add additional PointsPlus for noodles
1 lb package lean ground beef 90/10
1 can Campbells Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Campbells HR Cream of chicken soup
1 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 1/2 Cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 Cup water
pepper to taste
First brown beef over medium heat until fully cooked; drain any fat after cooked.
In separate pan- even at the same time the beef is cooking saute mushrooms in a small pan sprayed with PAM.
Ingredients all lined up….
These are the noodles I used 1 cup for 5 PointsPlus
1 Cup Sour Cream
After draining any fat, add onion soup mix, sour cream, water, and both soups to the pan. This looks weird, I know, but wait! haha!
Give it a stir….then toss in the cooked mushrooms.
stir again…mmmm nice and creamy! Add in pepper if you like!
Serve on top of cooked noodles. YUM! After I took this picture I tossed in some peas. It was delicious!
Easy and tasty! My two favorite words to hear when I am cooking dinner! Hope you all liked my recipe! Make sure you stop by my blog to let me know if you decided to make it! I would love to hear all about it! 🙂 ENJOY!  tj

And the winner is….

Number 4… aka Erica Greene! Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway. I wish you all the best in finding this delicious treat in YOUR town.

Erica, the Chobani Fairy will be visiting YOU soon!

(btw, I just went to our winner’s blog and see that she recently achieved Lifetime status at Weight Watchers! – so this is also a great celebratory woo-hoo!!)

Confessional: Weigh-In

image from Flickr: Wade Kelly

Something happened a week or so ago that was a first. And not a happy first either, like “My first half marathon!” Woo hoo! It was the first time that I had a weigh-in as a WW staff/Lifetime member where the notice popped up that I had to pay. Which meant I was over my range for Lifetime membership. This was the first time this has happened since I made Lifetime status in July 2009.

I was “only” over by 1.8 lbs. Which on one hand is “not a lot.” But on the other hand… if that happened every month for a year? There goes almost 24 pounds, just a little bit at a time. And that’s how it happens, isn’t it?

I wasn’t completely shocked. January was a total bust for me as far as activity. I was sick about 70% of the month and probably only exercised 2-3 times. When I weighed in during the first week of February, it had had its effect.

I have been wrestling with this blog post ever since. It’s so much fun to post fantastic, celebratory, Woo-Hoo! I DID IT! sorts of blog posts. This kind is not so much fun. But I do think it’s just as important. It’s one of those moments of honesty that I think are absolutely crucial to this blog, and my whole process here.

So here I am. I weighed in at 1.8 lbs over Lifetime range. I am here to tell you that this is not going to happen two months in a row. When I weigh in again in the first week of March, I will be FREE again. I love that: “Free Lifetime.” Not only is it free in that you don’t have to pay, there’s a Freedom to knowing you are in range. I have been free since July 2009 and I am not about to put those chains on again. I worked hard to get there. I am going to get myself back there.

This is something that has happened to most WW staffers that I know, as well as many many Lifetime members. At some point, something slips for one reason or another, and then you’re up. Just a little. And then the little kind of snowballs into more and more until it’s… oh my god. Right?

Wrong. That’s not going to happen here. This is one of the HUGEST reasons that being a WW leader has helped me. I am not going to stand up there week after week if I’m not walking the walk. Or running the run. Or tracking the points.

This is my vow to myself, and to anyone reading this. I’m saying it again. I’m going to see that “FREE” pop up on the computer in March. And that’s that. It was interesting to have this, um, Learning Experience here, but what I learned is that I don’t want to repeat it. Got that?

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