“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Mandy Diet

Ha.  Anytime I see anything with a name followed by diet, I typically run the other way as fast as I can.  (which turns out, isn't very fast).
Image source
I have ALWAYS been very anti any type of fad diet and really any diet at all.  Even eating less than exactly what I want has also been an issue.  I'm an extremely picky eater and I insist on lots of variety in meals.  Anyone else see the problem there?  When I was in high school and playing on three different soccer teams, not a big deal. When I got older and more sedentary, big deal.  When I went to law school and added stress eating to the mix, the pounds started to pile on.
Law School graduation picture
From the time I started running during my chemistry degree to the time I  completed my first half marathon, my weight did not drop a single pound. Lots of people asked if I'd lost weight - so I guess maybe it shifted around, but I was still 186.  
Columbus Half Marathon 2010
I decided to add strength training and try to lose weight right around the time my husband and I decided to start trying to have a kid.  Kid won that race.  Once I got pregnant, thoughts of weight loss had to be put on hold.  When I stopped running because of shins splints during pregnancy (around 5.5 months), my weight jumped.  Just before Avery was born the scale climbed to an impressive 230 lbs.  (And I only lost 10 lbs giving birth.)
The week Avery came home - August 2011
I knew Rainier was on the horizon.  AND, I knew that success depended on not just getting back to pre-pregnancy weight, but also losing some of the excess.  I knew that diets didn't work for me.  For me, drastic changes are not sustainable.  I'll stick with them for a short period, and then revert to where I was before.  So, I started small.  I tried to get back to running 3 weeks after giving birth to Avery.  I was instantly depressed at how incredibly hard it was to start over.  On my friend, Sarah's advice, I joined the Couch to 5K program at my local running store.  It was humbling to be aiming for a 5K when I'd previously run a half marathon.  The huge upside is that I still run with the amazing people that I met in that program today.
The gang, after one of our 5K training runs
Other small steps?  Return to strength training.  Advantage here?  I'd kept up with the strength training until the day I went into labor.  Literally.  As in, my water broke after a set of inclined push-ups.

I was one of those people that weight loss and breast feeding just never went together.  No matter what I did, until I quit breast feeding, my weight didn't budge.

I tried to focus on the portions of what I was eating and how much.  Even though I was working out again, I couldn't eat all the time anymore.  I did need to make sure that I was fueling properly for my workouts and for recovery though.  Biggest dietary change?  Not eating late at night.  No more eating after 8pm.  I still mostly follow that rule, with the exception of late night workouts.  When I finish a strength training session I have chocolate milk to recover, no matter the time.  The protein and carbs are necessary for my muscles to recover.  

When I completed the 5K program, I jumped right back into my old running group,  MIT.  I began training for a half marathon again.  I also added weighted walking workouts to prep for mountain climbing.
After the Knoxville Half April 2012
Basically, I made sensible portion choices and added a lot of exercise to lose 45 pounds from mid-September through today.  

I do not deprive myself of sweets or any other favorites, but I eat them in moderation.  Example: 1 snack size candy bar instead of 1 of each in the variety pack.  I found that by not cutting things out completely, I didn't really binge to compensate for the deprivation.

If I wanted to do an unhealthy night out on occasion - I didn't stress about it.  One night of eating out per week, will not blow my goals.

I did NOT focus on counting calories.  Nor limited myself to a 1200 calorie diet.  That's not healthy with the workouts I had planned.
Try Puffs Mom.  They're whole grain.
Now that I've closed more than half the distance to my goal weight, I may need to start watching those calories more, and focus on healthier snacks.  I have downloaded an app to test this out.  I still do not intend to cut out sweets or "processed foods" or only eat "organic."  I will pay more attention to labels though.  

Side note:  The label organic is completely unregulated.  Just because you are eating organic doesn't mean that the item is necessarily good for you or better than the other choices.  It's a good idea to read MORE of the label to find out if it actually means anything on that product.

My other small change?  After Cap City this weekend, I need to really amp up my Rainier training.  Hmmm, guess that's not small.  I've decided that I need a minimum of 3 Rainier focused workouts per week going forward.
Run DMC (Daily Mile Columbus) gang before our last Cap City long run
I have been babying myself with my workouts lately because of a paranoia about injuries.  I need to push a little bit harder after Cap City, while still training smart and avoiding injury.  I find that line can be a tough one to walk run.

So. That's how I've gotten to this point.  I plan to continue my weekly training updates because I find them self-motivating.  I don't want to tell anyone that reads them that I skipped a workout or gained 15 pounds.  :)

Any questions or advice are always welcome!



  1. You illustrate perfectly that there is no one way to lose weight. Everybody is different and it takes hard work and dedication.
    While I seem to have a good workout groove going, I think I'll always go in and out of struggling with the food aspect.

    1. I'm with you on the food aspect! It's why I have to make small changes and allow myself a few guilty pleasures. :)

  2. Thanks, Mandy! Your weight loss is really impressive. Definitely keep up your weekly training updates - those are my favorite posts. What app are you trying? I use the MyFitnessPal site to track my food and workouts, and it's pretty great.

    1. Thanks Christina! I'm trying the same one! I like it so far.

  3. I agree with the other's and you should be proud. I am gaining right now due to lack of cardio. I am feeling defeated. I think keeping track of what you eat works for some people.

    1. I understand that feeling completely! The key is to not let that feeling win! I think you still look great!

  4. If I ever name a diet for myself then it will be a diet where you only eat cake. Actually, I'll call it the Pirate Sarah diet since it would probably also cause scurvy.

  5. Sarah's comment cracked me up.

    My "style" of weight maintenance is much like yours. I don't believe in cutting anything out completely. My only trick has been limiting sweets (my big Achilles heel) to Sundays only. Boy, have I been enjoying my sweets on Sundays! But I do admit I have a hangover from them on Mondays and don't really miss them any more during the week. So I'm going to work on more minimizing of sweets on Sundays, too, to see if I feel even better. This has kept me from gaining weight while I'm not able to run.

  6. I have noticed that I eat much healthier when I am running. The same hasn't worked quite as well for me when applied to swimming and cycling... I'm probably the WORST weight watchers member ever. Member in name, not in practice... I like your method of 'dieting', which I would instead call a lifestyle. I know I have learned something from this post. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great post Mandy

    I have a very similar mind set about weight loss. I lost most of my weight by making more sensible decisions with food and increasing my activity. Now that I am the business end watching calories has become more important.

    You've done such an amazing job and I love reading your blog :)

  8. I love your approach! Don't hate me, but I've never had to try to lose weight, but I did have some "padding" that stuck around until I stopped breastfeeding, so I understand that.

    I recommend 50 mile training. It's hard to keep weight on when you do that :)

  9. I read this post days ago on my phone and I forgot to come online and comment. This is an awesome post and helps me to get to know you better. I think you're approaching things the right way.

    Oh, and I hate Kara.


Comments pretty much make my day - so thank you for yours!