[Where I'm at with] Weight, Body Image + Dieting

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For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been either on a diet or planning to go on a diet soon. I was a “normal” sized child until age ten, when my parents got divorced (and I rapidly put on about 60 lbs over the next two years that followed). My mom went back to work full time and took classes at night to get her degree, so I was often left alone. Food was a comfort, a babysitter and a friend. I remember that I didn’t eat junk food all the time, but I definitely didn’t make the best food choices (and was clueless as to what was “healthy”). I was also never the type who could eat anything- it always seemed like if I ate a doughnut I’d gain five pounds. From my early teen to young adult years I was chubby, out of shape and extremely uncomfortable in my own body.

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to actually make a change. I joined a gym, starting eating healthier and the weight came off consistently. I got down to a very healthy weight and for the first time in my life LOVED going shopping for clothes. It’s definitely much more pleasant to shop for clothes when you’re a size 4 or 6 (as opposed to barely being able to squeeze into a 16)! Unfortunately, it was hard to see my body as “thin” from years and years of only seeing it as fat. Even though everyone else may have looked at me and seen a slim, healthy woman, I didn’t see that. When I looked in the mirror I saw a girl with loose skin, a fat stomach and always thought I needed to lose ten more pounds. I went through some pretty drastic measures to try to lose weight, which totally backfired resulting in weight gain and the loss of my period.

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I was a slave to the gym, calorie counting and trying to be thinner. Even though I had a lot of good in my life, it was one of the darkest, most unhappy times that I can remember. Luckily, I was able to pull myself out of my exercise obsession (switching from exercising a minimum of 3 hours every day- mostly cardio- to less than an hour a day, 5-6 times per week), but my issues with food were a lot tougher to overcome. When I quit my teaching job and spent all day at home studying for my personal trainer certification, the weight piled on. I gained 15 lbs. within a few months, due to lots of mindless eating and constant access to my pantry and fridge. I ended up joining Weight Watchers (for probably the 10th time in life) a few months before moving away from Maryland and lost most of the weight I had put on the fall before.

When I got to Colorado, I quickly gained the weight back. Even though I was hiking (all the time!) and working out, I went out to eat much more than I did in Maryland (and drank a lot more beer). Over the next year, I made half-ass attempts at weight loss and had very little success. I still felt “fat” and uncomfortable in my body, but started to care a little less about the aesthetics. I knew I was fit and able to keep up with my “thinner” friends, so who cared if I had more fat around my belly than everyone else? Losing weight in Colorado proved to be SO much more difficult, mostly because all of the eating out. I know that it’s easy to make healthy choices when you’re out to eat, but really- who wants to eat a salad after a hike (especially when all of your friends are eating burgers, fries and beer!)?

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ACL Reconstruction Surgery: 5 Months [or 22 Weeks] Post-Op (!!)

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It’s October 20th- which means that it’s been exactly five months since I had ACL Reconstruction Surgery (and tomorrow will mark exactly 22 weeks). Honestly, that’s pretty hard for me to wrap my head around! I know that I say this in every post, but time has FLOWN! When I look back on that horrible day (of surgery) five months ago, I get chills. Man, it sucked… and I hope that none of you ever have to go through it! But- if you do- just have faith that time will pass quickly and you will get better.

While I still stand by the fact that I want a re-do of summer and am not at all ready for winter to come, the weather has (thankfully) been awesome here and perfect for playing outside (including lots of hiking with this guy!).

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One of the ski resorts out here has already opened and others will start following soon. I have still have very mixed feelings about skiing. On one hand, the thought of skiing again makes me terrified and furious. The other part of me wants to take what I learned from recovery and face my fears and be a badass on the slopes… within reason. I think that I will just wait until I’m ready, take it slow and play it safe all season. My surgeon advised me to wait until the end of December, always wear my knee brace, to stay away from crappy snow (ice) and to take it easy. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Now for the formal progress update:

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ACL Reconstruction: 15 Weeks Post-Op

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Happy (belated) Labor Day!

I am so not ready to see the summer end! On one hand, I’m glad that it went by quickly because I was not in the best of shape for most of it. But, I also feel totally ripped off! Now that I’m a lot more mobile, I want a re-do of summer! At least there’s still fall (which is the best for hiking, cycling, running and a lot of other outdoor activities!).

This Thursday will mark 5 months since I had my skiing accident. Time flies! Today is the 15 week anniversary of my ACL reconstruction surgery, and so much has changed over that period of time. In many ways, I’m pretty close to “normal” and can do just about anything that I could do before tearing my ACL. I’m also constantly reminded that I am still pretty far from normal and have a long way yet to go. I do everything a little bit slower, with less intensity. I’ve back been to teaching my group exercises classes for over a month now, but still can’t lift quite as heavy, crank as much tension on the flywheel or pedal as fast (I know that this will improve with time!).

Here’s the formal update on my progress…

Pain Level:

No pain (and very little swelling)! There is still quite a bit of tightness in my left knee, but it’s improved a great deal. I have just a tiny bit of pain and sensitivity in the area around my large incision, but nowhere near where it was even a few weeks ago. I can kneel down on the ground now, do a standing quad stretch and kind of get into child’s pose. All three of those were a very big deal and I celebrated each accomplishment! I often have numbness around my knee (mostly below the knee cap), which I’ve heard is very normal. It’s still very weird.

I’ve actually been having more pain in my right (non-operative) leg than my left, because I tend to bear more weight on it- especially when I’m running. All in all, the level of pain in pretty much non-existent and a million times better than it was during the first few weeks after surgery.

Here’s a photo of my knees today (directly after a run!):

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I wish my scars would start to fade a bit more (some people’s scars fade right away!), but it will take some time. My left quad muscle is definitely growing back and my calves are pretty much the same size now. My left leg is definitely still weaker than my right, but at least it’s starting to look similar in size.

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[Simple] Wellness “Life Hacks”

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Whether I’d like to admit it or not, I can’t help but ignore the fact that I’ve let some of my “healthy habits” slide in the last two years. Back in my former life as a high school teacher, it was so easy to be pretty structured and organized when it came to dieting- because my whole life was so structured and organized! When I ended my teaching career and found myself at home much more often, my bad habits of mindlessly snacking and eating too much kicked in and the pounds started to pile on. Two years later, I can’t ignore it. I’ve got at least 20 extra pounds that I’d like to get rid of and need to buckle down and FOCUS.

On paper, weight loss seems so easy! You eat less, move more and slowly but surely those pounds of unwanted fat come off. The truth is, it’s not easy at all! Improving your health, whether it means losing a few pounds, getting in better shape or simply wanting to feel better overall takes hard work, dedication and staying power.

I often find that I have the most motivation to make positive changes to my diet after returning home from vacation (which I just did this week!). Something about days full of eating out for every meal, drinking more than usual, staying up late and being off of my routine seems to make me crave a healthy lifestyle. To get back on track, I refer to a simple list of “wellness hacks.” The ideas on this list are nothing new or revolutionary, but sometimes we just need a reminder of how simple it can be to make positive, healthy changes.

1. Plan ahead (even if it’s just one day- or one meal!).

As hard as I’ve tried, I am just not the type of person who can plan out a week’s worth of meals in advance. I feel pressured and I almost always end up changing everything throughout the week. For me, planning out ONE day in advance is the most realistic. I like to eat about six times throughout the day and have a guideline for what I’m going to be eating throughout the day helps me stick to a healthier diet.

Sometimes I’ll write out a “daily diet plan” the night before, and sometimes it’s the same morning. Either way, it makes me far less likely to “boredom snack” while thinking about what to make for my next meal.

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ACL Reconstruction Surgery: Post-Op Week 10

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It’s a little hard for me to believe that ten weeks have gone by since I underwent ACL Reconstruction surgery! Thankfully, time has flown by pretty quickly, thanks to my intent to stay really busy. I’m definitely happy to wrap up July and see what new “abilities” August will bring. I haven’t seen my surgeon in a really long time and am excited about going in for my 11-week check-up next week. Hopefully he’ll be pleased with my progress and tell me I’m on the right track.

Just like I did for my last post, I’m doing a little breakdown of how things have been going during over the last few weeks:

Pain Level: I very rarely feel pain in my actual knee- more in the muscles surrounding it. Although the scar in my large incision is definitely starting to look better, I still feel some pressure and soreness there from time to time. My quads have been sore a few times (after a lot of activity) and I’ve pulled a muscle in my left hamstring twice (which sucks!). There’s definitely still quite a bit of stiffness around my knee in general, which is a constant reminder that I am still very much on the mend. I still can’t kneel on the ground because it causes great pain to my operative knee (and the large incision)- and can not wait until I’m able to. It’s amazing what I took for granted before this whole injury thing happened.

Here’s a close-up of my knees yesterday:

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And to compare, here’s a shot from week 6:

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This Year’s List [34 While 34]

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Happy Thursday friends! Amidst being super busy with work, feeling sick and not getting nearly enough sleep, I decided to take the morning off yesterday for some much-needed Rocky Mountain therapy with my bestie. Going snowshoeing was actually something that Paige and I talked about doing (in the winter) all the time in the summer and fall- but yesterday was the very first time we actually went together! Considering that today is the first day of spring, it might also be the last for the season. Maybe.

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We went to Lily Lake- which is a bit of a drive, but totally worth it. Paige hadn’t been there before and I’ve talked about how pretty it is over and over again. It was a clear, beautiful, sunny, perfect day.

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On days like yesterday, it’s worth it to just push everything aside for a few hours- even if that means that you’ll end up working until bedtime. :)

Anyway. It’s been over a month since I turned 34, and once again, I’m just getting around to posting my to-do list for the current year. I’ve been making these lists for two years now and looking back at last year’s list, I’m a little disappointed in the things that I didn’t accomplish. Don’t get me wrong- I’m definitely happy about all of the things that I did do, and moving across the country and finding a new job certainly took a bit of effort. Some of the items that I didn’t get to (like lose the weight I’ve gained since I got married!) will be an on-going journey and aren’t things that I can just do in one day. Others (like make sauerkraut or go fly-fishing) could easily be accomplished in one day.

For this year’s list, I’ve decided to make it a combination of simple goals and other things that are a bit more complex (that I really hope to accomplish. Some are repeats of last year (and even the year before), but are things that I want to do again. Here goes:

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Maximize Your Life [An Evening with Jillian Michaels]

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A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of spending the evening with one of my heroes, Jillian Michaels. Jillian is currently traveling across the country with her Maximize Your Life Tour and her very first stop was in Denver! My dear friend Kelly emailed me a few months ago when tickets went on sale and asked me if I’d like to go- and without hesitation I said yes! The Maximize Your Life Tour is described as this: Jillian shows how to harness your potential, kick-start your goals and live an exceptional life – sharing her keys to health, success and happiness. No hype, no false promises: Just results.

It was basically an intimate evening with Jillian where she shared her own thoughts and advice on how to become a better you- through better eating, fitness and better mental health. She also ended the night with a Q&A session where members of the audience could step up to a microphone and ask her anything.

Kelly had scored us some pretty great seats, and we were so excited when Jillian walked out on the stage.

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We all know that Jillian is beautiful- but (as cliché as it sounds) she’s even more gorgeous in person. And even though she wasn’t wearing gym clothes, it was super easy to notice how damn buff she is- talk about muscular legs and booty!

Jillian started off the night by giving us an overview of what to expect over the next two hours. She planned to break up her presentation into three segments:

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My New Gig [+ a Giveaway!]

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One of the wonderful things about having a blog is the ability to look back at the events that were going on since I started writing back in September of 2011. There are so many great memories that I’ve blogged about, and it’s fun to read back over old posts, view pictures and read what was going on in my head at that time. Over the course of the two and a half years that I’ve been maintaining this little blog, I’ve also been through quite a number of career changes. The funny thing is- before starting the blog, I held the same job for almost seven years.

From just about the time that I started teaching high school, I knew it wasn’t for me. I came home every day stressed and feeling unfulfilled and knew that it wasn’t something that I could do forever. The fact that I stuck it out for nearly eight years still amazes me, but I really didn’t think I had any other choice. I became a certified Spinning instructor about five years into my teaching career and that was the beginning of the end for me. I taught classes early in the morning and then would head to work (I had to be at work at 7:00 am- so that should give you an idea of how early my classes were!). I also taught on weekends, basically taking any opportunity I could to get paid for doing something that I loved. I later went on to get my Bodypump certification, and that made my attitude towards my day job even worse. I found such fulfillment in teaching group exercise- the kind that I longed to find in my day job (but never did).

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I eventually made the decision to quit my teaching job- something I definitely could not have done without the support of my husband. I know that I am very, very lucky and that changing careers would not have been possible if I was on my own. I hate to say that- but it’s true. I spent the next few months figuring out what exactly it was that I wanted to do. I got my personal training certification, but knew that I didn’t want to be a trainer at a gym for the long haul. I continued to teach group exercise and trained clients at the gym, all while searching for what exactly it was that allowed me to express my creativity and passion. Teaching Spinning and Bodypump were great- but that only covers a few hours each week. I needed to figure out which direction I wanted my career to go in.

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Ski School [Day 6 & Final Thoughts]

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

It’s so hard for me to really believe, but my time in ski school is already over. I’m fairly certain that these last six weeks have been the shortest of my life! Winter is the one season that I’ve never enjoyed and the months of January, February and March just seem to drag on forever. Go figure that when I do finally start to enjoy it, it flies by! I guess that’s the way it goes, right?

I had my very last session of the Eldora Women’s Days program this past Wednesday. You can read my re-caps from each week here:

I’m really glad that I documented my journey of learning how to ski, because it’s been fun for me to go back and read those posts and about what I learned each week. I went into the program with very few expectations and trepidatious optimism. I’ve never had the desire to learn to ski, the thought of it downright terrified me. I gave it a very weak attempt five or six years ago in Maryland and had such a bad experience that I never went back. Skiing and snowboarding are a huge part of Greg’s life and I knew that it would mean the world to him if I at least gave it a fair chance- so I did.

I went into ski school that very first day not knowing a single person, stomach in knots and wanting to be anywhere but there. When my instructor asked me what my objectives were on that first day I think I said “not to die!” Really, I just wanted to learn to ski well and not to be so scared of it. Even after that first day, I kept saying to Greg “it’s okay if it’s not something that I like to do- it can be your thing. There are plenty of other outdoor activities that we can do together!”

Six weeks ago, I never, ever would have thought that skiing would turn into something that I really like doing. And I certainly didn’t think I’d be recommending that we spend my birthday weekend at a ski resort!

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My last day of class was bittersweet. From the way that the morning started, it seemed like it was going to be a great day weather-wise and the resort wasn’t crowded at all. The snow was a little bit crunchy and it took about two runs down for me to feel confident, but I was okay after that.

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Ski School [Day Five]

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Brrrr…. it’s been cold here in the foothills of Colorado all week! For almost a week now, the roads have been covered in a thick layer of ice and snow and the temperature has barely climbed above freezing. When the sun’s out, it’s actually not so bad- but at night… watch out! You can imagine my enthusiasm for being outside all day this past Wednesday when I saw the weather forecast- with a high of zero degrees (and sunshine). The Women’s Program meets every single Wednesday- no matter what it’s doing outside- which has ended up being a very good thing. As I said after my last lesson, having different conditions each week has taught me that I can ski in various types of weather (and snow!).

As we drove up to Eldora on Wednesday, I nervously watched the temperature on Greg’s dashboard. It was -12˚for most of our commute! As we got up to Nederland (the town where Eldora is) the temperature started rising steadily and it got up to a whopping THREE degrees. I thought it was really strange that it was actually warmer up above 9,000′ elevation! I had four layers of clothing on (which made me feel like a marshmallow) in attempt to stay warm. I also had my trusty hand warmers in my mittens, which usually help on super cold days.

When I got to the resort, the parking lot was more empty than usual. Only about half of the women in the program showed up- I guess the others were scared off by the cold weather! Since there’s only six sessions total, I definitely didn’t want to miss any of them. Luckily, my buddy Jenn was still there- and it ended up being just her and I with our instructor Jane that day!

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It had snowed a little bit the night before and since there was (quite literally) NO ONE on the trails we had corduroy to ski on. It was really nice to have the entire lower mountain to ourselves (okay, there were like five other people skiing) but it was eerily quiet- and definitely much different than how it was over the weekend! One of the great things about skiing on corduroy was that we could easily see our tracks- which is very helpful when you’re trying to improve your technique.

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