Tuesday, April 8, 2014

About My Body -- The One That Won't Lose Weight

I'm Amy. I'm 33 years old and I live in Maine. I have a husband, two kids, and a big brown dog. I own a business, I drive a mom car, and I'm thoroughly convinced my quality of life with triple if I could just lose five pounds. 

And hooo boy, then there's that ten pound fantasy. Honestly--and I'm embarrassed to admit this out loud--if I could choose, I'd pick the spontaneous loss of ten pounds over an all expense paid trip to the Tahitian Islands.

So far, there's nothing about me--even that dark little ten pound secret up there--that isn't normal or socially acceptable. I'm an average American girl (who cannot bear to write the word 'woman' or 'lady' because ick, old).

Now I'll expose myself a little bit more.

So that's me on the right, running my mom in at a half marathon:

And that's me on the left, getting ready to run a marathon with a bunch of friends:

That's a picture of me making a Popeye face (maybe I should invest in some sunglasses):

And that's me holding a men's bodybuilding trophy from 1988 and wearing someone else's medals at a Thanksgiving Day 5k:

This is the point where you think to yourself, "What?! You're CRAZY. You DO NOT NEED TO LOSE FIVE POUNDS. I'M the one who needs to lose five pounds, not you!"

Or maybe, "Shut up you stupid, skinny girl. You run marathons?! And you'd give up a trip to Tahiti to lose ten pounds?! That's insane. If I looked like you and ran marathons, I wouldn't have a damn thing to complain about."

Or maybe you think, "Awww, you look cute! Stop being so hard on yourself!"

Even I look at those pictures and think, "Looking good, self....but still, lose five pounds."

Whatever your reaction might be, I'd like you to use it to help you realize that as women in America, we are ALL trained to want to lose five pounds. Or ten. Or three. Or fifty. Show me a woman--any woman--and I'll show you a person who thinks about losing some weight at least three times, every single day.

It does't matter how old we are, how tall we are, how big or small we are, how fit we are, how funny we are -- we are all programmed to believe that we need to drop a few to feel peace in our hearts. And people, it's absolutely crazy making.


At my job, I end up weighing all different people a couple of times a day -- I'm a trainer. So many times, a lady will come bopping in with a giant smile, having a great day. She was complimented at work, she's having an awesome hair day, her grandson won the spelling bee, she got a sweet purse on clearance at TJ Maxx, and then *POOF.* "What? I gained a pound? How did I gain a pound? I thought I had a good week. I swear I had a good week. Why'd I gain a pound? What did I do wrong?"

Day. Ruined.

Or, on the flip side, someone might be telling me the sad, sordid tale of their son. The one who ended up in prison and who's going to trial for robbery next week. He used to be such a great kid, and then *BOOM.* "Wait what? I lost two pounds!? I wasn't expecting that! I had three cookies this week, what a great surprise! Wow! I...I just wasn't thinking this could happen!"

Day. Perfected.

Or then there's my favorite, because you know we've all done it -- the scale shifter. They step up, they wait, they grimace because they don't like the number that just popped up. They step down. They step up diagonally, and wait, and shrug when the number pops up the same. They step down, they move the scale, on an angle, to the uneven part of the floor. They step up one more time and they lightly pump their fist in success. They just made that scale read eight tenths of a pound lower.

Mission. Accomplished.

As a female insider, I understand all three, boy do I ever. As an outsider, I think, "Wait. Hold on. You're still the same person who just walked in here. How on earth can a number change your whole day like that? This is crazy...." Because it kind of is.

The bottom line is this: Weight trumps all. Good feelings, bad feelings, intelligent logic. The number on the scale can take each of those things and dump 'em right on their heads.

And what's even weirder? This is perhaps the most mighty unifying force we have as women. Old, young, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, East, West, pregnant, menopausal, working, stay-at-home, radical feminist, traditionalist -- we care, we get it, we understand the madness. I can't think of a single topic that we all (even if we don't like to admit it) agree upon more.

Why have we let this happen?


As a trainer, I see a lot of numbers that are classic health and fitness indicators: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat, inches, age, max reps, miles times, and so on and so forth. I do believe that they're all important, yes, even weight.

What I find baffling is our reaction to the numbers. When we find out our blood pressure is high, we've generally gotten to that place with the same exact habits that lead us to gain weight: a little too much laziness, to many treats, not enough vegetables, stress, a dash of genetics. Same with unbalanced cholesterol. But generally speaking, our reactions are so much different:

DOCTOR: Your blood pressure is high. It's really important to make some changes, even if it's hard.
US: You're right, what can I change?


DOCTOR: Your weight is creeping up. It's really important to make some changes, even if it's hard.
US [lip quivering, on the verge of tears, trying to look composed, will melt into a puddle once we get into the car]: Um, okay. Sure. Yup. I want to die.

Or then there's someone like me. This past year I maxed out at fifty push ups, learned to do pull ups for the first time, benched a hundred pounds (a lot for me), PR'd in the half marathon, PR'd in the full marathon, and dropped five percent body fat. I'm SUPER genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, and I managed to get that from borderline high, to a healthy range.

Am I happy about all of that? I really really am. Really, I am. Buuuuuuuuuuut, how much faster could I have run those races if I was at 145 instead of 150? THAT is on of the first questions that pops into my head.


So where do we go from here? Do we smash our scales and refuse to be weighed at the doctor? Do we announce our weights loud and proud to try to muscle ourselves into becoming okay with it? (LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, TODAY I WEIGH 154 WITH A BMI OF 23.4!!!! YOU ARE WELCOME).

I have no idea, because being at a healthy weight truly is important, so don't trash the scale just yet. Because seriously, thelast time I tucked my scale away for a few months, I gained seven pounds. Not the awesomest thing to have happen.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not wrong to want to lose a few pounds by any stretch of the imagination, I guess I wish we could turn down the amplified emotions we have that are connected to weight. Take it as another piece of data, just like we do with blood pressure and cholesterol, push up reps, and circumference measurements. Not have the Queen of the World or Please Bury Me in a Hole reactions that we tend to have to that digital number. To be able to stop connecting that number to our goodness and worth.


Lately, at work, I'm trying really hard to help people set fitness goals rather than weight loss goal. To stop posting a picture of their ideal Pinterest body on their fridge, and start posting a picture of the mountain they're planning to hike. Instead of a goal of 185, set a goal to do a mud run. Instead of a goal to make it to 199, make it a goal to run 199 miles in three months.

For now, it seems to be working at my little place of business. Because training for a hike, or a race, or to see a certain blood pressure reading gives us all a sense of accomplishment over something that we should really actually feel accomplished over. We don't need pictures of us posing on a scale, we need pictures of us rock climbing, or swimming across a lake, or playing soccer with our kids without keeling over.

So. Let's try to move weight down on the important list and focus on accomplishing some super empowering fitness goals instead.

My fitness goal?

Kill the Sugarloaf Marathon in May -- no matter how much I weigh.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This Shoe, That Shoe, Your Shoe, My Shoe

(Guess what?! We opened a running shop! The Rail Trail Run Shop in Augusta, Maine!)

Learn the basics of Biomechanics, the basics of YOUR biomechanics, 
and what it all means for your next shoe shopping trip. 

Running shoes have changed drastically over the past 20 years.  From the barefoot shoe to the ultra-cushioned shoe, theres no shortage when it comes to choices….which means you have a pretty good chance of ending up in the wrong pair for your body type.

On February 8th, we’ll help you unravel the hype, and find the shoe that will keep you running injury free.

Join us as Dr. Jared Lawson, Maine’s Running Chiropractor and Gait Guru teaches you the basics of biomechanics and walks you through the running shoe spectrum in his complimentary 30 Minute Presentation: This Shoe, That Shoe, Your Shoe, My Shoe. You’ll learn how the ideal foot works, how different shoes support and 
manipulate the movement of the foot, and most importantly, how to use the right shoe to meet your biomechanical patterns and prevent injuries. He’ll answer questions you have related to stride, gait, efficiency and injury, and he’ll be available for free one-on-one gait analysis and plenty of personal trouble shooting—on the house, of course.

Try on minimal shoes, rocker-bottomed shoes, traditional shoes, and ultra-cushioned shoes; peruse our winter clearance and save 20% off any shoe purchase. Plus, everyone who takes a test run will be entered to win a free pair of new shoes from The Rail Trail Run Shop!

Saturday February 8th at 11am
The Rail Trail Run Shop
50 Front Street, Augusta -- Across from the gazebo in Waterfront Park

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Running through Life's Troubles

Kennebec Valley Coaching had a nice little shout out in the Kennebec Journal today--you can read the article here. Since the article mentions this blog, I thought I should go ahead and post an update. For the first time in a month. I used to be such a super blogger--now I'm more of a super go-to-bed-at-8-o'clocker.

So. Anyhoo...

I've had a bad 2 weeks. A baaaaaad 2 weeks. It's been the kind of 2 weeks where gravity feels like it's pulling on your body extra hard--it takes a lot of umph to smile, and a lot more umph to get up and out of bed.

We all have clumps of weeks like this. It's part of the privledge of being human. We go through ups, downs, highs, lows, great races, and races where you accidentally poop your pants. Thankfully, it's the pants-pooping incidents that make the PR races feel so much greater.

So what's my point? During times like this, the last thing I even think about doing is going for a run. Beause seriously, how does one run and cry without falling into an open manhole? And more than that, I just want to lay around.

But guess what? Running is exactly what I should absolutely be doing. Not only does is release all kinds of feel good endorphins in the brain, it also helps with anxiety, it relieves stress, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, it gives you a change of scenery, a chance to see the world from a different perspective, and listen to the summertime birds. It's good for your physical heart, and it's good for your proverbial heart.

So. During these past 2 weeks have I been running?

Yes, I have been, but only because I have the support of the KVC running groups. They expect me to be there, smiling, joking, answering questions, and running with them. During the past 2 weeks, when I've heard someone say, "I'm gonna run after Lunch Pump," I go with them. If someone's having trouble with their motivation, I've been meeting up with them to try to rediscover some mojo. And for the second time in 2 weeks, a whole mess of KVCers will be at a road race, so I signed up.

If I didn't have KVC, I'd probably be in my basement learning how to play the XBox.

During the past year of KVC, personal things have happened to plenty of our runners. At this point we have almost 200 on our rosters, so it's bound to happen. There have been deaths, divorces, cancer, family difficulities, miscarriages, unemployment, you get the idea. Pick your own poison and add it to the list.

Sometimes, people need a break for running, and that's okay. Yet, somehow, despite these knock-you-on-your-you-know-what life events, lots of people have been running longer, stronger, and faster. They keep showing up, and during their times of turmoil, something great is coming to pass in their lives.

My point? The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I'll try it again without the semi-confusing cliche: People keep running because they have a group to do it with. When you can't stand to get out and run on your own, the group swallows you up in the laughs and conversation, and they carry you along. Even when they have no idea that they're doing it.

Just like it says in KVC's 2nd of 5 Philosophies:

There's Power in Groups
Group exercise training provides community, comaraderie, accountability, and friendly competition.

Whether it's KVC, or a club in Omaha, you owe it to yourself to find a running group. There's a bond that grows on the road, and it's a privledge to be able to experience it.

So thank you to my fellow KVCers, for giving me the much-needed gentle shove than I've been needed these past 2 weeks. My life is better because I have you all to run with.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Does Running Make you Fat? Part 1

Isn't that a weird question? If you were a random, non-running person on the street, you'd probably laugh if someone asked you that kind of thing, because du-uh, RUNNING MAKES PEOPLE SKINNY.

Or does it?

Honestly, I don't think there's a straight and easy answer to this question. And actually, it should probably be phrased more like this: Does Running Make YOU Fat?

But I'll start by saying this. On it's own, no--running doesn't make people fat. But their habits around running? Those might do it.

Here are a few things to think about...

1) A lot of people start running because they want to lose a bunch of weight. Either they actually have some weight to lose, or they *think* they have some weight to lose and the totally don't. Either way, this group of people, who make up a huge percentage of the running community, already think they're fat--whether or not it's true. And even when a heavier person loses some weight, guess what? They usually still think they're fat.

The truth is, runners can sometime be a twisted up group of people. They tend to be high acheivers, their own worst critics, and always working toward another goal. So before anything else, take an honest look at your sense of self, and how you interpret your own body. Chances are, you're probably just fine.

2) That said, there are lots of runners our there who I could safely call 'skinny fat.' In other words, they look slender and wear a small size, but have pretty poor muscle tone.When you see Olympic level runners on TV, and their bicep veins are popping out all over the place, I guarantee you that's not from running—those muscles develop in the weight room.

Runners are so incredibly infamous for not being able to do a pushup. Think about this: Most people running in a marathon, probably can't do 10, or even 1 single pushup. The ability to run 26.2 miles, but barely carry a bag of groceries? That's a fitness imbalance, and a 100% surefire way to get injured.

I say it every day--fitness is like a 3-point triangle. Stregnth, Flexibility, and Endurance. If you want an athletic build, you HAVE to focus on all 3.

3) Running burns a lot of calories, so running--especially longer distances--makes you really, really hungry. If you don't properly plan your food, this type of hunger totally opens you up to the overeating--guilt--running--overeating--guilt--running cycle.

Think about it this way: Most normal, grown women should eat about 1800 calories per day. Since we're dealing with [crazy] runner, let's pretend they're on a calorie--restricted diet, taking in about 1500 daily. If that runner goes out and does an 8 mile training run, they just burnt about 800 calories. Now their net calorie intake for the day is 700.

Maybe you're thinking, "Wow, that's awesome. I'd get really skinny."

No, you probably won't. Either you'll completely overeat during the next 24 hours, or your body will freak out, drop into starvation mode, and hang onto every little fat part on your body.

That 8-mile runner up there? They should have refueled with 800 EXTRA calories of good food--not cake, not pizza, not milkshakes. Something like a big old homecooked meal, and an extra mini-meal before bed.

When you refuel, you're not undoing what you just did during your run. You're PRESERVING what you just did in your run.

I'm gonna go ahead and repeat that one more time. When you refuel, you're not undoing what you just did during your run. You're PRESERVING what you just did in your run.

...to be continued.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Next Up...

I'm working on a post called, 'Does Running Make You Fat?'

Because sometimes it does.

Back later...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Race Report: Race the Runways Half Marathon

I kind of hate reading race reports, so I promise I'll keep this really short.

Did the Airport Challenge on Saturday--a one miler followed by a half marathon.

Ran the mile in basically a full snowsuit (see post below), because it was cold as frozen balls out there. Decided not to race the mile due to the icy-testicle-like conditions, and opted to run it as a warm-up. Chatted with a girl wearing toe shoes the whole time and ended up coming in around 8:55ish? I think?

Finished the half marathon in 1:45.38? I think? Came out to be something like 8:03 per mile. Totally happy with it, but totally wish I could have pulled off something more like, oh I don't know, 7:59.9999 per mile. It's not super far off from my best time, and when I think about the fact that I've been putting in about 12 miles per week because of my bastardly knee, I'm really happy.

The first 11 miles all averaged under 8 minutes per mile--anywhere between 7:45 and 7:52. Mile 11-12 was 8:30ish and the last mile was 9:30ish. My legs were super dead, and it was so freaking windy running down that wide open air strip. Not so fun, but that means I put it all out there.

I'm really glad it's over!

Next up? The Sugarloaf 15k. Then I'm moving to the 5k. My next goal is a 19:xx 5k. It's my own version of marrying a girl who's 22 years younger than I am.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Best Race Pictures EVER

This is what intimidation looks like. Don't be jealous.

The Half Marathon:

And the Mile: