Less Than Palatable

There’s nothing like food and family.  That seems to be what Thanksgiving is all about for most of us in America.  It is the biggest travel time of the year–people traveling to be with family.  I am fortunate enough that all of my immediate family is close by.  We can all be together for every holiday.

This year was no different in that there was more than enough food for everyone.  We had the traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and rolls, as well as various casseroles, salads, and desserts.  It seems like every family dinner we end up with more food as if we’ve lived through a famine and are afraid there won’t be enough.  This year we had so much food that there was no place to put it all.  Our solution was to stack the desserts on top of each other.  It brought a whole new meaning to the words ‘food pyramid.’

As I do every year, I looked forward to this meal.  Not only to the time with family, but to the food itself.  Most of the dishes that were served I only fix twice a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) simply because we’ve changed our eating habits.  When dinner was served, I fixed my plate.  I took a little of everything and filled my plate with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, a roll, and a few more dishes–all loaded with carbs.

I had spent three weeks planning this meal, shopping for groceries, and then actually preparing the food.  That was three weeks of thinking about what was to come.  How delicious it was all going to be.  Then, I took my first bite and another and then another.  Let’s just say that I was severely disappointed.  This salt and carb-laden food which I had spent three weeks looking forward to consuming no longer tasted good to me.

Overall I thought this to be a good thing and thought how I would make different choices for Christmas dinner especially since I will not be hosting it and fixing the main courses.  What frightened me were the things that DID taste good–the chocolate brownies and the cheesecake.  I also remember taking a swig of Coke a few weeks ago and for the first time in over two years it actually tasted good.  I felt like a back-slidden sinner.  It scared me to death.  Evidently, my palate still needs some work.

Looking on the positive side, I did manage to get in a run Thursday night.  It did make me feel a lot better after having a heavy dinner.  And, I was pleasantly surprised to find Friday morning that the scale had not moved.

“Mom, you’re not old,

you’re only 58!” said my 8 year old to her 49 year old mother.


A Thankful Gobbler Grind

On the 13th, my daughter and I ran the Gobbler Grind 5K.  This race also has a marathon which is a Boston qualifier, and a half marathon, so there were lots of people there.  This race was to benefit the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.  What a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

It was a perfect day for a race.  The wind was calm and it was a sunny 45 degrees.  I’m not a fast runner to begin with, but I felt particularly slow this day.  I’ve been working on my cadence and not starting out too fast, so I decided to take the first mile slow and not worry about my cadence.  After that, I tried to pay attention to the metronome in my ear and keep my cadence what it should be.

About the last mile, I caught up with a lady that had braces on both of her knees.  She was running in a very awkward form that made it look as if it was either very, very difficult and/or very painful for her to run.  We were literally feet from the finish line when she went down.  The sad thing was that she was not getting up.  I stopped and was ready to help her, but she already had three other people helping her.  Still, she was not getting up.  Since it looked like she had more than enough help, I went ahead and crossed the finish line.  I went back later and watched the video tape of the race and found that with lots of help she did eventually get across the finish line.  Yet another reminder that we have so much to be thankful for.

I am in good health.  I am up and mobile.  I can say the same for the rest of my family.  The Lord is my Shepherd!  What do you have to be thankful for?


305 lbs. Couch to 5K, the Big Finale

The end of our 15 weeks of training was rapidly approaching. For the last three weeks of training, I had no other exercise classes to go to. They had all come to an end, and I decided not to sign up for any other classes until the Couch to 5K program was over. I definitely felt a difference. I didn’t feel drained all of the time and could tell a difference in my running performance.

The last week of the program, we took a break so to speak so that we would be running on “fresh legs” for our big finale–a 5K race on Saturday. On Monday our plan was to do our normal out and back down the big hill, across the bridge, and up the next hill. We started off like usual and had only gone a short distance when our coach brought us all to a screeching halt. He turned around and told us all, “that was one minute.”

We all chuckled. Wow! I immediately had a flash back to the first day we met and were to run for one minute. What was the hardest thing I had ever done 15 weeks ago, was now a breeze.

On Tuesday night we ran for about a mile, then on Thursday we were to take a short half-mile run. I was frustrated on Thursday that it seemed extremely hard. I couldn’t even run half a mile without taking a break and walking.

Friday morning, I soon found out what my problem was Thursday evening. I had the flu, was running a fever, and felt miserable. Friday afternoon was packet pick up for our race. I had until 7:00 Friday night to pick up my packet. I spent most of the day in the recliner trying to psych myself up enough to pick up my packet. I finally did at the last minute.

Saturday morning, the day of the race, I got up feeling better. However, I knew I was dehydrated from not eating or drinking much of anything the day before. I’m also not a morning or breakfast person, so I got up extra early so I could eat a slice of toast with peanut better and a banana. I knew I needed something for energy. I drank as much water as I thought I could stand. My stomach was still not feeling real well, so I was relying on peppermint oil to help with the nausea.

At the time of the race it was a crisp and sunny 45 degrees. I came to the race with my husband and seven year old. My two adult children got out of bed early and left their spouses at home to come see Mom perform this Herculean feat. One of my workout buddies, Velma, came to run the race with me. I wore my hooded sweatshirt until a few minutes before the race and then handed it off to someone in my family. My two necessities were my headband for my ears and my peppermint oil for my stomach. I was using the peppermint oil liberally, putting it on my wrists and upper lip.

The race started and we were off.  I knew the course and had run it several times, so I felt like I was prepared.  I knew I could do this.  I did well until the last hill.  It was always the most difficult for me, and I had only conquered it a few times.  I pushed myself as hard as I could and made it about half way up the hill.  At that point the nausea took over, so I had to walk the rest of the way up the hill.

Once I had recovered, I ran the rest of the way.  It was slow going, but I made it.  As I neared the finish line, I could hear my family and the other people in the Couch to 5K group cheering.  I was surprised to see some of our neighbors that had showed up after the race started.  One of our Couch to 5K coaches, Dana, ran with me during the entire race. I felt bad that she had given up this opportunity to go out and do her best to hang out with a slow poke like me.  She had been where I was now a year before, so she was an inspiration to me the whole 15 weeks.  As I got closer to the finish line, she hung back and let me take all of the glory.  This old, fat couch potato had become an athlete!


305 lbs. Couch to 5K, Part 4

As time went on, our runs became longer and longer.  I don’t think that I ever got to where I could run the full distance we were supposed to run without walking at least part of it.  I still continued with the program and did the best I could.

Many days I simply felt fatigued and spent the whole day trying to pump myself up physically and mentally before our meeting time at 7:00.  Many days I didn’t want to go or simply didn’t feel like going.  I was always glad that I did.

My boss, Mr. G., became a great friend and encourager to me during this time.  I worked from home, and we lived on opposite sides of the city, so we rarely actually saw each other.  It was a crazy summer for the fuel industry, so we were in communication frequently throughout the week.  Mr. G. needed some encouragement himself, so I was more than happy to return the favor.

I had not fallen in love with running yet.  We always started off with a three to five-minute walk before we started running.  That would be three to five minutes that I would spend dreading what was about to come, telling myself how hard it was going to be, and feeling like I was the weakest link in the chain.

I did, however, fall in love with accomplishing new things.  On Mondays and Tuesdays we would do an out and back that we later learned was part of the 5K course we would run at the end of the program.  The course started out fairly flat, then down a steep hill.  Just when we started running up hill again, there was a bridge that we crossed, then it was up to the top of the hill to turn around and run the same course in reverse.  The whole course was about 2 1/2 miles.  These were timed runs, so at the half way point we would all turn around and go back.  I was always at the back of the pack, but when we would turn around I’d be at the front until the faster runners started passing me.  As time went on, it took them longer to catch up with me, so I knew I was getting better.

I was also running further and further every day.  First to the half mile mark without stopping.  Then, to the bottom of the hill.  Then, to the bottom of the bridge.  Then, I made it across the bridge.  Finally, I made it all the way to the top of the hill.  The way back was always tougher, and it took me until the end of the program to conquer that hill, but I did.

On Thursdays, we met at a local park and ran on a trail that was about a mile in length.  These runs were for distance.  These were the times that we would split into groups that ran various distances so we would all finish at about the same time.  Still, I was always last, but just like during the timed runs, I was getting better and better each time.  I finally got to where I could run a mile without walking.  Once we were running two and then three miles, I would walk a short distance between each mile.

On the days that I was not able to meet with our group, I would run on my own in my neighborhood.  I came up with a strategy that I would make myself run up every hill.  If I thought I needed to walk, I would do that on the downhill.  Once I made it to the top of the hill, I often found that I could keep going.  There was one steep hill in my neighborhood that it took me all summer to conquer.

This was by far the most difficult thing I had ever done.  It was 15 weeks of what seemed like brutal torture.  Often I wanted to quit.  But, with the encouragement I got from Mr. G., I kept going.  Mr. G. was someone I could share my accomplishments with–things like, “I ran two miles today!” or, “I finally conquered that hill in my neighborhood!”  Without him telling me that I could do it, telling me how proud he was of me, telling me not to give up, without all of those thumbs up emojies, I would have quit.  It made me feel like I had someone on my side, as if I were no longer going at it alone.


305 lbs. Couch to 5K, Part 3

The Couch to 5K program was definitely tough, but I decided to stick to it.  After about three weeks it seemed like it took a dramatic jump in the length of our runs.  Still, I kept going back.

We were meeting at 7:00 pm, which in the Midwest is the hottest point of the day in the summer.  We ran in all kinds of weather.  Mostly hot and humid out in the blazing sun without a lot of shade.  We never reached the century mark, but did run one day that it was 98 degrees.  Sessions would only be cancelled due to lightning, and we did have that happen once.  Many times I thought I would drop.  Still, I kept going back.

As time went on, our group became smaller and smaller.  Finally, there was a group of 10-12 of us that actually finished the program.  When we met for our sessions, we became three smaller groups.  There was the fast and furious, the average runners, and then us slow pokes.  Eventually, all the other slow pokes dropped out and I was the only one left.  I became my own group!  Still, I kept going back.

I had at least two days out of the month that I knew I was going to miss due to a prior commitment.  I was scared to death that if I missed any sessions that I would fall behind and never catch up. Any sessions that I missed I ran another time at home on my own.  I called it “the neighborhood freak show.”  Still, I kept going back.

I kept going back because the people in the running community are the most encouraging people I know.  No one ever laughed at me or made rude comments.  It was quite the opposite.

There was always a coach with each group, and no one ever ran alone.  This meant that I always had a coach running with me, encouraging me, getting me to stretch myself further than I ever thought I could go.  When I finished my run, everyone else in our group would be waiting for me cheering, clapping, and yelling.  Afterwards we would do some stretches together.  We were becoming a close-knit team.



305 lbs. Couch to 5K, Part 2

When I started the Couch to 5k program, I already had an exercise routine that I was committed to five days a week.  There was a class called SET (Strength Endurance Training) that I went to on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.  I really enjoyed this class, especially the weight lifting part of it.  I was getting stronger, and I loved it.  On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I went to a Zumba class.  When I tried this class for the first time, I went to it for one reason only:  it had the word “fun” in the description.  It was a lot of fun.  It was a lot of work, too.  I joined the Couch to 5K program very skeptical as to whether or not I could even do it, so I stayed with my other workouts as well “just in case.”

On the second day of the Couch to 5K program, I went to my Zumba class, gave it all I had, and came home exhausted.  I had about an hour before I had to go to Couch to 5K, so I went home and tried to recover the best I could.  I remember sitting in the recliner with my feet up and drinking a protein shake and lots of water.

I went to Couch to 5K and asked our coach, Mike, if it was feasible to still go to all of my other classes and participate in the Couch to 5K program.  He thought I should be able to do that without any problems.

Our run for the second night was the same as the first:  run for 60 seconds, walk for 90 seconds and repeat for a total of 20 minutes.  This time we did the whole 20 minutes since we did not have an initial meeting before we started running.  We started at the community center, headed out down the road for 10 minutes and then turned around and came back.  This made the second half of the run mostly uphill.

I soon ended up at the back of the pack.  It was the middle of summer.  It was hot and humid, and I felt like this program was way beyond my ability.  I was huffing and puffing and gasping for air.  The 90 second walk was not near enough time to recuperate.  Looking around, I was definitely one of the oldest and largest people there.  People of all shapes and sizes were passing me by as if this were a stroll in the park.  I ran as much as I could and walked when I couldn’t run another step.  Still, I did my best.  Day two was in the bag.

By Lori Camper


305 lbs. Couch to 5K, Part 1

The Couch to 5K program was to meet three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for fifteen weeks.  I was fortunate enough that we were meeting at the community center about five minutes from my house.

I was excited about this new (ad)venture but also a bit nervous.  I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into.  And, I was going at it alone.  It’s always more comfortable to do something like this with a friend–or two.

When I arrived for the initial meeting, it was raining.  We met in a room inside the community center.  There was somewhere around 45 people in all.  I saw very few people who looked like couch potatoes.  Most of them looked like they had been doing this for a while.  I was starting to think that I was way out of my league.

We were given a printed schedule of what our runs would be during the 15-week program.  Mike was our fearless leader, and he had several other coaches to help with the training.  After some introductions and brief instructions, we went out for our first run.

By now the rain had reduced to a sprinkle, and we were back to a typical midwestern, summer day–hot and humid!  We took a brisk walk down the parkway to warm up.  Then, the running began.  We were scheduled to run for one minute and then walk for 90 seconds and to repeat this for 20 minutes.  Due to the time taken for the initial meeting, we were only going to do the interval about three times.  I had doubts that I could do this.

The longest period of time I had ever ran was on a treadmill for 60 seconds during the Commit to Get Fit program with Cole.  It took the entire 12 weeks for me to work up to being able to run for  60 seconds.  Knowing I had run for 60 seconds on a treadmill just a few weeks prior doing basically the same thing with HIIT training, gave me hope that maybe I could do this.

Mike gave the signal for us to start running.  I knew that walking on the street/sidewalk was much more difficult than walking on a treadmill.  I soon learned that the same goes for running.  That was the longest 60 seconds of my life!  We then had our 90 second walk.  That walk became the shortest 90 seconds of my life.  Just when I thought I could breathe again, we were to start running!  I thought I was going to die, and then I was scared to death that I wouldn’t!  I don’t even think that I was able to run the last 60 seconds–I’m sure I had to walk part of it.

Still, I did it to the best of my ability.  There were plenty of us huffing and puffing.  Afterwards we did some stretching together.  Mike told us that today would be the toughest day and that it would get easier.  I was huffing, I was puffing, and I didn’t believe a word he said!

By Lori Camper


Celebrating One Year of Running

Last weekend I ran a 5K with my daughter and some friends.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized that it was this very same weekend one year ago that I ran my first race.  What a way to celebrate running one year!

This race was a Pumpkin Run at a farm.  We had perfect weather.  It was sunny and 55 degrees.  There was a fog lifting as we drove to the race, so that meant the whole course was wet and slippery.  The course was on a farm that included a pumpkin patch along with sunflowers, a corn maize, and all kinds of various vegetables.  We started out on gravel and then ran through the corn maize and then through other parts of the farm.

When we arrived, we noticed a group of about five girls in orange tutus.  They snarked at us old ladies in our tutus of various colors.

The race started and we went straight up a hill and then into the corn maize.  I was barely awake and not ready for that hill yet.  The corn maize was especially treacherous with the ruts, animal tracks, and uneven ground.  Running a straight line was impossible.  It was a zig-zag the whole way.  Once out of the maize we hit the mud and tall, slippery grass, so it was till very careful going.  Once I hit the one mile mark, I passed a couple of the girls in the orange tutus.  As I passed them I heard, “Oh, that’s scary.”

I now had a goal.  I was going to do everything I could to cross the finish line before these two girls did!

It wasn’t long until they passed me again, but as soon as we were on a flat straight away where I thought I had good footing, I passed them again.  They got me again on the next hill, but as soon as we were at the top and I had some flat ground, I passed them again and heard, “There she goes again!”

After that we had a short decline, around a corner, and a nice, flat straight away.  I pushed myself as much as I could to get far enough ahead of these girls that they would not be able to pass me again.  At the next turn I looked back to see that the girls were far enough behind me that I probably wouldn’t have to worry about them catching up.  Still, I did not want them to sneak up on me at the last second.  I pushed up the final hill and then down to the finish line.  Mission accomplished!

My time was not the best I’ve had or the worst, but this was my first trail race.  This was by far the toughest 5K I’ve done simply due to the terrain.  Most satisfyingly of all was beating the snobs in the orange tutus!

And then I found this and had to take a photo:



305 lbs. Commit to Get Fit, the Book

During the time that I was participating in the 12-week Commit to Get Fit program at my local community center, my teammate recommended a book to me.  Ironically enough, it was also named Commit to Get Fit.  My teammate had it on Kindle, and was able to “loan” it to me for the three-week period that Kindle gives you.  I did read the book and found it very encouraging and inspiring.  However, due to the time limit, I also felt like I read at least parts of it at lightening speed.

I wanted to write a post on this book but didn’t feel like I could do it justice without reading it again.  So, I went to Amazon and bought a “like new” copy for just a few dollars and was pleasantly surprised to receive an autographed copy!  I am so glad that I chose to re-read this book.  It has been educational, entertaining, inspiring, and hard to put down.

Commit to Get Fit by Laura Dion-Jones

This book comes with a warning on the cover:  WARNING:  This is NOT your typical diet and fitness book!

It doesn’t take much reading in this book to find that it truly is not your typical diet and fitness book.  Why?  Because Dion-Jones is not your typical lady.  Dion-Jones very bluntly tells it the way it is, does not mince words, and does it all with great humor.

The first part of the book tells her story, which is inspiring in itself.  Not only was she a plus-size model, but she also created her own designer line of plus-size clothing.  She started her weight-loss journey at 317 lbs.   Just weeks away from gastric bypass surgery, she decided against it after attending a support group meeting for post-op patients.  This decision took her journey on a different track which resulted in walking 35,000 miles in 10 years–with a dislocated knee!

After telling her story, the book then focuses on you, and encourages you to create your own weight-loss story.  Dion-Jones tells you how to do this step by step.  She tells you what you MUST do for success.  She makes no bones about it being difficult and that permanent change is necessary  for “your own true and everlasting weight loss.”

After planning your future, there is Motivation and Inspiration, tips to keep you on track, meal suggestions, and all kinds of resources.  Yes, this book is a complete program in itself!

Wherever you are in your journey, this book could be a resource for you.  It is a quick read, but one that I know I’ll return to again and again as a resource.  Dion-Jones also has her own website where you can find some of the same information as in her book.  She also has videos, a blog, a coaching program, and many other resources to help you with “your own true and everlasting weight loss.”  You just “gotta wanna.”