Healthy Living Week: The Nerdy Runner's Story

>> Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First, I just wanted to let you know that I just found your blog in the past couple of weeks and have really enjoyed reading it. I follow a lot of running blogs (as well as have one of my own) and love that you've been able to write about so much more, yet still have a fairly centralized focus on budget-friendly healthy living. I, too, try to follow a healthy lifestyle. Although, I'm not always successful with healthy eating, I have noticed drastic changes in my body over the past year.

Here's the gist:

After getting married, I began to put on weight. I blamed the majority of my weight gain on my new-found love of baking (mainly desserts), but the truth is that I'd never paid attention to portion control or making sure I ate healthily. Throughout my school years I was an active dancer. I was a member of the dance team in high school and my freshman year of college, then I moved back home to get married and no longer participated in organized dance. I never realized just how important that physical activity was for my body. The results: I quickly put on 50 or so pounds within 2-3 year of marriage. I was definitely NOT on a good path!

Over the next year I tried to lose weight. And I successfully managed to lose 25 pounds, but almost immediately gained back at least 15 of those.

Fast forward to April of 2009. I was sick of being overweight and tired of the way I felt about my body. It's embarrassing, but I even began to notice how uncomfortable it was for me to cross my legs. Scratch embarrassing; I found it humiliating. I knew I needed to do something to change the way I felt about myself. I knew that physical activity (mainly dance) was what kept me at a healthy weight for years, but I knew that my body needed more than just exercise now. I knew that I needed to pay closer attention to what I ate, especially if I wanted to lose weight, not just maintain it like I did before.

The timing I chose was tough. I was in the middle of my graduate school career and was often on campus for 12 hours a day, through lunch and dinner. But, then again, maybe that made it a little easier. I was able to pack myself a lunchbox full of healthy foods such as raw veggies, fruits, and deli sandwiches (now made on whole wheat bread). Plus due to the grad school budget, whatever I packed was all I got. I payed close attention to my diet and even used an app on my iPhone (Lose It!) to help me keep track of how many calories I needed. I knew that by introducing running (something I had never liked before) into my routine it was important that I make sure I had enough food to keep me going. I wanted to make sure that I lost weight the right way. I didn't want to be "skinny," but healthy. I wanted to feel good about myself and not be ashamed to wear shorts out in public, but also be strong enough to not tire from walking up a few flights of stairs.

Between altering my diet and starting the Couch to 5K running program, my body began to react to the changes. Not only did the weight start to melt off, but I started to have more energy. I had less problems with depression, and running seemed to help alleviate the stresses I felt. I began to actually enjoy my time out on the road and started increasing my distances. Before I knew it a year had passed and I managed to complete my very first marathon within 362 days of starting the Couch to 5K program. It was definitely a challenge and took loads of discipline, but I loved it.

I am now currently training for the St. Jude Marathon in December. I've also noticed major changes in how my body responds to food. Because the majority of what I eat is REAL food (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.), when I eat food that is not healthy for me, my body doesn't respond as well. Now don't get me wrong, I still enjoy ice cream, burgers, and the occasional donut, but I don't get those foods nearly as often and I definitely pay for it if I eat them in the care-free quantities I used to. I've even had many completely meat-free days without even trying. Instead opting for the meat-centric plate, I now find myself ordering veggie-filled main dishes while eating out.

This is completely new to me and I'm slowly starting to discover how delicious vegetables can be. I don't think I'll be making the jump to vegetarian any time soon (I'm married to a steak-and-potatoes kind of man -- and I like meat, too), but the majority of my diet no longer revolves around meat. Now that I am back to being home most nights with my internship starting (no more night classes, yay!), I am working on learning new healthy recipes and experimenting with foods I'd never even noticed before. I've even managed to find a few recipes that the hubby wants to make again!

So that's where I am now. I'm working hard to stay active and am hoping that my internship won't interfere with my plans to train for the St. Jude Marathon. My focus has moved more towards new recipes and I'm trying to cook more meals at home that follow healthy guidelines than on weight loss. At this point in my life (and hopefully from now on), I just try to live a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading!

- The Nerdy Runner

You can learn more about me on my blog. And I can also be found on Twitter.

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