Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I am FitFluential

I come from an Italian family. I grew up with a family who ate to celebrate, and we celebrated everything! Needless to say, 99% of my family is obese. We are not overweight, we are obese.

I played sports my whole life, so I didn't immediately put on weight. I joined the Army ROTC in college and was forced to run every day and this kept my weight at an OK weight for the first year. (I say OK as I was still overweight, just not obese yet) After I quit the ROTC, my weight ballooned.
From age 18 until 27, I ate for every reason. I ate when I was happy; I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was bored; I ate for entertainment. The scale didn't just creep up, it flew up. I spent my 20's as a heavy young lady and I didn't really care. Yes, I would diet occasionally and drop 20 pounds, but then I would get bored and go back to where I started or gain more.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, my sister started losing weight. She joined a gym and went all the time. I continued to eat every day and witnessed my sister shrinking and enjoying life in a new way. She was enjoying exercise like I used to. She was taking step, yoga, spin, and bootcamp. She was addicted to exercise and I was intrigued. I had my daughter but went back to my life as normal. I still didn't exercise and I continued to eat.
I went to Florida 8 months later and I was miserable. My feet hurt and I couldn't keep up with everyone. My sister, however, was carrying my daughter in a backpack and was enjoying herself in a bikini. That trip did it for me. I was done with being obese like the rest of my family. I joined Weight Watchers as soon as I got home and joined her same gym. I spent the next 4 months taking classes and the weight started to drop. I have to add, I didn't enjoy the classes like she did, but the weight was coming off so I continued to go. I dropped about 45 pounds when I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter.

I obviously didn't learn enough in those 4 months as I returned to my old ways while I was pregnant. I ate whatever I wanted and I stopped exercising. I told myself, I was only pregnant for 9 months, I would be fine. I delivered my 2nd daughter and again struggled to get back on track. Four months went by and I was only down 20 pounds from my original 45 that I had lost. My halfway doing things was not going to get me to a healthy weight.

It was at this time that I watched the Boston Marathon on TV and decided I was going to run that race one day. I knew, that the current Robin could never do it. I knew I needed to change my life in order to run marathons and I was finally ready to do it. I started running the next day, joined Weight Watchers, and I registered for my first marathon. Nine months later, I was 90 pounds lighter and running a marathon. I was addicted to marathons and loved being a runner.
So here I am, 4 years and 15 marathons later, and I am FitFluential. I was finally a fitness inspiration to my sister, who was my inspiration to get me started. After she had her second child, she decided to start running in order to lose her weight and she fell in love with the sport as well. I ran her first marathon with her in 2009 and we run the Disney Marathon together every year. We are beating the odds in our family and maintaining over 150 pounds lost between the both of us.

So here are 7 steps I recommend to you in order to start your fitness journey as I did:
  1. Reward yourself for non-scale victories. The scale doesn't always tell the truth. This is a huge thing that is hard to accept. The scale will not always reflect your hard work so recognize the other things that have come as a result of your hard work. This could be dropping a pant size, fitting your towel around you for the first time, or running up a flight of stairs. These are huge accomplishments and you should celebrate them, I did.

  2. Pick a long term goal and stick to it. I chose the Disney Marathon and paid the $100+ entry fee. I knew that if I skipped a workout, I was only hurting myself. I finished my first marathon in 5:12 and didn't miss any workouts. I knew I had a time limit at Disney and knew that if I didn't train properly, I may not make that time limit.

  3. Get fitted for running shoes. A lot of running injuries are a result of being in the wrong shoe. Go to a running store and get fitted. And, yes, I know how intimidating going to a running store is. I have been running for 5 years and still don't think I belong there, but they are really helpful. Running stores are excited to see another person interested in fitness and are passionate about helping you get started.

  4. Research your new sport online. When I first started running, I joined the Runners World forums and read them everyday in order to soak up all the knowledge of the experienced runners. I read race reports and answers to everyone's questions. Now there are so many other outlets that you are flooded with information between Twitter, blogs, Daily Mile, etc. Soak it all in. Not only will you learn something, it makes you more excited to get up the next day to do something.

  5. Find a training partner. This can be difficult, but I promise you will be so much happier if you do. During training for my first marathon, my husband and I did most of our runs together. Now I run with my sister and with all my friends I have met from Twitter. I look forward to my weekly run dates, even if it means 3 hours on a trail where I am nearly falling over at the end, at least I had good conversation the whole time. :)

  6. Fuel your body. This is another thing that has been hard for me to accept but have learned the hard way. My goal was originally to lose weight. You can't lose weight if you aren't properly fueling your body. My weight will plateau during weight loss, if I starve it. Feed yourself and your runs or fitness activity will be much more successful.

  7. Pick short term goals in order to not lose sight of what you are doing. This can be losing a smaller amount of weight from your total you want to lose. This can also be running a smaller distance race. My first race I ever ran was a 5 mile race. I did this 3 months into my training and it was HARD. I finished that race wondering how I could ever run a marathon but I also was so excited that I RAN a 5 mile race. It was a short term goal that I was able to tick off much faster than my marathon that was still months away. Every training cycle I pick a few races that keep me excited to race and I can also gauge if my training is working.


Kristin Deaton said...

Wow great post Robin. So are you going to be down at Disney this year? I'm running the Goofy and a Half this year as it was my first Marathon this past Jan 2011!! And I had a blast. My sister fell in love with running after I was running for years and I am hoping since her second child she falls back in love with running. Any tips to get her back in it? I wish I lived in her town and was able to run with her. Anyways. Congrats on achieving so much!!! Your story is truly something someone with doubts can look to and say "I can do that"

robinbn said...

Thanks for commenting. Yes, we will be at Disney this year. I did the Goofy Challenge 2 years ago, loved it. I have a race report on my blog. How long will you be down there? We go Fri-Mon this year. As for encouraging your sister, I would say plan to do a race with her, when you can be together. My sister and I immediately started racing together when she started running and it gave her motivation to improve. I didn't always run with her, but the experience of being together at the race gave us something to talk about. Also, I help my sister with her training plan. Every week we talk about her training from the past week and I give her her schedule for the following week. I love seeing her improvement as I try and take credit for it. :)

Jess said...

This is an AWESOME post!! I SO admire you - and totally view you as a Fitfluential rockstar! I love your story!!

Stone said...

I enjoyed reading your story. My wife ran her first 1/2, the wine and dine in October. She motivated me to start running and I will run my first race, a 5K in Jan at Disney.

Kristin Deaton said...

That's a great idea. She was the one who got me to do a half marathon with her YEARS ago. I'll have to see which one she wan't to do. My husband and I will be there THursday to Thursday. Yes we love Disney. No we don't have kids, but we were suppose to go with another couple but the husband got a promotion. We will enjoy it just the same. :-)

Caroline said...

congratulations. I admire you both. You changed your life. I did the same and I know how difficult it can be but I would never go back to the old me. I sent you your code for the giveaway I hope you got my email.

Crystal Rhyno said...

Great blog post!

Michele Gonzalez said...

Oh my gosh. I love your story. Congrats to you and your sister for overcoming the odds in your family! And I especially love that you and her get to run together - I have 3 sisters and would LOVE if they shared the same interest in running as I do (I've gotten two of them to run for a month or so at a time, but then they grow tired of it)...Looking forward to working with you at FitFluential!

Sara - Words to Run By said...

Love your story, Robin! WHAT AN INSPIRATION! Reading about your fitness journey reminds me so much of mine. I hope to be like you someday and be able to fuel properly and lose the rest of my weight.

Not only do you look fantastic, but you tell your story in such a way that it is inspiring yet challenging and gets people (like me!) excited to get fit. Hats off to you, my friend. I am so happy to read your blog! :)

robinbn said...

The reason I blog is so that I can show people that your hard work can pay off. You will get there and the reward is so worth it!

robinbn said...

No need to convince me about loving Disney as an adult. I am going Marathon Weekend with just my sister. I take my family during the summer. We love just being there. :)

robinbn said...

Congrats to you and your wife. You will love the 5k in January. I will be there doing the full on that Sunday. Good luck to you and thanks for stopping by!

robinbn said...

Thanks Jess!

Jenn said...

I've always loved your story Robin. Always found you incredibly inspiring. So determined to better yourself and WOW are you being rewarded now for your efforts. EXCELLENT tips here! S0 glad you're blogging again:) You were the reason I ever decided to start a blog!

Jennifer Goodale said...

Awesome post! What a wonderful journey towards being FitFluential!! Congrats and thanks for the 7 steps...all very well written.