Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Weight Loss Journey: Euphemisms Anyone?

I lost 10 pounds and 9 total inches in 3.5 weeks. You can see it in the picture. My mid-section is my problem area and this is the closest I’ve ever come to being able to spot reduce in the place that needed it most.
I majored in English in college and I’m a writer, editor, and blogger by profession. Suffice it to say, I know a thing or two about euphemisms. Voluptuous. Curvy. Buxom. Bosomy. Shapely. I could go on and on. But the reality—and the hardest thing to admit (even to myself!)—was that fact that all these pretty, fluffy adjectives that I was using to describe myself were in fact lies. I was overweight.

There I said it. It’s down on (virtual) paper and I can’t take it back.
But I Was Skinny in High School!
My story isn’t a new one. I was very involved with sports in my youth, especially tennis and softball. I grew up in the desert so the combo of activity and heat kept me very thin.  

College(CHICO!!!) brought keg parties, the dorm cafeteria,  and the requisite “freshman 15.” A semester abroad in London eating far-from-healthy food and consuming too many pints in the local pubs all lead to the same thing: weight gain.

A Gradual Plumping

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t blow up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade float or anything. I just started a gradual plumping…2 pounds here, another 3 or 4 there…but all these lbs were adding up and leading toward the very slippery slope of being overweight.

This continued through my early- to mid-twenties. My weight would fluctuate along with my workout routines and dieting whims. But I was still on the heavy side during most of this time.
2007...My heaviest pre-baby weight.
Wedding, Babies, and Weight Gain, Oh My!
In 2004 I met my now-husband, Josh. We dated for a few years, and got engaged in 2007. And, as we all know, nothing motivates a girl to get in shape like an impending wedding.
Our wedding day 10/3/08

I hired a personal trainer and got back into shape—the best I’d looked or felt in YEARS (Thanks, Mike!). Josh and I were married in October 2008 and I got pregnant with my daughter seven months later. I gained 33 pounds with my pregnancy, which is totally within the normal limits. And then I had an unplanned C-section. I lost most of the baby weight with nursing but my body was never really the same.

When my daughter was 11 months old, I got pregnant again (yes, on purpose), gained another 33 pounds, and had another C-section 19.5 months later with the birth of my son.

Being “sawed in half” twice did a number on my body. And having two babies under age 2 left me too tired to think most days, let alone really workout. I’d always exercised (think riding the bike at the gym while reading 50 Shades of Grey and pushing a double stroller miles, and miles, and miles) but it just wasn’t enough to get rid of the baby weight. If I’m being totally honest a lot of the weight was sticking around due to “dietary indiscretions,” mostly in the form of salty, carb-filled snacks and my best friend cabernet sauvignon. 

September 2012 - My heaviest post-babies.
A Champagne-Induced Promise
New Year’s Eve 2012 we joined a few neighbors for a potluck. There was a lot of champagne flowing….a lot. I don’t know how it happened but a few of the ladies on our street talked me and my friend Lauren into joining their team for the infamous 10k Camp Pendleton Mud Run.
Up until that point, my motto had always been, “I don’t run unless chased.” And it was true. I had come up with every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t be a runner. Well, joining a team to run a RACE, six MILES, mostly UPHILL, in MUD was a little extreme for a beginner. But I’d made a commitment and I always keep my word.

The group met on Sunday mornings to train together. My first run—March 3, 2013—just happened to be after a night out celebrating Lauren’s hubby’s birthday. Pretty sure I had wine, beer, and a margarita that night—not the best running “fuel,” but hindsight’s 20-20, right? At any rate, I set off with the group, determined to pull my weight. Not wanting to disappoint my teammates, I ran the whole 4 miles…without music…wearing crappy, old, no-support tennis shoes. I remember channeling Dory’s mantra from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” But I did it. I ran the whole way. I was a sweaty, huffing and puffing mess…but I ran the whole way! And so it began.

…That Led to a New Lease on Life
What started as an, “Oh my gawd, what the heck have I gotten myself into!?!” moment quickly transpired into a new passion. I downloaded some new music, updated my shoes and running gear, and started pounding the pavement. In addition to Sunday morning training with the girls, I was running several other days a week…FOR FUN.
Again, I’d always exercised but running gave me this amazing mental and physical outlet for all the stress, anxiety, and built up tension that I’d never experienced before. Every time I went out—even on the days that were hard—I came back a healthier, not to mention saner, person. Running helped me become a better mommy, a better, wife, and a better human being in general.

In preparation for the Mud Run—and for a little fun—some girlfriends and I signed up for The Color Run. It’s an untimed, 5K fun race that’s billed as the happiest 5K on the planet. And it is. This event gave me a taste of the energy and excitement that surrounds race days… I was HOOKED! Yay for team Tints N’ Sass!!!  Can't wait to do it again!

I’ll always be thankful to the original “Women of the Bend” (Deanne, Melissa, and Rene) for asking me to be a part of the team that eventually became “Meet My Mudder.” And I continue to be thankful for these ladies as well as my other teammates Karen and Lauren for training with me, inspiring me, and keeping me motivated up to—and during—the Mud Run. The race itself was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year. My “dog tags” I received after the race’s completion are now one of my treasured possessions.

The AWESOME ladies of team "Meet My Mudder"

I guess we got a little dirty.

The "dog tags" and a well-deserved beer post run.

Ryann is Running                                                                    
It’s been said that a body in motion stays in motion. And it’s true. I’d been bit by the running bug and there was no turning back. I started to crave running. In fact, I’d get grouchy if I couldn’t go for a run. Right before the Mud Run I got a little nervous about the race. I mean, it was six miles and only three months prior I’d barely run a minute in my life.

So what did I do? I signed up for something even scarier and more challenging: The Long Beach Half Marathon. After all, what’s six miles when you’re ultimately training toward 13? The race is in October and I’m in full on training mode now. To date, my longest run has been 10.10 miles but I’m feeling good and the longer runs are slowly becoming less challenging. (A big thank you to my neighbor and neighbor Wendy for helping me train and keep on track for the half!)

Bringing Home the Hardware
Every year the little community I live in does a Fourth of July timed race. There’s a kid’s 1K, a 5K, and a 10K. I wasn’t quite ambitious enough to sign up for the 10K but I did register for the 5K. My friend Lauren did it with me and racing with friends is always more fun.
Fast-forward to race day. We both got to the race a little early…her husband was running the 10K (go Greg!) and we were there to cheer him across the finish line. Then it was our turn. We waited at the starting line, fiddling with our phones/music and reveling in the nervous excitement. All of a sudden it was go time! Lauren shot off like a rocket and disappeared rather quickly and I weaved my way through the crowd slowly but surely. As the race progressed, I realized I was feeling good and passing a lot of the slower race participants.

Before I knew it, the race was almost over. I had some fuel left in the tank so I turned up the intensity and literally flew down the homestretch. It’s probably the fastest I’ve ever run. My hubby and kiddos were there to cheer me on…I actually high-fived Josh right before I finished and barely realized it was him—he was a total blur and I had the blinders on!
Come to find out, we really hauled some butt. Lauren placed FIRST in our age group (30-34) and yours truly managed a BRONZE medal third place! I was shocked and very proud of both of us. I had come such a long way since my “just keep swimming” days just four months prior.

1st and 3rd place in our age division?!? Gooooo us!!!
AdvoCare 24-Day-Challenge
My newfound addiction to running had resulted in a not-too-shabby weight loss of 12 pounds. I was losing fat, building muscle, and feeling pretty good. But I really felt like I had plateaued and I wanted to take my weight loss and healthy eating to the next level.
My same running friend and neighbor, Lauren, had taken the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge in January, lost 10 pounds during those initial 3.5 weeks, and continued on to lose another 15 lbs over the next 3-4 months for an impressive 25 total pounds. She was looking great, feeling great, and I was TOTALLY inspired.

So I did it. I took the plunge. I ordered my kit and put my start date on the calendar: 7/5/13.
Cleanse + Clean Eating + Targeted Supplements = Results
The first 10 days of the challenge is an herbal cleanse. Don’t be scared off by the word “cleanse.” Yes, you are eliminating toxins (caffeine, alcohol, excess fats, processed foods, sugar) but you still get to EAT. This was a big deal for me. I’d never be able to do any type of “diet” that didn’t allow actual chewing.

Before my coffee addicted friends run for the hills—there is an energy drink…AND it contains caffeine. It’s called Spark and it’s awesome. You drink it in the morning and in the afternoon if you need a pick-me-up. It comes in several flavors (my favorites are mandarin orange, fruit punch, and pink lemonade) and it’s DELISH! I regularly “Spark” around 3PM…it’s my new Happy Hour.
The remainder of the challenge is the Max Phase. Days 11-24, you have a tasty meal replacement shake in the morning and take targeted nutritional supplements that control appetite and help burn fat before breakfast, before lunch, and with your mid-day meal. You also take a concentrated blend of essential fatty acids for all 24 days. (All of these products, including the Spark energy drink, are included in the 24-Day Challenge Bundle.)

For the entirety of the challenge, you are encouraged to eat clean. Think lean protein sources (chicken, fish, turkey, eggs) and lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Complex carbs like brown rice, beans, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole grains are also okay. You just focus on keeping the portion sizes reasonable. Snacks are encouraged as well. This isn’t a “diet” that starves you. It just gives you the right fuel for burning fat, losing weight, and building muscle.  (Several of the recipes I’ve posted on Recipes by Ryann in the past are challenge friendly!)

I also chose to use Catalyst. It’s a blend of fat-burning, muscle-building, energy-boosting amino acids. It is not mandatory to take during the challenge but Catalyst—along with Spark—are the two products I plan to take indefinitely because I like them so much.
Real, Rapid Results
I knew from my friend Lauren’s success with the
24-Day Challenge that pretty impressive results were possible—though I was a little skeptical about the short time frame. I honestly didn’t expect such dramatic changes personally. But it WORKS.  The combination of AdvoCare products, clean eating, and keeping up my exercise routine literally transformed my body.

I lost 10 pounds and 9 total inches in 3.5 weeks. You can see it in the picture at the top of the page. My mid-section is my problem area and this is the closest I’ve ever come to being able to spot reduce in the place that needed it most.

Nothing Tastes As Good As Being Fit Feels
I’m not going to lie…I love coffee and wine and carbs and cheese…but there’s a time and place for all of these things…in moderation of course. Now that I’ve completed my challenge, I need to focus on training for that Half Marathon! I’d like to lose another 10-15 pounds but honestly, I’m focusing more on how I look and feel rather than trying to achieve a specific number on the scale.
It’s been said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels…well, I don’t want to be skinny per se but I do want to be fit and I’m well on my way there. And I’m looking at food—and booze—differently these days. When you’re working hard and feeling great you don’t want to sabotage your efforts with a cheese wheel or a vat a wine.

Products I Believe In
I SUCKED at the only sales job I ever had—mostly because if I don’t believe in something 100% I can’t fake my enthusiasm. I originally signed up to be a distributor of AdvoCare products because of the discount I received. Now, I’m glad I can share the benefits of these great products with my friends and family. I believe in them—because I’ve seen the results with my own eyes...and on my own body!
Here’s a link to the exact bundle of products you will need if you choose to take the 24-Day Challenge yourself. (You can change the flavor of the meal replacement shake if you don’t like chocolate mocha…but it’s really good!) If you do accept the challenge, be sure to take before/after photos. You will be AMAZED at the transformation that occurs.

If you’re not ready to commit to a full 3.5 weeks, the 10-day herbal cleanse is a great way to kick off a healthy eating program or just start with a clean slate. (I plan to do the cleanse a few times a year to help me stay on track.)
If you have ANY questions about the 24-Day Challenge, AdvoCare’s wide range of health-enhancing products, running, training…anything really, feel free to email me at Advo949@gmail.com or post your questions in the comments section at the bottom of this blog. I promise to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

Thanks for letting me share my story with you. Stay tuned for more healthy, tasty, and easy-to-make recipes in the very near future!
Until next time,