Sweating Through Health Scares and Pandemics

My last post in October was about how I was excited to be in the middle of a strength training plan that helped me drop some weight and get back into fighting mode. At the end of it all, it really did work: I lost about 15 lbs and a handful of inches and it was just the kickstart I needed to get through the holidays with a healthy mindset.


we even threw a hell of a roaring 20’s themed NYE party!

Then January brought a health scare that I talked about a bit on Instagram, when I found a lump in my breast and went through a month of testing before finding it was benign. That month brought new levels of anxiety that I wouldn’t wish on anyone: migraines so bad that I ended up in the ER one morning at 3am, a pinched nerve in my back/chest that my doctor had me get an Xray for, and itchy hives all over my body. Working out took a backseat, so yes, I dropped off the face of this blog, and gained some of the weight back. But once the anxiety cleared and the results were in, I returned to working out pretty regularly.


Then the coronavirus showed up.


I’m not going to clog up your feed with any hot takes on this bullshit, but I’m also not going to sugarcoat how I’m handling it. We’re blessed in that my husband and I both still have our jobs, and we’re working pretty much 8-5 every day, just to maintain some kind of schedule, and to KEEP those jobs. It’s been a struggle here, much like I’ve heard from other people. I’m not glad it’s happening, but I am glad that it’s shining a light on the importance of being aware of your own mental health and taking care of yourself when anxiety is at an all-time high. It’s a shame that it took locking us all up in our houses to realize it, but here we are.


I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the next day. But I’ve been working out to maintain my sanity, whether by shutting my laptop off in the middle of the day and going for a run around town (while I’m still allowed to) or by carrying handweights around the house every hour when my watch tells me to stand up (while I wish I’d gotten a treadmill before all this happened, I sure am glad I got an Apple Watch for Christmas). I’m also still doing my good old DVD and playing Just Dance on the PS4, and using my watch’s 7-Minute-Workout app a few times a day just to get my heart pumping.

If I can laugh at anything about this whole thing, it’s the fact that suffering from extreme OCD in college – to the point where I washed my hands 50-60 times a day and bled from cracked skin on my knuckles for months at a time – has prepared me for the contamination fears we’re all experiencing today: I can track what needs to be disinfected and know exactly how to open every kind of door without using my hands. Score one for living with an acute anxiety disorder for 3 years.

But I just figured I’d pop on here and share what’s going on over here in the hopes that it reaches someone – anyone – who might need a little pick me up. I know it seems dark right now, but trust me. We’ll get through this.


The Top 3 Things They Don’t Tell You About Losing 100+ Lbs

As you can probably tell by my blog header, I’ve lost a good amount of weight. From 2004-2009, I lost more than 100 lbs and have kept it off since then, naturally. I’ve blogged about this a little bit before, but today I want to talk about the things that they don’t mention in those weight loss stories you read about. Because even though I lost a whole bunch of weight, I’ve been faced with a whole new set of problems that I never expected as a result.


3. You’ll lose weight in places you’d least expect.

Did you know that you can lose weight in your feet? Yeah. Neither did I.

Back in college (when I was at my heaviest), I was a shoe hound. Full on Carrie-Bradshaw-style, spend-your-rent-on-shoes addicted. Because one indulgence I could depend on when shopping – after getting upset that nothing fit or looked good, of course – was that a cute pair of shoes always fit!  But after losing the weight, suddenly all of my shoes were way too big. It pained me to donate the strappy black “date night” sandals that had carried me in and out of a number of bars, restaurants, and parties. I shed a tear when I finally retired the sleek peep toe pumps I rocked while interning with the NJ Devils Marketing Team… But they were all simply too big. All told, I went from a size 10 to a size 8.5!

2. You’ll learn a lot about biology.

Sure. When I was bigger I knew what body parts were what, I just wasn’t pleased with any of them. And I knew that they “recommended” we take in 2,000 calories a day. But what the hell did I know about how many calories were in the chicken parm at the diner? Pfft.

Once I started to lose weight, though, it was like there was a whole world of biology and math that I never knew existed. A lot of it is common sense, but we didn’t talk about food issues and weight when I was growing up, and they didn’t teach this stuff in school! By working at a gym with knowledgeable trainers and group fitness instructors, I discovered what triceps were and how heart rate affects weight loss. By collaborating with a nutritionist, I learned how many calories I should eat on days I work out vs. when I’m not training, and the importance of protein in muscle recovery.

I certainly didn’t become a fountain of fitness knowledge, but I definitely picked up a bunch of healthy tips and tricks that I still call on from time to time, which I think is pretty cool!

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1. Your relationships will change.

College was when I was at my heaviest. As I navigated the social waters and made new friends, I often connected with other not-stick-thin gals like me. In each new social circle I joined, there were girls in all shapes and sizes, but there was always someone to bond with over balancing our mutual love of the dining hall buffet with our desire to be thin. But then one night after (I lost most of the weight), I met up with a handful of college friends that I hadn’t seen since before the weight loss. At one point after the gang ordered another round of appetizers, I turned the plate down, saying something about not wanting to go overboard. That’s when one friend replied sarcastically, “Oh please, the skinny bitch needs to watch her weight!” And everyone had a good laugh. 

I was shocked: I know she meant it jokingly, but the way she said it made me feel like she viewed me as a traitor for losing weight! I never expected someone’s opinion of me to shift so drastically, especially since I was still so new to the whole weight loss thing. I was trying to figure out what it meant to have this new body while working through some lingering food issues, but these folks didn’t see that. They just saw the weight loss. To the people who didn’t really know me very well, I didn’t look like the same girl – so I wasn’t treated like her anymore.


These are all just my own experiences – I’m sure that others in similar situations have their own discoveries too, but that’s what fascinates me. The changes I’ve gone through by going from a size 22/24 to a size 8/10 in 4 years affected a lot more than my closet, and I’m interested in exploring all of them!

Chin Up Apparel Review & Giveaway!

I’ve been a big fan of Chin Up Apparel for a while now – my obsession first began with the tanks I found in Kohls and Target:

They also have a bunch of wine-related running gear, like the “Will Run for Wine” tank I ran my last race in (even if it was covered by a race bib):


I even discovered that with a little ingenuity, you can get some more “outside the gym” mileage out their gear like I did with the Zen Elephant racerback tank I got direct from their site:


While it’s slightly different from the other pieces I own (the straps are thinner & it’s a Woman’s fit as opposed to Juniors), the quality is still super high like I’ve come to expect from Chin Up. The slouchy fabric was perfect for working out outside: not too thick and loose enough to give me room to breathe, but not so thin that it’s see-through or feels cheap. Just the opposite – the softness and richness of the fabric really stands out. And because the print doesn’t scream “I’m working out!” it was able to turn it into a fun little date-night outfit too:

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But enough of all that – why not get one of your own? Enter now for your chance to win a tank top of your choice courtesy of Chin Up Apparel! Contest ends on Tuesday, 6/9, and you can earn entries in a number of different ways – and the best part about this giveaway is that there will be TWO winners! – so go ahead and enter now, today could be your lucky day!

The First 10 Minutes of Every Workout

Confession time: the first 10 minutes of every workout I do – running, strength training, cross training, you name it – are sheer hell. I spend the whole time just going through the motions while one long “UUGGGHH” drones on silently in my head. It takes a good 10-15 minutes before I’m feeling the burn, sweating it out, and reaping the benefits of the whole fitness thing.


This is especially the case when I work out in the mornings. I simply cannot drag myself out of bed, get warmed up and get an efficient workout in less than like 2 hours, and I’m not losing 2+ hours of sleep if I don’t have to, dammit. By the time I get in a groove, I need to start cooling down, showering, and getting ready for my day. First world problems, I  know.

Having said that, I keep trying to fight the system by waking up early for a morning run every now and then. And while these runs are always technical successes in that they are runs that take place in the morning, I can still safely say that I hate morning workouts.

IMG_5303Every time I try to run before work, I only manage to get about a half hour (or 2.5 miles) in before the morning routine has to start, and then I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Sure, it feels good knowing my workout is done, but the pros don’t really outweigh the cons there.

IMG_5314But of course that sunrise was really something to see, and I would have missed that if I slept in.

I know what my problem is: I need to build it into my schedule just like everything else to make it a habit. Once my body realizes this is the norm with more frequent sessions, it won’t be so bad. But until then, I’ll tough it out and try to enjoy myself.

IMG_5302I also battled the “first 10 minute scourge” this weekend when I did my favorite HIIT workout in the living room Saturday morning.

IMG_5328Back when I first started working out in 2004, I relied heavily on group fitness classes to stay motivated. Looking back, I’m like 90% sure the strict start times and “follow me exactly” routines were the sole reason that I was so successful back then. Working out on your own time, by your own rules, and doing your own made up routine? It’s really hard to stay focused. Especially when you’ve got a nosy cat and a husband watching Bob’s Burgers and laughing in the next room.

IMG_5332I would do one set and get distracted by the mailman or the cat or my own short attention span, but I finally managed to  struggle through the full 40-or so minutes (burpees included)! The humidity outside was a real killer, but I felt nice and accomplished afterwards – even if my legs and glutes were screaming for mercy.


And that’s the happy, sweaty truth I have to keep reminding myself of: even though the first 10 minutes of every workout suck a pretty big windbag, the last 10 minutes are probably the most rewarding and blissful moments of my day. And SO worth fighting through that wall to get to 🙂

How about you? Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you conquer the first 10 minutes?

Sick of Winter

I don’t know about you guys but this winter thing sucks.

I’m now on day 8 of not running due to a wracking cough that started last week, and I am literally pacing the floors like a border collie that needs to get outside. Add this miserable snow we’ve gotten into the mix, and I am squarely in the middle of the winter blues. So to fight the existential anger that hits when the snow piles up and the phlegm just keeps on coming, I’ve stuck with a plan.

From the beginning, I stuck as best I could to a healthy eating plan. That’s one of my biggest downfalls in the winter: falling into bad eating habits and pigging out on junk in the name of hibernating (or whatever). To keep that from happening, we stocked up on healthy essentials the day before the big storm hit last week and I batch cooked that Sunday. It made a huge difference to have super healthy meals at the ready, like home made chili, beef stew, and kale-and-berry packed green smoothies every morning.

I also had to get creative with my home workouts. Regular cardio sends me into coughing fits. It’s too snowy, icy and cold to run outside anyway. And putting me in a crowded gym sounding like I’ve got the consumption basically ensures that they’ll send in the CDC to escort me out.


“Ma’am, step away from the leg press machine.”

So instead of starting a nationwide panic with my incessant coughing, I started off my zero mileage week with some yoga and focused on my core and handstands. I won’t lie – I’ve been discouraged by my lack of handstand progress. Even though I know it’ll take time, I’m an impatient girl. And while I’ve been working on my upper body strength on and off this training cycle, it was mostly the fear of falling out of the handstand and hurting my knees that’s kept me from just doing it. So I tried something a little less dangerous and attempted a headstand – and wouldn’t you know, I got it on the first try!!

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I was so thrilled – This was one of those things that I always told myself I couldn’t do, but I finally swallowed that fear and turned it into fuel to just DO it. Needless to say, now that I know I can, I’ve been going upside down basically every chance I get!


Every day I try to move a little further away from the wall and work on my balance, and I’m loving it so far. So score one for just sucking it up and going for it!

Once the snow really started piling up, I was stuck inside with my Biggest Loser workout DVD’s. To keep it low impact, I stuck with the leg and arm portions of the Last Chance Workout a few times just to maintain and feel like I was doing something, and it worked pretty well.

After 4 days of being sick, I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor – and it turns out whatever I had back in early January lingered around to give me a wicked sinus infection. The doc took one look at my throat and backed away with an “Eww..” – which was oddly very satisfying. It was nice to know I wasn’t just feeling sorry for myself!

She sent me home with some good meds and after a day or two of real solid rest, I finally started feeling better yesterday. So today I celebrated by picking up something I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks now:


Yes. It’s a hula hoop.

Four years ago, to help me get in shape for my wedding, I borrowed a weighted hula hoop from a friend and literally hooped my waist down to the smallest its ever been. Just 15-20 minutes a day, over the course of one winter, and I saw a very noticeable difference. So when I spotted this bad boy in Kohl’s a few weeks ago, I knew I had to have it.

Let me just say: I’ve had it for like 5 hours, and already feel my abs screaming from the 10 minutes I’ve done so far today!

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I am the hooping queen!

Now that I’m finally feeling well enough to try the gym tomorrow, I’m going in with no expectations at all: treadmill walking and maybe some light jogging just to get my body back into the groove. Either way, I’m hoping to fall right back into half marathon training! I’ve missed one long run last week and this week’s 8-miler will most likely be a 5 miler later this week as I ease back into things, but I’m determined not to let this little speedbump turn into a roadblock.

How about you? How are you faring in this miserable winter? Or, if you’re one of the lucky people that don’t have to deal with this frozen ridiculousness, do you know how much I envy you? 🙂 Tell me how you’re getting through this winter!