Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spotlight #5: 100lbs gone!!! Michelle is my hero!


This is my first time hearing Michelle's story.  I always used to see her out and about on her runs.. never got the chance to get more details on how she got into it.  I have goosebumps all over, no more words needed.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE her story.  Thank you Michelle for inspiring me and I am sure many others!   

Tell us a little about yourself

-My name is Michelle.  I'm 48 years old, and married with 3 grown children.  I have not always been physically active or health conscious.  I was heavy for most of my life and most of my family members are overweight.  I always believed that I was just large-framed or it was in my physical/genetic makeup to be heavy and there wasn't much I could do about it.  As my weight crept up higher and higher over the years I deluded myself into thinking I was fat, but I was healthy.  But I didn't have any energy.  I had depression and anxiety issues.  Over time I started to have problems with my blood pressure and cholesterol levels and hated having to be on BP medications.   About 6 years ago, I finally got it through my thick skull that I was unhealthy and I needed to do something about it and got serious about losing weight and getting healthy.  I didn't make any big, drastic diet or exercise changes all at once--I wanted to do it in a way that I knew I could sustain over the long term.  So I took baby steps, making small changes in my diet and exercise routines over time, mastering one small step then adding another until they became part of my normal routine.  Eventually I lost over 100 lbs and got all of my health numbers into normal range.  I still struggle with keeping that last 5-10 lbs of vanity weight off, but I am happy with my life and my health.


How did you get into trail running?

-When I began exercising, walking was as much as I could do.  I walked around my neighborhood and slowly increased distances until I was walking 3-4 miles a day. When that was no longer challenging me physically, I decided I needed to add a bit of incline to my workout.  I am fortunate to live in a beautiful area with 3 canyons within walking distance of my home, so  I started walking these canyon roads.  I noticed lots of different trails in the area and my curiosity led me to start exploring different routes.  I enjoyed being surrounded by the beauties of nature as I exercised.  It was not only good for me physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  As my fitness levels increased, I started adding in some running intervals to my walks/ hikes and eventually built up to running the routes on a regular basis.


How do you stay motivated?

-My main motivation is how I feel after a good run.  Those feel-good hormones that are released during exercise are addictive!  I have learned that I feel so much better when I exercise. I am a better wife and mother.  I have fewer problems with depression, anxiety and stress. I used to think that exercise would drain my energy, but I have learned that it gives me more energy.   I am also somewhat  motivated by fear--I know I don't want to backtrack and go back to the unhealthy life I had before. 


What are your favorite runs?

-I prefer to run distances between 5-7 miles.  I've tried extending my runs and I tend to have issues with my feet, hips and knees when I go too far past that.  (I am paranoid about getting an injury, not being able to exercise, and gaining a bunch of weight back.)   I haven't entered any races-- I figure 5K and 10k wouldn't be much of a challenge since I do that distance almost daily, and marathons and half marathons would probably kill/injure me.  

-My favorite runs are those I can do  near my house.  I don't want to have to drive to a starting point--I just want to walk out the door and run.  I also prefer out-and-back runs to loop runs.  I know the distances to different landmarks and can easily estimate how long it will take me and fit it into the allotted time I have that day.    I have a couple of go-to runs that I usually alternate between.  From my house to the end of the dirt road in Dry Canyon is 5 miles.  It has enough of an incline (6.7% average) to get me breathing hard and my legs feeling it.  I also do quite a bit of running in Birch Canyon. It has a slightly lower average grade (5.8%--a bit easier to run) and longer distance routes, ranging from a couple of miles to about 9 miles.  Both canyons have access to many hill climbing trails as well as trails suitable for running.


What is your weekly workout schedule like?

-During the summer I do mostly trail runs and hikes.  I run an average of 5-7 miles a day on weekdays, and usually do a hike/climb with my husband on the weekends.  I really should add a couple of days of strength/resistance training in there, but I hate to give up any time in the sunshine and fresh air outdoors in the summer.

-I stay outdoors for as long as possible in the winter, but once things ice over, temperatures drop too low to breathe, and air quality gets bad, I workout indoors.  I alternate between the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike for cardio, and add in some strength training a couple of times a week.  Time stands still when I'm stuck exercising indoors, so I try to change things up all the time to keep from getting  too bored.  


What are your favorite healthy eating tips?  

-I don't really have any great tips.  I try to avoid enriched grains (white flours/white rice/white bread) and trans fats, and try to choose carbs that have protein and fiber to keep you feeling full longer rather than processed or sugary stuff that spikes blood sugar and drops quickly.  I try to keep fruits and veggies prepped and ready for an easy grab snack.   I try to have some sort of lean protein with every snack or meal.  I don't believe in completely eliminating foods or food groups (unless there is a specific medical reason for it), but just try to keep an 80/20 balance in what I do.  80%  healthy natural, unprocessed foods and 20%  less healthy, processed, or snack foods.  It gives me some wiggle room to eat in real-life situations without being too rigid about my diet or feeling too deprived.  



Please share any other tips or fun info that will help others to want to get up and moving.

-If you love being outdoors, go exploring!  I use www.mapmywalk.com to identify local trail routes and calculate distances for my runs and hikes.  It uses satellite imaging to view an area and you can see where a trail goes and estimate how long it will take you before you ever leave the house.  There are lots of other programs and applications to help.  

-I also use the My Fitness Pal application to track calorie input and expenditures.  It has a great database of foods and their nutritional values and helps you log your food intake and exercise calories burned for the day.  This also tracks macronutrients (carbs/protein/fat) so you can keep a good balance throughout the day.  

-Believe in yourself! You are capable of more than you think you are.  Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.  It is not selfish to take time to take care of yourself--it will make you a better, happier person and a better wife and mother. 

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