How to make 2018 my best year yet.

I usually set goals. Big ones. And then I spend a lot of energy focusing on the goal, and not on the process to get there. Im changing the way I look at my goals for next year. I’m excited to brainstorm my desired outcomes (not goals necessarily), of achievements that I can see myself accomplishing as long as I put the work in to get there.

I am ready for some kick butt stuff in 2018, but need to trust the process and allow success to follow. Here’s what I hope for!

1. Desired outcome: PR my half marathon time. Action plan to get there: stay consistent in being active.

I have been hoping to PR my half marathon time (2:26:01) for over a year. I have not been looking at it the right way. When I set that PR, it was an 11 minute achievement over my previous PR. I did not expect it AT ALL. I had, however, been eating well, training well, and staying consistent, which led to a huge and unexpected accomplishment. For the last year I have been signing up for races and hoping I was capable. Next year I am not going to set timelines on races. I’ll sign up for them when I feel like running one, and so long as I kick ass and work hard, my PR will come when I have earned it and not simply because I want it.

2. Desired outcome: get to my goal weight. Action plan to get there: actually eat better.

I have been so inconsistent with my eating lately and have not made any effort to cook meals or make the best choices when eating out. I can’t just get to my goal weight because I half ass my tracking and show up to Weight Watchers each week. Which is what I have been doing. It’s time to do it. For reals.

3. Desired outcome: less stress. Action plan to get there: take on less.

I spend lots of energy on relationships of people who don’t give me the same energy back. It drains me. I spend lots of energy setting ambitious goals and I’m going to dial those back. I spend a lot of energy thinking about what’s coming next and trying to create plans and structure. I’m going to do less of that. I’m going to do more of what renews me and less of what dissolves me. More reading, running, blogging. Less stressing. I’m excited to go with the flow.

2018 is going to be the best year. 2017 was great and taught me a lot about myself, and I think I saw amazing personal growth in myself.

Cheers to 2018! Let’s be the best we can be.

Review: First (actual) week on Weight Watchers Freestyle

****this post is in no way sponsored or affiliated with Weight Watchers. I am merely writing this as a personal recap of my personal Weight Watchers journey

On Sunday, December 3rd, Weight Watchers announced changes to their current program. For those of you who aren’t WW members, the WW plan (prior to the change) is that everyone gets a daily target of points to eat each day, and a set of weekly points that you can choose to eat or not eat at your desire. Every food has a smart points value and the higher in sugar or saturated fat something is, the more points it is, and the higher in protein something is, the less points it is. The only exception is that all fruit and most vegetables are 0. For reference on that plan, I got 30 points a day and 42 weekly points.

The changes to the plan maintain the same algorithm of calculating points, however, the list of foods that are 0 points has grown to now include lean proteins (chicken and turkey breast), fish, plant proteins, nonfat yogurts, eggs and all vegetables except potatoes. In turn, daily points targets have decreased to compensate for this exchange. Additionally, if you do not use four or less of your points a day, they roll over into your weekly points. On the new plan, I get 23 points daily and still get 42 weekly.

This plan launched the day I ran CIM, and so when I went to my Monday night meeting I switched over. I did not, however, really abide by the plan because I was ravenous for DAYS after the marathon and went to two holiday parties and I gained that week. I am NOT blaming it on the plan change. My first real week where I focused on the plan, was December 10 through 16.

Let me start by saying I eat most things but one thing I CANNOT STAND is beans. Everyone seems to be elated that beans are now 0, and I wish I could be excited with them, but I cannot handle eating beans because of their texture (unless we are talking jelly beans)

I have been eating a lot on the go (which explains why I’ve been gaining weight the last few months), but promised myself I would be dedicated to weight loss again after the marathon. Perfect timing that this aligned with the marathon training ending.

(Because I had gained the previous week, it brought my weight to a range where I got 24 daily points last week but I now get 23)

Day 1: Monday. (The day my points reset)

My first real day on plan and I struggled. I had not gone to the store because I slept almost all day Sunday. As a result I ate all my meals out and didn’t make great choices. For breakfast, I had a breakfast burrito and a protein shake with espresso. For lunch, I had a chicken bowl from chipotle and for dinner I made eggs and Kodiak cake pancakes. I sprinkled in some snacks throughout the day but I wasn’t taking advantage of the 0 point foods.

Day 2: Tuesday, I got to roll over a point!

Tuesday was a much better day for dinner I made a quinoa/tofu/broccoli slaw and edamame stir fry which was low in points. Eggs and toast were a low point breakfast, and the deli near me does a grilled chicken breast sandwich which has become my new favorite thing to eat. I ran a few miles, and felt satiated all day.

Day 3: Wednesday, which also happened to be Mr. ftof’s birthday.

Thank goodness for weeklies because I ended up eating some birthday cheesecake (which I tracked after taking this picture) when Mr ftof and I went to dinner on his birthday. Since I was low on points because I was seduced by candy, I requested that the restaurant make me buffalo wings but use chicken breast instead of wings. I told them it didn’t have to be pretty but that’s what I wanted. They obliged! BAM! This plate was 0 points but I used blue cheese dressing, which I willingly used points on.

I’m realizing that going out to eat is less intimidating than it used to be because previously I would try and make decisions based off of numbers of points from menu items, but now I just look for lean proteins, vegetables, and can ask for substitutions.

Day 4: Thursday, which is also the day I thought would never end.

Poor planning, and the fact that I ran out of my stash of hard boiled eggs at the office meant I didn’t make the best choice and got a breakfast burrito for breakfast, which was higher in points and made me have to adjust accordingly for the rest of the day. For lunch I found some leftover broccoli slaw/tofu/edamame/quinoa stir fry in the fridge which was low in points, and since my better half had to work late that night I made eggs for dinner. 0 points! I cheered with excitement! So did the fire alarm when it went off in my apartment 😤

Day 5: TGIF!<<
idn't take a picture of my tracker, but at the end of a long work day where I left an hour later than I was planning and didn't go running, I had no idea what I was going to have for dinner. I had eaten breakfast and lunch on the go (a protein box from Starbucks for breakfast, and a turkey breast sandwich for lunch), and was determined not to throw in the towel. We went to our local supermarket and I got a miniature burrito from the taqueria stand with lots of shrimp and veggies and a teeny weenie amount of rice and cheese. No sour cream and no guacamole, but I did get some nonfat Greek yogurt to use as sour cream substitute in case the salsa was too spicy. Hmmm…. maybe I can do this plan after all!

Day 6 & 7: the weekend<<
Saturday I managed to stay heavy on my protein (eggs, chicken) and felt satisfied for a long time and within my points. Sunday however, we celebrated Mr. ftof's birthday and you can see the damage….

eighed in Sunday morning (prior to this 55 point day) and drumroll please….< strong>DOWN 4.4! <<
me things I've learned over the course of the week:

  • I’m going to have to plan out my breakfast and lunch at work better so I can ensure that I’m taking advantage of the 0 point options
  • Looking at menus is less intimidating now
  • Because I have the option to take advantage of more 0 point foods, I feel full longer. I am, however, struggling to break old habits of eating at the break times I used to make myself eat at during the work day. I can now go for hours without needing a snack, but I’m not used to that so I need to listen to my body more.
  • Having less points a day is really not as horrible as I thought it would be
  • I wish I could tolerate beans because everyone is so excited about them being 0 points 😭

Was my first week perfect? Nope. Definitely room for improvement. But it was pretty darn good, all things considered.

I am gonna have some growing pains figuring structure out with this program but once I do, I know it will be great for me!

Cheers to 0 point foods!


Someone has to be last: how running has changed my mindset about my weight loss journey.

If you haven’t heard the story about why I started running, the short version is that my coworkers at my old job and I signed up to do a 5k mudrun many years ago. I had such a fun time that I told everyone I was going to run a half marathon. I had no idea how long a half marathon was, but true to my word, I ran my first half marathon months later. Now here we are two and a half years, ten halfs, and two marathons later.

Because I didn’t run my whole life, I’m not fast. I am traditionally not one of the last people to finish, as I tend to hang mid-pack. The experience was different at my marathon though. I knew I would be towards the back. I also knew that it was entirely possible I would be one of, if not the last, person to finish. I was nervous about it. And a little ashamed to realize I might be the one closing down the finish line after 26.2 miles. It was a scary thought for sure.

But as race day got closer and closer and closer, I had a big reality check that stuck with me.

We are all setting out for the same 26.2 mile goal but someone has to be last.

It seems like a total “duh” statement. But there’s more to it that stuck with me.

Maybe I was going to be last. But that meant I showed up. That meant I put in the work. That meant I gave it my all. That meant I had the courage to start. I wasn’t last but I was nearly last but I was successful. And this was an experience where I understood how running and my weight loss journey tied together.

Races can be intimidating sometimes. I toe up to the start line with some seriously amazing people. People who run mile times I dream of, or distances that blow my mind, or are in such good shape I wonder if they spent their whole lives being active. But we don’t see peoples back stories. How much work they put in. The early alarms to get up and work out. The sacrifices made. The internal monologues and dialogues that happen. Everyone has their own story.

All I know is what I know about myself and my capabilities. I am capable of doing whatever work I want to put in to achieve goals, and there are people who may look at me and wish they were where I am. It’s all perspective. I’m comparing my chapter 1 to other people’s chapter 20’s. But some people may look at where I am at, and in comparison to where they are, I am at their desired chapter 20.

At my race this morning I ran without music and I felt like my mind was full of great thoughts and comparison of how similar watching others lose weight can be. We can often find ourselves stuck in a rut while seeing others experience more success and we wish we were there. But of course, we don’t know the work they’ve put in to get there. The sacrifice it took. The times they had to say no to cookies, the times tears were shed in the dressing room when pants didn’t fit. The work that is put in.

Much like running, in weight loss there isn’t always someone cheering for you. There are a lot of times we fight our own internal battles. We talk ourselves through crappy meals or crappy runs, or bad choices, or times we give up. We talk ourselves through disappointment of thinking you’re going to hit a PR or instances where you thought you would lose enough weight to fit into a certain dress on a certain day but that doesn’t always happen. In running and weight loss, you set a goal and people may look at you and say “wow you’re so lucky that you’ve been successful” but you know it isn’t luck. It’s hard work. You study the menu before you go out to eat, or you run on the treadmill when it’s raining because you have to.

Running and weight loss have reminded me that you can’t just stop – you keep going. You can take a pause, or break, or be flexible, but you can’t give up. There are people who give up. There are people won’t don’t show up at all. It can be frustrating to see the success of others and feel like you’re behind on the bandwagon, but again, we all set out on the same goal but someone has to be last. I’m not saying it’s a competition with losing weight, but what I am saying is that we are all working towards the same goal with very different back stories.

It would be easy for us to just watch from the sidelines and never needing to compare ourselves to others because we never started.

When I made the decision not to quit my marathon, I told someone I would rather take 7 hours to finish than to never start at all. With weight loss, I would rather take years to get to my goal weight than to never try at all. Despite the hard times, the struggles, and frustration… I do not ever want to give up on myself.

I have become mentally stronger and am so proud of that. I would rather be last than to ever give up on being my best. That’s what I have learned from running this year.

❤️ Vanessa

Always earned, never given. California International Marathon recap.

In January I was chosen as an ambassador for the California International Marathon. An honor I was not expecting. I had spent the better part of 2017 sharing my joy, spreading a discount code and celebrating running through my social media. I had big plans to lose weight and get stronger before marathon training began. That definitely backfired on me and all did not go according to plan. In fact, I put on about 20 more pounds over the course of the year. My training was completely derailed when the Santa Rosa fires struck and I couldn’t run outside for two weeks. Finally, on November 5th, I decided I wasn’t going to run the marathon. I was 13 miles into my 17 mile run. I gave up. I called for a ride. My head won. I emailed to downgrade to the relay. I texted my running coach. I let my doubt get in the way. I waited for a feeling or relief to come and it never did. I imagined myself getting a relay medal instead of the 35th annual marathon medal and not being able to say I ran my second marathon. I felt disappointed that I had let myself give up so easily. Then, in a moment of clarity, I got home (we had been staying out of town), put on my running shoes and went back out and finished the last four miles. And decided I was worth putting everything out on the line for. So I took back my quitting and knew it was going to be a long road to 26.2, but made up my mind to complete my goal.

Friday: expo fun!

This weekend I kicked it off on Friday and enjoyed some amazing time at the CIM expo. First I picked up all my stuff and spent a bunch of money (oops!).

Then I had the opportunity to volunteer at the expo. I love volunteering for events when I can! I also got to meet fellow CIM ambassadors which was a treat.

After enjoying some pizza and ice cream with family from the area, I tucked myself into bed.

Saturday: race prep

Saturday morning there was a shakeout run. It was a great way to get in a few miles. I ran with one of the CIM ambassadors Stephanie (blogger at Run Strong Run), who I have tried at two different events to meet up with! I ran two miles but then walked back to the Capitol building for some fun photos and a dance party video 😊<<<
ent the rest of the day having lunch, hanging out with Mr. Ftof and eating pizza for dinner because the alarm was set for 3:30, so I was in bed at 7:00.

Sunday: race morning<<<<<
ut of bed at 3:30 and fought with an unhappy belly for a while. I got dressed and got in line for the bus at 4:45. You have to take a shuttle from Sacramento to the starting line in Folsom because it's a point to point event. It was early! On the bus I thought to myself that my former 264.2 pound version of myself would never envision my current self running a marathon. That feeling was a good way to start the day.

I got to the starting line around 6, and went to the bathroom a few times (I was paranoid and went like three times lol), checked my gear and waited to start. I found Stephanie again who was unofficially pacing the 6 hour group. Her Christmas tree headband was the best!


he first ten miles seemed to fly by. It was strange how quickly those went by for me. There were rolling hills and I felt really strong and good during them. Flip side was that I probably spent a lot of energy on them. I was so focused on staying as close to the cutoff pace as I could (6 hour cut off), that I tried my hardest to hold on to those 13:44 miles. I was good for a while until about the 13.1 when I started to slow down. I was doing 4:1 Run:Walk intervals. I told myself after I got to 13.1, to get to 16. Then I told myself to get to 20. Then I told myself to get to 23, and finally to finish. I was so lucky to see Ann and Mary along the course, two awesome ladies who have done CIM before and are local to the area and are Facebook followers.


t mile 18 I really wanted to give up. I was so tired and had so much longer to go. My dreams of getting to the finish line before the 6 hour cut off were long gone and I was just hoping a volunteer would still be there with medals when I got there. But I knew I couldn’t give up. I had come too far to give up now. So I changed my intervals to 2:3 Run/walk and just told myself to finish. I hit the wall around mile 22.6, but just kept doing what I could. I was GOING to finish.

And suddenly I was at mile 25. I don’t know how it happened. I turned a corner and recognized where I was. I saw the Capitol building. I knew I was close. I picked up my pace and suddenly could run again. I saw a fellow CIM ambassador Art, who cheered me on, giving me the boost I needed. And I gave literally everything left that I had. Every ounce of it. And at this point, I started crying. I had achieved the unthinkable. I had done something that felt so unattainable. And after 6:41:19, I had done it. I had run my second marathon!

ugh it was the hardest thing I have ever accomplished, even harder than my first marathon, and it made the victory that much sweeter.

It wasn’t the best training I’ve had and I don’t feel size wise and Fitness wise where I would prefer to be, but it is a sweet victory to celebrate. I realized this weekend that because I have different goals that aren’t as elite as other runners, that does not take the value away of my goals nor does it diminish their accomplishment. I didn’t PR or BQ like other runners were shooting for but I finished my marathon. And that is something to be celebrated.

I may already be debating what Fall marathon I’ll be tackling in 2018…. but first I think I’ll rest up a little and stick to shorter distances.

Thank you everyone for your support. I am so grateful to have achieved this goal with you behind me❤️