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July 27, 2010

Fitness and sustainability: what makes it click?

The other day while digging through old videos in my basement searching for my long lost figure roller skating tapes (yes, they're coming to a blog near you very soon!), I came across a video that for a time, changed my life back in the late 90s. It was Oprah's "Make the Connection" video. Remember that one?


At the end of 1997, when I watched it and subsequently purchased the companion book, I had a nearly two year old baby girl at home, a full-time design job, a hubby, a house and about 40 extra pounds on my 5 foot 6 inch frame. I decided to follow the 10-step plan and get a bit of fitness back into my life. I didn't want to be a chubby, out-of-shape, tired 31-year-old mom. It was time to get busy.

A year later, I had dropped 30 pounds, was exercising (though not enjoying it) 5 to 7 days a week (mostly doing Cher Fitness step aerobics at 5 a.m. every day in my family room) and thought I had really figured out the keys to being healthy.

Then, drastically departing from Oprah and Bob Greene's plan, I took up smoking again, quit exercising, and got even thinner.


Here I am all these years later, having gone up and down the scale a handful of times, having restarted and quit smoking more than I'd like to admit, and now I'm exercising again. But for some reason, THIS time feels different.

Why is that?

I thought about Oprah the other day, and remembered this video and how utterly amazed I was at her transformation, and the fact that she not only got fit, but she trained and ran the Marine Corps Marathon. At the age of 40, after a lifetime of struggling with her weight and inactivity, she ran a freaking marathon in under 6 hours. Oprah ran for 26.2 miles.

Of course we all know that she never maintained that level of fitness. Her journey is nothing if not well documented. You can always count on Oprah to keep it real and continually explore it from new and enlightening angles. That's one of the things I admire most about her.

Just last May, I was touting her show with Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food and God. But as I have moved further into this whole running thing, and have found myself not only enjoying the act of being out in nature and running, but even missing it on the days I take off, I had to wonder: what did Oprah miss with the whole running thing? Why no sustainability in her own life?

Was her running simply about a goal and nothing else? Was it purely a means to an end? And more importantly, what is my running about?

When I started exercising back in January, I had one goal: move more, eat less. But what that really translates to is: for the love of all that is holy, get thinner!

I recall quite clearly begrudgingly lacing up the old running shoes, jumping on the treadmill, and watching the clock for when my next walk break was due. It was not love at first site. It was 'this is what you have to do if you want to be thinner, end of story.' There was nary a drop of love to be found anywhere in my basement.

In the video, Oprah is seen working out really hard, complaining the entire time how much she loathes being there, doing what she's doing. And oh, do I get that. Or at least I used to get that.

But I have to wonder: did she ever look at the process of running and find any joy in it?

I am finding joy in the process. Last weekend, I went on a five-mile trail run. Five miles along the Mississippi River, under tree-lined cover on muddy, sandy trails. I ran side by side with someone I didn't even know, and we chatted the whole way about life and running.

On my drive home, I was elated. Aside from feeling like I'd just been running on the set of Twilight, I had no idea that running through the woods could make me feel so proud and strong and connected to my life.

This just has me thinking about what is it that makes fitness, or the act of moving your body one of sustainability? Why can we keep it up for a time only to lose the inspiration or the dedication?

Why do I look at my hot pink running shoes and smile every time I walk past them in the hallway?

Why is this so different this time?

Finally, what did Oprah miss that for some reason is clicking for me?

Don't get me wrong: I do not have the magic bullet to health and fitness here. I'm fully aware that I could leap off this wagon at any time without warning. But something IS different. Something is changing.

It ain't just about getting thinner anymore.


You know Cathy, i think there comes a time in everybodys life where there is that aha moment and it all just clicks for them. You have found yours and i am on the journey to find mine:)
Good Luck with it all......:)

Oh, if you could only bottle what you've found... that certain je ne sais quoi... you'd be a billionaire, for sure. I too have found it. The best part of having attained the love of running (or any other type of exercise) is that it's much easier to maintain (or bounce back to, after injury) than the "getting there" part. Congratulations on all you've accomplished since January... it's been a real joy to be able to share your journey with you. :)

cathy, this post just made me wanna cry. how beautiful that you've captured the essence of what you've discovered in your journey. just beautiful. oprah should read this post, and invite you on the show. you inspire me girl.


A thought provoking post.

Yep Cathy, it is true, your journey and mine are freakishly similar. I also used to have that Make the Connection book and was sure that it was my ticket to a lifetime of health.

I think what happened for me, that switched me over from running to lose weight to running for the sheer joy of it, was that one day, about four months after I started, I realized that when I was out running I was "making the connection" to my self, my real inner, in this moment self, and that I kinda like her.

I feel like so much in my life pulls me away from who I really am, and from immediacy, but when I am out running alone its just me and my mind quiets and I feel this peace and aliveness that I just haven't found in any other place. It is my meditation, it is my prayer, it is my celebration of my life. And all I have to do to go there is tie on my shoes. So simple and accessible!

There are so many things I want to say....but they are all jumbled up in my very thankful mind. So here is a big hug and a HUGE THANK_YOU....for sharing this journey and taking us along for the ride.

I am looking for my "different" moment right now, when I will say to myself, "This is not just a change for this week, and I'll be back to my old habits in two. This is a change I want to last." You have found yours and I couldn't be happier for you. Keep inspiring and encouraging us through all your ups and downs!

You know, I really admire you for the determination you have, and how this has been a life style change for you.

The other thing I admire, is how you put the whole process out here when you started - I wonder if this was pushing you, at least in the start, knowing that your numerous blog readers were following you, watching you, as you would either succeed or fail. Was this a motivation factor for you?

Keep up the good work, I'm right there with you, on nike+ :)

I have to admit, I don't think Oprah does anything without a plan. I think that marathon was a goal, she did it, and she moved on. Frankly, I don't think she takes much time to experience real joy in her own life. But what do I know, and I admit that I'm not a big fan.

You on the other hand, have found joy and passion in running and moving. I found that in taekwondo. I don't do it anymore (circumstances beyond my control) and I miss that joy every day. I think I need to take up running. Thanks again for the inspiration, to me, you're way more real than The O.

I read your fitness posts with a mixture of awe, envy and a "not for me!" attitude. I am fairly certain I will never be a runner. But I am a walker and am rediscovering something I knew 16 years ago when I was single and living alone in a foreign country -- that walking is a way to communicate with my self. In April I added a morning walk to my routine, and the reason I have stuck with it after many years of starting and stopping is because my reason is no longer 'Walking is good for you.' Instead, it's the thought that this is MY time alone that gets me out of bed 1/2 hour earlier. So I am hearing you when you say the joy is being outside and doing rather than getting through something. I still have a way to go on the food journey, but thank you for posting, for being honest, and for being 2 years older and ahead of me forging a path.

Thank you. I just started running (I think I can call it that) about 3 weeks ago, and I'm amazed at how much I love it. I'm tired, sweaty, and often want to fall on the floor when I'm done, but I also feel GOOD. Like, really good. Right now, thinner is just a bonus, and I NEVER thought I'd say that.

Don't know if I love the Newtons yet, my calves are kinda sore, but I was going to skip my run this am because I just have too much stuff to do today. Over coffee, I read, then I ran. I love the fitness posts. I love the mix post. By golly you are just a good writer!

loved this post.

Thanks for sharing and for being honest. I'm so happy you have found this joy and peace, and it's awesome that it's in running :) I have tried to explain to my non-runner husband ("Running is just punishment for all the other sports") why I NEED to run and how it shifts me mentally into a good place, but until you get it you just don't get it. Way to stick with it even when it wasn't fun- I'm sure you can't imagine going backwards now!

This made me cry. I feel sad for Oprah it seems hard to imagine falling so far from what she was able to achieve. Super proud of you and your journey! :)


A couple of things. #1, it seems like the whole country is running. When I left to live overseas 2 years ago my friends all said the same thing about my running: "you're crazy!" Now I've come back and they're suddenly running 10Ks, triathlons, and beyond! Which is great. Like the 4 minute mile, easier to go do it when everyone is proving you can. (Just DO it, Nike swoosh.)

#2. If you're running to be skinny, like Oprah, it won't really become a part of your life "for good" unless you are ridiculously disciplined. She is. But, you can outeat any form of exercise. (see me or Oprah for proof of this). However, if you are busting your ass and grinning like a maniac, then you're GOT it, the reason to run which will keep you and running happy for years to come.

You'll plan races on vacations. You'll very likely get injured. (Way to go on the cross training, by the way! Very smart.) You'll have friends and then you'll have running friends. It's awesome. As I said to you months ago, welcome. Grin like an idiot and run happy. :)

Amen, Minda. Amen!

Fitness is a journey, just like the rest of life. I have been exercising consistently for the past 27 years. I have found that over the years, despite several "aha" moments, I have to keep adjusting and evolving.

I burned out on running after about 20 years, though I still run about once a week. I did dance aerobics and then step aerobics. I burned out on step.

My weight has been up and down during these years, but the exercise has remained a constant in some form or other. Right now I am into Zumba, biking,and yoga. The key is to have fun. If you feel like exercise is torture, you're not doing the right exercise for you. And this may change over time - especially as you age.

And, in fairness to Oprah, you can exercise and still be overweight if you are overeating. I know, because I struggle with my eating habits every day.

You are an inspiration, Cathy, and we all need inspiration and support on our fitness journey. So when are you doing a marathon? ;)

Heidi, I definitely feel an accountability by writing about it, I do.

And if something happens to alter my course, you know, I'll share it here.

This community of readers is honest, open and share so many great stories here, with me and other readers.

I feel very fortunate, whether i succeed or fail, to come here, write about it, and begin a dialogue with you guys.

Great post. I started running almost 2 years ago and never got over running a mile. I hated it. Now that I am starting to feel more confident and determined to get more endurance I have had a huge change. While I don't always enjoy it, I do feel great after I am done, which makes it all worth it. I love reading your posts on the subject.

:) thanks barb.

You know, i have gone up and down with Oprah. I admire her for inspiring people, Lord knows I'm one of them. Then sometimes, i think, she's so out of touch with average women, you know?

Who am I to really know!
: )

I love that you are doing this! You motivated me to start working out with the shred and doing treadmill. While I am not to the point of running yet, I find I am enjoying the work-out more and miss it when I don't do it. Thanks for being you!!

The whole connecting to time to yourself. I think that's a huge part of it!

Cara, good for you. I'm going to post this week on a book i just read over the weekend called "No Need for Speed" by John Bingham. REALLY good read for me, as a new runner. Totally makes you feel like, "HEY, this IS for me!" (running, that is!)

Amanda, thanks and good for you.

On the tight calves. I think that is common, so you might want to take it a bit easy, even switching your shoes after a mile or so (you know, do runs close to home where you can come back and switch!)

I love my new Newton's. The pink stability racers much more than the other ones i have. : ) Remember though: if i shoe ain't right, it ain't right. Don't keep running in them if they don't end up being the ones!

Just wishing we lived closer :).

Yes, my fear now? Injury. Because even thought i KNOW i can do other things, I really don't want to not be able to do this.

I LOVE the idea of running in new places now. Like, i was imagining going back to Washington to visit my best friend, and how fun it would be to go for a run in the town i grew up in.

So fun.

I try to keep a happy look on my face while i'm out there too. Why not?

Good points, Beth.

I think the fact that i'm also doing other things and realizing, "HEY! I can do this too?" is a good thing.

I can't lie. I like the idea of a half marathon. I technically could train and complete one this fall, but... i'm going to wait until next year on that distance. : )

Robyn, hang in there.

I realize that this isn't something everyone is going to love. I mean, i DID try running in 1997 for about three months and i hated it. I got thin, but i hated it.

Again, i wonder if this is a bizarre phase, and a switch will flip and i'll be all, "What? WHAT WAS I THINKING?"

I'm hoping not. : )

I know, I know.

I couldn't help but smile my ass off today in the locker room, getting a compliment on my stroke. All i remember is hearing "Windmill girl" from my coaches. Sigh.

You've been my training buddy through this whole thing, Ali. Love that. Vive le iChat!

When you first started the exercise routine, I knew I should be joining you but just thought "yuck...I hate the treadmill." As you've changed both mentally and physically, I've become inspired and wish I had started with you. I lost 40 pounds last year and have 40 pounds to go, so I just signed up for a Beginner Running class with a local running store, aptly named "The Running Company". We start on Saturday and will be running one minute followed by one and a half minutes of walking then doing it again. At the end of the class we will be running a 5k. Although I used to consider the treadmill only a necessary evil to work off a candy bar I had eaten, now I'm looking forward to running outside again as I did 25 years ago. I hope it clears my head and allows me to find enjoyment in taking care of myself again. I'm most grateful that my 12-year old daughter is taking the class with me. She's very proud of me for doing this...and that feels good!! I can't thank you enough for your inspiration...

Great post Cathy,
I was enjoying running until I fractured my vertabrae in February. My doctor didn't understand why I started crying when he told me I couldn't exercise for at least three months. I was crushed. I had finally gotten to a place in my 48 yrs when I actually looked forward to running. And now I had to stop. I just got started a couple of weeks ago. I'm up to 3 miles and would really like to train for a half marathon. I need a running buddy.
This post got me thinking about why exercise and running specifically has become so important to me.
I actually look forward to the "me" time.

But the thing is Barb, what happens when you bottle it, then the bottle breaks? Thats what has happened in the past, so im still leery. Much like i say I quit smoking. I have never said, Oh, I got this, because i worry that my arrogance will get me into trouble.

Still, for now… I just really am liking this whole gig. : ) Youve been a great support to me on this too. And, an inspiration in your sporty self.

Go Vicki!

Good luck, Michelle! Im pulling for you!

So glad you are on the mend.

I too, worry about injury. I think, Okay, i JUST am getting this, please body, dont freak out on me, and Im trying not to overthink what if i DO get hurt.

: ) Continued success to you!

: ) Thanks. You know, I cant judge Oprah. I love her. She has inspired me in a lot of ways, even though I dont always relate to her. She makes people look at themselves and make changes. Its all good.

youre welcome. : )

very inspiring.

was hoping for a parody video of that one... :)

I'm 39 and started running in May with the goal of a 5k at the end of June. I have a great running buddy and she helps keep me motivated. I am still struggling with the whole "finding my peaceful me time" part of running. I still feel like I am hung up on doing it right and therefore I can't find that quiet place you all talk about. When does it start being something you don't have to think so hard about. We run consistently 2-3 miles 2-3 times a week. Cathy I read your blog everyday and am so inspired (doing the shred and occasionaly P90x also!) Thanks so much!

Your post is a tribute to the adage, "take it a day at a time - oh and enjoy every minute" kudos to you my friend for just ackowledging the change and how you feel towards it. I feel the way you do about dancing. I fell off the wagon and now need to get back on cuz when I was on, I felt great...not that I dont feel good now, but its different...I get it! Thanks for sharing as always and keeping it real.

I totally get your fear because I'm a victim of an injury! I haven't run in about a year, but I'm back to walking and it's okay. Even after PT the most I'll probably be able to run is 2 days a really STINKS!!!! I was a 7 day a week runner and LOVED it~

Makes a lot of sense. After slugging it out on the treadmill for a year I'm now at the point where I really enjoy it and like my time at the gym.

And if the weather here wasn't so God-awfully hot I might try it outside. Especially if we had Twilight woods around here :D

Love this post Cathy! I am at the place where I do love running. Can't really explain why? I guess it's those endorphins. My running partner is my dog, a golden doodle. No one could enjoy running with me more. :) So, if you need another reason to get a dog, that would be one. lol

I'm just trying to stay healthy and run about 3 days a week. Recovering from foot surgery was a big buzz kill. Eventually, I want to learn to swim better. I'm just not there yet.

This has totally struck a cord with me today. My 'baby' just turned three and here I am 30 lbs over weight and hating exersize. Yesterday I had this exact conversation with my girlfriends. How do I turn, "I've had a rough day I need a piece of chocolate cake" into "I've had a rough day, I want to run five miles to get it out of my head".

I don't want to try to lose weight again. I want to make a choice and that becomes-- out of a habit-- who I am.

So I recently started couch to five k with a couple girlfriends and I am looking forward to becoming a lifetime runner.

Gloria, if it helps any, I am a very brainy runner right now, meaning, I spend most of the run thinking about my form and making sure my foot strike is where i want it, that im keeping it light, that im peeling my feel up from the pavement, lifting my knees, leaning slightly forward—oh, I could go ON and on.

But what has started happening is when i hit about 2 miles, on some runs, I begin to settle in, my breathing slows a bit, and I realize this: nothing hurts and im doing FINE and I can just keep going.

Then, sometimes, I do find myself wandering away from trying to keep a nice form and easy pace.

Keep in mind: i am NOT fast. But i am finding that i am getting steadier.

I think what youre doing sounds great. It has taken me since April, when i first went outside, to get to this place where i realize: OH MY GOD! I can do this, and enjoy this. Not every run feels amazing. Some are better than others. Thats definitely true! But i am looking forward to the opportunity every time to find out which run ill have when its all over.

good luck!

The crazy thing is that here, in MN, apparently we have woods and trails EVERYWHERE. Who knew? Not me, the anti-Nature girl! LOL!

I do love the idea of a dog buddy... sigh. Not in the cards for me just yet, but ENJOY yours. : )

ha! I know better than to make fun of Oprah. Her people would show up at my door within five minutes and well…who KNOWS what would happen. ; )

I will for sure be going back to read this thread Cathy! Such a great discussion. I had that video too:) I remember being in my early 20's using that program and being pretty successful. I lost about the 35-40 lbs. I had made the connection. But lost it soon enough again.

I so feel like a kindred spirit to Oprah on the matter of weight, like you and many of us. I so admire her sharing her weight issues with us over the years. It is such a personal thing especially if emotions are involved. Which usually they are:) How can they not be as Women:)

One thing I have learned through my million diets, is that it has to not be about sense of urgency. That I have to lose 20 pounds this month. Oh yeah I have said that before. It truly is about taking the crazy goals out of the picture, being in the moment. Making choices about breaking down goals to smaller milestones, instead of completely focusing on the end results. This is the secret I believe and you are living it.

One has to be ready for that commitment to re-learn, re-new and re-vive themselves. Work from the inside out. Acknowledging who we are in this moment, accepting and forgiving the choices we have made to where are bodies are in this current state. I think once a person does that, the rest will follow. Where you can endure the pain and discomfort of that first walk or run. Where trying new healthy foods are not so bad. Lastly, that you start surpassing any past giving up point and just keep on going.

That to me is making the connection. And you are doing it. Thank you for inspiring me and many others Cathy!!!!!!

You won't remember, but I told you months ago you'd get off the treadmill and never go back :)

I am married to a man who was a collegiate runner and logs 40+miles a week. I have never mastered a cartwheel and have an allergic reaction to team sports, but after having three babies in three years I wanted to lose weight AND lose myself in free time. My husband snickered. I joined a running group.

The last baby is turning 6 next month. I still can't do a cartwheel but I have conquered 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon. I regularly win small gift cards and prizes by "placing" in my old girl age group. And guess what -- I'm rehabbing an injury.

I fell at Target trying to grab a hold of toddlers running in two differnet directions. Landed knee first on the concrete. Ripped those Ann Taylor pants and my MCL and meniscus, too. So you know what -- I tackled that like a race. PT, steroids, rooster protein shots, the boring elliptical. Cleared to run nine weeks ago. Mileage back up to 25 miles per week. Already pocketed a gift card award. Everything from shins to kness to ankles aches but that's okay. It aches because of what I can do and choose to do. Planning a fall racing season and an out of town race during a vacation :)

Maybe next I'll learn how to do a cartwheel!

No fear -- you cna conquer anything -- running has just become part of us, you know? It couldn't have felt that way to Oprah.

I’m curious whether it feels compulsive at this point, or if it feels natural. Does it feel like, “I have to keep dong this running thing or everything I’ve worked for is going to fall apart” or is it more “Running has opened me in ways I didn’t know I was closed and I can’t wait to get out, again”?

I don’t say that to be a Debbie Downer. Far from it. Everything about your journey has been inspiring to witness and I do not—in any way—want to rain on that. Moving more and eating less is hard work no matter when or how you do it. I’m asking what I’m asking for my own reasons, not because I want to apply something negative to what you have written.

I am self-admittedly obese and sedentary. Running has never had any genuine appeal for me, though I have white knuckled my way through some run-walks in the past in an effort to once lose 65 pounds. I have a somewhat fixating personality, where I am only really able to be good at one thing at a time (I’d love to change that, but I haven’t had a breakthrough…yet).

So, I can be an amazing housekeeper, or an amazing homemade meal-prepareer, or a great photographer, or…whatever. I have been a great weight-loser and daily exerciser, but I’ve never been able to do that, while doing anything else.

So, I’m just wondering if the being fit thing has become who you are, or if it’s working because it’s what you’re paying attention to right now. I am only able to make it work, when it is almost the complete focus of my energy. And if you are able to do it while maintaining balance in the rest of your life, I’d love it if you could write about that, too. Because that is one connection I wish I could make.

Thats awesome! I would strongly recommend a book (that im going to post about tomorrow): No Need for Speed by John Bingham. Just read it this weekend and LOVED it. Very good for new runners. He is supremely relatable. He also has a book called The Courage to Start which i think pre-dates this one, and is also very good from what ive heard!

Wow, Cynthia... beautifully written!

Wow. Thats a runner story for you! Hey Carla... i would NOT have believed you. I really would not have. Thats what is so weird.

Being outside? Transformative. Trans. Form. A. Tive.

Good for you on the rehab. You got some serious miles every week even with that. Cool!

Amen, I'm there. I finally got took me 42 years. It is not I have to do this to be thinner. It is I have to do this to LIVE. I have to do this to be ALL THERE. I know you know what I mean. In order for me to be present in all of my life. I have to do this. So, here's to being present and alive in my life and active. I'm there.

Yolanda, that is a REALLY, really good question.

I am a bit on the obsessive-compulsive side. Black and white. Up or down. Now I am learning (with the help of an adult who knows stuff and some might call a therapist) that black and white is a really shallow way to see the world because you miss so much of the grays. I am learning that by exploring gray areas, there is a lot of life that I am discovering.

I am at fork that goes two ways: 1) I AM worried about losing what ive gained. Ill say it honestly. I love how I feel, and I love what my body is doing for me and I dont want to, in the words of Tom Wolfe in a favorite old book of mine, The Right Stuff, …screw the pooch. 2) I am MARVELING at the motivation to lace up and hit the open road. Its as if my fears about being athletic in anyway are slowly disappearing (and believe me, I have fears.)

I am extremely lucky in that I am self-employed, have a hubby who can pay our modest mortgage, and have the time to focus on my health. Keep in mind, most of my workouts start and end before 9 a.m., but i have the luxury of time to focus on me.

I think balance in life is hard, period. Im hyper focused on fitness right now. But part of that is because it has NEVER, ever felt good. The process has never been enjoyable. Ever. Period. I, like Oprah in that video, used to just loathe the effort to get the result. And even getting the result, while short lived and what i wanted, was never enough to keep me going.

Now, theres another voice in my head that is different from the one who is always telling me what I cant do. This one says stuff like, Holy S#$@! You just ran 6 friggin miles! WHAT? Get out! And that voice is the one that is telling me Im strong and Im alive and I better not throw that away to a giant bag of salt and vinegar chips.

Again, i can talk about the process, but I too and trying to understand what is making this work. I know its a bit of both: obsession AND joy.

I also love the idea of taking away some of the cants in my life.

The other thing Ive noticed since I started clicking with this? My house is cleaner, my kids are FAR less yelled at and Im at least a few points more chilled out than Ive been in a really, long 44 years.

Not sure if this answers anything Yolanda, but... i sure liked the question.
: )

The best to you.

Very well said! I couldn't agree more. I started running less than a year ago (I said I NEVER would). I really really love it (I thought I never would). I'll be running a 1/2 marathon in the fall (I didn't think I ever could). This time IS different huh?

As a "newer" runner who NEVER thought she'd run, I totally get your post. You nailed it - you're not running for weight loss anymore and that's why you love it. You're running because it feels good - you feel good. You feel strong. I started running 18 months ago at 40 and lost about 15 pounds. I've put 5 pounds on this summer, but I'm still consistent with my running (12-15 miles per week). I have about 20 more pounds to lose. I was running a few weeks ago and told my friend that I'm happy with my body because it is the strongest it's been since I've had my kids. She said that it is so nice to hear a woman say she is happy with her body.

My view is this - I want to be moving like this until I can't any more. Since I started this running gig late I want to keep it moving for another 20 or 30 years. Slow and steady for me. I'm not a speedster but I stay the course.

On Saturday I didn't get my morning run in. I was putzing around in the kitchen and checking Facebook and saw that there was a 5k that night in my town. Got clearance from the hubby, signed up and did it. I felt like a true runner - and I took 30 seconds off my time.

Now - I know I need to lose some weight because that will make the running easier for me. I look at your weight loss journey on WW and need to get back on track. It works. I'm running my first half in October and would love to get rid of 10 pounds before then. The San Francisco hills are steep and the less I have to take up them the better! Still - my main focus is to keep this body moving!

Congrats in finding the joy of running. I love to run. Outside along the river or through a park. It clears my head and lifts my mood. It was a struggle at first to stay motivated but once it clicked I knew I had something I could do consistently to stay healthy for a lifetime

Very cool, Kim. Yeah, i never thought id do this. I mean, come on: OUTSIDE? That is SO not my M.O. Not at even close.

Thats the other thing: Im looking around at stuff I didnt even notice before. Like, I live by a nice little lake, with paths and trees and I get to run by them. I never knew I would appreciate a shady path so much on a run where the sun is beating down.

There is part of me that is a different person right now. A small part, granted, but it gives me hope that people CAN make changes that stick. And Im hoping that spills over into all sorts of areas in my life.

: )

Go Stefani! I really hope to be posting the same thing at some point... that ill be running for 13.1 miles as well.

p.s. (I LOVED reading your Twilight books! ; )

Sorry. Couldnt resist.

Oh how I would love to see both of you here in Washington completing the Danskin Tri next summer together! I know that you will be here this year Ali, but you and Cathy should make a date for 2011!

It's been documented that in times of national stress, people lace up and get running again! I just read an article about it. And it seems to spread... since I've started running and touting it on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, several of my friends have started running, too... and are now touting it on their accounts! It's a good trend to spread, right? :)

Awesome post, Cathy! I really feel like this time I'm really in it for good, this whole eating right and exercising thing. I'm not too cocky about it because, like you, I don't want to trip myself up... but I really do feel like it's my lifestyle now.

I injured my IT Band and have to take a few weeks off running... and when I start again I have to start with just a half mile! Ugh, I'm not even warmed up by a half mile! But in the meantime I can do the recumbent bike at the gym (the only cardio I'm allowed) and I've been loving that. On Saturday I missed my workout (because I didn't realize the gym closes early on weekends) and I was SO CRANKY all night, frustrated without my daily chance to burn off my frustration and zone out. I think it's official... I'm addicted to working out! :) And I can't wait to get back to running... which is a sentence I never would have ever believed I'd utter!

Thanks for all the inspiration! :)

I love reading about your Tales from the Scale and how you have learned to love running. I always think "Dude, if she can do it, so can you" but I haven't tried yet. I think my perfectionism is holding me back ... so I am just going to say "Screw it", blast some loud music and get my walk on. And one day get my run on. I want to be a good example to my wee girl. Thanks so much for sharing. You rock :)

p.s. Yesterday I noticed for the first time an unexpected benefit to my running and working out: less visible panty lines. Ridiculous, right? I didn't take measurements of myself when I started (I so wish I had!!) so I don't know how many inches I've lost, but my body has undergone some big changes even if the number on the scale is not as different as I'd like it to be. Namely, my butt is obviously firmer, hence the improvement in the panty line area. Totally unexpected and awesome and sort of crazy that I'm talking about it in your blog comments!

I'm so glad you've found what you love and that you're doing it for the love of it. Keep at it and don't stop!

Many years ago, I had found what worked for me and made me happy. Getting up early and going to the gym to do weights 5 days a week, getting in a couple step classes and one spin class a week made me feel great. And I could never imagine not wanting to do it anymore. But then many life changes happened, which made doing what I had been doing impossible. Since then, I've struggled to find the motivation to get active again. I had begun getting moving again this past spring but then we moved and aren't settled yet in our new place. So, I'm back to zero again and have to start up once again. I'm so hoping that I can find that motivation once again to get back to eating well and exercising. It's those big changes that get me, every single time. The fact that we move countries every 2 to 3 years doesn't help with that. ;)

It's strange how easy it is to fall off that wagon but so darn hard to get back on, even though you know how good you feel once you do.

a big THANK YOU, cathy, for another amazing "mybestlifedotcom" post. you gave me a lot to think about.

As alawys, thanks so much for giving so much of yourself here on this blog.

Your Tales from the Scales has definitely been an encouraging factor in my own journey.

Back in late April, this overweight gal (with 60 extra pounds), started the couch to 5k running program. Two weeks ago, I completed my first 5k race!!! Granted it was 41:22, but I did NOT stop!!! And that is HUGE!

Now it's time to change my focus. I am working on switching up my routine with recovery runs, race pace runs and long, slow, distance runs. But I have to admit to being in a weird place because with 60 pounds to lose, it's frsutrating to only have lost 10. Granted, I've lost 2 inches overall (and almost 3 in some areas), but I'm so ready to buy the next size down.

But what's keeping my running? Fear. I don't want to lose this precious bit of fitness, fealin good and confidence that's even thinking about showing it's face. But I am also finding I like the long, slow runs where I give myself permission to enjoy it - forget the pace. Some of that is the result of devouring this book in less then 24 hours: Born to run (link: It has really inspired me to become more "natural" in my running and to take my time and enjoy it. And you know what, it seems to be working.

My real problem? What goes in my mouth! (because it's sure not a lack of exercise at this point) I've developed some really bad habits along the way and wish I could figure out how to "make do" with brocolli for lunch. :) So I'm reading an interesting book right now called The End of Overeating (link: I don't know if it will have practical advice (I'm about 1/3 into it), but it's fascinating! And a little sad.

All this to say, I'd love to hear how you cope with the eating end of things!

Keep enjoying yourself and the hard work will continue to pay off! You've been SUCH an INSPIRATION! Thanks! :)

wow... got a little rambly, didn't i?! Sorry! :)

Im video chatting with her now, and said, Hey Ali, we SHOULD!

It answered A LOT. Thank you for that honest, thorough response. I sincerely appreciate your introspection and your time.

Great post. I'm not there yet with running, but I totally get what you are saying--if you are not doing it for the love of the activity itself, you will stop once you reach your goal (and resist returning to the activity). I've done that before and I'm guessing that is what Oprah did as well. "Goal achieved, check, and whew! glad I don't have to do that anymore!" Not a good long term plan!

One question though--you live in Minnesota--what happens when the snow flies and ice covers the road? I ask this because my outdoors-obsessed son (mountain biking/snowboarding/skiing/rock climbing) just moved from Salt Lake, where he had instant daily access to all his favorite activities, to Chicago to finish his PhD. He will be at least a couple of years in that flat, frozen place. It's pretty now, and he rides his bike everywhere (it's so FLAT!!), but is worried about how he will stay in shape once the temperatures plummet. What will you do when running outdoors is not possible?

I read this before taking my long run this morning and then I had time to mull it over while I was going in circles on the track in the gym. 5 miles is alot of circle running! Anyway, I think where Oprah failed was with setting her sights too high to begin with. She got to the top, she got what she wanted, and then she was done. My first goal had been to fun 5K and feel comfortable when I was done. I'm not quite there yet but I don't feel like keeling over at the finish line anymore. My second goal is to run 5K in under 30 minutes. My last race I made it to :22 over that goal. I have not set my next goal. I go out and run, I think, I try to enjoy, I analyze things, I plan. It give me great peace and sometimes I say it's fun. I miss it on days when I don't do it because I'm not over doing it, I'm doing it right. And, you are, too. Thanks for talking about these things. Thanks for the Nike Challenge(s). Just thanks.

I have to be honest. These posts are so hard for me to read, but at the same time, I am SO HAPPY for you my friend. You have worked hard -- I personally believe something transfers in your brain when you move from run/lose to run/live and thereafter you have that nudging and sometimes sense of urgency to get outside and live. I'm proof that sadly things can go back the other way. I yearn to have back what I loved so much for so long. But I trust that there are important lessons to be learned in this challenge. Pray to God I can learn them and live (again!)

Go to your local library and look up books by John Bingham. REALLY great for starting out. Im going to do a blog post about one of his books, hopefully tomorrow!

I think going back to zero is a story for MOST of us. It is for me. Ive gone through ups and downs with it. Now, im on an up that feels different. Again, just like being an ex-smoker, i will never say ive got this thing figured out.

Its just cool to see where it is going right now!

Good for you Cameron, and yeah… im not being cocky with this. I dont want to get injured either. I just want to do the best for myself that i can do. : )

Thanks for the great post Cathy. We both started our running journey in January, so it is really fun and inspiring to read your thoughts about it. I took last week off from running, because I was in the Frank Church Wilderness on a pack trip, so this morning I was a bit nervous of how I would handle my hill route, not to mention that it is stinkin' hot today. Anyway, I laced up my shoes and got out the door, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It felt so good, not to have lost anything, but I just didn't know, as I have never been a runner before. Anyway, I plan to do this for life:)

haha! TIGHT BUTTS! ; )

Well, having never done ANYTHING outside in a MN winter, heres my plan: I will get some Yak Trax for my shoes to brave the ice and snow. But honestly, i live near a park and I have heard they pave the path in Winter, so i may have to drive a few miles to get there, but i plan to run outside as long as its above 15 degrees. In fact, i look FORWARD to colder days.

My hubby runs year round. My SILs do too. So does my BIL. They ALL do.

But, tell your son that Minneapolis is the #1 biking city in America. Or something like that. EVERYONE bikes here, year round. I think because they plow. So, if Chi town doesnt deliver, he can always come out here!

Oh honey. You know, you KNOW im feeling sad for you on this, but youre right: somethings supposed to be learned, mama. You know that. I love you!

Lauren, i LOVED that book. It made me want to eat nothing but frijoles and live in the Copper Canyons! It was sort of like the Into Thin Air of ultra running.

I ALSO have that book about overeating, though im going to confess: i started it last fall and never read it.

For me, following Weight Watchers online has been the other key. I think to lose weight, for me, and at my age (44) it has to be a combo platter: less food, more movement.

But, I dont starve myself. I dont eat diet foods either, except for Flat Out brand bread, which i really do love. I try to eat whole foods, fruits (lots!), veggies (okay, a LOT of broccoli) and then sensible things for dinner. Right now i really could live on frijoles and brown rice though. I also have things i really want when I feel i should have them. Popcorn with butter at movies, brownies at family gatherings, candy at easter etc.

The only thing thats off limits is soda. I cant touch it. It is a huge downfall.

yeah, well, i EXPECT that from you. ; )


If only I could get to the place where you are now. I have struggled my entire life with my weight, and I have not found the thing that will take me to my happy place with my weight and my health (and I have tried many). I have been taking kickboxing classes 1-3 times per week since February. It is still not automatic for me to go to these classes. There is always a little bit of dread in me every afternoon on my way home from work before I go. I want to find something that is good for my body and also for my soul, which it seems you have found.

Congrats to you on your lifestyle change, and thanks for the inspiration. It helps me believe that there is something out there for me yet.

Cathy, what a "deep thoughts" post today and I really enjoyed reading it. Despite my thoughts about Oprah (she's NOT really the average woman ya know?) I can relate to many things you talked about. For me, I literally had to hit rock bottom with my eating habits and how I felt about myself. MANY a times I'd say this time would be different...I'm really gonna do it this time...and without fail, nothing changed. Then one day, as luck would have it, a 24 hour gym opened in my small town and by that point I WAS at rock bottom and literally just said..enough of this bulls*** and told myself JUST DO IT (love Nike for that)..And now, a year and a half later and almost 70 pounds lighter (thank you very much) I go to the gym not because I "have" to (because there are days I'd rather stay at home) but because most days I WANT to go. I am at a place where it's not a HAVE to, it's not a chore, I WANT TO GO!! I know that I'll feel great afterwards and sweating my a** off and slapping the ol' wet bra on the bathroom floor after working out feels good. It feels REAL good. And one more thing...Muscles = Sexy!! ;-)

Me too!

I think youre onto something with that. I like that my goal initially was: I want to run nonstop for 20 minutes. You know? I too like the idea of smaller goals. I also accept that i may never be a lick faster than i am today and thats perfectly okay.

Ill be doing another challenge next month, so join in!

you know, sometimes, i think its just timing. Some times, its going to feel like the right thing at the right time, and sometimes, its not.

I think part of it for me is my age and realizing, Okay, do i want to move into this second half of my life feeling good? and if yes, what is it going to take for me?

I think theres something out there that can click with everyone. Its certainly not going to be running for all. : ) Good luck!

Go Cindy! And that is a HUGE accomplishment, AND a great attitude. : )

I kind of was at the bottom last december too, realizing that i was either headed one way or the other, and it was time to make the decision which one it was going to be.

I really think it was a few blog readers, too, who said: enough whining about being chubby, what are you going to DO about it?


Works for me! Let's GO, girls!!! :)

I'm back in Wa State now too, and let me tell you, running here after the Middle bliss. Loving this. You're right, too, running with friends, you open up and chat about everything...such a stress reliever, brings the two you (or three, or four of you) closer than even coffee. Maybe not drinks... :) Combined is really the way to fly. Run together, then bottoms up. Friends forever.

you RULE!

(and I'm not just blowing smoke ...)

Seriously Cathy, I believe that getting from where I am to how you feel is the matter of 1) a decision, and 2) a series of daily decisions to follow.

I'm not considered an overwieght person, but there's that desire in me to *feel* a higher level of wellness through my mind and body.

Thanks for this inspiring post. I haven't even watched the video. Didn't need to.

You know, Molly... it is totally a one day at a time thing. Like AA or something. The whole getting into trying to live healthier. I remember thinking in January.... One more day and the points reset or.... Jog one more minute, then you can stop.

I have to say, after watching the whole video the other day, i was surprised at how emotional i got watching it. : )

Glad to hear you're trail running! I am 40 and have only been running a few years (post second baby) but now I am a die hard trail runner. I could not love my hobby any more! Chubby went out the window more than a year ago -- it is nice to never have to waste any more time worrying about that. It's all for pure enjoyment now. I love the scenery, the sounds (no headphones, ever), and the company (my dog or my crazy trailrunning friends). As you get more into trail running, you may notice that many highly competitive trail runners are in their 40s and 50s. Right now, I'm training to run three more trail ultramarathons this year but what I am really doing is training to run this way for the next 20+ years, or as long as I possibly can. I hope that you get as much joy out of it as I do!

maybe it's different this time because you've lost weight before and even tho you worked really hard to get it off, it still didn't stay; this time you don't want to disapoint yourself?
also, you've been documenting this all really well and sharing it with us (thank-you!) so you feel more accountable?
plus you are skinny! and feel great and discovered a new you and like it! why not!!!? :)
keep it up girl!
now as more to just get started and stay on it for longer then a week! :)

i have the move more thing down; but my eating habits need some serious tweeking. sigh. :)

Oh great... you mean even the internet knows how talkative I am??? Drat! ;)

Cathy - loved this post - I can relate to the "something is different" this time. I am 44 years old, and in January I was about 90 lbs overweight - I'm happy to say that as of this morning - I have shed HALF of that extra weight - just over 45 lbs. I'm walking, not running - but there is something about doing it outside. I walk up to the nature center in our neighborhood and walk laps - I find places to walk when we've been on vacation - I even walked to and from the post office today, so I could combine an errand with my morning exercise! Something is different this time - and I don't know why either - but I'm hoping it stays different. Congrats to you Cathy - you are an inspiration!

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