Slow progress is better than no progress. 

I am a self proclaimed member of what the Weight Watchers community on the Weight Watchers social media app Connect calls the “Turtle Club”. I am a slow weight loss loser. But as I thought about that statement more and more today, I realized I’m actually a member of what I would like to call “the cha-cha club”. One pound up, half a pound down, one pound up, three pounds down, two pounds up…. and you get the picture. It’s a back and forth, up and down, cha-cha and as a result I’ve been maintaining my weight in a 10 pound range for the last three years, and never have gotten to my goal yet. 

Starting weight

There’s an old saying of slow progress is better than no progress and after five – yes, five and a half years on Weight Watchers this time around and still not being at my goal weight, sometimes I feel like I have made no progress past the point I sit at right now.  To be honest, it is discouraging sometimes. I am looking so forward to all of the things that I told myself I would do as rewards for getting to my goal – like a photo shoot, new clothes and other stuff. And sometimes that feels so distant. And in those moments I feel the impact of my slow progress and being a member of the cha-cha club gets a little old. 

I’m not saying I have anything to blame but my own food choices. I know that I’m responsible for those and that I am the reason I cha-cha. 

But when I take a step back and don’t just focus on the number on the scale and when I take time to look at where I am with healthy eating, a happy demeanor, healthy attitude, physical capabilities, and being the best version of me, I realize that while there’s slow progress on the scale, there’s monumental progress in my life.  Things like….

  • A past coworker heard me having a fit over being up at the scale and she responded to me and told me I was probably one of the healthiest eaters she knew.  
  • Kicking butt during physical activity 
  • Being a much more centered me
  • Having a positive attitude and healthy disposition
  • Having healthier outlets now than I did five years ago to deal with emotion 

And I focus on that feeling in those moments where being in the cha-cha club gets me down. 
So when you think about your progress, don’t focus on the scale. Focus on your life and being the best you that you can be. 

With love and a cha-cha side step,



My running identity. 

You may have heard the news that I posted at the end of last week. I am so proud and honored to have been named an ambassador for the California International Marathon, which I will run as my second marathon on December 3, 2017. I set a goal for myself to run a marathon as my celebration of my 30th birthday, which is on October 3rd. I am registered to run the Portland Marathon the weekend after my 30th birthday but shortly after registering was informed that my friends are getting married that weekend 😭 and the registration fee is non refundable. But the world works in mysterious ways and it’s like the universe knew I was destined to be part of the CIM community this year. 

After the excitement of being named an ambassador hit me, the reality hit me that I have an amazing opportunity to represent a community of amazing men and women in the running community.  I follow a LOT of runners on social media. Many of which are fast, Boston Qualifiers, ran in high school, multiple long distance finishers, maintained their weight for their whole life. I strive to be them because I see myself differently. 

I am not a fast runner.  I am a new runner. I am a runner who still sometimes doubts the ability to call myself a runner because I spent so much of my young adult life being so overweight and inactive. 

When I registered for my first half marathon (I registered in Fall 2014 and ran 2/14/15) I didn’t actually know how long a half marathon was. I hadn’t run a 5k before. I didn’t know what long runs, tempo runs, fartleks, bodyglide, foam rolling, easy runs, recovery. I had no idea what any of that was. I had no idea what my mile time was. I had no idea that people qualified for some Boston event. I just knew that I had hit a rut in life and that running a half marathon was going to get me out of it. 

When I decided to train for the Santa Rosa marathon I was a little wiser, but not much. I was not logging nearly enough miles each week. I cried during my long runs.  I drank pedialyte because I didn’t know what else would be best for electrolytes and didn’t know how to carb load.  I doubted myself. I thought I was foolish.  Most of the time I had literally no idea what I was doing.  I thought I’m not a marathon runner. I should have waited another year for this. But it became the most life changing experience and I am glad I did it.  I don’t regret it at all. 

I recently thought to myself how can I represent such an amazing race?  Who am I as a runner?  What can I do to empower my running community?   I was worried. I’ve never run CIM. I’m not terribly fast. I have only completed one marathon and it took me over six hours to do so.  I’m not at a “race weight”. Who am I as a runner?

I realized though, that this is the part of the running community that I get to represent. I am here to share my own struggles. I am here to be part of the amazing community who are back of the pack marathon runners. I am someone who has overcome my weight, my negative “you’re not a runner” self talk. I am someone who wasn’t active before 25. I have been given a gift to reach out and show the world that EVERYONE and anyone can be a runner if it is what is in your heart. It doesn’t matter that I won’t aim to Boston Qualify for CIM. It doesn’t matter that it’s only my second go at 26.2. What matters is that my heart is in it. My head is focused and clear. My legs are ready. 

Marathon training won’t start for a few months because I’ve got a few halfs before then, but I can’t wait to represent the mid and back of the marathon pack. To represent people of all sizes. To represent new runners. Scared runners. Brave runners. Ambitious runners. Marathon runners!

I am so excited for this gift. I will not waste it. 2017 is going to be my year. 

Cheers to 26.2 round 2!

Set a goal that scares you a little. 


I wanted to spend some time today talking about one of my ABSOLUTE favorite topics. Goal setting. We are one week into 2017 and I haven’t really set many goals yet for this year, which is unlike me.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming last night and wanted to think out my current goal list.  So far my 2017 goals are:

  • Get to my goal weight
  • Run a second marathon
  • Break a 2:20 half marathon 

I feel like I need to set more goals. But that’s not the point of today. 

I never realized that I was an ambitious goal setter until recently. People have told me that I am, but I didn’t believe them. I figured everyone loved to set goals. I assumed that it was generally human nature to just set a bunch of goals and go for them. I have quickly learned that that is not the case. 

I am not sure when my love of goal setting began. I think it began the day I announced that I was going to run my first half marathon. That was the first time that I created a goal and that I realized I needed to create a plan so I could achieve that goal.  

That’s the thing about goals. Once you set them, they don’t just happen on their own. You have to create your plan of attack. 

I think that is something that often scares people about goal setting. Is that once you set it, you think well now what?

If you’re taking time to set an honest and realistic goal, but also one that scares and challenges you a little, I recommend the following. 

  1. Set an attainable but challenging goal. It doesn’t have to be Fitness or weight loss. It can be to pay down your credit card, or read three books this month, or whatever you want to do that you haven’t commit to. Just set it. 
  2. Say the goal out loud to someone. I always tell someone my goal. Why? Accountability. Someone to talk it out with. Someone to express my fears and concerns to. But saying it out loud makes it real. My Weight Watchers leader says that if we keep our goal to ourselves, no one else will ever know if we missed the mark or not. But it’s good to keep ourselves honest and accountable!
  3. Set action items. How will you get to your goal? How long will it take?  Do you need to set smaller goals to achieve the larger one?  Write it out or mark it on the calendar. Tell yourself I got this. 
  4. Do your best to achieve the goal. Sometimes you will achieve your goal. Sometimes you will fall short. Sometimes you will crush your goal more than you realize. Don’t let yourself get down about missing the mark if you do.  Working towards your goal is a success!  And you can always set a new goal and try again.i can’t tell you how many years I said I was going to make it to my goal weight that year, and I am itching to make a 2:20 half marathon and fell short last time. JUST TRY and you are succeeding!

So what are your goals this year?  Maybe your goal is just to set a goal. If you need someone to help keep you accountable just let me know!  I am happy to help and support you. You got this!

Go team goal setting!


13.1 pieces of advice for your first half marathon training. 

Hello!  How are you?  Me, I am fine. It is pouring rain so I am glad I got my workout in before work. My cat is not a fan of the rain either. He likes to hide in the sink. 

Since it is raining too hard to go running, I will do the next best thing and I will talk about running! 😀

Hey Vanessa, I want to train for my first half marathon!  Can you give me some advice?

I have had a few people ask me about training for their first half Mary. Congratulations!  Running your first 13.1 is a really exciting accomplishment. Let me share with you some of my experiences while training for 13.1.  If you are interested in true formal running advice, I advise you consult with a local running coach/store or check out resources online or your local library. I am ALWAYS happy to share my experiences, but I’m not a certified coach so everything I know is based off my own experience. 

Me crossing the finish line of my first 13.1

 My experience was that I went straight into long distance training without ever having done many short distances (oops). I did one 10k and ran a 5k during my first HM training. I don’t necessarily recommend that route but it seemed to work out for me….

Here are 13.1 pieces of advice from me!  I hope these tips help!

  1. Choose an event and put it on your calendar. Get pumped up!  Training for 13.1 in my life has become part of who I am and I’ve figured out how to train for a HM and also have (somewhat) of a social life, but it can be daunting if you’re not already scheduling yourself to run a few days a week and a long run too.  If the thought of running 13.1 is overwhelming right now, then don’t stress yourself out!  You want this to be something FUN in your life, and not a burden. 
  2. You don’t need a lot of fancy tools but you definitely want to take care of your feet. If you’re not already wearing shoes that you got fit for at a running shoe store, I recommend doing so. It makes a WORLD of difference.  Have them analyze your gait. Talk to them about your goals. Share your current training situation. More information helps to get you the best pair(s) of shoes. When I first started out I only had one pair of running shoes that I got fit for and my runs were comfortable but now that I’m more seasoned I have 2-3 that I rotate at any given time. There are areas you can cut back on financially but this is NOT an area I recommend skimping on. Your body will thank you. You don’t need fancy gadgets and high tech performance clothing, but shoes and socks are good. 
  3. Find a training plan that seems realistic. There are TONS of couch to (insert distance here) programs, Runkeeper has free training plans and if you google “half marathon training” you’ll find tons. But pick one that works with your life.  If you read a training plan that seems to aggressive or too relaxed for your current activity level, move on from it and pick a different one. If you find a training plan but the days of the week don’t work with your schedule, make adjustments or find another one. Pick a long run day that works with your routine. I am a fan of Sundays, but what works for me won’t work for you necessarily.  If you know that your book club stays out late Friday nights, maybe Saturday long runs aren’t the best day. Think about whether or not what you choose is realistic, before settling on it. This is one of my biggest regrets from marathon training. I picked an overly aggressive training plan and there were too many really long long runs too early in my training and it burnt me out. Don’t do that to yourself. Enjoy the training process!
  4. Experiment during the training process for a happy runner belly because it is a rehearsal for the race. If you’re testing out gu’s/chews/sport jelly beans/fuel, make sure you try it on your long runs before diving head in on race day. I like to find out what will be on the course and practice with that if I can. I learned that during my first HM. I chugged a Dixie cup of electrolyte drink and cramped til the end of the race. NO BUENO. Lesson learned.  Also practice what you’ll eat the night before a long run/race day and morning breakfast and stick with it. You have heard the term “carb loading” and that’s not license to eat a whole deep dish pizza by yourself the night before a race, but having some carbs in your system helps fuel you. I’m a fan of a bowl of pasta or slice of pizza and a salad the night before, and a bowl of peanut butter oatmeal and banana the morning of. Find what works for you. Don’t over think it. Research suggestions online.  Fueling properly is necessary to running long distance because you don’t want to hit “the wall”, the point where your body runs out of fuel.  
  5. On that note, race day is not a day to experiment with something new on your person. I once was out running the lake loop I run and saw a girl running in a tutu. Smart girl. I assumed she was training to run a race in that tutu. There’s nothing worse than trying something for the first time on race day only to discover that the waist band slides down, the shirt chafes under the armpit, the water backpack is too heavy, your hairdo won’t stay put, your sweatband won’t do its job. Just wear it at least once on a training run, and I recommend doing it on a long run. The more times, the more comfortable. And don’t worry about others and what they think while you’re out training. Runners get it. 
  6. Take care of your body. Eat well. Drink water. Get rest. Take a rest day if you need it. You’re probably putting more demand on your body than you’re used to.  I am always hungry the day after a long run (during marathon training I was just hungry ALL THE TIME) and eat accordingly for that. I also crave salt, so I have salt. Give your body what it needs. 
  7. Life happens so don’t make training stop your entire world. During my first HM training my husband and I went on two vacations and I knew it would affect my ability to run and train the same way I usually could. Make adjustments. Get in miles when you can. Kids get sick, people come over, work gets out late, someone offers you a free ticket to a local musical. Dont let training dictate life. Let it be part of life. Don’t let life stop because of training, but adjust when you can. 
  8. But get in your long runs when you can. Those are important. They are HARD but important!  Don’t skip those if you can avoid it. 
  9. Don’t do too much too soon. There are mathematical rules about when and how you should increase your miles. I won’t get into the details of that here, but be mindful of that. Don’t get too overexcited. That’s when injury or sickness comes in. Stick to the plan you have. Don’t suddenly go from 0-13.1. 
  10. Some distances will feel easy one day and exhausting the next. It’s just reality. Even though I’ve run 7 half marathons at this point, the jump from 11 to 12 miles always seems exhausting to me.  It’s just a tough point for me.  You might hit a wall when you’re running. You might run the best 6 miles of your life one training run and then struggle to get through two miles just days later. It happens. You’re human. Just move on.
  11. Call in reinforcements if you need. I trained for my first HM alone. I never ran with anyone. I was okay with that but definitely spent time downloading tons of interesting music to listen to and often had pre-long run Vanessa set up success for post-long run Vanessa. This meant having food ready, having water in the car and clean sheets on the bed so I could lie down afterwards. My husband was also on board and would assist me (and still does!) when I was wiped from a long run. I recently finished a long run and got in an ice bath and cried because I was so hungry. He left and got me food. He’s good like that.  You might need to spend some time thinking about what you’re going to need later that day, week, month, etc. so be proactive.  
  12. Don’t obsess too much. It’s ok to read articles, follow blogs (like this awesome one!) and talk to other runners but don’t obsess too much. What works for them may not work for you!  It’s ok to find out yourself. But don’t second guess yourself too much. If it’s working, leave it be. 
  13. Don’t obsess too much over time and pace. As you build up your distance you may slow down a little. Why? Because you’re working out endurance up. My 5k PR mile average is way faster than my HM PR mile average because I know I’m sustaining longer. That was important for me. I was freaked out by mile splits and how slow I was going, but I was able to always finish my long runs during my first HM training so it was successful. 

And tip 13.1….. HAVE FUN!  Make this experience your own. Join a group, or find a friend, or listen to audiobooks, or find new routes. Just have fun when you’re training or it won’t be worth the journey. Running the race is just the last part of half marathon training. The actual training is a real achievement and the race is just the celebration of it. 

You’re always welcome to reach out to me if you need more! 

Me at my 7th half marathon (December 2016)

With lots of miles and smiles!


Change means growth. 

If nothing changes then nothing changes. 

Change is hard.

I’ve written and rewritten this post a half dozen times tonight. I hope my words are eloquent enough for everyone. 

I had spent the latter half of 2016 coasting through life. I have had an amazing life with great friends, a fabulous career, the best husband a gal could ask for and hobbies and a support system to make anyone jealous. Life was awesome the way it was but for a few months I felt like something was missing. 

I made a change in my life recently. It wasn’t just a change to find a new job although that was a huge piece of it. The change in my life was that I realized I need to unleash my potential and  become who I want to be and know that I am capable of being. 

Last year when I decided to run a marathon I thought it would be an exercise in physical strength but I had no idea how it would change me. Training for and running the Santa Rosa marathon gave my life meaning. It was an opportunity to show myself what I was made of, and to show the world that you don’t have to be an elite athlete to run 26.2 if you want to. 

Chilling with cows at mile 20

But then the marathon was over and life went back to normal. Or did it?  I went back to my normal job, I went back to my normal routine, I went back to my normal life. Everything in my life went back to the way it was, except that I had grown. I had grown and changed but nothing else in my life had. 

I subconsciously realized in those 26.2 miles, which translated to 6:07:28 for me, that I was worth and capable of more than I ever made myself do and be.  I accomplished something that years before felt unattainable and that I wasn’t worthy of.  It wasn’t apparent to me until months later how much mental growth I had experienced in that marathon and training cycle.  

During the holidays it became obvious to me and I realized I wanted to give my life more meaning. I wanted to become more. My life as it was, had tons of meaning, but I wanted more. My routine had become just that – a routine.  I wanted the opportunity to be a bigger part of the world. It was time for me to grow so I took some leaps of faith. 

It started with my passion planner.  I finally purchased one after years of hoping to buy one. The front page had us list goals of ours for the next few months, years and our lifetime. I set a timer and put pencil to paper. Things came out of me thay I had no idea I wanted. And when I wrote those things out, I knew to get there I needed to make changes. When I took a comprehensive view of where I was and where I wanted to be, I knew the two were not living in harmony together and so I started doing something I’ve never made myself do, and find ways to change and be better.  I did not want to plateau in my own life. Remember what I said earlier?  If nothing changes then nothing changes.  And nothing in my life had changed, except my determination, and it was time to take my faith and make a big leap. 

In order to grow, we must get uncomfortable for a little while. Growing pains. We will be faced with days where we think we are making the right choice and days where we think we aren’t. There will be days where the little voice in our heads will tell us we don’t need to change, that things are fine the way they are.  I had someone tell me when I made the really hard choice to accept a new job and leave my old one “Sometimes we get to leave the nest when we are ready and sometimes we are forced out.” And that was the perfect summary for me of where I was in life.  I don’t think I was quite ready to leave the comfort of my life nest, but I forced myself out. 

Change is hard.  People say that but I wasn’t sure why until I stood there in my own two shoes.  I realized that change is hard because of the voices in my head. What if I fail? What if this is a mistake?  What if the grass is greener on this side?

I’m ready to be more in my own life. I’ve created action items, made goals with timelines, set up an even bigger support network, changed my routine, researched ways to learn and grow more in areas I want to be part of, I’ve put myself out there more than ever before. This is a change and it scares the life out of me, but the fear I feel parallels the spark I feel. Mr. FtoF looked me in the eye the other night and said I was back to who I was before. My speculation? Because my life has meaning again because I’m forcing myself to change and to grow. 

But if I wanted to achieve my goals, or if I want to continue to be more, change is necessary.  So 2017, although merely one week old, will be about change and growth for me because I’m ready to tackle those changes. What about you?

Cheers to change,


Today I fit into a new size of jeans!

I wish I wasn’t writing this post. I wish I wasn’t in this situation.

I start my new job tomorrow, and had a reality check that my current wardrobe is mostly too casual to wear to work during the winter. When summer and spring cycle back around I have some great dresses, but for now I’ve been wearing mostly Lularoe leggings that have boom boxes, kiwis and flying pigs on them and I figured it was time to make a good impression on my new colleagues so that wouldn’t fly. 

I’ve been wearing said leggings because the jeans I currently own don’t fit.  They’re too small. 

In February I found myself gleefully purchasing two pairs of size eight jeans from Old Navy (the only place I buy my jeans because I love their curvy cut). This photo was one of the happiest days of my life. I had been in traffic for three hours getting home from a work conference and stopped in to buy pants and it was worth it. This picture was posted on my Instagram (find me @vancesa) and Weight Watchers asked me if they could use it in their email newsletter, to which I cheerfully said yes! 

Weight Watchers email!
Fast forward to almost a year later. Here we are. I can’t fit into those jeans. I can’t even squeeze into them. I bought a pair of jeans that are two sizes bigger. Yes, you read that right. I bought a pair of size 12s today. 

But aren’t you losing weight Vanessa?  Why are you buying bigger jeans?  Does that mean you’re failing?

Those are the words I heard in my head as I walked in to Old Navy hoping I could find one pair of pants that would fit so I could quietly make the charge and walk out with no one knowing my shame. 

But I stopped and composed myself. I would never say those things to a friend. Why am I saying them to myself?

I reminded myself how far I’ve come. That I may be up two sizes but I’m not back to size 20, in the pair of denim shorts I wore to college graduation. 

Life has not been the easiest to me the last few months. That’s another story for another day. I found myself over the last few months emotionally eating more than I realized until I looked in my weight loss rear view mirror and realized all the time I’ve spent in my spandex has also kept me in denial about my waist line. 

I realize today in the dressing room I have two choices. 

  1. Continue to be in denial about my size and hope that eventually I get back into my jeans 
  2. Take the bull by the horns and buy a pair of jeans that are comfortable and make me feel good, and work really hard toward getting back to my 8’s, and realize this is a blessing and opportunity to reflect on where I am in my weight loss journey. 

Losing weight for some, is a mere calories in and out and getting straight to goal. It has not been that way to me. I have gone up and down, side to side, back and forth, every which way. But I have never, ever, ever given up on myself. 

That means I’m winning and not failing at my weight loss journey. That means I’m equipped with tools to be successful. 

So I bought my 30% off jeans and a pair of clearance Capri pants and I’m ready to fit back into my 8’s when I get there. I’m gonna work so hard for it. But for now, my 12’s will get me through. 

Size 12 never looked so good!

With health and a new pair of denim. Cheers to starting my new job tomorrow!


My weight is my security blanket. 

When I was 264.2 pounds men wouldn’t so much as even look at me once, let alone twice.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be heavy and alone for the rest of my life. 

When I was heavy I wouldn’t ever be considered for the leading lady role in a musical. No one wants to see a fat Maria next to Captain Von Trapp, or a chubby Marian the Librarian up against Harold Hill. I had to come to terms with the fact that my size was going to keep me in the ensemble or backstage for life. 

My weight has become a security blanket. My size has become the catch all for things I failed at. 

If I’m heavier it is the reason I didn’t make my time goal at my race. The extra weight slowed me down. 

If I’m heavier it’s the reason I didn’t get cast in the musical. The director needed a smaller look. 

If I’m heavier men won’t hit on me. Since I’ve hardly even dated anyone with the exception of my husband, attention from men makes me nervous because I’m not used to it. When I was 264 pounds everyone paid attention to my roommates and thought I was just the fun friend. 

If I’m heavier I don’t have to commit to buying nice clothes since I’m always losing weight. 

If I’m heavier I can always have a few extra bites because I’m constantly in weight loss or weight gain mode. 

If I’m heavier I am the fat, funny friend that no one ever has to take seriously, so I can mask all my real feelings by making jokes about them, rather than talk about them. 

If I’m heavier I can blame absolutely everything on my lingering few pounds. These extra 20 pounds are my excuse for everything.  My waist line and I have become best friends. It dictates my life. 

Getting to goal scares me because I won’t have my security blanket anymore.

2017 is going to be my chance to break that security blanket and let go. I’m ready to say sayonara to my security blanket.  One small step at a time. This means coming to terms with the reality of not having my “excuse” anymore. But that’s what helps us to grow.  If you’re ready, I’m ready. Let’s do this 2017.