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I’m so thrilled to be a part of the “Strong is the New Skinny” blog tour hosted by Becca of Free Notion. When I heard about the idea behind this blog tour, I knew that it was just what I needed to re-focus my health and fitness goals for the new year! I also knew it would be a great excuse to sew myself some new workout gear, which I’ve been wanting (and desperately needing) to do for a while!
I had my daughter Maci in June of 2011, quickly followed by my son Madden in August of 2012. In June of 2013, I came to the realization that I needed to do something about my health. I was constantly fatigued, stressed, and down on myself about my physical appearance. Every day was a struggle, and I noticed the toll it was taking on me and the people around me. I had always been active growing up – I did competitive gymnastics, was on a diving team while healing from a knee injury, and did competitive cheerleading during high school. I was never the traditional “skinny” but I was healthy, active, and fit. Flash forward a *few* years, after marriage, a couple of children, and being sporadically active, I decided I wanted and needed to “become a runner”. I always thought I hated running and the furthest I had ever run was a slow 3 miles. At the point when I decided I wanted to be a runner, I had already lost some of the weight from my 2nd pregnancy, but I was still roughly 30 lbs above a comfortable weight for my 5’4″ frame. I couldn’t run a single mile without killing my lungs and taking several walking breaks. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but when I decide I want to do something, there’s no turning back.
I already had several motivating factors – being healthier for my kids, my husband, my own happiness, etc. But I needed a challenge to conquer. I don’t know why, it’s just how my brain works! So I set a goal – go for a run every day (except Sundays) for 100 days straight. It seemed a little crazy and over the top, but I knew I could do it if I really wanted to. I was terrible at first, but every time I went for a run, I gave myself a small new challenge. Push a little further before taking a walking break, jog at a slightly faster pace, run a further total distance, etc. With each run, my endurance improved, and within a couple of weeks, I was noticing significant progress. It was so empowering knowing that I had gone from barely being able to slowly jog half a mile, to being able to jog a couple miles at a moderate pace without walking at all! I kept on pushing myself and improving, and a month and a half later, I had a friend who was looking for someone to take their friends spot in a half marathon. This is sort of how the conversation went:
Friend: “Melli, run this half marathon with me in August!
Me: “There is absolutely no way I could run 13 miles 5 weeks from now!”
Friend: “You totally could, plus – didn’t your mom run a full marathon once!?”
Me: “Challenge accepted!” (think Barney Stinson)
I had 5 weeks to prepare and take my longest run from 5 miles to 13.1 miles. By that point I had lost around 15 lbs, and was feeling amazing! One of my last training runs before the race was a 10 mile run, and happened to fall exactly on my 2 month “running anniversary”. I was shocked at the progress I had made in just TWO MONTHS. Below is my Instagram post from August 10, 2013. The left shows my first “run” which consisted mostly of walking. On the right was my longest training run – 10 miles.
Finally, the day of the race came, and I ran the entire 13.1 miles without stopping to walk or take a single break. I am not a fast runner, but I steadily jogged at a 10:39 pace the entire way. My official time was 2:19:47. I was so proud of myself, and had so much support from friends and family, it was overwhelming!
I still wasn’t at an “ideal weight” for my height, I still wasn’t wearing my ultimate goal jeans, I still wasn’t “skinny”. But I was active, healthier, had built endurance, and I felt strong! I could honestly say that I truly loved running. I was a “runner”! I have learned that there are no requirements for being a “real runner”. If you get out there, and you jog, run really fast, run really slow, “yog”, whatever.. you are a runner!
I have had plenty of ups and downs since my first half marathon in August of 2013. My weight has fluctuated, I have done two additional half marathons and countless other smaller races, I have eaten too many treats and “cheat meals”, I have done a couple of rounds of Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix (an at home program that I LOVE), and I got pregnant and had a third baby. I was diagnosed with a severe case of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and again, my weight has gone up. It’s a new year, Baby #3 is now 8 months old (time – PLEASE slow down!), I am working on getting my Hashi’s under control, I have plenty of baby weight to get rid of, and I am ready to get back on track and take my health seriously! Believe me when I say this, if I can become a runner, so can you. All you have to do is honestly try, keep trying, and don’t give up when it seems tough. It won’t be easy at first, but you are worth it!
If nothing else, I can always be motivated by new active wear! Who isn’t, right!? So in honor of the new year, new goals, and a healthy (not necessarily “skinny”) 2016, I was graciously provided some active wear patterns to try out from 5 out of 4 Patterns and Greenstyle Creations! This is a sewing blog, after all. 🙂 Josephine of LA Finch Fabrics also generously provided me with some beautiful, high-quality nylon-spandex fabric to sew up some new workout gear!
First up is the amazing Agility Tank from 5 out of 4 Patterns. I have been eyeing this pattern since it was released, but was a little intimidated by the built in bra, the knit binding, and was worried that it might not be flattering on my mom-body. I have tried on similar store-bought tops where the overlay dips too low and shows off my squishy sides. And the built-in bras are always too small and too low-cut! No bueno! The Agility Tank is super flattering, comfortable, and so stylish! This is officially my new favorite workout top. For me, this was one of those “satisfying” sews. New techniques, lots of attention to detail, and an amazing finished product! I can’t wait to make more! There is a tankini mod included in the pattern which I will most certainly be making this summer! There are also options for nursing access, a dress overlay, a strappy back, and an a-line tank version.
Every runner needs a good pair of running tights, which is where Greenstyle Creations comes in. I decided to make myself a basic pair of long black Inspire Tights, but there are tons of fun colorblocking options in this pattern, as well as other length options! Greenstyle also has the Stride Tights pattern which are super cute and have an awesome contrast panel. I used this amazing, medium-weight, buttery-soft, perfectly stretchy nylon/spandex fabric from LA Finch Fabrics. They are SO COMFY. The pattern also includes an optional gusset, which is crucial for maximum comfort during exercise! Trust me.
Also pictured above on the far right, is the super comfy Ascent Women’s Fleece Pullover from 5 out of 4 Patterns. This is a total staple pattern and perfect for chilly winter workouts, or for layering on your way to the gym. (it’s also great for snuggling in on the couch when you have a cold! Ask me how I know..) I added a bottom band and sleeve cuffs to bring it in a little and to add a little length to the bottom… so that it’ll cover my bottom. (see what I did there?)
Lastly, I sewed up another pattern from Greenstyle Creations – the Jillian Tank. I love the criss-cross straps in the back! It also has a super cute and flattering overlay tank included that I ran out of time to sew 🙁 But I will be making one! I also love that there is a higher/lower cut line for the neckline. I am a little on the busty side, and have the hardest time finding workout tops that keep the cleavage in check, which results in wearing several layers of clothing, which results in a not-as-comfortable workout experience. I cut this tank on the higher neckline and it is perfect! There is also an optional built-in bra, standalone bra, and bandeau top included. So many options! I sewed this up using another super soft, comfortable, high-quality fabric from LA Finch Fabrics.
I had plans to make myself another Sundance Jacket from Greenstyle creations, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. Below is the jacket I made during testing, which I love and wear all of the time time! This jacket is great as an added layer during the colder months, and can be warmed up or cooled down based on the fabric you choose. The princess seams are so flattering and there is a cute pleated-back option that I need to sew up ASAP! I also love making these non-slip headbands to keep my hair out of my face. I use 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon on top, 5/8″ velvet ribbon underneath (so it stays in place) and some 1/4″ elastic in the back! I also did machine embroidery on this one. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll write up a tutorial for these. They are so easy and take like 10 minutes to make!
Now as soon as I get over this awful cold that is taking over my life, I will be hitting the treadmill/canal trail in ultimate comfort and style. Don’t forget to check out all of the other bloggers on the tour sharing their athletic sews and fitness stories! You will be inspired and motivated to get STRONG and sew yourself some amazing active wear all at once!
I feel silly even needing to state this disclaimer, but “better safe than sorry,” they say. The talented women participating in this tour are NOT trained physicians (unless they state otherwise). I hope you find our testimonies encouraging and motivating – but we are NOT adequate substitutes for the advice of your own doctor, trainer, or other health professional. Please consult an expert before adjusting or creating your own fitness regimen.