One Year Ago

It’s the new year, and with recent events I’ve been prone to a little reflection.

time lapse

Everyone say hi to my mom!

2013 was an incredible, amazing year. I didn’t lose any poundage, but I did gain so much knowledge about myself. How to eat food as fuel, what my body is capable of, the importance of paying attention to my activity levels.

Talk about one heck of a year. I mean last night alone, I ran 4.5 miles. Four and a half miles. I’ve gone from a size fourteen to a ten and gained so much confidence and comfort in my own skin. If I look happier  in the most recent picture, it’s because I am so much happier now that I’m healthy. I’ve refocused my life on what is important. Spending time with my family, friends and on myself have helped me adjust to a new city and a new life and allowed me to focus on my career without getting lost in it.

Okay enough reflection. 2013 was awesome, and here is how I am going to make 2014 even better.

  • Run in 2 half marathons. I’m already signed up for one (duh, it’s all I talk about), but I want to schedule another one for the fall. I’m thinking either the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton in September, or the Columbus Half Marathon in October. My co-conspirator Allison has already approved this idea.
  • Run in a total of 6 races 10K or longer. Right now my running comfort zone sits between 3 and 5 miles, so I want to push myself this year and run in four 10Ks in addition to the two halfs. I’m already signed up for the DFW Polar Dash at the end of this month, and I’m going to register for the Austin Statesman Capitol 10,000 in April. Anyone know any other good 10Ks in the area, let me know!!
  • Try something new. I’m thinking Krav Maga. Maybe Bar Method. Who knows? It could be anything, and that’s the beauty of  it.

So there it is! My list for 2014. Here’s to another great year full of new adventures and learning experiences along the way.

Food is Fuel

During college, I would get really frustrated with my fitness routine, because I never saw any results from those hours I spent at the campus rec center. I know now why I never saw any results. I was your typical college student, surviving off of Kraft Macaroni n Cheese, Cousin Vinny’s pepperoni pizza, massive amounts of coffee and probably equally massive amounts of beer. (#sorrynotsorry)

My favorite breakfast: non-fat greek yogurt with whole grain granola and honey

My favorite breakfast: non-fat greek yogurt with whole grain granola and honey

This frustration continued immediately after college, after I moved home to my mother’s amazing cooking skills. I still worked out almost every day, but again, with no results, only stagnation.

At the time I figured it was because that’s how the world works, and I would probably never see myself lose weight.

I now know why. I was fueling my body with – let’s call it what it was – crap. Delicious, wonderful crap, but still crap.

It wasn’t until I joined Texas Fit Chicks last spring that I realized the importance of what I put in my body. Sure, WeightWatchers taught me the importance of vegetables and portion sizes, but TFC is where I learned the hard way that what I eat will directly impact the way my body performs.

As part of joining TFC I was put on a high protein, high fiber, low sugar, low sodium diet, and only then is when I started seeing a change in my body. Suddenly I was not only getting smaller, but I was getting stronger, faster and better at my workouts.

Nice story, Julia. But what’s your point?

My point is that the food you eat is fuel. I allow myself one cheat day a week, usually Saturday or Sunday, to eat the foods I really want to eat. Other than that, I am pumping my body full of good things like yogurt, spinach, eggs, chicken, lots of veggies, peppers, carrots and all other kinds of real food – fuel – that I need. And I can feel the difference.

Home-made chicken tortilla soup. With home made tortilla chips because sodium is bad.

Home-made chicken tortilla soup. With home made tortilla chips because sodium is bad.

Very little of what I eat now comes out of a box. I cook at home a lot more, I read labels on everything I eat and I rarely eat out at restaurants. We’re talking once every two weeks, maybe. I monitor what I eat and how it effects my body very closely. If I don’t like how I feel after I eat something, I throw it out. I don’t need anything in my diet that makes me feel any less than amazing. I don’t keep crap food in my pantry any more. If it’s not there, I won’t eat it.

My body takes a lot. I work out 6 days a week and even one off day of eating will impact how I perform when it counts. This is why my meal prep time on Sundays is so important to me. It is during that time on Sundays when I lock myself in my kitchen and make not only Sunday night dinner, but usually 2 other full dinners for the freezer to ensure my success during the week.

If by chance I do end up going to boot camp or out for a run after eating like crap for a day, I can tell. It’s not only that I simply don’t have as much energy as I’m used to, but I can feel it in every part of me. My muscles refuse to loosen up, and when they do, they tire much more easily. I get winded quickly, and it takes longer to catch my breath and control my heart rate. In some cases I will feel nauseated and light-headed. This is why I know the importance of food. Because I have experienced what it feels like to try and push yourself when your body is running on pizza and cokes or Chinese food and decadent desserts.

A fresh take on chicken salad: chicken, tomatoes, parsley, artichoke hearts dressed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

A fresh take on chicken salad: chicken, tomatoes, parsley, artichoke hearts dressed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

Now I’m not saying don’t eat the foods you love. But be more aware of how these foods effect your body. Eat the crap out of spinach and tomatoes, eggs with low fat feta and green peppers, whole wheat pasta and veggie sauce. Fuel your body with real food, and you’ll feel the difference I’m talking about. Trust me on this one.

I really am not trying to sound superior or anything. Just trying to show you how switching my mindset from food being an indulgence to food being fuel has changed everything.

Hard Truths

Going into the third week of official training, I’m beginning to come face to face with a couple really hard realities about running. I’m sure there are more, and I’m sure I will learn more about them as I train, but here is what I realized during this weekend’s long run.

  1. Running is not fun. There. I said it. There were several points during yesterday’s long run where I thought to myself “this is not pleasant. nope. no fun at all.” Training for an event in this sport is hard, because sometimes, it sucks. No one told me this. Granted, it is a great feeling when you finish, reaching your goal, even if it was just to finish a small training run. But no, right now, running is not fun for me. Still, it is something I want to do, something I think I can do, and that’s what keeps me going.
  2. You’ll never be at 100%. Queue evil laugh. Thanks for that realization, Erin. I’m coming to terms with the fact that it is only going to get harder going forward, and that tightness in my calves may never go away completely (maybe on February 3rd?). But again, this is still something I want to to, something I think I can do. The feeling of pushing my body past what I think my limits are is almost addicting at this point.four miles sunday

So I mentioned above that yesterday I had my long run. 4.4 miles in the books. It went pretty well I think. I was pretty tight for the first half of the run, but as I got past the mental block of the numbers and the pain, I got into a smoother rhythm and was able to finish out pretty strong I think. I’m really focusing on finding that happy medium between my sprinting pace (between 8 and 9:00 per mile) and a walk. I think if I can find that comfortable in-between pace, I’ll be set for the distances I need to cover.

Running Song of the Week:

I’m also going to try and share with y’all my favorite running songs each week, because I will tell anyone who asks, these songs are the only reason I can get my butt up, out the door and clock the distances I need. This week my favorite song is one that’s been my favorite for a long time now. Empire of the Sun’s Walking on a Dream perfectly sums up what it feels like when I’m running, mentally. The official video is kind of strange, but if you focus on the lyrics I think you’ll see what I mean.

This is the final weekend until 2014 where all I have to do is rest and run. I’ll be going to a wedding in Austin next weekend and then the insanity of the holiday season comes down upon me with vigor. It will be a real challenge to make sure that running, training and resting remains an important part of my schedule. Wish me luck.

On Absence.

You ever have one of those weeks where you start going, and before you know it, the week is already gone and all the little things you love to do in your spare time have just fallen by the wayside?

I’ve had one of those weeks.

I’ve actually had a few of those weeks all strung together.

In typical PR style, this fall has had me running around like a crazy person. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, I love what I do and I am finding time to fill those extra minutes each day with the people I care about as well as the usual meal prep/workout/training programs.

Oh yeah, training programs.

Last time we talked, I had just wrote about taking up running again. Well I did, and I made a big decision last week.

I will be running in the Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in February.

New Orleans Half Marathon

I’ve got a sweet training guide, and awesome support community including the newly-returned-to-blogging Allison, my cousin Erin and of course, Adam. (Shameless linking because two of them have awesome blogs of their own.) As well as amazing friends and family who I hope will still be around in February after hearing me talk about running nonstop for three months. (Sorry in advance, y’all.)

If you are a long time reader, you know I come from a big, tight-knit family, including quite a few cousins. Four of us are within a year and two weeks of each other, and these four are going to be running together for 13.1 miles.

(For the record, here’s the order: Julia, Erin, Michael and Kelly.)

I know. It sounds insane. In fact, when Erin first approached me with the idea, I laughed for probably about five straight minutes. Me. Run in a half marathon???? You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t even run 3 miles. 

But then I thought about it.

For a while.

Work picked up again. We signed on a couple new clients and I joined boot camp again. For a six  month commitment this time. About two months in, I thought about it again. And I thought. I wonder if I could do that…. 

It’s really curiosity that is fueling me. Along with my competitive drive. My inner drive to push myself and see how much I can take before I completely melt down? Yeah, That’s a line I’ve been happily walking since high school.

In typical Type-A fashion, I have an Excel spreadsheet with a training plan that incorporates boot camp (and the all important rest day) and it is taped to my fridge. Yes, I am that girl.

I’m still eating clean, though I am increasing my water intake as well as letting myself indulge a little more often now. I mean hey, I am now working out 6 days a week.

Tonight will be a “quick” 3 mile run, and hopefully the park I love will have dried out from the week of rain.

I’m still struggling a bit at the 3 mile mark. But I’ve scheduled about 2 and half weeks of 3 mile runs to get myself comfortable before moving up.

Sunday I take on my longest distance ever at 4 miles.

My biggest hurdle hasn’t been the distance though. I’m trying not to minimize what I’m doing. I know so many people who run long distances that it’s hard to make myself feel proud of running 3 miles when I know people who finished 18 and 20 mile runs over the weekend. Something I’ve got to get better on is not comparing myself to others.

I’m beginning to understand what they mean when they say training for a race like this is just as much about mental preparation as it is about the physical. I’m on my own training plan. This is not about where other people are in their training, but about me.

That’s just what I need to keep telling myself.

So, here’s to an early New Year’s Resolution, Early Birthday and Christmas presents to myself and most importantly: to 13.1.

That Time I Started Running

One thing you should know about me is that I love doing things. And more than doing things, I specifically love doing things with other people.

It’s part of the E in ESFJ for me to love being around people and gain energy from sharing common activities, interests and the like.

So while at first I resisted the idea of running, what with having a bum ankle and all, I was so proud of my friends who did get out there and run. Allison has long been a supporter of the idea that you should work out in whatever way fits you. But she’s also in love with running, and that’s contagious. My cousin Erin is also a big runner, and she has (for a very long time) been trying to get me to run a 5K with her, even though she’s about to run her first marathon in December (go Erin!).

Together, these two convinced me to get out and try running.

Not on purpose, but by being an example. I saw through Facebook, Instagram, E-mail and everyday conversations. They would always talk about how running helped them relax and set their life in order. Oh, and they were getting in wicked awesome shape, which is always a nice side benefit.

So after I finished my boot camp last spring, I finally felt healthy and fit enough to start running. It was a lot easier to motivate myself because I already felt good about my body. I felt like I could conquer the world after boot camp, so why not running too?

Turns out its not as easy as it seems.

I was used to having my trainer (Hi, Meridith!) encouraging me during boot camp workouts, reminding me why I was there, pushing me when she saw I was slacking (#sorrynotsorry).

You don’t have that when you’re out on a run. You just have yourself, your music and the pavement.

julia after a run

Me and my post workout high.

It was hard. But after searching for a replacement for the post-boot camp high of sweat, adrenaline and exhaustion, I found it in running.

A lot of people run to keep their life in order. A lot of people run to manage stress. A lot of people run to lose weight.

I run for the feeling I get after a run, or any really good workout. Dripping in sweat, gasping for air, feeling the sun beat down on me as I try to control my heart rate.

I don’t feel tired or worn out. I don’t feel pain or fatigue.

I feel powerful.

It’s in those moments when I know exactly how powerful my body is, and I revel in that feeling. I love the feeling after boot camp when I look around and realize that in one night, I did 80 burpees. The feeling after a run after work when I look at the lake I run around, knowing that I did that.

The ache the next morning is just a reminder of what I accomplished.

Do you run? Why? What gets you out there?

(Side note: I am also motivated by select pictures of the monster I call “Fat!Julia”. I must beat her.)

Hello There!

Wow, hi strangers. Sorry about the radio silence. I would say that life has been crazy busy, but I’m trying to stop using that as an excuse so I’ll be honest – I just haven’t had the motivation to write.

Quick Recap:

This summer was fun. I went to the lake with my family, got a nice sunburn (and subsequent tan), ate and had way too much fun in the process and then took up running.

Like how I stuck that in there? Yep, you heard me right. I have started running.

Well. I’ve started pretending to run. I signed up for a 5K in November. I’m hoping the fact that it’s the Shiner Beer Run will help motivate me to get ready for it. I have been really trying to get out to a nearby park to run in the evenings when it’s not too hot, but I never realized how many factors during your day could affect a run. It’s definitely a lot harder than I thought, but I feel really good afterwards.

Right now my PR for distance is 2.39 and my best average pace has been a 13:38/miles. Oddly enough, those occurred on the same run early in July.

julia prior will run for beer

Pretty much, yeah.

Let’s see, what else has been going on. 

I joined back up with my boot camp this week. My second class is tonight and I am -still- sore from Tuesday. Guess I needed to get back to it more than I thought. Woops.

And for posterity, here are a couple “before” pictures and my starting measurements.

Arms: 13.5 inches
Chest: 42.5 inches
Waist: 39 inches
Hips/Butt: 45 inches
Thighs: 23.25 inches

Raise your hand if you were surprised my chest wasn’t the largest. –raises hand–

before texas fit chicks

My session will last through February, so for once I’m actually not really concerned about gaining weight during the holidays.

In the meantime, I am hoping to start posting on a more regular basis. More of the same things as before. Personal stories, recipes, random motivational pictures. You know, the usual, with my own spin on it.

I hope you enjoy!

Boot Camp: Not-So-Final Results

So my boot camp ended a few weeks ago, but I’m still sticking to their meal plan and work out schedule as best I can. It’s a lot harder when I don’t have that amazing group of women (and of course my trainer) expecting me at class three times a week.

But here are my results.

I lost 1 inch in my bust, 2 inches from my hips and 3 inches from my waist.

I still feel fantastic (even after the junk-food-fest that was my Memorial Day and then Free Press Summer Fest weekends).

I did gain 2 pounds, but I’m convinced that that’s because I gained a ton of muscle over the past 2 months. I feel stronger, more capable and more confident. I no longer look at those fitness challenges on Pinterest and laugh, in fact, this month (June) I am doing a 30 day squat challenge. By the end of the month I will be able to do 250 squats.

But you’ll notice I’ve very conspicuously avoided calling these my “Final Results”. I’ve rediscovered my love of working out. I’m going to keep going. And I’m going to be putting my pennies in a jar in the hopes of signing up for boot camp on a recurring basis. Because as much as I hated doing burpees, hill runs and tabatas, I miss the way it made me feel – strong.

And if you live in Houston, San Antonio or Dallas, and are looking for a great boot camp experience. I cannot recommend Texas Fit Chicks enough. They are encouraging, supportive and still know how to push you to be your best, all while holding you accountable to your personal goals.

Happy Monday! Oh and here’s a few more pictures from last weekend because I am still recovering. 🙂

FPSF is held in the shadow of downtown Houston. I can never get enough of this skyline.

FPSF is held in the shadow of downtown Houston. I can never get enough of this skyline.

With Adam's sister Allison. Because sweaty music festival pictures are always in style.

With Adam’s sister Allison. Because sweaty music festival pictures are always in style.

4/5ths of the group on day 2.

4/5ths of the group on day 2.

The Universe is Against Me

At least when it comes to my efforts to run my first 5k.

So I need to make a correction to my update post. I found out earlier this week that my 5k was cancelled.

Yes. You read that correctly.

But I’m kind of okay with it, because right now, I have no motivation to just run. I’m having way too much fun mixing things up in this boot camp.

Screenshot_2013-05-02-16-53-19

So there’s that. Of course, if they reschedule it, I will probably still run it, just because when else am I going to be able to throw large amounts of colored powder at my friends? Plus, it would make for some killer photos.

Womp womp womp.

The good news, however is that Pamela is cooking me dinner tomorrow night. Did I mention that I’m being forced to cook a lot more than usual lately? Now don’t get me wrong, I really do love cooking, but it’s nice to have a break when someone offers to cook for you and you know they eat clean also so you don’t have to worry. 🙂

Also tomorrow is Friday. Hooray!

Weigh Ins, Boot Camp and Schedules, Oh my!

Hello, my beautiful (albeit neglected) blog people. I didn’t forget about you!

Work has been insane lately, and my free time in the evenings has now been consumed by boot camp. (Which is AMAZING, by the way)

I just wanted to let you know that I am not dead, this blog is not abandoned, and I didn’t forget about you!

Quick updates:

  • I’m halfway through boot camp, and I feel fantastic. I feel smaller and leaner and actually look forward to my thrice weekly ass-kicking of a workout.
  • I lost 2.6 pounds in the last two weeks. Hooray!
  • Eating clean is hard. Pretty much all of my favorite foods have ridiculous amounts of sodium in them and that makes me very sad.
  • My 5k is only 3 weeks away! May 11 at Fair Park. Woooo!
  • May is getting crazy busy already, so I really apologize if I fall off the face of the map again. Between my 5k, alumni events, getting my car fixed, (hopefully) squeezing in a trip to Austin, and then Free Press Summer Fest, I’m all booked as far as weekends go. Crazy how that happens.

Basically, my point is, I am doing fantastic, I am crazy busy, but loving every second of it. And don’t worry, I am making sure to take time to relax after work and on the weekends, as well as getting enough sleep. I know how that can sabotage any chances I have of getting healthier.

Hope y’all are enjoying the warmer weather!

Until next time…

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How to Get Back on the Wagon

(Note: Other titles I bounced around before deciding on one: Could we Start Again Please, Again? or That Morning I Went Crazy or Starting Over Again. Part 2.)

Sometimes we fall down. Sometimes we lose track of our goals, and sometimes we just, stop. We stop doing what we know is good for us, we stop keeping track of what we eat and we stop taking those extra steps to be healthy.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

But, the more important thing is, I am getting back on my feet in a big way.

tfcbc

I start April 15. Thank you, Groupon.

I have officially gone insane. Wait. I mean,  I’m really excited to get my behind handed to me three times a week by a woman half my size. Yay for spontaneous Groupon purchases that I feel obligated to use!

Additionally, I’m getting back to basics with WeightWatchers. Lots of fruit, vegetables and water. Making sure I eat slowly and actually think long and hard about what I eat and when I eat. Cooking at home more often. I don’t think I can get back into salads, but I do have a good stock of low sodium, light soups in my pantry that I plan on making use of. (Also, did you know that half a can of Wolf Brand Turkey Chili (with beans) is only 5 points?) So that’s my current go-to dinner on nights that I don’t want to cook. Which are a lot of nights.

So here’s to getting back on track and hopefully being ready in time for summer!