2011 Projects – Healthy For Life

In 2009, I watched as Donna Downey slowly (or quickly in some cases) lost an amazing amount of weight. At the time, I told myself that she was doing a diet where you had to eat prepackaged food and those diets never worked for me. She was boxing in her garage and I didn’t even have a garage. She was running regularly and I am completely incapable of running at all. So 2009 came and went and I watched Donna get healthier and happier.

Then, in 2010, Cathy Zielske decided to tackle her health and body as well. She was simply eating less and moving more. She began running too. She shed weight and became healthier and healthier.

And I stopped reading her blog.

I couldn’t watch it anymore. It was a glaring reminder of the fact that I wanted to do this exact same thing and I had no excuse whatsoever for not doing it. I kept saying next week, next month, next year.

And then one day, on October 1, I decided I’d had enough. I decided that this was my life now. Every minute that passed was too late. If I was putting my health first then I best get started doing so. I didn’t want to wait another year. Or even another day. On October 2, 2010, I got up and started walking.

I have walked/run every single day since. Every. Day.

I’m writing this post on December 17, 2010. So far, I’ve lost 18lbs. And here’s what my nike+ chart looks like:

77 consecutive days of exercise. 136 (actually 137 cause it was off one day) miles of exercise. The calories are meaningless to me cause until recently I didn’t have the right weight in the tool and I don’t keep updating it.

This is the biggest portion of this project for me. I’ve done diets my whole life. I can stop eating almost anything for almost any amount of time. But I have never exercised this much before in my life.


And i am not just exercising of course. I am also watching what I eat and I am parking away from my destination so I walk more, etc. I am not super-active since I work from home and my job is mostly done sitting on the couch. I do have a little boy so I am a bit more active than I usually am but I would not put me in an active category. So the exercise is super-important.

For me, what really made it all work is the nike+. I had bought it on a whim when I saw Cathy write about it but it sat on my desk for months. When I finally started walking, I used it from day one. And having the visual representation of my walks really helped me. I just love logging in every day and seeing another bar. No matter how high or low. Just proof that I worked out.

I went through a patch during mid-November where my left knee hurt a lot so I started walking only 1 mile a day and I went to the doctor (it was runner’s knee) and just slowed down. It was hard to go back to working out longer than 1 mile after that and I struggled for a while. Then I bought a new pair of shoes. The ones I’d been wearing were from years ago and they were never professionally fitted. I went to a running store around where I live and the saleswoman took her time, measured me several times, watched me walk, had me try several pairs and I came home with a new pair. My knee hasn’t hurt since. And as of November 30, I started a new routine where I walk 2.0 miles and I run for 0.5 miles.

Here’s my full plan for 2011 (most of it is continuing what I’ve been doing so far):
1. Work out everyday. No matter what. Even if just 1 mile. Minimum 1 mile.
2. Keep doing 2+0.5 and eventually work your way to 2(walk)+1.1(run) and ideally maybe even get to 3.1 miles (5K) of running a day if I can do it.
3. Eat at least 2-3 servings of veggies every day.
4. Eat some protein every day (even if a little)
5. Minimize the amount of processed food you eat as much as possible
6. Drink water
7. No more than 3 (ideally 2) coffees a day (there’s a long story here but I am not quitting the coffee yet.)
8. Introduce weight training (light) 3 times a week
9. Work your way to 10 pushups a day 3 times a week

So those are some of my goals. Ideally, I’ll end up running 5K a day and doing weights or pushups 6 days of the week. If this seems a lot please know that running is not fast running, it means going right above the speed where I can’t really walk so i have to run. So it’s super-slow running. And same with weights, we’re talking 1-3lbs weights. I am just trying to keep my body active. I am not trying to obtain huge muscles or become a runner.

Food is a weird issue for me because I don’t eat much of it. I never have. I don’t cook and so I often just eat whatever is super simple. Ever since I made this shift, I have not snacked, sneaked, or cheated at all. I have no desire to. I don’t think of this as a diet and so I crave nothing. This is a life plan for me. I am determined to make it. So McDonalds or Taco Bell has nothing on me. I don’t drink anything but water and this pre-made coffee I love. The coffee is not great for me but it’s filling and it helps me in other comforting ways. So for now, it stays.

Since I don’t cook, I wanted to find a plausible solution to eating more veggies and protein. I cook for my kids but I knew if I relied on coking for myself I wouldn’t do a good job most days. I found this frozen bag of mixed veggies: corn, peas, lima beans, green beans, carrots. I eat half a bag each day. It’s not the very best veggies since corn is starchy and peas too but it’s oodles better than graham crackers for nutrition. I also cook fresh veggies at least 1-2 times a week and have leftovers. Generally zucchini because both Nathaniel and I love it.

For protein, I either buy fresh sole and cook it (which again both of us love) or I am getting roasted chicken, tearing it apart and eating it all week long. A little bit each day. It’s cheap, healthy because it has no additives or sauces or anything, and it’s already cooked.

Some days I also eat high-fiber veggie soups. And I always have fresh fruit washed and ready in the fridge so if I need a snack, I get fruit.

Maybe eventually I will cook more and things will change. But for now, this is the plan. It’s relatively fresh and healthy. I still have my coffee and now I eat a few graham crackers each day, I plan to reduce those and replace with fruit or yogurt eventually. But I am not sweating it for now.

I drink a ton of water most days so I am not sweating that either.

One other thing I decided a few months ago is that I wanted to get a reward for each month I worked out. Not for losing weight or working out long or fast. Just doing it day after day for 30 (or 31) consecutive days. Since I am trying to lose weight, I didn’t want to make it food related. So I am buying a piece of clothing each month. Mostly from anthropologie so far. I started with things like jackets and blouses which I expect will still fit me at the end of the year. Eventually, I hope to move to pants/skirts/dresses. I love getting to go shop (even though I normally hate shopping) knowing that it’s my reward for a lot of hard work.

The way I track exercise progress is the nike+. When I add the other exercises, I will have to find another system for that. For food, I don’t track too closely right now but in the new year I will. I will likely use google docs and I have a new weight watchers calculator that uses their new system. And, finally, I weigh myself on the Wii Fit every Wednesday. I don’t have a scale and I trust the computer more than my eyes. The wii fit tells me the change in my BMI and the change in my weight which is all I need to know. In the beginning of 2011, I will also take measurements for my hips, arms, and waist so I can track those once a month.

I made a little template to fill each week (ignore the text, it’s pasted from a weekly gratitude post.):

In case you want one too, you can download my template here.

I bought a little colorful album from target and will be putting my weekly cards in there:

That’s the plan.

To me, this is the most important project for 2011. I will let go of everything else before I let this one go.

Here’s to getting healthy for life.

23 comments to 2011 Projects – Healthy For Life

  • Marcia

    Thanks for sharing your journey…I also have watched Cathy lose weight (didn’t know about Donna) this past year. I don’t have a huge weight issue, though it has slowly crept up these past months. I know it’s because I’m not eating my vegetables but grabbing the sugary unhealthy foods. I have been debating getting the Nike+ but after reading your post, I know it’s one of the tools I need to help me in my journey to run the 1/2 marathon I signed up for in May.

    • karenika

      I have to tell you, the nike+ is not very accurate. but i don’t care for my goals. i just like the visual representation of progress πŸ™‚

  • Miranda

    OH wow, I hope I can do this too. You have so many great projects in 2011. If only I can keep up!!

    • karenika

      yes you can!! just pick one or two that speaks the most to you and those are the ones you do! in a few months you can always add more πŸ™‚ for me, if i only do this one all year and drop all the others, I will consider this year a success.

  • Pat P

    Happy New Year Karen!

    I’m proud of you for your commitment to take care of yourself. You are doing so well! I am going to be joining you in 2011. I can’t walk right now, I finally saw the orthopedist about my stupid broken toe (9 weeks, and it’s still sore!)He says it’s healing, just slowly, it was a pretty bad break. But I can ride my exercise bike, or do my strength training videos. Plus I’ve been eating with wild abandon over the the holidays, time to stop that as well. Worse, my husband has never had weight issues, and he’s getting chunky. I know it’s because of what I’ve been feeding him and making available in the house for snacks.Really my focus for 2011 is to begin to get us ready for retirement. I have been revamping our finances, and I also understand that our health is critical as well. I am 50, John is 56, so now is the time to start really planning and working towards having a good life in 10 years, 20 years… Retirement is a scary subject to even contemplate with all of us baby boomers reaching retirement age in the next 20 years, so I want to do all I can to alleviate that fear for us, and do my best to insure that we can continue to have a secure and happy life together as we age…

    You’ve been a really good influence on me. I see how productive you are using lists and goals on a daily basis. I made up a list of things I want to accomplish over my 4-day weekend, and I’ve been sailing right through it. For me, it helps so much to just keep what I’m trying to accomplish in the forefront of my mind. That’s the plan for 2011, to keep a list/schedule in front of me as to what I am going to accomplish by when. Also, I am doing a daily journal again, and you have inspired me to include 3 things I’m grateful for every day.So thank you for being so helpful! I really look forward to seeing what you and your beautiful family are up to on your blog.

    So thank you thank you for all of your inspiration! I hope you have a really great 2011.

    • karenika

      and thank you!! the comments you leave, the notes you’ve sent, they motivate me and make me feel less alone and more like i matter! it all means more than you could know to me! I am so glad you’re doing 3things and I am excited you will work on being healthier with me too! Let’s hope 2011 is wonderful for all of us!

  • Heather

    thank you! I felt the same way about watching everyone else! I started the plan then went off and today it begins again for me and I am so excited to just start walking!

  • Theresa


    Great job! You have so many interesting projects and are so incredibly organized! I love reading your blog!

    I am also trying to maintain my fitness after losing 25 pounds last year. You have a great plan, from experience I would suggest a day off for your mental and physical rest. I try to do cardio six times a week and weights/strength training 3 times a week. Sometimes I substitute Pilates in for a day of strength training. Tracking food and workouts seem to motivate me too.

    • karenika

      25lbs! you’re amazing!! maybe in a few months I can take a day off but right now it’s the every single day thing that keeps me going. once i add strength and other stuff I am happy to scale back. Especially once I’ve lost the weight and am officially in maintenance mode. thank you so much for the good advice!

  • When I see the recent pics of you I keep thinking, “Wow! She’s so skinny!” Love how you accomplished that slowly and steadily and I love how you encourage all around you to do it too! Fabulous!

    • karenika

      Lol. Thank you! I have a very small face. And really tiny bones so I promise you there’s a lot of stuff on the bones that doesn’t need to be there πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Slow and steady is the only way here imho. it’s a lifelong journey and you try to make sure you take the steps in the right direction and not the other one. πŸ™‚

  • Lorna

    Congratulations – this is a great goal to work towards. This is the perfect time of year to make a total change in lifestyle. I look forward to watching your progress. Thanks for the download – I’ll be using it to keep track of mine.

  • Therese H

    You have so many wonderful ideas and so sweet to share your templates wiht us. I am making a gratitude album this year using the template you gave us. I may do the healthy 4 life one also, as I could stand to lose quite a few pounds. TKS for sharing! I love your blog!!!!

  • Lisa

    You’re pretty awesome Karen and very inspiring. I too have been watching Cathy Z and I have to admit when she posted anything weight loss related I clicked next article on my reader – I didn’t want to know about it. I’ve been up and down with my weight for years and loathe exercise but I want to be healthy and live a long long time without any health problems so this needs to change. I too brought the Nike+ on a whim in May 2010 – it’s still in the box in my desk draw. For months I’ve been building up to this change. I think your post just might have been what I needed. Thank you.
    BTW Happy New Year.

    • karenika

      thank you Lisa! I hope hop hope that you do it!! I cannot tell you how wonderful it’s been for me. IT’s a lot of work and super-hard. but it comes with great rewards!

  • Yona

    acaba bende basarirmiyim ?
    haftada 2 spor ve 45 dakika yuruyus ama yuruyusler duzenli degil πŸ™
    amacim haftada 6 yuruyus ve 2 spor ve duzenli gunde 5 kere yemek yeme.
    bana lutfen nasil bir chart yapacagim konusunda yardimci olurmusun ?
    her gun yazim ve her hafta kilomu tartim … ve moral bulayim… aylikta resim cekebilirim πŸ™‚
    seni seven ablan

  • Joyce

    Thanks for your encouraging post! Just like you, I finally decided it was time to take care of myself and I have set up a plan. I wanted to track my progress, so your template came at the perfect time. Thank you!

  • Thank you! Such an inspirational post and one that should get me moving too.

  • Thanks for the template, Karen. I’ve watched your progress throughout the year and I’m amazed and inspired by your dedication. Hopefully, this will be the year I can lose that “baby weight” that’s been hanging on for nearly two years.

    Thanks so much. Sheila H

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.