November 10, 2014

Be Great

Original Photography - Jennifer Lefebvre

This weekend as I was perusing some articles on Facebook, I came across an interesting story about Haley Morris-Cafiero.  Haley is a photographer and she noticed one day that as she was taking a self-photo in New York City, a stranger in the background seemed to be looking at her oddly.  She examined the photo a little bit more and then decided to conduct a social experiment in which she, an overweight person, photographed herself to see if she could capture stranger’s reactions to her as she was performing normal activities like exercising or shopping for food, etc.  What she found was surprising.  Haley captured photos upon photos of people staring at her; seemingly because she is an overweight person.

Upon looking at the photos, I have to admit that sometimes she was performing activities in odd places where I would imagine anyone would stare no matter what your size.  For instance, in one picture she seems to be working out in the middle of a very busy sidewalk and passersby try to maneuver around her.  Nevertheless, in many photos, she does not seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary, yet the reactions of others that she captured are disturbing.  Here is a link to the story.

We cannot in any way imagine what the people are actually thinking; one can only assume.  However, as an overweight and previously obese person, I know the looks all too well.  While we indeed take up more physical space in the world, we would rather remain invisible…instead of looking at us in jest, please just don’t look at us.  I have written about this previously.  And while people rarely looked me in the eye, I guess I didn’t like to think about the fact that they did, in fact, very much notice me.  If I could have seen the looks people gave me when I was not looking, I would have been heartbroken. 

I think that Haley is brave.

She writes:

 “I have always had a hard time controlling my weight. My uncontrollable exterior has determined my place in society and I have often felt left out and awkward. For this series, I photograph myself in socially engaged spaces to examine how my body fits into society. I choose compositions within social sites: restaurants, stores, pools and other places of leisure. I attempt to juxtapose my place in the scene with issues that contribute to my weight gain.”

Haley is creating a composition of not only the photos, but of the comments that people leave for her on social media sites.  I know this already, but the world is cruel.  Some of the hateful comments that she has received are truly eye-opening.  Many of us would not put ourselves out there like this; she should be applauded.

If you are interested in more about Haley Morris-Cafiero and her project, The Wait Watchers, please visit her website.

I want to leave you with this thought today:  forget anyone of no importance to you.  Do not waste time or energy on people who do not matter.  Surround yourself with people who love you for you.  Remove the people from your life who do not make you feel beautiful every single day.  And for goodness sake, we should take lessons from brave, BE GREAT, make others feel great, and dance to the beat of our own drums.

October 14, 2014

Things I Think About When I'm Running


This weekend I have my next race which is my second full 5K.  I say "full" because since my very first race, I have only done obstacle races.  I have not stopped running since I started and I typically run farther than 3.1 miles when I just get in a run, so I think I'm going to be fine, but it's still a little unnerving.

I've been making sure to train and while I was out this week, I was laughing at myself when I was out for a quick run because of all of the random thoughts that popped into my head.  I decided I would write a post about the things I think about when I'm running.

I don't know about you but even though my playlist is on in the background, my own thoughts take center stage for the duration...and the randomness of them is pretty crazy.

Maybe some of you feel me?  I'd love to know some of the things you think about when you're running so please leave me a comment!

And with that:

Things I Think About When I'm Running

Before I leave the house:
What’s the temp?
Did I drink enough water?
Should I pee one more time before I go?
Oh, don’t forget my chapstick…
Blow my nose one more time.
I should bring extra tissue.
Start my Runkeeper…I hope the damn GPS is working and not all woggy today.
What should I listen to today?
Are these the right earbuds?
Is this a shirt I can run my earbuds through so they aren’t getting tangled in my arm swings?
Sunglasses, no sunglasses?

While I’m running:
Should I have worn my headband to cover my ears?
Are these my cooperating underwear?
Damn my ears are cold…should have worn my headband…note to self:  when in doubt wear your headband.
I should have added songs to my playlist.
Ugh, not feeling this today…
I've only gone .5 mile!?
Why are there so many hills?
Should I run faster going down this hill or use it as recovery.
Mile 2...ughhhh seriously why do I do this??
What am I going to eat when I’m done?
I cannot wait to get home, shower and sit my ass on the couch.
Do I have to poop?
Omg, what would I do if I DID have to poop??
An 11:42 minute pace…times 6…plus .2 … I should be done in like 3 ½ hours…oh, wait.
Will I ever see a 10:00 minute mile?
Man, I suck at Math.
I should be squeezing my butt cheeks…work my glutes…
Is my Runkeeper still working?
Um Hi…hello??  Can't you see I’m running here, CAR??!  Asshole.
"I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me ROAR…uh uh uh uh ohhhh…"
Yah, I’m my own hero.
Oh shit, did that lady just hear me singing?
I have so much to do this week.
Oh, I smell bacon!!  Someone’s making bacon….mmmmm…bacon.
How did this slow ass tempo song get in my playlist?
Note to self:  update playlist.
OMG, only halfway there!?
Oh!  Here comes another runner!!  Hiiii!!!
I am burning a ton of calories today!
I wonder whatever happened to Nelly?  "It’s gettin’ hawt in herrr…"
Damn, I’m so hootttt…thank goodness I didn’t wear that headband.
Maybe I should sprint a little?
Do I turn left and go up that big hill?
Ugh I think I have to pee again.
I need to make friends with people on my training route so I can use their bathroom.
Nah, that'd just mess up my time.
But maybe they'd offer me water.
Why do I do this to myself?
Go left, do the big hill...
Can people hear me breathing hard from their porch?
Why is my pinkie toe numb?
Aww, Kelly Clarkson, you’re right…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…la la la
Mile 4?  Woohoo…I could do this all day, son!
Almost there…one mile'll be cake!
You’ve got this…just keep running until the Runkeeper lady comes back…
She'll be back...
Omg!!  Where is the Runkeeper lady!?
Bitch, I know it’s been a mile!????
You've got this...Just remember what you're running for:  Bagels, bacon, cake…oh yah and cuz you're fucking awesome.

After my run:
Hell yah, I’m a runner!
Best. Feeling. EVER.
Sweaty Selfie!
I could TOTES run a marathon…

September 29, 2014

What Motivates Me?

I was recently asked by Bryan at Modivated to write about what kinds of things motivate me.  I have to say that it took me a bit to think about.  Not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because I couldn’t really narrow it down!  I’m motivated by so many different things:  people, food, quotes, stories…

So here goes and I’m hoping in some way this motivates others, too!

When I first began my journey it was out of desperation; I had tried everything to get healthy and spent many years just flailing about and failing over and over again.  This time, however, there was a little bit of excitement built into my plan.  I decided that I was going to start cooking in a healthier manner – this was exciting for me because I just knew there had to be a way for me to get healthy AND lose weight by actually eating food that was good for me.  I love cooking and just being in the kitchen is my happy place, so I picked a few recipes and I jumped in, and guess what?  They were good!  So I told a few friends and they told a few friends and people started asking me for the recipes.  I decided that the easiest way would be to create a blog of the healthy recipes I was trying.  Then I got to thinking…would other people want to read about my own healthy makeover if this whole experiment actually worked?  What if the end result of making these recipes into healthier versions ALSO created a new, healthier Jenn??  Could I share my story with others?  Would anyone want to hear about it?  So back to my best buds I went…and every single one of them told me to do it.  I think they may have been humoring me…after all, they are my biggest cheerleaders…but I know in their hearts they truly wanted me to succeed.  That’s how A Healthy Makeover began.

Since that time, every time I post a recipe or share a little bit more of my story, I get the most positive feedback from people.  At first, it was my close pals, but now I get messages from strangers all of the time.  I love meeting people who don’t even know me say that they have been following my journey; and that is a huge motivator for me to keep going.  Motivating others motivates me!

Hearing and reading about other’s stories also motivates me.  I have found a huge support system in healthy groups in Blogland and on Instagram – seeing others on their own journey makes me feel like I’m a part of this wonderful community of people with similar goals.

Another avenue for my own motivation is fitness.  I like to challenge myself and when I conquer something I’ve never done before, it feels great!  Recently, I joined Crossfit and that is a whole new level of fitness for me.  The atmosphere of my particular “box” is really supportive and encouraging – I love cheering others on and it feels pretty great to have that kind of support in return.  Again, surrounding yourself with like-minded people with similar goals is very inspirational.

While it took me a little searching to figure this whole healthy life thing out, I truly feel that where I am today is where I am supposed to be.  I hope that I get to continue to motivate others and I am blessed that I have the same great support in return.

Find your own healthy motivation, and start today.  If you’ve already started, GREAT JOB!  You’ve got this - keep going – it’s a lifelong commitment!  And PLEASE, feel free to send me a note to tell me about it; we’re in this together!


September 26, 2014

Shhhh...I Joined Crossfit...

So, recently I bit the bullet and I joined Crossfit…and I’ve sort of been keeping in on the DL.  I wanted to share why with you today.

I actually used to secretly despise it.  Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, it wasn’t a secret.  Please know that it wasn't the sport itself but the weirdo self-proclaimed Crossfit ambassadors who just wouldn’t shut up about it.  You know the ones I’m talking about.


And to drill down a little bit more, it’s not even the people who wouldn’t shut up about it – it is the cult members who feel it is the ONLY way someone can get fit or lose weight.  Guess what people?  It’s not.  There are some people out there with a definite arrogance about Crossfit and quite frankly, it’s annoying.

The second thing that bugged me about those die-hard Crossfitters was their obsession with Paleo.  Again, nothing to do with eating Paleo itself, but more about the smugness of those touting that it is the ONLY way to eat healthy or lose weight.

I will say this:  Crossfit is a sport, just like lots of other sports.  There’s running (my first love), walking, biking, Zumba, basketball, soccer, swimming, hiking, dodge ball…lots of people love these sports.  Lots of people get healthy doing any of these activities.  Paleo is an eating plan, just like lots of other eating plans.  There’s Weight Watchers, the Blood Type Diet, Atkins, eating clean, gluten-free, macrobiotic…lots of people lose weight successfully by following a healthy eating plan.

Truth:  86 of my 90 lost pounds are gone due to eating better and getting my butt off the couch.  

I didn’t follow one plan, but many, and found what worked for me in that moment in time…MANY times what worked for me, didn’t work for long…so I had to switch it up and do something different.  Bottom line:  eat healthy; get moving; be okay with switching it up.

Back to this whole Crossfit thing.  Yep, I (reluctantly) drank the proverbial Kool-Aid and I signed up.  Am I ashamed?  Hell No.  Do I feel like I have to explain myself?  Well, kind of.  JUST because of what I wrote above.  I want to separate myself from all the crazies!  Again, I am in NO WAY bashing Crossfit, but I want to assure you, I will not become one of THOSE people.
So, if I felt so strongly about it, why DID I join?  Well, for a few PERSONAL reasons.  1) A year ago I hired a personal trainer, and she proceeded to kick my ass and made me love fitness even more than I thought I could.  She stole my healthy, fit heart.  She is also a Crossfit coach; and 2) I was ready for something new, to change up my workouts and wanted to do more strength training. 

I’ve never done any type of lifting – well, except food off my plate and into my mouth, ha!  – and I wanted to learn.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to lift properly for about 6 months now and while I am also a member of a big, national gym, nobody at that gym wanted to take the time to show me how to lift properly.  Yes, there are weights there, and seemingly there are “trainers” there that are supposed to have the knowledge to train us, but after numerous attempts asking for assistance, no one ever would.

I had heard about the Crossfit culture (the one that is encouraging and supportive) and it appealed to me.  I don’t think that every “box” (what Crossfitters call their gyms…I seriously cringe a smidge when I use that word because it’s so…well, Crossfitty) is the same, but the one that I have joined is great.  There are many reports of how the mentality of Crossfit is all about more…more weights, more squats, more burpees…more, more, more...but this particular box, Iron Musket Crossfit, is not like that.  AT ALL.  I have encountered the most caring, encouraging, certified trainers that I could have hoped for.  They watch us like hawks.  “Jenn, no more weights for you, you were struggling on that last squat…” or “You’re done; rack it.” Which means, put the damn weights down, now.  I feel like they are watching out for us.  I never felt like that at my other gym.  There’s comfort in this.

So what I’m here to say today is that I’m a proud Crossfitter.  It is what I was looking for in the next step of my journey and quite frankly, it’s just fun.  I look forward to seeing what the next workout will be…I love challenging myself in ways I didn’t even know I could.  If you’ve been following along on my journey this is not at all news to you.  I love hearing people yell my name in encouragement and I love encouraging my fellow boxmates…I’m not even sure that’s a word, but that’s what I’m calling them.

Oh, and the whole Paleo thing?  Haven’t heard a word about it at the box.  Nada.  Not sure if that means they are saving it for a later date or if they are of the same mindset as me:  eat healthy – enjoy life.  I’m really hoping that’s what it is.  I’ll keep you posted.

What I’d like to impart to you today though, is this:  Just do you.  Whatever makes you happy, and brings YOU joy, do it.  Just don’t put others choices down – what works for you, may not work for me and vice versa.  Isn’t the goal to get healthy?  That’s my goal…and I’ll be here to cheer you on – whatever YOU decide to do.

September 8, 2014

Catching Up.

Hey there!  It’s been a little bit since I posted and I’m going to be better about that, I swear!  It’s just that sometimes I don’t have a whole lot that is new to report so I don’t really feel worthy of taking your time, ha. 
The only NEW news that is going on is that I finally drank the kool-aid and joined Crossfit.  Is it weird that I have been sort of keeping it on the DL?  I don’t know if that’s just because EVERYone is joining or at least talking about it…I have no idea.  The reason for me, though, is that I just wanted to be challenged; I was ready for something new.  Most of you know now that I am obsessed with fitness, I really do love it…I am surprised at how easy that part of this healthy journey is for me.  I always make the time to work out…I just feel good doing it and it makes me happy, so I do it.  But I like to switch things up; I like trying new things and that’s what Crossfit is offering me, right now.  I want to learn proper lifting form and I want to challenge my body to try new things and get strong.  That’s what my focus is on right now:  getting strong.  I don’t want to get to my goal weight and have only lost weight – I want to be healthy all around.  My current class is Exercise Physiology and I am learning SOO much about how our bodies perform and react to certain types of movement and how it functions.  It has really made Crossfit so much more interesting from a physiological point of view.

Stay tuned, I’m sure I will have lots more to share…but I promise not to bombard you with all things Crossfit because let’s be honest, that’s annoying.
Another thing I’ve really been focusing on is clean eating…and by that I don’t mean any type of “plan” but just trying to incorporate more whole foods, reducing sugar intake; getting back to basics.  My next class is Nutrition and I cannot wait to get into it and learn more.
One last thing to share, and if you follow A Healthy Makeover on Facebook you’ve seen this pic, so my apologies for the redundancy…recently I celebrated my 43rd birthday so I decided to look back and see if I could find some pictures from 10 years ago and I found this lovely piece of goodness.  Birthday’s are great to reflect and it was nice to look back and see how far I’d come.  I spent ALL of my 20s and 30s overweight.  I am so happy that I finally made the decision to stop the regret cycle and actually do something that I’d be proud of.  I just can’t spend another 20 years of my life as an obese person.  I wonder if I even had another 20 years?  Pretty scary.