First Name/Age: Rachael/25
Tell us a little about yourself so we can get to know you better.
Where to start? I am the blogger behind Happy Healthy Runner, though blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to everyday life right now. I’m lucky enough to be married to my best friend and am a fur-mama to two crazy cats. I’m pretty outgoing, just a tad stubborn, and more than a little sarcastic and blunt. I also like to think I’m really witty, but I’m probably just full of lame jokes – something I attribute to spending way too much time with my husband 😉 I live around Houston, write for an internet marketing company for a living, and spend all my extra time hanging out with the boy in that picture up there, working out, reading books, and seeing my girlfriends as much as possible. I’m also a runner… though one that happens to be injured right now, so I guess I’m actually a swimmer/biker/ellipticizer/weight lifter/yoga enthusiast/walker… though “injured runner” is much easier to say. And while I try not to discriminate with my sports, I tend to stick to ones that don’t involve any real hand-eye coordination past moving yourself forward and I definitely avoid any that require any contact with others. I’m a little on the clumsy side.
Have you struggled with weight/body image issues throughout your life?
I remember my first encounter with my weight was when I was in 5th grade. A boy that I liked called me “Big Bertha” on the playground and it was the first time I remember realizing that I wasn’t necessarily thin. The only real exercise I did was competitive swimming each summer, which I did for about 14 years. I spent my middle school years watching what I ate and was soon rail thin, existing on lunches that consisted solely of a bag of Cheetos and a Sprite, which was obviously the epitome of health… I stayed stick skinny all the way until my junior year of high school when I started working at Jason’s Deli. Unlimited broccoli cheese soup doesn’t exactly do wonders for your figure and I gained weight pretty quickly. And even though I was never “fat”, I was always “skinny fat” – horribly out of shape, bordering on being chubby, and uncomfortable as can be in my own skin.
This was me after 2 solid years of existing of single serving bags of Cheetos and Sprite for lunch. And in case you’re wondering why I look so awkward, I was in band and standing at attention. As for the eyebrows, I have no excuse. No one had told me about tweezing yet.
And there I am on the left, two years later. Yes I’m wearing a Dickies jumpsuit, no there is no good reason why, and you can see how my face managed to fill out quite a bit in the span of two years.
After high school I went to Texas State, where bad eating habits, late night drinking, and hungover binges were a college norm for me, but I never really thought much of it because all my friends did the same thing and I was always dating someone so I figured my weight must not really matter. I despised being in a swimsuit though – which is hard when you go to school in a town that is centered around hanging out at the river.
This is a picture of my dad and I my sophomore year of college. I almost cried when I saw it because it was the first time I really realized that I was no longer thin and that my chin had doubled in size.Was there a significant event that triggered your changes? I was a junior in college when I first tip-toed around working out. One of my best friends had just gone through a pretty brutal break-up and she wanted to start working out, so I joined her. We worked right across the street from a gym, and it pretty quickly became our thing to go work out, go to work together, and then hit the bars, sticking exclusively to diet coke and rum because it “didn’t have a lot of calories”. To this day the thought of diet coke and rum makes me gag. Haha. Whether it was a healthy way to start or not, it got the ball rolling and I’ve been avid about working out and eating healthy ever since.
Candice (my workout buddy) is on the left and I’m on the right – and we are both clutching diet coke and rums because they were “healthy”. Also, no one told me you could see my red bra through my black shirt, so that’s embarrassing. And we don’t know the creeper on the side.
Did you have someone that inspired you to make changes?
Aside from wanting to look good for my boyfriend (now husband), the person that influenced me the most toward leading an all-around healthy lifestyle was/is my mom. She is the healthiest person I know and always has been – but she’s not afraid to have dessert or splurge at certain meals. She’s so well-balanced that it’s inspiring. I pray I end up looking like her after I have kids!
This is me and my mom. She is ridiculously tiny and cute and in shape.
Did you incorporate a certain diet? Restrict calories? Or follow any certain plan?
Not really… my diet changed so drastically when I first started trying to get healthy that I dropped weight almost immediately. I went from eating Super Sonic breakfast burritos daily to smoothies pretty much overnight. I’ve dabbled in a couple different diets from time to time just to see what they’re like, but I can’t restrict my food at all or it makes me crazy and I just binge. I also count calories on and off every now and then, but really I just try to be mindful about what I’m eating. I have my bad days where I skip dinner and devour a pint of ice cream and bottle of wine just like everyone else (everyone else does do that, right?!) but I’d say 80% of the time I’m pretty balanced in my approach to food.
Do you exercise? If so, what type of exercise do you enjoy? Did you work out with family or friends?
EXERCISE! My favorite! I really do love working out. It’s one of the few things that I do solely for myself. I love love LOVE running, even though it doesn’t seem to love me and I can’t do it right now, and I love how effortless swimming is (though I’m a little biased, since I swam for so many years growing up). I’m pretty much a solo worker-outer, though I do love the occasional long run with my running buddy (who has since turned into my hiking buddy), taking yoga classes, and going to Spin or Body Pump. That’s about as “group” as I get with working out though. I don’t do team sports (because I’m terrible) and I mostly like to spend my workout time with myself, I don’t get a lot of free hours during the day other than those spent working out.
Look I am finishing the Houston Marathon! And I am determined and strong! Never mind that was the last real time I logged any miles this year…
When did people first notice the changes?
A few months after I started working out people started noticing that my face was getting thinner. I remember coming home from college one weekend and my mom commenting that I just kept getting smaller and smaller every time I came home. Granted, that comment fueled me to losing about 10 more pounds than I needed to, but it all evened out eventually. I love food way too much to not eat.
Did it take a while for your mind to adjust to the new you?
Honestly, I still have issues with body image. Some days I look in the mirror and I see “fat”, even though I know deep down that I am far from it. I doubt I’ll ever have a “perfect” figure, I like ice cream and wine too much to ever get defined abs or thighs that don’t touch but that’s ok because I don’t want to live a deprived life. And I’m a pretty typical girl in the sense that while I know I’m in good shape, I can pick myself apart with negativity in less than 5 seconds if I let myself. But I also remind myself all the time that I’m strong, when I’m in peak running form I can lay down 20 miles like it’s nothing, and that when I walk into the weight room I can navigate around it with the big boys… even if my weights are significantly lighter 😉 I think personal body image can be deceiving because we get used to seeing ourselves a certain way and it can be hard to peel off the blinders and see that we’ve changed.
How did you measure your success throughout the process? How much weight did you lose and how long have you kept it off?
I started working out in 2007, so it’s been about 5 years now. I lost about 20lbs when I first got serious about working out, though I’ve probably put about 5-10 back on depending on what time of the month it is, haha, and I’d like to think that a lot of it is muscle. Initially I was weighing myself every day and taking measurements… I haven’t measured myself in a long time though, but I do still step on the scale almost every day just to check and see where I’m at and to keep myself aware and accountable. The difference between now and when I first started working out is that I try not to freak out as much if the scale says more than I think it should.
What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I think the biggest obstacle I’ve faced so far is being an injured runner… I adapt pretty well to situations and when I decided that I was going to be healthy I did a complete 180 and I never really looked back nor did I ever really struggled with it. Once that decision was made I pretty much immediately switched my diet and started working out. And then it just became something that I did; it was another thing to cross off my to-do list every day. Being injured though… man, I’ve gone through every emotion you could possibly imagine, slacked on working out, worked out too much, seen every type of doctor under the sun, spent tons of money… you name it, I’ve done it and it’s been extremely stressful and emotional for me, making it extremely stressful and emotional for Sean… poor guy. But I keep telling myself it’s just a matter of time before my body bounces back. Hopefully sooner than later. Plus Lexy pointed me to her husband to fix my jerk knee, so hopefully we’ll get some positive results soon! 😉
Which of your personal goals have you achieved?
I ran the Houston Marathon in under 4 hours this past January!
Here I am immediately after! My whole family and my in-laws were there and they all had matching “Cherry Race Team – Run Rachael Run!” shirts on! They rock!
Do you feel like your confidence has improved?
Without a doubt. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. I used to try to shrink into the background all the time, but now I just own myself.
What has changed the most about you?
Probably the way I view myself. If you had told me last January that I would run a marathon this January I would have laughed in your face. But now I know I’m capable of achieving anything.
What did you find hardest about this process? How did you overcome it?
Saying no to friends. It’s hard to be the “healthy” person when you’re going out to eat with people or being the person that skips meeting up on Friday nights because you want to get up and workout early Saturday mornings… if your friends don’t work out (and a lot of mine don’t) then they don’t get it. I’ve also really struggled with not wanting my schedule to be a burden on Sean’s life. Luckily, he’s awesome. But that’s the next question…
How did your family react? Were they supportive?
Both of my parents are pretty active so they did nothing but support me throughout the entire process. Sean got a gym membership with me when I first started working out and since we’ve been married has transformed an entire room in our house into our own home gym, complete with a weights machine and treadmill. I’m really blessed in that my husband has done nothing but lift up my aspirations and offered his unwavering support as I moved from workout newbie to 5k to 10k to marathon. Half the time he tells me I should go work out when I falter, but that’s probably because I’m much more pleasant when I’ve got endorphins pumping through me… He also has made it to 99% of my races and acted as my personal photographer during them. During the marathon he even brought his bike and biked around the marathon course to catch me at different mile markers and take pictures. That is dedication.
What do you eat on an average day on program?/What are some of your favorite foods that keep you on track?
Ha. I eat all the time and I will eat the same breakfast/lunch foods for weeks before getting sick of them and switching it up. Lately my eating schedule has looked a lot like this:
Breakfast – Protein Shake
Morning Snack – Boiled egg, strawberries
Lunch – Ham sandwich with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onion, on a whole wheat sandwich thin with a side of baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and an apple
Afternoon Snack – Chobani
Dinner – Some sort of lean protein and as many vegetables as I can fit into a meal without Sean complaining that he isn’t vegetarian 😉
Evening Snack – Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich
I try to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible throughout the day and I love having Greek yogurt as a snack. I’m also addicted to peanut butter.
What are your biggest tips for people that are trying to maintain their weight loss?
Anyone can lose weight if you just decide you want to. The effort is worth the results. And you can’t get caught up trying to do something you hate just because everyone else is doing it. I love running even though I know a lot of people really hate it… but I will never do Zumba despite how popular it is because I’m so uncoordinated that it isn’t fun for me. There are so many different ways to work out that there really is something fun for everyone out there.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Don’t give up! You’re going to have setbacks and you’re going to go through phases where you aren’t as committed as others. You just have to keep going. Being healthy isn’t a fad or a diet, it’s a lifestyle.