What is this all about?

I started this blog to keep me accountable in my fitness and clean eating journey. My first post was in March of 2007 and I've been posting ever since. As you will see I've had many highs and lows...but this is all about the journey...not just the destination

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spinning and Biking

So today - I got up at 4:15 and got on the computer (in the bed -- sad I know). Then headed out to the gym to get a quick ab workout in before spin class. Yesterday I did arms and shoulders- courtesy of Px90. Which by the way, has a some really tough workouts . Even those without weights are pretty challenging.

Anyway, today I did spin - which was only moderately hard (new teacher - she needs to toughen up a bit) , then I came home - got kids ready, then biked to work.

Biking to work is something that I have always thought about, but I've only done it once. The barrier has been my outfits and the possibility of sweating. I've wondered "Do I carry an extra outfit? Wear my bike shoes and bring an extra pair? Do I wear a backpack or use my rack? And what about helmet head hair? "

Well today, I put all that aside , and decided to ride. Truthfully, my car needs to go into the body shop - because I ruined the spoiler . But I digress.... I decided to ride and it wasn't half bad. I wore a pretty casual outfit, with my Cole Haan loafers (No clipping in with my bike shoes) and wore my hair back in a ponytail. I wore a windbreaker - since the weather is so unpredictable. As I made my way up the small monster hill, I realized the jacket was a mistake. As I crested, I started to break a sweat. I made it to work and luckily had enough time to freshen up before my meeting.

I think I may do it again:)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So there is a new book out called Spark- the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Essentially ,the book proves the strong and direct connection between exercise and mental well being. From my own experience, I've known for a long time, that this connection is very real.

The physical benefits of exercise are pretty well known. Exercise helps prevent diabetes, cardio- vascular disease and many other potentially life threatening illnesses. What is not often discussed, is the positive benefits of exercise on mental illness - depression and anxiety in particular. I'm sure this is because the pharma industry makes billions of dollars from anti depressants or serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). If people knew that there a great deal of research that proves that exercise is as effective as medication on depression/anxiety, the pharma industry would suffer -so of course the info is suppressed. The funny thing is that doctors are not certain about how these classes of medications work (SSRI, SNRIs, MAOIs). They are quick to prescribe- and adjust based on trial and error. Vigorous exercise on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to work. It triggers the same chemicals in the brain that many of the medications trigger. Endorphins and Serotonin are both released during exercise , and can have sustained effects.

I feel so strongly about the need to drive awareness and education around this, that I started a non profit organization devoted to driving advocacy, awareness and education around the benefits of exercise on mental health.

I started it because I've had my own journey in this area, and drugs were the first thing pushed my way. No one mentioned exercise or alternative therapy. The first recourse was to try medication. In my journey, I've learned a ton and I'd love to stop the over medication of America. There are so many uniformed conversations occurring in the offices of therapists and psychiatrist - and it is unfortunate that patients feel captive to the advice. Education in this area is key. The data is there... the proof is there. But what incentive does a psychiatrist have to push exercise instead of a drug? NONE. The proof exists and I'm glad this book is out. Hopefully it will help move the needle on awareness and the inclusion of exercise as a therapy (in addition to or instead of drugs).

I plan to do my part.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

pain and suffering

What happens when you do a heavy leg workout on one day and then follow it up with a 90 minute super tough spin class the next day? Oh and you are no spring chicken? I'll tell you what happens... Pain and Suffering . For two days I had pain in areas that I did not know existed. i had trouble doing everything, walking sitting , standing... everything.
Ok so - now I know that spinning is not a good recovery for a leg workout.

On the food side - I don't know what is wrong with me. I do well in the day .. but then at night it all goes to pot. Something happens around 9:30 when I NEED to have a cup of tea. Not just any cup of tea, I must have my special lose tea from France, with my special fresh whipped Vanilla Velvet Honey . Well at 200c for 2 teaspoons, this honey comes a quite a price. Oh then, I need cookies to go with it. Not just any cookies but Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies. So good, but so bad.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get out of bed!

  • 5am - lying in the bed thinking about getting up. Feeling tired and loving the way the bed
    5:15 - thinking that I need to decide if I am going to the gym or not
    5:45 - Telling myself to GET OUT OF THE BED. Jumping up - thinking that if I
    get to the gym - perhaps I can catch 45 min of spin
    6:15 Hop on bike - but
    decide to listen to my own music instead of music in class. ( kinda rude but I
    was not in the mood for hard rock).
    6:45 - wanting to cry because my legs
    are ON FIRE. Hill climb -heavy seated climb and standing speed. Uggh
    7:15 - Still going
    because class is 90 minutes today ..yay
    7:30 - finish class.. feeling good but a
    little tired.
    8:00 thinking that I will be sore because of my heavy leg
    workout yesterday
    and this long spin class

    6pm - wrapping up my day, feeling a little
    soreness in my legs and back.
    8pm - definitely sore - having trouble walking up stairs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Handle it....one day at a time

Some people are sensitive to caffeine, other to nitrates, some are even sensitive to red dye #14. I am sensitive to endorphin induced serotonin. Working out is like a drug. Spin class in particular, makes me a little high. It is somewhat of a spiritual experience for me. The woman that starts spin is not the same woman that finishes. Some time between minute 15 and minute 20, I transform from a struggling person who would rather be in the bed, to a strong athlete who feels like she can do anything. I begin the class saying give me strength, by the end of class I'm saying bring it on! What I like most about spin class is that you can make it as hard as you can handle. And handle it I do.

One of my favorite spin instructors would always say "It won't be easy...handle it". Growth happens during the toughest part of the class - when you are working the hardest. I repeat that phrase often - during spin class and at other times. The fact is, very few things are easy - and if they are it means there is no growth. Whether it is finishing spin class, staying motivated to finish my book, working through relationship challenges or work related issues.. It is not easy. My task is to handle it.

So I've been thinking about my need to have a big goal. I've decided that I don't want a big goal right now. Staying consistent and on track - one day at a time... is a big enough goal right now.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Journey Continues

So roughly 2 1/2 years ago , I started on this journey to improve my health by losing weight and getting fit. I knew that I was in a bad place being 50lbs overweight and unfit. I knew that the weight could shorten my life and create the environment for heart disease, diabetes etc. I knew all this , but couldn't get out of it. My mind wasn't in the right place , so I wasn't motivated enough to change my eating. I was using food in all the wrong ways... as comfort , as a stress reliever and overall as an outlet for my emotions.

I have always been someone who likes to set big goals and accomplish them. I get motivated by the challenge of succeeding . On some levels I think I have an addiction to accomplishments. However, when it came to losing weight, I just didn't want it bad enough. When I moved to Washington from NJ, I met a bunch of really fit people and had the support of a company sponsored weight loss program. I decided to get serious about the weight loss and used a triathlon as a motivation. After all , given my fitness level, completing a triathlon would be a humongous accomplishment. So my journey began . What an amazing journey it has been. I've learned so much, experienced the joy of getting fit, completed 4 triathlons, 2 50mile bike rides, lost 58lbs and motivated others to get fit. The problem with my accomplishment addiction is that once I accomplish something, the thrill is gone. It is hard to do it again.

So here I am, in an uncomfortable but sadly familiar place. My motivation is waning, the emotional eating is slowly but steadily resurfacing and my 5 workouts a week often get replaced by other priorities. The downturn started in April and I've not been able to get back on the train since then. Since April, I've gained 11 lbs and only been able to lose 3 . I feel like I am at a turning point . I need to get back on track or be a part of a recidivism statistic- the people that lose weight and then quickly gain it back. If past is prologue, the solution for me is to find big goal to go after. The goal has to be bigger than just losing weight . It has to be something that is more difficult for me than completing another triathlon. Sure I could set a goal of a longer triathlon - say a 1/2 Ironman, but I need to face the reality that my running game is not going to improve by much (given the condition of my knees).

This blog, strangely enough, keeps me motivated and reminds me of what I've accomplished. it is my way of staying accountable to my no limit, no excuses way of living. It is less about the fact that a few people read it (and I am so grateful for the support/love:) , but more about the accountability to myself.

So what is my big goal? What will keep me motivated? How will I not be a statistic? The journey continues.

About Me

My photo
West Coast, United States
I am a christian woman, wife, mom to 2 great kids, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, A Jack and Jill mom, sister, daughter . I am also incredibly fit but wasn't always. I am a recovering fat girl - who takes it one day at a time.

Alonda the Triathlete!

Alonda the Triathlete!

The backstory-----How did I become a triathlete...

In February 2006, I went on a ski trip with my new colleagues from work. On the way back, I sat next to a girl named Wendy - a really friendly woman who talked about her experience as a newcomer to Seattle. She told me how her main source of making friends was through her workout buddies. She also mentioned that many of her friends participate in triathlons and that (get this) I should consider doing one too. I thought she might have been delirious from all of the skiing. I assured her that I was not the one. She obviously had mistaken me for someone else. Perhap my heavy coat prevented her from seeing what was underneath (50 lbs of extra weight and lots of evidence of no exercise). She continued with this crazy talk, speaking of how fun it is and how supportive the Danskin Triathlon is. I wanted to be sure that she and I were thinking of the same thing... Triathlon (swim bike run -some huge number of miles -all on the same day right after each other). Yup this was it. I chuckled and told her to have fun.
A few weeks later at the office, she mentioned it again. Now at this time, I had been contemplating joining my company sponsored health club (PROCLUB) and in particular the weight loss program called 20/20. After all, I had really packed on the pounds. I arrived in WA 50lbs overweight and pretty unhappy with myself. I actually started to think that completing triathlon would be a good goal...impossible but a good goal. I decided to go for it. At the same time I also decided to join the weight loss program. My first meeting with my trainer ..Anthony Parker was on 3/14/06. I told him ..in all of my fatness, that I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me and said hmmm, ok.
I began this really intense workout and nutrition program and began building my endurance. My first meetings with Anthony consisted of walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then doing stairclimber or eliptical for 15 minutes. Followed by a bit of strength training. I did this 3x a week (between 6am and 7:30) and then worked out on my own 2 other days. I had absolutely no endurance and could not run for more than 1 minute. Over the months, my endurance grew ..slowly at first then more rapidly. I also figured that I needed to improve my swimming skills if I was going to swim for 1/2 a mile. I took a Total Immersion Class.. which teaches swimming efficiency. Let's set the record straight here... I could swim well enough to save myself if I was thrown off of a boat. I was a decent (not great) swimmer. At the start of the class, I could do 1 (that's right ONE) lap and then I started breathing heavy. At that point I new the triathlon was totally out of reach. After all 1/2 mile was equal to 20 laps. I left the 1st day of class feeling scared and dismayed that I was too aggressive. Maybe I should have set my goal for 2007.
The next week's class, I asked the teacher what I needed to do to build my endurance. He said just keep at it, it will come. You know what, it did. Each week I got better and better. 4 weeks later I was able to swim 9 laps. I then started swimming before my workouts with my trainer (a little crazy but hey). My trainer was pretty impressed. I also started biking on the weekends. In fact in May I did a 30 mile bike ride as a part of the Tour De Cure for Diabetes. I really love biking...:)
Ok so I still had not tackled the most difficult part, the running. Not only could I not run but I absolutely hated it. I started adding running to my treadmill work. Anthony suggested intervals. We started with 2min run 2 min walk . I did this for weeks extending the time and the speed. I was up to running at 5.5 and walking at 4.0. Then Anthony said ..let's see if you can run a mile. I thought he was kidding. I did not think I was ready for that. This was May 5th (a day after my birthday). Guess what I did it. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. I was on top of the world. All day I had a little extra spring in my step. I just kept replaying in my head the "goal attained" message on the treadmill. I just could not believe it.
I kept it up, continued working out 5x a week. I took another swim class "Triathlon Swim Training" to help even more. This class was filled with drills and specific swim workouts. I really saw progress. By the end of the class, I was able to swim 28 laps. Now the challenge was to swim in Open Water. That's right. The triathlon was going to be in Lake Washington.
I finally felt like I could really do it. I didn't have a specific time goal , my goal was to finish. The week before the race I was sooo nervous. I was doing mini triathlons with a few really good girls. I kept up with them during the swim but one bike ride was particularly hilly and....they left me in the dust. I felt so bad and really began to rethink whether or not I should do the race. I spoke to one of the girsl about my bike performance , and she said that my bike was holding me back. That day, I decided to retire my 35lb mountain bike for a 19 lb feather light road bike. Boy what a differnce. This was a risky thing to do so close to the race but it worked for me.
The other thing to mention is that I met up with a wonderful group of women called the Soul Sistas. They are a group of African American Women of all ages who participate in triathlons and bike races. They are so awesome.We (the soul sistas) took pictures the day before the race... I'll post when available.
So the day of the race..... Everybody in the house is excited and up. My kids and my nieces - who were visiting from NJ are all up and ready to root me on. I left early so that I could get ready.The goal was to meet me by the swim finish. This was alll pretty tricky because there were 40 waves of swimmers starting every 3 minutes. All I can say about the swim is that it felt much longer than 1/2 a mile. I kept focused and didn't get nervous. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed. It worked ...and by the way I wasn't the last swimmer in my group YEAHHH. I don't know how it all worked out but as soon as I finished my swim, I saw them. Byron , Tyler, Paris, Ahlia and Ivy were all waiting there for me with the most beautiful handmade signs saying GO MOMMY, Go AUNTIE, I love you. It was so terrific. Once I saw them I was energized.... Now on to the bike.
The bike was the best part of the entire race. I love my bike and I love to fly down the road. The entire 14 miles of the race was closed to traffic. Our longest stretch was on the express lane of one of the largest highways. Imagine flying down a highway with nothing in your way (but other riders on your right). It was so amazing. I was going pretty fast but could have gone faster - but wanted to save my legs for the run.
Now the run... I hate running and I am really bad at it. I am slow and not terribly efficient. After biking hard for 40 minutes, your legs are really worked up. During the after bike run, your legs turn into "bricks". They are heavy and hard to move. If you push through , you can get over the feeling and get into a stride. Well I also felt pains in my knee. So instead of running the entire 3.2 miles I decided to walk run. In the end it was actually fine - but while doing it I was a little disappointed. Danskin is great because there are so many supporters on the way. Cheerleaders who are yelling "go for it" from their back porch. It was just what I needed. In fact I heard Destiny's Child Im a survivor , on my way and that was what I used in my head to keep me going.
So when I realize I am about 1/2 mile from the end, I start getting super excited and very emotional. It is all coming together now -- all the training, the visualization of actually crossing the finish line and my waiting family. I got on my cell phone to cal my husband, just to make sure he was at the finisth line. He cracked up that I called:)
When you come close to the finsih line, there are all these spectators lined up waiting for you. It is so great! I ran through a narrow entry to the wide finish line area. And there they were.. my family (My hubby, kids and neices) - with signs and smiles. When I crossed the finish line, my name was announced and the official put a medal around my neck. Well I just lost it and started crying. I could not believe that I had just completed a triathlon. I was officially a triathlete.