Friday, June 20, 2014

The last 25

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Wow. I'm getting so close. SO SO SO close. I've hit the point in my weight loss where I am starting to look a lot different. Sometimes I look in the mirror and do a double take because I just don't see who I normally expect to look back at me. It's wild. Every day, I feel like I'm reintroducing myself to myself. My name is Brittany and I've lost 55lbs over the last 2 years. I'm ecstatic. 
7/12-6/14 It has been a journey. I didn't really start making an effort until 9/12, but I'm so glad I did it. 
I think it is also helpful to see how real clothes evolve as well. So much fun. (3/13-6/14)
So where am I going from here? I've got 25lbs  to lose and then we will see what I decide to do next. Those 25 will put me in a healthy weight range (hooray!). I've got an exciting physical challenge coming up (150 mile bike ride FTW!) and I'm also planning on running a half marathon. The possibilities are endless, but those are the two things I've put on the top of my list. 

I'm so glad I decided to begin this journey. The last 20lbs have been really hard and I was definitely stuck on a plateau. I was starting to feel like I might never hit my goal. I had been eating paleo for about a year and a half, exercising 5-6 days a week for 6 months, but I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.  In an effort to change up my diet, I started adding in juicing and protein shakes, but was still having a lot of trouble with hunger and eating well. I was working out too much and just feeling bummed. In April, I made a choice to push forward. 

I decided to do something I did not want to and was frankly bummed about, but I was committed to my journey and myself. At the end of the day, I decided that my goals were more important than me trying to fit my weight loss into a single way. I love paleo and I love eating clean, but I wasn't getting the results I wanted because I was having a hard time sticking to it. Snacks and sweets infiltrated my diet and I was nearing hopelessness. So in April, I started to do a programmed meal diet with Take Shape for Life. Believe me, I was freaked out, but I worked with a TSFL coach and she helped me through some of my hesitations. She has been great. I decided to try it out for 2 months. It worked. It helped me really restrict calories in an effective manner and helped me get where I wanted to be. While I won't do TSFL longterm, I want to have it get me to my milestone so that I can confidently go back to clean eating. It is the way that I am happiest, and I know that. I have a much clearer view on places where I get into trouble and TSFL has helped me see that. 

Over the past year, I've learned to eat a lot better, to workout with enthusiasm and to have confidence in myself. The only regret I have is that I didn't start sooner and that I didn't adjust as quickly as I probably should have. I can live with that and I am so happy I've evolved to have that perspective. It is everything. Stay tuned, I'm not finished yet. ;) 

I'm riding in the Waves to Wine MS bike ride in September. If you want to support me on my ride and help out an awesome organization, you can donate here

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Milestones, goals and using my fitness journey for good!

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I've always loved cycling. It's one of my favorite things to do when I travel and it's my preferred way to get around on a nice afternoon. When I did my first long distance ride in college, I remember one of the first things I read was that the best way to have a better time cycling was to lose weight. The reasoning was that you didn't want to have to carry all that extra weight up hills. It made total sense. I've been thinking about that recently as I've been losing weight. Everything has gotten so much easier. I'm happier, healthier and so much more confident with myself. I'm also ready (and excited about) doing more physical challenges. To kick this off, I'm going to be riding 150 miles in the Waves to Wine Bike MS ride at the end of September. 

When I was in college in France,  I used to cycle every day to school. It was so much fun. My roommates and I would get up, pull out our bikes, and start pedaling. We had a big hill to overcome each day, but we did it any way. When I lived in Paris, I biked to work every day on a Velib (bike share) and got to ride past the moulin rouge. It was one of those awesome surreal moments in life.  I once rode from France to Italy with a group of my college mates. After getting my aha moment blood panel back in 2012, I went to Vietnam and rode bikes there. It's where my decision to start my fitness journey began as the whole time I was worried about where I had let my health get to. Flash forward two years and I've changed my life. I'm ready to do more!
(L) Vietnam, July 2012 (R) Salt Lake City, April 2014
(Difference of 45 lbs and 2 years)

My good friend Dasha wanted to do this ride last year. I didn't have a bike so I wasn't ready to do it. To be honest, I also wasn't in good enough shape to ride that long and probably wasn't even disciplined enough to do the training I needed to do. I had just started getting serious about my fitness journey and had started tackling crossfit and exercise in general. This year is different because I am different. 

I have my trusty hot pink Fuji to ride and I'm 20lbs lighter than I was a year ago. So many good things have happened over the last year and to celebrate all those good things, I want to pay it forward. I'm riding the Waves to Wine ride on September 20-21 (2-3 days before my 28th birthday) for Bike MS. This is a great organization and a huge milestone for me. I'm hoping to be at my goal weight at this time and think that checking off the 100 mile bike ride will be icing on the cake. The cherry is that this is for an amazing cause. 

If you want to support me, please take a moment to donate. If you don't have the cash, that's cool too! Please leave a supportive comment below. I'm just excited to be doing this! 
This amazing gif is a collection of pictures of me on bikes over the last 8 years

Monday, May 26, 2014

Leaning in to hard things

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Tomorrow my sister is doing something very hard. She's starting school for the second time. For some this might be easy, but to do this she's had to make some very hard choices. She sold her house, quit her job and is ready to (somewhat literally) ride toward her dreams. It's inspiring, but I also know it's been a very scary journey.

If you don't know Courtney, this would be the best description of her:

 She has a gift. Animals love her and are drawn to her. As kids, we always had a ton of animals. Our mom has a love for animals that she inherited from her mother. We're lucky that a love of living beings is a family tradition. It is so rare to find a path that you are 100% passionate about, but getting there isn't always easy.

My sister never believed she was smart. She thought that she couldn't take science courses and excel in them. So when the time came to chose a major in college, she decided to pursue business and communications. This wasn't a poor choice and at the time it seemed like a good idea. Fast forward eight years and she's done well in account management and navigated the tech world. Her good friends helped her make a very smart investment. She bought a house and kept working hard. That's what we're supposed to do, right? It just didn't make her happy.

Two years ago some people gave her a horse. According to the old adage, she should have looked this gift horse in the mouth and probably not accepted the horse. He was untrained, seemingly neurotic, a biter and 6 years old. In other words, a horse she had no business even being around. But he awakened something inside her. Something she had been hiding from for a long time. Her childhood desire to be around animals manifested itself once again. Instead of hanging out with her friends all the time, she started driving two hours round trip to go to a barn to see this horse. She spent hours teaching him tricks. The one problem was that this horse didn't seem to be able to be ridden. He was hurt. She started down a road of research trying to figure out what his medical problem was. Through this, she found that the one thing she wanted to do was to research, rehabilitate and fix animals.

But how do you get there? She was a business major and hadn't taken any undergraduate science classes. She basically needed to redo 2 years of undergrad and then tack on 4 more years of grueling vet school. The truth is that there isn't anyway to get there except to get started. At 30, she's chasing a dream she didn't think was possible. The only way to get there was to do some hard things.
My sister's trailer and her horse Calif
So she did what many people would have been too afraid to do. She quit her comfortable job, sold her adorable house and moved somewhere less expensive. She's going to be living in a trailer so that every day she can see her now rideable horse and save money as she prepares to continue her studies.

It's been inspiring to watch this journey begin. For me, someone who has been chasing my own dream of physical fitness, it's a constant reminder that life is always open for change. The hardest part is leaning in toward the dream and letting go of the life that was holding you back. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Abs are made in the kitchen (and other unfortunate truths)

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People often ask me how I got started on this journey and how I keep going. To be honest, there are days when I know it would be easy to just quit, but I keep going because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a flicker/just a wee glimpse, but I am seeing myself more and more as an "After" rather than a "Before". That's incredibly exciting and keeps me motivated, but I won't say that it is easy to keep on track. I have to be focused on my goals. Below are some unfortunate truths that I'm faced with each day and how I deal with them.

Diet is the most important part of weight loss. Exercise will help you get there, but it can't do it all and it will be much more painful to exercise is you are not doing your due diligence in the kitchen. 
  • I have really started to love exercising and I wish I could exercise off every ounce of this excess body weight, but I can't. I find that if I don't stick to a clean diet, get enough protein, or eat too many sugars, my cardio/weight lifting are thrown off. I feel terrible during my workouts and then crave terrible foods afterwards. I'll go to the gym and feel ok, but then I get home and don't eat or don't it the right thing. A couple hours later, I'm wondering why I don't have gluten free cookies at my house.  It's a vicious cycle. And it's something that impacts me for multiple days. If I didn't get enough calories the day before, I pay for it the next day. I'm not able to trick diet. I have to be disciplined or I don't get the results I want. End. 
You never stop adjusting. With each tier of weight, you have to adjust your game on how to lose more. Whether it's eating less calories or changing the way/what you eat because you're bored of the same old recipes, you have to be ready to adjust (a lot).
  • I've found this to be pretty difficult for me since I am a creature of habit. I just want it to be the same the entire time. I get comfortable and can go along for months, but then I slowly start slipping back into old habits. I start making excuses as to why I can eat something that is a definite no-no. On Sunday, I spent the entire morning looking at how I could adjust my diet. After a year of paleo, I'm bored and need to figure out something new. I won't stop paleo, I'm simply adding in a few more grains (quinoa and oatmeal). I've realized as soon as I started to do more cardio that I wasn't recovering well. My body would ache after working out and I would feel so tired. My tiredness led me to craving sugars, which in turn make me crave more sugars. I realized I needed to adjust to perform. Running is something I *gasp* enjoy doing so I'm making a change to accommodate it. 
  • I'm now eating 5 small meals a day. Two of those meals are protein smoothies and the rest are small clean/paleo dishes. I have a busy schedule so I've adjusted to make this work for me. I blend up my smoothies at night and then take them to work with me in the morning. I use vanilla Sun Warrior Protein Powder and add in cocoa or other spices to change the flavor. 
This isn't a sprint, it's an effing marathon. It's about consistent changes every single day. Every single day means that you can't worry about the small stuff. You have to have the big goal in mind and not get bogged down when you have minor setbacks.
  • You have to start. You have to keep going. You have to let go. I started by changing my diet, adding in exercise, adding in more exercise, and now, changing my diet again. This is a Sisyphean journey. Every 10 lbs I lose, I feel like I'm back at the bottom starting again. It gets harder and harder.  I try cling to my routine, but that isn't helpful.  I've found that over stressing about my diet/exercise makes me less productive. Less productive leads me to be less happy and less happy makes me struggle even more. I'll have a bad week, eat a non-healthy meal, but I move on. I've let go of a lot of my stress and it's made me more productive and happy. I'm able to get more accomplished because I let go. I keep at it day in and day out and I never ever give up on myself. 
  • It's a marathon and that means it takes longer than sprinting. I see people who have faster results than me all the time, but I'm really focused on making sustainable changes in my life. My way isn't a better way than others, it's just the way I'm doing it. It's about how my life is happening (crazy/ in a blur) and I'm feeling awesome all the time so I just keep chugging along.

And with that, I'll leave you with some comparison photos from last spring to this spring. :) 


Monday, January 20, 2014

The next 40

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Exciting news on my front. I've finally hit -40lbs. The last 10 have been harder to lose than I thought and I feel like I was on this annoying cycle of losing/gaining/not getting anywhere. It. Is. So. Frustrating.

So what am I going to do?

Start counting calories: This pains me beyond belief, but it's something I need to do. I can be really stubborn and this is one thing I've been stubborn about. So, starting tomorrow, just as I track everything I burn, I'm going to be tracking everything I consume. It makes perfect sense and really is the only proven way to lose weight. You have to be a caloric deficit to lose weight. Plain and simple. Boom. Science.        

I'll start using MyFitnessPal and track from there.

More running and more weights: Should I run a half marathon? Should I deadlift 150 lbs? I don't know. Why not? I know that I am interested in testing myself physically. I've never felt so strong and powerful when it comes to my body. That's crazy to me! I've always done sports, but never 100% enjoyed them. I just enjoyed the people. I love that I've gotten to a point where my exercise/fitness are a personal thing.

On the running side, I've found myself pushing myself on my runs. Oh, I'm out for a 30 minutes run? Why not make it 40 minutes and then 40 minutes turns into 50 minutes. After that, I start thinking about how 60 minutes would feel and I kick up the speed. And so it goes. 

I also know I need weightlifting in my life to hit my goals.  I don't want to just be thin, I want to be really fit. I want to have lots of energy and feel like I can do anything. I want to be able to do a pullup and more than 10 real pushups. Weightlifting (even just bodyweight) will get me there. I'm going to start keeping a fitness journal and tracking the weights/reps so that I can see my progress.

Meditation / stress free: My sister and I have been talking about quiet time a lot. As humans, we need time carved out to let us think and breathe. I've gotten into the idea of 10 minute meditation. This is just me time. I light a candle, and breathe. I try not to think about anything even though I can feel my mind zooming at 100 miles an hour. My mind is racing, racing, racing as I think about work, my friends/family and projects I want to do. So I've promised myself 10 minutes a day to just breathe and find silence. I think this is just as important as getting enough sleep, eating mindfully and getting in my weekly 5.

Have more (but not self-destructive) fun: I need to stop equating "fun" and "letting lose" with eating things that don't go with my lifestyle. Sure every now and again, I can eat things that aren't paleo or 100% healthy, but that needs to stop being a thing I think of as pleasure. It just needs to be a thing that happens and has less emotion attached to it. I'm learning, but still have a ways to go. So the idea here is really finding balance and being in check with my emotions when I'm doing things. 
So there we have it. Let's tackle the next 40! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chhhaaaannggesss (and surviving them)

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I'll one hundred percent admit that the first thing I stop paying attention to when I'm stressed or overwhelmed is my health. It's dumb, but it happens. Something comes up and I don't have time to eat the right foods or can't get to my gym classes, everything falls apart. 3 weeks after my dark spiral, I'll usually look up and try to assess the damage and feel the deep regret that I'm back at square one. Or at least, that's what used to happen.

I'm not that way any more. In fact, I think my health and fitness goals are the things that ground me when I'm having a hard time or faced with a big change. Because my fitness journey is a commitment to myself, it is the one thing in my life that is constant. No excuses, just lots of dedication and work.

Next week, I'll start a new job at work. I'm changing offices, routine and lots of things that have contributed to the infrastructure of my success. I have been really freaked out about the change to my routine. Right now, my workout schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: crossfit
  • Tuesday: kickboxing or cardio sculpt
  • Wednesday: crossfit
  • Thursday: off day
  • Friday: weights/crossfitty things/ self workout
  • Saturday/Sunday: 3-4 mile run on one day 
The problem is that my new office doesn't have crossfit. It's sad to think about, but not the end of the world. Because I don't see fitness roadblocks anymore, I figure out solutions. I've been looking at my new locations workout options. The past 6 months of doing crossfit have changed my life and I'm so glad I've had that opportunity. Going into this new role, I'll have the first few weeks where I'll need to do more of my workout at home or at the end of the day while I adjust to the new schedule. That's ok and I'm going to figure it all out. This is what I've been thinking:  
  • Monday: body pump
  • Tuesday: spin 
  • Wednesday: November project or body pump 
  • Thursday: cardio barre 
  • Friday: off day
  • Saturday/Sunday: 3-4 mile run on one day 
The main thing I've taken away from this transition is the fact that I'm planning ahead. I've never planned before for something like this. Usually change happens and I go back to my self-destructive ways. My fitness goals are so important to me that I don't think I could even go back. I'm stronger, leaner, and more mentally prepared than I've ever been. This is so exciting. I'm also super pumped for this change in my life, and instead of being a roadblock - it's going to push me forward. 
Halfway to my goal! Feeling awesome and ready for 2014. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

30 things I love about my sister

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My sister, Courtney, turned 30 today. She wasn't very excited about it, but I think she often forgets how special and awesome she is. Here are 30 things to remind her of how important and great she is: 

  1. When I adopted Sunday, she helped me train, take care of and love on her without ever questioning my decision or asking for a thank you. 
  2. She spent her 30th birthday riding horses and wrangling cattle out in the Texas hill country. 
  3. She's not afraid to cry or laugh about the things that move her. 
  4. She's braver than she thinks. 
  5. People often think I'm older, but that's because my sister is much more whimsical and open than I am. I envy that. 
  6. She doesn't always tell me to shut up when I say outrageous things. 
  7. She tells me to shut up when I say outrageous things. 
  8. When someone asks who the "nice" Blackmon sister is, we don't even have to think twice about it. 
  9. She likes to pin inspirational quotes on her Facebook, and even when they make me physically cringe from the cheesiness, I like reading them. 
  10. She's selfless - ask her 4 cats, 7 foster dogs, a squirrel named, Momo, and her horse about it. 
  11. She'll admit she's having a hard time and is learning to ask for help. 
  12. She is the easiest person to shop for because she loves and hates things so passionately. 
  13. Unicorns. 
  14. We lived together for 2 years and would do it again in a second. 
  15. Not even our dad can tell our voices apart. 
  16. She will like this list more than the average person would. 
  17. How excited she is when people tell her she looks like Connie Britton.
  18. She likes all of my Instagram photos and nearly every post on Facebook. 
  19. She is the sister we all go to to talk about our problems. She listens. 
  20. She hiked the Inca trail with me. 
  21. Her vice is eating tubs of icing. 
  22. She bought a house for her 4 cats, and while it was a scary decision for her, she did it. 
  23. At 30, she owns her own home.
  24. We changed our lives eating Paleo
  25. On her birthday for the last two years, we've attempted to find the best vegan and gluten-free birthday cake. So far, we've failed twice. We've laughed about it both times. 
  26. She's about to follow her dreams. That's inspiring. 
  27. The fact that her dreams and aspirations are so different than mine make me so happy and glad to be her sister. 
  28. She admitted (finally) that she is the crazy cat lady. We wouldn't have her any other way. 
  29. When others think absolutely not, Courtney says ok without questioning. 
  30. We talk every day.