Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Smaller Side of Fat

I’ve lost 25 pounds this year.  Not earth shattering, but also it is quite noteworthy.    It was 14% of my body.   Before you read on, I give you this disclaimer.  If you are offended at actual ‘numbers’, please stop reading.   I’m on the ‘smaller’ side of fat, but still fat.  I have every right to feel fat, the charts tell me I’m obese and I’m doing what I can.

I do not represent every ‘fat girl’; nor do I represent every physically challenged person, nor every short person, nor every slow person,  nor every middle aged person, etc. I have a story and it inspires others who are ‘similar’ to get off their rear ends and realize THEY CAN.  

I was 175 pounds in January. Today I’m 150.   I’ve seen folks say things to us ‘smaller fat people’  “wow I WISH I was ONLY  175” or “Don’t make me feel bad about myself, I  would be so happy to be xxx lbs.”  Ok, GREAT, then get on with your journey and back off of mine.   It is unfair to judge me or others like me for celebrating our numbers.  I kid you not, I’m fat (I’m ok with that F word). No need to say “oh but you aren’t fat.”—I am, and it’s cool.  Don’t judge me because I’m not “fat enough” for you.  Please refrain from comment on others too who have the GUTS to mention their weight, don’t belittle their accomplishment because your numbers are different.   Our society has such a stigma on weight, let’s support each other rather than making it a competition.

I don't see the weightloss???

So if you’re’ still reading, thank you.   I didn’t even plan on this post, but I’ve had so many comments on my appearance lately that I thought I should bring it up.   I lost 25 lbs leading up to Ironman, but I didn’t “feel good” about it.  I could tell my pants were saggy in the legs and butt, but my belly was still “huge.”  I couldn’t understand why 25 pounds didn’t give me a new pant size.   Frustration was an understatement.

In the last month or so, I’ve seen many folks who haven’t seen me in months and they started to notice. I would get the compliments “Wow, you look great.” After a few of them, I started to wonder what they saw that I didn’t see.  Then I looked at old pictures.  I lost it in my face and some other areas. I was too focused on my damn belly that I missed the big picture.   I chalk the belly up to being middle aged and the fact that I really struggle with any worthwhile strength workouts (EDS crap).  Thank you to those who have noticed, you made ME notice.

I challenge all of you to just take a monthly picture on your journey, and LOOK  at them.  Stop staring at that ‘problem area’ and celebrate the rest of you.

Method to my madness:

.**Everything I say here is different for everyone and is very much trial and error. This is just my story.

I was asked “what did I do (to lose the weight).”  Well, trained for an Ironman. However, with my previous Ironman training, I gained weight, so I do attribute my current loss to focusing on a few different things.

I pretty much stopped ‘counting calories.’ That wasn’t working for me.   I ate decent meals, I tried to be conscience of limiting breads or white flour.  A big thing for me last year was ham, egg and cheese bagel for pre-LONG workouts. It worked but also was keeping me fat. I removed those this year.

There is newer research out there that states, pretty much the obvious. There is no one ‘diet’ that will work for everyone. I’ve tried all of them. From the 80’s fads like cabbage soup (sit on crapper for days = lose weight), to Atkins, to Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, even tried prescription diet pills, OTC meds, and in recent times, Paleo-ish.    I had most success with Atkins (yuck) and Paleo-ish. The problem is that I can’t figure out how to fuel properly for the long course with Paleo.
For me, counting calories makes me feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad so I stopped doing it.  I just watch what goes in my mouth and keep ‘mental’ notes on training. I need to make sure I get about 200 extra calories an hour when training.

 I also started focusing on my hydration.  I generally do not drink enough during the day or during exercise. I carry my hydration on bike and run so I can sip. Gulping at aid stations doesn’t work for me.  I do not drink much caffeine/coffee either.  I have the occasional iced coffee.  (If you do drink them,  make sure you know exactly what is in your drink, even though I don’t “COUNT” my calories, I don’t want to have a beverage that is 400 calories)!

I have a wide variety of things I eat while working out, yes I eat carbs but try to limit them.  You don’t “need” any of these expensive shakes, mixes, hydration, etc, but they do make things "easier."  I have a wide variety of things I will eat, mostly because I get tired of things and want ‘change’ so the more I can be comfortable with, the better.   I even packed a turkey sandwich with pickles on a few long rides this year (which was awesome btw).  There is nothing better than the looks you get from people on the bike path as you eat a pickle, in aero bars.


Bottom line is I stopped ‘focusing’ on what I was eating. I was sensible, I added back calories as I worked out, I focused on adequate hydration and I monitored my body. I had bad days, yes I ate a pizza (or nine), but I didn’t let that spiral me into eating crap all the time.

 Yes, I weigh myself daily.  That works for some people, it horrifies others. Do what works for you!  I carry about 4 pounds in inflammation; I know I carry them when I work out, but if I take a break the extra pounds just ‘disappear.’  I don’t get obsessed with the scale number, but I use it to evaluate the previous day.  Such as “did my food intake cause additional inflammation? Perhaps I shouldn’t eat that again.”

So yes, I lost some weight this year, yes I look different, yes I didn’t even notice until friends started to point it out.

If you see a friend who looks different, say something !  If a friend happens to talk about their specific numbers, congratulate them for taking the time to share.   Most importantly, find YOUR path, it really is a trial and error thing, what works for one person may not work for you. – Don’t give up!



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Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 IMFL Race Day Tracking

Welcome to race week!    I hope to include everything you need in to track in this post.   My # is above 1332, it is very important to note that there are TWO Laura Backus in the 40-44 age group, so my # is more important this time.

I thank each and every one of you for your support over the last few years, and I want to thank my husband John for putting up with this lifestyle!  A few of us are lucky to have supportive spouses!   He is my Sherpa, house cleaner, cook, and anything else you can imagine.  You can't do this without a supportive spouse! I know I am super lucky!  If you see John, say hi (He will most likely have 2 bernese mountain dogs with him and my green team shirt).

First and really important, for my East Coast friends, please note that Panama City Beach is on Central Time!  Start time is actually 7:15AM EDT (6:15 Central).

If you are at the race, starttime is 6:15AM Central, you will want to arrive at 5 or earlier.  Watching the sun rise with all the athletes is a sight to see!

You can track my progress on  my Fatgirl page: and with the GPS trackers below!

Most of you know that tracking on "ironman athlete tracker" is prone to issues, so I have some alternatives. in addition to the standard trackers,  Please check out or as there is a feed all day.  I do expect to be in the last hour, but be warned, the video feed is something you will be glued to as so many cross that finish line!
My Athlete Tracker
During race day I will be wearing a small device which will transmit my location via cell phone signal. I have elected to wear this device in order  to make your experience more enjoyable as a spectator! 
The easiest way to track me using this device will be to download the My Athlete app which can be found in the iPhone Store or Google Play Store on your smart phone.
Just look up MyAthlete or MyAthleteLive and you should find the free application.
On race day you can see exactly where I am by plugging in my #1332 - Laura Backus 
You are all welcome to take screen shots along the way and send them to my Fatgirl page!

I will have some guest Admins on Fatgirl, so NO I will not be posting during the race ;)  Thank you Kelly, Jill, Sue, and Amy!!

The swim:
The swim is a 2 loop course, where we will all exit the water at the half way point, run on the beach then back into the water.  Best photo ops, other than a top floor room in the hotel, are best at the water exit, especially for loop one.  Once finished with loop 2, I will run under the chute and head to the wetsuit strippers and then to the transition area.

The Bike:
I will exit the hotel/ T1 / Changing area and someone will hand me my bike and I will be on my way to riding 112 miles through the towns.  I will be wearing some visible clothing, my shirt is green and yellow with the best motto "Be realistic plan for a miracle."  This is my team shirt from the Pan Mass Challenge, a big bike ride / charity fundraiser for Cancer research and care!   I chose to wear the same clothes as last IM, because I find meaning in this phrase and honor all my friends who are fighting right now!     Once you see me leave, head to the beach, it will be a while before I return.

 Once I complete the bike, I will return to the transition area.  Look for signs "Bike dismount", you will see me there.  It would be best to head toward the run out at that point.

The Run:
I will change my shirt to a sleeveless "Be realistic" shirt and I will have a sparky green shirt on.  I kind of stand out.  The run is a 2 loop run, you will be able to see me at the run turnaround. Look for signs or ask directions to the turnaround.

The Finish:
The finish line will be hopping, especially in the last hour.  It is an electric place and you will be caught up in it, whether I'm there or not.  You will want to get there early especially if you would like a good spot in the bleachers or along the chute.

I will have a hard time estimating my times this year, it has been a rough physical year for me and EDS in addition to insane work stress.   I never know what body will show up on race day, but I go in thinking I'm going to give it my all.  With that here's my guess.

  • I expect a 1:35 - 1:50 on the swim.
  • 5-7 minutes in transition
  • 7-8 hours on the bike.
  • 4-5 min in transition
  • My run is the wild card.  You will want to check the GPS to find my pace.  Use this chart as an estimate. 
The yellow is where I actually expect to be with no mechanical or physical issues..  But I really never know.,

For those that will be at the race:
  1. My family will be wearing the 'Team Laura' t-shirt, if you see them, say hi! 
  2. Every athlete loves to be called by name or number. Look at their race bibs for that info. For Example-“John you are looking great” or “Great Job #1302” or “Awesome Bike Ride #121”
  3. Don’t be scared to cheer for people you don’t know!
  4. Cheering “You are almost there” is never a good idea unless you are standing in the finishers chute! :)
If you see me, saying "GO Fatgirl" is also OK!  I'll know you found me here! (Unless you're my brother, in case he will just be so happy to speak 'fatgirl' this and not get yelled at, Norm, no yelling this at anyone else.)!

Thank you to Stefanie for writing much of this content for herself, and allowing me to copy (AGAIN).

Please like my  Fatgirl page to get live, human updates throughout the race.

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Eagleman '15 - or was it AFRICAMAN

Eagleman 2015 is finished.

I usually love this race and this race venue.   We arrived on Friday to share a house with some old friends and some new ones.   The house was amazing and I tried to figure out how I could stay and the owners not notice.   This was a view from the yard!

We were about 2 miles from transition so it was a perfect distance to help me finish my race! (more on that later).   The first thing we noticed though, man it was Hot. New England folks had a rough winter and spring just arrived, so dumping me directly into 90+ with 90+ humidity was quite a shock to the system, even for milling around Ironman Village.

We checked in on Friday and just shook our heads at the swag. I know we don't do these races for the swag, but at $300+ a piece, Ironman keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. This year the "backpack" didn't even have the race name on it, just a generic 70.3.   Oh well. Disappointing, but it is what it is!


Sat evening was rough for me, I don't know what weather rolled through, but it felt like my body was put through a washing machine.   Everything just felt weird. Not really in pain, but just uncomfortable. I couldn't sit, stand, lie down, sleep, run around. EDS sometimes is just stupid.  But I had to figure out how to just "go."

I have many races under my belt now, and none have stuck with me the way this race has.  You will see many race reports or comments with a common theme: Heat.   I would expect something like this in Africa, or Ecuador, but not Maryland in June!   I know the run is always hot, but this was something out of a science fiction movie.    I  can't even find the right adjectives, they all seem too cool for whatever the hell Sunday was:  hot, sizzling, dessert, blistering, boiling. It was described as the Zombie Walk, death valley in the East.


Sunday AM  we arrived onsite around 5:15AM.  It was already a non-wetsuit swim, as the water temp had climbed to 79 degrees. 

There was very little excitement in the air like I usually see at a big race. Just tons of faces walking around. Little did I know but we would all become expressionless drones as the day wore on.    My wave was almost 8AM so the temp was RISING! 


I found the swim to be ok. I was expecting 50 minutes in a wetsuit, so seeing 53 on my time without the wetsuit wasn't too bad. I eventually looked and saw I swam 1.4 instead of 1.2, so even better?  I'll take it.  Many folks complained about the swim and the current, but I didn't find it as bad as previous years.  There were no jellies and it was relatively consistent in the current department.   I usually swim outside in bigger races to avoid the crazies.   

I had one guy swim up over my back then take the hardest pull and whacked me square on top of the head.  Of course with EDS this isn't good. He actually knocked a couple of vertebra out of place and did cause a headache.  I understand bumping and hitting, but there is zero reason to swim OVER someone and whack so hard on top of the head. I don't see how this is even possible unless it is on purpose.   Although Karma would prevail for him later in the race! 

Swim Exit- Zombie Style
Photo credit Zachary Rose


Because I was in a later wave, the temp was really taking off by the time I got to the bike.  Originally I had been really excited to tackle Eagleman with no wind, I was expecting a PR.  Instead I was just trying to survive. 

Rainbow Unicorn with me in transition
 for all my EDS Athlete peeps!

The first 15 miles were pretty good. I managed an 18.5 average and was comfortable. I was taking in about 15-20oz of liquid an hour, eating on schedule, taking salt tabs and was feeling ok.  Then around mile 20 someone turned up the furnace. 

 97 degrees with humidity 99%

I was so aggravated at my legs. I thought it was me and my EDS but everyone was slowing down. Everything was harder, breathing, eating, drinking.    Everyone was irritated too.   At one aid station they gave me a very warm Perform, so I asked the next volunteer in the row if she had any Ice. She said "YES", so I slowed, moved over and I landed about 2 bike lengths past the ice.  I turned and she said "well if you want it, go get it" (REALLY?) I've copped an attitude with 2 volunteers in my LIFE.  I'm the one who says thanks to every single person I can, police, kids, even the dogs that are out there, but this lady..woah.   I said "can you please hand me some?". Her reply was "No, get it yourself, I'm handing out water" !?!?!   of course I made a snarky comment back and rode away. I shouldn't have but man, really?  The next aid station was awesome and they helped a girl out with some ice that promptly went into my shirt!

Photo credit Zachary Rose
Back to Karma guy.. I usually yell to see if broken down folks need anything.  I was approaching a guy who was off his bike and throwing things around.  I asked if he needed anything and he promptly ignored me.  As I rolled by, I heard a loud POP as he was filling his new tube with CO2, then lots of swearing.  It was the guy from the swim!  I giggled and rode faster.    I never saw him pass me, so I assume he DNFed after that 2nd tire explosion.  Moral is "don't be a douche, it WILL come back to you."

I eventually rolled into transition, I survived the bike with a 3:34.  I was really trying for a sub 3, and I had expected a 3:15. But with the heat, meh, that's not so bad.    I actually almost cried in T2. I have no idea why, it was just 'holy shit, that's done now I have to RUN?'


Those that endured this next part have this bond that is unexplainable, we just existed together in some insane weather.  I've never experienced anything like this.  Everyone was walking EVERYONE.  If you saw someone even attempting something that looked like a run, other athletes were giving high fives.  I tried to stay hydrated, I briefly tried to run, but it just wasn't happening.  I was managing about an 18 min mile to begin with and that would not last long.   I very much wanted to quit at mile 1, mile 2, mile 3.   At mile 4, I saw Fireman Rob in his FULL GEAR. I was half naked and he was in his full suit, looking like death itself forced him to keep walking with a hot poker.  That fueled me. If he can do THAT, I need to keep trying until they yank me from the course.

Around mile 5,  I noticed that I had stopped sweating.  CRAP! CRAP!  Luckily I've worked enough races to know the early signs.  When your arms are dry, you're in trouble. If you don't do anything about it, you will then start with the chills, headaches, dizzy, and eventually pass out or throw up or both.   I slowed down, I knew I needed to keep my heart rate low and try to cool myself. I stuffed as much Ice as I could into my bra at every aid station.  I had to laugh at how many of us just had our hands down our shirts and pants,and it was 'normal.'   I started talking to medical at each station, just informing them of my issues.

I could not catch up on hydrating or cooling myself. I also know I was getting really close the the official cutoff of the race. I had never DNFed before, I didn't want THIS race to be a DNF.  I was totally cool with a technical DNF, but I wanted to cross that finish line.    I made it to mile 10.  The medical people I talked to there told me to get in the golf cart.  DAMMIT.  They took me (and several others) to the very packed med tent.   There wasn't much they could do for me "here have gatoraid" and "have some ice" (I already had a 5 pound bag in my shirt).

I also still heard the finish line, it was not closed yet.  WHAT? I could have walked those last 3 miles, I just couldn't walk fast enough to finish in time and to keep my dehydration from getting worse.  I talked to those at the finish line and he said I could take my medal and just go do 3 miles tomorrow. Um no thanks, I will do three miles NOW.

My friend drove my car home and I walked the 2 miles home, then up and down the street until my Garmin had my 13.1 run miles.  

I completed 70.3 miles on Sunday.  I never put the medal on my head though, meh. I did complete it, I did deserve the medal for my wall, not my head.

Photo credit Cynthia Pickett,
even though Ironman published it without credit 

Mother Nature felt bad about the hell she rained down on us, so this was her gift.  I sat and watched this amazing scene after I FINISHED my 70.3!

So what's next you ask? how about another Half Ironman this Saturday?  Patriot, here I come!

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Friday, January 9, 2015


Perspective "a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view." (Google)

Today I had 70 minutes to adjust my perspective.  Up at 4:30AM so I could go to a Spin class at 5:45.  I like to sit up front because I need to look at my form in the mirror.  With EDS, I have no perspective of my body in space, so making sure my knees are in place, for example,  is a must. 

While looking into the dreaded mirror, this is what goes through my head:   
"ugh I'm  fat, out of shape; man my belly is big; what happened to my Ironman self? wow I'm lazy; my arms are huge, when did that happen? I shouldn't have taken the year off; ugh, am I really going to be able to take this weight off? or is this more about being over 40?......"
Then my brain wondered elsewhere:
"damn, I have all race clothes on; do I own anything other than race clothes?  people must think I'm trying to show off; oh yea they prob don't care, they're probably thinking they are fat too.... wait, I have stuff from 6 different races on!?  dork, I'm a dork...."
Here's where perspective changes:
Hey wait, I have my PMC shorts on, Chesapeakeman shirt, Irongirl headband, Ironman Florida sweatshirt, Patriot half water bottle, and Providence Half Ironman bag on the floor... that's a ton of races represented!  (Then I started to add in my head, - which only helped pass time as I can't add in my head).
Hey I AM  representing a TON of miles in my clothing today! (well really half a ton).
  • PMC 192 miles cycling x 3  = 576
  • Chesapeakeman Ultra 112 miles x2 = 224
  • Ironman Florida = 112
  • Patriot Half 56x2 = 112
  • Providence Half = 56
  • Irongirl 12 x2 (x5 if you include the previous owner or the race, Danskin).= 60

That is 1140 miles of cycling DURING RACES that I am representing right now, in my perceived fat, out of shape body!  .. 1140!  Half a ton of miles!

Yea I may be out of shape, but there's an athlete in here an I'm not afraid to admit it!

What did you do today to change your perspective? 

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**Please do not reply to this blog post with 'you are not fat' that isn't the point of the post; everyone has moments and it is meant to illustrate the thought process.  I only mention this because someone will reply with just that sentiment.