Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Signed Up For An Ironman…

ironmanlogoWell, here we are in mid-August and it’s been 3 full months since I posted on this blog.  Why?  IRONMAN

See, that’s my blanket response for everything that has gone wrong, everything I have forgotten, procrastinated, messed up, or otherwise needed to come up with an excuse for.

Seriously, it’s a joke in my family about now…
Deb: “Ang, did you get those mushrooms at the market?”
Me:  “Oh crap, I totally forgot!”
Deb:  “I know, I know… IRONMAN…”

Ugh!

As of today, there are 82 days before I get this particular monkey off my back and can hopefully rejoin the world of productive adults.  Until then?  Well, it is what it is!

I have learned a lot over the past 4 months and there are some things that I wish I had known BEFORE I ever registered for an Ironman.  I mean, some of them are kinda “duh” things, but I guess I never really teased it all apart in my brain beforehand.  So, for those of you who may be interested in climbing the Ironman mountain at some point, here’s my list:

  1. repeatIt’s a part-time job…  Only it’s harder than any job I’ve EVER had in my life!!  I just started the “peak” phase of my training plan this morning.  This week, I will work out for 18-1/2 HOURS. That doesn’t count the time involved in packing bags, filling bottles, commuting to/from the gym, doing laundry, showering (more on that later)…  and this is only Week #1 of Peak…  It just gets better (worse) from here… At the “peak” of “Peak” it’s 22 hours.  LAWD!  And before you say “Oh boo hoo, poor you…” I know, I totally signed up for this myself – no one was twisting my arm.  I own it all!  I’m just putting it out there – Ironman takes a TON of time.
  2. im-sorry-post-itYou will fuck up… A LOT!  I can’t tell you the number of times I have said “I’m sorry” to Deb or one of our kids or Freddie or my Mom or a client, because I have Ironman brain and can’t keep a thought in my head to save my life.  Case in point:  My son’s first day of 8th grade was today.  Yesterday Deb asked me if all was good to go with the morning bus schedule.  Wide-eyed, I just blinked at her… Bus schedule?  Was I supposed to do something there?  I quickly banged out a web address and sure enough, Josh was not assigned to a bus.  SHIT!  Fortunately, there are a lot of middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, so the bus did indeed stop this morning and he did make it to school… Whew!
  3. You will miss out on stuff…  Because training takes a lot of time, you’re going to miss some stuff – maybe even important stuff.  I’ve missed swim meets, kisses goodbye in the morning, meetings, travel opportunities, parties, dinners out, and more because I was either training or going to bed while the sun was still up so I could get up the next morning to train…  This morning was Josh’s first day of school… and I missed sending him off to the bus for the first time ever… Yeah, put me up for Mom of the Year, stat!
  4. tiredYou will be tired…  I think this kind of goes without saying, and of course I knew I would be tired, but I was ill-prepared for the type of bone-crushing exhaustion that I feel almost every day.  I do sleep in on my Rest Days, but OMG!  I’m TIRED!!  Most mornings I wake up at 3:15am so I can do my personal development (don’t ask, it’s just my jam) before I head to the pool at 5am or get on the trainer.  I try to get to my desk in the office by 9am, work until 5pm, pick up Josh from swim team, eat dinner, and go to bed by 8:00pm, so I can do it all again the next day.
  5. You will stink… Dear LORD, why didn’t anyone tell me about the SMELL?  So today, I had a brick workout that went from 5am-8am and then I had errands to run.  I skidded into my office at 9:03 and sat down to work.  Shower?  I had no time for a shower… And so, I minimized my contact with people and grabbed a shower at lunch time.  :/  Triathlon STINKS!
  6. hungryYou will be constantly hungry…  I thought I was hungry when I was pregnant with Josh.  Pregnancy hunger has NOTHING on Ironman hunger!  I feel like I eat all the time.  It is not uncommon to catch me with my head in the refrigerator with a rice cake in one hand and an open container of hummus in the other double dipping like a crazy person!
  7. You will be bi-polar…  While we’re on the subject of pregnancy, you know how emotional pregnant women are?  Yeah, THAT!  I find myself in a heap in my closet or in the shower WAY too often, just crying it out.  Trying to figure out how the hell I got myself into this mess.  Wondering if there is a way I can get OUT of this mess without eating crow.   Pretty sure that I am losing my ever-loving mind!  I guess it goes hand in hand with #4.  And I thought it was just me, but I got a text from my training partner this weekend who was packing for a century ride and was sitting on the floor of her garage sobbing.  I guess it’s not just me…  Then there are other days when I feel like the Queen of the World and NOTHING can bring me down.
  8. You will feel so guilty and selfish… I don’t know how you get around this one.  You’re going to take time away from your family – you just will, so make peace with it or feel guilty about it.  I feel guilty about this all the time – and I have the most supportive group of cheerleaders EVER (my family) in my corner.  And yet, every time I head out in the dark on a  Saturday morning and know that I’m not going to be home until late afternoon, I feel so guilty about it.  Triathlon is a very selfish sport.
  9. Malachi-MegIt takes a village…  There may be those people who can survive an Ironman training cycle on their own, but I am not one of them.  I am 51 years old, people, and I have a freaking TEAM of people who routinely put Humpty-Dumpty back together again!  My training partner, Megan, keeps me sane and motivated and tells me that I “can,” even when I’m pretty sure that I “can’t.”  My chiropractor, Malachi, keeps me rolling and running on feet that do not like this whole running/biking thing. And then there’s a whole legion of people in my Swim-Bike-Fuel community who keep me grounded and eating what I should rather than what I want in any given moment (pizza/ice cream/cake/donuts/froyo…).
  10. You will amaze yourself time after time…  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been dumbfounded at the end of a workout.  Maybe it was just because I lived through it… Maybe it was a new PR time in the pool… Maybe (like on my birthday) it was averaging 20 mph over 60 miles on the bike (thanks Malachi🙂 )…  I have shocked the hell out of myself over and over again.  It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of if we just get out of our own way!

Look, I’m just a middle of the pack age-grouper.  I’m never going to win a long-course triathlon – EVER.  I’m never going to qualify for Kona.  And that’s okay.  Triathlon is HARD!  Ironman is HARDER!  But, as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, the hard is what makes it GREAT!  I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line on November 5th and joining a club to which only 0.01% of the people on Planet Earth can claim membership.  That will really put an exclamation point on the major transformation I’ve undergone over the past 6-1/2 years.  It may not be fast and it may not be pretty, but one way or another, I’ll get there.

So even though I’m stinky and scatter-brained and walk around like a starving zombie most of the time and cry at the drop of a hat and feel like a horrible Mom and partner sometimes, at the end of the day I am pretty damned proud of myself.

Oh, and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!!

ironman florida 230x120

#82days #iCANdothis #IMFL2016

My Review: Swim Bike Fuel

SBFOne of my triathlon friends – and one of the handful of people who inspired me to begin my triathlon journey – is Meredith Atwood (MA).  You may know her better by the name “Swim Bike Mom.”  Meredith has done a tremendous job of building a following (The Army) and a brand since she entered the triathlon world and blogosphere on August 26, 2010 with 7 simple words… “I have decided to become a Triathlete.”

What resonated with me so strongly about her was that she was just a regular person… A wife, a mom, a career woman, busy, frazzled, searching… JUST LIKE ME!  She put it all out there – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  She became an advocate for the “every woman (and man) triathlete” – and people loved her for it.  Over the years, as The Army grew, so did the Swim Bike Mom brand… Tri kits, mantra t-shirts, cycling kits, swim caps, and so much more – oh, yeah, I own them ALL and they are awesome!

In April, 2015, Meredith was looking to make some changes.  She was strong as a bull and a fine triathlete in her own right with 2 full Ironman triathlons under her belt, but she was stuck weight wise, and she knew she was not reaching her racing potential.  Enter Meredith Vieceli… MV is a nutritionist, a triathlon and running coach, and a metabolic specialist – and an Ironman in her own right.  MV started coaching MA in April and the results were both immediate and drastic!  A 70.3 PR at Gulf Coast in May, followed by IM Lake Placid and her “best race ever” at IM Louisville.  The ever-shrinking Meredith Atwood was getting a lot of attention.  People wanted to know what she was doing?  What diet plan? What? Where? Who?  How?

I think ole Swim Bike Mom must follow the same philosophy as one of our business coaches:  Look at the things you say “No” to on a daily basis and find a way to say “Yes.”

And Swim Bike Fuel was born.  SBF is a one month program that reveals truths about nutrition that are not necessarily common knowledge – one lesson at a time, one day at a time.  It’s delivered in a way that is easy to digest and implement in your life.

I’ll be honest, when Swim Bike Fuel was rolled out late last year, I wasn’t really interested.  I thought it was a cool concept, but I had a really good base in sports nutrition and I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly learn from it (talk about arrogant thinking!).  Two cycles of SBF passed before I started looking at the changes in MA’s body and performance and took a long hard look at my own situation and realized that MV and MA must have some missing piece of the weight loss/performance puzzle that was eluding me.

I mean seriously, check out the difference in just ONE YEAR!!

Capture

So, I enrolled in the April, 2016 class.

Holy Cow! It was amazing!

The SBF folks set up a secret Facebook page for our SBF class.  I honestly don’t know exactly how many ladies were in the April group, but there were a lot, and yet the interaction was very smooth.  The lessons were delivered each day by email and the questions that were submitted for each lesson were compiled into an FAQ and posted.  There were 2 scheduled Q&A conference calls, although our group didn’t send in any questions for the first call, so we didn’t actually have that one.  The 2nd Q&A call went almost 2 hours and was jam packed with great information.

Meredith Vieceli was absolutely available to us when we needed her and Meredith Atwood chimed in daily with how the lesson du jour impacted her journey.  If we posted a question or asked for clarification on a lesson MV usually answered within an hour or so – and she lives in Utah, so the time zone thing was in play.

I found that most of the lessons focused on concepts I was already aware of, but that maybe I just wasn’t being consistent with or had forgotten or needed to tweak.  Over the month I had a number of “Ah-Ha” moments that really made a huge difference.  I loved that there was no prescribed “diet plan.” Never once was I told that I had to “eat this” or “workout like this” or “drink that.”  There were no pills, no powders, no restriction.  Just good old fashioned common sense, combined with the very best up-to-date nutritional information- a very holistic program.

I’m not quite ready to go posting my before/after pics yet, but after 1 month I dropped 4+ pounds, and shed 5-1/2 inches and I know more has come off since then.  But beyond that, I feel terrific!  I have so much more energy, I’m sleeping better, my skin is clearer, I’m healthy (all the old aches and pains are gone), I’m catching those old self-sabotage triggers that would normally send me running for the bag of chips or ice cream before any damage is done, I’m recovering faster between my workouts, and I had one of my best races ever at St. Anthony’s on 4/24.  It’s been really great!

So, if – like me – you’ve been diligently following your training program and have been eating what you consider to be a healthy diet (maybe with a few more treats than you planned, because hey, you just killed that brick workout), but you’re not seeing the results you expected manifesting on your body, I encourage you to give Swim Bike Fuel some serious consideration.

Sure, there’s an investment – that made me think twice too – but it was totally worth it – EVERY . PENNY!

And my main question was this:  Well, what happens after the month?  A month of hand-holding is great, but what happens when it’s all over?  The great news is that the Facebook page remains and each group can decide how they want to proceed.  In our case, we are going back through each lesson – day-by-day.  We post a thread each day discussing our victories and our struggles – we are each other’s cheerleaders and support system.  We hold each other accountable, and that’s what gives the program it’s staying power.

This is not a fad diet – it’s a lifestyle program – and it is awesome!  There’s a new class forming for July.  Check it out!

 

This is my unsolicited testimonial based on my experiences with the Swim Bike Fuel program.  Your mileage may vary.

RACE REPORT: St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

sta-747St. Anthony’s Triathlon has been on my race bucket list since 2013!  I had planned to register for it last year, but it was only 2 weeks before Gulf Coast 70.3 and I was worried about having enough time to properly recover, so I decided to wait until this year.  I’m really glad I did.

The St. Anthony’s Triathlon is a premier race event known for attracting a wide range of professional and amateur competitors including Olympic gold medalists, Ironman world champions and celebrity athletes who compete on a scenic course along the waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  2016 was the 33rd annual race and there were ~3,400 triathletes participating in either the Meek & Mighty triathlon (for kids and novice adults) on Saturday or the Sprint or Olympic distance races on Sunday.

Deb and I arrived in St. Petersburg on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the expo in North Shore Park for packet pickup and to see what goodies the vendors were offering.  If I were to offer one criticism it would simply be for the race organizers to add street addresses for the expo/packet pickup location and bike check-in, so it would be easier to navigate there by GPS.  But, no harm, no foul, we found both places – we just parked a long way away…

Someone had ONE job....

Someone had ONE job….(and why did I get a Men’s Large?)

Packet pickup was pretty painless – it got a little clogged up, but there were so many people.  As a race organizer myself, I cut them a lot of slack – they moved people through pretty well and 20 minutes later I walked out with a sweet USAT pint glass, a nice bright yellow dri-fit race shirt, my timing chip, bib, and an awesome bag of race swag.  Then Deb and I went back to the car to get Chrissie (my bike) and take her to bike check-in.  Everything went super-smooth – you’d think they had hosted this race a time or two… or 33.  We checked out the swim start, we went back to the expo and poked around for a bit.

20160423_192303

The fancy pants!

Then we headed for our hotel to wait for our roommate to arrive.  We had the wonderful pleasure of having the super-speedy, Malachi Henry, stay in our room with us.  What a delight!!  He arrived and we all went for a walk on the beach and he bought us dinner at Sloppy Joe’s (which was connected to our hotel).  Malachi brought his Normatec compression boots with him and was very generous with them.  Oh, they are HEAVEN!!!  I actually went through 2 cycles with them on Saturday night and another cycle on Sunday morning.  Sooooo awesome!!!

Sleep came early and so did the alarm!

11141184_10154177818924292_7481676260817286689_n

Ahhhh! Sooo amazing! May need a pair of these!

I jumped right into my routine.  Double check transition bag, make coffee, have a piece of toast with almond butter, a banana, and a bottle of water, make almond butter & banana sandwich to eat before the swim start, get dressed, and then just sit and wait… only I got to wait in the awesome compression boots!  Malachi and I left for the race site around 5:15am.  Deb stayed at the hotel and was planning to come meet up with me at the finish line.  During the drive there, I started to get nervous.  I hadn’t done an open-water swim since Beach 2 Battleship (and let’s be honest, that was much more floating along with the current than swimming) and was a little freaked out about the prospect.  I wasn’t worried about the distance – I swim 2500 yards 2-3 times per week and it’s not a big thing.  But I was worried about getting hit and kicked and punched during the start.  Oh well, it’s part of the game and what was I gonna do?  Quit?  Not likely…

We got to the transition area by 6:00am and got out transition areas all set up.  The transition area was VERY sandy – not a lot of grass at all.  I couldn’t help wonder how nasty it was going to be when I got to T1 after the swim…😦

Malachi and I left transition and walked down to the swim start just in time to see the pros start.  Wow, I so wish I had my camera.  I have mad respect for the professional triathletes!  The men’s field included Cameron Dye, Tim O’Donnell, Tyler Butterfield, and Sam Appleton (and a bunch of others whose names I didn’t know).  The women’s field included my personal hero, Mirinda Carfrae, Sarah Haskins, Alicia Kaye, Lauren Goss (and others I didn’t know).  The cannon (yes, EVERY swim wave was started with a cannon shot) went off and man, those guys were so fast!!!

I ate part of my sandwich, got my wetsuit on, and then it was time for me to go warm up.  Malachi gave me a hug, wished me luck and I was off.  I went into the water, which was warm, but wetsuit legal, and just kind of got used to it.  I headed to the corral with my swim wave and looked over and who was standing right beside me, but Sister Madonna Buder – the IronNun!!!  OMG!  Such a cool lady!!!  We walked out into the water, the countdown started, the cannon went off and we were swimming.  I even remembered to start my Garmin… In Triathlon Mode even!!

And IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

I found a lane of clear water pretty early on and was thrilled with how (generally) straight my lines were.  I passed buoy after buoy – passing the orange ones, turning at the red ones.  And before I knew it I was at the metal stairs and a volunteer was helping me get my footing.  Up I went and I was off to T1.  (Swim Time:  33:44, Avg. 2:03/100 yds)

Just as I feared T1 was a sandy, dirty mess!  I stripped off my wetsuit, dried off a little and laid my towel down so I could sit on it and rinse my feet off before putting my socks on.  I had to rinse twice…:/  Socks on, bike shoes on, helmet, check… sunglasses, check… Bike food, check… sunscreen again… grab bike, throw wetsuit over the rack and go… only I walked out…  (T1:  5:10 – I gotta work on that shit!!)

The bike segment was GLORIOUS!  And Chrissie is an AMAZING bike!  I just love her so much!!  There are lots of turns on this course.  They call it a “technical” bike course.  I guess it was and I had to slow down to turn often, but every time I looked at Garmin, I was between 20-24mph.  About 14 miles in I hear an “On your left… THERE SHE IS!!!” and Malachi BLEW past me in all his Speedo clad glory – he must’ve been going 26mph!  Before I knew it, I was back to transition, dismounting my bike.  (Bike Time:  1:16:41, Avg. 19.4 mph)

T2 should’ve been super quick.  I have no idea what the heck took so long.  Racked my bike, changed my shoes, took off my helmet, put on a hat, got a drink, and headed out.  How does that take over 3 minutes?  I have no clue… (T2:  3:07)

The run course was beautiful!  We went over a bridge and turned into a very swank neighborhood – the houses were just breathtaking!  And the crowd support was amazing.  Along with the “official” aid stations every mile, residents had aid stations set up in front of their homes – some with beer even (which I did not partake of).  It was so cool.  I saw Malachi at about the 2.5 mile mark (for me) as he headed back to the finish line and he was FLYING!  I ran easy the first 4 miles and then actually raced the last 2.  I have NEVER raced at the end of a triathlon before.  HR zone training must actually be working! (Run Time: 1:07:38).

Total Time:  3:06:08

My goal for this race was 2:59:59 or less – I really wanted that sub-3.  And if my transitions hadn’t been so shitty, I could have gotten it!  You can bet I will be practicing before IMFL in November!

I place in the top half for my age group and my gender.  I was 12/39 on the bike (#ZwiftEffect).

12965217_1104521019604012_622696299_nShout out to Malachi, who took first in the 25-29 AG with a blistering 2:07:03!  His average run pace was 6:27/mile!  Incredibly and so inspiring!

20160423_094634I would definitely do this race again – and I probably will!  I have heard that the weather can be really fickle, but we had the perfect day for a race!  Next time we will stay at the Renaissance Vinoy which is right at the transition area so we don’t have to mess with cars, but all-in-all a great race!

Thanks especially to my sherpa-extraordinaire, Deb, my training partner in crime, Megan, and the folks at SwimBikeFuel.

Here We Grow!

13119690_mIt’s been a while since I last posted.  To say it’s been busy around here is the understatement of the century.  Deb and I spent the month of March on the road with a terrific group of folks from Ambit Energy, traveling around the country training their team.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people, but WOW, was it exhausting!  And the piles that we returned home to – OMG!  I am happy to say that I have just about caught up with everything… Finally… Mostly…

See me fly?

See me fly?

So, when we last met, I had just returned from our awesome (but unseasonably chilly and rainy) trip to Key West.  We had a really good time.  And for the most part, I achieved my goal of not eating my way across the island.  There was one slight mishap on the exercise front though.  On the first day of our trip I woke up bright and early to head our for a 1 hour run.  I had mapped out a beautiful route along the water before we left home and all was well until about 30 minutes in I found myself face down on the pavement out of nowhere.  My first thought – as I was falling – was that I had tripped on something, but no, that wasn’t quite right because I was flying through the air…  In actuality I had been plowed into from behind by a kid (maybe 12-13 years old) on a bike who was trying to avoid a puddle on the sidewalk on his way to school and he just didn’t see me.  I came down hard on my left hand and knee (one would think after doing all those front falls in karate over the years, that would have been my default, but notsomuch😦 ).

After making sure we were both okay, the boy and I parted ways and I did what any sane, normal person would do.  I turned my bloody, sore self around and ran the other half of my workout back to our condo.  My knee was fine – just a nasty scrape.  My wrist was not so fine.  Any lateral or backward bending hurt – a lot.  We went to Walgreens and I bought a wrist support and then I texted my chiropractor friend, Malachi, and asked for his advice.  He recommended a trip to urgent care for an x-ray.  So, the next morning – on Deb’s birthday – we spent several hours at Advanced Urgent Care.  The x-ray did not show a break and I got another super-cool wrist splint and was told not to use it for a week).

Anyhow, that was my excitement.  To be honest, it’s just now (over 2 months later) that my wrist doesn’t hurt.  I’m not so sure the x-rays weren’t wrong, but it’s all good now.

Pics from the trip (yep, mostly food…):

KW-collage

Did more treats slip in than I would have liked?  Yes, of course (case in point, the frozen slice of key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate that I conveniently forgot to snap a picture of…😉  If you haven’t tried this, you must – it was AH-MAZING!!!).  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the decisions I made.

Then we launched into March with travel to Stockton, CA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Erie, PA.  Crazy busy, but so, so fun!

SBF        M-and-M

Fun and games came to a screeching halt on April 1st!  I signed up for “Swim-Bike-Fuel” – a one month nutritional training program for triathletes presented by USAT Triathlon Coach, Meredith Atwood (aka SwimBikeMom) and Sports Nutritionist, Meredith Vieceli.  We’re not even half way through the month and I have learned so much terrific information.  Some of it is new.  Most of it supports what I already knew, but had forgotten, or just wasn’t being consistent with.  I need to be very intentional, not just with my training, but also with my fueling to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in 205 days (but who’s counting…😮 ) and I will do whatever I have to do to show up as my very best self on race day.

On April 11th, my 30 week Ironman training program started and next Sunday (4/24) I have my first triathlon of the season at St. Anthony’s in St. Pete Beach, FL.  It’s been a stout training week and I just finished a 9 mile run that my body just didn’t want to do.  I told my friends that it was like a toddler in Target who didn’t get the toy they wanted – every part of me was bitching and whining and crying to stop, but I just kept moving forward… slowly, but forward nonetheless, and soon enough it was over.  I kinda want to curl up into the fetal position when I think about having to do that run 2 more times after more than 100 miles on a bike and more than 2 miles of swimming.  It seems impossible in the present moment, but every worthy goal always does until you grow into the person who achieves those goals.  I have 205 days to grow baby, GROW!!

grow

Happy Coach-iversary!!

COACHIVERSARYI’m back from a fantastic (and somewhat painful) vacation in Key West that I will post all about shortly, but today is a very special day!  It’s Deb and my 6 year “coach-iversary!”  And THAT is a day that I celebrate even more than my own birthday – it is truly the day that changed my entire life.

Deb Cheslow and I met through my son’s karate school where she was an instructor.  Of course, she was also a coach… Not an athletic coach (although she would be amazing at that too I am sure), but a “mind coach.”  I didn’t really know or understand what she did for a living when I invited her for coffee that day back in February, 2010, but I did know 3 things:

  1. Deb was my age and was in the best shape of anyone I knew – and I wanted to learn how she did it…
  2. Deb was one of the most “together” people I had ever met in my life – and I was falling apart and I wanted to learn how she did it…
  3. I really liked her and wanted to be her friend.

So, I invited her for coffee one Sunday afternoon – February 21, 2010.  We met at a Starbucks in Christiansburg, VA and we started talking.  And we talked, and we talked, and we talked.

She asked me about myself and I threw up all over her (figuratively).

7-changeI poured out my entire life on the table – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I took off the mask that I put on for the rest of the world and told her everything.

… the seemingly unrecoverable financial mess of my life

… the inevitable bankruptcy that was looming

… the dead-end job I was stuck in

… the failing marriage I was stuck in

… the abusive, dysfunctional relationship between my husband and me

… the near-daily bottle of wine consumed to escape it all

… the self-loathing I felt every minute of every day

… the unworthiness I felt every second

… how I would watch my son sleep at night and cry because i did not feel deserving of such a precious gift

… the desperation I felt to get my shit together for my son, if not for myself

She listened.  She listened for hours.  She asked a few questions here and there for clarification, but mostly she just listened.  And when I was finished, she smiled and she said she could help me.  And I believed her… I trusted her.

Then it was her turn.  She talked to me for a long time and explained how most people perpetuate the crap that occurs in their lives with their thoughts… how most people allow their feelings to control their thoughts, which sets up an never-ending downward spiral of more and more crap.  It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of it.

bobs stick figureShe drew “the stickman” on a napkin (how I wish I had saved that napkin) and explained it all to me.

I gotta be honest, when she drew the “hangman” dude and told me it would change my life, I almost got up and left.

By the end of our meeting, I was certain that the key to a better future lay in the things I would learn from Deb Cheslow.  I could not afford to hire her as my coach, but I couldn’t afford not to either.  So I did.  It was – without any hesitation or doubt – the best investment I have EVER made!

I met with her for an hour or so every week.  I diligently did my homework and applied the principles I was learning.  I got up early and stayed up late to work on myself.  I noticed a change almost immediately.  I felt better.  I started changing my behaviors, especially my eating, exercising, and drinking behaviors.

A month later my marriage came to an abrupt end.  Deb was there for Josh and me.  And she’s been there every day for the last 6 years.  During that time, I have accomplished things I never even dreamed were possible.

  • I became financially responsible
  • I paid off a mountain of debt (just one more to go – thanks for your patience, Mom)
  • I bought half of Deb’s consulting company
  • I’ve written and published 3 books
  • I earned my blackbelt in karate
  • I got in great shape and compete in triathlons now
  • I am HAPPY
  • I have the coolest kid on the planet for a son and he is as proud of me as I am of him
  • I haven’t had a glass of wine in almost 3 years (I enjoy a beer occasionally, but I avoid the trigger of drinking wine)
  • I get to go out and do what I love each and every day
  • I co-founded a non-profit corporation to help end domestic and family violence – WHAT???
  • And so much more

And when the going got tough (and it ALWAYS got tough), Deb was there as my partner and my friend, but more importantly, as my COACH.  She held my feet to the fire.  She never let me quit or give up on myself.  She pushes me right to the edge of the big, scary cliff and says “JUMP!” She believes I can do ANYTHING, and so, I hold onto her belief in me when I don’t believe in myself, and I jump and I learn how to fly on the way down.

So when I celebrate my Coach-iversary, it is a VERY serious matter.  It is a celebration of the day that someone listened to the trainwreck that was my life back in 2010 and held out a helping hand.  It is a celebration of the day I took back my life and started the creation of something very, very special!

Happy Coach-iversary, Deb!  I love you!

COACHIVERSARY

The First Big Test…

No excuses conceptSo, I started off 2016 with this great post about it being the Year of #NoExcuses and, truth be told, January went pretty great.  I hit my workouts, I found an awesome new chiropractor (who is also an Ironman triathlete), I dug into work and made huge headway on a number of projects, my nutrition was on point…  Great month!   I dropped 8 pounds in January and I swam 11.6 miles, biked 132.5 miles, and ran 40.4 miles.  Plus, I did strength training and karate classes twice per week.

All and all a successful base building month in my book.

As we launch into February, I am a little bit nervous.  Actually, I’m a whole lot nervous.  You see, this coming weekend 5 friends and I were supposed to run Ragnar Florida Keys – a 196 mile relay from Miami to Key West.  Only the Ragnar folks were denied their event permit and had to cancel the whole race.  But, we were planning to go anyhow so Deb and I are seizing the opportunity and heading to Key West for 11 days of vacation with her Dad.  11 days… no computer (except for my phone)… no work… no routine… And that’s where I tend to get into trouble.  I think that’s where a whole lot of people get into trouble.  It’s one thing to stay on track when we’re at our home base – in a controllable environment, but it’s something else when we take away all of the systems and structure that we’re used to.  It’s all fun and games until you throw vacation in the mix – with all it’s conditioned responses… the siren song of an unset alarm… the excuse of being in a strange town and not knowing where to go to work out…

The old me would take the 11 days off and enjoy myself.  I’d sleep in, relax, drink lots of beer, eat plenty of good (aka fattening) food, and just “vacation!”  But taking 11 days off from my training and nutrition plan and coming home with an extra 10 pounds on my body will not serve me or my goals in any way, shape, or form.  So, I have decided to do what I have to do to keep my eye on the prize… Ironman Florida… in NINE MONTHS!

However, here’s what the next 11 days look like… Duval Street… Bar, bar, bar, restaurant, boat, bar……

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But lo, I see a road – that means I can run.  And although my bike isn’t accompanying me because we’re driving the convertible, I found a gym that has a weekly membership option… And a pool where I can swim at 5:30am (with a coach even) at the local Community College for only $5/day.

Mapped out the route between the condo and the pool and the gym... #noexcuses

I’ve already mapped out the route between the condo and the pool and the gym… #noexcuses

fail-to-planThere are #noexcuses for skipping my workouts – even if I may have to move things around and change things a bit – I have options to swim, bike, and run before anyone else in the condo is even awake – every single day.

And, of course, it’s Key West, so my wetsuit is coming along and I have every intention of getting in a few open water swims as well!

Food and drinking are a whole other issue, which scare me a bit, but I have the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, which keeps me pretty honest because I HATE having to log the bad stuff.  Drinking… My nemesis…  I’m going to allow myself 2 beers per day… period…  It IS vacation, afterall.  I will Instagram photos of my meals while I’m gone.  Not that anyone really gives a hoot what I’m eating, but I won’t want to post a picture of the fried conch platter, so I’ll be a hell of a lot more likely to order a bowl of soup and a salad.

I’m building in layer upon layer of accountability!  And, of course, at the end of the day, DEB will be there – the QUEEN OF ACCOUNTABILITY!  She will hold me to whatever I ask her to (so, I’d best be careful with what I commit to!)

What’s For Lunch?

whats-for-lunchRecalling that 2016 is the Year of #NoExcuses , I have made it my business to get my butt in shape both in the gym and in the kitchen!  Breakfast, dinner, and snacks are not a big deal, but lunches often have me stumped!  I am not a big sandwich eater.  I don’t like the way bread makes me feel and most gluten-free breads taste like dirt.  When you take meat and bread out of the mix, lunches can become a bit perplexing – especially when you also don’t want to eat salads for lunch every day of the week.

Well, I’ve come across two recipes that I dearly LOVE that I thought I’d share with you guys.  The cool thing about them is that it is super easy to change the spices and create a whole new dish.

The first recipe comes from our friends at Forks Over Knives (by the way, I highly recommend this site for recipe – they also have an app that is VERY handy).

Mexican-Rice-Soup-LFedit-800x534Mexican Rice Soup

BY HEATHER MCDOUGALL

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup long–grain brown rice, toasted (see note)
  • Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place oil in a small pool in the center of a large skillet, and add garlic and onion.  Cook over medium-low heat for 4 minutes until soft.  (Again, I saute in water or broth)
  2. Add cumin, cayenne, and paprika.  Stir and cook for 1 minute to release flavors.
  3. Add diced tomatoes with liquid, water/broth, lentils, kale, and salt.  Stir and raise heat to high.  When mixture boils, reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

VARIATIONS:

I omitted the cumin and cayenne and added a couple of tsps of dried italian seasoning.  It was terrific.

I think this would also be good with a curry flavor.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would work well.

 

If you’re bored with your lunch routine, give these recipes a whirl!  They are delicious and so versatile!  Bon appetit!

So, what’s for lunch in your neck of the woods?