only help my unbelief

Slow and steady wins the race
January 13, 2009, 2:00 pm
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For some reason, I was actually kind of looking forward to last night when I stepped on the scale following my after-gym shower.

At the same time, I was nervous. All I drank last week was water, milk and a few glasses of Crystal Light at Christian’s, but we also made brownies on Friday night. I helped lick the bowl, and I had a few small brownies over the weekend. I also ate out a fair amount: Chinese on Tuesday, Taco Bell on Friday, San Jose’s on Saturday. Also, I only went to the gym two times.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that I lost 0.8 pounds over the course of the last week. No, it wasn’t an entire pound, but that means I’ve lost 4.8 pounds so far. I only need to lose 8.4 more to reach my goal, and I’ve got 14 weeks to do it!

I’m considering increasing my goal weight loss a bit to include losing a pound a week until the wedding, which would make my goal weight 185 pounds. I think I’ll keep my goal weigh at 190 pounds and make 185 my stretch goal.

I’ve done some research, and according to BMI calculators, the high end of the weight range for “normal” is about 170 pounds for my height. I’ve never regularly weighed myself, so I don’t really remember what I was when I was younger, but I do remember wearing a size 8 in high school. Most of the pants I have now are size 14, although they are a little bit loose. I’m guessing that at 190 pounds I could probably wear a size 12.

The thing is, I really think that either I truly am “big-boned,” or that I just carry my weight differently than other people. When I watch The Biggest Loser and see the women that weigh 200 pounds, I feel like they look a lot heavier than I do, even the ones that are taller. I’m not saying that I don’t need to lose weight, obviously, but I just don’t know if 170 pounds is too low.

I am learning a lot about my eating habits. Probably my biggest food-related vice is my desire to have something sweet after lunch and dinner, and to make every treat into something I deserve. I think that two weeks without regular sweets is making the craving subside a little bit.

I think the best part about this endeavor, though, is that I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I’m not counting calories, and I’m not freaking out if I have a brownie every once in a while. I’m making choices, by the grace of God, that leave me feeling full and satisfied.


A running plan for new runners
January 9, 2009, 11:20 am
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Disclaimer: I’m not, in any sense of the word, a fitness expert or a doctor. If you’re overweight, have rarely exercised, or have any potential for injury, see your doctor before you start running. And please don’t sue me for any reason.

Yesterday I wrote about all the different times I’ve started running. I may have given the impression that it’s pretty simple to become a runner, and it is – if you go into it with a plan. If you don’t, then your newfound motivation probably won’t last very long.

There are a lot of plans you can go with. Some people really enjoy Couch-to-5K, and that’s successful for a lot of people. Having started so many times, though, I kind of like to mix it up each time I try to be a runner again.

Because I’m realizing how interesting this is to me, and because I have a really good time at the gym coming up with new and different treadmill workouts, I’m thinking about posting some new ones on Fridays, which will pay homage to my now-defunct Fitness Fridays.

First, though, two principles:

1. Start out slowly
As my experience can show, the biggest mistake I’ve found people make when they start to run is to start out too fast – both long-term and short-term. By long-term I mean they try to run 20 miles the first week. By short-term I mean that when they go out for a run, their pace is far too fast.

In addition to increasing the risk of injury, going to fast on your runs will lead to a lot of disappointment. You may start running, make it to a mile or so, and then feel completely exhausted. There’s no way I can do this again, you might think. And you probably won’t.

My goal, any time I run (since I’m not training for anything), is to always feel like I could have gone farther. That doesn’t mean my runs were easy, but it means I stop short of exhaustion. This gives me motivation to go at it again the next day.

At the beginning, though, it means going slowly.

2. Endurance is more important than speed.
When we would train for cross country in the summer, we didn’t do fast interval workouts until the end of the summer, when some of the guys would have 500 miles or so under their belts. You can run fast for short distances without endurance, but if you want to run several miles at a fairly quick pace, you’ll never do it if you can’t run many more miles at a slower pace. Remember this when you’re tempted to run faster at the beginning.

The Walk-Run Method

Probably the most tried and true method of starting to run is the run-walk method. Sure, you could start out just running for one minute a day, then going back inside, then two minutes a day, etc., but it’s better to pick a length of time – I suggest 30 minutes, but 20 would work as well – and slowly build up to running farther and farther.

Week 1: Run 1 minute, walk 5 minutes. Repeat 5 times. (5 minutes of running)

Week 2: Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes. Repeat 5 times. (10 minutes of running)

Week 3: Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 5 times. (15 minutes of running)

Week 4: Run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times. (20 minutes of running)

Week 5: Run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 5 times. (25 minutes of running)

At this point, it would seem that you could run 30 minutes straight the next week, but I wouldn’t recommend it. That one minute of walking in between makes a big difference. Instead, move on to lengthier times of running, but keep the 1 minute in between.

Week 6: Run 6 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 4 times, then run 2 minutes. (26 minutes of running)

Week 7: Run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times, then run 6 minutes. (27 minutes of running)

Week 8: Run 8 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times, then run 3 minutes. (27 minutes of running)

Week 9: Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 3 times. (27 minutes of running)

Week 10: Run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 2 times, then run 8 minutes. (28 minutes of running)

Week 11: Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 2 times. (28 minutes of running)

Week 12: Run 30 minutes.

I’ve found this plan to be successful every time I’ve tried it. I would recommend trying to run three or four times a week. If a particular week seems really difficult, just repeat it. Last year, my roommate tried a variation of this, and she ultimately ran a 10K. Before she started training, she had never even run a mile!

If you’re running outside, run at a slow, steady pace. If you’re on a treadmill, I’d suggest starting around 4.8 or 5.0 miles per hour (12-13 minute miles).

Happy running!

The tortoise and the hare
January 5, 2009, 9:34 pm
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Tonight while I was on the treadmill, I came up with my new running plan: Run a minute longer each time I get on the treadmill. Today I ran five minutes total. I could have run more, but I’m still recovering from a foot injury from the fall, so I want to take it easy.

I’ve always been more of a hare. When I was in high school, my hare-ness gave me stress fractures in both legs. It was so much easier to start the summer running 40 miles a week than to build up to it. Until, of course, my injuries meant I couldn’t run at all. Then I was more of a rock than a tortoise or a hare.

I was a hare last fall, too. After my summer internship ended, I started working out heavily. Running several times a week, attending group exercise at the gym, starting boot camp. And then all the extra stuff gave me plantar fasciitis, and once again, my exertion meant that for a long time, I didn’t do anything.

I guess you could say that to be a hare is to be all or nothing. I’d rather give up something cold turkey than to try and practice moderation. Legalism is, in a lot of ways, somewhat easier than liberty.

But this year, as I thought about changes I want to make, I decided I wasn’t going to tempt myself with legalism. I would make goals, I would commit them to the Lord, and I would walk in freedom this year.

I did give up caffeine and soft drinks cold turkey, but that was more because I think I’ve been suffering from dehydration. And while I enjoy a nice cold Coke every now and then, I prefer water, so it hasn’t been that hard to adjust.

I also said I wanted to avoid sweets. The only time I’ve had sweets in the last five days was on Friday night at a party. I had a few bites of Christian’s eclair cake and two small cookies. At first I felt guilty, but then I remembered that I was free to eat cookies, but I didn’t have to completely stuff myself with them. And by God’s grace, I didn’t.

Tonight I stepped on the scale after I got out of the shower to see where I stood. Before I got on, I prayed that God would make me content with whatever it was the numbers read. If I had gained weight, stayed the same or lost weight, God was still the same.

Last week I weighed 203.2 pounds. Tonight I weighed 199.2.

I remember last summer just wanting to weigh less than 200 pounds, just to see a 1 at the beginning of my weight. I counted calories, stuck to a rigorous workout regimen. And the weight didn’t come off.

So it appears, my friends, that liberty is much more effective in weight loss than legalism is. God is good.

And now I’m going to have a piece of my dad’s birthday cake. Delicious.

Remember, you can check out my Wedding Workouts to see how I’m doing. I weigh in on Monday nights.

*I didn’t forget about the third installment of Love and Limeade Slushes, but planning a wedding is actually more time consuming than I realized. Look for it tomorrow or Wednesday.

Here we go, 2009
January 1, 2009, 8:00 am
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So I’m not a huge fan of pointless New Year’s resolutions, but I think that it’s always good to take stock of where you are and see areas in which God still needs to grow you. After all, even the Psalmist prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In order to keep myself accountable like I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m gonna stick these resolutions over in a page on the right sidebar. I’ll check back in once a month and see where I’m at.

I haven’t included anything like “Read the Bible more” because 1) that’s something hard to measure and 2) I don’t want to treat my relationship with God like I treat my workout plan at the gym. He’s eternal and holy and precious, and if anything else, I want to pray more that I would be like Jesus. But that’s not going on this list, because I want that to be the cry of my heart.


  • Finish memorizing 1 John before our wedding
  • Start memorizing a longer book of the Bible (maybe one of Paul’s epistles; Philippians?) and finish it before the end of the year
  • Write Lisbet, the little girl I sponsor through Compassion, at least one letter a month
  • Work with the children in my Sunday School class to memorize the rest of the first 10 questions of the First Catechism (we can do it, Lee!)


  • Compete in a 5-10K race
  • Lose 10-15 pounds before our wedding
  • Lose 25 pounds by the end of the year
  • Avoid soft drinks and other sugary beverages / no soft drinks until after the wedding


  • Have less than $7,000 to pay off of Christian’s loan by the end of the year
  • Plan a budget for each month and stick to it
  • Save up enough money throughout the year for next year’s Christmas presents
  • Stay within our wedding budget


  • “Compete” with Christian to see who can read the most books (more about this another day)
  • Pursue more freelance editing opportunities and other forms of alternative incomes

I feel like all of these things are do-able, mostly because some of them I’m already in the process of doing; I just want to continue them in the new year. For example, Christian and I have both been sticking to a budget for the last three months. We’ve both stayed within a few dollars of our budget each month, which has been an awesome discipline. As far as Bible memorization, I’m about 1/3 of the way through 1 John, and it is a joy.

I think the hardest part will be the physical things. I purposefully didn’t say anything like “work out four times a week,” because that’s destined to fail in the face of busy schedules and unexpected engagements. Losing weight isn’t all about working out; it’s also about eating healthfully, so I think that it’s definitely attainable – it will just require a lot of sacrifice.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? I promise not to make fun. 😉

Five things about New Year’s resolutions
December 31, 2008, 8:00 am
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I promised I’d tell you what I think about New Year’s resolutions. Here ya go…

1. New Year’s resolutions are more for December than January.
Christmas is coming up, you’ve been spending more money than you wanted to, you’ve been eating more food than you wanted to, and gosh, there just isn’t time to go to the gym. Instead of cutting spending, counting calories and highailing it to the local YMCA, it’s much easier to sit down and make a list of all the things you’re going to do after January 1. Thus in addition to the general abundance of The Christmas Spirit that everyone is always talking about, you’re also experiencing a happy dose of denial about how much is exactly going to change in the new year. And when January comes and you don’t meet any of your goals, no big deal, because who keeps their resolutions, anyway?

2. There’s no accountability with New Year’s resolutions.
I’m speaking broadly here; maybe some of you do share your resolutions with other people. But I’d venture that most people (bloggers excluded) jot down a few things privately, trying to will themselves to change. It just doesn’t work. We’re quite skilled at lying to ourselves and justifying things into legitimacy. Without accountability, there isn’t anyone to tell you that you’re actually not doing all that well at keeping your resolutions.

3. Most people make resolutions that are virtually impossible to attain.
One year, I made a resolution that I wasn’t going to eat chocolate. Those of you who know me are probably wondering why in the world I would do this. I don’t know. Guess how long I lasted? Less than a day. Another year I gave up soft drinks, and it was hard, yes, but I managed it until my birthday in March, at which time all I wanted was a Coke. So I drank it. And never got back off (or is it on?) the wagon.

4. Most resolutions are made for the sheer purpose of making resolutions or to assuage guilt.
You really can’t expect to succeed if you’re completely void of internal and external motivators. The year I gave up chocolate, I just gave it up because I wanted to see if I could do it. That wasn’t enough. If I had discovered in December of the previous year that I had diabetes and needed to give up sweets, I bet it would have been a lot easier. So if you’re thinking about making some resolutions, make sure they’re things that matter to you. If you want to exercise more, then do it because you desire to be healthy. If you want to read the Bible more, do it because you want to know God – not so you can say you read the Bible in a year.

5. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
If you don’t read anything else I’ve written, read this. If you don’t put God at the center of your goals, your resolutions, your plans, then it’s all a waste of time. Willing yourself to read your Bible every day won’t work. You have to get on your knees before the Lord, ask Him to give you a desire for His Word, and then you have to open your Bible every day. But the thing is, God’s not up there keeping a tally mark system like you are. If you miss a day, you may feel like a failure, but God doesn’t. He’s more concerned with you continuing to press on to know Him than He is with you reading four chapters of the Bible each night. The same is true of any other resolution. If your goals are more financial, ask God to make you a wise steward of what He gives you. If they are heath-related resolutions, then pray for God to let you glorify Him with your body. And then wake up tomorrow morning awash in the grace He so freely offers, grace that is greater than all our sin and failed resolutions.

Only 28 pounds to go!
June 13, 2008, 2:32 pm
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Well, my first week of weight loss is at an end. Setting goals definitely helped my attitude this week, even if some of the ways were small. For example:

  • At Walmart, I resisted the temptation to get ice cream, even though it was on sale and low-fat. I didn’t want to add anything I didn’t need.
  • When I took advantage of the $5 dollar footlong deal at Subway, I got the sub without mayonnaise. I did get cheese, but I watched my diet the rest of the day. (Oh, and I only ate half at a time!)
  • I drank at least 40 ounces of water every day.
  • At the store, I stocked up on apples and grapes, even though it’s hard to force myself to eat fruit.
  • I started keeping track of what I eat at Even though I’m not sure how accurate the nutrition information is, I like being able to at least look at what I ate each day.

As far as improvements at the gym, I upped my weight on two of the exercises I do: the ab crunch and the lat pulldown. On the treadmill, I increased my speed and the distance I went while walking/running for 20 minutes. In fact, today, I started the running program for beginners and got off to a great beginning. I’m technically not a beginner to running in general, but I’m not very fast, so I’m starting at ground zero in an attempt to boost my speed.

The first week says to run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes, then repeat 5 times. I ran the 2 minutes at 10-minute-mile pace, which is somewhat fast for me. But it felt great! I’m going to do week 1 all next week.

My goal for the end of the month is to lose 3 pounds. My starting weight is 202, so my goal for June 30 is 199. Today I weighed 200 pounds! I don’t entirely trust the scale at the gym, but I’m going to take hold of that number. That means I only need to lose one more pound by June 30. I think I can do it!

Next week I’m upping the stakes by starting the Hundred Pushups plan. Christian and I are going to compete against each other and see who can get to 100 first. He’ll probably win since he can already do more than me, but I don’t care. Pushups are a great way to work your abs and arms – and mine need a lot of work!

Monday I’ll fill you guys in on my weekly goals and how I plan to manuever the week physically, financially and nutritiously. Tune in next Friday to see how the weight loss is going!

Running program for beginners
June 11, 2008, 9:51 pm
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People seem to like two things I write about: having an online boyfriend (or not) and food. But my recent post about losing weight also got a lot of hits, so I thought I’d share the running program I followed when training for the 10K I ran last April.

If you’ve never run before, start with walking 20 minutes a day for four days, then 30 minutes a day for the next four days. Then start the running program. If you’ve run consistently in the past, then you can probably start at Week 1. You may even be able to start later in the program.

Week 1
Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes. Complete 5 cycles.

Week 2
Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete 5 cycles.

Week 3
Run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes. Complete 4 cycles.

Week 4
Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Complete 3 cycles.

Week 5
Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 3 cycles.

Week 6
Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 2 cycles, then run 8 minutes.

Week 7
Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minute. Complete 3 cycles.

Week 8
Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Complete 2 cycles.

Week 9
Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute. Complete 2 cycles.

Week 10
Run 30 minutes.

This plan was taken from The Complete Book of Running: Everything you need to know to run for fun, fitness and competition, edited by Amby Burfoot.

The book suggests running four times a week, and you can repeat a week if you need to. I can attest to the success of this vicariously through my roommate Katie – she had never run even a mile before she started this program, and she completed a 10K in a little over an hour. It took small steps, but she did it!

Running can be an incredibly enjoyable activity, and it’s great exercise. If you’ve never tried before, start with this simple plan and see how far it takes you!