Nutrition & Eating

Weight Loss and Becoming A Runner

dsc03119I took this picture exactly seven years ago today. December 1, 2009 was one of the most important days of my life and I didn’t even know it.

At the time, I was borderline obese and depressed. I couldn’t walk up the stairs to our bedroom without being winded at the top. I couldn’t run a mile – I could barely walk a mile.

I had been skinny through high school and like everyone else I gained a few pounds in college but not anything to be worried about. Before my wedding I crash dieted to fit into a wedding dress that was accidently ordered a size too small and once the wedding was over I let myself go. I gained 45 pounds in two years. I was a size 14 shoving myself into size 12 jeans. I had a nearly 40″ waist.

That morning I was sitting at my kitchen table surfing the internet. I had just polished off a giant stack of pancakes, some eggs, toast with jelly, coffee and orange juice. As I sat there I could feel the rolls of my stomach touching each other. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I cried, not figurative tears, real tears. I had tried loosing weight several times, unsuccessfully. I had done Weight Watchers with some friends, I joined a gym and tried working out. None of it worked. I lost weight in the short term but immediately gained it back plus some. I couldn’t stick with anything for longer than a few weeks. After three years of trying to loose weight, I felt like I was stuck in a body that I didn’t belong in.

I’m a smart girl, I knew that loosing weight meant changing my entire lifestyle but it was so hard and I didn’t want to work hard.

But something happened that morning while sitting at the kitchen table. I had what was the most important epiphany of my life, I realized that the only person I was hurting by being overweight was myself. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why are you letting yourself get away with this? Why don’t you stop being so weak and do something about it?”

That very second I got up from the table, got my camera and the tripod and set it up in our bedroom. I put on my swimsuit, took some pictures, I weighed myself, took all my measurements and wrote it in a blog post, hoping that the accountability of the world would motivate me to follow through.

I did some research and found out exactly how much weight was safe to loose in a week (1-2 pounds) and how many calories I could eat to meet that goal (1,500) and I stuck to it.

Y’all, the first few weeks were hard. They were so. hard. I knew nothing about nutrition. Nothing. Zero. It was one big game of trial and error. I started by shaving off the little calories I didn’t need, like the jelly on my toast (50 calories) and the sugar in my coffee (60 calories x 2 cups). I quit putting syrup on my pancakes (200 calories).

Later, I gave up the toast and the pancakes altogether. I quit drinking juice. I gave up bagels. I gave up donuts. I gave up anything that didn’t stay in my stomach very long. By trial and error, I learned that if I ate eggs for breakfast, I would still be full at lunch and all I would need was a handful of almonds to get me through until dinner. I learned to eat something small before we went out to eat and order a broth based soup instead of a hamburger. I learned a lot about nutrition.

By process of elimination, I unintentionally cut out all the extra sugar in my diet and many of the processed carbs I’d been eating. If it didn’t keep me full it wasn’t worth the calories.

By Christmas, just three weeks later, I’d lost 9 pounds. I knew I needed to add exercise for any weight loss to really stick but I had no idea where to start. My previous attempts at being a gym rat failed miserably because I hated the gym. I tried it again anyway. Unsurprisingly, my disdain for that little cinder block building didn’t go away because I was on a diet. I hated the smell. I hated the machines. I needed something I didn’t hate.

One day, some time around the New Year, when it was time to make the dreaded trip to the gym I did something that changed my life. I put on my running shoes instead and slogged through a three mile loop. I walked a lot, ran a little and cursed myself the entire time. It hurt. My lungs burned. I didn’t love it…but I didn’t hate it either. A couple of days later I did it again. That April, just four months after I started running, I ran my first half marathon.

All in, it took nine months to loose 45 pounds. The diet change and learning about nutrition helped me loose the weight but running… y’all, running saved me. I found something that I truly loved, something that brought me joy that I could dedicate myself to every day. If you want to know why I talk about running so much, why it is such a huge part of my life – that’s why. It saved my life; it’s a strong statement but it’s true.


I spent the better part of the last seven years trying to forget that me – I even deleted my fat pictures off Facebook. Most of the people in my life now didn’t know me then and don’t know this me ever existed. It was a dark time that I don’t talk about much.

Recently though, I’ve met several people who are in a similar situation to the one I was in. Talking with them forced me to think about how my experience impacted my life. I’ve realized that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had always been thin. I wouldn’t be as motivated. I wouldn’t be as dedicated. I wouldn’t be as strong. I wouldn’t be as successful. It fundamentally changed me. They encouraged me to share my story.

Now, most days, I run because I found a hobby I love. But on the days when I didn’t sleep well, or when I’m sore or when I would rather sit on the couch and drink a beer but I go running anyway, it’s because of this.

I don’t think about this picture much anymore, but every December 1st I do – not because I want to but because I can’t help it. It was that important.

Today, I’m sharing my story with the hope that it will help one person who feels trapped by their choices find the motivation to make a change.

Just because you’re not happy with who you are today doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Start small. Educate yourself. Pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. Go outside. Take the dog for a walk. Ride a bike. Go for a jog. Find an activity you like or at least can tolerate. Surround yourself with people who share your desired lifestyle. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it. Make the decision to try. Sometimes, that’s the hardest part.

IT Band Rehab & Whole 30

The last I left you, I had deferred my The Woodlands Marathon entry due to some serious IT band problems.

The injury didn’t happen overnight. My body was giving me warning signs for months. I ignored it, of course. It wasn’t until it went from ache to pain that I admitted that I was injured.

I think, as runners, we all can relate to that feeling of panic when we realize we’re hurt and can’t run. Desperation sets in quickly and we’re willing to do anything to get us back to running faster. That’s where I found myself in January. I knew the acute knee injury was inflammation in the knee and I also knew that some foods contribute to inflammation. I figured that by eliminating the inflammatory foods in my diet I would speed up the healing of the inflammatory response in my knee. Seems logical, right?

I’d known several people who did Whole 30 and wouldn’t stop talking about how life changing it was so I did a little research and realized that Whole 30 eliminated all the inflammatory foods I wanted to avoid. I started January 2 and ended January 31. It actually was life changing.

IMG_20150131_133219What is Whole 30?

Simply put Whole 30 is a restrictive food program that lasts 30 days. It’s not about loosing weight (though that’s often a pleasant side effect), it’s about retraining your body, your metabolism, your taste buds and changing your eating habits.

The rules are simple. Eat meat, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables; don’t eat dairy, legumes, refined sugar, grains, and alcohol or try to make traditional foods out of approved ingredients (a pancake is still a pancake!). You can eat as much of the approved foods as you want.

It was hard, especially in the beginning. The first few days were easy because it was a novelty but the entire second week seemed to drag by. I dreaded the first sip of black coffee every morning – I could barely choke it down.

I started feeling different after about three days. I had more energy. I no longer needed that after lunch cup of coffee to make it past the kids’ bedtime. I immediately noticed that I thinned out around my waist and my muscles felt a lot stronger. That foggy headed feeling disappeared and I was thinking clearly.


After a week the achiness in my knees disappeared completely.

One morning during week three I sat down on the couch with my coffee and all of a sudden it was no longer bitter. I could actually taste the coffee instead of the creamer. I felt like I’d been freed.

The hardest part about Whole 30 was re-learning how to cook and confronting the idea that foods you thought we’re “good for you” aren’t necessarily as good as you thought. When you don’t eat dairy, wheat, beans or sugar that leaves a lot of calories to be filled by fruits and vegetables – then you realize that though foods like whole grains and dairy look good for you on paper they’re never as good for you as their caloric equivalent of fruits and veggies.


My body responded. By the time our 30 days were up I felt like a different person. I had more energy, more…spunk. I no longer felt like I was being dragged through life – I don’t know how to describe it other than to say it just felt right. Added bonus, I lost the last 10 pounds of baby weight. We were so pleased with the results that we did an extra 30 days.

Re-intoducing myself to normal food was hard because I felt so good both mentally and physically! I didn’t want to go back to my old way of eating because I didn’t want to go back to my old way of feeling. I know how different types of foods affect my body. I’ve also figured out how much of the offending foods I can eat before the adverse reaction begins. For example, I know that wheat makes me bloated but rice doesn’t and I can eat about 3 servings of wheat a week before I notice a change in the way my body feels. I can handle dairy in small amounts but the days of eating cheese a half a block at a time are gone.

A year later the lessons we learned doing Whole 30 still govern our life. Though we no longer follow it exclusively we do use it as a general guideline for our eating habits. To keep us from going crazy and to allow for dining out we make exceptions during the weekend. It’s an arrangement that keeps us honest, and works for our lifestyle.

Though I did Whole 30 to help my knee heal faster I noticed a marked difference in my athletic performance. Now that I’ve changed my eating habits and my body is getting the proper amount of nutrition I recover faster after hard workouts; I have more energy which makes completing my workouts easier. My joints feel strong and muscle soreness which used to linger for days now goes away after 24 hours.

The correlation between the food that goes in and the performance that comes out is real. If you’re going to ask your body to push itself beyond it’s known limits you have to give it good fuel. That’s the biggest takeaway from Whole 30, food is fuel for your body. That’s what Whole 30 taught me. It’s a lesson that I will keep with me forever.

What I Ate Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014

It’s been a while since I did a What I Ate Wednesday post so without further ado here is what I ate today.

First things, first…COFFEE!




A fried egg, a whole wheat banana blueberry muffin & a glass of orange juice



Sesame soba noodles, baked broccoli slaw egg rolls, and sweet & sour sauce (leftover from dinner last night) and a handful of pistachios {not pictured}






Sausage Bake {Italian sausage, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots and cauliflower}



Grapefruit sprinkled with salt and a Godiva truffle

Two of today’s recipes are courtesy of other running mommies! Thanks Angela at Happy Fit Mama for the Broccoli Slaw Baked Egg Rolls and Angie at A Mother’s Pace for the Sausage Bake. I love it! Please keep sharing friends!

And finally, thanks Peas and Crayons for the link up!

What I Ate Wednesday

It thought it be fun to link up with Peas & Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday.

I got to sleep in just a little bit this morning and was somewhat rushed to get my run in before a scheduled playdate. First things first though, coffee and a banana (not pictured).

I went on a great 6 mile run during which the kids and I got DRENCHED by an unexpected rain shower. The run was quick for me, averaging 9:30 min/mi pushing the double jogger and by the time I got back I was ready for some breakfast. Today it was a banana & blueberry smoothie (almond milk, banana, peanut butter, flax seeds, chia seeds and blueberries).


After some fun at the playground and a trip to the grocery store we came home for lunch!


Split Pea Soup and a few slices of homemade, whole wheat french bread (this is leftover from dinner last night).

While standing in the pantry gathering stuff for dinner I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips – probably the worst food decision I made today.

The hubs came home relatively early so we got to enjoy a leisurely dinner. I made Ants in Trees and steamed some edemame.


Other stuff I have eaten over the past week include:

Ham & Cheese sandwich with baby spinach on homemade whole wheat bread (upper left)

Fried egg with a whole wheat blueberry banana muffin (upper right)

Fruit salad (center)

Mac & Cheese with smoked sausage (bottom left)

Grass fed hamburger with avocado, baby spinach & cayenne mayo on a homemade bun with baked hand cut french fries (bottom right)


It’s almost time for bed and I’m currently fighting the inner demons telling me to raid the pantry. 10 more post-partum pounds to loose! Focus, Joni. Focus!

Baby Weight Loss. 3…2…1. Go!

It’s been six weeks since Alvy was born.

My body has, in theory, mostly healed from surgery. Though life with two small children is both physically and emotionally exhausting I think I’m adjusting well. The only remaining evidence of my pregnancy (other than the baby) is my baby weight. More specifically, 20 pounds. To hold myself accountable I’ve decided to, once again, share my weight loss journey with the world via this blog.

Starting today, Monday July 8, I will begin following these rules.

1. I can eat whatever I want but no more than 1800 calories per day. No roll over calories or “free” days. I don’t get additional calories on days that I exercise (unless it’s fuel for a long run, when I get to that point). 1800. That’s it. End of story.

2. I will only weigh myself once a week. No need to fret over small fluctuations in water weight. First thing Monday morning is my weigh-in time of choice.

3. I will record my measurements the first Monday off every month. By recording my measurements I can get a better, more accurate, idea of how well I’m doing.

That’s it. Those are my rules. With that being said I do have a few guidelines I try to follow to help make dieting easier.

1. Eat breakfast. A breakfast full of protein will keep me full for several hours.

2. Put breakfast off as long as possible. Eating breakfast late will help me eat a late lunch which, in turn, will help deter mid-afternoon snacking.

3. Go to bed early. The earlier I go to bed the less likely I am to succumb to late night snacking. This shouldn’t be too difficult since I’m pretty much exhausted all the time.

4. Make meals an event, sit at the table if possible. Try to savor and enjoy what I’m eating and try to avoid eating in front of the television.

5. Serve myself on small plates. The fuller the plate the more food it looks like I’m eating. The phrase, “you eat with your eyes” is true. Dieting is entirely mental.

I got on the scale this morning and my starting weight is 145.8. My weight pre-pregnancy fluctuated between 121-125 which means I’ve got about 20 pounds to loose with a goal date of October 27 – the date of the Houston Half Marathon – which I’ve got my eye on.

I will add exercise into the mix when I get the go ahead from my doctor to start running again. I have my six week post-partum checkup Wednesday, and unless they have exercise concerns with this placenta accreta business, I expect to start running again Wednesday evening. Woohoo! It’s been a long, long, long 10 months! Running I’ve missed you! It’s time to get my body back!


Do You Know What Today Is?

I was just sitting at the kitchen table, compiling a list of things that need to be done around the house and I just, by chance, glanced at the date.

Today is an important day! …at least in my world.

One year ago, today, I decided to change my life and loose weight!

On December 1, 2009, I sat at this exact spot at the kitchen table. Depressed and desperate, I committed, in front of all of you, to be a better person. It was always my original goal to be able to sit down a year later and tell you what a success this life changing year has been AND HERE I AM. But, boy did I have no idea how life changing this year would really be.

I lost 45 pounds. Wow. That is plenty life changing by itself but…

…even more life changing is that loosing weight allowed my body to return to its normal hormonal patterns and now, after two years of trying, I’m 5 months pregnant. Double wow. No. Triple wow!

Happy Diet Anniversary Day to me!

Weight Loss…Again. I’m glad this is almost over.

So much to blog about…so little time. Okay, maybe time isn’t the limiting factor here. For your reading pleasure I’ll try to make this concise.

I have cleared the 6 month mark of my December resolution. I, honestly, am a little surprised that I made it this far. Only a few other accomplishments in my life that required more than two weeks of perseverance have actually made it to the finish: graduating from college… paying off debt…dating Jason (j.k. honey, I love you!) I am proud to say that I can add loosing weight to that list of accomplishments, even though I’m not finished yet…I now know that I will.

I decided several months ago that my weight loss goal wasn’t going to be an absolute number but rather a range, a five pound range from 128 to 133. Obviously 128 is ideal but this will allow for some fluctuation without me getting into a tizzy every time I step on the scale.

This morning I weighed in at 134.8 – 33.2 pounds down, 6.8 pounds to go. Only 1.8 pounds before I hit the top of my range…the number on the scale has become a carrot…

Come on Joni. You’re so close. You can do it. Come and get it. Just a little further. You’re almost there.

I’m not out of the woods yet. Still, a number of opportunities are available to help me fall off the wagon. The most imposing of which is our upcoming vacation to California. Last time I checked vacations are not calorie friendly!

On the plus side, on Tuesday, I registered for the White Rock Marathon! I have labored for a while to come up with a training plan that will fit my schedule and I believe that I have succeeded. Wanna see it? Click here (Thank you, Lloyd & Buck, for hosting my schedule!). I plan to update this periodically as I train so feel free to check back from time to time to see the progress. Hopefully, on December 6, I can add “finished marathon” to the aforementioned list of accomplishments!