Thursday, May 23, 2013

Runners Spotlight - Let me Introduce you to AMY

Every runner has a story, that pushes them and drives them to do what they do.  I find it fascinating to learn about others, and in return it also inspires and motivates me.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  Runners Spotlights are now a weekly series I do on Thursdays.


This week I'd like to introduce you to Amy.
I asked Amy several questions, to help tell part of her story and introduce you all to her. 

Amy blogs at Faithfully Hoping 

When did you start running?  What inspired you to begin?

I always loathed running. Not just a hate, I loathed it. In high school I would always walk the mile. 
As I began my exercise program in February 2011, the program I chose called for a 30 minute walk everyday. This I felt I could handle. I was relieved no running was required. However, as the days and weeks went by my walks began to become faster and faster. So much so that my husband soon stopped walking with me because I was passing him up. He couldn’t keep up with me. 
One evening I was doing my normal walk and I had the desire to run. I had never had that feeling before, but I went with it. 5 seconds later I was left huffing and puffing and walking the remainder of my walk. But that’s what started things. From there I began simply walking then running, back and forth building up my stamina. 
November 2011 I ran my first 5K. My goal that day was to simply run the entire race. I was successful and forever hooked.

What distances do you like to run/race?
I have only done 5K’s up to this point. The first time I ran a 10K was at the end of an Olympic length triathlon. I’m currently training for a half marathon. This has been a bit of a challenge for me. Before this, a long distance run was anything over 4 miles. Now my long runs go upwards into the double digits. I’m still undecided on whether I like the longer distances. I’d like to concentrate on doing more 10K’s in the future.

Do you have a favorite race you have run?  Tell us about it.

This is definitely a difficult one to narrow down. One race is Iron Girl Del Mar. This was the first 5K I did in November 2011. It’s an all women’s race. The first year I noticed they had mother/daughter teams and I mentioned this to my mom. While she has never been a runner, she agreed to do it with me the next year. November 2012 she came out and did her first 5K with me. Needless to say, this is a very special race for me and holds a lot of meaning.
I also did the Hot Chocolate 5K in San Diego this year and it was great! It was a lot of fun. It was a good mixture of the qualities of a fun race and the challenges of a competitive race. TriRock San Diego was pretty amazing as well. 
You've had a successful and incredible weight loss journey.  What tips do you have for someone who wants to start on their own weight loss journey?  What types of motivation/mind set did you use, that you suggest others find?

Oh I have quite a few tips and tricks. But none of those will do anyone any good if someone isn’t in the right frame of mind. I found this is the most important aspect of lasting weight loss. I have lost and found weight many times over the years. It really isn’t about losing the weight. There are a ton of diets and fads out there that will help you lose weight. But if you aren’t in the proper mindset it will all be for nothing. The weight will just come back.
I first had to come to the point where I was simply done with being fat. I was over it. This came to me in the form of being at the end of my rope in my life in general. At that point, I didn’t feel like I could control anything in my life, but what I could control was my weight. The triggers for this are different for everyone. But the fact is you have to come to a desire for lasting change. The fact is I understood I had to make changes that I would keep for the rest of my life. This was not going to be a quick fix. Quick fixes don’t last. I had to realize that I had to forever alter the way I lived my life. This can be an overwhelming decision.
Once I came to terms with that, I began to slowly change the way I ate. I didn’t drastically alter my diet and the foods I ate. I didn’t even begin working out for the first year and a half. I took things one step at a time, in order to not overwhelm myself. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Over the years, what I eat has gradually shifted and changed. I discovered as I changed my eating habits my taste buds began to change as well. My body began to crave the good food I was giving it. That isn’t to say I don’t still crave my sweets, because I do. But I also don’t deprive myself of the things I love. I simply allow for them in moderation. Let’s face it. A diet will never work in the long run if you aren’t allowed to eat the foods you love. On the flip side of that, you find new foods to love.
You also have to understand there will be setbacks. It won’t all go smoothly. There will be ups and downs. There is a learning curve as you begin to become more aware of your body and what it needs rather than simply what you desire. I had to shift my thinking about food. Food is now a way to fuel my body not just a source of enjoyment. Oh I still enjoy my food. But my perspective on food had to change. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had an unhealthy relationship with food. Surprisingly enough, this was a shock to me. That idea had never occurred to me. But if you stick through the ups and downs, the rewards are so much greater than any enjoyment you may find in food. You simply have to take things one day at a time. And when those off days come, you just pick yourself back up and move forward, learning from the experience.

Do you feel you will be a lifelong runner?

I’m not sure if I will be a life-long runner. As much as I love running, I don’t know if my body will be able to keep up. Having had all that extra weight on my knees all those years didn’t do them any favors. As I’ve been getting into the longer distances, I’ve found I’m having problems with them. This has made me question if I will be able to continue to run the way I want in the future. For the foreseeable future, I will be running. However, I do know one thing. Even if I am not running, I will be active in one way or another. I am forever addicted to my workouts.

Do you have any other sports or hobbies you enjoy?

Definitely! When I first began my exercise plan, I was doing kettlebells 4 times a week. This is how I fell in love with working out. While, I go through periods without using them much, I always return back to them. They are an amazing strength training tool with a touch of cardio as well. I highly recommend them!
I also ventured into yoga in those beginning months of working out. I fell in love with this practice as well. It pushes me in a completely different way than running. Plus, it is a great way to keep my muscles properly stretched and flexible.
My other love is my bike. Growing up my dad always cycled. I remember watching the Tour de France every year as a child. A few years ago, my husband decided to get out his old bike and begin cycling. We soon had to get him a new bike because his 20 year old mountain bike wasn’t quite cutting it. As I became more active, my husband encouraged me to try cycling out. I took one spin around the parking lot and was hooked. I love to bike. 
Because I was running and then developed a love for cycling, the logical progression was for me to do triathlons. I did my first in February 2012 and was hooked on those as well. 
Aside from all the workouts, I love to read. I also love movies. I find crocheting very relaxing, though I don't find as much time to do this. Finally, I enjoy making jewelry and being crafty in general. So I'm not all about the health and fitness stuff. 

Do you add any cross training to your workouts?  What are they?
Always. Cross training is so incredibly important, not just for the physical benefits but the mental ones as well. It helps keep the boredom at bay. Obviously, it depends on what race I’m currently training for but I always incorporate cross training. Right now my schedule looks like this. 
Monday - Rest 
(Lately an active rest with a walk to the park with the husband.)
Tuesday - Kettlebells
Wednesday - Short run
Thursday - Yogo
Friday - Short run/Pace work
Saturday - Bike 
(Unfortunately, my rides have been few and far between for a number of reasons lately.)
Sunday - Long run
You like to live life to its fullest now.  So is it just life in general that pushes you, or what types of things do you use to motivate and push you towards success now? 
I am a typical type A, self motivated person. I am not happy without goals in front of me. The majority of my life, my goal was becoming a teacher. My entire education was built on becoming a teacher. I was so motivated to get through, I was able to graduate college in 3 ½ years. I quickly moved onto graduate school and soon had my first teaching job. I suddenly had no more life goals to focus on. 
Health and fitness had never been a true goal in my life. It wasn’t even on my radar. I knew I was overweight, but I never realized the unhealthy relationship I had with food and exercise. Through a series of events, my life seemingly crumbled around me. I felt the only thing I could control was my weight so I dove in head first to that goal.
Little did I know how much that would change me. I hoped it would change my outward appearance. However, it changed me inside and out. The way I think about myself and the thoughts I think in my head are completely foreign to who I was before. The transformation is truly astounding. I actually feel good about myself. It gave me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. The old Amy would have never asked to have a spotlight post on her. She preferred hiding in the background. The new Amy says, “Sure let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, oh well. We gave it a shot.”
I continue to keep myself motivated through setting new goals and challenges. Whenever I’m training for one event, I’m thinking about my next step or goal. Currently, I’m training for a half marathon. I’m just testing the waters, so to speak, to see if a half ironman would be feasible for the future. It’s a balance between focusing on the goal currently in front of me and also looking to future goals to continually keep myself motivated. All this without overwhelming myself.

You love to read, what types of books are your favorite?
Amy and her husband trailing behind her
I have loved to read ever since I first learned. It’s an obsession of mine. I love the classics. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is my all time favorite book. For the most part, I tend to lean toward mystery/action books. In high school, I read every John Grisham book I could get my hands on. This year I have begun reading James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. I have two more books and I am done with that series.
I love reading series. This is a bit selfish on my part. Whenever I finish reading a book, I feel like I am losing close friends. Reading a series prolongs that friendship a bit. However, it also exacerbates the pain of losing those friends.
Ted Dekker, Joel Rosenberg, Robert Ludlum, Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis, Alexander Dumas are some of my favorite authors. I currently have a list of over 100 books I want to read, so there is always something new. Some of these books I am simply waiting to read until the movie comes out.
I have a theory on books turned into movies. If I read the book first, I won’t enjoy the movie. I will spend the entire time comparing the two and find the movie falls short. Because of this, if I know a book will be made into a movie, I force myself to wait on reading that particular book. This allows me to enjoy both the movie and the book. Last year my friend and I had a Harry Potter viewing marathon. It took us two days to watch every movie. I then spent the next two months reading the books. It was amazing.
You’re a teacher by profession.  Do you hope to inspire the students you teach in the coming years, the importance of a healthy lifestyle?

As a teacher, I’m placed in a unique position to influence the lives of my students. This is exponentially so in the particular school I currently teach. I work at a charter school in an extremely low socio-economic area. I do not have a typical classroom. My students are in independent studies. What this means is I have a group of about 30 students. I meet with each for one hour on Mondays and Wednesdays.
I teach high school students. Most of them are far behind in credits. For most of my students, this is the last place these students go in a last ditch effort to attempt at earning their high school diploma. Some of my students have even shared with me their families don’t believe they will ever graduate. Most of my girls have one or more children. Many of my boys have been suspended numerous times and/or expelled from school.
It can be a depressing job at times. However, I try to focus on the good. I try to be the best example I can to these students. I attempt to motivate them to be the best they can be. Not surprisingly, my girls are very interested in my weight loss. Whenever the topic is brought up, they have many questions for me. I try to encourage these girls to have a healthier view of their bodies.
While health and fitness isn’t necessarily a common topic, I do try to influence my students to make better choices in their lives. I encourage them when they tell me about their soccer games. When the topic of food comes up, I encourage them to eat better. They notice I don’t take their offers of candy and sweets. I mainly try to live by example. They notice more than I’m sure I even realize.
When you are trying to decide what blogs to follow, what are you looking for in a blog?

I like to read blogs that I can relate to. I’m sure this is true of most people. I like to see other people’s perspective on similar situations I am currently facing. It’s nice to know you aren’t alone in your struggles and even in your successes. I enjoy reading blogs of those that might be a bit more advanced than I am. It helps motivate me in my own journey. If a particular blog is relate able to my own life or simply has a compelling story or insight to life in general, I will typically stick around. Also, any blogger that is an active part of their blog in interacting with readers is a big plus.


Tell us about your blog, what types of things do you post about?

My blog is about me and my life in general. Many of my posts tend to be about my training and races and rides I’m doing. I use my blog as a way to track my progress and set goals for myself. There is a big focus on the active part of my life. However, when I get the chance I like to talk about my other interests. As I love to read, eventually, I’d like to incorporate book reviews.
I also talk about the different events and activities my husband and I become involved in our everyday lives. Occasionally, I’ll talk about the ups and downs of being a teacher. I also use my blog as a space to get my thoughts out. I’ve always been a writer and have kept a journal since I was 12. This is a bit of my public journal. Mostly it is the boring day to day things about my life. However, every once in a while I have a moment of introspection or insight that I like to share.

Amy has an incredible story, don't you think?
  
You can find Amy blogging at:

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10 comments :

  1. Love these Spotlights!! Wow Amy is incredible, her determination and success is so inspiring. That before and after shot, shows just how much hard work she put in! Good luck on training for your half marathon Amy! I will go check out your blog!

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  2. Great idea to do the runner spotlights!! Linda (View From the Back of the Pack!)

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  3. Awesome spotlight Kristy! It's the kind of read that motivates and inspires!

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    1. I thought her story was highly inspirational too! Thanks Jill!

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  4. What a great, inspirational story! thanks for sharing!

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  5. thank's for your information !

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  6. Wow, this is a great story! Your journey is very inspiring, Amy. Good luck with all of your future athletic endeavors. Will check out your blog for sure.

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