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Posted on Mar 14, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weigh Ins, Weight Loss, Working Out | 47 comments

Retreat (Weigh-in)

I have something to say, and you’re probably not going to like it. Hell, I don’t like it. But, it has to be said.

Despite all my best intentions, I will not be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 1st. I will still be running that day (there is also a 5K that I will be bumping down to), but not in the way that I had initially planned. I know that long ago I said that my ultimate running goal would be completing a 10 miler — this 10 miler, in fact — but the fact of the matter is that I have not been training for it. At all. And I need to own up to that.

It’s embarrassing as hell for me to admit, and it makes me feel like I’m letting you down (and letting myself down too, but you already know I’m usually okay with that). I guess this is the problem when you make declarative statements about your fitness intentions to the entire interwebs, eh? As much as I would love to be able to justify this with an injury, or sickness, or some other totally believable excuse, I can’t. I simply haven’t trained, and more than that, I just don’t have any desire to build my running endurance back up that much right now. Knowing me and my fickle, fickle self, this might change. And in a month I might be saying I’m going to train for a half-marathon — who knows? What I know right now is that I am not going to be able to just up and run 10 miles in 3 weeks.


Sure, I’ve been running a few miles here and there as part of my greater commitment to exercise. But racking up two or three miles on the treadmill once a week does not an endurance runner make. Instead, I’ve been strength training and doing group classes and at-home videos and am actually starting to enjoy integrating exercise into my regular routine. I KNOW. Who am I? I wouldn’t say that I’m a devoted lover of sweating yet, but I can say that what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks seems to be working. So I figure I can continue to ride this wave of general working out, almost-kinda-sorta liking it sometimes… or I can force myself to huff and puff for long distances, and be miserable.


When I began this blog, and started discovering the myriad of wonderful healthy living blogs that exist out there, I thought I needed to be a runner. After all, it seems like 90% of the bloggers in my Google Reader are runners. Not to mention the fact that I continue to read and be told that cardio is what helps you lose weight, and running is a pretty obvious form of cardio. So I gave it a try, and while it was hard in the beginning to even get through a full mile (I don’t care if it makes me sound pathetic, I still think that a mile is LONG!), I eventually worked my way up. I ran my first 5K, then a 5 Miler, and then I even completed a 15K!

Hot Chocolate 15K

I am so proud of myself for hitting these milestones, and experimenting with running did help me discover how much fun participating in RACES is, even if I still find the running part pretty miserable. But I’m finally at the point where I think I need to stop trying to make this happen just because it’s what I think I should be doing. I want to do things that I want to do, not things that I think I should want to do. Because when I try to force myself into doing something, it usually ends up backfiring. And that applies to making myself hate exercise as well as to my weight loss in general. Does that make any sense at all?

I am in no way saying I’m going to stop running completely. After all, I still have the Reach the Beach Relay in May, and I am legitimately looking forward to it and will continue training for it (my longest leg should hopefully be no more than 5 miles). But I am going to stop focusing on ZOMGDISTANCE! so much. I enjoy running 5K races. While the half- and full-marathoners out there may scoff at a mere 3.1 miles, I consider it a good, challenging distance for myself. So come April 1st, I will be running the Cherry Blossom 5K, and I will try very hard to focus on it as a victory, instead of feeling like a flake about the 10 Miler.

Whew. So, there you have it. I hope that none of you will look down on me too harshly for changing my mind like this. I have openly admitted many times to being wishy-washy when it comes to exercise, but I hope you can see that this really isn’t about making an excuse or copping out. This is about the larger picture. It’s about me actually, actively wanting to continue getting healthy and fit. So I may be retreating from the 10 Miler, but only in order to strengthen my resolve as I move forward. And speaking of moving forward…

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 190.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 189.0 lbs
Difference: -1.0 lbs

Ohhhhh hey, 180s! It’s nice to be back! Clearly, I am ecstatic that I have an entire pound’s loss to show this week, which pushes me firmly back into the good ol’, pre-holiday 180s. I feel like it just helps justify everything I just said with regard to the way I’m working out, y’know, working out (heh). Given last week’s wompy 0.1 loss and all the bad eating out that I’ve been doing lately, I wasn’t expecting much. But after so many weeks of half- and quarter-pound losses (if that!), not to mention the gains — Heaven forbid! — I am doing my superhappydance. So hey, at least we get to end on a positive note!


  1. Go Gretchen! You’re still amazing. 🙂

  2. I am one of those crazy runners. I am training for a marathon. I own that. I love that. But I understand that MY thing may not be YOUR thing. And I think it is important to find YOUR thing. And if your thing is variety? Kick it, girl!

    And, for what it’s worth, I don’t know if distance running and weight loss can coexist. It doesn’t for me. It hasn’t for a lot of my running buddies. The more I run, the deeper my bottomless pit gets. And if I don’t listen to my hunger, my runs stink. It is hard to choose between two things that logically should go together.

    Be happy, my friend. You aren’t letting anyone down. You’ve just changed your mind about what kind of ass you are kicking, but it is still being kicked!

  3. I hear you. I contemplated registering for the Pittsburgh (half) marathon and mentioned it to a few people. Then I did nothing to train. And now I’m not doing it at all.

  4. I know what you mean about feeling like you should be running. I’ve had way too many ankle surgeries to justify even wanting to try to run, and yet I always feel like that’s the ultimate test of fitness or something. The myriad of “big lady starts running and loses weight and is now a marathoner” blogs don’t help my mind state. Not that I blame those ladies. I applaud them. I just have to find my own something to work up to.

    • They are absolutely inspirational, but I TOTALLY get what you mean. It sometimes feels like one of those things that as weight losers we have to accomplish because otherwise we won’t have “truly” succeeded, you know? Bleh.

  5. I hate running so I am not remotely disappointed to hear this news. Instead I’m choosing to focus on what you have accomplished athletically speaking. I am still having trouble getting any kind of exercise in so all you do is still a tremendous encouragement to me.

    Now… get off the self-hatred horse and get back to it… we all know you can!


  6. A girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. 🙂 I’m proud of you for not pushing it and not only risking a physical injury but also an emotional one if you weren’t as successful as you wanted in the 10 mile. I also agree that a 5k is a respectable distance and not one to be laughed at. I’m not a runner and no matter how hard I try (which isn’t very hard mind you) I never will be. I admire those who are. Good for you for hitting such big milestones. Color me impressed!

  7. You’re not running a 10-mile race. Big deal. It’s YOUR choice, after all!
    I have to say- I know that it’s cool and trendy in the blog world to be able to run marathons all the time. And some people legitimately LOVE it. There was a time in my life when I ran races ALL THE TIME and really loved it. But then I stopped loving it, and haven’t done one in two years. Sometimes when I’m reading blogs, I feel like I should be signing up for races. But, for me- I can’t justify spending all of that money to run, when I don’t really love to do it. I like running- and love trail running- but it’s for ME and it’s not competitive.
    I LOVE group exercise classes, hiking, and other forms of exercise, so that’s what I do. And if that’s what you love- THAT’S GREAT! If you are only running because you fee like it’s what you SHOULD be doing, rather than what you want to do, you won’t be happy and probably won’t continue doing anything at all. You don’t have to RUN to be healthy (and I actually gained weight when I trained for a marathon!). There are so many other forms of exercise to choose from and LOVE.
    You’re amazing Gretchen! xoxo

    • That’s really my main concern, the part about how it’s going to make me not want to do anything at all. I mean, I’ve already spent pretty much my entire weight loss journey up to this point hating all exercise, and I’m sure that forcing myself to run wasn’t helping with that. So now that I’m even moderately interested in going to the gym or doing yoga again or whatever? I figured I should really, really capitalize on that, haha!

      Thanks for always being so supportive, lover. 🙂

  8. You do what you gotta do honey. I have cousins and friends who do full marathons, and while I aspire to do on one day, it doesn’t mean I will make it to that point, but I hope that I’m as brave as you when I have to admit to myself it’s just not gonna happen. I’m my worst critic after all. For now I am working slow, having done a few 5K’s and now slowly training for that Hot Chocolate 15K. By slow I mean I’m training NOW and the race isn’t until September, lol.

    Keep up the great workouts, and put your focus were you need it. If running makes its way into your life again someday, great! If not, and if you’re like me, it wont be missed 😉

    <3 <3

  9. I’m with most of these folks. I hate running. Plus I have weirdly rotated knees and somehow when I run that translates to a painful right hip (only the right one? I don’t really get it either) Plus my personal trainer said that the best way to lose weight is to actually strength train and get your lean muscle up. It ups your metabolism so even when you are just sitting there you are burning through calories. Cardio definitely has a place is a well rounded work-out routine but it’s not the end all be all.

    So good for you being realistic and honest with yourself! That is a totally healthy outlook.

  10. Gretchen, for a while now I’ve been thinking that you’ve been forcing yourself to run because you thought you *should* like running. It’s okay to not like running! I think you’ve come to a healthy realization that may help free you up to explore how you can enjoy exercising. You seem the type who needs to switch things up often, not stick to one form of exercise. That’s good for you, too. It keeps your muscles from getting too used to one activity. One thought, have you ever tried using a pedometer? I had one for a while. (Lost it! :-() and found that it helped me sneak in extra activity each day. I really wanted to see the number on the pedometer climb so I’d get up from my desk and walk around, I’d park on the far side of the parking lot, etc. it was a game, a challenge, a competition. It doesn’t replace exercise, but it’s a fun way to supplement it. Just a thought. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    • Was your first hint the amount of time I spent complaining about running? Hahahaha. Good thought on the pedometer! I definitely could use the extra motivation to take walking breaks and stuff at work — especially since I’m parked on my butt for most of the day!

  11. I totally got caught up in the “need to be a runner” mentality as well – but completing a 5k FEELS like a marathon for me! I think you’re making a smart decision based on where you’re at – no need to feel bad about it! Finding exercise you like and will do consistently is much more important. Congrats on listening to yourself, your body, and for the weight loss this week!

  12. Gretchen, you just being you is one of the things that drew me to your blog in the first place. It’s a relief to know thanks to your honesty and the other commenters that we’re not all in love with running and that not everyone on a serious weight loss journey will get to some magic “enlightened” state where running and racing is the best thing evarrrrr. I also get sucked in by other bloggers who are running marathons and I think “I want to do that” but the reality is that no, I don’t. I think the only right answer is to do what works for you, otherwise what’s the point?

    AND congratulations on this week’s weight loss! I was just looking at your stats and you are so close to your lowest point. Get it girl!

    • It’s like a really strange, inadvertent form of peer pressure. Nobody is saying “you have to be running half-marathons to be healthy!” but it still feels that way when everyone and their mom is doing it (and talking about how much they love it, how proud of themselves they are, how it makes them feel — it makes you want those feelings too!) Thank you for your encouraging comment! Watch though, it’s going to take me another 3 months just to get rid of these 5 lbs standing in between me and my lowest weight-to-date, hahahaha….ha.

  13. Good for you for knowing your own limitations.. I think some people get caught up in the number/distance game too often and they lose sight of why they run in the first place. I am so totally nervous I won’t be able to run 13.1 this weekend.. but I have to trust my body and listen to it 🙂

  14. First of all — Whoop whoop on the weight loss for the week.

    Second of all, if you don’t particularly love long distance, then why push yourself to do a race? It’s cool to be all “I want to run 10 miles to see if I can do it” and not actually run a race. The first time I ran 10 miles was on a track. No joke. And it was just to see how long/many laps I could run.

    Seriously, you’ve got a captive audience here. If you want to run 10 miles to see if you can do it, then track your progress here. Don’t sign up for a silly race. I did a marathon once just to see if I could do it, and I so shouldn’t have run it then. And now I’m kind of hating on running and have a bum leg … 3 years later.

    Keep up the good work and the positive attitude! You are doing great.

    • Dannnng girl! You go. I definitely don’t think I would ever have the motivation to complete a distance like that if there wasn’t a finish line involved though. Then again, who knows? I’m a fickle beast, and maybe in two months I’ll be extolling the virtues of distance running again, hahaha. Thanks so much for the encouragement!!

  15. Hey! Check out http://www.jeffgalloway.com. I am a “runner” and I’m going to train for a marathon using his run-walk-run method. I’m hoping it makes running more enjoyable for me. And I am thinking it might for you too. There is no shame in moving down to the 5k. I’ve totally just not shown up to races before. At least you are still going!! Proud of you, welcome back to the 180s!

  16. I think this is smart, Gretchen! Learning about what kinds of exercise you do and don’t like will be a huge help as you continue integrating it into your life.

    Have you ever read Daily Garnish? (www.dailygarnish.com) She’s a marathoner but has a great post called “you don’t have to run a marathon” that you might want to check out.

    Instead of feeling like a failure for not running a 10 miler, you should feel really accomplished that you’re starting to find different forms of exercise enjoyable. That’s awesome!

    • Oh, and I’ve heard the same thing a few others have mentioned, that weight loss and distance running don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. You might find all the strength training and shorter runs are more effective!

    • I love Emily from Daily Garnish! I haven’t read that post of hers though, so I will definitely be checking it out!

  17. I haven’t really commented around these parts yet, but something you wrote today really struck me. Like you, I read all these healthy living blogs and it seems like so many of the people behind them are runners. 10 miles here. 3.2 miles there. I feel like I’m missing out on doing something I should be doing to lose weight and stay healthy — clearly *everyone* else is, right?

    But I realized that running is so NOT for me and that I prefer other forms of exercise. It’s not that running is bad, it’s just not for everyone at every time.

    Thanks for making me feel less “guilty” (that’s not the word for it, really, but I can’t think of the best one…) for being a girl who’s trying to lose weight, be healthy, but chooses not to run as her cardio of choice! 🙂

  18. 180’s! You go girl! Yay!

    You’re smart to recognize what is and isn’t working for you. And it takes a lot of character to admit that you were mistaken in your intentions. Even though there is nothing wrong with being mistaken and we all do it, all the time — somehow it’s embarrassing to admit it. So you’re demonstrating a lot of personal strength and sense, coming out and facing up to the need for a change of plans.

    Just don’t ever wish you had an excuse like illness or injury. I’ve had lupus since I was a teenager, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve had to say goodbye to before I was ready, because my body couldn’t perform. So, be thankful for the blessing of health every single day that you have it, OK?

  19. Love this post – it is perfect timing for what I’m going through right now.
    I ran half marathon this weekend and felt awful about my performance. And since the race I’ve been wondering why I keep putting myself through this since I seem to be getting slower with each race! I finally realized I’ve been trying to keep up” with everyone else running tons of races per season…and frankly I don’t know why! I’m not saying I’ll never run distance again (I’m already registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in October) but I do know that I need to stop signing up for races “just because everyone else is”. Time to get back to enjoying the process instead of forcing it!

  20. You are still doing so great! The fact that you started from nothing, and now you can go out and run without any problems is amazing-no matter the distance! Keep it up, girl! 🙂

  21. Finding a way to incorporate exercise in your daily routine and enjoying it is (to me) WAY more progressive and positive than forcing yourself to perform exercises that don’t appeal to you. You run 5Ks… that’s more than what most people do. Hell, I don’t even measure the distance I go. I just run until it doesn’t feel so good anymore (and sometimes, it’s really not very far). I’m definitely not in the progressive zone. Props to you!

  22. Glad to see you’re taking my advice. 🙂 Just because others love running doesn’t mean you have to. It’s all about making exercise fun for YOU! Because, ultimately, that’s what will build a life-long habit of exercise – finding what works for you. Not trying to force what works for others.

    • Sometimes it just takes me a little while to let the common sense sink in. 🙂

  23. Hi, gretchen. In my past, I have signed up for half marathons thinking it would motivate me to run. And, while it does sometimes, there were a couple half marathons that I straight up slacked on. I still ran them and pushed through it. It felt awful.

    Finally, this year, I signed up for the Denver rock n roll half with 2 friends who were coming from out of town. I knew it coming but I never trained. As a punishment to myself, I owned up the embarassment that I slacked on the running and shifted priorities.

    People understate how much commitment a race is. My plan now is to sign up for a (2) 5-7k’s a year to keep me moving. I’ve incorporated biking into my commute, practice yoga every day, do a kettlebell DVD and run 2-3x short distances with my dog. Point of my story .. find activities that you truely enjoy and don’t feel like you’re getting bogged down with it.

    Good for you for shifting priorities!

  24. Congrats on doing the 5K! To me it isn’t about the distance you’re going it’s about the fact that you’re doing something.

    I walk 5Ks and this weekend I’m walking my first 8K. I don’t run because of my knee and ankle issues. Sometimes I feel like a slacker about this and wish I were a runner but I realize walking is better than sitting on the couch.

  25. Okay… shame on anyone who would even think about looking down on you! You have nothing to be ashamed of… you run what you enjoy doing… if you don’t enjoy the longer distances, there is nothing saying you need to or should for that matter. I am a firm believer that the only way you stick with things is if you love them! Plus I get the same sense of accomplishment when I finish a race — whether it was my shortest a 3k or my longest a marathon! Best of luck on your 5K.

  26. You know that I totally get this. The pressure to “be a runner” is super high in the blogging community (and even bigger fitness community) but it is totally possible to be inspiring, amazing, and intriguing without being a runner. Even beyond that, I think there is this pressure to push past the hate and lack-of-desire because that’s what “real” healthy people do. But I’m learning that so isn’t the case.

    You are awesome and brave for posting this. 🙂 Fickle, flip-floppers unite. And good luck on your 5K!

  27. Good for you! I lurk more than I comment on here, but you’re a motivation…wishy-washy and all. I’ve completed two half marathons by walking both of them. I tried running. I tried to love running, but I just couldn’t make myself enjoy it. I’ve thought about signing up for another one (to walk again), but the thought of training makes me want to do ANYTHING but train for it again. I’m finding other forms of cardio that I like better (Zumba, for example, rocks my world), but I still find myself wishing I had that urge to run because of how freaking trendy it is. Anywho, thanks for being so honest and wishy-washy!

  28. As someone who hates running, I completely sympathize. I can’t say how many times I’ve started the couch to 5k, but it never sticks. It wasn’t until I started swimming that I realised exercising can be fun… running isn’t the only thing out there, and it shouldn’t have to be. Congrats of reaching the 180s again!

  29. I am with you on running- although I heart it most of the time, I get disenchanted too. So you’re totally doing the right thing by not forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to. I did that to myself with sweet potatoes- tried to force them on myself for way too long before realizing it wasn’t happening and I’d starting resenting a vegetable. Keep up the good work and keep up your awesome attitude!

  30. Yay for making it back to the 180’s!!! If it makes you feel any better, my heart rate almost gets too high just walking 2.5 on the treadmill and going more than 2 miles a day would be HUGE for me right now! That being said, once upon a time I was mid-training for a half marathon and it really pisses me off that I’m not back to that point again!

  31. Awesome job on the weight lose! WAHOOOOO!!!
    Also, dont worry about the race. They are others, but its good that you realized you arent ready. you dont want to get hurt

  32. Totally with you on this one. I’m trying to lose weight too, and I always seem to come back to running thinking I have to do it for some strange reason! But the truth is, I HATE running. Gahhh I hate it so much lol. And it might be that I’m not small enough yet (I still have about 45 pounds to lose). Perhaps it’s rough on my knees and ankles for that reason. But either way, it’s completely not something I enjoy right now, so I’ve given up forcing myself to do it. Instead I take Spin classes, kickboxing, walk on a high incline, strength train. And honestly I’m losing more weight doing these activities than I did when I was training for a half marathon. So don’t worry one bit! We’re all different, and the important thing is that you do what makes you truly happy!

  33. I don’t think not being a runner is a bad thing. There is so much other stuff you can do instead. If you want to incorporate more exercise into your life it’s not gonna help if you do something you don’t actually enjoy much. You’re bound do give up at some point if you don’t find something you like. Better to accept that and find something else.

    I think it’s a good idea to give everything a try though. I would never have thought I’d EVER say that, but I really enjoy spinning. But so many people told me they loved it, so I just gave it a try.

  34. You rock. You don’t have to be a runner, or a runner all the time even. Do what feels right! I’ve gone through the same love/hate relationship with it all! And, oh HEY 180s – you go!

  35. Gretchen,

    You are such an inspiration to me. You are the reason why I blog and you motivate me to hang in there when things get tough. I absolutely love your honesty and your ability to communicate your needs and even when you’re unsure about it all.

    Running is not for everyone and while it seems like everyone and their grandmother are doing it…I’m proud of you for saying, at least for now, that a 10 mile run is not your thing and that you’re happy where you are.

    My goal, when it comes to exercise, is to experience the joy of movement. Exercise should be fun and enjoyable and if you are experiencing joy, that is certainly a cause for another SUPERHAPPYDANCE!

  36. Oh Gretchen – your weight loss journey is unique to who you are. If you achieve your goals by only eating healthy and doing nothing else – great! If you achieve your goals by eating healthy and incorporating some activity into your life – great! Whatever is working for Gretchen is what counts – not what appears to be working for everyone else. This is definitely something I’ve learned myself and knowing/accepting it has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders.

    Obviously part of living a healthy lifestyle involves being active, but that doesn’t have to involve strict fitness plans that become burdensome, causing you to feel guilty over not abiding by them, when that is the last feeling you need during your weight loss journey! Pick an activity you actually enjoy: walking, running, Zumba, yoga, gardening, swimming, whatever…. even if you only do that activity 1 time per week – who cares! It’s your journey and as long as you’re yielding the results you want, then does it matter if you do the elliptical for 45 minutes 5 days a week? No. Do what makes you happy :).

    You’re doing great and you’re going to continue to be fabulous no doubt!

  37. I think it is WAY more important to find an activity you enjoy than to pick one that is popular or known for calorie burning. An hour of walking, a kickboxing dvd, whatever! Activity is valuable no matter how many calories you burn, and if you try an activity you don’t really enjoy and don’t stick with it you won’t burn any calories 🙂


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