Category Archives: Fitness

Live long and prosper

Looking good for an old lady!

Yesterday, April 23, 2013, I turned the BIG 33. (Notice my super amazing hand signals to tell you that) I remember when 33 seemed very old. I remember when 33 seemed very far away. Now, I’m living it and embracing it! I absolutely was transformed when I truly got the revelation that life happens in seasons and you better stop, smell the roses, and enjoy each season as it comes because eventually that season will fade away. The 30’s have been very good to me and have truly been some of the most life transforming, God honoring years and seasons that I have ever walked in. Watch out world because Jessica hasn’t changed an ounce. I still am full of optimism, vitality, spunk, the Holy Ghost, and now I’ve got all of these things combined with a teeny tiny bit of maturity 🙂



My day started out amazing with 3 homemade cards. Ok. This actually is a lie. In the interest of truth-telling while trying to maintain a vestige of privacy for my family all I will say is that at 3 AM someone came in our room and invited us to a party at their crib. Only their crib was a bunk bed and the party was the fact the bunk bed, sheets, blankets, mattress, pillows, and stuffed animals were covered in urine. Yes folks, I partied my birthday in with some fun PJ changing, sheet washing, febreeze spraying, laundry washing, and frustrated rambling.

Back to the cards……..Everyone of my boys made me a card, including my 31-year-old boy. This meant the world to me! My main man wrote me a love note with 33 reasons why he loves me and my 2 little men showed me their love with a Football themed card (literally EVERY woman’s dream) and a poem about playing games and naming names and how much fun that will be in repetition. I also had a gift that I love. It is the cutest little 26.2 marathon charm for my key chain or rear view mirror or any other place that I choose to show my love and adoration for the self flagellation and torture known as long distance running. The . for the .2 on the charm is a little tennis shoe. My men know me.



The goodness of the day just kept coming. I got my free Starbuck’s Rewards birthday drink. It was a triple grande extra hot skinny peppermint mocha of which I drank outside on the patio at Starbuck’s because God showed me favor by giving me a day in the 70’s and sunny, of which we have seen maybe 2 such days in the entirety of 2013. I know God loves me more than he loves you if your birthday is today, because it is back in the 30’s and rainy today. Sorry, I’m just that amazing.

Also, that afternoon I got a call on my phone from Edible Arrangements that my neighbor had signed for a delivery for me. I was so pumped and told myself that I would have to put a serious smack down on my neighbor if she even looked at my arrangement with lust in her heart. That puppy was mine! I was super shocked and excited and couldn’t wait to get home and check it out. Turns out that my Bridge Church family, the greatest people in the world, chose to honor up, down, and all around by sending that amazing bouquet to my house and celebrate my big day. I also got countless cards, texts, Emails, and words of encouragement from these dear friends of mine. I am so #blessed!!! Every single comment meant the world to me.



Before I could go on my birthday celebration run, I had to deliver my little men to school. I walked Reese to the bus stop and as soon as the driver pulled up, the entire bus stood up and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. My heart melted. Little Reese looked on with his friend Josh in delight because he had pulled off the surprise of the decade!


My most handsome lunch date. Also at Melt with me were my husband and our church planting and strategy friend. Lunch was a church strategy meeting. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do on my birthday than discuss soul winning while elbow deep in french fries. God is good to me.

After taking the boys to school, returning home and running 6 miles/walking 1 mile for a total of 7, I showered and raced to get Gentry from school so he could go to my business lunch with me. Usually on a day that I know is going to be incredibly hectic and fast paced, I like to get up at 5 AM and get my run done before the morning madness and ahead of the day’s tasks. However, my sweatband twin hubby had an equally as hectic, if not insanely more hectic day on the docket than I did. Because of that I let him have the honor of the pre-dawn run while I tried to snooze an extra 2 minutes.

Nothing says LIVE LONG AND PROSPER like a deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwich and 78 pounds of fresh-cut fries. Folks, that is what I had.  If you are ever in the Cleveland area, you must eat at “Melt Bar and Grilled”. It will change your life once you recover from the triple bypass surgery you need from eating there.

Westside Monte Cristo Grilled Cheese



My night ended with a 2 hour church staff/strategic team meeting and one of the most adorable birthday cakes I had ever seen. Thanks to my mom for having them design an avatar on the cake that looked exactly like me. Hopefully since the icing girl was running hard, she ran all the calories right off of it before we dove in.

Full disclosure:

I know you are thinking I look crazy in all of my birthday pictures. I really did want to fix my hair nice and look good on my birthday, but I’ve found that maintaining a consistent exercise regime (read #runstreak, of which I celebrated Day 526 on my birthday and 527 this morning, strength training, and marathon training) while church planting, raising 2 kids, and saving the world takes a lot of time. I’m just grateful to have clean hair and smell like body wash and not sweat.


Is there anyone else that eats horrible for a whole week around your birthday? I’m starting to feel the digestive negative side effects. The part-time vegetarian/want to be clean eater that is also embracing without remorse her love for ice cream as long as it is balanced with the reality of my terrible FAT GENES is coming back out swinging today. I’ll update you on that soon.

Does anyone else have it determined in their heart to embrace life, getting older, and to enjoy every season of life making each one amazing for what they offer?

Have you ever eaten at Melt Bar and Grill (It has been featured on the travel channel and Food Paradise. I’m not going to lie, it is my favorite Cleveland institution)? What do you order there?


Hail Mary, full of grace……Again!

Seeding and Leading (Set up at the Bridge Church)

As you can see, it’s been a full year since I’ve “wo-manned” my blog. I have started and stopped blogging consistently on several occasions, but I have  said my obligatory “Hail Mary’s”, I am confessing to you now, and on your part, it is time for the grace to flow, yet again.  I have always valued and enjoyed writing, and I am a prolific reader of numerous blogs. I just can’t in good conscience let the world exist without the deep insights that I have to share with it.

You can read some details in the “About” section, but in summary, my life consists of these components:


In the vast resources of my brain, I will share with you all of these segments of my life. Here is my solemn, sacred vow:

1) I will blog consistently (In fact, I pledge to fall into a blog routine and a predictable schedule/habit of blogging that you can follow even if you aren’t on amphetamines. This schedule is going to organically take route and I will keep you informed of it once the voices tell me to.)

2) I will talk about running

3) I will talk about eating

4) I will talk about my family

5) I will talk about people

6) I will talk about God

7) I will talk about leadership

8) I will talk about health

9) I will vigilantly and adamantly contend for the fact that YOU/I are/am Mind, Soul, and Body and NONE of these items operate independently.

10) I will NEVER post pictures about cats with a caption stating affection or in any way claiming they are lovable/cute

I transported in all of my old posts from my old blog. If you are bored, scared, fighting insomnia, intrigued, or otherwise have no life, please feel free to scroll through these blogs and comment on them. You will find evidence of my on again/off again relationship with blogging and my need for public confession about it.

What about you………………..

Have you ever loved something but had trouble staying consistent with it?

Do you have an affinity to post pictures about cats and how adorable you think they are?

Passing the "Century" Mark

Me and My honey at the finish line of the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio 2011
“Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is some of us are in training, some are not”. 
Dr George Sheehan
#runstreak Day 150 in the books. Gearing up to PR hopefully at 1:59:59 at my May Half Marathon Race.
This week while running I was hot, cold, tired, energized, sweaty, revived, inspired, focused, ready to quit, ready to run, and ready to rule the world…………..all at the same time.
2012 in review (1st Quarter):
January:                        117.89 Miles Run at a 6.2 MPH Average Pace Burning 12,088 Calories
February:                     124.20 Miles Run at a 6.3 MPH Average Pace Burning 14,811 Calories
March:                         146.37 Miles Run at a 6.5 MPH Average Pace Burning 17,365 Calories
April (Up until 4/11/12):  55.56 Miles Run at a 6.5 MPH Average Pace Burning 6,711 Calories
Total (Up until 4/11/12): I have run 444.02 milesBurnt 50,975 calories– and Averaged a 6.3 MPH pace Running
I’m 44% of the way to my goal of 1,000 miles run in 2012, only 556 miles left to run. I’m thinking of reassessing my goal because we are only 1/4 of the way through the year and I’m almost 1/2 of the way to my goal. I want to always keep a challenge before my eyes.

My average pace increased from 6.2 MPH Average Pace to 6.5 MPH Average Pace due to speed drills and strength training. Plus, the difference between running in the dead of winter and nicer weather is significant, at least for me. My shorter runs have sometimes been as fast as an 8:23/mile average pace, but those faster times are balanced out by my longer slow endurance building runs.
In running, there are no time outs, half times, substitutions, or designated hitters. Running is the only true sport. It is up to you and you alone to perform and your greatest competitor is yourself. Ruminating on these facts brings me a great sense of pride. I’ve gotten to the point that I no longer really care if anyone else knows about my running, it is my own private little paradise.I’m carrying around a huge secret everywhere that I go. One of my favorite kid’s shirts says “My mom ran a marathon this morning. What did your mom do?” Now, the fact that I’m blogging about it seems to contradict the fact that it’s my secret and my private paradise, but there is a great sense of accountability that comes with linking up with other runners in the blogosphere, on twitter, and in private Facebook groups. Without the accountability of other’s, there are definitely days that I could have convinced myself to take a day off here and there, but at this point, the #runstreak owns me and it brings me great pleasure. Once you have run well over 100 days and are nearing the 6 month mark of running everyday with no break, you are intrinsically motivated to continue. Sometimes envisioning the race day crowds holding “Chuck Norris has never run a marathon” or “My sport is your sports punishment” signs can make even the most routine and mundane of runs a complete adrenaline booster. Whatever mantra gets you through the run can be the key to your success, and the great thing is no mantra is better than another. It’s whatever makes you run harder, faster, and longer, so start memorizing some energizing “pick me up” lines.

Endurance running is an indescribable experience for me. I’m the girl that would literally about pass out in elementary school during the Phys Ed President’s Physical Fitness test. I dreaded every year that we had to run a mile to be scored for some statistical analysis of the general American public. I especially dreaded running laps in Freshman and Sophomore gym class because there were always cute boys there, and I’m not one of the perfumed up honey’s that you see at the local Urban Active Fitness. When I run, I look like I’m running. I sweat. I breathe heavy, and sometimes I wear Kinesio tape on my leg to support my Achilles Tendon. In light of my physical fitness history, you can imagine why I constantly tweet about my running and blog about it and the beautiful thing is, if it annoys you, no one is forcing you to read it. I’m the king of the world! (It is Titanic celebration week so humor me.)

I’m celebrating the review of my 2012 running so far. Since the end of the 1st quarter of the year is upon us, I wanted to assess my goals and review them and share them with you. I’m hoping to inspire those who are just starting out to know that you can do it and show those that are way beyond me where they use to be so they can maintain perspective of the work it takes to make significant improvements in both speed and endurance with running. The “century” mark celebration refers to a distance of 100. Whenever the term century is used in sports, it’s used to speak about going 100 or more miles. I remember when I was as big as a house pregnant for Gentry, my husband rode his bike on his first century bike tour, then turned around and rode another century the next morning. I really thought he was nuts. Who wants to ride their bike 200 miles in 2 days? Of course, I was jealous that he was getting buff on his bike while I expanded to Martian proportions baking a bun in my oven, but I had not gotten the heart of an athlete yet. Now, I have found a whole sub group of people who run 100 plus miles at a time. These people are called Ultra Marathoners and Ultra Endurance Athletes.Believe it or not, these people know intrigue me. Instead of it being shocking for me to hear about people running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days, I dream about doing it one day. I doubt it will happen because I don’t have the celebrity of an endorsed athlete to pull it off, but every month, every year, and every decade I can add miles and speed to my repertoire and no one can take that away from me.
Start training today. Find the athlete within. Strong is the new skinny. Running gear is the new “little black dress”.

Run with Passion

I like to revisit these pictures often to show myself I can do it, I have done it, and I can do it even better next time!I don’t think this is the most flattering pose I have, but I’m doing it.

Verse Lyrics from “Chosen Generation” by Chris Tomlin
(This song goes through my mind continuously every time I run. I love the opportunity for quiet meditation that running affords me.)

We run with passion for your name we run
you broken every chain we run
Our god will not be moved
Our god will never be shaken
We run to you we run

 Running Report (According to my Garmin and the Treadmill Computer):
Over the last 30 days I have Run: 122.69 miles at an average pace of  6.2 MPH
Burning around 14,575 running calories
Over the last 7 days I have Run: 28.62 miles at an average pace of 6.3 MPH
Burning around 3,361 running calories

We know that one pound is equal to 3,500 calories, so if I hadn’t been running the last 7 days, I’d probably be up a pound. A pound doesn’t seem too bad, until at the end of a year, when you notice you gained 20-50 pounds without even realizing it. Pounds have a way of creeping up with stealth until you have gained more than you can continue to control. This should be a great lesson to all of you that exercise matters. Every calorie torched is a calorie off your tush.

This week I’ve had 3 treadmill days. Monday and Tuesday were still snowy, icy, and slushy, so I hopped on the treadmill at the YMCA before doing my strength training routine. I will admit on Tuesday, I was pushed on to new speeds when I looked up and saw the Dr. Oz show on the YMCA TV about obese women who are paid by men to eat. It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen or heard of. Apparently there is a sub-culture that is into something called “Feederism”. One 600 pound plus lady said men pay her so that they can smell her fat armpits. I couldn’t look at the screen and read the closed captioning any longer, because it was making me physically sick to watch. Don’t let people steal your dignity like that. However, it did push me on and I’m sure that haunting image will keep me out of the ice cream tub on nights I don’t have the calories banked for it.
Day 94 of my #runstreak was this week and I went 9.4 miles. (Sometimes I like to match my days and distances to entertain myself and mark my territory of accomplishment.) This is my longest distance since November, and it went well despite the extreme amount of slush, leftover snow, mud puddles, and overall wetness. The temperature was perfect for me, somewhere around 30 degrees. I’m probably the only person in Northern Ohio dreading summer. My runs are always so much stronger and more inspired in cold weather temperatures.  I am getting a blister on my little toe, from wet socks I presume, but sometimes in spring running you can’t avoid it. The same thing happened last year when I first started frequent running in the rain. I figure you can’t predict the weather in Cleveland and I’m not going to let an excuse block me. Generally I would choose outdoor running over treadmill running any day, including in rain and snow. Sometimes though, I just don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with it, and on those days, I’m thankful for the YMCA.  
I can consider myself an official runner now because I had my first real experience with chaffing. I wore my Nathan hydration belt so I could carry water, and somehow my shirt had come out from under it and the belt rubbed my stomach the entire run. I came home to a hideous area of chaffing on my stomach from it. If I had been out much longer, I think it would’ve been bleeding because it looks like little open wounds. I know that is TMI, but there are quite a few ugly realities that exist in the world of middle to long distance running that are generally topics not covered by the “polite” population. When you are around runners, pretty much every socially taboo subject is acceptable fodder. (Including discussion on bladder and bowel functionality.)  I usually take really good precautions to avoid chaffing, but I had a wardrobe malfunction. I’m gearing up for a 10 mile run next week to celebrate hitting the 100 plus days of run streaking mark. 
So far my Achilles is doing fairly well. I wore Kineseo tape on it for my long run for the first time in probably over a month and it was more of a preventative measure. I am not getting ahead of myself though and am still taking my pace, and even distances, more slowly than I normally probably would. 
The #runstreak has really been a time of growing and self exploration for me. I never in 100 years would’ve dreamed that I would be obsessed with running and/or exercise in the way that I have become. Contrary to popular belief or opinion, all of this running and working out actually takes very little time from my schedule. You may want to believe that I am spending countless hours logging miles and that you don’t have that kind of time, but in reality, you can start a fitness routine with 20-60 minutes a day. Unless I am training for a race, I almost never workout over an hour. If you watch even 1 to 2 TV shows a day, you have the time to workout. It is a matter of time management and prioritization. Get up earlier, eliminate a TV show, eliminate some social networking time, rearrange your lunch hour, and the possibilities are endless. Give up your excuses today. I gave mine up two years ago and everyday I’m improving, growing, building strength, building endurance, and just having an overall blast.

My Fad Diet

The running medals/race display shelf my hubby got me for Christmas 2011.
~~~~~~~~~MY FAD DIET~~~~~~~~~
Fresh air, fresh fruit,
Light meals, light moods,
A good sweat, goals set,
Body moving, no food soothing,
No static, don’t panic,
Help yourself, help each other,
Love your body, there’s no other,
Heart beats, healthy eats,
A deep breath, a good stretch,
On your feet, eat less meat,
TV off, get your sleep,
And don’t second guess.-Sherry Pagoto

I read that poem on “Fad” diets and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would share with the blogosphere. I am more convinced than ever that life is a journey. Far too often we want to take the microwave approach to everything. We are either all in or all out. We are either binging or dieting. One person I talked to the other day is on yet another “diet”. Over the years I have known this person they have vacillated between hundreds of dollars of vitamins a month, gluten free diets (with no allergies), all organic diets, and any other diet plan you can think of, but this person has always been overweight. They have yo-yo’d constantly. I’m always lending a supporting ear, but I am wary of people who declare they are eating nothing but meat. How sustainable is a life of only boiled chicken? Perhaps it is for you, but for me, I enjoy life. I enjoy eating. I am learning to enjoy and embrace the body God gave me. I feel that God wants us to find pleasure in food, otherwise he wouldn’t have given us taste buds. Food is fuel, but if that is all it was meant to be, God would’ve made us to inhale Goo full of nutrients and then race down the road of life. He put Adam and Eve in a garden full of delicious food and perfect plants, so don’t be discouraged if you love to eat. Just, learn how to eat well and take care of yourself. That means indulge and splurge sometimes. You’ll honestly get to the point where the indulgences become fewer and farther between and you will crave health food. I have literally been on a grapefruit binge lately because I crave the natural goodness. I am so thankful to be at the stage of my life where I desire to make the better choices most of the times. I am a woman though, so you know sometimes I just have to have chocolate, and not the healthy 90% cacao kind. I mean the kind piled high with fudge and ice cream:) You live only once on this earth, enjoy it. However, if you want to live a long, healthy, fulfilling life, learn balance and by all means, get off your tail and shake what your mama gave you. Exercise is one of life’s joys. You heard me right, JOYS!
Who would’ve thought that some of my most prized Christmas gifts in 2011 were things I would’ve hated a few years ago? I got my running medals/race promotion display from my husband, as well as my Garmin 110 GPS running watch, and got a Runner’s World Calendar and running socks in our gift basket from the Bridge Church. I can’t believe I ever even survived without my running watch. I used to use the RunKeeper App on my iPhone and I would run with podcasts and music on. However, since I received my running watch I’ve been running “naked”. This means that I’ve been running with no music and no podcasts. I am so totally addicted to “naked” running now. In the chaos of life, I can’t even tell you how amazing it has been to be “present” and in the moment on my runs. The exception to this is anytime I’m on a treadmill. I MUST have something going to keep my sanity on treadmill runs.
Notes from my Garmin 110 GPS Running Watch:
Miles Run over the Last 7 Days: 30.13 (Hooray! I blew past my goal of a #marathonaweek after missing it by a few steps last week.) 
Calories Burnt in 7 Days running: 3,637 (We won’t talk about calories consumed since it was Superbowl week. LOL. Can anyone say “Doritos”?)
I ran day 86 of my #runstreak today. Can you believe it? I’ve run 86 straight days in sickness and in health. In sunshine, rain, ice, and snow, nothing has slowed my go!! 🙂
My average speed has increased slowly and steadily. I am now regularly logging sub 9 minute miles. I don’t think you can even understand the significance of this for me. I literally remember the first time I ran 5 miles in 60 minutes. I started crying and called my husband rejoicing. I never thought I would hit the 12 minute a mile mark on a medium run. (Medium for me is 5-8 miles) Now, I’m consistently getting sub 9 minute miles (ranging from 8:45-8:55 minutes a mile). My average overall is a 9:22-9:30 mile right now for my 5 miles and over runs. I need to amp this up if I’m going to hit my sub 2 hour half marathon, but even if I don’t make it, I know I’m getting fitter, stronger, and faster. No one can take away your running milestones. That is one reason running is so special. The only person you are in competition with is yourself and everyday you can see a better you emerging. Lace your shoes up and get outside. Start today. Start with one mile. Start with walking. It all starts by putting one foot in front of the other. That is the beauty of physical health, it’s not complicated. It’s kind of like salvation. People love to complicate life’s most simple messages. Salvation is by grace through faith, it’s not by your own works and physical fitness is just one foot in front of the other. Don’t stress with all of the “P90X”, “Insanity”, and “Crossfit” plans out there. I’m not knocking them. They are great in context, but sometimes we don’t need insanity, we just need to roll of the couch!
One more thing I want to mention is that you have to find inspiration and twitter and facebook is a great place for that. Join some running groups either in real life or on social networking. It will help you eliminate all of your excuses. There is a guy I found on twitter that lives right here in Cleveland, Ohio that is my “no more excuse” go to guy. He literally gets up at 3:45 AM EVERYDAY to run. He is a “big wig” at a corporation and his wife is a pediatrician and they have several children and that is the only way he can fit his runs in. So,when my alarm goes off at 5:50 AM or 6:00 AM and I don’t want to budge and I feel sorry for myself because it’s 20 degrees and snowing outside, I know I can get on my twitter an see that he has already run 14 miles in the same weather and did it faster and more enthusiastically than me. This gets me going for some reason. His life is way more crazy than mine and he did it. He logs about 70-80 miles a week and while I don’t do that and probably never will, thinking about his tweets gives me the kick I need.

Persevere, Exercise

 As recorded by my Garmin Connect GPS running watch and online dashboard (1/30/2012):
I have run 110.85 miles in the last 30 days and burnt roughly 11,500 calories running.
I have run 25.43 miles in the last 7 days and burnt roughly 3,000 calories running.
I am 11% of the way to my goal of running 1,000 miles this year.
I missed my #marathonaweek this last 7 days by .77 miles. UGH!!! If only I had charted better I would’ve definitely gotten it in. It’s my first week of 2012 to not run a #marathonaweek. Thankfully, my biggest goal of 2012 is 1,000 miles overall and maintaining the #runstreak all year, rather than specifically running 26.2 miles a week. This is to help me stay injury free. Sometimes too many miles too soon will catapult you onto the disabled list. That is what happened to me last year. I decided in a split second to go from a half marathon to a full marathon in 4 weeks having, at that time, never ran over 13.1 miles at a time. When I reached the point of my training where I was running 16 miles at a time and then 18 miles at a time, I blew out my Achilles Tendon. A whole other host of weird medical things surrounded that as well, like the fact that I have one leg shorter than the other and never knew it, but the bottom line was that I wasn’t prepared for the sudden increase in mileage that I inflicted on myself. If I maintain #marathonaweek levels in 2012, I’ll run over 1,300 miles this year and I’m not sure if I’m 100% ready for that though with my Achilles issues. I’m sure going to go for it though, but I’m going to use caution and wisdom. It’s better to set a goal that is too lofty and only succeed at 50% of it, then to set either no goal or one that is super low. It’s like taking 4 steps forward and one step back. Instead of focusing on the one step back, focus on the 3 steps you moved ahead!

Persevere Friends! Exercise! 

Today is Monday and I’m wishing this Monday was a little more manic. Manic being defined by grandiose thoughts and energy, not being defined by an extra long to do list. I always have one of those. Lately some of my runs have been feeling uninspired. Blame it on the January Blah’s. Chalk it up to the absolutely bizarre winter weather we have had this year. Consider the fact that I keep somehow contracting the same head cold and sinus infection over and over and over again. Or, perhaps it can be attributed to the fact that my first official race of 2012 is still well over 3 months away. Regardless, some of the “Eye of the Tiger” tunes that regularly play in my head and some of the fantasies that I have surrounding me beating a Kenyan in a foot race, have died down lately. It can’t be said of me though that my passion for fitness, health, and nutrition has waned. It is natural for human beings to go through ebbs and flows in life and for our bodies to cycle in and out of passion for things, but the number one indicator of success in any area of life is perseverance. Even the Bible speaks to this on numerous occasions. Matthew 10:22 finishes out by saying “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” So, in the spirit of perseverance, I keep going.

Weighing myself daily keeps me accountable. If I’ve eaten one too many scoops of IceCream, or a whole saltshaker’s worth of too much sodium, the scale tells me very bluntly the next morning and I know to focus harder on my holistic ways that day to balance out the damage. Eventually you learn to shun all that stuff because you just don’t like how disgusting it makes your body feel. I enjoy eating healthy and staying the course 80% of the time because my body is a machine that needs the correct fuel and enjoys functioning on the good stuff. The #runstreak keeps me accountable. The fact that I’ve put all over FaceBook, twitter, and my blog how healthy I am and how much I exercise, surely keeps me accountable. The advantages of social networking in my health journey are enormous. I am not one that would find any benefit to groups like Weight Watchers. In fact, if you see that I’ve gained 5 pounds, I could care less. If I enjoyed my food and I’m feeling good about myself, a public weigh in will not hold me accountable. What does hold me accountable is that all of the blogosphere knows I’ve run 78 straight days and that I’m participating in a #runstreak. I’m linked up to neighbors and friends that I guarantee if they don’t see me out pounding the pavement, will say something. I feel accountable to those I’ve inspired to get more fit, eat healthier, and put one foot in front of the other. So, I guess you can say that I’m more concerned about my overall health and well being because of those watching me (including my children) and those inspiring me on the sidelines and those that I’m inspiring than I am about some pesky number on the scale. I will admit though, I do not like that number to budge in the wrong direction but mainly because it is an indicator of how healthy I’m eating and how much I’m working out, not because I have some phantom number I’m supposed to be.

In 2012 I started a new fitness routine too. I used to go to Curves, the circuit training gym for women. It served its purpose in my life to get me off my tail and jump start my weight loss routine, but I found that I quickly outgrew it. I began running and reached a point where I was no longer getting any more toned, but maintaining. I decided that in January I would join the YMCA with my husband. I had multiple motivations for choosing the YMCA over other gyms, one being the free child care and two being the family atmosphere and programs my children could get involved with, not to mention their mission and vision statement and how it aligns with my values. Anyway, I’ve been doing Nautilus machines and pumping iron since January 2 three times a week and I have seen a drastic change in my abs, arms, back, and legs. It is amazing how one month doing weight bearing exercise, instead of just resistance training, has transformed my body. I tell you this to say, keep your workout routine fresh. I may be running only half inspired, but at least my trips to the gym are inspired. Lately, the men over the age of 70, have been referring to me as “muscles” at the gym.

In 2012 I also decided to increase my water intake. I’ve always been a big drinker, especially of water, but I decided I would start tracking it. I have been striving to drink over 1 gallon of water a day. I realized that I was drinking a good amount, but no where near a gallon. This is good for your skin, and definitely helps stave off hunger pangs. I’ve noticed from personal experience, as well as from information that I’ve read, that oftentimes we confuse hunger and the urge to snack with thirst. Also, if I am going to be a successful runner and PR at my Spring half marathon, I need to be super well hydrated. I am tracking every ounce I drink on my “LiveStrong” iPhone app, which is also where I track all of my calories.

Anyway, to conclude this random post to touch base with all those interested in my running, I haven’t been dreading my runs, just chasing that “high”. Sometimes a run doesn’t put you into a zen like state, but you never, ever, ever regret putting on your shoes, lacing up, and heading out the door. This week I’m officially beginning my training for the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio.  I’m only 95 days away from gathering with thousands of runners across Ohio and the USA all chasing health, PR’s, wellness, accomplishments, and natural highs. With or without “Wizard of Oz” level winds, which have been the norm the last couple of weeks in Cleveland, a run will always leave you a sense of accomplishment, especially when you are training for a race. Whether you choose to endure the pelting snow and ice with your YakTrax on, or venture inside to stare at a wall while you pound one mile after the next on a treadmill, when you are done, you are done. When you’re so sweaty that people think you’re on the verge of a heart attack, even after running in 12 degree temperatures, you can wear that smell with pride. Sometimes you have to fight harder than others for what you know is your personal best, but it is always worth the battle.


“One reason you may not be feeling like you are a person of purpose is if you are not functioning as a person of purpose. Live on purpose.”-Dr. Tony Evans

(The above quote only relates indirectly to this particular blog post. I really liked it though, so I thought I’d share.)

Tracked with my Garmin 110 GPS Running Watch:

As of 1/21/2012 I’m 8% of the way to my goal of running 1,000 miles this year.
Over the last 7 days I’ve run 26.31 miles and burnt 3,133 calories running.

YakTrax Snow/Ice “Cleats”. Tried them for the first time this week and they are a worthy purchase if you plan on running or walking outdoors in the winter. They have them for $19.99 at Dick’s Sporting Goods and my husband and I are able to share a pair because you just add them to the bottom of your existing tennis shoe. We bought a size Medium.

In Cleveland they say just wait 5 minutes and the weather will be different. I am finding this to be crazily true. Since moving here in 2010, I have started to grow accustom to the fact that there is no normal weather wise. The #runstreak has made this far more clear and plain than ever before. I remember one day in the fall while training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I made my run plan for the week based on my Weather Channel for iPhone app. This proved to be disastrous. I scheduled a 15 mile run for the day we had a 10% chance of rain and scheduled my cross training on the day my app said an 80% chance of rain. This was prior to the #runstreak (now I run everyday in rain or shine, in sickness or in health) and I was ticked when the rain started pouring about a mile into my 15 mile run and the sun was shining brightly the day I was at the gym cross training. This happened numerous times during my running in 2011. I’ve decided to not make too many plans in 2012 and just go for it. I’ve already run in the worst possible conditions anyway. During a spring run in 2011 I ran in lightening, thunder, hail, and rain. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend putting your life at risk like that, but sometimes you have to get the miles in. I wasn’t the only runner out that day though, so I had other psycho’s to stare at through the hail. Coincidentally, I ran a PR on that 8 mile run. I’m sure it was the fact I felt like I was being chased by lightening bolts that put the spring in my step.

So, in keeping with the spirit of Cleveland winter, over the last 10 days we’ve had glimpses into every season but summer. I’ve run in spring conditions complete with the sun and birds chirping. I’ve run in cloudy, dreary fall like temperatures and conditions. And, finally, I’ve run in brutal winter. I started this last week full of energy and very jazzed about my health and my #runstreak and have hit every high and low in between. First, my running times and mileage were impeded by last weekends snow/ice storm (pre Yaktrax) on Sunday and Monday. Also, whether I run indoors or outdoors is also determined on my children. If they are in school or out of school and if my husband is working from his office at home and can keep an eye on them, or if he is in the community or at business meetings away from his home office. My kids are way too big for jogging strollers and not quite big enough to ride bikes alongside my longer runs yet, so sometimes I go to the YMCA and use the treadmill solely for their free child watch feature. Both of my boys have told me they are running marathons at some point though. I have glorious visions of our family of 4 crossing a finish line holding hands someday at a huge race, like the ING New York City Marathon. A mom can dream can’t she? 🙂

Back to this weeks running story……..I ran 6 miles on the Treadmill at the YMCA on Tuesday and felt pretty good, despite the fact I ran indoors, only to start feeling sick Tuesday afternoon and evening, a feeling that hung on until Thursday evening. I had some sort of stomach virus coupled with a sinus infection and it really sucked the life out of me. It was one of those illnesses though where you have to keep going. I still had appointments to keep, people to host at my house, Foundations classes, music practice, and office work that wouldn’t wait for my illness to pass. I thought if none of this stuff lets me be sick, then I had to keep the #runstreak alive too. I decided to run on the Treadmill Wednesday because I didn’t have the mental fortitude to tough out the rough headwinds while keeping myself from heaving. Two treadmill miles Wednesday felt worse than 6 miles Tuesday. Thursday I was slowly feeling somewhat better, so I went out for another 6 miles and averaged a 9:33 mile overall, which is still slow. Yesterday, Friday, the temperatures were registering -5 degrees, and having come off of an illness, I decided to do the treadmill again and logged only 3 miles. I did 9:22 miles though, so I’m almost back up to my current fitness levels. I am not one that can mentally pull off a long treadmill run very often, especially when I wasn’t completely up to par. Three to Six miles is long enough to stare at a wall while listening to leadership and preaching podcasts. (As a side note, sometimes I listen to music, but I like to run outside with nothing and build up my leadership skills and spirit when running on a treadmill by listening to podcasts.)

Today was warmer, around 20 degrees, but was a winter wonderland. I snapped on the YakTrax and went for a difficult 3.25 miles. ( I found out later that I had inadvertently run the #twitterroadrace In addition to pushing for people to #runstreak and run at least a marathon a week #marathonweek, fitness bloggers everywhere are uniting for 5K’s calling them #twitterroadrace and you just post your time on twitter and see how you did compared to everyone else. I think you have to run with a GPS and be able to upload and prove your time. Twitter is a great way to connect with other runners and athletes and keep motivating and inspiring yourself. You can also do the hash tags #runchat and #seenonmyrun for further help and entertainment)  Nothing in my  neighborhood had been plowed since it is Saturday, so I had to pick my legs up high and try to run in the street in tire tracks. Unfortunately there weren’t lots of tire tracks since no one had been out and about. It was a fun, invigorating run though. Running in deep snow is more difficult than you think. Like I’ve stated in other blogs, it feels like you are running through sand and the headwinds were strong today. A friendly neighbor expressed his concern to me. He apparently didn’t think a little lady needed to be out running post snow Apocalypse. I thanked him for his kindness and just kept running. This week was about contrasts in my attitude, running speed, running conditions, and mileage. My mileage is down overall this week because of the mixture of weather and illness, but my streak is 69 days in with no end in sight.

I went over the hurdle I was most concerned about this week, the hurdle of what happens to my streak when I’m sick. Thankfully, I almost never get sick, so hopefully I won’t have to jump this hurdle often. However, I know that if I am sick I can always head out the door or to the treadmill and at least complete one to two lousy measly miles. I will pull from the mental fortitude and strength I’m gaining from this streak for my marathon this year. When I’m doing a 1:59 half marathon (which will be a PR) and crossing the finish line of my full marathon, I’ll be grateful for every day I slogged through.

2012 will hold my 5 th half marathon and first full marathon since my marathon plans were stolen from me by injury last year. I also plan to log over 1,000 miles over the course of this year. I started the year with 800 miles as my goal, but was already 10% of the way there not even a full month into the year, so I set a new more challenging, yet attainable goal. My Garmin tracks it all for me and I’ll report to you. For now, bundle up and go for a run. The snow never hurt anybody that was dressed appropriately (no shorts and tank tops for January runs).

I am Tim Tebow

It really never is too late to reinvent yourself. Every blog on this page is all about exploring the power that each of us has within us to go further, do more, push harder, and accomplish more than we ever could have dreamed. I also believe that if we have the Spirit of God in us, we can do things, even in our own physical bodies, that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I guess you could call this the “Tim Tebow” theory of life. Sure, you don’t have to be a Christian or a Spiritual person to accomplish things in the business world or on the athletic field. We know this because the Bible tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust. That rain can be both the rain of blessing and the rain of sorrow. This just simply lets us know what we all already knew and that is that life isn’t always fair while we are in these mortal bodies. But, we do know that one of the key attributes of God is justice, so we can just let things slide and know that He will work it out someday. Sometimes things aren’t even worked out in our lifetime, but there is always a day of reckoning. The hope we have as believers is that when it is all worked out, and that day of reckoning comes, whether it is in this life or the next, it will be worked for our good. (Romans 8:28) The “Tim Tebow” theory of life is tied directly to that concept. We all know that even with all of his prayers and John 3:16’s, he still lost to the Patriots. However, he lives this scripture (to my knowledge and what I can see), and so should you.
 Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV)

Whatever that we do in every area of our life from the athletic, to the mundane, to the necessary, to the exciting, we need to dedicate to God. That being said, becoming as healthy and strong in your body as you can is very glorifying to God. It is telling God that you value the flesh that He gave you when He formed you in your mother’s womb. The Bible tells us that He lives in temples not made by hands, meaning you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. At my church, the Bridge Church, we live by the thought that a church is not a building or a denomination or a social club, but it is a body of believers being the hands and feet of God on this earth.  A church is the people. By that definition, I better keep my body as healthy as I can because I am a representative of God. I am the temple that the Holy Spirit dwells in. I saw a shirt once that said ” I have the body of a God……….Buddah. 🙂 Too many Christians could rock that shirt well.

 I came across a passage of scripture today that really convicted me in regards to a healthy lifestyle. I still don’t like to see scriptures like this because I don’t have it all under control yet. Sometimes I still eat way too much junk or spend far too much time thinking about food. Pastor Jentezen  Franklin calls this being ruled by “King Stomach”. No man can serve two masters. If you obsess about anything in life, it can become an idol to you. Dethrone King Stomach and King anything that occupies too much of your thought life and time.

Proverbs 23:1-3: “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. 3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.”

The word of God says basically it is better to just die than be given over to your appetite. I think this is true of not only the literal physical appetite towards food, but all of the appetites that our flesh desires. The bible tells us that while almost everything is lawful, not everything is expedient. For example, while it isn’t a sin to read novels, if you read 8 novels a day and neglect your job, home, study of God’s word, and spiritual callings, it wouldn’t be expedient. Likewise, while it isn’t a sin to eat ice cream (Oh please tell me I’m right on this!!!!), it would be a sin to eat a gallon a day and steal, kill, and destroy for another ice cold milky fix.

Keep this in mind as you pursue the new you. Above and beyond anything else in this world, your spiritual health is the most important thing, and I feel that you can’t be spiritually healthy if you let yourself go physically. Therefore, spend some time this week finding balance in your mind, body, and spirit. Do everything you do for the glory of God and you will feel strength like you never have before. Be a little diet and fitness “Tim Tebow” this week. Let the world know that you are logging those running miles for the glory of God. You are strengthening your body like an athlete so you can better pursue His calling on your life. Don’t let your appetites rule you, and above all, every time you reach a milestone, give thanks to God. Daily when I run I can’t help but whisper “Thank you Jesus” for the strength I have in my body to run, for the breathe I have to breathe, and for the time to run outdoors and commune with the earth that He created. Everything we have and do is because of Him, so turn it around for His glory. If you have to, drop to your knees and “Tebow” as you exit the gym. It might be dramatic overkill, but at least you’ll remember who you belong to and why you do what you do.

RePost: From Fat to Fit

This blog, From Fat to Fit, was originally posted January 17, 2011. The content is still relevant and I have had requests recently about the content, so I decided to RePost it for easy access. More to come tomorrow on the #runstreak this week, the FAQ’s of the week, my insight into Romans for our church LifeGroups this week, and my commentary about what God is doing in the Bridge Church. I hope you keep coming back to the blog. Feel free to comment and leave any questions.

I’ve lost even more weight and toned up further since these “after” pictures.
Biggest Loser Style Pose

I have been inundated with requests to take people through my lifestyle change journey and have decided, after answering countless personal emails and typing the same things over and over again, to try and narrate for you my journey, what helped me, what didn’t help, and some things that I’m still working to improve. We are already almost through January 2011 and I imagine some of you have been successful in your resolutions and are full swing into your weight loss and/or fitness/health journey and there are others of you that caved the second the Valentine’s Day displays went up at the stores and you caught glimpse of the beloved lover “chocolate”.

After overdosing on yummy food goodness for at least a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most people heave a disappointed sigh as they try to fit into their pants. Having already started the holidays with a few extra pounds they vowed to get off the year prior, they just give in for “one more month” with a renewed declaration in their spirits to try again next year. Well, next year is here and some of those people are currently beating themselves up because they are already off the wagon again. Oh well, better luck next time in 2012 they say. That person was me in 2009. Every year since I can remember I’ve been vowing to lose weight. This blog is my story of journey and triumph.

If you could add up all the diets I’ve been on, all the books on food and dieting I’ve read, and the number of exercise related paraphernalia I’ve purchased in my life, I’m sure you’d be blown away. In fact, I ought to have my Medical Degree in nutrition by now earned by life credits and personal development. It may surprise you to learn a few things about me that I don’t like to talk about. Believe it or not, there are things I don’t like to discuss. For the sake of helping my friends, acquaintances, and even just random women down the street, I will share with you.
Number one, before my two pregnancies and subsequent weight gain, I actually, at one point in my life, struggled with anorexic behaviors. It was actually humiliating for me to admit this at one point because how could a 5’7” 98 pound girl balloon to where I had gotten. How’s that for recovery? Believe it or not, people with disordered eating can easily swing from anorexia to morbid obesity. It really is the same faulty thought patterns that get people. I personally know several obese people that struggle with bulimia and anorexia. I encourage you to not make judgments on peoples eating and fitness levels when you don’t know their story. Number two fact played into my lifestyle change was the fact that my dad was in his 30’s when his health began to fail. He died at 51. Realizing that I was turning 30 in 2010 really took me to a place mentally that few can understand. It’s not about growing older. It’s not about impending wrinkles or vanity, but it was about the fact that my life could already be half over. I have so many relatives that didn’t live very long or healthy lives. My blood Bentley relatives can attest to you that our genetics are some sort of ticking time bomb and they are definitely not conducive to being thin and healthy. The Bentley relatives that are thin and healthy work overtime to be so. We are not natural hotties, but we’re geniuses, guess you can’t have it all 🙂

My struggles with weight began at age 14 when I realized I was fat. I know my mom will read this and weep and say “Jessica how could you think that”, but those of you that knew me then and don’t have the maternal emotional ties will attest to the fact that this was true. I really and truly did need to lose weight. I was ending Junior High and beginning high school and wanted to be attractive to the opposite sex. Puberty really has a way of messing with your head. I began a healthy, balanced diet that quickly spiraled into an unhealthy intake of only 500 calories at the most a day coupled with lots of exercise and quick, out of control weight loss. I’m sure this time period in my life destroyed my metabolism. I would not say that I was anorexic in a classic sense because anorexics cannot see what they are doing to themselves and often times still view themselves as fat. I did not view myself as fat; in fact, I viewed myself as superior to everyone else. They had to eat to live and I didn’t. I had power over it. To make an incredibly long story short, my wakeup call came at a Doctor’s appointment when I was 15 and at 5’7” weighed 98 pounds, had a blood sugar of 12 and was told my liver would fail within a year if I didn’t start eating better. Miraculously, this was all I needed to know. I certainly didn’t want to die. I also had such kind friends (you know who you are) that started calling me “skelator”. This actually didn’t’ help me. I knew this was their way to express how scared they felt about my condition but in reality it just made me feel more superior. I was skinnier than anybody and everyone knew it. I was awesome.

After my wake up call, I was told to gain weight. This was amazing to me. I had never needed to gain weight. I was always fat. I didn’t enter this next phase of my journey very well. I started eating like a crazy person. My body was probably malnourished so was prompting me to eat constantly. My weight went up practically overnight. I wish I had stayed at 135 pounds on my way up the scale, but at some point I quit caring about my weight again. I wanted to be attractive, but at the time had boyfriends and male suitors, so I guess I was accomplishing that on some level. In retrospect, all of this insanity I’m sure was tied into the stress of long term illness. My dad’s kidneys failed when I was in 3rd grade and so for years he was on a doctor’s restricted diet. Our whole house revolved around sodium content, sugar content, and the scale. When your kidneys fail, you have to weigh yourself several times a day because you aren’t peeing at all. You have to make sure the water doesn’t build up too much. I guarantee that my weight loss, although necessary and healthy initially, spiraled into something I could control in my life. My dad went on to a kidney transplant when I was 10 but battled everything in the book for the next 14 years after that until he died. I bet people really don’t know the extent of the stress in my family because my dad was an eternal optimist, a genius, and a hard worker. I even had myself convinced he wasn’t as sick as he really was. Perhaps my over control of calories went the opposite way when I was told to gain weight.

Whichever way you swing, if you are on the anorexic end or overeating end, ultimately you have a very unhealthy relationship with food. One thing that changed my journey was to stop looking at food as anything other than fuel. I still enjoy eating. I love the act of eating with my family and friends. I love to cuddle with a bowl of ice cream on the couch with my husband and enjoy the silence of my kids being in bed. I love celebrating the holidays with food. The only difference this time is that I listen to my body. Food is not your friend or your enemy, it is just food. It won’t make you happy or change your life. An apple tastes just as good as apple pie. So, unless it’s a holiday, why sabotage yourself with the unhealthier choice?

If you sat down to read this thinking you were getting a light hearted blog about weight loss, you are surprised by now I’m sure! I don’t feel like I can be truly honest about how I came to this point without sharing all of that with you. For most people, weight loss isn’t just about food or weight, it’s about stuff much deeper and more complex, so unless you deal with all of that, you’ll just keep yo-yo dieting. I overcame my food issues years ago. Once I got married, I settled happily into life and didn’t really think about food much. I just enjoyed eating. I gained about 15 wedding pounds and then got pregnant with my first son. I then gained 25 pounds being pregnant and lost only about 15 of those pounds after he was born. If you’re not good at math, I’ll spell it out. That means I started my second pregnancy 25 pounds bigger than I was on my wedding day. I gained 30 pounds in my second pregnancy and then was thrown into a whirlwind of life 6 months after giving birth. We moved, began traveling full time to cast vision for the church we were to be starting in Cleveland, and living on an insane schedule. I had lost a few of the pregnancy pounds but found myself actually gaining instead of losing. Because of our travel schedule and preaching at churches all over the country, we were eating out constantly, eating out at weird hours of the day, and offered very few healthy choices and options. I was also caring for a toddler and infant who had no structure or schedule due to the insane nature of our life at the time. I nursed both of my children for the first year and didn’t find the weight loss benefit from it that many of my friends find.

Add to this the death of my dad right before my first pregnancy and pretty much, I had a recipe for disaster. I stood on the scale one morning at the end of 2009 and declared, “I will not be this person anymore.” I was going to lose weight healthy and normally, rid my mind of both the anorexic extremist control of my early teenage years and of the “lassiez-faire” attitude of marriage and motherhood, and get my health in order. I was turning 30 and I wanted to do everything in my power to make sure my sons have a mother that lives to be older than 51. None of my dad’s illnesses were weight related and I might still get some long term illness even trying to live healthy, but I need to know I’m doing everything in my power to lose weight.
I have not used supplements or pills. I have done this the old fashioned way. I have taken all the advice, tidbits, and pieces of knowledge I have gathered over the years and with trial and error applied all the things that work for me. First off, I joined Curves. Curves is a gym for women. Cuyahoga County offered free memberships through the Cleveland Clinic’s Go Fit program last year so I didn’t have to pay any startup fee or monthly fee for 6 full months. The program made you get weighed and measured weekly and if you didn’t go a minimum of 3 times, they charged you. I literally despise wasting money so that was a major motivator and the weekly weigh in’s kept me accountable. I got up at 6:30 am and hit the gym 3 times a week to start off. The weight began to fall off me. It was amazing. I was following the Curves Weight management plan which is almost identical to weight watchers. You have free fruits and vegetables and an emphasis on protein. It doesn’t eliminate carbs, but carbs are no longer your main fuel source. I even allowed myself every Sunday to eat whatever I wanted and didn’t deprive myself during the week. My main key was exercise and counting calories. I use Live Strong/the Daily Plate. They have a website or you can download their APP for your smartphone. I used Live Strong to determine my calorie count for the day, count my calories, and log my food choices. I still use Live Strong. It provides you with the knowledge you need. I bet you’d be shocked if you actually realized how many calories you truly need to how many you are actually consuming. I’ve been one to make healthier choices even at my most overweight points, but I obviously was very unaware of how much was truly going in.

I’m sorry this isn’t a lose weight quick blog. I have found that losing weight quickly doesn’t work. It doesn’t deal with the issues you have surrounding food and body image and it doesn’t’ deal with the bigger picture of how you can come up with a plan that you can live with. It doesn’t change your lifestyle. The fact of the matter is calories in, calories out. The fact is that you can be thin and skinny without being healthy. If been thin or skinny is your goal, I’m probably not the person to motivate you. Jillian Michael’s calls these people “Fat-Skinny People”. Being thin or skinny doesn’t mean you are physically fit, healthy, or happy. I have learned through all of my dieting, food issues, and loss/grief issues due to my dad’s health problems and subsequent death that you are in charge of your own happiness. As a Christian, my joy comes from God. This world wants to rob you of your joy and your self-worth as a human being, and especially as women. God just wants you to be the best you that you can be. My goal is to be healthy. I can serve God, my family, and my fellow man better when I’m healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to be thin, but my health matters more to me.

The fitness gains I earned at Curves pushed me into pursuing what I once thought was impossible. I’ve never been athletic. Even at my thinnest points, I wasn’t truly physically fit. I’ve always enjoyed moving and never been lazy, but most exercise attempts stopped at just speed walking. Now, with Curves, I was doing circuit training, strength training, and cardio and began to feel the need to step it up. My husband had picked back up his quest to be healthy too and mentioned he wanted to do a marathon. I thought, why not, and told him I wanted to join him in a half marathon. My first few days out I couldn’t even run a mile. With a combination of walk/running, Curves, and, I was able to train for and run the 13.1 mile Akron Half-Marathon in 2:34 and that time includes my bathroom breaks so the run was probably more like 2:28.

My story is still ongoing. I’m not to the end of my journey. If weight loss was my ultimate goal, I’m about 10 pounds from my ideal “dream” weight, but it’s not my ultimate goal. I’m currently 26% body fat but would like to be 21%-24% which is optimum fitness for a girl. I’d like to take my health the next level by reducing/eliminating diet drinks, reducing/eliminating artificial sweeteners, and eating foods with very few ingredients. Jillian Michaels says to only eat things that have a mother or that came straight from the ground. I also am trying to not eat foods that have ingredients in them that you need a PhD to pronounce or describe. I’m still working on this. The call of the “hydrogenated” sirens is sometimes too hard to resist. I’d also like to further reduce sodium. I’m a work in progress and God calls me fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve learned to love the way I look and not compare myself to the Kim Kardashians of the world. Fact of the matter is that normal women don’t look like that because we don’t engage in plastic surgery, have the money for personal trainers, and have personal chefs. I don’t compare myself to my friends that are several inches shorter than me or have a smaller bone structures anymore. I am who I am and God ordained me to be who I am and I’m enjoying every second of my full life in Christ and with my friends and family. Life is a precious gift and I want mine to be as long and healthy as possible.

Helpful hints:1) Drink lots of water. Not only does it fill you up but it actually increases your metabolism by as much as 30% for 40-45 minutes after drinking it.
2) Eat tons of fiber. This fills you up and helps your body clear out toxins. (Hey, I said it as nice as I could)
3) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables (Sorry. No getting around this)
4) Exercise a minimum of 3 days a week. Having no time is not a good excuse. Make time even if it means setting the alarm an hour early every day.
5) Don’t let money be an excuse. A lack of money is not a good excuse to not eat healthy and exercise. You will either pay in lots of medical bills and health related problems or pay to purchase healthier groceries and for the necessary exercise gear. Either way, eventually you’ll pay. Let health be a priority. Cancel your Cable TV if you have to. Being healthy is more important.
6) Have a good support system. Lots of people have actually tried to discourage me believe it or not. I tune these voices out with the voices of my champions and supporters. Don’t let fat, jealous, miserable, unhealthy people steer your course. Find your true friends and family and let them support you. My husband Jonathan was my #1 cheerleader. He was my workout partner and was happy to help me make healthier choices.
7) Motivate yourself. Ultimately unless you are internally motivated you’ll fail. It is not everyone and their brother’s job to keep you constantly propped up. You have to be your own ally. Set small goals and reward yourself for each one that you meet. Don’t set 75 pounds as your goal. Set 10 pounds, celebrate when you reach that goal, and then set another one.
8) Read and Watch things about health and wellness. I like all the Biggest Loser stuff, all the marathon/weight/wellness documentaries, and books about health. Jillian Michaels “Master your Metabolism” is extreme, but I incorporated some of it and liked it. The book “Spark” is great. Runners World magazine has also been a great addition to my reading. Curves has a weight management book that details their plan that is helpful and there are countless websites and blogs that you can tap into. Educate yourself. I love all of the books in the “Eat this, Not that” series. They are tips that require almost no brain to follow. The books are basically picture books. Hit up your local library. This will save you lots of money in the reading department and you can consume more knowledge that way.
9) Learn to recognize true hunger and not just eat to eat or because you feel like you need to because it’s “meal time”. I’m still working on this.
10) Believe in and value yourself. You are worth it! Don’t let spouses or children or jobs stress you to the point that you stop taking care of yourself. Exercise is an amazing way to clear your mind and make you a better you.

Run On

Running Stats 
(Taken from my Garmin GPS Forerunner 110 Watch and the Treadmill Dashboard when appropriate) :
27.65 Miles Ran over the Last 7 Days with
2,371 approximate calories burnt running 
(The calorie burn isn’t entirely accurate because it only calculates the calories burnt outside and not the treadmill calories. You can probably add around 500 calories for the days/miles I was on a treadmill)

As you know by now, I have been in a health and fitness journey since January 2010. I will rerun my “Fat to Fit” blog sometime to give you the details of this journey, but the basic summary is that I’ve struggled with weight my whole life and reached an all time high about 12 months after my second son was born and at the door way to turning 30. Aging isn’t an option, in fact it’s a great alternative to the other choice which is death, but being fat and old is a choice. I chose to enter my 30’s with a completely new mindset. I turned 30 April 23, 2010, 4 months into my journey, ran my first half marathon 9 months into my journey, and sit here now, 2 years into my journey with 55 pounds forever gone, 4 half marathons run, and on day 64 of my first ever #runstreak. I’m more toned than ever, more fit than ever, look better than ever, and hardly ever get sick. I’m sure it’s all related. On one of these blogs I’m going to talk about the fountain of youth. You really can live longer (barring some catastrophic accident or illness), feel better, and accomplish all of your dreams. God made you for a forward moving journey. Don’t allow defeat and stagnation in any area of your life, especially your fitness. Bring that flesh under subjection, and in the process of getting lean and mean, you’ll grow in God. One of the FAQ’s I’m going to address this week is on fitness and fasting. You really don’t want to miss it. When you add and grow in one discipline in your life, every other discipline will line up accordingly. God knew what he was talking about in His word. He made you. He formed you. He fashioned you. He didn’t mess up.

Yesterday my #runstreak occurred at 6 AM and I stumbled out the door in “Rocky” mode. It was single digit temperatures out and my neighborhood had not been plowed yet. The sidewalk areas that neighbors had snow blown or snow shoveled were more akin to ice skating rinks that clean areas. I couldn’t let the streak end though and knew that with my church, leadership, and prayer schedule yesterday I wouldn’t make it to the YMCA during the hours prior to their closing. I do have an elliptical machine at home that I used to do as a cross training element on days like this, but now that I’m an official member of the #runstreak club, cross training can’t count towards maintaining the streak. So, since I treat Sunday’s as my workout day “off”, I rarely go further than 2.1 miles anyway, I knew I could handle the arctic blast and snow for at least the bare minimum #runstreak requirement of a mile and perhaps go my full two miles. I bundled up like Rocky, in fact, I later discovered I had too many clothes on. We’ll address what to wear in my second FAQ blog this week, but as a preview I’ll tell you that you don’t want to overdress or you’ll overheat, even in the frigid air. The only part of my body not overdressed were my precious little fingers which had on some cheap little Wal-Mart gloves and almost fell off. My husband had the advantage of a heads up on this because he left to do his #runstreak when I got home and I advised him to wear Ski Gloves and he was fine. Anyway, I ran in the middle of the road, dodging in and out of tire tracks trying to find a path where I could get some speed going without hitting ice. I only had one minor run in with a snow plow who didn’t see me running. It could have end badly, but thankfully my cat like reflexes put me out of harms way. I only did 1.75 miles because I was getting tired of trying to find a strip of road acceptable for foot traffic. The bottom line though is, NO EXCUSES. I got the run in and was able to enjoy the Lord’s Day worshipping with my church family and my run really was very fun. It is nice to have days that are not status quo.

Today was warmer, around 24 degrees, when I left for my run. I ran out of time yesterday to buy my ice cleats though and regretted it immensely. On Monday’s I do weight training at the gym in addition to my run, so I usually only run 3 miles as a muscle warm up and cardio event. Today I did 3.2 miles outside and it felt like I was running in a sand pit. Because it is MLK Jr. day, I didn’t have to run as early as normal. I went out the door at about 9 AM, and while that was great, it posed a problem in that I couldn’t just freely run in the middle of the road without risking a run in with a Mack Truck. The sidewalks in my neighborhood, and on the main road outside my neighborhood, still varied from snow up to my ankles to ice skating rinks. I really could have used those snow cleats. I had trouble getting any speed up and only averaged a 9:32 mile. It felt more like an 8:58 per mile average though because I had to pick my legs up higher and push against resistance. The result was that I was able to work muscles in my run that aren’t normally worked. I may run on the beach some this summer to mimic that feeling and get other areas of my legs prepared. I then went to the YMCA and did a fast 1 mile run on the treadmill because I didn’t like my 9:32 average. I wanted to get in an “all out” mile at least before my weights.

Today started week #3 of my new weight training routine and I can see wonderful results already. My biceps, triceps, shoulders, and back are finally starting to look healthy and toned. When you are a runner your legs and glutes get quite a bit of work, but you have to go out of your way to strengthen your core and upper body. This helps guard against injury and makes you run stronger and faster.

In other related news, I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a pair of ice cleats for $19.99. They attach to your regular tennis shoe and provide a grip in the snow and ice. They are metal coils on the bottom and will make your shoes non slip. I bought one pair and my husband and I will share them since we don’t run outside together. While there I peeked at the clearance racks and found a super cute running skirt for only $8.98. You can’t even imagine the steal that this is. Running skirts are all the rage right now because you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for fitness. Since they are the rage, the cost is usually a fortune to find one that covers more than your hiney. Anyway, we’ll cover clothes on my clothing FAQ blog, but I wanted you to know that Dick’s has lots of cute shirts, bottoms, and fitness gear on clearance with an additional 50% the lowest price.