An Athlete's Diary
Hey! It’s me- Katie! I'm hijacking the TE Sports blog again (the only time I’ve been here before was to proclaim the miracle-working powers of garlic… btw, might be good to review that post with the start of another bright, wonderful, yet germy school year right around the corner :) )… But anyway, I'm back because I have another exciting story to share (I'm sure you’re asking, what could be more exciting than garlic?!) Ha! Read on!
Have you ever heard of the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge? Before I dove in, I only knew one person who did it… a mom of a kindergarten student from my class… everyone joked that we could be twins because we were both so tall and blonde and looked a little like sisters. And at the beginning of last school year we’d be hanging out, chatting in the hall and other people kept coming up to her and telling her how amazing she looked, exclaiming what a transformation she’d made (I didn’t really know her before so I didn’t realize what happened to her, but of course all the comments caught my attention because I'm a fan of fitness). When I asked her how she did it, she told me it all started for her with the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge! The wheels began to spin in my head. She had such great success that although apparently we used to be the same size, one day after school she gave me all her jeans she outgrew… ha! She’s awesome and was so sweet to pass her big pants on to me. :) So I was intrigued about this so-called challenge, but that was all I knew about it.
I didn’t take the time to really check it out for myself until almost a year later when this summer rolled around. I'm like an extreme analyzer/researcher/border-line skeptic…. like I'll spend a long ol time researching dumb stuff like food dehydrators before I buy the PERFECT one. I like to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. So of course, I picked AdvoCare apart and Googled it to pieces… That led me to discover all kinds of other success stories from people I could relate to. Trust the researcher (me) now… you probably know this, but you’re going to find good stuff and bad stuff about ANYTHING you look up online, but I did notice there was A LOT MORE GOOD stuff than bad stuff about AdvoCare (as compared to other seemingly similar options I’d looked into that you’ve probably heard of). AdvoCare has been around for over 20 years, they have many unpaid celebrity endorsers (Drew Brees, Super Bowl winning NFL Quarterback, is their main guy), everything they do is backed and created by a medical advisory board – like REAL, well-known researchers, physicians, and experts from around the country. But most of all, what spoke to me was the stories and the pictures… like these and these and these. I mean, THAT is for real! I love a good story. :)
So speaking of stories, let’s come back to the challenge in a sec… and I'll take a time out to fill you in a little more about ME. For most of my adult life, I hovered around the same weight. Well, except for those three times when I gained about 75 pounds with each of my pregnancies (Yikes! I know that’s a crazy lot!), but “9 months on and 9 months off,” by some miracle I always came back down to that usual weight (although it DID get a little harder to bounce back after each baby… any moms out there know what I'm talkin about?!).
Then in the last year or two, things changed. I can’t put my finger on ONE particular thing, but that familiar number on my scale left and I slowly crept up to new “normals.” I even got my thyroid checked cause I was in denial that I was doing anything different and how could I be gaining so much weight?? Of course, my thyroid was FINE and my doc suggested looking at my diet, exercise, and supplements.
Looking back, it was probably a constellation issues and events that led me to where I was. I was getting older (like we all are… gulp!), busier than ever as a working momma with 3 growing kids, spending more time/staying up late creating stuff at the computer for school, running to Whole Foods for lunch several days a week (hey, Whole Foods is healthy, right?!). I loved to eat Clif bars and Luna bars (healthy again… right?!) and I had about a month in the winter when I was so sick with vertigo that I could hardly get out of bed, let alone grocery shop or stand up to cook.
Tick, tick, tick… the numbers on the scale climbed upward and my clothes became tighter and more uncomfortable. My closet grew a pile of pants I couldn’t get buttoned. I saw numbers on the scale I’d never seen before and it just felt GROSS.
It was a gradual creeping that happened while I was still running and exercising (not everyday, but a few times/week), eating fairly clean (I wasn’t perfect, but I tried and was a big fan of “clean eating”). I worked with an amazing nutritionist, bought a FitBit and wore it everyday, bought a fancy treadmill and turned a room in our home into a gym, used “My FitnessPal” and for goodness sake, you all know I'm married to an ultra-endurance athlete/ personal trainer/ certified nutrition coach… what was wrong with me?! So yeah… it felt gross, but it also almost felt like maybe I wasn’t really doing anything really wrong and this was just me and what I was stuck with… part of getting older or something that I might as well just accept.
But a tiny part of me didn’t WANT to give in. I wanted to fight back! I felt like, “If only I had some way to get a jumpstart on where I want to be, I could get back on track!” Even with all my resources and knowledge, what I was doing wasn’t working. I was ready to invest in myself and that’s when I remembered AdvoCare! “If my ‘twin’ from school can do it and be successful, maybe I can, too!”
I vaguely remembered seeing on Facebook that my old college roommate was an AdvoCare Advisor (and ... are you ready for this? Her and her hubby both have been able to retire from their jobs, buy a new house, stay home with their 3 beautiful daughters, and make more money than ever… they’ve created a super sweet life on their terms, just working a few hours a week on AdvoCare! That’s a whole different story, but an interesting side note and more proof to me that this must be something good… people wouldn’t invest in it if it wasn’t really worth it!). So anyway, I got reconnected with her and she became my “coach” as I jumped into the 24-Day Challenge on August 1. I will add… I'm the kind of person who doesn’t think I need coaching. I mean, dude.... I can follow directions like a boss! But really, having her check in, encourage me, help me adjust little aspects of my plan here and there was incredibly valuable! I'm sure I wouldn’t have seen the results I am seeing without her expertise…. So if you’re reading this, Sarah- THANK YOU!
Long story short (okay, who am I kidding, I never keep it short… sorry! Remember me? I'm the one who likes to know everything about everything? I'm kind of a spaz for details), I did the challenge (you can read more below about what that entails), but are you ready to hear about my results?!
Average loss on the 24-Day Challenge is about 10 pounds and 10 inches. But keep in mind, that average pulls from ALL KINDS of people. So we went into this keeping it real, knowing I probably wouldn’t lose a LOT of weight cause I wasn’t slamming sodas, eating tons of junk, I wasn’t “obese,” and I was already moderately active. I mean, I was hoping for a FEW pounds and maybe some inches to get the momentum rolling in the right direction… I would’ve been happy with 3-5 pounds. But y’all. It was better than that…. Drumroll, please!!!!
In the end, I dropped 9 pounds and 10 inches!!! 5 inches were from my waist alone. I shocked my skeptic-self and I'm SOLD. My before pics are seriously embarrassing, but that's how pumped I am... go ahead and check out my fat tummy! AdvoCare's helping me kiss it goodbye... I think I look a lot different and it hasn't even been a month.
So here I am! I traded feeling gross for feeling awesome. I re-earned all the clothes in the “too tight to wear” pile and I have more energy than I used to. Today I wore shorts I hadn’t worn in a year or two (too tight pre-challenge) and they were baggy today! What?! I still have a ways to go to reach my goal weight, but it just feels so good to FINALLY be moving in the right direction! I don’t know if I look that different to the rest of the world, but I definitely notice and it rocks!
For me, I feel like this is EXACTLY what I needed, right when I needed it. And even though I'm officially “done” with the 24-Day Challenge, this is still just the beginning towards finding a whole healthier me. I'm back to that “usual, comfortable weight” and I wouldn’t be shocked if I keep dropping pounds from here. I’ve learned to be a much cleaner eater (bye-bye, processed Clif bar with 22 g of sugar… hello, fresh vitamin-packed veggies and delicious AdvoCare shakes with 22 g of protein!). Being lighter and feeling healthier, makes me want to exercise more and stay disciplined with my eating so I don’t un-do what I’ve worked for. It’s a snowball of momentum, which is exactly what I was hoping to find.
Is this resonating with anyone out there?! If you’re like me and know you need a kick-start in the right direction (a big kick or even a baby kick!), you should totally do a 24-Day Challenge! You can jump in solo or even better- grab a friend or two (bonus if it's your significant other so you two can whip up healthy dinners together!). You guys will beon the way to changing your lives! Jon and I learned a LOT along the way and would love, love, love to pay it forward and coach you through your challenge…. Yep, we loved it so much we officially became advisors, too!
You need to be ready to make healthy food choices and if you can make time to exercise, you’ll really amplify your results (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll be honest… I didn’t change my exercise level. Over the course of my challenge, I went to one of Jon’s amazing boot camps and ran or walked a handful of times. Would I have seen even better results if I exercised? No doubt!). It’s one of those things where you get out of it what you put into it. If you do it half-way, you’ll have to be happy with only half the results. If you’re not willing to change, you won’t. You have to want it.
But check this out... this is one of my fave transformation pics. I SWEAR I was flexing in the before pic. And in the after pic, I'm like- WHAT?! Where'd those muscles come from? I don't ever see myself from behind (especially flexing from behind- ha!) so I had NO IDEA how much I was changing in the past 24 days). I did push-ups a few times, but nothing to write home about. So most of the credit for those sweet shoulder muscles goes to AdvoCare's branched chain amino acid supplement called Catalyst. It was actually developed for the 1996 US Olympic Wrestling team to help them preserve and enhance muscle strength and mass, while still letting them lose fat. In the words of my smart sister: "if it's good enough for Team USA, it's good enough for ME!"
So, before I go, I want to tell you a little bit about the products that are involved in the challenge. You’ll see it’s nothing funky or weird (in case you’re a researcher/analyzer like me, ha!)… it’s basically just everything you need to fill in ALL your nutritional gaps so your body is free to function the way it was made to and you get the opportunity to get back on track physically and nutritionally.
As I mentioned earlier, the challenge is broken up into two phases…
You kick off days 1-10 with “The Cleanse Phase.” Wait- are you nervous when you hear that? Before I started I was like, “Cleanse?! I won’t be able to leave my house! I'll need to cancel all my plans and stay within running distance of my bathroom!” But no worries… People describe this as “gentle and uneventful” and I'm here to testify- it is. No problem.
The first ten days are a systematic approach to cleansing your body of toxins and preparing for optimal nutrient absorption. Here’s a great video to explain it: https://vimeo.com/38861144 .
The cleanse includes:
Herbal Cleanse: This is actually three key products: ProBiotic Restore, a fiber drink, and herbal cleanse tablets. Together, these help rid the body of toxins, impurities and waste to help improve digestion. The fiber drink comes in 2 flavor options: peaches and cream (more popular, very smooth) and citrus (some people say it reminds them of orange juice with pulp, but I know people who really like it). Choose what sounds good to you!
OmegaPlex®: This is a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help maintain a healthy immune system and metabolism, transport nutrients, support healthy blood pressure, promote cardiovascular health, and help grow extra healthy hair, skin, and nails.
AdvoCare Spark®: This (along with the 24-Day Challenge itself) is one of AdvoCare’s top sellers. Spark sharpens mental focus and alertness while delivering 21 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s only 45 calories and comes in 8 delicious flavors! I'm not kidding—it’s really, really good. You can pick 2 (or more) to take with you on your challenge: watermelon, mango strawberry, pink lemonade, mandarin orange, fruit punch, grape, cherry, or citrus.
Then for days 11-24, you graduate to “the Max Phase!”
Phase 2 gives your body the best tools you need to achieve your goals during days 11-24. Here’s a great video explanation: https://vimeo.com/39513603 .
The Max Phase includes three main products:
Metabolic Nutrition System (MNS®): This is basically a very convenient package of all the daily vitamins and supplements you need for your core nutrition and overall wellness. Like, they make it as easy as possible. It includes the probiotics and omega-3s you were getting in the cleanse phase and adds Calcium Plus (2 types of Calcium plus vitamins, C, D, K, and more), CardioQ (contains CoQ10, Vitamin D, and Lycopene to provide nutrition for healthy aging and cardiovascular support), CorePlex (basically, a SUPER multi-vitamin: “this synergistic blend of 36 nutrients supports healthy bone structure, growth and provides optimum nutritional support for healthy muscle, connective tissue and skin”) …and finally MNS3 also gives you support for appetite control and sustained energy throughout the day (no crash!). There are three different kinds of MNS, but most people go with the MNS 3 because it is the most comprehensive system. It also has less than half the caffeine of MNS E and MNS C, so it's a fantastic alternative for anyone looking for a lower-caffeine MNS system. If your biggest struggle comes with cravings, you might be interested in MNS C (the C stands for craving control) or if you need a lot more energy, check out the MNS E (E stands for energy). Something for everyone! Gotta love it.
Meal Replacement Shake: Just add water and you get a fast, simple way to start your day off right! The perfect balance of carbs and protein help turn your body into a fat-burning machine! It’s complete nutrition (including 22 grams of protein!) in a satisfying shake. Everyone we know LOVES it. Choose from Berry, Chocolate, Chocolate Mocha, Vanilla, or Dark Chocolate Vegan. I go for the vegan cause I don’t do diary and seriously guys… it’s awesome. Like I eat really clean all day long, but I feel like this shake is my daily “treat.” Mmmmm, mmmmm, good… AND good for you! Win-win!
AdvoCare Spark®: This is the same nutritionally advanced energy drink as described earlier. You can take Spark once or twice a day and many people even use it to replace their daily coffee! Really- Jon did! Think about how often you’ll want to drink your Spark when you order. The challenge typically comes with 2 boxes (each box contains 14 convenient pouches/servings so that sets you up to have 1/day for 28 days), but many people order extra. You could also save a little money if you invest in a canister (42 servings).
Okay, so that’s everything! Don’t worry about remembering all that because ordering online is easy… the challenge comes in easy-to-order bundles OR our website helps you “build your own” and choose all the options you want. And actually, if you’re thinking of ordering, definitely give Jon or me a call ahead of time and talk to us so we can make sure you get set up with the plan that makes the most sense for YOU. We can help you pick the right MNS, give you samples of Spark so you can see what you like best… good stuff like that!
And I should add- AdvoCare is way more than just the “24-Day Challenge” stuff… they have a very cool line of sports performance products… Jon is trying them out (cause let’s be real-- he exercises way more than me) and he’s freaking out about SEVERAL of them. Like there’s one called “O2 Gold” that makes you feel like you grew a 3rd lung. Lol… who couldn’t use a 3rd lung on a long run? Maybe we’ll talk more about the other products some other day. In the mean time, if you’re curious- ask! But back to the challenge…
Like I mentioned earlier, we’d love to coach you all along the way… we can check in periodically with texts, phone calls, face-to-face conversations… whatever works for you! Nothing annoying, just helpful! You can reach out to us anytime with questions. We’ve created cool tracking sheets, comprehensive food lists, and have an amazing eating plan to share! And of course, Jon is such an expert when it comes to exercise… if you want him to tell you what to do, he’s the perfect person to ask.
Well, that’s about it! Thanks for listening to my story! I'm just so pumped about AdvoCare because I feel like it’s changing my life and if you want it to change yours too, it CAN! I'm so, so thankful I finally took the time and money to invest in ME. So many of us give, give, give to everyone else and put ourselves last (am I talkin to YOU?!). And then like me, you turn around and find yourself sick or feeling gross, and wondering how you got here. But you know what? I'm here to tell you- YOU are worth investing some time and energy into. Do this for you! You need to take care of yourself first so you can still be around to take care of everyone else. What would it mean for you to lose 10 pounds and 10 inches in the next 24 days? You can answer that.
One last disclaimer: Even though I am obviously very excited about this, Jon and I are never ever going to be obnoxious about AdvoCare, flood your Facebook feed with it day in and day out (ugh, I hate that kind of thing!), pester you til you try it, or anything like that! This may or may not be for you and that’s okay. We get it. We DO just want to get the word out though that we tried it, we loved it, it works and hey- if you’re interested, you know where to find us and we’d love to help you out! It’s just about getting healthy and making the most of this one wild and crazy life we’ve been blessed with. Thanks for listening to my story!
My message is commitment. That surely means something different to each of you reading this today. I've written a interactive ebook called "Empowering Commitment". I live my life according to my commitments. I'm going to talk a little bit today about my commitment to finishing the Superior 100 Mile Trail Race coming in just a couple of weeks.
I leave soon for the track. This weekend, I'll cover almost 63 miles on the course where I'll toe the line with over 200 others on the 5th of September for my third attempt at the 100 mile distance. I will finish in less than 38 hours.
We've all got commitments. Some of us have commitments that we talk about and we have separate commitments that we live about. What we do determines what we are committed to. What priorities do we live out? Are we committed to work more/less, our family, to workout more, to eat better, to stay married or train for a certain event.
Commitment isn't doing what you set out to do only when it's easy. In fact, commitment only shows its true colors when it gets hard. How bad do you want it? How committed are you? I've heard it said to "burn your ships". That's right. Step out and commit to it.
I am committed to completing 100 miles on foot in under 38 hours on September 5th and 6th. That's why I'm taking a full weekend to try and get my body to a place by Saturday afternoon where I will want to quit. I'll likely want to quit. I won't though. I'm committed. Where there is commitment, there is surely action. We ultra endurance athletes are a stubborn folk. We don't easily give up. We don't easily quit. We find a way to overcome.
I go towards pain and the real possibility of failure just so I can prove to myself that failure fuels me. The closer I get to stopping when it's hard, the sharper my focus, the more refined my approach. The longer I live, the more I realize that the closer I can push myself towards failure, the more I will be able to achieve. After all, we will never know how far we can go until we risk going too far, right?
My commitment is strong. I am committed. I am focused. I am intent on keeping a positive attitude and moving forward even when the going gets tough. Even when the ground gets rocky, the roots get rooty and the hills get steep and difficult to navigate. In fact, that's when I come alive. That's when I'm at my best.
What are you committed to and how committed are you? Do your actions reflect where your commitments lie or do your words speak of a life you are not truly prepared to live? I don't know you or your circumstances, but I do know that you are capable of living a life according to your commitments.
Jon Howard - Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner - Training Edge Sports
A group of us will be training on the SHT through a few sections of the upcoming Superior Endurance Runs (Fall Races) and would love to have some company. We aren't sure what sections we'll be doing when, but will plan to meet up for dinner at Camp 61 in Silver Bay on Saturday evening at 7:30. The sections we'll likely cover are Gooseberry - Split Rock (loop included), Finland - Crosby, Crosby - Sugarloaf, Temperance - Sawbill and possibly Oberg - Caribou Highlands (Sunday morning). Our plan is to be on the trail from 2 - 7 on Friday, 8 - 6 on Saturday and 7 - 10 on Sunday morning. Superior is coming. Join us if you want to log some miles on the track and share stories and strategies ways you've conquered or plan to conquer Superior 14'!
Saturday afternoon – The only thing keeping me going is my commitment to finishing this event. My mind is stronger than it has ever been before. I have long ago separated it from my body because my body has been screaming to quit for some time now.
I have typically written about an event after the race has been run. This time, however, I’ll write about it before it takes place. This time I will document the vision I have for completing the Sawtooth 100.
A footrace through the reaches of dark and ethereal northern boreal forests. Not for the faint of heart or the weak willed. Each and every single footfall is greeted by earth bound by roots and littered with rocks. A challenge fit only for champions. The ultimate test of man and woman. Thus, giving rise to its eternal name; RUGGED, RELENTLESS, REMOTE – Superior
It’s three weeks and one day before my second attempt at Superior 100. I’ve finished the 50 mile twice and learned a lot in my only attempt at the 100 mile distance on the Superior Hiking Trail. Superior100 is a point to point 103 mile footrace along the north shore of Lake Superior in North Eastern Minnesota.
This summer I’ve completed two other ultras with a DNF at Zumbro due to lightning and torrential rain. It has all built to this. The next three weeks will play a big role in how I fair at Superior. In this writing I’m going to write a story detailing my vision of success leading up to and eventually finishing the Superior 100 Mile.
Let me start with my starting point. Right now, as I sit here writing this, I’m looking forward to some miles on Saturday, August 16th at Interstate State Park with my cousin and one of my pacers for this year’s event Dann. I haven’t run much with Dann but if there is anyone I would want pushing me and seeing me to the finish it’s Dann, who is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. We have spent many days together in the north woods and I’m looking forward to having him by my side on Saturday, September 6th. My other pacer is my brother, Jesse. He’s been with me at all of my events save a few. He was with me through the night in 2013 and we settled in to a pretty good rhythm as the sun was coming up Saturday morning a year ago. I’m looking forward to having him there to help me through the night again in a few weeks.
On the 26th of July I finished my 11th ultra, the Voyageur 50 Mile. It was a hot day and I was able to avoid cramping or crashing too bad. The trail was tame in comparison to the one we will attempt to conquer upcoming, however. Late in Voyageur, at an aid station, I had the honor of meeting John Taylor, who at Superior 13’ carried us and a group of others into Sonju Lake Aid. Jesse and I did not leave with that group which ultimately contributed to my not finishing the event. I am encouraged going into Superior this time around knowing I have so much support coming from inside the ultra-community and beyond.
I have spent the past week on vacation with family, then at father/son camp with Caden. We had a blast. I was able to sneak away with my brother – in – law for 9 miles in the middle of our trip. At camp, we did a lot of running and playing games and I treated most of that activity like training too. More speed than I’m used to so it’ll be vital that I settle in to a good power pace before toeing the line at Superior.
A few weeks back I went through and created a detailed timeline with cutoffs and what my average pace needs to be in order to cross the finish line before the 10:00pm time limit on Saturday night. Here’s that (the min/mile is from the start of the event and it reads
miles – hrs – minutes – min/mile):
24.9 – 8 – 480 – 19.28
34.8 – 11:30 – 690 – 19.83
43.4 – 14 – 840 – 19.35
51.1 – 17:30 – 1050 – 20.55
72.2 – 27:45 – 1665 – 23.01
77.8 – 29:40 – 1780 – 22.88
90.6 – 33:30 – 2010 – 22.19
96.1 – 25 – 2100 – 21.85
103.2 – 38 – 2280 – 22.09
There you have it. The aid stations go Gooseberry, Split Rock, Beaver Bay, Silver Bay, Tettagouche, County Road 6, Finland (50 mile), Sonju Lake Road, Crosby, Sugarloaf, Cramer Road, Temperance, Sawbill, Oberg, Lutsen (FINISH).
Three weeks out I will do a number of miles on a trail similar to SHT at Interstate with Dann, then on the 22nd, Jesse and I will head up to the trail and cover a few of the most challenging sections to train on the course. We’ll likely hit the first section or two to establish pace, the overnight section, Crosby, the south side of Carlton’s Peak and will likely finish our weekend with the Oberg section which I have the most experience on of any other section and know what to expect. The plan is to move from 2 – 7 on Friday, 8 – 6 on Saturday and 8 – 10 or 11 on Sunday. We may camp on the trail or camp off the trail, TBD on the fly. This will be the second year of our training on the trail and I’m looking forward to getting some miles in on the track. Our BIG BLOCK on the trail will be a contributing factor to our success this year at Superior.
My vision continues to refine itself as September 5 and 6 approaches. I am focused. I am committed. I am determined. I am excited. I am preparing and will be prepared when the time comes to move.
I’ll eat and drink early and go out slower than my body will want. I will take my medicine on parts of the course that don’t allow for speed and I will take what the trail gives when gravity helps. I will leverage my crew, pacers and aid station workers, who will likely be able to see things that I will not. I will trust my judgment even when it might seem cloudy. I will be decisive and continue moving forward. I will persevere until I reach the end. My mind will be strong. I will not give up. I will be successful. I will make decisions that get me to the finish line within the allotted time. I will succeed. My mind will be sharp. My attitude will be positive. I will be grateful for the opportunity to compete with myself and challenge myself in a way that will push me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. I am grateful for the opportunity to differentiate myself by overcoming barriers in my mind that will tell me to stop. I will keep going. I will put one foot in front of the other. I will eat. I will drink. I will be positive. I will finish. My feet will be fleet. My mind will be sharp. I am focused. I am trained. I am ready. I am prepared to finish my training strong. I have amazing support. I am focused.
That was fun. Proclaim it to be and it will become. What in your life do you want? What are you committed to? What is your vision? Do you see it clearly? Search for it and find it. Once you do, it will become clearer and begin to manifest itself. You first need to see it, and then it will happen. Focus and refine your vision. Keep moving by taking committed action towards that vision. Reinforce your dreams by talking about them often. You’ll begin living them and your life will become one that you had only dreamed of!
Thank you for your support.
Jon Howard – Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner – Training Edge Sports
Training Edge Sports, LLC