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Celebrate Weight Loss with Fitness – Meet our Contest Winner

Today is the day! Are you ready for the big news? We have an official winner of the Second “How Do you Celebrate Success” Contest.

Before I tell you who she is, let me share her story with you…

I found out I was different in kindergarten when a boy asked if I was pregnant. That was the first time I was made aware of my weight at school, but not the last. In 7th grade I was excited to wear my new yellow ESPRIT sweater to school, where I was devastated to be called “a yellow balloon.” In 10th grade I skipped school when we had to run the mile in gym, because I didn’t want my peers watching while it took me another 10 minutes to finish what they had long since completed.

HDYCS2aMy hatred of running began in 8th grade gym. As “the fat kid,” laps were torture. I’d make it one lap before walking. One day the teacher announced, “if Amy runs all of her laps without walking, nobody has to run any more.” So there I was, in a gym of classmates who had finished, screaming at me to RUN. Not screaming supportively, but threatening. Dizzy and fighting to hold in my breakfast, I finished. For a moment, I felt victorious. I’d been hugely embarrassed, but I had saved us from ever running laps again! Then the teacher said, “I expect you to run them all tomorrow, now that we know you can.” Someone reminded him of the deal: my success meant no more laps! With a sneer, he said, “I meant no more laps today. You’ll run again tomorrow.” Everyone else groaned then moved on. I went to the restroom where I vomited and cried, humiliated. I carry the pain with me still, over two decades later.

So to me, running was a punishment. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could run for fun. For me, “success” wasn’t exertion, it was avoiding exertion! My celebrations were never healthy. They were cheesecake or a pizza. I’d been taught at a young age that success meant treats! Plays, musicals and concerts ended at Friendly’s with a sundae. My favorite part of elementary school was reading books to earn free pizzas. Success = a full belly!

In April 2012, I applied to The Biggest Loser. I stared at my application photos in disbelief. At 5’4” and 243 pounds, I was morbidly obese. I was terrified I’d be chosen. What would happen when Jillian screamed at me to RUN and I couldn’t? As I stared at my cheeks that swallowed my eyes, I realized I shouldn’t need to go on TV with my fat rolls hanging out to get healthy. I cancelled my audition and made a plan. On April 22nd, I began my weight-loss journey, on my own.

First, I celebrated success with marbles. I decided my goal was to lose 100 lbs, so I bought two vases, and filled one with 100 marbles. After weigh-ins, I’d move a marble for each lost pound to the other vase. Moving marbles felt better than sundaes! Seeing the empty vase begin to fill up was incredible!

Then I celebrated success with tools to help myself. Lose three, buy a yoga mat. Lose ten, a pair of jeans. I was able to wear my first pair of skinny jeans! I celebrated that by sending my BFF a picture doing the dance of joy at Target.

After doing the “walk of shame” from a roller coaster in 2010, another goal was to fit onto coasters. When I hit a comfortable weight, I celebrated success with a trip to Cedar Point. With shaking hands, I sat down and brought the seat belt together… click. It fit!!!! We had a blast, and for each 10 pounds lost, we went back to Cedar Point, a total of three times!

HDYCS2bAfter losing 55 lbs, I wondered if I should try running. I downloaded Couch to 5k and joined a gym. I told myself it couldn’t be THAT hard, day one was only running 60 seconds at a time! Well, it WAS hard, but I survived. Soon I completed week three. I celebrated that success by registering for a race I’d read about, The Hot Chocolate 5k. I was nervous but excited! I had two months to train.

As I got stronger and leaner, I decided to try a 5k just to see how I did. It ended up being 85 degrees that October day, and I had to walk some, but I finished under 45 minutes, the minimum pace I’d need for the Hot Chocolate. I celebrated THAT success by signing up for a third 5k!

By the end of 2013, I’d lost 85 pounds and did nine 5k’s. I was no longer morbidly obese, but I WAS a runner. A slow runner, but getting better all the time! I celebrated my success by making a video with photos from my 5k’s for Facebook. Prior to that, I hadn’t publicized my diet or weight loss, afraid of public failure. But for the first time in my life, I felt like I was truly a success.

Right now, a half marathon seems nearly as unimaginable as a 5k once did. It was on a trip to Disney when I first became aware of RunDisney. That was before I began C25K, so it was more of a curiosity than a goal. But as I ran races this year, it turned into a dream. If there’s one spot in the universe for a dream to come true, it’s Disney. I want to show everyone that they too CAN do this, no matter how impossible it seems. I want to prove to that 8th grade version of myself that I’m taking care of her now, and that I’ll never let her be humiliated by her weight again. From now on, the only way for me to celebrate success is by setting another goal, reaching it, then reaching farther. The Disney Wine and Dine weekend falls on my 37th birthday, November 7th. What better way to celebrate my re-birth as a healthier, happier, stronger woman than to cross the finish line of my first half-marathon? That is how I’ll celebrate success!

CONGRATULATIONS to our Second How do YOU Celebrate Contest Winner :

Amy Jo Smith

She will be celebrating her 37th birthday with me at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida!

HDYCS2c

Amy was selected as the topic pick of all of the entries by an outstanding 4 out of 5 judges and we’re very happy to celebrate her weight loss success by giving her this opportunity!

After her entry was submitted and Amy received the email confirming her entry Amy wrote me a short email. What she said, while i had no baring on her entry whatsoever, is the sort of thing that inspires me to do not only do things like the How do YOU Celebrate Contests, but to help others on their weight loss journey whether through motivational speaking, wellness coaching or weight loss coaching.

Again, thank you for this contest. Even if I don’t win, it has really inspired me this week to read the posts on your page, watch your video, look at your pictures, learn more about your victories and what drives you. It has helped me motivate myself to get to the gym when I wanted to lay on the couch. To push harder to run another minute or another two minutes. On Monday I ran 5 minutes on the treadmill before I walked. After entering the contest on Tuesday, I went and ran for 12 minutes. I felt so inspired, so much more strong and capable.

You are a truly special human being, and I hope to one day run by your side.

Have a great weekend!

Love,
Amy

Thank you Amy. For such a sweet note, and congratulations on being the winner of the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest.

I cant wait to run with you, beside you, celebrate your weight loss, your 37th birthday and your first half marathon with you! You can now consider me your official motivator, coach, cheerleader and of course, friend.

And of course, a special thank to our sponsors. None of this would be possible without you. Ameriwell Bariatrics, Wellesse, Celebrate Vitamins, Kay’s Naturals and BariMelts thank you all for making dreams come true…

Amy Jo Smith I have a question for you. You just won the “How do YOU Celebrate Success Contest” What are you going to do now?

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

AmeriWell Bariatrics
Like AmeriWell Bariatrics on Facebook ]

logo

WELLESSE
Like WELLESSE on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

BariMelts Logo

BariMelts
Like BariMelts on Facebook ]

#TeamSlenderSeekers would like to thank these early entry Sponsors

Please support our sponsors!

To Run or Not to Run- Understanding Cardiovascular Training

Due to the recent buzz about the How do YOU Celebrate Success Contest, where my sponsors and I are giving away a Half Marathon Adventure valued at over $1,400.00 to one very lucky Desperately Seeking Slender reader, this question has come up.

When we start talking about which exercise programs are better, I think first and foremost it is important to note that the only exercise program that will work for you long-term is the one that you adhere to and normally that means the one that you find fun.

107853560ac511e38faf22000a1f99f9_7As a weight loss coach, when we start talking about cardiovascular training and prescription, we try to incorporate three key ingredients in our program:  overload, specificity and progression.

In order to make gains in cardiorespiratory fitness, meaning we want to improve our cardiorespiratory health (which also improves a long list of other things such as, cholesterol levels, body fat percentages, resting blood pressure, diabetes, high blood pressure) we need to either exercise more frequently, for longer periods of time, or at higher intensities. This is the concept in “overload.”

“Specify” means we train in certain modes and according to the goal at hand.  So for example, if your goal is to run a half marathon then we train in running, not in swimming or cycling even though both are good forms of cardiovascular exercise.

The theory of “progression” implies that we must increase the overload gradually to avoid injury and burn out and to combat the lack of adherence to an exercise program that is too intense for you to perform.

When we start to get serious about Cardiovascular Prescription we often used targeted heart rate to determine the rate of overload and progression that we design into a client’s cardio routine. After all as my mentor Bobby Whisnand teaches “It’s all Heart,” meaning, it’s all about your heart rate, and boy is he right on the money.

Now here is where we start to understand the FITT model a little. Let’s envision cardiovascular exercise like a prescription for weight loss.  Let’s consider cardio a weight loss antibiotic for a moment. If you take an antibiotic for a long time what happens? You’re body builds up a resistance to it and uses that medicine less effectively. The same thing happens in cardio exercise.

DO-SOMETHING-TODAY-THAT-YOUR-FUTURE-SELF-WILL-THANK-FORThe fitter you are the FITTer you need to be and in order to achieve that you need to alter your cardiovascular prescription by either adding frequency, intensity, time preformed or by changing the type of exercise you are doing. Your body needs change in what it does. The same exercise preformed over and over, at the same rate of exertion, for the same amount of time, eventually, becomes less effective to your body in regards to cardiorespiratory fitness and weight loss as well.

Let’s use me as an example. At 420 lbs I first got on a treadmill and told myself, I will walk a mile or 30 minutes whichever comes first. And for many weeks, 30 minutes came first. I walked 30 minutes at under 2.0 mph and my body burned approximately 238 calories in that time frame. I was tired, breaking a sweat, breathing heavy and my heart rate was up in the 120s and reaping all the rewards of the exercise I was doing. If I did that same exercise, at the same pace, for the same amount of time today at 165 lbs and with three years of cardiovascular training under my belt, I would never reach my target heart rate and I would burn on average 94 calories in the exact same amount of time exercise.

Now let’s say that I walk that same amount of time at a faster pace. Let’s say I walk it twice as fast at 4.0 mpg and my heart rate is in my target heart zone. No surprise here! I burn twice the amount of calories and will end up burning approximately 187 calories in the same amount of time.

And now let’s say I run that same 30 minutes at an even faster pace, say 5.0 mph which is basically a 12 minute mile and my own personal goal. My heart rate is going to go up because I have increased the intensity of the exercise and now I am going to burn approximately 299 calories in that same 30 minutes.

So it’s very easy to see why we need progression, how our bodies adapt to the cardiovascular exercise and how increasing the intensity means we get more out of the exercise and burn more calories in the same amount of time… which really helps fight those weight loss plateaus when you’re trying to increase your caloric deficit.

Understanding progression is important because we don’t want to hurt ourselves when we are training. That means we want to add progression slowly. If you are thinking about starting a serious cardio program I suggest you consult with your doctor, a personal trainer or a weight loss coach like me who is educated in building cardiovascular programs.

But if you are out there on your own, there are a few basic guidelines you should understand and follow. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) suggests you engage in moderate intensity exercise 3-4 days per week, for 30 minutes totaling 150 minutes a week in order to see the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

If you’re trying to lose weight, those recommendations go up, because more exercise is required to create larger calorie expenditures. So the ACSM recommends progressing that exercise prescription to 50-60 minutes 5 days a week–totaling 300 minutes–in addition to reducing your caloric intake by about 500-1000 calories per day.

When we see these numbers, we’re talking moderate physical activity. That’s where your heart rate is increased in a range that is about 40-60% of your heart rate reserve.  Those numbers go down if we raise the intensity, and eventually progress to a vigorous intensity, which means we are achieving more than 60% of our target heart rate. Knowing your target heart rate and how to check it is extremely important during exercise. If you don’t know how to obtain your heart rate or what your Target Heart Rate is, my mentor Bobby Whisnand has a great video that will teach you as well as a chart that will help you find your own target heart rate.

When I exercise now, after 3 years of progressing my cardio program, I shoot for hitting 75% of my Target Heart Rate, for me that’s about 136 and to achieve that, I do interval running.

Interval running or run-walk-run is a concept introduced by US Olympian Jeff Galloway, who also happens to be the official RunDisney Trainer where you basically build up your running intervals to paces that are comfortable for you, beginning at a run for 5 seconds and walk for 55 seconds ratio. His run interval suggestions change based on the time you are trying to achieve, but if you are looking for a 15 minute mile pace, which is the recommended training pace for RunDisney events which have a 16 min/mi pace requirement, his interval suggestions go up to running 1 minute and walking for one minute (Which you can all ask my first contest winner Dawn Brell about, because we tried REALLY hard to get her to those interval times).

We’ve talked about all the physical aspects of walking, running, and cardiovascular exercise prescription, but now let’s talk about the mental aspects. Because let’s be honest, I’m a huge Chris Powell fan and my weight loss and wellness coaching often incorporates his “Transform your mind,” concepts.

Have you ever heard the quote “Exercise would cure a guilty conscious?” Plato said it. Or what about “Strength of mind is exercise, not rest,” Alexander Pope said that.

According to an article published in the Harvard Men’s Health Watch in Feb, 2011, [Exercising to Relax] discussed the mental benefits of aerobic exercise and among the list you’d find relaxation, stress relief, assistance with anxiety disorders and clinical depression.

The basis behind this theory? It’s all neurochemical based. Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body. We’re talking about hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. Exercise also increases the production of happy hormones, or endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killers.  This can also be valuable information to your weight loss journey, as studies are starting to show that an overabundance of stress hormones can play a significant part in weight loss plateaus.

il_570xN.487756649_bs14This is the sensation that you’ll also hear a lot of us refer to as “Runner’s Zone”, “Runner’s Zen,” or “Runner’s High.” It’s the rush we get in the middle of a good run, and it often lasts quite a bit after. The endorphins our body releases are what cause that feeling.

I have found for me personally that I no longer achieve that feeling if I am just walking. Without some interval runs in there that shoot my heart rate up and really get me going, I don’t find that runner’s zen that I chase after when I run. For me it’s a place where I feel connected to my late father, a place where I feel like my mind is silent instead of full of to-do lists, a time when I have some of my most peaceful conversations with myself, set my goals, and work through my emotions and struggles rather than turning to food to stuff my feelings.

All this talk about running has me itching to get out there and get some exercise in today. It’s 9am, 53 degrees and sunny in Wilmington, NC today and this Wellness Coach as a day off from the gym. It’s definitely a day an outdoor exercise cardio day for me. Would you like to join me? Now that you understand what it’s all about, make a promise to get out there and get a little cardio in there yourself today. Why not try to jog for five seconds a few times and see what you think?

When you get home you can write your essay for the second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest. I’d love to see you enter and today is your last day to get those entries in.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

AmeriWell Bariatrics
Like AmeriWell Bariatrics on Facebook ]

logo

WELLESSE
Like WELLESSE on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

BariMelts Logo

BariMelts
Like BariMelts on Facebook ]

#TeamSlenderSeekers would like to thank these early entry Sponsors

Please stay tuned for more Sponsorship announcements.

Please support our sponsors!

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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