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Maria527 11-26-2011 09:22 AM

Maria's Journey from Couch to Ironman and beyond...
Blogs have been discontinued so I'm moving my health and fitness journey here. This first entry is going to be long so that I can recap the past three years of how I got to this point.

I've never truly been overweight, but during the summer of 2008, my weight crept up and I started getting "plump." I was also very inactive, have a desk job, and ate out at restaurants a lot. My only activity was walking a few miles on occasion. By August I was >135 lbs (I am 5'4") and decided it was time to do something about it before it got out of hand. I can't remember now how or why I decided on Atkins, but I started the program on August 12, 2008, with the help of lowcarbfriends.

August 12, 2008: 135 lbs - Started Atkins, walking, aerobics.

My initial goal was 122 with a final goal of 118 lbs. But when I got to 122, I still felt flabby. I really wanted to drop those last few pounds but had hit a plateau. That was when I discovered the Meat & Egg Fast. Wow, that works! I sling-shotted right past 118 lbs and kept losing.

October 19, 2008: 122 lbs - Began Meat and Egg Fast and added strength training (hand weights).

November 24, 2008: 114.5 lbs - Cholesterol 217, HDL 67; LDL 141, Tri 44; Sugar 88

Reflections of 2008: When I reflected back on 2008, absolutely nothing stood out. 2007 was a very rough year for me and I was SO looking forward to 2008 being better. An uneventful year is actually a good thing, but I wanted more out of life. In 2008, I learned to sew. I lost 20 lbs and started an exercise routine. The most memorable event I could think of was the white water rafting/camping trip with coworkers, my BF, son and his GF. I wanted 2009 to be more eventful/memorable.

January 3, 2009: The day that changed the course of my life. The day I decided to learn to run.

Discovery Health channel aired a new program called, "Could You Survive." Three people had to try to save a loved one from a wrecked car, then run 1 mile to call 911 within 12 min. There was one overweight mom of two young kids and two out-of-shape overweight men. The woman had the best time, but none of them made it.

They trained with marines for 4 weeks and tried again. This time the woman was the only one to make it under 12 min! The men were not far behind. Then they were told to run all the way back to the wrecked car and the woman was first again. They followed up by saying that woman went on to run a 5k!!! And I thought, "if she can do it, I can do it too!!!"

January 5, 2009: 118.2 lbs - I dubbed 2009 the year of NO EXCUSES! I started the Couch-to-5K Program on a treadmill in my garage. I also started taking bellydance lessons!

March 7, 2009 - First race in the books! Rumba on the Lumber 5K race in 30:26:00. No one warned me that racing is an addiction worse than crack cocaine.

March 28, 2009 - Second 5K, Race for Hope in 30:25:00

May 23, 2009 - Third 5K, Skirt Chaser in 27:57:00. In this race, the ladies got a 3 min head start and the guys tried to catch up and pass them. My BF was not able to catch up; I was waiting for him at the finish line! Ha!

June 7, 2009 - My Chiropractor was talking about Triathlons on this day. I NEVER dreamed that I could/would do a Triathlon. But when he mentioned the distances of the race his wife was going to do, I thought, I can do that! I WILL do that!

Next thing I knew, I was signed up for my first Triathlon 2 months later on August 9. I continued running, dusted off my old mountain bike, and signed up for swim lessons at the YMCA which started on July 7. To my dismay, I could not even swim 50 yards without getting winded, let alone the 250 yards needed for the triathlon!

August 9, 2009- First Triathlon done! UNC Wellness Center Super Sprint Triathlon - 250 yd swim, 9 mile bike, and a 5K. I was addicted… hook, line, and sinker now. I had no idea that two years later I would be doing a full distance Ironman. No idea.

October 2009 - 109 lbs. My weight dropped to an all time low and I was called anorexic by my coworkers.

Reflections of 2009, The Year of No Excuses: That first triathlon led to an addiction and by the end of the year, I was able to swim 2700 yards (1.2 miles), bike 45 miles, and run a half marathon (13.1 miles).

Competed 11 races and made it to the podium twice!
March 7 - Rumba on the Lumber 5K
March 28 - Race for Hope
May 23 - Skirt Chaser 5K
Aug 9 - UNC Wellness Center Super Sprint Triathlon
Sept 12 - Dash for Divas Triathlon
Oct 4 - Take Flight Triathlon
Oct 24 - Running of the Wolves 10K (Won 2nd place AG)
Oct 25 - Monster Dash 5K
Oct 31 - Savannah Sprint Triathlon (Won 1st place AG & 1st place costume)
Nov 21 Turkey Trot 10K
Dec 12 Thunder Road Half Marathon

Reflections of 2010, The Year of Races: In 2010, I set new goals and continued training up to longer distances and racing. I traveled through 15 states to Wyoming and back. I saw the St. Louis Archway, the Continental Divide, and Old Faithful for the first time. I saw huge windmill farms, walked on a glacier, climbed a mountain, rode horses, saw wild buffalo, antelope, elk, bear, deer, cows, goats, lamas, sheep, some emu looking things, cowboys and sheep herders. And I helped herd sheep! I helped establish a Triathlon Club as Secretary and ended the year as Vice President. I also gained several pounds and was inconsistent with my way of eating :-( The high intensity training made me feel in a state of starvation all the time and I and a hard time balancing diet and exercise.

Swam - 206,473.8 yds (117+ miles!)
Biked - 1875.64 mi
Ran - 811.67 mi

Completed 12 races and made it to the podium once:
March 6 - Rumba on the Lumber 5K (Won 2nd AG)
March 21 - Tobacco Road Half Marathon
April 10 - BeaverDam Olympic Triathlon
May 8 - White Lake Half Iron Distance Triathlon
May 22 - Warrior Dash Mud Run/Obstacle Course
May 29 - Woodlake Sprint Triathlon
June 27 - Kure Beach Double Sprint
Jul 24 - Little Uno 1 mile swim
Sept 11 - White Lake International Triathlon
October 16 - Pinehurst Olympic Triathlon
Nov 13 - Beach to Battleship Half Iron
Dec 11 - Thunder Road Half Marathon

By the end of the year I was ready to make a commitment to a full distance Ironman. I registered for Ironman Florida, thus making 2011 the Year of Ironman! A separate post forthcoming on this.

Nutritionally over the past three years, I've gone through many versions of low carbing; Atkins (which is how I lost my weight), South Beach, Sonoma, You On A Diet, Paleo, Primal Blueprint, 4 Hour Body, Dukan. Wow, now that I write them all out, I realize just how much I've switched around! Admittedly, I've had a very difficult time balancing diet with endurance training. In the end, I think my heart is with natural whole foods, no grains, and minimal dairy. One of my goals for next year is the elimination of artificial sweeteners, but I'll be posting goals later.

I think that about sums it up! Will post reflections of 2011 later.

Maria527 11-26-2011 03:51 PM

Reflections of 2011, The Year of Ironman: This whole year basically revolved around preparing and training for Ironman Florida. An Ironman distance triathlon consist of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. In Florida, the swim portion is in the Gulf of Mexico with the sharks and jellyfish! My actual training plan started in mid-June. I had to juggle nutrition, work, sleep, home, and training two to three times a day 6 days a week. But it was all worth it when I crossed that finish line and heard those words, "Barbara Maria Driscoll, You Are An Ironman!" I can't wait to do the distance again next year!

Swam - 159,780 yards
Biked - 2,368 miles
Ran - 1,007 miles (and still counting!)

Completed 9 races and made it to the podium once:
Mar 5 - Rumba on the Lumber 5K (Won 1st place AG)
Mar 20 - Tobacco Road Full Marathon
April 16 - SweetH2O 50K Trail Challenge
May 28 - Woodlake Sprint Triathlon
June 26 - Kure Beach Double Sprint
Aug 27 - Warrior Dash
Sept 10 - Patriot Half Iron
Nov 5 - Ironman Florida!
Swim (2.4 miles) = 1:29:16
Transition from swim to bike = 11:11
Bike 112 miles = 6:32:20
Transition from bike to run = 4:03
Run 26.2 miles = 4:50:25
Total = 13:04:13 LONG Day! Whew!!!
Dec 3 - Huntersville Half Marathon

I've also become complacent with my way of eating and need to get back on track. Weight has fluctuated but has been near 118 lbs for the most part.

From Couch to 5K to Ironman

Rumba on the Lumber 5K, March 7, 2009

Ironman Florida, November 5, 2011

Speck333 11-26-2011 05:09 PM

I don't want to sound cliche, but truly, you are an inspiration. I'm trying to convince myself to hit the streets again. Thanks for posting your journey.

jeaniem 11-26-2011 05:14 PM

Wow!:high5: Truly impressive you should be so proud!!!

Maria527 11-27-2011 05:21 AM

Thank you ladies! Low-carbing and subsequently running has truly changed my life. My heart has never left low-carb although I have had to adjust for the endurance training. At this point, I have GOT to nail down specifically what I'm going to allow and not allow food wise. Things have gotten sloppy.

I doubt I will be able to go totally strict over the holidays, but I at least need a plan of attack. In looking at the list of WOEs I've studied, I think Paleo for Athletes and maybe Primal Blueprint are closest to what I want and my body needs. Maybe if I put my thoughts in writing, it will come together in my head.

Meat, fish, eggs, and green veggies have always been my biggest staple. Goal is to move towards grass fed/organic meats.

Veggies/Fruits - I probably need to vary my veggies more. I'm mostly stuck on broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, and variations of salads. I try to stick mostly with dark skinned fruits, blueberries and plums, but also like granny smith apples. Going into the future, I will allow sweet potatoes to help sustain my workouts.

Dairy - Wow, I've gone back and forth on this one. I feel I would do better without it, but have been unsuccessful when I've tried to eliminate it totally. The main things I've not been able to give up are cream for my coffee and butter. Perhaps coconut milk could be a suitable substitute for my coffee? I do love Greek yogurt, however that can turn into a binge item. I like cheese, but don't mind keeping it extremely limited. So I think my goal for dairy is to make it extremely limited, possibly eliminate it in the future.

Fat - I have no issues with fat. I mostly use olive oil and butter for cooking. I may try to incorporate more coconut oil. I may need to refresh my memory on which oils are healthy and which oils are not. I definitely do not use vegetable, corn, or canola oil. I've used walnut and grapeseed to make mayo, but haven't done that in awhile.

Sweeteners - This is a biggy for me. In the past 3 years, I've gone heavy on the artificial sweeteners. After researching Paleo/Caveman WOEs, I've tried to give up sweeteners altogether and have been unsuccessful thus far. I'm currently reading a book called Sweet Deception which goes through the list of sweeteners, both artificial and natural, and discusses the dangers of each. So, my goal for sweeteners is to totally eliminate all artificial sweeteners and extremely limit the natural ones. For now, I think liquid Stevia is my best bet for my coffee/tea. I may allow molasses, honey, and pure maple syrup on very rare occasions, but know that these are not my friend and will cause an insulin spike. But I did successfully make a pumpkin pie using coconut milk and pure maple syrup for Thanksgiving! The crust was almond meal and coconut oil, although I think it would have been better (and held together better) with butter.

Grains - These of course are no no's. But I've been known to eat one slice of whole wheat toast when having breakfast out with my BF after our REALLY long bike rides. Since I am planning another iron distance triathlon next year, I can't guarantee I'll never do this again. Quinoa? I'm not sure what that is classified as and have not used it much, but it could be an option to help sustain my workouts.

Processed foods/products - I think I've already eliminated most all of this, with the exception of sweeteners. I just need to watch for the sneaky ones.

Okay, what other areas do I need to work on? Oh...I have binge eating issues. I have GOT to get that under control this year once and for all.

Tomorrow morning I will weigh myself to see where I stand. I think I have about 5 lbs hanging around. So the very first thing I need to do is start measuring and logging my food again. I have terrible portion control issues and logging is the ONLY thing that works. I'll feel better once I clean my system out of the things that have crept in and have thrown me off balance.

Maria527 11-28-2011 09:56 AM

I will not use artificially flavored orange sticks.
I will not use artificially flavored orange sticks.
I will not use artificially flavored orange sticks.

I just took the box of orange sticks from my office and placed them in the community kitchen for others to use. I will not go to the kitchen to retrieve any of them. I will drink plain water or tea.

This may seem trivial to most, but I want to quit artificial sweeteners and orange sticks are a bothersome problem for me.

Maria527 11-30-2011 12:23 PM

21 Days Clean Challenge

I decided that it is time to clean my act up. I've gotten all off balance after training up for Ironman Florida, battling excessive hunger, trying to figure out how to fuel the grueling workouts, then dropping training way down after the race for recovery time.

I started the "21 Days Clean Challenge" the other day and am already starting to feel better. But I'm still training and racing and have a half marathon this weekend. Typically, I would use sports nutrition before and during a race. But I'm afraid that using sports nutrition will throw me right back our of wack. At the same time, I'm afraid NOT using it will cause me to bonk mid-race.

I think I need to re-read the Paleo Diet for Athletes. I have GOT to figure out how to do endurance sports on a low carb diet. Period.

ab1ht 12-01-2011 10:30 AM

Hey there. Finally got around to seeing this. Been on and off healthy eating for a while myself, but trying to get back on.

Yes, you totally rock. I'm envious :o

I wish an IM was in my future, but probably not. I had enough trouble with my last HIM.

Still, if you ever find your way up here, we should look for an event. I have a spare bike you can use :)

And leave your BF at home. ;)

Maria527 12-01-2011 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by ab1ht (Post 15217089)
Hey there. Finally got around to seeing this. Been on and off healthy eating for a while myself, but trying to get back on.

Yes, you totally rock. I'm envious :o

I wish an IM was in my future, but probably not. I had enough trouble with my last HIM.

Still, if you ever find your way up here, we should look for an event. I have a spare bike you can use :)

And leave your BF at home. ;)

Paul! So glad you stopped by {Hug}! Yeah, I've been wishy washy, but my heart is still with low carb. I've been feeling like I need to hook back up with you an Brian to help get me back on track!

I've had a VERY hard time balancing diet with endurance training. But I'm not giving up. Going to re-read Paleo for Athletes and try to actually follow it this time. I think I tried to be too strict last time and it just didn't work for me then I lost my way.

Maria527 01-02-2012 01:58 PM


Join C4; ride consistently, increase speed
Consistent strength/core, yoga, stretching & foam roller
(Body Pump M/W, Core T/Th, Yoga Fri)
20 pushups on toes
Speedwork for S/B/R
Rumba on the Lumber (Goal PR 5K distance)
Shamrock Marathon (Goal PR over Tobacco Road)
White Lake Sprint
Woodlake Duathlon
Kure Beach Double Sprint
White Lake International
Augusta 70.3 (Goal <6)
Beach to Battleship Full (Goal PR over IMFL <13)
Huntersville Half Marathon
Clean eating (Paleo style!)
Get/maintain weight below 115 lbs.
Give up artificial sweeteners
Move towards grassfed, organic foods (make list of suppliers)
Food Log EVERY DAY (everything that goes in my mouth)
Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep
Keep in touch with extended family
Read more books (Paleo for Athletes, Neanderthin, Primal Blueprint, UltraMarathon Man, You Are An Ironman)
Organize photos, albums, video tapes
Get rid of clutter/clothes

Speck333 01-02-2012 05:46 PM

Happy New Year Maria! Good to see you posting again. Great list of goals. I'm feeling pretty ambitious this year, too.

Maria527 01-22-2012 01:36 PM

My weight has been fluctuating up and I've had issues with body composition. I think doing excessive cardio, too little strength training, and too low carb is eating away my muscle and making me feel squishy.

I bought yet another diet book, The Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. I haven't read it all yet, but thumbed through it and found that it's pretty much a repeat of everything I already know from studying Paleo and Primal. But this book has a very specific macronutrient ratio in the amount of 20% carb, 15% protein, and 65% fat.

I used the Cron-O-Meter to try to come up with a day of calories at this ratio and had a really tough time getting the protein low enough and the fat high enough. Plus, being an active athlete leads me to believe I need more than 15% protein anyway. So I compared this ratio with Ben Greenfield's Low Carb recommendation which is 20-30% carb, 20-30% protein, 50-60% fat. Been Greenfield is a competitive triathlete, so he knows how to fuel this lifestyle. I settled on 20% carb, 25% protein, and 55% fat.

The Perfect Health Diet allows white rice and white potatoes, which is way too weird to me. I will be allowing wild rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes as carbs (beyond veggies). I hope this improves my energy level and helps fuel my workouts.

I also returned to Body Pump class last month and am getting my strength back. I've been working really hard doing push ups on my toes and hope to complete the 100 Push Up Challenge. I'm also working on pull ups, but not as diligently.

I hope that changing my macronutrient ratio in conjunction with more weight training will help with my weight and body composition. But I'm also struggling with some late evening binge eating. I hope that logging everything into the Cron-O-Meter will help with this!

I sis not weight today, but was 120 lbs yesterday (up from 117.6). Results of a late evening binge.

"The pain of discipline is always less than the pain of regret."

ab1ht 01-23-2012 03:36 AM

Hope you get it figured out.

I can certainly empathize with the evening binge thing. I myself was hearing the Oreos calling me during the playoff game yesterday, but I resisted.

If you want, I'll give you my cell number and you can call any time you need a kick.


Maria527 01-24-2012 03:00 AM


Originally Posted by ab1ht (Post 15352698)
Hope you get it figured out.

I can certainly empathize with the evening binge thing. I myself was hearing the Oreos calling me during the playoff game yesterday, but I resisted.

If you want, I'll give you my cell number and you can call any time you need a kick.


Thanks Paul! Can send phone number here of FB.

It amazes me how well I can do ALL day, but in the late evening, if I'm the slightest bit hungry, my brain starts thinking of all the things I could get into. I tend to eat my calories early in the day and taper down as the day goes on. But, I really need to make sure my belly is comfortably full at bedtime, because that's when the trouble starts.

ab1ht 01-24-2012 05:23 AM

There's a physiological reason for this. See http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/ma...-cravings.html

Also make sure you're well hydrated as I've found that helps.

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