My favorite exercise gear

There’s a bit less than a month left of the weight-loss competition I’m participating in.  I’m going to be bummed with it’s over–I love working out with my team and having such a great support system has been a big help.

Above are a few of my favorite pieces of gear.  This post isn’t sponsored; these are just things that I bought myself and like a lot.

Polar FT4 Heart Watch – This comes with a transmitter that you wear on a chest strap.  When you set up your watch you enter your height, age, weight, etc… and it calculates your heart rate and calories burned.  I like being able to track how hard (or not hard) I’m working. And it also syncs with the fitness machines at the gym which is nice if you want to keep your heart rate at a certain pace.  The only con I’ve found is that my model doesn’t have a stop watch function which would be useful for running. 

Enell Sports Bra – I always thought I hated running but it turned out I mostly hated being busty and running with a crappy sports bra. I remember doing laps in junior high with my forearms pressed against my chest to minimize the bouncing–ugh!  This last time when I wanted to get into running I researched options for full-busted women and the Enell brand kept coming up so I bit the bullet (they’re about $60) and ordered one.  It’s not the prettiest bra but once it’s on I’m locked and loaded and can run and do jumping jacks without any uncomfortable bouncing. Love, love, love.

Compression Sleeves – Since I’ve started running my shins have been bothering me and these help a lot. A friend at the gym who runs marathons recommended them.  I’ve only had them for a week but I wore them when I ran 5k with my team last Saturday and afterwards my shins didn’t bother me like they normally do. I actually enjoy how they feel and would happily wear them all the time but even though mine are a sensible black I don’t think I’m quite ready to go down that road yet 🙂

Ice cup – If my shins are bothering me after a run I’ll take one of these and use the edge to massage out any knots.  It hurts like a mother but really helps. To make one, fill a styrafoam cup with water and freeze it.  Next, take a knife and score the cup all the way around the middle and peel off the styrafoam up to the line–voila! A giant ice cube complete with a insulated handle so your hand doesn’t get cold.

So there you go.  These are a few things that have been useful to me in my get-in-shape efforts.

How about you?  Do you have any fitness tips or gear that you love?

My first 5k

I ran my first 5k race on Saturday. The weather was lovely and it was a great day for a run.

Linnie and I sprinted to the finish line. I misjudged the distance and started sprinting earlier than I meant to and as we approached the finish I was almost out of gas and concentrating very hard on not falling on my face.

We did it! Around mile 2 I was very tempted to take a break and walk but I stuck with it and ran the whole way. It helped a lot to have Linnie running with me. When I was starting to feel like I wouldn’t be able to make it she would pick someone out up ahead and then we would focus on passing them. For me so much of running is mental and as a beginner having encouragement along the way makes a big difference.

The kids and N’s cousin made a very sweet sign and waited at the finish line to cheer for us.

So far I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw the sign away. Maybe I’ll hang it up in my sewing room.  

My time was 32:52 which averages to 10:36 a mile. I’m happy that I set this goal and accomplished it. As someone who has never run before this experience has given me a boost of confidence that my body is stronger than I usually give it credit for.  

My new goal is to get faster and improve my time. N says that if I want to do another 5k he’ll run with me next time which sounds fun.

Tomorrow’s the big day!

I just picked up my race packet for my 5k. The race is tomorrow morning and I’m excited (and nervous!)

Since I’ve been training by running on the indoor track at the rec center last week Linnie and I ran 3.3 miles around our neighborhood so I could practice running outside. It was cold and windy (and hilly!) and I was slower than I am on the track but I finished without walking any of it–phew.

Knowing that I already have a 3-mile outside run under my belt helps me feel a bit less nervous about tomorrow. (But I’m still totally nervous.)

Wish me luck 🙂

Slim-to-Win Update 2

I’m still chugging along with my weight loss program.

In March I lost 4.1 lbs which brings my 3-month total to 12.2 lbs.  My body fat percentage didn’t drop this month like the other two months, probably because I ate less protein and more Girl Scout cookies and mini Cadbury eggs than I was supposed it–oops.

But I still lost a bit from my hips and waist and 1.75″ from each thigh (woo-hoo) which I think comes from training for my upcoming 5k which has been the main highlight of this last month.

As someone who has never enjoyed running (ok, downright hated it) it’s been gratifying to see improvement. Every month we’ve been “running” a mile to track our progress.

When I did it in January it took me 12 min 30 sec and I had to walk several laps.

In February I ran a bit more and walked less and did it in 11 min 45 sec.

But at the end of March I ran the whole thing and did it in 9 min 23 sec! 

I felt quite proud of myself (and very sore for a few days afterwards).

The 5k is in two weeks and I’m still training. Yesterday I ran with my friend Linnie and we did 2.5 miles. We took it kind of slow since I was still a bit under the weather but we jogged the whole thing.  It was the first time in my life that I had run that far at once and it made me feel like I can probably actually do the 5k (which is 3.1 miles).

I guess that’s one good thing about starting out at a low level of fitness–there are plenty of little milestones to pass and each is exciting and new 🙂


As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been very athletic. In high school I successfully avoided taking any P.E. classes (and took extra photography and band classes instead, fun!) and I fulfilled my college’s P.E. requirement in part by taking bowling.

But I’ve decided to run my first 5k at the end of April. I know that for a lot of people running is no big deal.  But before I started this weight-loss program I hadn’t run a mile since middle school, and even then I’m pretty sure I walked part of it.

My friend Linnie is already a runner (and an amazing artist!) so she’s helping me train. There are several training programs that promise to get you off the couch and in shape for a 5k; I’m following this one

So far I’m on week 2–we do our long run on Mondays and then I do the two training runs on my own during the week.  Yesterday I ran 1.5 miles (without stopping to walk) for the first time EVER!

It felt great. After months of working out consistently I’m at the point where I actually enjoy exercising which is both a bit baffling and highly gratifying.

Slim-to-Win Update 1

Back in January I started participating in a weight-loss contest run by my local rec center. (I discussed the reasons why I joined this program here.)

Anyway, it’s been almost two months and things are going pretty well.  I’m tracking the food I eat using an iphone app, MyFitnessPal, and stay around 1,400 calories a day.  I try to eat mostly vegetables and protein mostly because I’ve learned that even though I love carbs with an undying passion (I’m looking at you–toast, bagels, rice, and pastries!) I don’t have the calories to waste on them right now. 

In terms of exercise, I’ve been lifting weights for an hour with my friend Linnie twice a week, doing cardio for about 50 min twice a week, and cross-training with my slim-to-win team for an hour once a week. It really tires me out. Most nights, I could easily fall asleep at 9:30 but I go to bed around 11 pm (have to get my tv/movie/k-pop video watching time in with N!)

While the results haven’t been as dramatic as I would like, I have noticed a difference.  In January I lost 4.3 pounds and my body fat percentage dropped from 37.2% body fat to 34.2%. I lost 2 inches around my chest and waist.  I’m also getting stronger–I get a kick out of lifting a weight that was previously too heavy for me.

The best part of this whole thing is that it has helped me reshape how I think about my body.  Even though I’m still overweight I feel much more positively toward my body. Before I had a tendency to write off my ability to anything physical but now I’m impressed by the things my body is able to do. My workouts usually leave me feeling at least a little sore but I like feeling little twinges as I go about my day because it means that I’m getting stronger. 

This week is when we have our official weigh-in, body-fat test, and measurements taken for this last month. I’m nervous/excited to see my results!

Slim to Win

So part of my come-to-Jesus epiphany of late is the realization that I need to get serious about my health.  I’m overweight because I eat too much junk and don’t exercise enough.  For me, it’s troubling that my most serious health concern is due to overindulgence.

The women’s weight training class I was in just finished and while I didn’t lose any weight I made to impressive (to me) gains in strength.  I’m the type of person that does best in a structured program so I’m applying to a “Slim-To-Win” (a la “The Biggest Loser”) program my city is doing.

As part of the application process I had to get a doctor’s wavier, take forward-facing and profile photos of myself in form-fitting clothing, and write a one-page essay.

I thought about posting my “before” photos but I’m not that brave.  Instead, here’s my essay.

Ever since I was I kid I’ve been more of an “indoors” person. Reading and watching movies are two of my favorite things to do. When I was in high school I wasn’t very confident in my athletic ability but at the same time I wanted to hang out with my friends who were in sports. So…I became the manager of the track team and the manager of the cross country team. Ta-da, problem solved!

Fast forward fifteen years and two babies and I find myself in somewhat of a crisis. Still fairly sedentary, my weight has crept up and up over the years. I still enjoy reading books and watching movies but have added eating out to my list of hobbies which has not helped matters.

I am at the point where losing weight isn’t something I’d like to do, it’s something I need to do. My dad is obese and has been for as long as I can remember. He now has type 2 diabetes but still does not eat well or exercise. It scares me. I worry for him and I worry that I’m headed in a similar direction.

I want to be a healthy parent to my two kids, someone who is able and eager to run around with them and go hiking on the weekends. Our family likes to go hiking and I’d love not to be the one trailing behind, huffing and puffing. I’d like to be a good example for my kids, especially my daughter.

Besides improving my health, I’d like to lose weight to improve my appearance. I love fashion but for the last ten years I’ve only bought cheap flimsy things because it’s hard to feel good about spending money on nice things in my current size. It’s also just hard to find cute things that fit.

Sometimes I feel like people dismiss me because I’m overweight; it’s like their eyes just slide right over me. I’d like to be taken more seriously. I’d like to be more confident in how I present myself. When I see a photo of myself I’d like not to be shocked or disturbed. I’d like to look more like the person I feel like I am on the inside.

If I’m selected for the Slim to Win program, I will give it my all. For the last several months I’ve been working on 3-4 times a week, twice with the Women’s on Weights class. Taking the class has given me more confidence in my physical abilities. It has been thrilling to see the progress I’ve made in the last few months. I’m the type of person who thrives in a structured program and I truly believe that if I have a trainer helping me plan my workouts and helping me be accountable for what I eat I will succeed.

I am ready to do this!

What do you think? Am I laying it on too thick? I really want to get into this program, I think it would help me turn my health around.

Stronger, Fitter, Thiner.

As you’ve probably noticed, I love food.  However, I live a pretty sedentary life so my weight has gradually crept up over the last ten years–lame.

I’ve made various efforts to lost weight (some more successful that others) but recently I’ve really rededicated myself to living a more healthy life.  I want to be in stronger and in better shape and, vainly, I would like to look better in (and out) of clothes.

I signed up for a women’s weight training class at my local rec center (and roped my my friend Linnie who happens to be an amazing artist into taking it with me) and it has really helped motivate me.  It meets for an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it KICKS MY BUTT.  Every week we focus on a variation on a weight-lifting workout.

Last week we cross-trained and ran a lap around the track, then lifted weights for a minute, then ran and lifted again, repeated for an hour.  We ran a mile and a half which is the most I’ve run since the mile “fun run” I did in sixth grade.  (Super lame, but true.)  By the end of class I felt like throwing up and I was so sore the next day.  But then when we did the same workout two days later it felt just a smidge easier.  So that’s progress, right? 

On Mondays and Wednesdays when there’s no class I work out on the elliptical for 45 minutes and watch Netflix streaming on my iPad (so far I’ve watched a few different Korean dramas but right now I’m working my way through season 2 of Doctor Who…mmmm…David Tennant–yum.)

Foodwise, I’ve been tracking what I eat and have been staying in the 1500-1600 range for net calories (i.e. I eat have an extra snack on class days).

So I’ve been doing this for a little over a month.

“This is great, Faith!” you might say.  “How much weight have you lost?”


We weighted ourselves and had our body fat measured when class started and we just did it again.  I weigh the same AND somehow my body fat % has gone up and my lean muscle mass has gone down (Gah!!!!!!!!)

Needless to say, it was pretty discouraging.  I’m working out more than I ever have before and somehow loss muscle mass?  If I was a guy I would have lost 10 pounds by now.  Bleh.  My instructor told me to keep a detailed food diary and that we’d figure it out.

On the plus side, I’ve learned that I actually like exercising and that I don’t mind running as much as I thought I did.  I don’t even mind perpetually being a bit sore because it reminds me that I’m getting stronger.

Serious Faith is Serious!

Last night I went and joined Weight Watchers. (Again.) The scale has crept up a bit over the last year and I’ve decided to finally do something about it. I’ve been exercising off and on again but I’ve been pretty lousy at eating well. I think if I get my eating habits under control I’ll make some real progress.

I’m planning on actually making a family menu every week so I won’t end up looking in our empty fridge, sighing, and then driving to a fast food place or asking N if I can order a pizza when it’s my turn to cook and I don’t know what to make. Aside from eating better I’m hoping that planning a menu will also help save some money on food.

I’ll probably post periodically about my progress to keep myself honest. I need to go grocery shopping today to stock up on fruits and vegetables and whole grains and such. Here goes nothing!

I can hear you now

My cell phone miraculously started working again over the weekend! This means that happily (and sadly) I don’t need to go buy a new cell phone. (Sigh. And I just when I was eying the Samsung Omnia. Does anyone have it and love it/hate it?)

I guess I’ll just have to stick to my original plan and wait to get a new phone until I hit my first weight-loss target. Just 6 lbs. to go!