Lifestyle Change & Goals

I’ve not talked a lot about it, because its been quite embarrassing to talk about.  I’ve gained weight.  A lot of weight.  I now weigh more than I ever have before, more than I did in 2012 when I lost 30 lbs.


Now, before you lecture me about proper body image, I want to say that I know that a number on a scale is not everything.  There are many other indicators of health – fitness, good blood pressure, good cholesterol, a strong, healthy body.  Unfortunately, a lot of those other markers are not where they should be, just like my weight. In fact, my goal weight is still considered “overweight.” But its a weight I have felt strong and healthy at in the past.  I’d even like to get down into a more healthy range, but that’s for phase 2!

Michael and I sat down and laid out some goals recently.  Both of us want to see some improvement.  We will be traveling to Las Vegas in late August, and have set that as a goal to lose some weight.  We have just over 4 months until then.

Some of my goals:

  • Lose 25 pounds (that translates to about 1.5 lbs a week)
  • Get back to under 35 minutes on my 5k – or better!
  • Workout a minimum of 3x/week
  • No eating after 8:30pm
  • Fewer than 2 sodas a day (SUCH a bad habit).
  • No more than one fancy Starbucks drink a week (regular or iced coffee not included)
  • Log food, exercise, and monitor blood pressure
  • Monitor portion sizes and eat appropriate portions

I’m sharing these goals with you as a means of keeping myself accountable.  I find that I very much need accountability to be successful.

One challenge I have is that my doctor and I have decided to tweak some of my medication that I’m on to control some of my “female issues.” I’ll spare you from any more TMI than that.  That being said, I’ve had some wonky side affects in the past.  One of the side affects of my last medication was some of my weight gain.  I’m hoping the side affects will be minimal, but that is something I’ll need to monitor to make sure it won’t derail my plans.

I share all this with you since I’ll probably need some help and encouragement.  Anyone who has struggled losing weight will tell you that its very difficult and can be very discouraging if progress is not being made.

I like to think of this blogging community as very mutually encouraging.  Everyone is at a different place in life and has different goals.

What are some goals you set for yourself recently? What encourages you?



Checking on Progress….

Right after my last half marathon I wrote this post about the things that I need to work on.  I thought I’d check in and see how I’ve been progressing, as well as highlight the things I haven’t worked on!

1. I need to do more core work.  My back and core hurt a lot.

My trainer and I have been slowly working on this.  Due to my scoliosis, core strengthening work has to be very calculated.  My lower back is still pretty weak, but I think between the work Danny and I are doing and yoga, I’m starting to make progress.

2.  My hamstrings are still really tight…they need even MORE work.

I think I’ve come leaps and bounds in this area.  Yoga has been the key here.  I’m getting toward the point that I can almost get my heels down while doing Downward Dog.

3.  My feet and ankles need a lot more strengthening.

Yoga has helped here, but there is still work to be done.  As I write this, I’m rolling on a tennis ball!

4.  This one is a biggie: I need to get away from my heel strike.

I don’t think this is fixable at this point in time.

5. I don’t do any speedwork.  Need to fix that!

Correction: I need to run more. Or, like, at all.

6. I need to increase mileage SLOWLY.

Yes I do.  And I’m not going to do that to the best of my ability this time around either, but I will be smarter about it. Staying injury free is more important that getting exactly 10 miles in on my long run.

7. I cannot cheat on my workouts.  I will definitely pay for it later.

I’ve done a lot better on this.  I’ve also been much better about taking my rest days so that I have the energy to complete my workouts.

8. I need to improve my nutrition.

I will never be where I want to be/should be with my nutrition.  However, I have made some good corrections recently and I’m focusing so much more on my nutrition now.

All in all, I think I’ve made decent progress.  I think the best thing I could do for myself is to correct my anatomical deficiencies and strengthen my supporting muscles.  Dear runners: strength training and yoga are your friends!

What are some things you are working on?  Have you looked back recently to see your progress?

The comparison game….and yoga.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I play the comparison game at the gym.  “I’m running faster than that girl next to me,” or “That guy has no clue how to do that exercise correctly,” or even “Man, I wish I could do box jumps like that guy.”

If I’m truly honest, most of my comparisons lift me up and tear others down.  I’ve become less like this over time.  I’m trying to have a more positive attitude about my comparisons…comparing myself to others stronger/faster/better than me for motivation and out of admiration.  Comparing myself to others that I see as less advanced as me by remembering that they are working hard at their level and they are trying, and trying hard.  Reminding myself that as much as I think I know about fitness now, I used to know far less and I still have a TON to learn.  Humble thyself, Lauren.

I used to judge the heck out of people that came to the gym just to do yoga.  I used to watch girls enter the gym in their flip flops, carrying a mat and thinking “yeah, like they are gonna get a good workout.” I used to walk past the door to the yoga studio, watch them standing on their mats and thinking “that’s what they call a workout?!”  I now know that that pose is Mountain pose and requires much more focus than just standing there.

One of my friends invited me to go to yoga with her while we were in the midst of training for Shamrock (half marathon for me, marathon for her). I only came with her because we rarely get to hang out.  I also intrinsically knew it could probably help with my flexibility.  I walked out of that 75 minute class with a very different attitude about yoga.  Yoga is HARD.

Yoga requires so much physical and mental strength.  It is challenging to clear your mind.  It is challenging to hold a lunge position for 30 seconds, or a plank for 60.

So much of other areas of fitness borrow or use the same exercises as yoga.  Squats? Do them in yoga – they just have a different name. Lunges? Yup.  Planks? Check.  Balance poses? You betcha.  Stretching? Oh my goodness yes.  Yoga is not “inferior” or “lesser” to other exercises, its just a little different.  No shoes required 🙂

Just like any other type of fitness, those who practice yoga have goals.  For running, we have faster times we covet.  For lifting, its setting a new PR for your deadlift.  For crossfit, it might be mastering a new workout.  For swimming, it might be a new PR.  For yoga, it might be finally being able to do a plank without modifying it.  There is no “lesser”  activity – we all work hard and we all have goals. Everyone just has their own preference of how they choose to work out.

I have so much more respect for those girls who walk into yoga with their flip flops and mats.  I’m now one of them.

Do you play the comparison game? Do you practice yoga?


Back in Time: 2012 & 2013 ChristmasTown Dash 8k


This was my second race ever.  It is put on by Flat Out Events and is held in Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.  I did it with my college roommate, Erin.  I picked her up in Newport News and we headed up to Busch Gardens.  The neat thing about having the race there is that there is plenty of parking!

We stayed in the car for a bit to stay warm – it can be quite cold in December.  Once we finally got out to the starting line (you run though the parking toll booths to start), we found our corral and found some of her soccer friends.

All four of us started out together, but Erin soon left us.  She had a goal of a sub-50 min 8k.  I stuck with the other two girls until about mile 2, where I pulled away.  Much of the race is a blur, but it was really cool to run through ChristmasTown with it all decorated for the holidays.  The middle of the race is through the park.  My favorite part is running over  a bridge that is lined with Marines.  I gave a high-five to any of them that would give me one.

The last 2 miles are in the parking lots, which are incredible dull and incredibly deceiving.  I had less than a half mile left when I realized that I could finish solidly under an hour if I kept up my pace.  Right at the exact moment I needed it, I heard my name and looked up to see my friend Allyson (she had already finished).  She ran with me a few paces, gave me advice when to start kicking and left me to finish.  I finished in 58:03 and met my goal!


This race was actually postponed a week due to a nasty ice storm on the scheduled weekend.

I did this race solo in 2013.  Got there early to avoid any traffic issues and sat in my car for a long time.  It was very overcast and there was a threat of rain. It also seemed colder this time around.  I had a really hard time parting with my extra layers, but finally did when I knew I had to get it all to gear check.

I lined up in my corral and tried to keep warm.  I knew that it was going to clear up later and get warmer, so I dressed appropriately. We got started in a pretty timely fashion.  The first couple miles were great.  I got to my favorite part of the race in the park with the Marines on the bridge.  I teared up a little bit as I collected my high-fives.

The last two miles were torture.  My knee really started bugging me and I had to slow down the pace.  My goal was under an hour, but I knew that wasn’t in the cards for me.  I adjust my goal to under 1:02:00, and snuck in just under that at 1:01:39.  I wasn’t terribly pleased, but I was happy that I was able to adjust mid-race.  I really think it takes a level of maturity to do that.

I love this race, but I’m contemplating other Christmas races this year.

What is your favorite race to do around Christmas time?  Do you adjust your goals mid-race?

Training and Planning a Wedding


I don’t know about you, but the idea of wedding planning while training (and working full time) terrifies me!  I know people have juggled many more things that that, but for me it seems a tad overwhelming.

We are meeting with our favorite venue this week and I hope to be able to make a decision on that and check that off the list.  Once we do that, I can lock in my photographer and I’ll have the two major things that are important to me.  I know you are thinking, “Wow, that was fast, she just got engaged!” Yup, its fast.  BUT – weddings for Spring 2015 are booking up fast and I want to get those things locked in!

I will be doing the Crawlin Crab half in October and Shamrock again next March.  I have a feeling that there will be a lot of wedding stuff going on during Shamrock training.  Here’s to hoping I can train and plan (and work full time) all at the same time 🙂

So I know I usually blog about running and training, but I’ll probably talk a lot about wedding stuff on here – because hey; its part of my journey!

Did you train for an event while planning a wedding? How do you manage to balance life and training?


FMS Score



As part of my “reset” and refocusing on my fitness goals, my trainer assessed me based on the Functional Movement Systems (FMS) program.  For those who are interested, check out their website, its pretty interesting.  He is actually certified to do these assessments.

In their words:

“Put simply, the FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.

The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.

Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual.”

Basically – for each exercise/activity on the assessment, you can get a score of 1,2 or 3.  A three is the best you can get; meaning you performed the activity correctly and optimally.  A two means that you are proficient, but work is needed on technique.  A one means you need correction in that area.  If an exercise is done bilaterally, and one side is stronger than the other, you receive the lower of the 2 scores.  For example, on lunges, I got a 3 on the left leg, but a 2 on the right.  Since I am not symmetrical, I get the 2 for my score.  (My abysmal hip flexors are to blame for most of my bad scores!)

You can get a possible 21 points for a perfect score.  I received a score of 14.

I’m pretty proud of myself.  If I had a bit more symmetry, I would have received an 18!

In case you are interested, here is my scoring:

FMS Results

FMS Results

**Look who got a THREE on her deep squat! WOO HOO!**

This will allow us to see the things we need to maintain, the things we need to strengthen, and where my form needs correcting.  I’m excited to see what we can accomplish with the assistance from this assessment system.

Have you heard of FMS before?  What tools do you use to measure your progress?

Creating a Race Schedule

I’m fairly new to running.  I ran my first road race in November of 2012.  I ran two races that year; a 5k and an 8k.  In 2013, I had a pretty good schedule, I ran a total of 10 races.  Two of them were color runs, so I don’t know that I really want to count those.  They are fun, but no preparation went into them 🙂  If you are interested in what I’ve done, check out my Race Schedule page.

Spring Races:

I didn’t do any races in January-early March, because all I could think about was getting through Shamrock. Now I can think about trying to fit some others in (10k or shorter).  I’m thinking about doing the Run for the Dream 8k in late May. I will most likely sign up for that one.

Summer Races:

I don’t like running in the heat. I may try to find some, but not sure yet.

Fall Races:

My next goal race is the Crawlin Crab half marathon in early October.  I’ll also be doing the 5k the day before because I haven’t learned my lesson about back to back races yet.  And because I like race bling- its a horrible addiction.

I have signed up Wicked 10k in late October, but other than that, I have no other planned races.

I’m looking for some other great local fall races.  I usually do a small 5k in November at my alma mater (it was my first 5k that I ever did!)

I’ve also done an 8k through ChristmasTown at Busch Gardens Williamsburg every year (put on by Flat Out Events).  However, this year, I’m contemplating the Surfin Santa 10 Miler put on by J&A Racing.  They fall on the same weekend.  I’m very torn.  I really enjoy ChristmasTown, but would love the challenge of a 10 miler (and I love J&A!). I have a big decision ahead of me!

How do you formulate your race schedule? How do you decide between two races?

Lauren’s Lessons Learned

lessons learned

Here are my lesson’s learned from training for this half marathon.  I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to fix all of them yet, but I wanted to record them for posterity’s sake.

1. I need to do more core work.  My back and core hurt a lot.

2.  My hamstrings are still really tight…they need even MORE work.

3.  My feet and ankles need a lot more strengthening.

4.  This one is a biggie: I need to get away from my heel strike.

5. I don’t do any speedwork.  Need to fix that!

6. I need to increase mileage SLOWLY.

7. I cannot cheat on my workouts.  I will definitely pay for it later.

8. I need to improve my nutrition.

A lot of these flexibility/strengthening problems will slowly start to be corrected by continuing yoga and continued work with my trainer.  I am working on a plan to slowly increase mileage.  The rest still need a plan, but I’ll get there.

Have you ever had to step back and re-evaluate your training plan? What big changes did you make?

Hope despite Frustration

Before you read on, please read this post of my dear friend, Hollie.  Her post this morning inspired a lot of these thoughts.

If you had asked me about 6 weeks ago if I had felt ready for Shamrock, I would have told you “absolutely, I’m so excited!”  However, here we sit a few days out, and I’m extremely frustrated and apprehensive about what this weekend will bring.

Here’s the deal: last fall I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for the Shamrock Dolphin Challenge.  Runners who participate in this challenge run the 8k on Saturday and the 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.  Nevermind that I’ve never done a half marathon before.  Nevermind that I’ve never done races that close together before.  I decided it was a great idea.

And 6 weeks ago, I still thought it was a good idea.  Then I was plagued with shin splints, and sickness, and shin splints again.

As I said in earlier posts, I’ve decided to walk the 8k.  It’ll be significantly easier on my shins and allow me to put more energy and effort into the half.  My stepmom (who is doing the challenge with me) will run the 8k, and I couldn’t be more excited to cheer her on (from miles behind) as she seeks to finish in under an hour.

My shin splints feel significantly better.  I owe so much of that to the advice of you all, the magic power of ibuprofen, and the assistance of my trainer, Danny.  While they feel much better, I’m still being cautiously optimistic.

Despite all the frustration of the last few weeks and especially the last few days, I am trying to remain hopeful.  It may take me every second of the 4 hour time limit of the half to finish (if I get stuck walking more than I want), but I can celebrate the achievement of finishing my first half marathon.  And no matter how fast or slow I am, it’ll be a PR 🙂

So, if you think of it, please send positive thoughts, prayers, well-wishes my way this weekend, but especially on Sunday morning.

What drives you when you are frustrated or losing hope? What positive things do you focus on?

Weekly Recap

I did not have the week I wanted to.

runner injury


I was supposed to do yoga.  Due to the snow/ice, my gym opted to close at 5pm.  I should have done more,  but I settled for less than a half hour of foam rolling and stretching.


Worked out with Danny.  Can’t remember the warmup we did.  The workout involved the TRX and ReACT trainer.  We repeated the following sequence 2x:

15 one-legged squats each side with TRX straps for support

15 crossover lunges each side with TRX straps for support

3 minutes on the ReACT trainer


Rest day.


Worked out with Danny again.   I honestly have no idea how to describe what we did.  Lots of stretching and a little bit of jump roping.


I had to work late – till 10pm on a big work project.


I should have worked out.  I’m very frustrated with my laziness, but there is nothing I can do about it now.


Last long run before Shamrock so it was a taper run.  I was supposed to do 6 miles.  I ended doing 4.5.  I’ve been getting shin splints recently, however there is NO rhyme and reason  to them.  I ended up walking most of the time.  Honestly, I only walked so much because I was so far from home base.

I’ve got to figure out what these shin splints are.  I’m not entirely convinced they are shin splints, but since that’s the general area of the pain, that’s what I’ve been chalking it up to.   I’m going to take a few weeks off of running after Shamrock.  I will probably end up going to the doctor (he formerly was a sports med doc) to make sure that is what it is.  If so, I’ve really learned my lesson about increasing my mileage too fast and cheating on my weekly runs.  Either way I’ve learned that lesson and will be correcting it.

Game plan for this week:

Yoga on Monday for sure.  Danny and I will be doing a lot of stretching on Tuesday and Thursday.  I want to stay off my legs and rest the shin splints, but I want to get some cardio in, so I’ll either take to the pool or get a little time in on the rowing machine.

The main goal for this week is to rest the shin splints so I’ll be ready for Shamrock.

Since I know I’m not even remotely where I want to be, I’ve decided to walk the 8k.  My ego is very frustrated with that decision, but I know its the right one.  Since TowneBank (my place of employment) is the sponsor of the 8k, there will be a lot of people walking it from work.  I’ll team up with them.

I made this decision so that I can be rested up enough for the half.

How has your week been? Did you meet your goals?