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Friday fitness free-for-all: Reader questions answered

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  March 29, 2013 08:11 AM

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Happy (finally) Friday, folks!

Earlier this week, after getting a few e-mails in a row asking me a bunch of random questions, I told you over on our Facebook page and via Twitter that I'd answer your questions today.

So, thank you to those who texted, tweeted, e-mailed, or otherwise sent a smoke signal in my general direction.

Let's get to it, shall we?

First up, I got an e-mail request to put up yet another before and after photo of myself (although I am a firm believer that there is no "after" because I'm focusing on getting stronger, not just *smaller*).

In any case here's the photo.


Along with that, I was asked to share some numbers, too. Here's the breakdown:

Weight lost to date: 78 lbs
Push-ups I can do in a row with no rest: 50! (WOO!)
Longest run to date: 14 miles
Pants size then vs. now: 16 then; 2/4 now
Average steps a day according to my Fitbit: At least 10,000 but usually around 12,000

Next up, a question from our twitter buddy on how to break out of a running rut and get faster.

First here's my normal disclaimer that I am *NOT* a fitness expert. I'm just a crazy girl with a fondness for trying things that challenge me. If you want true, sound, fitness advice, I suggest you contact the other bloggers in our Get Moving stable, such as Nick Downing and Ryan Healy, who are both rock stars when it comes to this stuff. However, if you want to know how *I* break through ruts, well, this is my answer:

I take a break.

Yup. Seems counter-intuitive, but for what seems like eons I could not bust out of my solid 10-minute mile pace. I don't know if it was a mental block, or my body just not wanting to do what I wanted it to, but for months I just cranked out that 10-minute mile pace every time I ran. It was annoying. And frustrating (but still faster than when I started.) Right around the time I was getting the most frustrated with my pace problems I decided to attempt a triathlon this summer. The training schedule I keep means running with less frequency during the week -- to the point where I am down to about three runs a week from the five I used to do. My new schedule also means finding time for biking and swimming. Now, on days I don't run, I miss it. And you know what? The sheer act of being excited to run again has somehow made me faster.

In the last few weeks that I've been training in earnest for this triathlon, my pace has shot to an 8:13-minute mile for a 5K (down from that 10-minute mile). Maybe it's the cross-training that's helping me even more, too. But on days I am scheduled to run I am downright pumped. Running is fun for me. I never want to lose that, and I think doing it less has helped keep the sparkle I feel for running from dulling.

The next questions were also submitted via e-mail from a long-time reader (you long-timers are awesome, by the way, thanks for putting up with me for so long!).

What still scares you?
My flat-out honest answer for this is going back to the bad habits that got me to the unfit person I was when I started this blog. In one way, I suppose, it's good to have that fear still chasing me because it pushes me and reminds me every day that I do not want to go back there. Ever. I never want to struggle to run after my son again like I used to. I never want to find comfort in a pint of Ben & Jerry's (although, I am human so I'll still have a scoop now and again but not the entire container of Phish Food like I would have done two years ago!). I never want to hear anyone tell me I "can't" do something because of any physical constraints. I never want my family to worry about my health. That is what scares me the most.

Of your fears, which ones do you push through?
The fear I mentioned above I *have* to push through because if I don't, I'll get too overwhelmed, give up, and sit on the couch with that darn pint of ice cream and just go to town. So every day I wake up to work out (even if it is not my best workout) is another day that I am keeping my promise to myself to not go back to the way things were. Every. Day. That is what pushes me. That is what drives me to put the sneakers on again.

If you could talk to the Elizabeth of five years ago, what would you say?
Man, if I could talk to her I'd tell her she should have taken a lot more risk and tried a lot more things a long time ago because the fact that she's just now getting to do a bunch of the things she wanted to do is just bananas. There was no need to wait so long to change her life.

I'd tell her: Stop being so hard on yourself. You keep aiming for "perfect." Perfect isn't honest or real, and you are much better at honest and real than you ever will be at "perfect." I'd tell her she's tougher than she gives herself credit, and that she should enjoy that for half a second because it's fun to surprise yourself with what you can actually do if you just try.

And finally, I'd tell her: Make more time for coffee with friends and family. You have amazing people in your life who keep you grounded and happy. Just stop and be with them for a while. You learn something new from everyone you know, so drink it all in, girl. You know a lot of awesome folks.

What is the worst bad habit that you can't or won't kick? (don't say coffee)
I love that this reader knows me well enough to know that I will never completely give up coffee (although, I have cut back and will be blogging about that soon, I promise!).
Sleep. I have major sleep issues (no, not related to coffee consumption, I swear, I stop all coffee at 2 p.m. as a general rule unless I really need to be up late). I am somewhat of an insomniac. I fall asleep fine but cannot stay asleep. I know I need more, quality sleep. It's something I have battled for years. This is a work-in-progress as well. This year I'm going to figure out how to become a better sleeper even if I have to haul in an expert help to do so.

The final question was submitted by Terri via Twitter: Who would I most want to interview in terms of a fitness trainer and why?
This is a great question, but my answer may surprise you. There's no one "trainer." Being a journalist, I am interested in hearing everyone's stories -- because we all have our own struggles, triumphs, and stories. In all honesty, every time I interview someone I just want to be able to provide a snapshot of a person's life that no one else knows. I like finding one unique nugget that is quirky about someone. I'm sorry if that's a bummer answer, but it's the truth. I just love to tell other people's stories, no matter who they are.

What else do you kids want to know?

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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