December 29, 2013 was my two year anniversary of deciding to take control of my health. so naturally when i saw that the biggest loser run/walk series was hosting a half marathon IN FLORIDA that day, i had to do it. I had done their 5k in January and the obstacle race in April, so it only made sense to do my first half with them- ON my Fitversary!
it was in panama city beach. i looked it up on a map and estimated a 6 hour drive. i had plenty of time to train, and i found a cheap hotel only a few miles away, so i said SCREW IT, i have no excuse not to! and signed up.
for the past 15 weeks ive been training for this specifically. i have been following a schedule provided by the biggest loser run/walk series. I also went over running techniques and strength training with my trainer. the week of, i planned out every single morsel that would go into my mouth so i had zero chance of being sick or bloated that day. i also got a 90 minute advanced therapy massage to work out my muscles, and spent 30mins-1hour just stretching and using my foam roller every day for the past week. i drank a gallon of water daily (which proved to be a problem on the ride there, too many bathroom breaks lol) i was READY.
usually the packet pick up of a race is just a table set up somewhere a day or so before where you get your bib, your tshirt, and leave. however, the biggest loser made an entire event out of the packet pick up, so last minute i had to change plans to get an extra night at the hotel and drive up on friday instead of saturday so i wouldn't miss it. i am SO GLAD i did.
first of all, the ride was BRUTAL.i thought it was going to be about 6 hours but when i actually mapped it, it was 9.5. Florida is a very looooong state. Panama City Beach is in the north west corner, miami is in the south east corner, so i had to travel clear across the state, almost to alabama. i was literally in a different time zone lol the last two hours of the drive were on a country ass highway where the speed limit was 65 but there were driveways and mailboxes. no streetlights, pitch black. i actually was so tired and worried about my car making the trip at that point that i wanted to pull over and cry and wait for someone to save me. i was terrified of crashing (ive had VERY bad luck driving in FL, never had more accidents in my life) and the road was so dark and winding, my high beams sucked, and i was not feeling it at all. but ive taken worse drives in worse conditions so i put on my big girl panties and drove.
thank GOD i went early. if i had to run the next morning i would've been screwed because my body was in so much pain. they say a "body in motion stays in motion" and its so true. when i drove from Los Angeles to Massachusetts i drove for 58 hours straight and only stopped for gas. my body did not ache. this trip i only drove 9.5 hours and my back hurt, my hips hurt, my wrist hurt! i think my body is so used to moving it get stiff when i stop. at the time i drove home from LA i was used to sitting on my ass all day every day, so 58 hours was no biggie!
i was pleasantly surprised by my hotel. i stayed at the Days Inn because it was the cheapest option that wasn't an independent motel that made me nervous it would be dirty. first of all, the room was super clean (white sheets, yes!). i did an inspection like anthony from 'hotel impossible' does LOL i was checking for dust and bed bugs and seeing if there was grime around the drain in the tub. it was immaculate. i was thrilled. it also had a FULL SIZE FRIDGE which was off the chain since i had pre-cooked and packaged all my meals for the next 3 days and brought 2 gallons of water (along with shakeology and a nutribullet). i wasnt sure all of that was going to fit in the mini fridge. oh, and the best part? OCEAN VIEW and a balcony!! i totally want to visit panama city beach in the summer sometime, i looks like an amazing family summer destination!
i stretched out, unpacked and went to bed. the next day i didnt set an alarm, i woke up when i was good and ready and that felt amazing, even if it was only 730am LOL i went on my balcony and did some yoga and stretching. I went down and checked out breakfast. they had omelets and normal continental breakfast so i grabbed some bananas and went and got dressed. the packet pick up didn't start until 11 so i had time to kill, so i found a local farmers market to check out and also went and browsed at some gift shops. this was the first time since 2008 that i have traveled for leisure. i travel ALL THE TIME but its ALWAYS for work. it was SO nice to be able to just browse with no rush.
packet pick up proved to be worth paying for an extra night in the hotel. i met Gina McDonald and Danny Cahill, two of the biggest loser winners. I also met practically the entire cast of season 14. and of course the run walk hosts, Dan and Jackie Evans, were there. there were booths set up for massages and different things to buy and raffle off. there was a group stretch/warmup and then the contestants each had a turn to get up on stage and tell their story and do a Q&A. i also had the pleasure of being able to meet and take pictures with each of the contestants. i took some notes about specific things they said i wanted to share with you.
Gina McDonald- Season 14 "At Home" Winner of the Biggest Loser
something really important that gina mentioned was that weight loss is about MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT. its not JUST about your body. she really encourages giving yourself the credit you deserve, something i needed to hear. i quoted her saying "if you woke up 30 minutes early to work out this morning, youre a rockstar. If you choose an apple over icecream, youre a rockstar!" she basically wants us to celebrate each of our little achievements along the way becuase those little things set the foundation for big changes. she also shared a great acronym: BOSS ME.
Believe- believe you CAN do it
Organize- plan out your success
Sleep- you MUST get adequate sleep to lose weight!
Starve No More- starving is not the answer! eat small meals often!
Measure/Monitor- measure out your food and use portion control
Exercise- i know you might not want to hear it, but its a key component to a healthy life.
Gina was such a warm soul. They call her the Mama on the show and it was apparent as soon as i met her. she is just so nuturing. I am so grateful to have met her.
First off, the energy from these two is contagious. they were hilarious and the type of people you just want to be around every day of your damn life. they literally made me LOL while on stage. an awesome thing one of them said (and i cant even remember which because im an asshole) was to "let yourself feel the pain when you cross the finish line- youre not leaving the same person who arrived." that was cool, i didnt really think of it like that, but its true. running 13.1 miles is a big deal! another quote from them was "its a lot easier to deal with a painful victory than an easy quit"
They also spent a while talking about the importance of not comparing ourselves to others, which i have a terrible habit of. Jackson was saying that one day on the ranch he was so pissed because he couldnt keep up with what Joe, an ex athlete, was doing. Bob asked him what was wrong and he said "i cant do what joe is doing and it pisses me off!" bob responded "im sorry, is your name joe?" i LOVE that. were all at a different place in our journey. the only person you need to compare yourself to is who you were yesterday! when referring to the battle with the scale Jackson said "as long as my finale jacket still fits, i am happy!" LOL i liked that though. now that ive reached my goal weight i am going to try very hard not to be obsessed with the scale. i am cutting myself down to monthly weigh ins because i allow the scale to run my emotions and effect my happiness when it doesn't say what i want. i will be taking that advice, Jackson.
last, they were asked what goes thru their head while running a long distance to convince themselves not to quit. the 3 i loved were "quitting is NO LONGER an option" "SHUT UP and do it" and "one foot in front of the other"
Danny not only won season 8, but he actually lost the most weight of anyone EVER on the biggest loser. he used to be close to 500lbs. he slept in a RECLINER for years! he was also an addicted gambler and smoker and STILL lost more than 50% of him! no excuses, people! his wake up call was when his daughter came up to him and said "when i grow up i want to be JUST LIKE YOU" he said his heart was full of joy until she said " i want a big belly JUST LIKE YOURS" and then his heart broke. he realized he needed to be a better example for his kids. good god, did he do that. the biggest thing i noted about danny was his SMILE and ENTHUSIASM. his smile was contagious. he seemed SO happy. when i met him the first thing i said was " i cant believe this is real life!" i was SO inspired by him on the show, so to see him in the flesh, looking amazing, all these years later was such a joy.when he won the show, he weighed in at 199lbs. since he has put a little weight back on but he looks great, and he looks like an normal guy rather than super skinny like at the finale- but you gotta do what you gotta do to win $100,000!! lol
something danny said that hit home with me and im sure most fat people is that theres nothing fun or funny about being overweight, but we all kind of make a joke out of it to make ourselves feel better or to protect ourselves from others, but its not funny. i jokes along while people laughed at how flat my butt was for years, but i never thought it was funny. it hurt. i knew i had no butt, but i didnt know how to do anything about it. meanwhile, the people who teased me were not people who earned their ass in a gym- their genetics just put fat there. mine dont. but id laugh to hide my hurt. i think guys joking about eating a lot or how fat they are is more common. i see it all the time. it breaks my heart, because i know its a cover.
danny is an amazing speaker. i was lucky enough to get some advice from him afterward about transitioning from hairdresser to motivational speaker. not to discredit anything the cast did, but while they were on stage i couldnt help but think "ive lost more weight than ALL of them (by percentage) and i did it at home, on my own, no hollywood trainer of people buying me healthy food only.... why am i not traveling around the country inspiring people?!" i really had an AHA moment and think i finally figured out what i want to do with my life, but ill save that for my new years resolution post LOL
something else he said was to "give up the ghost". stop blaming yourself for the things the old you did. if there was no old you, there'd be no new you! i had to be obese miserable ashamed, ashley in order to become fit thriving optimistic, Ashley! if you're still in your bad place, stop worrying about what a loser or failure you are for allowing yourself to get there and start focusing your thoughts on what youre going to do to get OUT.
danny was denied for the show for TWO seasons before being casted. so, dont wait for the biggest loser to knock on your front door and announce theyre gonnna save your life. go and do it for yourself. there are NO accidents in the universe. you need to get up and take what is rightfully yours. Your health, your self worth, your ambition... i put that in bold because he almost made me cry when he said it. there was such a long time in my life when i felt like i didnt deserve anything better. i am so damn proud that i have take a stand and claimed what is mine. i have the right to feel worth something. i have the right to love myself. i have the right to be healthy. and although society and bad habits may have made me feel "less than" my entire life, i am NOT. i deserve to love myself and know my worth and i am absolutely not apologizing for that.
another thing he touched on is actually something ive learned doing personal development for my business. the importance of finding a WHY. figure out WHY you want to do what you're doing (whether its lose weight, get more organized, etc) Once you'd truly found your WHY, ANY HOW is tolerable.
danny ended his stage time by singing us a few verses from his song "second chance". my favorite line from it, that was SO appropriate, was " you've got the future in your hands, all you have to do is RUN". I ended the day by buying Danny's book- "Lose Your Quit" and he autographed it for me :) thanks danny.
Dan & Jackie Evans (Season 5)
Dan & Jackie are a mom and son pair that were on the show. theyre the official hosts of the run/walk series so i met them for the first time at the 5k in fort lauderdale, and then again at the off road challenge in miami. I totally relate to Dan because there are things that come out of his mouth that ive literally said. "I AM the statistic" the day i decided to change my life was the day i realized i was the fat sick person statistic! His mom also shared a story about how after losing the weight he said to her "if i can do THIS, i can do ANYTHING" i say that ALL THE TIME. i love having that validated. now when i tell people they will feel that i know i am not making it up- its a common feeling amongst people who have done what we've done! I quoted danny saying "what else have you got for me, World?!"danny says he went from "rock bottom to rock star" because he dreamed of being a rockstar but couldnt fit in leather pants! but on a serious note, he didnt fit the rockstar mold. since losing the weight he has enough confidence to CLAIM WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY HIS and chase his dreams! hes recorded in nashville and toured the country! he even did an acoustic performance of his song "letter to my addiction" and it was GOOD. he has a GREAT voice.
TIME OUT: clock just struck 12!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
bring it on 2014!!
its new years eve and i am sitting on my couch 100% sober and blogging... honestly, i am not mad about that at all. i intend to have a very productive and healthy new year, so i didnt want to bring it in drunk and bloated and miserable and then have a headache, bellyache and be depressed the next day. no thanks.... so i kind of like that as the clock hit 12 for the new year, i was here, blogging about my amazing unreal life, and im content and happy and in a place i NEVER imagined. how could i be disappointed with that?
back to dan & jackie. lol something jackie said that many of my friends and followers need to hear is that there is "no guilt in taking care of YOU." so many times we give all we have to our husbands and kids and jobs and feel guilty if we put them aside for a second to focus on us. but "you cant give from an empty well! you need to take care of YOU first". taking care of you makes you a better person for your family. since getting healthy, i may be a much busier person, or much more scheduled, but i am a MUCH BETTER version of me when i AM present. so it doesnt matter if i have to miss an hour of family time to go to the gym, because living that healthy lifestyle has made me a more enjoyable and giving person for my family to be around. my family used to hate being around me because i was a miserable bitch. they actually say out loud "where is ashley and what did you do with her?" because my attitude is so different. when i show up im not longer the cloud on a sunny day, but the sunshine on a cloudy day!
one thing i really noticed is that none of the contestants are living by the scale. they are all just being active and making healthier food choices. this was a good thing for me to notice because i am obsessed with the scale. if it says i gained a pound my whole day can be ruined and i feel fat, even if i dont express it. something i really want to work on this year is to stop weighing in all the time. i am not longer trying to lose weight, but just trying to change my shape.... so the scale no longer matters. i still need to weigh in to be sure i am not gaining, but i plan to cut it down to a monthly weigh in.
another thing jackie said that struck home was that overweight people have a common bond over the struggle. we do. there are things we live thru or experience that people who havent been overweight will never understand. the addiction, the not knowing better, the shame, the blame, the facade we put on. its definitely something we connect over. but the show the biggest loser is not about weight loss, its just about that- the human struggle. weight loss just happens to be one of the most visible struggles.
so, dan and jackie wrapped it up and did q&a. afterward, they asked if anyone in the audience had lost weight. i was in the front row and my arm shot up! dan pointed right after me and i could tell he remembered me so thats what i said "do you remember me?!" he said yes!! his mom didnt, unfortunately, but ill blame it on being skinnier lol i have lost an additional 39lbs since i saw them last. he asked what my current loss was and i yelled out "142 pounds!!!!" with my hands over my head lol everyone clapped for me, it was awesome. other people had lost 90lbs, 80lbs, etc. one woman lost 20lbs, but more importantly, she beat her food addiction. we all clapped just as hard for that because that is just as hard a struggle for a skinny person as a big person. its shameful to not be able to say no to something and it causes us to feel terrible about ourselves. she beat that! kudos to her!
after the event was over this guy came up to me and said he was "nick" from NBC and asked if id be interested in doing an interview on camera about my story. of course, the ham that i am said YES! we were going to do it that night but had to post pone till morning- which ended up being a really great thing anyway.
the next morning i woke up 2.5 hours before race time to start eating. you need enough time to eat and digest before the race so u dont have to poop DURING it. so at 530 i drank shakeology with almond butter, frozen banana, and bee pollen. i then spent about 45 minutes stretching and foam rolling. i had been doing so much yoga, stretching, and rolling in the week i dont think there was a single person better stretched than me lol at 630 it was time to eat again (i had chosen my eating schedule according to what made the most sense to me after reading tonnnnns of suggestions online. i decided to eat high carbs and protein one and two hours before the race in 2 small portions) and i had a bowl of cashews and grapes and strawberries.
i got to the race and met Nick at the starting line. he did a quick interview asking my story and a crowd was gathering around. again, cool, because i am a HAM and i enjoy the spotlight (i was a theater kid, ok lol) then when we wrapped i ran to get in line at the portapotty. im standing there and i hear "today we have a girl here celebrating her two year fitversary. shes lost over 140lbs. ashley, if youre here, come up to the stage" it was jeff, on the biggest loser stage, calling me!!! i left that line SO quick, literally jumped a fence, and got up there! lol he briefly told my story, asked me a quick question about how hard it is to maintain ( HARD!) and then asked everyone to give me a round of applause. there had to have been 1500-2000 people there, there were over 1000 runners and then all their friends and family and event staff. it was insane. i could not believe it was happening. it was amazing. so awesome. it felt unreal to be recognized like that. (in case youre wondering, i never got a chance to poop but i didnt ever have to go during my run! my eating style worked!)
i started off feeling amazing. i decided from the start i was going to ignore everyone but myself and keep a slow pace so i could maintain. thats excatly what i did. the course was great. they have "inspiration stations" set up along the way. at the 3 mile mark there was a LIVE BAND. literally a guy on the drums, keyboard, and guitar performing live. how fucking awesome. even more awesome, i couldnt believe it had been 3 miles! usually when i do a 5k i am ready to stop when i finish, and when i hit mile 3 all i could think was "i can DEFINITELY do that 3 more times!" so i kept chugging along. next thing i notice, theres a car on the side of me driving slow. i look and its nick with his camera in the passenger seat, video taping me running. he was also at a few of the motivation stations videoing me on the route. i felt like i had my own paparazzi, and i honestly LOVED it. hands down, the best part was at mile 6 i believe. when i got there PAM was waiting for me and waving her arms like a mad woman! when i reached her she hugged me and held me hand and said "you look great girl!" and ran with me for a couple minutes. it was just like on the show when their family or trainer randomly surprises them along the route. i felt so honored that of all the runners, i was the person they picked for this. although i shouldnt need other people for this, i did feel like my hard work was finally validated. it felt amazing.
all along the route people were patting me on the back and thumbs up and high 5ing me. i know some had been paying attention when i was on stage, but i also had a sign on my back that said I LOST 141lbs!!! with a before and after picture! lol i wasnt trying to brag, i just want someone who doesnt think they can run to see me and realize, they can!
just before the half way point there was a huge hill. "but youre in florida! theres no hills!" youre right. it was a MAN MADE hill. a bridge actually, with a pretty good slope. the course was "there and back" so we had to go up the hill, turn around and go BACK up the hill the other way! fortunately, at the bottom of the hill was Jackson with a microphone motivating everyone to keep going! someone i would meet later was joking "was this jillian michael's idea?!" lmfao as i passed the halfway point i took a little packet of bee pollen out of my pouch and poured some in my mouth. washed it down with some water ( i wore a sweet hydration belt. super nerdy but i didnt care! never had to stop for water and one of my four bottles was filled with E&E [energy & endurance]) so i had a little extra push when needed.
everyone says at some point you will hit a wall. i was feeling GREAT. no pain anywhere. not in my feet, hips, knees, shins, back, i was feeling GOOD. then i got to mile 9 and i thought "this must be the wall" i was tired. not tired enough to quit, but tired. then, i got to mile 12. if mile 9 was a wall, it was sheet rock. mile 12 was CINDER BLOCKS. now THAT was my wall. all of a sudden it was like my body was screaming STOP. it was SO heavy. i kept telling myself "are you going to let ONE MILE stand between you and finishing this?!" "theres one mile standing between success and failure" "if you walk, the fat girl wins" " you only get to run your first half marathon ONCE. for the rest of your life, you failed at RUNNING it, if you walk now". my last mile was a 15 minute mile. realistically, you could power walk that fast. but the difference between a jog and a walk is the lifting of the knees. i may not have been going fast anymore, but i kept lifting those damn knees, because i was going to finish this as intended- without walking.
i thought the last mile might kill me, but it didnt. sure enough when i got to the end nick was there with his camera... he asked me how i felt after and i was SO caught up in the physical i couldnt even think about how i felt emotionally. i was numb from the neck down. my body just shut off. i grabbed some water, a banana, and walked to the stage area and sat down.
Jackie Evans came over and congratulated me. she invited me into the VIP area but i felt so strange (and i was FREEZING, it was like 65 degrees and im used to 85 in miami) that i needed to just stay where i was for a few minutes. eventually i got up and got moving. this girl came up and asked for a picture. there was an issue with her phone so we took it with mine and i asked for her # to send it to her. she had a miami area code! she lives in miami! and has lost 90lbs!!! i definitely see us working out together again! while we were talking, dan and jackie came up to take a picture with me (i got asked by THEM to take a pic. how cool is that?!!!) so we did, and then we took a group shot of me, them, my new 90lbs lighter friend tory, and this woman who was running her 40th half marathon that day!
i was about halfway home when i stopped to eat at a Moe's and when i got a minute to relax it finally hit me, i RAN 13.1 miles without stopping. i couldnt help but think about the first day i tried to run. i couldnt make it 50 yards. i was SO out of breath i thought id pass out. but i kept trying over and over, night after night (i only ran at night because i was embarassed.) and i kept getting better. i contiued to eat right and do my workouts and practice running and eventually i did a 5k. my first one took me 49 minutes. i had to jog, walk, jog, walk. now i can do a 5k in 32 minutes, never walking. i did a 10k. i did obstacle courses. i sometimes cannot believe i am the same person. i am proof that you can do ANYTHING if you just DECIDE to do it, COMMIT to doing it, and do the proper work or training that is required to SUCCEED at it. there are no excuses. only lies. EVERY reason you have, that you cannot do it, there is a way around. therefor, its not a reason you cant do it! thats a lie! find the way around it, and DO IT.
the rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. i talked to my mom for over an hour and my grandparents for about two. paid a bunch of tolls, listened to some music. i was a little achey in the car but i stretched whenever i got gas.
when i got home i couldnt sleep. i woke up 5x in the 6 hours i was in bed. i do not function well without sleep so the next day i woke up so depressed and sad. my trainer called me to see how the race went and i told her that i was depressed. she said after a long race it happens to her, too. she thinks its the bodies way of forcing you to slow down after exurtion. the good news is, i still had no pain or soreness in my body. they say you can tell how fit you are by how quickly uou recover. i am super proud to say i had zero recovery time. i stretched the next morning and feel like i never even ran 13.1 miles, so im pretty proud about that!
now its 130AM on NEW YEARS DAY! what does 2014 have in store for me?! youll just have to wait for tomorrows post!!