Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12.31.08: Stone Cold Resolve

As evening falls on this New Year's Eve, I can hear the wind blustering more and more by the minute but I am heading out into the cold and happy to do so.

In about an hour, I'll take the train to NYC to take on the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a 4-mile fun run in Central Park at the first moment of 2009. I'm doing this run on behalf of UNICEF, an organization helping kids across the globe.

This is the first of my Save the World Diet challenges. I'm so thrilled this year of taking on a physcial challenge each month for charity is finally here. I'm sick of sitting on my rear -- worrying about the state of the world and my weight.

So I hope you'll join me this year, by focusing on what you can do to help yourself and help the world by taking on physical challenges for charity.

There are 5Ks, bike rides, swims and so on, but it doesn't have to be so formal. Getting healthy and helping the world can eating and exercising so you feel energetic enough to shovel your elderly neighbor's driveway. Please post your aspirations for the coming year... I'm so happy to have you along for the journey!

Running is the least I can do and I hope you'll support me by making a donation on my Facebook Causes page:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12.30.08: What Not to Wear -- Maternity Clothes

As I was preparing for interview with What Not To Wear Co-Host Clinton Kelly, it occurred to me that the majority of my tops were maternity wear.

I haven’t been pregnant since February.

My closet was mix of hopeful hangers full of things that fit me when I returned from Kilimanjaro, when I felt great about my weight. They haven’t moved for more than a year.

The only thing that I could come up with was a purple maternity sweater, something I picked up at Target when my belly started to grow. My daughter is 10 months old and it still fits.

The truth is, I have been feeling downright frumpy these last few months. I work from home so I don’t have to dress up. There have been days – with the balance of baby and work -- when I’ve been lucky to get a shower. There are days that moments after I put on a fresh shirt, it’s full of baby something. Baby spitup. Baby food. Baby snot. I stopped bothering to change my shirt when it gets a spot, figuring it will be the canvas for that day’s baby happenings.

In fact, when it came to my interview with Clinton, who was appearing at the Bridgewater Borders to sign his book Freakin’ Fabulous, I couldn’t remove my parka because my shoulder was smudged with my concealer. (Note to self: Don’t trying applying makeup while holding daughter).

Clinton was a nice guy – and was used to being asked what to wear – and What Not to Wear. I didn’t bother asking his opinion on my outfit, but when he started talking about the frumpy women on his show, I took note.

He said many mothers who come on the show put themselves last on their priority lists, and feel they are being better mothers because of it. He said actually they are doing a disservice to themselves and their children, by showing a lack of respect for themselves.

Looking frumpy, for me, is a consequence of feeling frumpy on the inside. So I decided it was time for a bit of a makeover, starting with ditching all my maternity clothing. It was my own little intervention.

I took an afternoon to myself, something I hadn’t had in a long time and hit the post-Christmas sales, armed with something to return – an ill-fitting boxy jacket with the tags still on it, a gift card and a few of my own dollars. I spent about two hours in the mall, just trying thing on – making sure to search deep in the clearance items as my budget wasn’t big. I looked for things that made me feel good and could be easily tailored. I took his advice about buying a good-fitting bra, a structured jacket and other feminine tops (as recommended on the show).

You might say, why not just wait until you're well into this year's Save The World Diet challenges, when your old clothes will fit again?

Well, I’m sick of feeling frumpy – and feeling good about myself starts now.

What kind of wardrobe makeover can you do – whether revisiting old clothes or shopping the sales – can you do to make yourself feel good at this moment?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

12.28.08: Can't Wait for the Start

Yesterday I learned my friend who wanted to do the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park is not going to be able to do it with me. I could hear the disappointment in her voice as she backed out from the event because of an injury with less than a week to go.

I could have let this be an excuse to also back out. Afterall, this midnight run was her idea and one of the biggest challenges will be staying awake that late! But my husband and I decided to go on and do it anyway. While we were excited about having our friend along, this is about our wellbeing -- and the good of others (I'm using the run to raise money for UNICEF). We're not going to back off from this mission, The Save the World Diet where I take on a physical challenge each month for charity.

I'm not in perfect shape by any means. I've got 40 pounds of baby weight, wiggling when I run. But I'm going for it anyway -- even if I need to walk part of it.

The midnight race -- at the first moment of 2009 -- will be the beginning of something incredible. I just can't wait to start.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

12.19.08: Getting Beyond Fear

I've been feeling a little pang of fear these days as I announce my intentions to do my Save the World Diet -- a physical challenge for charity each month of 2009. It's scary putting it all out there, telling the world what you want to do -- I mean, what if you fail?

I wash away the fear with the knowledge that it would be much worse to not do anything, to just sit here and waste my life away. The longer I wait to drop these excess pounds, the higher my risk for diabetes, heart disease and oh so many ailments, not to mention a dearth of energy and exciteement about life in general. Now that's a scary thought.

I want to use my body to the best of it's potential. I want to spend my year helping others, and feeling an amazing sense of accomplishment -- knowing that Doing Good is Good for You.

So just a few weeks to go. I'm over my cold. I'm back on the treadmill. I'm really going to do this.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

12.15.08: Stepping Into Something New

Last week was one of those weeks. My 10-month-old daughter was under the weather. The weather stunk. Then I was under the weather. With all of these excuses, I didn't get to the gym much.

I know that I am at my best when I am eating well and exercising regularily but sometimes weeks worth of working out can slip away in just a few days. Once the workout schedule crumbles, good eating habits often also disappear.

By Saturday I felt terrible. I was crankier than my daughter, stressed that none of these extra holiday-time tasks were done and in tears as I tried to venture to Costco. I turned back from the big box retailers to spend the afternoon chilling out, realizing that hadn't done much lately to care for myself.

It is so incredibly important to take time to care for myself everyday. My workouts are my break. Without them, even for a few days, my world is off kilter and the stress builds up and up.

So today, after I finished my work, I loaded Anna in the car and we headed to the gym. I had been meaning to try a Step Interval class. I had often watched through the window and saw what looked like a group of people having fun.

Today, I am happy to report I was one of them.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12.10.08: Oprah's Weight -- Heavy Struggles

There's been a lot of talk in these past few days about Oprah's weight gain.

In an article for O magazine, Oprah wrote that she used her Thyroid condition as a crutch and then allowed weight to pile on. I did the same thing during my pregnancy. Oprah, I feel your pain.

I don't know what it is about those of us who struggle with weight. It's like there's this switch for when we're doing well to stay in the zone, but once our old habits are triggered it's so incredibly hard to stop, like a frozen computer that you just can't reboot.

The promising message from Oprah's story is she is going to focus on her health, not getting skinny. This is the right path. I always do better on any weight loss journey when I focus on what I want to do, not how many pounds I lose.

If I said I want to lose 20 pounds, it doesn't mean anything. If I say I am going to do a marathon (which, by the way is the May challenge in my Save the World Diet plan,) well then I better get running and fuel my body so that I can make it (even if it means walking) to the finish line.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12.02.08: New Feature -- Tuesday Tunes

So many of us listen to music while training -- I'm often plugged in to my club's audio system or toting my husband's iPod shuffle. So here's a fun mental trick to let music motivate you. Dedicate a song to your weight!

This is something I did during my Kilimanjaro climb training. It helped me focus and stay connected to my body while working out. I used break up songs to bid adieu to lost pounds. My favorite was Kelly Clarkson's 'Since You've Been Gone', which I'd sing to previous pounds "Since you've been gone, I can breathe for the first time." The song details an unhealthy relationship which I'd equate to my past with food. I'd sing love songs -- such as John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland" -- to my newfound healthy body.

Each week, I'll bring you Tuesday Tunes that we can all dedicate to our weight, to help motivate us along our journey. There might even be a playlist along the way.

This week's tune: What Goes Around Comes Around -- Justin Timberlake

This song, which is in the Club Com rotation at my gym, Can Do in Short Hills, reminds me that what I do to my body today will come back to haunt or hurt me somewhere down the line.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

12.01.08: Coffee for a Cause

Today is World AIDS Day and to mark the event, Starbucks decided to donate 5 cents from the purchase of certain beverages to help fight AIDS and support those afflicted with or affected by the disease.

When I posted the event on my Facebook account, I got some flack saying that 5 cents is a puny amount compared to the amount of profit the company makes. Even though those nickels do add up when it comes to the millions of Starbucks customers, it's not so much about the money raised as it is the awareness.

Companies such as the Gap and Apple have taken part in the Product (RED) Campaign, making it hip to wear clothing or get gear that also goes for a good cause. If it weren't for these campaigns, and Bono behind them, some people may not take time to think about the global epidemic of AIDS.

It's the little things that add up -- whether trying to lose weight or help the world -- that lead to big change.

So, kudos to Starbucks for raising funds and awareness for the cause. I picked up my Grande Gingersnap Non-Fat Latte this morning and drank to hope for all those living with the effects of HIV/AIDS, especially the more than 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa.

And if you want to do more than sip coffee, join me on my Kilimanjaro climb to benefit AIDS orphans departing in December 2009. To make a donation on behalf of my journey or in honor of World AIDS Day, go to:

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

11.29.08: Attitude of Gratitude

In this long Thanksgiving weekend, I am grateful for my family, for my health and for the world around me.

There is something wonderful to be said about the power of gratitude. Feeling grateful can make us feel stronger, even when life isn’t so easy going.

I started a tradition that I continue today in my training. Each time I finished a hike, I thanked the mountain for being strong under my feet and my feet for being strong on the mountain.

It’s little things like that – focusing on what you can do and what you have – versus all the things you can’t do and what you don’t have – that will make you successful.

You have the tools, the ability to get healthier and to make the world a better place and for that I am grateful.

Thanksgiving Blessings to You and Your Friends & Family….
Kara Richardson Whitely
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11.25.08: Ruby's Journey

Have you seen the new reality weight loss show called Ruby?

It's on Style -- and it follows the journey of a more-than-400-pound woman "in the fight for her life." This isn't the Biggest Loser kind of spectacle, but it shows the real, gritty challenges of a person trying to make good, healthy lifestyle changes -- from the re-appearance of an old flame -- who tried to take her off track to ordering a smoothie while with her friends at a restaurant.

I've cringed along with her (especially during her visit to a candy store when she realized that she shouldn't go there any more). I applaud her honesty as she shares her story.

We're three episodes in and she's already lost more than 60 pounds -- with the help of a personal trainer, an obesity specialist and pre-packaged meals. I'm cheering her on along the way to well being.

So catch it if you can -- it airs 8 p.m. on Sundays on Style.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

11.21.08: The Summit Will Wait For You, Ann Curry

I hope by now Ann Curry and her team has made her way down Mount Kilimanjaro safely.
For those of you who haven't been following her journey on The Today Show's spectacular Ends of the Earth broadcasts, she and her team turned back on the trail to the summit of the world's tallest freestanding mountain. The altitude sickness and the approaching weather proved too daunting and they made a group decision not to make the last push to the 19,343-foot summit.

During my trek there in 2007, one of the members of our team did not summit. She had been sick just before the climb and was going through some tough personal stuff. It was heartbreaking for her, for all of us. The environment on Kilimanjaro is rough -- really rough.

During one of Ann Curry's reports, she said it was a struggle even to get out of the tent. It's true. You walk painstakingly slow to get to the top of the mountain. It's a way to let your body adjust to the altitude -- but really, if your body isn't used to the altitude, it's all you can manage.

I've read that Ann had three weeks to prepare for the journey, something that may have set her up for failure. It was wonderful for the Today Show to highlight the disappearing glaciers on the mountain -- and important cause for the world to care about -- but it may have been unrealistic to expert Ann and her five-person team to summit.

That person in my team who didn't summit is returning to the mountain this February to give it another go. I'm sure this time she'll make it -- her strength on the first attempt was astounding and she's been thinking and preparing for the top of the mountain for two years now.

Pole, Pole (slowly, slowly) Ann. I loved what one of the porters said to Ann during her trek. To paraphase, the summit will wait and she's smiling at you.

I'm looking for an eight-person team to join me on my trek up the Kilimanjaro in December 2009, as the finale of my Save the World Diet effort (one physical challenge each month for charity). I'd be honored to have Ann -- or any of the members of her crew -- along with with me for the journey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

11.21.08: Have a Heart

I am happy to report that I will be serving as an American Heart Association spokeswoman -- telling my story throughout New Jersey, helping to inspire others to make healthy lifestyle changes.

This is a perfect partnership for me as the American Heart Association provides great guidance for those on their path to wellbeing. And if you're considering making some positive changes in your exercise and eating habits, here are some motivating facts. According to the American Heart Association: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. Each year Americans suffer 1.2 million heart attacks. Of all the women who died suddenly from heart disease, 64 percent had no previous symptoms.
I think one of the association's most important and touching messages is to "Love Your Heart." If you follow me on this path to wellness-- by eating healthy foods and exercising -- you'll do just that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11.20.08: On the Radio tonight

I'll be a guest on the online radio show tonight (Thursday) evening, so tune in if you can!

The show airs at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Here's info about the show:

· Visit
· Be our friend on the following networks:
o MySpace: http://www.myspace.comthebariatricmind/
o Facebook: Bariatric Mind

About the hosts:
· Visit
· PeggyG’s RCRN Profile
· DeAnne’s RCRN Profile

Check out the coaching radio network:
· Visit
· You may listen to any show, anytime – the widget/window is on the front page – easy!
· Anyone can listen and chat in the room – users show up as “Guest####”
· Register at to gain a user name and ability to use a web cam in the chat room

Monday, November 17, 2008

11.17.08: Go, Ann Curry, Go!

Think good thoughts for Ann Curry. I just read that Ann Curry had three weeks to train for her trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. While it may be hard going at least she's giving it a go.

She's there for the Today Show's fabulous Ends of the Earth special ( ) where the anchors are sent to report on challenges facing our globe. Matt Lauer is in Belize, Al Roker is in Iceland, Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry is in one of my favorite places on the planet -- Kilimanjaro.

She's on her way up to have a look at the glaciers, which I'm sure you know, are disappearing. Actually one of my climbing companions in 2007 had also been up there in 2005. She said there was a dramatic difference in the size of the the massive ice blocks that cover the mountain, which is pretty darn close to the Equator.

So, here's to seeing things and doing things while you can. Ann Curry could have backed out and said, "No way, I won't be ready for the challenge." She went for it. Whether she summits or not, you have to admire her ability to broadcast -- even as the air is getting thinner with each step she makes up the mountain.

It's so fun to see images of Kilimanjaro and know that I've been there. I want to again -- and I will.

In fact, I'm planning a Global Alliance for Africa trip for the last week of December 2009 -- hoping to summit on New Year's Day 2010. This will be the finale of my Save the World Diet -- a physical challenge each month for a good cause.

Let me know if you'd like to come along!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

11.12.08: Back In My Britches

I've been working out so hard these days and it feels wonderful.

The scale isn't budging as fast as I'd like but yesterday I noticed a new pep in my step. Actually, as I set foot on the paver-stone path in front of me, I felt inclined to jog. I haven't been this perky since my pre-pregnancy days.

It occured to me as the cold days have settled in that I was wearing a fleece that I wore up Kilimanjaro. These things are starting to fit again. Hooray!

So onword to many more healthy and hearty workouts. I'm so on my way to new adventures.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

11.10.08: The half-hour mark

I'm happy to report that I'm up to 30 minutes of running on the treadmill. I am rebuilding strength after my pregnancy and to prepare for the adventures ahead. Each time I run I get a little better, and more enthusiastic about doing it.

I might be up for a marathon after all.

My plan for this week it to do two additional running sessions, two strength workouts and two stints on the eliptical or walks around the neighborhood. I'll be up to 35 minutes on the treadmill by Sunday.

Another task on my to-do list this week: Get new shoes.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

11.03.08: Sweets Are A Sour Note

I hate that so many food-related things that should be fun get so complicated for me.

On Halloween, I felt silly standing in the background as my husband Chris wore our daughter in the Baby Bjorn from house to house. She wore a perky flower costume, and delighted those who opened the door when they saw her able to pluck out a candy from the bowl of treats.

Of course at nearly nine months old, she can't eat the candy but you could tell she was having a blast as she waved the little pieces back and forth. She in it for the crinkly wrapper. The mini box of Dots became her new rattle.

I wondered it all those parents thought I was the one who was going to eat all those candies, which went in a spare diaper bag slung over my shoulder. I should have been enjoying this first trick-or-treating experience with my daughter but instead I was wallowing in my own self-humiliation. I felt compelled to tell everyone they were for "Daddy" not me.

Sweets took on a sour note for me again on Sunday when Chris wanted a pumpkin doughnut. A pumpkin doughnut sounded like such a sweet way to celebrate fall, with some apple cider on the side. But since I'm back in training mode, my choice at Dunkin Donuts was limited to an egg white flatbread sandwich, a new offering with less than 300 calories.

It's moments like these -- crunching down on a breakfast sandwich that was a bit dry in flavor and sentiment-- that I wished I hadn't snuck out to get pumpkin scones and other treats so many times without him. That way, I could enjoy treats with him.

The key from now on is balance -- finding the right mix of exercise and eating so I can enjoy the sweet life with those I love.

Friday, October 31, 2008

10.31.08: Halloween Junk In My Trunk

I have to be honest here. Halloween candy scares me so much that I have to hide it in the trunk of my car.

Candy is one of my greatest weaknesses. In year's past Halloween was the beginning of the deluge of overindulgence. This year, as I'm training for a four-mile run on New Year's Day, I'm not going down that path.

I know Halloween candy is wrapped in those cute little individual servings, but as I was chewing one piece of candy, I was unwrapping another. I'd pop one aafter another in my mouth until the jumbo bag was gone. I used to buy candy corn as soon as it started showing up on the shelves in the fall -- but the bag would never last until Halloween. Sometimes I'd be lucky if it would last a day.

So there it is. I fear Halloween, not because of the ghouls that will come to my door, but because of the candy.

So until it's time for the trick-or-treaters to come ringing my doorbell, I'm keeping that junk in my trunk, so it doesn't become junk on my trunk.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10.28.08: Running Comes In Handy

I'm now up to 20 minutes of running on the treadmill (plus some hill walking) and I'm feeling strong. So when it started to downpour during the Halloween Parade around Summit on Saturday, I didn't think twice about double stepping it -- or more like sprinting -- back house.

This running is really coming in handy.

Anna was nominated for cutest costume. Even though we didn't stick around to claim her prize, I think she won.

By the way, I'm working on something big for 2009 -- so stay tuned.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10.22.08: My Martha Stewart Moment

I was an hour and a half early for Martha Stewart's booksigning event yesterday at the Short Hills Mall. Still, I was about 100 people back in line. By the time the signing started (after wild applause when Martha arrived) the line stretched from Williams-Sonoma to beyond Bloomingdale's -- I'd say that's about a quarter mile.

Since Martha Stewart is a fellow Kilimanjaro climber, I wanted to share my story from the October issue of Self magazine with her in hopes of eventually being a guest on her show. But also to have the opportunity to tell her how much I admired her strength and courage as a person.

When I told her I also reached Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro, she asked when I went. As she signed the front page of her new book, "Martha Stewart's Cooking School", I told her I summited a year ago February.

She looked at me, smiled and asked, "Didn't you just love it?"

I did.

I'm so glad that I took the time to see Martha -- this woman I truly admire -- to share my story with her. I believe in taking a chances - enjoying all of life's opportunities -- because you never know what can happen.

By the way, forget all the negative things you hear about Martha. The three times I've seen her -- at two tapings of The Martha Show and at this booksigning -- she was gracious and sweet. And yes, she's just as beautiful (inside and out) in person as she is on television or in her books and magazines. (My pictures didn't turn out great as we weren't allowed to used flash in the store. My flash went off, and I got in trouble with the Williams-Sonoma staff. I'll try to post something tonight.)

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10.21.08: Martha Stewart: A Good Thing

marthafoto, originally uploaded by fat woman on the mountain.

Today I’m going to meet fellow Kilimanjaro climber Martha Stewart during her “ Martha Stewart's Cooking School” book signing at the Short Hills Mall.

Martha Stewart had a harrowing Kilimanjaro climb. She shared the details in her business book, “The Martha Rules.” As she neared the summit, her guide started to show severe signs of altitude sickness and had to go down the mountain for his own safety. Martha was faced with a choice, return with her guide or press on alone.

She decided to continue on even though her guide had forgotten to bring food and water for the summit attempt. She ate snow and followed the trail to its pinnacle.

I’ve always admired Martha’s great tenacity, creativity, enterprise and love for all Good Things. As someone who has also reached Uhuru Peak at 19,343 feet, the story of Martha's Kilimanjaro climb just reinforces my great respect for her as a person of great courage and strength.

I’ve been to two Martha Show tapings (which are great fun if you’re ever in the New York City area) but I’ve never had a chance to meet her personally. I feel lucky to have one of the 350 tickets made available for the signing.

It may be a blip of a moment in front of Martha but I hope to get a chance to tell her about my 120-pound weight loss. It would be so much fun to swap mountain climbing adventures.

What I’d really love is to be a guest on The Martha Show in the New Year. We could make a healthy dish together and I could talk about using great adventures to inspire weight loss!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

10.20.08: Running My Own Race

I signed up for the Summit YMCA 5K/2-mile Walk last Saturday. Now, since I just started this running program, I opted to do the 2-mile course.

I had been told that 5K began at 1 p.m. but the 2-mile folks were set to start at 1:10 p.m. So I waited, and of course after getting my 8-month-old daughter Anna ready, I arrived at about 1:12 p.m.

When I showed up I learned everyone had already left about 10 minutes earlier! So just started on the course with a quick, warm-up walk and turned it into a jog.

I had a number affixed to my fleece, but no other runners or walkers around me. I was indeed running my own race. I passed a few walkers, which felt nice. In all, I jogged about 1.5 miles and finished close to last but that will not be my last race. I'm just getting started again.

What felt great was feeling strong. These past few weeks of doing light, short jogs have made me feel stronger and leaner. The scale is finally moving down, after a two-month plateau -- and I am moving forward.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

10.16.08: Keeping Up With the Treadmill

It had been a long time since I ran on the treadmill -- in fact it hasn't been since my Kilimanjaro training nearly two years ago. I did a jog outside the other day, but the treadmill makes you keep going as fast as it's going.

You know how much I love to exercise in the great outdoors, but the treadmill is a great alternative. It allows you to track your speed and progress. It's all right there on the display panel. Plus, you don't have to worry about getting your sneakers wet if it's raining outside.

Today's workout was a challenge but now I feel great. I'm well on my way to that four-mile race on Jan. 1 in Central Park!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

10.14.08: Stop Tripping Yourself

I developed a nasty habit on my maternity leave. I'd take a walk and when I was finished, I'd swing by Starbucks, or any other open place where I could find a snack, which almost always topped the amount of calories I just burned during my jaunt.

After Anna was born, I kept doing the same thing.

I was lonely during my maternity leave. Instead of spending my days with some great, and very chatty coworkers, I was home waiting for the next episode of Clean House or Baby Story. My trip to Starbucks was a chance to see familiar people, some even knew my name. (Insert Cheers theme song here).

But the comraderie was momentary. After paying far too much for a decaf coffee drink loaded with calories and a pastry to go along with it, I was back at home feeling lonely again, and worse.

I knew I needed to stop tripping myself. It was defeating any intention of dropping baby weight, and being the healthiest I could be.

To do that, I needed to make sure I fulfilled my needs for company -- and replaced the action.

The first thing I did was remove the means by prohibiting myself from bringing my wallet, or any form of currency on my walks.

Then, I filled the need. I joined a new mother's group, which met each Wednesday. That way I could get out of the house each week. Within a few weeks, we knew each others' stories. Our new job was being a mother -- so in a way, they were coworkers.

How do you trip yourself up? What things do you do that prevent your progress? What can and will you do to change?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

10.09.09: Ten minutes today -- four miles on New Year's Day!

I started my new running routine today. In addition to my regular one-hour walk, I added in 10 minutes of running. Well maybe it was a jog.

Either way, I'm following David Kuehl's advice in his book "4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon." Kuehl talks about building a base before taking on an endeavor such as a marathon. In week one, he suggests starting with 10 minutes of running, three times a week.

For now, I'm training for a four-mile run at the stroke of midnight on 2009. I'm building up to something spectacular in 2009 -- perhaps another mountain climb, or yes, maybe even a marathon.

I'm in decent shape. I exercise at least five times a week but running has been off the training log since my Kilimanjaro Climb preparation. So, I'm starting slow, and building strength.

I was strong -- and actually did about 20 minutes of jogging. I felt rusty but I know that if I stick with it, within a few workouts I'll gain speed, ability -- and shed some more baby weight as I prepare for this race.

I feel good after the run -- and glad that I started.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

10.08.08: Hanging On -- Lessons from the Biggest Loser

This week's challenge had the contestents hanging onto a bar, trying to balance their bodies as water, which had made their bodies boyant dropped from the tank. The task grew harder and harder until they were all there, holding themselves up, while their feet stood on a wobbly bar below.

The two women who hung on the longest were really in the zone, with their bodies and mind focused on staying on the bar -- even when they were told they could only hang on with one hand.

Vicky sounded like she was in some kind of trance when she said, "I just want to read a letter from my kids!" When she finished and was allowed to drop into the water below, she started to cry. Later, she said that was all she could think about. It was why she was able to hang on for so long.

Our minds can help us or really get in our way. When you focus on your goal - and keep it in your mind -- eventually, you'll get there.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

10.06.08: Starting My New Year's Resolution Now

My friend Jessica emailed the following invitation to me this weekend:

"Any interest in this year's midnight run in Central Park on December 31? I've always wanted to do it and it seems like a great way to kick off the New Year. It's a four mile race."

This seemed like a great idea to me -- instead of waiting to start my New Year's resolution on Jan. 1, I would use New Year's Day as my target date. This would keep me on track through the holidays -- starting with my most challenging one, Halloween. I could start 2009 -- from the very moment it begins -- on a healthy note.

I have a lot of work to do to make this goal. Truth be told, I haven't done much running since my Kilimanjaro training. (Folks say you shouldn't climb unless you're able to run four miles.) I know I can do it and I'll have lots of support by conquering this goal with Jessica, who has also lost 100 pounds, and my husband Chris who loves to run.

Either way, it will be a great base for whatever my 2009 adventures will be -- whether it's hiking on Global Alliance for Africa's fundraising trek up Mount Kenya, or joining my husband on a marathon.

So, what do you want to do by the time 2009 begins?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

10.02.08: The Road Ahead On My 4th Wedding Anniversary

Today Chris and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary.

This journey of life with Chris by my side has been an incredible and wonderous adventure. We've been around the world, down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and to the roof of Africa.

My favorite place of all is by his side.

Having a partner, someone who is invested in your success, makes the journey that much more enjoyable. That partner doesn't have to be a spouse, it could be a sibling, a parent, a friend, a personal trainer. It's just nice to have someone who will encourage you when you don't feel like going any more, someone who knows how hard you're trying and celebrates all that you are.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

09.30.08: Biggest Loser Grand Lessons

IMG_0351, originally uploaded by fat woman on the mountain.
This is me on the last mile of the 10-mile journey up the Bright Angel Trail on the Grand Canyon's South Rim.
It was the longest -- and the best -- mile of my life!

I loved what the show's host, Alison Sweeney, said about how the Grand Canyon was formed. She had the contestants up on one of the Grand Canyon's countless vistas, looking below at the mighty Colorado River. She said that the river worked year-by-year to shape this magnificent sight -- just as the contestents were working to re-shape their own lives.

One of the most amazing experiences I've ever had was hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and making it back to the top. There is something so awesome about seeing what only a fraction of the Grand Canyon visitors see, and to know that I made it.

Return to:

Monday, September 29, 2008

09.29.08: Walk the Walk

On Saturday, I'm going to walk the walk.

I'll be one of 2,000 walkers in the The Start! Somerset-Hunterdon County Heart Walk, presented nationally by Subway, Healthy Choice and AstraZeneca, and locally supported by Ethicon, Inc. The walk is Saturday, Oct. 4 in Duke Island Park in Bridgewater.

The average person can gain two hours of life expectancy for each hour of vigorous, regular exercise, according to a release from The American Heart Association.

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke — the nation's No. 1 and No. 3 killers.

Each year, about 780,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, according to a release from The American Heart Association. An estimated 1.2 million Americans will suffer from a new or recurrent coronary attack this year and an estimated 38 percent of the people that will experience a coronary attack will die from it.

Study after study show that participating in physical exercise leads to many health benefits, including reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. The easiest and most affordable activity for most? Walk.

To make a donation on behalf of my walk, go to:

To learn more, visit or call the American Heart Association at 609-208-0020.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

09.28.08: The Holy Grail of Weight Loss

During an Advertising Week panel last week in New York City, members of the Coalition for Healthy Children, lead by moderator Devika Bulchandani of McCann Erickson, converged to discuss the issue of childhood obesity. They talked about their combined efforts in the advertising world to educate kids about the need for a healthy diet and exercise.

The panelists -- Penny Royall, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Disease Prevention & Health Promotion; Mark Waller, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Sales for the National Football League; Mary Sophos, Senior Vice President & Chief Government Affairs Officer for the Grocery Manufacturers of America; and Kerry Hughes, senior vice president for advertising sales and partnerships at qubo --seem to agree that the message is getting out there.

The true challenge is changing other people's behavior. That is the Holy Grail of the obesity issue. What makes people want to change?

They believe these messages must be reinforced again and again before people will make true change -- and before obesity levels in adults and children drop.

If you're already well on your weight loss journey -- What did it take for you to change? Was it something you learned? Something you did? Or something that happened to you?

If you're feeling stuck, what is preventing you from changing that behavior?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Is 11 Pounds A Failure? Biggest Loser Recap

In last night's episode, Coleen -- a youngish girl with long blond hair -- made a bet. She bet that she, and her father Jerry who was suffering from his own ailing health, would lose at least 2.4 percent of their weight -- or a total of more than 12 pounds -- that week.
If she won, in addition to the dent in the weight loss, she would have taken home $10,000. If she lost, the father-daughter team would fall below the dreaded yellow line, and be in danger of elimination.
This bet was extremely risky as it was the second week of the competition when the body tends to freak out and plateau from the massive drop in pounds from the first week. The average weight loss is 2 percent. Some people even gain.
Together, the father-daughter team lost 11 pounds. And so, yes, despite losing the equivilent of a human head, they lost.
Coleen's face, which had been glowing, looking beautiful and slimmer, showed such disappointment when she realized that she was just a little more than a pound away from $10,000. And yet, they had just lost 11 pounds.
This is the problem of getting stuck on the number on the scale, instead of the overall goal of getting healthier and moving forward in life.
Suddenly, all Coleen accomplished that week was forgotten. She worked her tail off with Jillian the kick-butt-and-take-names trainer who was not pleased that she had taken the bet in the first place. Coleen finished strong in this week's challenge which had her sliding down a hill on a giant slip-and-slide and sprinting back up. Most of all, both she and her father looked a million times healthier than when they stepped on the Biggest Loser campus.
Just remember, your weight loss journey moves far beyond the scale. If you get stuck on the numbers that's where you'll stay.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

09.16.08: New Identity

I love these two Passport photos. One was taken at my peak weight -- about 360 pounds -- as I was about to go to Switzerland. (Yes, a seatbelt extender was required, and the person next to me on the plane was not pleased that I was spilling over my seat). The other was 120-pounds later, taken as I was about to go to Africa on my trek up Kilimanjaro.

The images are a decade apart. That's right, 10 years from point A to point B.

I have to wonder, what would that second photo look like if I hadn't made positive changes in my life? If I didn't start on the path to better health? Where, if anywhere, would I be going?

Sometimes the path to weight loss is slow going. But if you keep moving forward, eventually you'll get there.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

09.07.08: Are You Too Sweet?

The World Health Organization says only 10 percent of our daily calories should come from added sugars.

This can be hard to do since sugars appear in foods under the guise of brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrum, fruit juice concentrate, honey, malt syrup, molasses, syrup and other forms.

To keep your sugar-load in check:
- Choose fresh fruit or fruits canned in fruit juice (not heavy syrup AKA sugar).
- Watch your intake of items that are high in added sugars. Culprits often include ice cream, soft drinks, cookies, cakes and pies.
- Snack on whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, yogurt or vegetables.
- Buy unsweetened cereals -- so that you can control the amount of sugar.
- Hold -- or limit -- white sugar, brown sugar, honey, jelly and syrup.

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Monday, September 1, 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

08.24.08: Plus-Size Sideshow

A New York Times article today highlighted the surge of weight loss shows that are gaining popularity. From the "Biggest Loser" to "Honey, We're Killing the Kids" people are tuning in to watch people battle their weight in a very public way.

Viewers have come to expect these gargantuan losses of 100, even 200 pounds in a single series --creating unrealistic expectations for themselves.

I hate this pattern -- that I was stuck in for years --- of seeing ourselves as failures if we don't go from fat to skinny on a single diet. Weight is a lifelong issue that will continue far beyond when the cameras are packed away and people are living off the Biggest Loser Ranch. It can be a very slow and patient process.

While I think it's good to seek inspiration from the public progress of those in reality weight loss shows, it's important to live your own reality.

Friday, August 15, 2008

08.15.08: Like Riding a Bicycle

I went to my first Spinning class in a year last weekend. I had stopped going when I learned I was pregnant. I'm sure you've also heard stories of women who rode until they delivered but that wasn't for me. This was my first pregnancy and just about any kind of exercise left me aching so I stopped. I stopped a lot of exercise (other than walking) and the pregnancy pounds (and then some) piled on.

Now that Anna is six months old and settled into a routine, I felt like I could sneak out for my normal 7:30 a.m. Saturday class -- and I did. It took a while for me to adjust the bike. The instructor seemed surprised to see me there -- as I used to be a regular. I used to be a bit smaller too.

But I got on and as the music pumped up, I rode. It was hard, as my muscles are still getting stronger from my pregnancy pause but I kept up (sometimes in a lower, slower gear, but I kept up) But really, it was like riding a bicycle -- you just get back on again.

It felt so incredible that I'm going again tomorrow.

How will you challenge yourself this weekend?

Monday, April 28, 2008

4.28.08: Acting Skinny

I spent 10 months watching the scale tick upward as I gained my pregnancy pounds and then some.

It's so much fun to back in a downward trend. This morning I got on the scale and realized that I'm 35 pounds lighter than when I was pregnant. I tell ya, it feels incredible.

Beyond the extra spring in my step (even when carrying my 11-pound newborn), psychologically, it's fantastic to have some success. Once I started gaining weight during my pregnancy, despite my best nutritional intentions, I felt fat again. Then I started acting fat again -- tucking wrappers under my car seat, ordering a side of fries instead of salad.

Now, that I'm losing weight, I'm starting to act skinny again. I demand time for my workouts and feel cranky without them. I rarely go anywhere without a water bottle at my side. I figure out how to include five or more fruits and vegetables in my diet each day. I look forward to hopping on the scale to see progress, and work to keep it moving downward.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

4.08.08: Down Six

I officially signed up for Weight Watchers last Tuesday. Today, I didn't really want to go. I spent the week re-reading the literature describing the two plans. I didn't follow either one very closely but I made lots of little changes here and there. For example:
-- I stopped drinking a glass of OJ and opted for a piece of fresh fruit later in the morning.
-- I ate only one packet of oatmeal for breakfast (I used to eat two)
-- I stopped eating spoonfuls of peanut butter when I felt the urge to

But still I wasn't sure how it would add up. I started to psych myself out, thinking I'll do better this week and head to the meeting next Tuesday. I started to mill through some laundry and came upon the maternity pants that I'm still wearing -- the only kind that fit. I decided I needed to go.

I changed Anna (and myself -- wearing the lightest-possible outfit) and we headed to the meeting. We were late, which has been the norm since I had a baby.

I stepped on the scale and didn't really want to hear the number as I had spent the last 10 months gaining... Besides, I was busy lifting Anna's car seat up and down so she wouldn't wail and interrupt the Weight Watchers meeting already in progress.

Then the Weight Watchers employee smiled and said, "Great job. You're down six."

I'll be back to the meeting next week.

Monday, March 31, 2008

3.31: Good to go:

My doctor gave me a clean bill of health at my six week checkup last week so it's time to get going again! (I can't believe Anna is already seven weeks old!)

I already started to walk around the neighborhood over the past few weeks. The strolls weren't too fast but they were enough for fresh air and to rebuild some strength.I'm now ready to kick it up a notch. My friend Jessica, who also struggles with her weight, and I decided to train for a 5K.

We'll be doing a "Girls on the Run" race June 7, which is an event to promote self esteem and healthy living. I felt it was appropriate as I am on the road back to a healthy weight and I want to raise a healthy little girl.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

3.04.08: The 780-cal snack

I rolled the stroller into Starbucks this morning after another wonderful-weather walk.

I ordered a grande Caramel Apple Spice drink and three Petite Vanilla Bean Scones and devoured them as I enjoyed a quiet outside moment as Anna slept in her stroller. (She slept through the entire walk again!)

Then, I went home and did the math as I've started tracking my food and exercise again. According to Starbucks' website, the Caramel Apple Spice drink cost me 380 calories! The three mini scones (which were delicious but no bigger than one regular-sized pastry) were 400 calories!

According to this calories burned calculator, I burned 586 calories on my walk -- so I'm 200 calories in the hole! Ug!

Lesson learned: I have to get in the habit again of checking if I can afford treats before I eat them.

Monday, March 3, 2008

3.02.08: Warming up:

It's finally above 50 degrees! I took Anna for a stroll around the neighborhood. She slept through the whole thing and I felt invigorated!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

2.28.08: Eating for Two

In these days of trial and error to quell Anna's crying I've learned that she's sensitive to the dairy food that I've been eating. So out went all the milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream in my diet.

Being a Vermont girl, much of my diet is made with cow's milk. But it's amazingly easy to change dietary habits when you know they are making your little one miserable... I'd do anything to make her feel better.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

2.16.08: Endurance Training

I'm happy to report that I slept eight hours last night -- not in a row -- but I think Anna Sophia may be getting this sleeping in the night thing. Well, she did last night anyway.

During the other five nights of her life, she had been sleeping in shorter stretches, mostly during the day. At night, she has been up every half hour or so as I try to figure out what she needs.

Of course her schedule is a bit upside down, just last week she learned to breathe, to see, to live in a world outside the womb.

Today marks one week since Anna's birthday... it has been a joyful, sleep-deprived journey. I love every minute of it, even the crying parts.

2.09.08 Anna Sophia has arrived!

Here's the note my husband sent out to our friends and family:

Kara & Chris are proud to announce the arrival of our daughter, Anna Sophia (“Merciful Wisdom”) Whitely.

Born at 11:32 PM on Saturday at Overlook Hospital in Summit NJ, she arrived early – just 28 minutes before her official due date of February 10.

She’s already charming everyone around her. The doctor said she’s in “perfect shape” – with an initial weight of 7 pounds and 10 ounces. Relatively tall at 21 inches at birth, she may already be gearing up to be a top-notch basketball player.

Mom is doing great and is recovering quickly. Dad learned how to change a diaper for the first time and suspects that there are many more coming in the future. Mom and Dad both feel very blessed and joyful to welcome a new member of the family.

Much love,

Kara, Chris & Anna Sophia Whitely

2.08.08: Clutter Patrol

I think my baby will arrive shortly as I've been nesting -- the maternal instinct to clean and prepare for baby's arrival.
Yesterday I cleaned the fridge, then moved onto the cabinets, then bleached the dish rack... I had to remember to stop and get some rest!I finished cleaning in time to watch Oprah, which happened to feature her anti-clutter guy, Peter Walsh. He just wrote, "Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?"

During the show, he helped a woman clean our her messy house on the premise that the extra stuff was weighing her down.I've spent the last few months cleaning out clutter to prepare for baby's arrival and it feels wonderful to live in a neat home.

Today, I'll have to organize the rest of the kitchen so that I have a clutter-free home for a healthy life.

Friday, February 8, 2008

2.06.08: Baby's First Weigh In

During the 38 week visit to my doctor's office, my OB was a little concerned that the baby hadn't descended or dropped yet.

My doctor explained that likely meant that the baby has lots or room to float around -- after all, my torso is so large as a 6-foot woman.Or, it could mean I'm carrying a very large baby.

My orders were to make an appointment for an ultrasound to get an estimate of the baby's weight.I spent five days fretting about whether I made by baby too fat even before she stepped on this earth and about whether I passed along my weight issues in the womb.

I'm happy to report, the ultrasound news was good, very good. Her estimated weight is a perfect 7 pounds, 7 ounces!Lots of babies don't drop until labor. She'll decide when she's ready move out of the womb.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

2.06.08: Getting ready for new life...

I'm now 39 weeks, two days pregnant. I'm so excited to meet our little girl who has been has only been able to kick to say "Hello."

I know once she arrives, I'll need to kick myself back into shape. In February 2007, I was in the best shape of my life, tough enough to climb Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak. I'm due to have a baby exactly one year later and am now challenging myself to lose the baby weight and then some by February 2009.

This is the ongoing story of balancing motherhood and fitness so that I can be in the best health possible for me and my family. Now that I'm days away from giving birth, I'm looking forward for the new life -- of both my baby and myself...

I've got the exercise DVDs ready. The Nordic Trak has been dusted (I guess that was part of nesting). I've even ordered a bathroom scale (for the past nine months, I've only monitored my weight at the doctor's office). Once I get doctor clearance it will be time to get going because there will be much work to do.

2.03.08: Hard Being Home

It's a bit hard being home, waiting for baby. I'm now six days away from my due date and I'm on my fourth week of maternity leave. I am enjoying the rest -- especially because I know that won't last once the little one arrives. However, it's hard not to graze all day -- out of anxiety, boredom, anything!

1.28.08: Walking as a Warm Up

I'll admit it, when the temperature hovers around 32 degrees, I don't feel like going anywhere. One of the things that disappeared from my routine last week was my walk.Now, I'm 9 months pregnant, and walks for me these days aren't up mountains. Most times, they are 30 minutes, tops, but I firmly believe walks are what keep me healthy, strong and with a blood pressure of 120/80.