Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: weightloss

I’m not that kind of person.

Recently, I stepped back on the scale after the holidays.  I’m not going to lie and say it was pretty, but 180.8 is not the worst I’ve ever been, and I needed some time to relax the food rules in December, and it’s a starting point.  Onward and downward.  At least, I’m trying to keep this attitude, but Zliten can attest to the fact I’ve had some mini-tantrums about it.  Rational brain does not always triumph over the feels, sadly.

Then, I think about where I’ve been.  I write a similar post most Januarys, and perhaps I should just link those and be done with it, but every year I gain a different perspective of what has happened over these last 8 years (gosh, has it been that long?) since I just barely fit in size 24 jeans and made that fateful new years resolution.

This year I had an epiphany on a run, as I am wont to do now that I rarely listen to music outdoors.  I really should stop saying this phrase:

“I am not the kind of person who…”

Because I end up breaking the rules I set by saying that often.  Year by year, I break down a lot of these barriers.  If I stayed “not the kind of person who” of 2007, I’d be a very very very different person.  For example…

2007:  I’m not the kind of person who…

…is fit and active.  I started the year here, at 265 lbs…


…and ended here.  At 210 lbs I still had a long way to go.


However, the difference was night and day.  I went from a walk around my apartment complex taking my breath away to 4-5 days of cardio and 3 days of weights being just part of the routine.  Tracking my food (which I started using Spark People in September) helped me limit my intake enough to steadily lose weight.

2008: I’m not the kind of person who…

…weighs less than 200 lbs as an adult.  I hit “onederland” (199) right before my 29th birthday in February.  Best birthday present EVER.

And, I continued to ride the momentum all the way down to 160 by the end of the year.


…is a runner.   I don’t know why, but this year I decided I wanted to try and run a mile, something I hadn’t done since 8th grade and certainly not something I ever enjoyed doing before.  I almost passed out after, but I ran that mile in about 12 minutes – a far cry from my best of 7:50 of my childhood, but I kept at it and could run 5-6 miles at a time by the end of the year.

2009: I’m not the kind of person who…

…runs races.  I did my first 5k in Februray and the bug bit me HARD.  I was sure I would be the oldest, heaviest, and slowest one there.


Not so much.  In fact, I followed someone that could be my grandpa the whole race and couldn’t catch him, but I placed decently well in my age group (top half, IIRC).  That year, I completed 3 5ks, a 10k, a half marathon, and a 5 miler.  Zliten joined me for one of the 5ks and that sparked a desire to do triathlon at some point in the future.

…wants a froofy white traditional wedding dress.


Funny that, when you feel like you actually look gorgeous in your dress, most little girls revert back to wanting to feel like a princess.  Who knew?

2010: I’m not the kind of person who…

…is into triathlons.  After a disappointing second half marathon when I got sick, I thought about the idea of training for a marathon, and those long runs over the hot summer sounded terrible.  However, I wanted to sufficiently large goal to tackle, so I signed up for my first sprint and olympic triathlon at the same time.


After battling the terror of open water swimming, and the most painful 4 hours and 4 minutes of my racing life (and coming in something like 3rd to last), I was so hooked.

…can be the leader of a team.  Well, it took a lot of guts for me to ask for the promotion when I wasn’t sure I was up to it, and even more blood, sweat, and tears to constantly do things that professionally scared me (read: talking on a microphone in front of the company, leading meetings, etc), but it was an exhausting and enthralling year getting my legs as a Producer.

2011: I’m not the kind of person who…

…would lose weight and gain some back again.  I hit my low of 150 one day in April of 2009, and from there, it slowly crept back on, and this was the year I started to really notice and couldn’t stop it.  My body found it’s happy set point around 175 and it still doesn’t seem to want to budge without drastic measures.

However, I’m also not the kind of person that lets myself get so frustrated about that and give up and regain back ALL the weight.  175 and fit is so much better than 265 and without hope.


…would have a husband that’s into racing.  Well, that changed quickly once he got a taste of triathlons this year.  For someone who hated running and swimming, he sure did like racing tris.  I wasn’t one to question.

2012: I’m not the kind of person who…

…wants to really do long distance races.


True, I have fondness for the short stuff, but I completed a metric century, a half ironman, and a marathon.  And I didn’t hate any of them.  Kind of the opposite.

…races every other weekend.


We did 24 races in 12 months born out of a silly idea we had while drinking one night, and while it was TOO MUCH RACING, it was fun to conquer a huge big goal like that and stay healthy enough to start and finish that many races in a year.

2013: I’m not really the kind of person who…

…doesn’t smoke.  I had gradually whittled down my consumption to only when drinking and switched to the organic kind (which sounds like bullshit even to me, but I could SO feel the difference in comparison) but letting go of it completely was hard.  But I smoked my last cigarette at a 2012 NYE party and haven’t had once since.

DISCLAIMER: I still use an e-cig while drinking sometimes.  I’ve done my homework.  The juice I use is not the one with all the harmful crap in it that’s all over the news.  Nicotine is a stimulant similar to caffeine in terms of effect and danger without all the other crap in it.  The delivery system is essentially like a rescue inhaler.  I won’t say it has no risks but as an experiment of one, I see a WORLD of difference between that and cigs.


…has the balls to scuba dive.  It sounded awesome and terrifying at the same time, but after some conversations with Zliten about our upcoming vacation, which included a trip to Bonaire, which is one of the most beautiful places to dive in the world, we spent valentines day in class and on my 33rd birthday, I got certified.


So worth it.  I still have trouble getting down sometimes with touchy ears, but it just takes patience.  I’ve now seen 40-80 feet underwater in Aruba, Bonaire, Key Largo, Cozumel, and the Bahamas.  It’s worth it to see this stuff up close.

…does something dumb enough to get injured enough to DNS races.  I now have a few rules: a) try not to get that drunk b) don’t get that drunk ever on cruises c) don’t get that drunk ever on heels.


I would definitely say I have a healthy respect for what it takes to come back from an injury and will do all I can to not get there again either through being an idiot while drunk or being an idiot with overuse.

2014: I’m not really the kind of person who…

…places in my age group.  Well, I usually don’t.  But as of this year, I’d racked up a women’s OA win at the indoor tri, a 1st place at a 5k, a 2nd place at a half marathon, and finally placed 3rd at Gatorbait, my first AG placement in a tri.  I’m finally at the point where I’m at least considering fighting for 3rd at small races, which is fun.


…could give up grains or batch cook.  This was the second year of batch cooking and I feel like I hit my stride.  I stopped attempting the super fancy stuff (tikka masala from scratch is phenomenal, but takes so long) and went with easier stuff that didn’t take all day.


I don’t want to say what I did was low carb starting in August, but I ditched the rice, pasta, and bread, and turned to fruit, corn, and potatoes as carb fuel.  I wanted to hate it, but I ended up finding it kept my stomach more even, helped my triathlon race nutrition, and took some weight off (before I went on vacation and holidays and fucked it up).


…volunteers at races.  We’d done it once or twice, but this year, we did much more.  It’s a lot of fun being part of a triathlon while not always racing it.  Plus, cool tee shirts and stuff!

In 2015, I wonder…

Currently, I’m not the kind of person who keeps an uncluttered house.  But I’d really like to be, if I can find a way to do it without giving myself an ulcer about it.

Currently, I’m not the kind of person who runs every day.  But for 17 days so far, I have been and I’m kind of loving it.

Who knows what kind of person I’m not – but I will be by the end of THIS year?

What kind of person are you not?

How To Manage Food Consumption Without Going Batshit Crazy

Hi folks!  Today’s topic comes from @kimretta on twitter.  Say hi to Kimra! (HI KIMRA)

She asked me a few weeks ago: “How do you track your food without wanting to punch an eye out?  Nothing makes me want to eat more packaged food than tracking, which is probably not the point…”

Calorie counting.  My best weight loss frenemy.  I have found it to be about 100% true for me that if I’m not tracking, I will not lose weight.  I’ve found a pretty high correlation to being in peak training season and gaining weight UNLESS I track my food, especially for run-focused stuff like marathon training.  I do *ok* at not eating like a complete asshole when my activity level isn’t too high or too low, but again, never to take of the precious ell bees, just to maintain where I’m at.

My “eat-watch” is a little broken.  I’m pretty sure it always has been.  If you locked me in a room with only carrots, I’d find a way to overeat on them.  I am the person that obsesses over the chips bowl at a party even if I’ve eaten proper dinner.  I can eat back a 20 mile run in one meal, and then shove beer and cake on top of it and be still scouting for my next victim meal.

In my world, there are a lot of miles and a lot of food.


My body lacks the normal human response known as “full” until I’ve completely overeaten, and it doesn’t matter whether I eat carbs or protein or vegetables or what.  It’s actually WORSE when I eat less carbs – carbs make me feel full as long as they’re part of a balanced meal, where when I eat a bowl of veggies and protein I’m like… ok, where’s the rest of my dinner please?

When I first started tracking I freaked out that I might have to do it for the rest of my life.  After quite a few years or so of doing this I’ve realized that I’ll have to do it for the rest of my life in these situations:

1. If I am currently at a weight and would like to be at a different one.  I cannot do that intuitively.

2. If I am either in peak training OR doing ZERO training.  My brain has no idea how to normalize that hunger vs the amount of calories I should have in those two situations.  I’m like a fish out of water, or a cat IN water, just to give you a proper visual.

For right now, I am trying to take off some weight, so I am tracking.  Every day.  Every bite that goes into my mouth.  And it’s just a thing I do, like shower, brush my teeth, check facebook, etc.  It doesn’t drive me completely and totally crazy.  Let me try and examine why.

1.  I know it works.  After many false starts, I have been able to lose and maintain that loss (for the most part) with keeping track of my calories.  I have not found any other way that works for me.  Bitching about a problem I have a solution to (and not doing it) does me no good.

2.  I’ve only used  I find their website easy to use and I’m kind of over it 7 years later, but I used to REALLY dig getting my spins and points and trophies.  I’m not sure if any of the other sites are better or worse, but if you hate what you use, try Spark.  This is an example of what it looks like.


3.  I used to get stressed out about exactly how many calories were in things.  Seven years later, I realize that an estimate is probably good enough.  If you go out all the time, this might be more of an issue, but finding a hamburger at a chain place (with all the calorie counts online) that’s similar to the burger I got at the local joint works for the once in a while I do it.  It works best if you really try to find something similar.  For example, the giant half-lb thick burger that, say, Chilis makes, is not the same as a McDonald’s hamburger.  It’s about 4 times the size and calories.  So, when you’re eating off the grid, you just have to be HONEST with yourself what your food looks like.

4.  I work a computer desk job and have my laptop/phone/tablet around pretty much at all times, so it’s not a big inconvenience.  It’s just another website/app I need to visit a few times a day.  If you are reading this right now, chances are you have the time to track your food during the day.  Seriously.  You’ve already spent longer reading this than it would take to track your food.  Make the commitment that you’re going to do it for at least a month, and just *do it*.  After dinner, if you forget to track during the day, sit down and log what you had.  It’s about as annoying as flossing – you’re spending more time bitching about wanting to do it more regularly then it takes to just do it.  It’s all about making it a habit.

The more time consuming process is planning out meals and batch cooking.  Once that’s done, tracking is really, really easy.  Assuming you’re looking to expand into this arena, read on.  If that’s TL;DR – just go to and set up an account and commit for a month and see if calorie counting works for you.

**I receive no compensation, it’s just that Sparkpeople changed my life.**

Here is the more complicated part – food planning and batch cooking.  I started planning our meals a few years ago, when I realized I was wasting a lot of money on food that I didn’t eat because I forgot I had it, or it was missing other components to make a whole meal, and ended up eating out a lot more than I had planned/should.  Since then, I’ve made out a meal plan for the week, and a grocery list from that meal plan.

I assemble a plan of what we are going to eat for the week, around Thursday or Friday the week before, in a spreadsheet in Google Docs.  I get Zliten’s buy in on the plan before I make the list (or not, but that’s at my own peril for food tantrums).

I include workouts in here, plus notes on anything else that’s going on for the week.  I omitted that column in the picture, but it says things like “lunch with the parents” or “game night” or “Yelp party” and stuff so I remember social obligations and don’t plan to make an elaborate meal when I have to be across town an hour after work ends.


Then, I make a grocery list of what I need to make the foods for the week, cross referenced with what’s in my pantry (or sometimes my memory of what’s in my pantry, in which case I err on the side of overbuying, so sometimes I’ll end up with lots of extra cans of tomato sauce or beans, but that’s ok).  Then I add things like snacking fruit and veggies, stuff for breakfast, consider if I need any other snacks like nuts or I’m out of bread or tortillas and then ask Zliten the same questions for his staples.

I use the OurGroceries app, and it has changed my life.  Hello networked grocery list.  I can be at home on the couch, and Zliten is at Costco, and I can add stuff to the list for him in real time.  More often, we can divide the grocery store and conquer and meet back together without wondering who got what, and get the shopping done in half the time.  I also try to make it a habit to add anything to the list that I run out of right away, for example, we ran out of tartar sauce last night, so I just added that.  I don’t need tartar sauce for anything this next week, but it’s best to get the condiments and staples I expect to be there replaced right away.  This is what my current list looks like, and will also show up on my phone and Zliten’s phone as well.


As for timing, I grocery shop typically on Friday nights after work.  It’s the one weeknight I know I don’t have any workouts, I get out of work pretty regularly at a decent hour, and usually stores are pretty chill then.  Also, we usually go out to lunch on Friday, so I’m feeling indulged and not deprived, so I don’t want ALL THE THINGS.

I’m in the happy position where I don’t have to bargain hunt.  I’d rather splurge on good quality food, exactly what I want, exactly the brand I want, instead of being less than happy and turning to takeout. On average, we spend ~900$ on food and drink for 2 adults in a month.  We could probably do better, but it is what it is and I will cut corners elsewhere before this.

So, I get the food.  Friday night, it typically just goes in the fridge.  We usually have some sort of adventure to get up to on Saturday morning, and all that standing during cooking is not = relaxing.  Somewhere between Saturday afternoon and Sunday night, I batch cook.

Depending on the level of difficulty – it take about 2-3 hours (with periods of waiting, not 2-3 straight hours in the kitchen).  I try to not do completely from-scratch recipes that have fifty steps – I did that once and was completely unenthused when I was still cooking 8 hours later.  Those are the things I will save for meals out or special occasions.

Once I’m done, I do three things:

  1. Divide it up into about 6 portions (depending on how much I’ve cooked, I usually aim for about 3 meals worth each, and cooking 2-3 meals sets us up well for the week).
  2. Freeze anything I’m not going to eat before Wednesday that next week so it doesn’t go bad.
  3. Put any new (or significantly different) concoction into sparkrecipes.  This slight pain of having to input it initially is mitigated by the fact that any time I eat that food forever, the calorie, fat, protein, carb, fiber, whatever count is right there.  Enjoy some of my chicken tortilla soup recipe for an example of what this looks like.


So, now, I am set up for the week to be able to, instead of having to add tomatoes and noodles and two types of veggies and two types of meat and two types of cheese each day I eat lasagna, I just add one serving of lasagna.   It’s fab!

But, you say, that’s great and all, but my life doesn’t go according to plan!  Things go wrong!  Schedules change!  What if I don’t feel like another turkey/tuna/sunbutter sandwich on Thursday?  Well, here’s the list after…


As you can see, some things have changed (and I actually forgot to alter Tuesday as well, as I did not have that for dinner, I had fish burgers and oven fries because I neglected to make the pasta salad).  I had the nutritious dinner of grilled chicken and vodka (not vodka sauce, just vodka) on Thursday.  I got up too late that day to complete my workout and only did half and never made it up.  We changed run days over the weekend due to weather.  And this one is actually pretty tame, some weeks the end doesn’t even look like the same week at all.

Life happens.  You have to roll with the punches.  But having a plan helps you to react differently.  Say, I ended up with an unexpected lunch date out on Tuesday.  Without the plan, I’d know I ate food out that I wasn’t supposed to, and missed a run, but I’d have no idea how to best absorb that into my week.  With this plan, I would change what I was going to eat Tuesday for lunch to Friday (since I had planned to go out anyway) and do my run then as well.  No sweat, and nothing missed – just rescheduled!

And, I suppose, that’s “How to manage food consumption without going batshit crazy 101”.  Any questions?  There won’t be a quiz, but hopefully this might help you if you’re flailing in this area of your life.


One of my fave blogs to read is this.  She just has a way with words, and makes me think the thinky things.  Usually, with blogs, I do a lot of scanning since I’m busy and read a lot of things.  I usually end up reading her posts at least twice with my full attention.  This is a high compliment from multitasking me.

She posted recently about a dose of perspective – to which I feel like it’s time to treat myself as well.  It’s about that time.  Whenever I start to get nitpicky about the current few extra lbs I’m hauling around that just.don’t.wanna.leave, or the inability to hit a certain time or pace at a race, I just have to remember a few things.

This was me seven years ago.

I’m not sure that one is unflattering enough.  Here’s another….

At 265 lbs, I had trouble walking up a flight of stairs without wheezing, or across the parking lot at work to get to another building.   I spent 100 hour weeks building a career, working my ass off (literally, obviously not figuratively) to climb the ladder and my only outlets were drinking, smoking, eating, and playing video games.  I would occasionally play dance dance revolution, or get on a kick where I’d get on the elliptical, or take a walk, but never regularly, and it’s not as easy to get moving when you weigh approximately one extra person.

I didn’t cook much, and either got takeout, went out, or made something out of a can/box/bag.  Very occasionally I’d get domestic, and make beer cheese soup (with a block of cheese) in a breadbowl, or “healthy” salad with fried chicken strips, bacon, cheese, and ranch on it.  No one where I worked had ever talked about eating healthy, we got pizza delivered for overtime food, had junk food potluck all the time, and we had donuts and bagels delivered every Friday.   No one I knew did anything active.

I enjoyed a lot of aspects of my life, so I can’t say that I was truly unhappy, but something was MISSING.  I had convinced myself that it was just inevitable to get fat and inactive, because that’s what getting old means (said the girl who was in her early/mid 20s).  I never wanted to go out much, it was such a hassle, and it was much easier to get drunk at home and not have to try to find something to wear, and write or play or watch TV.  As such, we didn’t have many close friends.

I remembered being an athlete before, but that’s just something kids did, right? You either were good enough to be a pro or you just faded into obscurity, there was no in-between in my mind.  If you didn’t succeed at making it, you didn’t deserve to continue, I thought.

But, as they say in these stories, there’s a turning point.  Now, I wish I could say that I saw a triathlon and was inspired, or something positive like that, but it was simply that I tried on pants, couldn’t comprehend how I was size 24, and the switch flipped and it was on.  My goal was not to be healthy, strong, active, whatever – I could have given a flying fuck how the weight came off, but my first goal was to be less fat.

I set about doing that.  I lot about 25 lbs, and then got stalled out for a few months because we made the decision to uproot and move states and jobs and I hung onto the wagon (I didn’t gain anything back) by my fingernails (I didn’t lose anything for 4 months).

My second jump start in summer that year, I have to credit to the stomach flu.  My first week of work, I came down with some major major stomach bug where all I could ingest was gatorade and crackers.  I took off 10 lbs and noticed that I could fit in a bunch more clothes I had been saving.  I put them back on quickly because, well, eating again, but I figured new city, new start, new me, and researched how to do it the right way.  Because while 30 lbs down was great, this was not going to be my after picture.

Time passed, and things happened.  We got a house (the one you see me painting above) and did a lot of work on it and moved in).  I joined sparkpeople, and decided to do what spark said for a month.  I lost 9 lbs that month.  This was the first time I had reliably lost weight with any sort of program, I had just been winging it with “go to the gym until you can’t stand it anymore and try not to eat so much you horrible pig” until I settled back into old routine.

Soon, old routine became new routine.  I thought that the 20 mins cardio and 15 mins weights 3xweek were a HUGE commitment, but there was something to checking that off the list for the week and getting my spark points, and then I started upping the cardio a little more once I felt a little stronger. Over the holidays, I was terrified of everyone telling me that gaining weight was inevitable, so I upped the cardio to 45×4 days a week, and mostly stuck with the plan, so I ended up losing 15 lbs instead between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I counted my calories and balanced my eating like a checkbook.  While I ate a lot of crap and I wouldn’t suggest that this is a way to spend the rest of your life, it helped me transition to the seven years ago’s 1000 calorie+ light lunches to the way I eat now, which may look like garbage in seven more years, but seems pretty healthy and balanced right now.  There were hundred calorie packs and light bread and so much diet sodas and things I wouldn’t even go near now, but as they say, baby steps.  The scale continued it’s progress, and I was happy.

I hit “onederland” as people tend to call it a few days before my 29th birthday and it was the best birthday present I’d ever had.  I had so much more energy and felt like a completely different person.  I was eating like a reasonable person, losing weight, and exercising regularly.  I even got a hair up my ass and decided to try to run a mile at the track.  I did it in about 12 minutes, and subsequently died.  Well, almost.  I got better.  I tried it again in a few months and went better, and then all of a sudden I found the treadmill at work and eventually, I was able to run a 5k.

I was lucky to have stumbled upon running this way, as 1.5 years of regular strength training really helped me earn my right to run, and I ramped up very slowly and carefully.  I had seen these races people talked about and it made me nervous but also excited, and I figured that I needed to just do one so I could experience it, so I signed up for a little local 5k right before my 30th birthday.  I figured I’d be absolutely last and the oldest person there and embarrassed but whatever.  I was doing it.

Well, come race day, I figured out a few things.  One, I was NOT the last person, or the oldest, though a dude with grey hair totally whooped my ass.  Second, I not only beat my goal time of 30 minutes, I beat it by over 2 minutes and got my first taste of the finish line high.  Third, I kinda really wanted to do another one.  I also ended up with a stray Runner’s World mag that linked a 12 week program to a half marathon.  At first I thought it was crazy, but then I decided to jump in and go for it.

I raced that first half marathon on a hot, sticky late June day, and while at first it made me quit running for a while, it also got me hooked long term because I did another, with shorter races in between.  Then, I stood at the fork of the “what’s next” path, and chose the road that lead away from a full marathon, and got on my bike and pedaled toward triathlon.  They would converge later again, but I would have to take two dead ends before I actually got to marathon-land.

My husband was joining me at the smaller races but didn’t really love the idea of running anything over a 5k, until he decided he wanted to do a triathlon, and then pretty much right after the finish line, he decided he wanted to do that Ironman thing, so he started training with me, and the rest is history.  Getting him on board was awesome, and key to this being a lifestyle.  We now want to grow old and active together so we can potentially qualify for Kona someday (I’m thinking maybe when I’m in my 50s or 60s, heh).

2013-12-01 05.01.58

Through the years, weight has become less of a focus than how this triathlon thing is going.  The two are connected, obviously, but there are (hard for me) ways to productively shed lbs, and there are (much easier) ways to do it that destroy performance.  This has meant my weight has fluctuated from 150 to the high 180s and back down a bit, in this period of discovering a higher purpose of physical movement than how I happen to look in a pair of jeans.

I have felt different things about my body at different weights, sometimes even different things on the same day.  However, no matter how shitty I feel sometimes when I know it would be easier to haul my ass up the hill if I could not eat the fries and eat the kale instead, or if my tri shorts are tight and a little muffin-toppy after the holidays, these are the problems you have when you have built a pretty cool life.  A life that seven years ago seemed beyond unicorns and rainbows.  The fact that I missed my PR last weekend by less than 2 minutes is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, when your life is such that you get to go out to fancy parties looking like this.

2014-01-25 20.27.52

I was asked recently how to not give up.  I said that I’ve seen that road.  The path into gaining weight – it’s a huge downhill, and the incline increases as you go along.  It’s the return trip that’s the bitch.  Uphill.  Incredibly steep.  Even if I take off one lb per YEAR, even if I continue to maintain my current weight of 175 (give or take a few) for a long time, I’ve traveled far from that girl, the one who didn’t want to walk a mile to work because “I’d get sweaty” and “there was a hill”.

And in all this, I am still me.  I still really fucking hate hills.  However, my instinct now isn’t to run from them, it’s to run up them over and over until I conquer them.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén