Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - For Teens

My weight problems started in my teens. I had unknowingly suffered from depression for a couple of years and I was looking for a friend. Sugar highs make you feel good and my sad relationship was born. Add to that the fact that we were poor and the food in the house didn't have the nutritional building blocks you need to maintain a healthy weight and all of us ended up overweight.

I look back all of the time and wish someone would have taken me aside and stopped me before I got of of my teens. When you are young you can reset your metabolism at the drop of a hat. But alas, I waited two decades to learn my lesson.

That's one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping educate kids now, basically from birth, on proper nutrition and how much fun exercise can be.

Today's story is a teen who realized that something had to change and acted. He was able to give up the high-fat, sugary staples of the high school crowd and exercise as well. He's a great inspiration, his name is Chris.

Yours in health, Kate

Fitness Pole Dancing

Yesterday's workout festival started with trainer Traci putting me through my paces at FWW. She did a great job of pushing me. It was a lot better than the last time we met when I felt like I was slogging through wet cement.

One thing we did have to adjust for was my left knee. It really talked back a couple of times. I'm not sure if it was the running, biking or elliptical from the preceding days, but something made it cranky. So we just modified a few moves and I was fine. However, Traci told me no cardio for today to give the knee a chance to rest. Boooo! But, she's right. I just did weights today instead and some strengthening and lengthening moves for my legs, quads and glutes.

As for fitness pole dancing? It was a BLAST! I have never had so much fun working out. It was an introductory class/ party, we had about 18 girls to start (some had to get home to their kids) and we let our inhibitions fall to the floor. Because our group was so big, it only cost us $20 each and was worth every penny.

We met at Kees Camp, where owner and instructor Jen Kees put us through our paces. She taught us a small routine, showed us a number of tricks with the poles and then she and our hostess Sam performed full routines. It was enlightening, sexy and definitely a workout.

Jen Kees had never pole danced before she started the school. She (as did I) heard about it on the coasts about 18 months ago and thought, "why do the coasts get to have the fun?" Rather than wait for the movement to come here, which with fitness usually takes about 3 years, she went and learned and brought it to the metro.

Not only is this workout style empowering, but it shreds your muscles and, once you really get going, is even good for your heart. Immediately after the workout I felt it in my upper back and abs, two areas I am particularly interested in. I'll be honest, I also walked away with a few bruises. But when you are first flinging yourself around a pole, it's going to happen.

I am seriously considering taking the class on a regular basis this winter. I think it will be a nice way to break things up once it gets cold. There's also the added benefit of having some special moves to share with the male species - if they are good. ;)

I am already planning to throw an introductory party of my own. I had a lot of girlfriends who wanted to try it, but were gone for the holiday weekend. Plus my friend Marianne (who is a natural) had girlfriends that missed out and (new Drake college student) Ciera wants to get the girls together as well.

By the way, if you are looking for some party fun, this is a great choice. It could be for bachelorettes, birthdays, anything really. (Even divorce as one person suggested!) Really anytime you want to get the girls together to laugh and have fun, this is a nice break from the bar scene.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Day Full of Workouts

Running way too short on time.

Just FYI -

Workout #1 - With trainer Traci. (Headed there now.)

Workout #2 - Going for brief run while clothes wash at laundromat.

Workout #3 - Trying a fitness pole dancing class tonight.

Will tell you about 1 & 3 tomorrow.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Thursday, August 28, 2008


My car is having issues - AGAIN. So yesterday when I needed to get to a meeting of our entire radio group, I parked my car and ran. Luckily it's very low key because five minutes into my run the temperature went up five degrees and the humidity about 30%. By the time I arrived at the Botanical Center, I was soaked.

I toweled off as best I could in the bathroom. Sat through the meeting. Had a couple of crackers/cheese and some fruit at the social hour and then headed back out the door.

I intended to walk up to Grand Avenue and grab the trolley to 15th and then walk the last 10 minutes home. The trolley was nowhere to be seen, so I just started walking. About three blocks in I decided to say forget the trolley and just keep walking - goodness knows I need the exercise.

However, just as I had left the Bot Center the sun came up and half way through the walk the humidity nearly over ran me. The next thing you know, I am literally soaked. By the time I got home my workout clothes were sopping and my hair looked like I put it in a bucket of water.

And at the moment I was peeling my shirt off I had the same thought we all do - "Why can't you actually sweat your butt off?" Because I guarantee mine would have been pooled on the floor.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


All last winter and spring I was freezing. Constantly cold, hands like ice, people thought it was freakish.

This summer I evened out a bit and spent most of the time feeling just right. I thought my body had finally caught up with the changes and had reset my internal HVAC system. They say that has to happen after a major weight loss. Think again.

The last week it has been slowly cooling down in Iowa. Not really during the day, we are still in the 80's then, but at night we are dipping into the upper 50's. My idea of a perfect day is sunny and 75 during the day, clear and 55 a night, so this should make me pretty happy. Only one problem, I'm cold again.

Yesterday I had to borrow a jacket from Laurie in the sales department to walk down to Starbuck's. Right now I am typing in between bouts of rubbing my arms to remove goose bumps. And I am thinking about how I am going to get my coffee, because it is too cool to walk to Starbuck's - again.

I guess this weekend the one purchase I will make is a fall jacket. I don't actually own one. I put it off to see how much I was going to lose. I think I am in the range where I will end up settling. Plus, with my ample breasts and broad shoulders, I don't think anything less than a large will do.

Before you think I am complaining - ie. stupid woman griping about losing weight and now she's {whine} cold. I am not, I just wanted you to know, there are many sides to losing weight, some more surprising than others.

Yours in health, Kate

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Get Outside

I know I preached about making the most of good weather yesterday, but dang, it was so nice. I just starting walking, then running. I didn't have a plan, I just stepped out the door at work and went.

The next thing you know I am down at Principal Park (Home of the division winning Iowa Cubs!) and I decide to make the turn to Gray's Lake. I've mentioned before that the lake is this precious jewel in the middle of my very urban city, but today it was especially cool.

As I ran through the park there were butterflies everywhere working their way through the freshly regrown brush. The park was, as usual, overrun by water during June's floods. It was left devastated and filthy. The Des Moines Parks and Rec employees and countless volunteers have brought it back in an amazing way.

Well, the butterflies were joined by a myriad of grasshoppers. The birds were singing, the crickets creaking and the water bright blue from the reflection of the sky. I stopped a couple of times, just to take it all in. The coolest thing was the blue heron I saw. He was just standing in shallow river water near the other bank of the Raccoon River. In fact I have never seen a blue heron that was so blue. I stood and watch him for a few minutes while he preened and caught bugs, I loved it.

Today looks to be perfect again and while I had vowed not to run two days in a row, I can't imagine not taking advantage of the weather. Especially since it's my parents anniversary. Why is that significant? Because that means it's August 26th, just a few days from September. The earliest recorded snowfall in state history happened in September! LOL. Probably not this year, but still, got to make the most of it.

I'm gonna get outside again. Not just because it's nice, but as you can see from above, it's also a nice mental break.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Monday, August 25, 2008

From the beginning... Enjoy the weather

It is disgustingly nice outside today. The kind of nice that begs the question, "What the hell are you still doing behind the computer?" Well, I am blogging, but I swear it will be short because the outdoors are waiting for me.

That's my tip I learned early on - if it's nice, get outside. Not only will it help keep you from being bored (the scenery changes constantly) but fresh air and sun are your friends. Fresh air help you learn to breath deeper, because it's clean and your lungs want more.

The sun is your friend, but so is sunscreen. You can still get the vitamin D your body needs from the sun with sunscreen on. That vitamin D is good for your heart, helps your body absorb calcium and helps you have strong bones, teeth, etc.

Plus I find two things are true of my workouts outside - I push myself harder and they tend to last longer. I think that's because, when it's 75 degrees and sunny - like it is right now - who doesn't want to be healthy and active.

Yours in health, Kate

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - Shawn Johnson and her Parents

She's 16 years old. She's 4' 9" and weighs about 90 pounds. She's intelligent, determined, friendly and has a smile so bright she's started a worldwide fire. She is Shawn Johnson winner of one gold and three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics. She also happens to live in my metro area.

I live just off downtown Des Moines and Shawn lives in West Des Moines in a house her father built, not as a contractor, but with his own hands. Her parents, Doug and Teri, have done an amazing job. While Shawn is indeed an elite athlete, one of the best in the world, she is also just an Iowa teen.

With her parents guidance Shawn has trained full-time to be an Olympic star, while keeping her eye on graduating from high school and having as normal a life as possible. Doug and Teri have never pressured Shawn to be a star sports figure, just that if you are going to commit to something, follow through. On the other hand, if she lost her passion, they didn't want her to feel pressure to keep performing - it's all been up to her. In a world where you hear horror stories about 'stage parents' and kids being pushed to illness while training to act, play sports or dance, Doug and Teri have used their Iowa values to help Shawn have balance.

I have had the pleasure of interviewing Shawn, Doug and Teri a couple of times. Each time I was moved and inspired by their love. They are their own team, just like a family should be. And Shawn is clear on how much she is loved and I believe that is why she has an edge over so many athletes.

So, congratulations to Shawn on winning in Beijing! And to Doug and Teri for winning the ultimate - the award for raising a kind, happy, well-adjusted teen. (Oh, and she just happens to be a world class athlete too.)

Yours in fitness, Kate

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Barack Obama nearly ruined my workout yesterday.

I was waiting for the man (o.k., his staff) to text me the name of his vice presidential running mate, so I didn't want my cell phone far away. I wanted to be able to get it on the air if he sent it at a reasonable hour. (He did not, he blew it and the Associated Press broke it late last night. Then he texted me at 6:24 a.m.! - It's Biden, in case you missed it.)

Well, I hate when people have their cell phone with them at the gym. Mostly because, if you're not a surgeon, what could possibly be so important that you can't put your phone to bed for an hour? But I digress.

Anyway, I decided I couldn't be parted from my cell, but still wanted a workout. So, I improvised. I danced in my apartment, did some core and used my own body weight to do arms and lower body.

I know I have mentioned this before, but you do not have to buy a bunch of equipment to get started or even, in my case, to be covered for impromptu needs like these. A few key exercises and a willingness to bring your heart rate up in some form other than running, can get you what you need on 'one of those days'.

You may be wondering what exercises are useful in these cases. I could list a few, but they won't teach you technique. So instead I encourage you to check out Women's Health or use Google. You will find both the exercise and a good explanation of how to do it, in some cases there's even a video.

So, today's advice, don't sit it out, improvise.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Friday, August 22, 2008


As has been made abundantly clear on this blog - I struggle like everyone else. There are days when I am down, I have no energy, I talked smack to myself, I want more and don't know how to get it or I am just in a general funk. I was talking with someone last week who is having a little trouble with the mental game and while I advised that 'we all go through that', inside I smiled - my times are fewer and fewer.

While I was overweight people told me I had such a 'pretty face' and a 'nice smile'. As I have lost weight people have said I have an 'infectious smile', I 'light a room' and I am 'unstoppable energy'. There was a period where I couldn't accept those compliments because I thought they were just saying them because I was thinner and people respond better to healthier looking people.
Then I realized I really couldn't accept what they were saying because I didn't see it. I would look in the mirror and see me, the old me - overweight, miserable, sluggish and dragging through life out of necessity, not passion. I still struggle with this sometimes. I still see the 'fat girl' when I look in the mirror. I spent the majority of my life with only one reality, so when I catch my reflection now, it is surreal to me.

However, by and large, what I see in the mirror is a happy person. Happy. That's not a word I bandied around much except with reference to holidays. Now it's often an answer I give to "how are you?" Yes, I am struggling with romance. Yes, my job has changed which is causing stress. Yes, I am once again caught in a battle between food and my self-respect. But overall, I am happy.

I've looked hard at that and know that it's not because I lost weight, it's because I know care about myself and my life in a way I never have before. While I have always been a passionate person, I am now about living my passion. I seize the moment, I love spontaneity, I try not to turn down fun - I live. And that makes me happy.

By the way, here's what a healthier, happier Kate looks like. (It's from the all new LITE 104.1 site.)

Yours in (mental) health, Kate

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"I must have shrunk my pants in the dryer"

LOL. I used to use that line all of the time before I started losing weight. Never mind that the only thing that was shrinking was my supply of sugared treats. This last week I put on one of my workout tank tops and it hugged my middle showing every roll of extra skin and what's that? FAT!

I stepped on the scale and paid attention for the first time in a while. I had been watching it creep up, but the number awaiting me was a call to action - 163. That's what I weighed Sunday morning. That is not o.k. I would loved to have lied to myself and blamed the dryer or 'putting on muscle', but really, where would that get me?

Instead I walked in the kitchen and made a peanut butter/chocolate pound cake. What?! It was for my Mom's birthday, it was actually Tuesday, but we were celebrating it as part of our usual Sunday get-together. It was decadent and damn tasty and it was my last sugar for the sake of sugar moment until my birthday next month.

After realizing I had put on 11 pounds over the 152 I had been maintaining and 15 pounds over my lowest weight, I was disgusted with myself. And before anyone tells me not to be hard on myself, realize this - I know what got me to 260 pounds and I was doing it again. I was eating too much AND to much sugar and fat.

When trainer Traci and I talked about the eating thing on Tuesday she said, "You have to get back to eating healthy foods." I moped with shame and admitted, "I have been eating healthy, I've just been eating junk on top of it. So all of the calories of the fruits veggies, whole grains and lean proteins get combined with the calories of the junk. It means I am simply overeating."

Those words are hard for me to write, but they confirm something I have said all along - I am recovering from obesity, there is no cure. Like alcoholics I sometimes crave a pill that would truly help me stay healthy, but I know it's not really about the food - it's about the behaviour surrounding the food.

The past few months I had become a 'secret eater' again. Fat filled crap doesn't count if you eat it in the car where no one can see you, right? You can have the three cookies if you eat your carrots. If people in the office don't see me down that second piece of birthday cake, they'll still respect me. You see, it's a sickness. It's an addiction.

You find yourself bargaining your way into that bag of 100 calorie chips, it's only 100 calories. But when you add into that the handful of M&Ms you had and the cookie you will have and the treat from Starbuck's that's standing in as your 'second breakfast' and the protein shake you 'should have' after your workout and the two servings of the entree and... And I think you get the point, gluttony is realized.

The other thing I really impress upon people is that being healthy is a lifestyle change. You can't just do it for a while and then go back to what you were doing - that's a diet and diets don't work. No, you have to maintain your healthier habits for life. Yes, you can have sweets once in a while - but it truly has to be rare and controlled. Half the cake when nobody is looking is still half a cake.

So I really was, until a couple of months ago, shrinking my clothes in the dryer. My pants size was between 10 and 12 and I need them snugger. Well, check that off my list, they are definitely snugger. Now, I have to shrink me back into them and I will.

On Monday I cut my calories to about 1,400 a day. The current plan is:

Breakfast: small bowl of high-protein/fiber cereal w/ skim milk
Coffee: skim milk, drizzle of cream, Splenda
Morning snacks: Several small portions of fruit to keep my blood sugar up, if it drops too far, I will be starving at my next meal and prone to over eat
Lunch: Yogurt, fruit, carrots
Afternoon snack: Something high protein and fruit
Dinner: big salad, big bunch of veggies, reasonable entree
Dessert: strawberries with teaspoon+ of vanilla sugar.

I have been lacking energy lately, but by mid-afternoon yesterday my energy was picking back up. Just three days in and I am seeing results in how I feel and I have lost 2 pounds. Amazing what happens when you do what you are supposed to do.

But this time, when I get back down to 148, I am not going to let myself plateau. This time I am going to take my body fat to where I want it to be and then I can look at maintenance. No more of this standing on the edge of the shore, dangling a toe crap, it's time to dive in and finish the race.

Yours in health, Kate

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Slogging Through Wet Cement

The last two days my workouts have been tough. Not because they were actually difficult, on a good day I would have been fine. But something in me is askew. I am tired. I am sad. Running feels terrible. A number of little things are plaguing my body and I can't pinpoint a single one that is 'the one'.

Two days ago I decided to run an errand by walking and running. I have done this innumerable times. I had to walk home from work to retrieve some checks I needed to deposit in the bank. My calves and hamstrings were as tight as they have ever been. In fact, I found myself thinking I was more flexible a year ago than at that moment. I walked home and back anyway. Then I took the trolley to the bank.

I decided things must be better now that I was warmed up, so I started running back to the station. It was a little better, but my shin and my Achilles began to hurt on my left leg. While the Achilles has a recent history, I haven't had shin splints since about 3 months after I started running 18 months ago. It was disconcerting. I kept stopping and stretching and trying to rub it out.

Yesterday I met with trainer Traci. She is always ready for me because I love it. She tries very specifically to make my workout difficult and prefers that I whine at some point. She got plenty of that.

I was completely out of sorts. I was a couple of minutes late, so when she out me on the treadmill straight away, I faltered. She wanted me to go my usual easy stride of 6 miles an hour and weave in some hills. I began wheezing, just like I did last week when I ran with Bret. Then my Achilles tweaked and my shin started throbbing. I whinced. Traci let me off and took me to the elliptical. I warmed up there.

Then it was on to arms, where I struggled with the usually easy dips for my triceps, pull-ups for my biceps and push-ups for my chest and back. I felt like all of my strength was gone. Like my muscles had atrophied and I was back to where I started a year ago with Traci.

We talked it through. She confirmed what I was thinking - my crappy, sugar-laden diet of the past few months had to go. Luckily I had ditched it on Monday - tomorrow I will cover the corrections I have made in my diet. She says if a couple of weeks of real food and hard workouts don't pull me out of feeling like this, it's time to see the doctor - I agree.

I finished the workout, but barely. It was the kind of workout that I would have shredded just a couple of months ago. My wimpiness made me very angry at myself. I know everyone has an off day, but they are rolling together like crap downhill and it's NOT o.k. I have become a bad example, even to myself.

So, today it's back to the gym to see if I can shake this off before I end up sleeping with the fishes because the cement has dried around me.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Monday, August 18, 2008

From the beginning... Drink up!

Nope, sorry, not encouraging to imbibe alcohol. Other than red wine, there is very little in the world of fermented and aged drinks that has any health value. Instead they are empty calorie laden confections that depress rather than energize. That said - a drink here or there won't do you or your healthy lifestyle in, as usual, it's all about moderation.

Today's lesson that I learned long before I ever got healthy was that water is our friend. Our bodies are 90% water and we must constantly replenish it. But water has other tricks it can use to keep you healthy as well and it's these that fall under the 'Get Healthy' mantra.

-Water helps fill you up.
-Water has ZERO calories.
-Water helps wash out toxins.
-Water helps you digest.

There are many, many other reasons to be sure you get enough water, but those are a nice start. Of course, then there is the question of "How much is enough?" That is being endlessly debated.

A nice start is always the standard - "Get 8 - 8 ounce glasses a day." If you are not an active person, that will do just fine, the water in your food should cover the rest of your hydration needs.

If you are active or are attempting to lose weight the answer is more - how much is your call. I've lost track of how much I drink a day, though I put is around 12 cups without the water for my workouts.

That's the only area where there is some agreement in the science world - how to rehydrate after working out. You need to replace double what you sweat out. The biggest rule I follow post workout is, after the initial (slow) replacement of fluids, do I feel thirsty? If the answer is yes, then I keep drinking.

The biggest bonus to water is that it takes up space in your stomach. That means you can fight hunger pains with water, to a point. It's not a meal replacement because it has no calories. But if you have hunger pains for no good reason, or want to put off eating for a meeting, a big glass of water can be a nice stoppage device.

Drink up and feel better, I promise. And you may even lose a little weight.

Yours in health, Kate

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - Do it for the Kids

When I was a kid I was active, always on the go, much like my young nephew now. As I hit my teens depression settled over me and I became less motivated to move. The couch and TV became my best friends. Even once I got a job, it didn't help - I worked at a bakery - very little moving, lots of eating. By the end of high school I had fully transformed into an obese person. Only then nobody used that word - you were just fat.

I look at the (I'm sorry to say) literally growing problem of childhood obesity and I am very sad. Convenience foods, less play time, rides to and from school, no physical education in school, television and poor nutritional knowledge are gathering as a perfect storm. Very involved parents can fight all of this off. But sometimes even the parents that mean well need help.

That's where programs like "Trim Kids" come in. This is a cooperative effort between the YMCA and local hospitals. It's a combination of exercise and eating education. Nobody gets put on a 'diet', they are kids for god's sake - they need to grow! Instead they are taught how to make better choices, what a real portion size looks like, how to trade fruit for sugar and when treats are o.k.

The other interesting thing they are taught is to play again. I interviewed one of the leaders for "Trim Kids" a couple of months ago and that's exactly how she put it. She said too many kids thought to lose extra pounds and be healthy they had to be like adults and hit the treadmill or gym seven days a week. Most kids are surprised to learn if they simply add physical play like playing soccer or jumping rope back into their lives, they can have fun AND give their bodies what they need.

That, of course, is completely right. Now I'm not saying that kids who are severely overweight can reduce without reducing their calorie intake. But this program tries to catch kids before it gets horribly out of hand. Instead taking kids that could end up obese and giving them the knowledge to even things out so they can become healthy adolescents and then adults. I wish something like this would have existed when I was young.

The great thing is the program is financially feasible for everyone, it's just a few dollars a week. Plus, I almost forgot, this isn't just a program for the kids - it's for the adults in their life as well. While the kids are off playing get healthy games, the adults are learning more about how to shop and cook healthy meals. It's a holistic approach and for good reason - no child gets fat on their own. Adults, we do this all of the time, but kids eat what's in the house.

I am inspired by this program because it's common sense, something I and the world as a whole could use more of. And kids on the program have lost 10-60 pounds - all from simply doing things the right way - eating healthy and getting physical. It's awesome!

Yours in health, Kate

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cram it In

Thursday was quite a day. I am the news director for the Des Moines Radio Group. There was a complicated double murder and hostage situation. It was my job to get out on the scene and get the facts. Some (happily) ace reporting on my part got the straight story on the air before anyone else AND I didn't have to correct anything because I got it right the first time.

However the day unfurled with me standing on the scene for two and a half hours. Then it was off to a couple of meetings. Then I returned to go out to the State Fair to do an interview and found an e-mail telling me there was a press conference to wrap up the morning. At that moment I knew that working out was now unrealistic.

"Oh but wait, I can cram it in." And I did. I was at home, so I decided to walk the .8 miles to the station. Then I trollied to within three blocks of the police station and walked to the press conference. I covered the story and then walked the 1.5 miles back to the station. I used the time to listen back to the press briefing and pick out my quotes. So I multi-tasked my work and health. Damn, I'm good. (Anyone got a pin, my egos clogging up the room. ;) )

After I edited the sound bites, I walked home. In all about 3 miles. Not bad considering I wasn't going to get anything in yesterday. The only casualty was my nice shirt I was wearing. By the time I walked home I had pitted it out, but hey, that's what Tide is for.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let's Go on an Adventure!

I get to spend time with Caelen for the next 36 hours! I can't wait. I have a few things planned, but I am also going to let him come up with an idea or two.

I want to take him on a pony ride this afternoon. We will definitely go to the farmers market in the morning and swimming too. Tonight before bed it's s'mores! (You know they are called that because everyone always want 'some more' and I do.)

Otherwise there is always a nature hike or the butterfly festival tomorrow. But generally, just being with my favorite guy will be enough for me. I never feel a more pure love than when I am in his presence.

Plus, he is a great conversationalist. For a guy that's only going to be 5 in a couple of weeks he is whip-smart, very analytical and can rationalize better than most people I know. I can only hope our little village keeps raising him this way - if so, he will not only be the most brilliant astronaut/ fire fighter/ professional Spiderman ever - but he'll also be a hell of a catch for some lucky girl!

So we are off on our adventure! Now go plan your own!

Yours in (mental) health, Kate

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Would You Like Cheese with That Whine?

I went and did a CrossFit workout with Bret yesterday. It's really way too convenient that he has a gym attached to his house with every piece of equipment you could need. If I had that, winter would be wonderful. No more questions about whether I can get across town when it's snowing to beat the band, so I can lift weights. Anyway, I digress.

The workout with Bret -

Run 1/2 mile
50 sit-ups
50 back extensions

Do this three times, while timing yourself.

The first run I sounded like I was going to suffocate, I was wheezing like I had pneumonia. I found that, at best, ironic, since the day before I had run five miles and didn't seem to be out of breath. Bret actually stopped and looked at me to see if I was o.k. (Very embarrassing.)

Then I did 25 sit-ups, 25 back extensions, 25 sit-ups, 25 back extensions. I just couldn't do them all at once - but I did them. A year ago, no, uh-uh, no.

I took off on my next run, again sounding like Darth Vader's huffy sister. I have no idea what the hell was wrong. Again Bret expressed concern, it was nice, but I was pretty peeved at myself at this point. Add insult to injury, on the way back to his house I am gasping along and space off, turning a street too soon. I ended up running two extra blocks - brilliant.

Then I repeated my core and back. Halfway through I inform Bret, who's about to head out the door for his third round of running - "I'm only doing two rounds". He didn't bat an eyelash, he just ran out the door.

I sat there slowly pushing my way through the sit-ups and back work. I convinced myself that there was nothing wrong with not doing the third round. When Bret came back from running and started his sit-ups I was done with mine. He said, "Off for your third round?"

And I whined, "No, I don't wanna." Yep, sounded just like an impudent 3-year-old who doesn't want to eat their broccoli, it was fabulously stupid. Bret just said, "Oh, that's right, you said you weren't doing a third round" and went back to his sit-ups.

I stood there and looked at the gaping door and bargained with myself - fine, I'll do it, but I am walking. I gruffly swaggered out and on to the sidewalk. Then I realized I was being a whiny baby and started to run. Yes, I interspersed with walking, but I was going to finish the damn thing. And I did.

Afterward I told Bret what he needed to say when I get like that - "Would you like cheese with that whine?" He laughed. I thanked him for pushing me. He said I pushed myself. He's right, but I also didn't want to look like a wimp in front of him.

What kind of cheese do you think goes with being a wimp? Limburger?

Yours in fitness, Kate

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's a Blur

Last Wednesday I had a swimming lesson with coach Kelli. I finished up my lessons on Monday. I am now substantially more proficient at being in a pool. It is simply a matter of practice, practice to work my way toward a mini-triathlon next year. In the meantime, this winter, I will try my gym's indoor tri.

But again, to last Wednesday - I forgot my goggles. Not the world's biggest deal, I had forgotten them before. We were working on turns and I was trying to figure out where the wall was when I went under water, so I had my eyes open often. I've done this before again, no big deal. I did note to Kelli that my eyes were stinging more than usual and that the water tasted worse than ever (still working on that breathing thing), but I didn't think anything of it.

When I got out of the pool and headed toward the showers, I noticed that things were foggy. It was humid, I thought maybe the pool and shower area had steamed up. But when I went to get out of the shower, I realized it was more than steam. The chemicals had burned my eyes.

Things were so blurry and foggy it was making me dizzy. If I could read anything it was double. I had a little panic attack, something that hasn't happened since I lost all of the weight. There are two things I need for my job - my eyes to read and my voice to speak.

I mentioned the problem when I got upstairs, turns out they were treating the pool with some especially harsh chemicals. I told the trainer in charge that it was bad and he said sorry, but the pool had to be treated. (He wasn't really any more apologetic on Monday when I told him I had to go to the eye doctor, that was a little frustrating.)

That afternoon, I got eye drops, they didn't really help. I had Lori get me eye wash, that's when things began to clear up a little. By the next day things were better, but not perfect. I went to the eye doctor. She said I had gotten lucky and things were going to be o.k., but not to forget my goggles. She also said they need to put up a sign when they are going to 'shock' the pool, so they don't get sued. (That suggestion at the gym got me a blank stare.)

So, what have I learned? You buy equipment for a reason - remember it and use it.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yes, but can you run it off?

So, I went on that little, "You can't walk it off" rant about the Iowa State Fair the other day. I stand by it because the average person is not getting anywhere near 'burning off' speed when it comes to walking the fairgrounds.

On the other hand, today I went to the fair again. This time I trollied from work to the state capitol. Then I ran from the capitol to the fairgrounds - 2.88 miles according to Mapquest. I ran it in 25 minutes, which is 8.68 minutes per mile. That all equates into about 347 calories being burned.

Then at the state fair I splurged and had a caramel apple. (Stress the apple to make me feel better.) That's about 330 calories. (Damn that caramel.) Therefore I immediately wasted what I had just done. Sad but true.

But wait, Kate reprieves herself by the way she got back to the office. I took the shuttle back to the capitol, because the sidewalks suck on East Grand or honestly I would have run back. Then I ran from the capitol back to my office, 2.10 miles in about 18 minutes. That equates to about 250 more calories burned. Phew, dodged that bullet. :)

Tee-hee. I am a naughty monkey.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Monday, August 11, 2008

From the beginning... Learn to Breathe

Everything in life literally comes back to the breath you draw. Without breathing, you will die. Learning to control that breath can help you live an even fuller life.

I have learned along the way in this journey:

  • Sometimes, when the stress hits, you need to remind yourself to breathe.
  • There is a specific rhythm to breathe when you are running - it's your own. I tried to do the whole in the nose out the mouth (I think that was it), but I just about suffocated. As long as you are not hyperventalating - you are breathing the right way for you.
  • Exhale on the heavy part of your weight lifting. Holding your breath sucks the life out of the lift and could cause you to pop a vein. (Sorry, this could be literal.)
  • Don't open your mouth before your head is out of the water when swimming. I know this sounds basic, but you would be shocked (if you are just starting to swim like me), how much you want to breathe for fear of drowning. Really throws the rhythm off. :)
  • When people are giving you 'solid advice' about your health (and they have never been overweight), breathe. It will calm you and keep you from being forced into anger management.
  • On that first long hill on your bike, breathe. No breathing, means no oxygen to your muscles. If you think your quads burn now, try stealing their oxygen. The cramps will be enough to knock you out of the saddle.
  • Breathing will help you find your center - emotionally, physically and even with food.

So, find your rhythm, learn how to speed it up and slow it down. You will have greater control over everything, if you learn to breathe.

Yours in health, Kate

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - Caelen

As I have mentioned, people always ply me for my reasons I lost weight. I always say there were many things that just piled up like the pounds and finally I made the changes. One of the biggest things that came to bare, in fact, the most important one, was my nephew Caelen.

What I am about to say I have never told anyone...

When Caelen was born nearly five years ago I was instantly in love. He was this perfect person with all of the potential in the world and I wanted to be a part of that. I didn't know how the next several years would unfold and that I would get that chance - I just saw that the opportunity was there.

But what I also saw was the embodiment of my failings.

I was celebrating my 32nd birthday. I had fully expected that I have would have kids by then. I am the oldest and the only daughter - by rights I am supposed to have kids first, I had not.

I had to look no further than the mirror for all of the truths of why. Yes, there was the weight. But there was the distaste I had for myself that made me unattractive to anyone. I was shut-off emotionally from family and friends, never mind romance. I was wrapped in my cocoon of fat.

When I look back I realize I was more afraid of losing weight and being attractive than I was of dying from obesity. I didn't want a man. I had and have, spent my whole life around sick and failed relationships. I still struggle with the concept that love and coupledom can work. Though today, substantially stronger than any other point in my life, I am at least willing to take the bumps and bruises that come with trying.

Caelen has made all of this possible. As he grew I slowly came to see I was setting an example. He loved me, he wanted to emulate me and I was being an ass by using the , "do as I say, not as I do" crap with him. No really kid, you eat the blueberries, I'll be over here gorging on Oreos. No really kid, go over and get your toy, I can't get my fat butt off the floor to do it without getting dizzy.

Caelen was about 18 months old and moving like a shot when the evidence began mounting that a fat auntie wasn't going to work in his world. He was simply too active, eager and hopeful to be held back by me. It would still take me a little over a year to decide to do something about it.

That first day, July 18, 2006, as I vowed to actually change this time - I stood watching Caelen sleep on my bed. He had outrun me that day. It wasn't in a dangerous situation, but it easily could have been. At that point we were going more and more places. He was having fun and learning.

And I could see him quietly watching me. I knew that the question would come some day, in fact I was shocked it took as long as it did. But about 3 months into my weight loss he said, "Auntie, why are you so fat?" By that time he was 3 years old. There was no malicious intent, he truly wanted to know. Thank god I had made the change and it was working or it might have hurt. But by that time, I, for the first time in my life, was being totally honest inside and out. No more crapola, I told him the truth.

"Baby, you're right, I am fat. I have eaten too much for a long time. And the food I have eaten hasn't been good for me. Now I am eating things that are good for me, like fruits and vegetables and I am going to lose weight and feel better." Probably more than he wanted to know, but I have never tried to keep things from him, I wasn't starting now.

Since then we have had frequent discussions about nutrition. How sugar is for special occasions and how important making the right food choices is. He remembers everything you tell him, so I try to stay away from finds in the latest research. That way, if something changes, I don't have to read him the report explaining why. :)

So, Caelen was one of my original inspirations. I wanted to be able to outrun him. I wanted to be able to get off the floor. I wanted to be able to ride horses with him. I wanted no limits on what he and I could explore. I don't ever want to have to turn back from something he should be a part of because of my short falls. I want his world to always be what it has been from the beginning - full of potential.

Friday, we are going horseback riding and swimming and quite possibly on a butterfly hike on Saturday. Thank you Caelen, I love you.

Yours in health, Kate

Saturday, August 9, 2008

You Can Walk it Off - uh, no

"You can eat anything you want at the Iowa State Fair, because you walk it off."

I can't really spell the kind of laughing this incites from me. That is one of the most hilarious statements ever! No you CAN'T!

For example - One corn dog (by far the most popular fair food)
460 calories, 20 grams of fat

Now, the walking. Everyone always thinks they walk much further at the fair than than they really do. None-the-less, I will be generous here:

Walk 6 miles at 2.5 miles an hour = 491 calories burned

The problem is, even if you really walk that far, you aren't maintaining that pace really. You are stopping and starting. Plus, most people walk about 2 miles an hour when they don't have anywhere specific to be.

Anyway, as you can see, you could burn off a corn dog. (We'll ignore the artery causing fat, far too much of it saturated.) Did you slug the dog down with a soda? How about a beer? Split a funnel cake? Grab the mini-cookies? The list goes on and on.

What I am getting at is, don't delude yourself whether it's the fair or another 'off' occasion. You are going to have fun, not count calories. Because if you went to do the latter, you would be shocked into possibly never going to a big, fun event again.

The key with the Iowa State Fair is the same as with your overall eating habits - everything in moderation. If you can remember that, you will win by not waking the next day with a food hangover.

FYI - If you are looking to take the fair on in a slightly healthier manner, the Iowa Heart Center has an article on food alternatives that are a bit healthier - HERE.

Above all - have fun and remember, it's only once a year. (Thank god, because that fried Twinkie gets me every flippin' time!)

Yours in health, Kate

Friday, August 8, 2008

Walk from Obesity

(As promised yesterday...)

My short-term goal is to get my body fat within striking distance of a maintenance point before September 27th. Why? So I don't end up feeling like a big hypocrite when I go speak at the "Walk from Obesity".

I was invited some months ago to speak at this annual walk. It acts as a fundraiser/ educational event to help people who suffer from obesity. It's a chance for overweight people to come together and find another way to live. It is sponsored by the bariatrics department at Iowa Health, so they talk a lot about bypass surgeries. But they also talk about other options, including the one I took.

I interviewed the organizers last year before the walk for a talk show I do called "Information Iowa". I was very skeptical because I was concerned it was one big commercial for surgery. I consider bypass and lap band procedures to be the absolute, unequivocal, LAST resort for people. I want proof from anyone who claims to have 'tried to lose weight a million times' really has before they face going under a knife and possibly dying.

So when they invited me to speak, I was humbled and flattered and jumped immediately. Not because I like having my ego fed, but because this is a chance to do what I have made part of my mission since having success in weight loss - inspire others.

However, as I get ready to head to the Iowa State Fair for what will be my "off" day this week, I am facing the fact that I have not been as diligent as I need to be. My healthy eating has been held down by too much sugar and fat for several months now. I still eat the healthy things and workout, but I could be rid of the remaining fat if I would stay out of the cookies.

So, I have set a schedule to meet with trainer Traci every two weeks between now and the end of September. I am making the effort to put in longer workouts. I will get near 19% body fat by the walk. Then I will maintain it.

At that point I will feel like I can stand before a hundreds of people and talk about my recovery from obesity. I can tell my story and not feel like a liar. I tell people to eat healthy and know that I have rededicated myself. I can Walk from Obesity too.

Yours in health, Kate

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Going Old School

Today I headed out of the front door of my office at 2 p.m. I had no real destination, just away from my office. I had my workout gear on and my mp3 player rockin'. The big question - would I walk or run?

I went for walk. In fact I went for a loooong walk. I hit the four mile mark when I realized I had forgotten an eye appointment. So I booked it for the appointment and walked in sweaty, but on time.

Afterward, I walked back to work. All in all nearly 6 miles of walking. I haven't done that in a loooong time. Very old school. Very 17 months ago. Very fun.

Tomorrow, I will finally tell you why I have a new short term goal with an honest to god deadline - September 27th.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roses from a Friend

My life has been unendingly stressful lately. I assuage my feelings of frustration and sadness with the fact that nothing truly tragic has happened. No one has died.

But still life can get to be too much. I can be quite stubborn and hard to read. I tend to take the attitude that I really do not need help. But everyone does, sometimes, even me. No one else seemed to really understand what I needed - just a little TLC.

My friend Peggy at work did. Out-of-the blue yesterday, she sent me roses. As I sit here in my office, in the midst of another day where I feel misplaced and confused, I am looking at them and it helps. Thank you for 'getting it' Peggy!

Yours in (mental) health, Kate

Monday, August 4, 2008

From the beginning... Fat will make you Fat

The past few months I have once again been struggling with sugar. I don't know why I haven't been able to let it go. But every cookie, dense piece of cake and brownie has tempted me to the point of caving. I have spent quality time beating myself up over lacking self-respect. (While stuffing another bite in my face.) It has been self-defeating and just flat negative. But this weekend I had a breakthrough moment.


The way I eat these days is low in fat, except for a little olive oil here or nut fat there, almost everything I eat is 6 grams of fat or less. Unless, of course, you count those 'temptations' I mentioned. The average cookie has a minimum of 10 grams of fat - yes, per cookie. Brownie - 20-26. Cake - 25-35. Cheesecake - 35+.

Yes, this label is for ONE! brownie.

While I have been lamenting the sugar, the fat has been piling up. The pathetic thing is that the fat content rarely passed through my mind on my benders. And while we are talking fat - no 'from scratch' baked good worth its sugar is baked without whole eggs and real butter - so bring on the cholesterol too.

Holy crap!

I haven't just been feeding my stress and emotions with the white/brown stuff - I have been damaging my health with flat-out healthy diet contraband! The only saving grace, perhaps, is that I tend to like the locally produced goodies, so no trans fats. However, that doesn't negate the overall affect on one's body. To be blunt - fat with make you fat.

The body feels the need to store that which it doesn't need right now, for a rainy day. Fat is not a quick burn, carbs are, protein can go either way. It's all about your body's make-up and what you are doing around the time you consume your food. While in the end it comes down to the simple equation - calories in needs to be less than calories out - when it comes to losing weight; fat is the last point of interest for the body to burn.

Luckily, the body needs 'X' amount of fat to survive. If we lower our overall fat intake, it will have to burn some of what we have stored to survive. The other way we lose fat is by lowering overall calories - your body will burn fat when it runs out of immediate calorie sources and needs energy.

That is where making sure you are getting enough protein and plant sources come in, your body will seek out what it needs. If you are eating plenty of lean protein and vegetables, it won't bother to go after your muscles or anything else in your body - except fat, for energy.

Obviously, I am writing this to share some fat facts. But honestly I am writing it for me as much as anyone. I needed a reminder of why I don't eat 'treats' anymore, except on rare occasions. There is nothing healthful or body fulfilling in them. They taste good, they give you a temporary high to make you 'feel better', but in the end they are a crutch for people like me.

While I definitely do not believe in ever denying yourself anything - it should be everything in moderation. I 'moderated' myself right into a long term binge. Now it's time to move myself right out. Both my butt and my heart will thank me.

Yours in health, Kate

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - It's what you know

Along my journey to health I have made it my daily goal to learn something new about nutrition and something new about fitness. One man and two magazines have made it really easy. David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief and his two magazines - Women's Health Magazine and Men's Health Magazine.

Zinczenko is a prolific writer who has produced several books, not the least of which is "The Abs Diet" and "Eat This, Not That". I think I have blogged about both at some point. David is a no nonsense guy when it comes to eating right and exercising. He doesn't have a fad or pill to sell you, he has magazines.

In those magazines you will find facts, exercises, recipes and ideas. When a new product that comes on the market that might be helpful, you'll find that. On the other hand you will find they call b.s. when they see it with new products, research and 'quick cures'.

The overwhelming theme of the periodicals is - as their name says - health. David seems obsessed with it and I couldn't be more grateful. While I don't get all of my info from them, (because there are millions of sources out there) they are a great jumping off point.

So, whether you are looking to be inspired by a great weight loss story, a new way to cook chicken, an ab move that works wonders or a new medical fact - these are three great sources for that inspiration.

Yours in health, Kate

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Training with Traci

I apologize, once again, for being too busy to post yesterday. In a week that was supposed to be about a reboot, I ran aground twice with no posts. Oh well, just like with getting healthier, if you have a misstep, get up and go again.

Yesterday I was busy with a project at work, but then had to get to the gym to train with Traci. I love training with her. She knows that I am one of her clients she can challenge, so she always cranks things up a notch and makes them fun. She also throws in some damn tough stuff, just to make sure I whine.

My whining at some point is her goal. She likes it when I have to stop. I think it's her way of being assured I haven't outgrown her. I haven't said this to her, but if she keeps her continuing ed going and continues to research as veraciously as she does about the latest techniques, she will easily stay ahead of me.

Yesterday's session was a combination of a lot of core and cardio. Though she did it in a very interesting way. I warmed up with a walk. Then it was on to 90 seconds of core, then 60 seconds of jumping rope, then 90 seconds of core/upper body, 60 seconds of jumping rope and so on. She didn't add correctly, so we came up at 45 minutes, at that point she added another couple of rounds she created on the spot.

We also played with the hula hoops. Fitness World West has some really innovative classes - Hula-Fit Mix, Workout Recess, Bootcamp x2 and more. I haven't actually taken the Hula class because I didn't think I could hula hoop. I tried a couple of years ago for Caelen and humiliated myself. I was too fat and had no waist, hard to maintain hula height then.

But yesterday since we had time to kill and hula-fit is good cardio and core, I decided to give it a try. It was a blast! I forgot how much fun it was. Plus, these are specially weighted hula hoops, so they really make you work. I don't know if I am going to take the class, because it's too late in the evening for me. (Darn that getting up in the middle of the night.) But I know I am going to go steal use of one again today.

Anyway, I will be training with Traci every two weeks for the next two months. I have a new short-term goal to meet. I will tell you what that is on Tuesday.

Yours in fitness, Kate