aaaand we’re back.

We’re looking a little different around here these days! A fresh start was much needed and I think things are looking good. Please also note that in order to find the blog, the link is now http://www.strongerwithcaitlin.com.

Here’s a funny story to start your Monday off on the right foot. A week ago, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard Simba playing. He jumped up and was super cuddly, a common occurrence for him. Still half asleep and in the dark, I start petting him until I feel something moist but solid next to him. At first, I felt bad for the little guy, thinking he threw up or had a hairball, but then I realized in a year of having him, he’d never been sick. It hit me, in one of those sickening punchy ways what it was. A DEAD MOUSE. I threw it across the room and jumped up, trying to be quiet and thankful to Simba for his hard work, but also deeply disgusted. I stepped on it. At 4:30am, I was scrubbing my hands and feet and then had to throw away the mouse before work.

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How are you?

I’m feeling quite well! My mom and I are on Weight Watchers together and we’ve both made great strides. Thus far, I am down 14.2 pounds.

This weekend, I tried on a pair of black pants I had purchased a few years ago assuming they would fit, but they were always too tight. They fit PERFECTLY this weekend. It’s the small things with weight loss that keep you going.

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I’ll be back tomorrow with a weekend recap. In the meantime, check out the new sections of the blog, including an updated My Weight Loss Journey, Personal Training, and Writing.

Enjoy your Monday!

At least you’re not the Yankees today…

Welcome back from the weekend, we’ve survived another hot one.

My Friday started, as it usually does, nice and early thanks to a 4:30am wake-up call. This also means my weekend kicks off early, so I can’t complain. After work and a solid strength training workout, I lounged around the house for a bit before it was Red Sox v. Yankees time. I almost feel bad for the Yankees, but not quite.

I headed into the game with a friend who happens to be a Yankees fan. I did feel bad for her team of losers and made sure to sing along to Sweet Caroline nice and loud for her.

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In college, I was so used to walking to and from the game from just down the street and afterwards, driving into the city, that taking the subway was an adventure. A very hot, sticky, and crowded adventure.

On Saturday, I had a leisurely morning, sleeping in and enjoying breakfast.

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My niece and sister came over for the day and we had a great time just watching this little face.

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It’s crazy how fast they grow!

I went to bed early for a Saturday night and was up early on Sunday morning to fit in a run before my hair appointment. It was warm, but dry outside and I cruised for a solid 4 miles of running. Felt strong!

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After grocery shopping and touching up my roots, it was meal prep time. I chopped up a ton of veggies for salads and made my breakfast for today.

I started watching Sharp Objects on HBO, so far so good.

How’s your Monday treating you?

The “Cheat Meal”

Another week, another 2 pounds down. Feeling strong!

One thing to keep in mind about Weight Watchers or healthy eating in general, is that it’s not so much a temporary fix. I know people like quick fixes to lose weight fast, but sustainable weight loss requires a lifetime of choices.

This weekend, I went to the beach with family and had an indulgent meal followed by an ice cream. I don’t eat that way every day, but once a week makes a big difference in my perspective.

Eating real food with few fake or shady ingredients is important, but if you enjoy something, it should never be off limits. You just have to learn how to eat them in moderation. Easier said then done, but do something long enough, it does become habit.

Just like I need a rest day once a week, I also need a meal or two where I’m not counting calories or points, or wondering the ratio between carbs, proteins, and fats. Sometimes that meal turns into a week of meals, but know it’s never too late to return to healthier ways. Being super restrictive leads to resentment, which blocks success.

I don’t know if we should label anything the “cheat meal” because ice cream for me is just as important to my diet as baby spinach. I eat a lot more baby spinach per week, but it keeps me determined and successful. Referring to something as cheating provides further negative connotation to food, which our society does not need. We need to stop shaming people based on their habits, but try to promote better habits. Eating, for me at least, is an enjoyable part of life, whether it’s breakfast in the middle of a hectic morning or Thanksgiving dinner. I enjoy it now more than I did when I was obese and eating a lot more. Part of that is I’ve come to like cooking, but another part of it is coming to accept the fact that we need food to live.

I’m not a proponent of many diets, fasts, or cleanses (although different things work for different people). Learning to eat real food most of the time just has better lasting effects and makes you feel better inside, which is most important.

Keep being you!

Guest Post: Cait

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I like to refer to myself as a runner, but my friend Cait is an actual, competitive, marathon runner. She inspires me to hit the pavement and keep going, even when my body disagrees and was kind enough to answer some questions about running and her passion for fitness with us.

Thanks, Cait!

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Can you give us some background as to why and how you started running?

When I was about 5 years old I started running the Town day road races with my family.  Soon after that it became a hobby that me and my dad did together.  We would do weekend runs together and Christmas morning was always a fun run.  Next I started my first team in elementary school, and the rest is history.

Why running?
Running is the easiest way to get a quick workout in and you only sneakers and an outfit, and if you need a watch.  Other than that its simple, you just go out your door and explore.
How do you prepare for runs? Whether it’s race day or just a casual jaunt?
Race day and a casual run are completely different preparations for me.  A causal run I just get dressed and go out my door. But a race preparation starts really when the entire training starts, hydration, nutrition and sleep. Typical day of prep would include a bagel with cream cheese a coffee and apple juice, and depending time 2 hours before I run I would have a power bar and some water. I additionally 1 hour before race time will start to stretch and warm up.
What have been your greatest achievements with running?
My greatest achievement would be finishing the Boston marathon, or should I say swimming! (A/N: It was pouring the day of the marathon this year!)
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What was running the marathon like, both physically and mentally?
Besides training your body to run for 4 hours, the hardest part was getting over the fact that you are in pain and you are tired.  If running a marathon was easy, everybody would do it.  It takes mental and physical strength that will push you past your limits, and you truly find out what your body is capable of.
Are there any negatives or downsides to running you’ve felt over the years?
I ran competitively for 12 years so there are deff some negatives.  Injury’s will pop up but you can bounce back, the biggest challenge i have faced would have to be the mental burn out. Over training is a common you can experience mental fatigue.
How was it being a collegiate athlete?
Being a collegiate is something I am so happy I was able to do.  I loved being able to compete and miss being able to toe the line and feel the adrenaline pumping.  I wish I could do it all over again.
How have you made the transition from collegiate athlete to casual runner (if you can call it that)?
Transitioning from a collegiate runner to a casual runner was a weird experience.  I didn’t know when to start running again after my break and so I ended up just starting to sign up for 5K’s and half marathons and then some how I got a number and ran the Boston Marathon.
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Any suggestions and advice to offer those who are looking to get into or improve their running?
One thing I would say is to be proud of yourself for getting out there, it is an amazing feeling when you suddenly feel yourself getting better. It is also a great stress reliever so that is a plus.

Love Letter to Exercise

It was the summer before my senior year of college and I had no idea what to pursue in my professional life, but I knew I did not want to present myself to the world in my current condition. I was obese, self-conscious, and overwhelmed. Rather than sink further into this black hole, I decided to pull myself out of it.

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After work, every afternoon, I put in 15 minutes on the clunky elliptical we had in the basement. I blasted music and endured it. As the days and weeks passed, I started putting on episodes of favorite shows, like Friends and Golden Girls, and worked until the end. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the effort, the slick sweat and short of breath feelings grew addictive.

I could go for an hour, playing with speeds and intensities. I was losing weight and I felt good about myself for the first time ever. I was in complete control, pushing my body to limits I thought I would forever detest. My body craved more. After my elliptical session, I would do sets of jumping jacks and started lifting the light weights we had lounging around. By the end of the summer, I was more determined than I had ever been in my life and I knew I would keep going once I was back in school.

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At my college, there were two gyms- one in the main building of campus and the other in the basement of a dorm. I loved both, they became safe spaces of comfort. Lifting weights awakened my body in new ways. I’d feel sore the next day, but it was a result of achievement rather than a painful deterrent. I had no knowledge about how to lift weights, no idea what exercise worked what muscle group, I just tried what I saw other people in the gym doing, or what I read about online.

In these days, I racked up one-two hours every day at the gym. It’s not what I recommend for everyone, nor something that is doable for busy people, but it was my saving grace. Gone was the anxious girl who ate her emotions. I found my strength.

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February of that year, I decided to tackle the treadmill. Growing up, I loved playing sports, but I hated to run. I started at 30 minutes, walking for 4 minutes and running for 1 minute in 5 minute increments. By Red Sox opening day that year, I took my runs to the outdoor track down the street and was running 3-4 miles at a time. I was a runner- and that is not something I offer lightly. To this day, I am not quick or smooth or a model of running perfection by any means, but I can run for miles and I will never forget what that means to the girl in the summer of 2011.

By graduation, approximately one year later, I was 100 pounds down, exercising six days a week and maintaining much healthier (and happier) eating habits. I was sad to be leaving school, but I was excited to see what the future held. That is not to say that I didn’t struggle after. I’m still confused as to what to do in my professional life in many ways, but that is the product of living.

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But this journey that I continue on, allowed me to be okay with putting myself out into the world, to experience and experiment. I tried several different jobs and trusted my instincts enough to walk away from something that wasn’t right for me. I studied to become a personal trainer and help others who struggle like me or just need a little guidance and push. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams and listened to my heart when I knew it was time to come home to my family.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. I eat too much, I have a lazy exercise day or choose to gasp- take two days off from the gym sometimes- but mostly, I’ve maintained these healthy habits. Eating is a large part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life, but exercise was my gateway. Without it, I would not have the strength to endure, two of my favorite words.

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Exercise is my time. No matter what, I will always have that hour in my day that I take for myself. It doesn’t have to be a full hour, it doesn’t have to be a perfect mixture of cardio and strength training, and it doesn’t always have to be crushing and exhausting.

Embrace the messiness of fitness- the sweat, the confusion, the pain, the results. It does wondrous things for the body, physically and mentally.

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Daily Things

I thought I’d give a- probably mundane- rundown of my daily routine. Three days a week, I open up at the gym, so my alarm clock blares at 4:35am. When it’s being unkind, I’ll roll over and see I only have three minutes left to sleep. There is no kind when you have to wake up before 5am, although I have gotten used to it to an extent.

On these days, I get ready very quickly, really just feeding Simba and throwing my breakfast together. I typically work until 1pm and fit in my own workout. If I time my coffee and snacks appropriately, and slept well the night before, I will be motivated to complete an intense workout. If none of the aforementioned happens, then I will go through the motions. Most days, I’m awake enough to put myself through a tough workout, even though my first thought in the morning is I will definitely nap. (I never nap).

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My workouts on MWF are strength training based, sometimes total body, other days split by muscle group- functional and heavy lifting depending on my mood. This part, core included, will take 45-50 minutes. After, I fit in 15-25 minutes of cardio- cycling, arc trainer, and/or jump roping with intervals included.

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Once I leave, it’s lunch time! I try to stick to lean proteins and veggie-heavy dishes, including salads and stir fries, but other times, I’ll have leftovers. Being back on Weight Watchers means my lunches main source of carbs are veggies and fruits.

Before I shower, I spend some quality time with Simba. He’s still only one and loves being chased, so I try to do this as often as possible. The dude loves his friskies, so he can use the exercise too. Although, half the time when I run at him, he throws himself down and demands pats.

He demands pats most of the day and will follow me around, but when I settle down at my computer for writing time, he does settle down to sit in front of the window or under my desk. Right now, he’s actually yelling at me for attention.

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The rest of the night is spent meal prepping, reading, and watching TV or the Red Sox. Of course, Fridays are a little different.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I get to sleep in a little longer. I never thought a 6:45am wake-up time would be indulging in sleep. These mornings, I hop out of bed, chug water, and hit the pavement for a run. Sometimes I’ll run straight through for about 3 miles, other times I’ll alternate between running and walking. I get to have a nice, leisurely breakfast before heading to work.

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On Tuesdays, I’m done early, so I follow a similar routine to Mondays and Wednesdays. I work a split shift on Thursdays, so in-between, I’ll meal prep, play with Simba, and write.

For Saturday and Sunday, I choose one day to run and the other to rest, depending on my schedule.

What’s your daily routine look like?

Week 1 WW

I’m a week back into Weight Watchers and feeling strong! So far, I’m down 6 pounds!

I know that is a big number, but the first week or two will always jumpstart you. There were definitely some changes that needed to be made to my diet.

The biggest change I’ve undergone thus far is cutting back on the carbs. I still eat and enjoy whole wheat pasta, bread, and brown rice, but not as much and not for every meal. I grew accustomed to having two slices of toast at breakfast especially, but now I eat one piece or have a whole wheat pita or tortilla instead. I’m particularly careful to measure how much I’m eating to keep me honest. Carbs are comfort, but they are also necessary for the body to function, so I refuse to abandon them!

A specific carb I’ve cut down on using is butter. I love butter, particularly on top of carbs and inside dishes to make them taste so much better. Not using it as frequently has helped me become more creative with spices in dishes, but also helps me make better choices, for instance, peanut butter is a better alternative to butter on my toast in the morning because it has more nutrients and substance.

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The biggest benefit has been a lack of bloating. I would sometimes go to bed feeling gross or overly stuffed, not thinking that I’ve eaten too much more than I should until that point. I already eat a ton of veggies, but I’ve upped my in take, hello breakfast scrambles, and my tummy has improved overall.

My energy levels have also improved. I don’t feel as tired when the alarm rings at 4:30 in the morning and my workouts feel better fueled. I’m excited to see how much easier my running gets as I continue to shed pounds, including speed and endurance.

It’s also important for me to remember how far I’ve come from 7 years ago now when I was 100 pounds heavier to see how far I’ve come.

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