2016 resolutions revisited

For a lot of people 2016 was a dumpster fire. And that was in addition to the disaster that was the presidential election, which I still haven’t written about, and the heartbreak of losing so many important cultural icons. Aside from those unfortunate events, this year was actually pretty good for me. I am one of the lucky ones. However, when I look back at my 2016 resolutions it doesn’t look quite so positive! I thought I avoided setting myself up for failure by making a small enough number of seemingly achievable resolutions, but it looks like I misjudged. A lot changed for me in 2016 so the grand ideas I had in January weren’t valid later in the year. Fortunately that’s not a bad thing, but it still makes me look like a failure when looking at my list of resolutions.

Resolution #1: Track my running differently
Success! I got my first Garmin GPS watch (a Forerunner 220) for Christmas last year and I started using it to track my running even before 2016 started. And it has been amazing. Being able to see my current distance and time at a glance without pulling my phone out of my pocket is incredibly convenient while training. Also, the Garmin Connect feature stores all of my data so I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made over the last twelve months. (I’ll create a plot of my monthly mileages to share when the year is officially over.) I switched over to my new Forerunner 235 watch with a built-in heart rate monitor a few days ago and I absolutely love it. After only a year I’d be lost without my GPS watch. Here’s to another year of meeting and beating my running goals!

Resolution #2: No more McDonald’s
Failure! I even had McDonald’s for dinner tonight on my way home from the gym. I must admit that these days I have an Egg McMuffin at least once a week, usually after finishing a long run on the weekends. I’m always famished shortly after a long run so I need protein and carbs, and I need them fast. In addition, when my Wednesday night marathon training runs started getting longer I began grabbing McDonald’s for dinner afterwards. In spite of this apparent fiasco I do not feel guilty about being a frequent McDonald’s patron. When it comes to fast food, an Egg McMuffin is one of the best choices I could make. And on an even more positive note I’ve greatly mitigated the unhealthiness of my usual meal by switching from regular soda to diet. So even though on a superficial level it looks like I crashed and burned with respect to this resolution I couldn’t care less. I’m in much better shape at the end of 2016 than I was at the beginning so there’s no use stressing about such a small indulgence!

Resolution #3: Revamp dinners
Failure! The original intention of this resolution was to keep me from eating something outrageously unhealthy for dinner, like handfuls of Cheez-Its straight from the box. Even if I wasn’t having something homemade for my evening meal I wanted to transition to “real food” and away from my destructive habit of heavy snacking. In that sense I suppose I’ve been somewhat successful, but not in the way I planned at the beginning of the year. I owe my weight loss over the last four months to Nutrisystem, but that also means that I’ve been relying on pre-made food for most of my dietary needs. I know I can’t do that forever, though. Next month I’m going to evolve this resolution and add it to my list of goals for 2017 as I start cooking for myself again and working on some additional weight loss (and eventual weight maintenance). The diet struggle continues!

Resolution #4: Train for a marathon
Success! Tomorrow morning is my last training run of 2016, and my last long run (8 miles) before the Walt Disney World Marathon which is just nine days away! Holy cow! Next week I only have three very short runs on my calendar as I close out the taper portion of my training plan, and then I leave for Orlando on Friday. Believe it or not, I haven’t missed a single training run (thank goodness for relatively good health), and I’ve actually overachieved on my required mileage due to the myriad of races I was signed up for this fall. I knew when I started this journey that it wouldn’t be easy, so I am really proud of myself for following through. I can’t believe how strong I feel right now! I don’t expect the marathon next weekend to be easy, but I know I’m prepared and I can’t wait to cross the start line. And then hopefully cross the finish line too!

See my post from earlier this month for details on Resolution #5 (Weight training/cross training) and Resolution #6 (Fit into my old clothes). Luckily for me these were two unexpected successes to close out 2016. Here’s to an even more successful 2017!

Late 2016 resolutions

I only made four official resolutions in 2016, and my adherence to some of those has been less than dedicated. But that’s a post more suited to the end of the month when I admit how much of a slacker I’ve been over the last 365 days. Luckily I actually satisfied two draft resolutions that I made at the beginning of the year, but never seriously committed to. This happens so rarely that I wanted to take credit for these successes while I can!

New Year’s Resolution #5: Weight training/cross training
At the end of last year I realized that running had become my only form of exercise, and I wasn’t even doing that with enough consistency. Going to my weekly spin class (when I actually made an effort to get there) wasn’t really helping because I needed something besides another form of cardio. I knew that if I wanted to be stronger and overall healthier that I needed to diversify my workouts. Unfortunately this wasn’t something that I was motivated to improve on my own. Luckily in June my running buddy invited me to try a class at her gym and I’ve been going to a couple of classes every week since then. It’s amazing! Not only have I changed my body’s shape (a combination of diet and exercise), but I’ve also changed my body’s composition. Over the summer I got a fancy Withings scale that sends data to my phone and tracks my statistics in an app. Since September not only have I gotten lighter, but my muscle mass has increased and my body fat has decreased. I am so pleased with my progress and I hope I can keep it up in 2017.

New Year’s Resolution #6: Fit into my old clothes
I’ve already written so much about this one that you’re probably tired of reading about it! In the past three months I’ve bragged about how some old clothes (and some new ones too) are now too big, and others are finally wearable again. As another example, today I wore a favorite blazer to work that I haven’t fit in to for about two years. And the jeans I wore with it have also been sitting in a box for the same amount of time. They are even a little big! My winter wardrobe is now much larger and I didn’t have to spend a dime! However, I have made a few apparel purchases over the last month as a celebration of my diet/exercise success. Clothes are actually fun when you don’t hate your body! My mom and I had a blast shopping in Tallahassee at Thanksgiving, my Cyber Monday shopping was heavy on clothing, and I found several other items for myself at the Ontario Mills Outlet Mall over the weekend. ‘Tis the season for consumerism! But it’s even more satisfying when I can easily wear items that I haven’t dared try on for years due to my weight. At this rate 2017 is going to be amazing.

2016 Resolution #4 revisited

“I’ve already put all of the September through December training runs on my wall calendar at work so I have some idea of what I’m facing. Even though I don’t even have to start for more than four months, I’m still scared. Am I completely crazy for signing up for a marathon? Time will tell, I guess. If I’m lucky I’ll be a marathoner on my 38th birthday!”
4/22/16 webpage post

Remember how I resolved to train for a marathon in 2016? Well, as of this weekend I have completed nine weeks of the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Program! That means I’m officially halfway through my training. How crazy is that? That also means that there are less than nine weeks until my marathon in January. Yikes! I’m hanging in there so far, though. Surprisingly, I haven’t missed any of those runs that I diligently wrote on my calendar back in April. I may have flexed the schedule a bit to accommodate a couple of races (like the Avengers 5K this Friday morning) and other activities (like gym classes and movie nights), but my total mileage since Labor Day is actually higher than the training plan calls for. Not bad! That’s why I was so happy about being able to complete my 10 mile run yesterday while I was in Arkansas. I was a little worried about getting off track while I was out of town, but thanks to my understanding family I’m exactly where I need to be halfway through my marathon training. Not that I haven’t had a few struggles so far, but I’ll write more about that in another post. This weekend is going to be a little crazy with the Avengers race weekend at Disneyland, especially since I couldn’t stop myself for registering for all three races (5K, 10K, and half marathon). It’s a good thing I caught up on sleep while I was in Arkansas!

2016 Resolution #4

New Year’s Resolution #4: Train for a marathon

After more than a year of deliberations, on Tuesday I registered for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2017. I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but there’s no turning back now! Come hell or high water I’ll be running 26.2 miles the day before my next birthday. It’s a frightening prospect with only a couple of years of running under my belt, but I think I can do it with the right training. Funny enough, I’ve already paid an outrageous amount of money to secure a spot in this race, but my training doesn’t start until September. The week after the Disneyland Half Marathon, actually. Until then I’ll just be attempting to build up and then maintain some semblance of fitness. This spring is all about getting back in shape (I have four more half marathons in the next six weeks plus a 5K and a 10K), but the summer will be more difficult. Trying to keep up a consistent running routine when it’s hot outside won’t be easy for me. As much as I loathe the idea, I may have to become a morning runner. It won’t help that it will still be ridiculously hot when my marathon training plan is scheduled to start. I’ve already put all of the September through December training runs on my wall calendar at work so I have some idea of what I’m facing. Even though I don’t even have to start for more than four months, I’m still scared. Am I completely crazy for signing up for a marathon? Time will tell, I guess. If I’m lucky I’ll be a marathoner on my 38th birthday!

2016 Resolution #3

New Year’s Resolution #3: Revamp dinners

It’s April and I haven’t made all of my New Year’s resolutions yet. It seems I’m procrastinating at a professional level these days. (Except for the fact that I’m almost completely packed for my trip to Orlando on Thursday. That’s an unprecedented state of readiness for any of my travels.) First of all, I’d like to preface this third resolution of the year by confession that I have been thoroughly failing at resolution #2 so far. I have eaten more McDonald’s that I’d like to admit in the last few months. Those Egg McMuffins are addictive little suckers. Although I had one minor victory yesterday when I didn’t patronize the McDonald’s drive thru on my way home from the Hollywood Half Marathon. It’s possible I avoided it because by then it was noon and it takes longer to get Egg McMuffins after normal breakfast hours, but I like to think that willpower won that battle instead. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue the trend in the future. Anyway, back to the resolution at hand. I’ve been pretty successful at taking healthy, homecooked lunches to work with me on weekdays, but dinners have been problematic. Most days when I get home from work I’m tired and hungry – a combination that doesn’t facilitate the best meal choices. At the end of the day I had no energy or desire to do any sort of food preparation. This usually led me to eating Cheez-Its, or some other comparable form of junk food, right out the box. There was a distressing lack of protein, vegetables, or nutritional value of any kind. Empty calories, basically. Something had to change. So when I saw an online advertisement for Freshly, a mail-order meal service, I decided to give it a try. A lot of my friends rave about companies like Blue Apron that ship you all of the necessary ingredients required to cook your own meals, but the thought of having more work to do when I got home every evening wasn’t appealing. But Freshly is different because it delivers healthy, pre-made, single serving meals each week. The only effort on my part would be pushing some buttons on the microwave. I can handle that! And I figured the variety of meals would give me some choices for dinner each night, but only good choices. No more Cheez-Its. So I took the plunge and signed up, and so far I’m impressed! I haven’t had a single bad meal yet, and some of them have been downright delicious. For example, tonight’s dinner was flat iron steak, sweet potato hash, and creamed spinach. So tasty. I’ve only had the subscription for three weeks, but I’m really glad I gave Freshly a try. Now I use actual silverware to eat my dinner rather than shoveling snack food items into my mouth with my hands. We’ll see how it goes in the future!

2016 Resolution #2

New Year’s Resolution #2: No more McDonald’s

In the last few years I’ve done my best to make my New Year’s resolutions simple enough and reasonable enough to be achievable. There’s no use setting myself up for failure right from the start. For example, for this particular resolution I could have set a goal to avoid all fast food in 2016, but I don’t think that’s really feasible. Sometimes I’m just too busy or too tired to make a homemade meal. (Or I’m not in the mood for whatever I cooked over the weekend and portioned out for myself to eat during the week.) So for now I’m starting smaller. It’s time to reign in my McDonald’s habit. I don’t have any trouble staying away from their hamburgers and fries, which I find mediocre at best, but breakfast is another story. Over the last year I’ve gotten accustomed to having an Egg McMuffin and a Coke for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Delicious, quick, and inexpensive, but not exactly healthy. My soda addiction is already well known (although I’ve been successfully cutting back since the beginning of the month) and eating at McDonald’s twice a week isn’t exactly helping. So my objective for 2016 is to find an alternative weekend morning meal, whether I make it myself or get it at a restaurant. On weekdays I make fruit smoothies, which are pretty much perfect, but I’m pretty tired of them after five days in a row. This is going to take some work. I’ll let you know how it goes!

P.S. I must admit that I had breakfast at McDonald’s this morning on my way home from the Star Wars Half Marathon. I was so hungry after running 13.1 miles and I needed food in a hurry. Also, I had an Egg McMuffin and Coke on my birthday after the Southern California Half Marathon. I may have to make an exception to this resolution following major races since I’m always so famished afterwards. It’s a work in progress!

2016 Resolution #1

New Year’s Resolution #1: Track my running differently

Since I started running two and a half years ago I’ve used the MapMyRun app on my iPhone to track my mileage, routes, and other statistics. In general it’s served me very well, but I’ve discovered that it has some limitations. While it’s convenient to only need to take one piece of technology with me when I hit the pavement, it was obvious that the MapMyRun app was giving me credit for more distance than I was actually covering. I’m not exactly sure why it’s so generous, but some of my half marathons appeared to be on the order of 14 miles rather than the expected 13.1. That’s just not realistic. There’s no way I could run the courses that inefficiently so I surmised that the app was lying to me. (Or trying to boost my ego, which isn’t altogether a bad thing.) So after discussing this situation with some friends I decided that I need to get a GPS watch to give me a better indication of my distance and speed. This was especially important when I was training for an attempt at a 10K personal record during the Thanksgiving turkey trot. I needed to average a certain pace to achieve my desired time and I wasn’t going to get accurate information from the app. Luckily my friend who ran with me that day had a GPS watch and she used it to make sure I crossed the finish line ahead of my goal time. So I asked Santa (i.e., my mom and dad) for a Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS watch for Christmas, and it’s my favorite gift that I received this year. It’s incredible. I used it for the first time on Christmas Day when I went out for a jog with my dad. (The weather was hot and humid – pretty much the exact opposite of what you want for running. More on that in a Christmas recap post later this week.) I’ve gone running four times since I got back from Florida last Monday and I love it. I haven’t exploited all of it’s features yet, but it’s already been extremely helpful. I look forward to wearing it for my upcoming half marathons (two in the next two weeks – yikes!). And the Garmin Connect app that pairs with the watch is pretty great too. At this point I’m still using the MapMyRun app on my phone when I run (with the audio turned off) because my last two and a half years of workouts are on there, but I don’t know how important it is to have all that in one place anymore. I have a feeling it won’t be long before I abandon MapMyRun and just use the Garmin Connect instead. I’m moving on to bigger and better things and that feels good.