Archive for August, 2009

Day One – Success

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Today I did the first day of week 7 in an 8-week 5k training plan – three miles.

It went reasonably well, too! I ran the entire first mile, and a bit past that, until I hit a wall. More specifically, I hit a very steep hill. I ran up as much of it as I could, and then I walked the last third of it to the top.

After that it was smooth sailing for a while, with two very brief (45-ish seconds) walk breaks, both related to hills.

Stupid hills.

Weird thing – maybe you more experienced runners can explain this to me: I got a blister in an odd place: the middle of the right side of my left foot. Not on the heal, not anywhere near the toes – in the middle. I felt discomfort there as I was running, but I just figured there was a little stone in my shoe. I got home and discovered there was no stone, just a bright, shiny, new blister. Any thoughts on that? I sure would love an explanation and a preventative measure!

Besides the blister, it was a successful run. It felt good to get outside with my music, feet pounding on the ground, knowing that I was working toward something bigger and better. It was a gorgeous day for it, too – blue sky, sun behind puffy, white clouds with just a bit of a chill in the air. I’m looking forward to fall!

Tomorrow I’m to either rest, run/walk, or cross-train. It’s a kung fu day, so I’ll at least get some exercise in, but I think I’ll set out for another run on my lunch break, shorter this time though, since it’s an off day. Say 1.5 miles.

What did YOU do today?

Running On

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

The last few Saturdays, I’ve been running after my Kung Fu class with a friend – we’ll call him J-Roc. J-Roc had never run prior to our first outing, and had to be prodded quite a bit before agreeing to give it a try. He’s a generally fit person, but he had just never  tried running.

First day out? He kicked my ass. The jerk. (I kid!)

In each subsequent run, he’s done better and better. I can tell that I’m holding him back: He runs slower than what his natural pace would be (he’s my height so that’s not it) and I we walk periodically because I can’t keep going, not because of him. I firmly believe he’s simply a natural when it comes to running, whereas I? Am not.

Let’s talk about another friend for a minute, who we’ll call M-Dog. M-Dog has been running for a while, and even ran a half marathon a few months ago, so clearly she’s more advanced than I. Get this though: I inspired M-Dog to start running, just like J-Roc, and now they BOTH kick my ass. In fact, there are even more people who have told me that I’ve gotten them into running (meaning they started after I did) and they’ve since surpassed my (admittedly meager) running abilities. I don’t have any ill will toward any of these folks – on the contrary – I’m THRILLED that I helped them find a new kind of fitness that they love! However, I would be lying if I said I get frustrated with myself for not progressing at a better rate. That being said, I do my best not to compare myself to others. How very evolved of me, eh?

After Kung Fu today, I went for a run with both J-Roc and M-Dog. I was a little nervous about it, actually, because I know that I would hold them back. It wasn’t so bad, though. In fact, it was fun! It rained – pretty hard at one point – and that added an interesting element to the whole thing. Can you believe I’ve never gone for a run in the rain? It didn’t seem strange to me before, but now it does. I’ve always explicitly not run when the weather was inclement, but I think perhaps I need to change that!

I did decently on the run today, running much further than usual before having to walk for a bit, but I’m still disappointed with where I am overall. After a very honest look at why I’m not improving as I’d like, I’ve come to a conclusion: I am incredibly inconsistent with my training.

I’ll do really well for a few weeks and then my running days will dwindle until I’m down to only once a week. I think it’ll be nearly impossible to progress when I only “practice” once a week. That rate is probably just enough to keep me from going backwards.

I’ve always found that I am pretty good at following a clearly defined training program – it helps me to have someone tell me exactly what I should do when. (Of course, after I miss a few days for one reason or another, it tends to fall to the wayside altogether. [See: 100 push-ups which I never restarted after my road trip…] but we’re being positive here, so ignore that fact!)

Here’s the plan: I went ahead and registered for a 5k that takes place in 2 weeks. (J-Roc’s going to do it, too – his first road race!) I then found a 5k training program, and I’m going to jump straight to the last two weeks and do that in preparation of the race. This seems like a very rational and doable course of action. Agreed?

No excuses. No “too tired.” No “not in the mood.” No “too busy.” In the words of John Bryant (I have no idea who that is): “My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.”

Well said, John. Well said.

Softball!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

When I was young, I played softball in a community league. It’s been over ten years – closer to 15 actually – since I’ve played on a team, and I’ve REALLY missed it. Every time I drive by a field where kids are playing I get very nostalgic. Those were good times!

About a year and a half ago, I discovered that there is a Pittsburgh Sports League for adults. They have a wide range of sports, from basketball to volleyball and everything in between, including – you guessed it – softball!

The problem is this seems to be incredibly popular. They play three seasons a year (spring, summer & fall) and every time I’ve attempted to sign up, it’s been sold out. In fact, it sells out within mere hours. Of course, I could have marked my calendar for the day (and hour!) they open registration and made sure I was first in the virtual queue, but did I do that? No.

Why not? I attribute it to two things: laziness and fear.

I’m sure you can figure out the lazy part. No need to harp on that. Let’s talk about the fear.

As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t played softball in a long time. And I don’t mean just a real game – it’s been better than ten years since I’ve even played catch with a softball. The fear is that I would make a fool out of myself or lose the big game for the team. It’s hard to admit that, because I always talk and act so “big” but there it is.

Last week, I tried to register for softball. Again. And it was sold out. Again. Upon closer inspection, though, I saw a small note that said they had a few openings for individual females (there has to be a minimum number of women on each team). Even though my husband wanted to play with me, this felt like my opportunity. So I sent an email and asked about the opening.

The coordinator emailed me back later that day. It was mine if I wanted it.

Did I want it? I hesitated. That old fear of failure thing reared its ugly head. And then my husband – who was disappointed he couldn’t play himself – talked me into doing it. He convinced me that not only would I not be terrible, that I would in fact be better than I was when I played a decade ago: I’m thinner and fitter than ever. I can run further and faster than ever. I have better balance and hand-eye coordination than ever.

All I needed was that little push. I joined the team. Since then, a friend from Kung Fu has joined as well, taking the final female spot of the team. We had our first practice this past Sunday, and I wasn’t terrible. Just out of practice. And my batting needs some extra attention.

I’m more excited now than ever. It felt so good to be out on that field, running around.. It even rained during our practice so I got nice and dirty! Another practice is scheduled for Sunday, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

I’m still a little scared that I’ll lose the game for the team, but at least now I can go back to talking trash.

I really like to talk trash.

Mind/Body Disconnect

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Man oh man, this is hard!

This has been a very difficult week: I was out of town Tuesday and most of Wednesday, and a good friend was visiting from out of town Wednesday night and Thursday. This equated to eating out for dinner three days out of five, as well as multiple breakfasts and lunches. And as we all know, restaurants and the scale do not get along. To top it all off, today I went to a party that had TWO different kinds of pie – and a cobbler! Oh, the temptations!

As much as I know that I shouldn’t eat certain things – or that I should only have a little of it – I’ve had problems this week with listening to what my head is instructing me to do. I don’t want to even list the things I’ve eaten this week, but you’d be correct if you guessed that it included two different kinds of pie and a cobbler…

What’s weird is that while I feel bad about some of my poor decisions, I still feeling confident that I’ll reach my weight loss goals. I mean, I know I have to make up for this awful week, but I know I can do it. I just know it.

I don’t think I’ve ever really thought that before the last few weeks. Even after losing over 80 pounds, I don’t think I ever really thought I’d make it to my goal weight. But I do now. I’m not sure what inspired that change but I like it. And hopefully, my mind will go back to controlling my body.

As good as that pie was, I gotta get back in the game so I don’t prove myself wrong!

Mastering My Metabolism

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I recently finished reading Jillian Michaels’ newest book, Master Your Metabolism. Straight off the bat, let me tell you that I thought it was a fascinating read, and I recommend that you check it out for yourself.

The book is all about your hormones and how they affect your overall health, including, of course, weight loss. There are hormones that help you to lose weight, and others that make your body hold on to fat. Everything we eat – as well as products we use in the home (cleansers, cosmetics, plastic, etc), and environmental toxins – mess up our body’s natural hormone balance and makes it more difficult for us to lose weight.

It starts out with a chapter about Jillian. She talks about being overweight and binge eating as an adolescent, and then how she lost the weight. Even as recently as the first few seasons of The Biggest Loser, she had a hard time just maintaining her weight. So she “consulted top experts in the field of metabolism and discovered that she’d inadvertently been abusing her endocrine system for years. After “fixing” her own metabolism, she decided to share what she learned by devising this simple, 3-phase plan that engages all the weight-loss hormones (including the friendly HGH, testosterone, DHEA; and the not-so-friendly: insulin, cortisol, and excess estrogen).”   – From Amazon.com product description.

The next few chapters were pretty heavy, for me at least. She goes over all the major hormones, what they do and how they are affected positively or negatively by our food and environment. In fact, she even says at the end of the first chapter that if you want to jump right into the plan that you can skip a few chapters and come back to it later. For me, though, I didn’t want to blindly follow a bunch of rules without knowing why. So I read the heavy chapters.

Incidentally, Jillian Michaels is not a doctor or a nutritionist. However, she’s done a ton of research on the subject and there are over 20 pages of references in the back of the book. And she clearly knows how to help people lose weight…

Let me just tell you, this book is a bit frightening. We all know High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) isn’t good for you, but do we all know why? I know I didn’t. And it’s in everything. What about hydrogenated fats? And refined grains? And artificial sweeteners? It’s crazy to think about all the terrible things we’re putting into our bodies – and our children’s bodies.

I know that it will be incredibly difficult to follow this plan to a T. However, I have decided that I will do my best. To cut out as many processed foods and non-organic meats as possible. To eat whole grains instead of refined grains. To eat as much real, whole food as I can (which will be necessary since I’m cutting out all the processed garbage!). In fact, my husband and I cleaned out the refrigerator this weekend and threw out all the crap – and there was a lot of it, believe me.

(Interestingly, most of my low-fat/low-calorie foods got thrown away. After reading the list of ingredients – and knowing what to look for – I was appalled at what I’d been eating on a regular basis, under the guise of eating healthy. I feel a little tricked.)

I know that I’m still going to eat out a few times a week, and that I will occassionally eat food that friends and family have prepared. In these situations, I know that I will have little control over what I am eating.

But that’s ok.

I figure, if I do as much as I can as often as I can, that I will certainly create a positive effect. I’m not one to have a defeatist attitude and say that because I can’t be perfect I shouldn’t put in any effort.

The Master Your Metabolism plan is not an “all or nothing diet,” like Atkin’s, for instance. It’s a lifestyle. I’m going to remove as much of the worst things – processed foods and nonorganic meat and dairy – and do as much of the other things she talks about in the book, as possible. I suspect it will get easier as I go along, and if there’s any truth to this, I’ll notice a difference in how I feel and on the scale… and that will make it even easier!

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. In the meantime, I think you’d get a lot out of this book as well. Check it out, and Master Your Metabolism, too!

Something to Chew On

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

From the Women’s Health website:

James Levine, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic has measured the energy burned by chewing and found that just moving your jaw up and down can burn some 11 extra calories per hour, which is a boost of about 19 percent over your just-sitting-there level. Now, 11 calories may not sound like much, but that’s about a pound a year for every hour per day that you chew. And that doesn’t count the calorie savings from the snacks you’re not eating.

I’ve started chewing Big Red, since I read somewhere (can’t remember where!) that cinnamon flavored gum is better at curbing cravings than fruit flavored gum, which is what I was chewing tons of. However, Big Red has 10 calories per stick to Extra’s (the fruity ones) 5 calories. I know it’s only 5 calories, but it adds up!

With this information though, I feel much better about it. As long as I chew it for at least an hour, I will negate all the calories in that stick… plus one!

So chew on, folks. Chew on.

Ravenous

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Ravenous \ˈra-və-nəs\ adjective: very eager or greedy for food, satisfaction, or gratification <a ravenous appetite>

This has been me all day today. I just couldn’t seem to eat enough!

My meals started out normally enough: I had my usual breakfast of homemade oatmeal with granola and almonds, which successfully got me through to lunch. At noon, I made chicken salad using some leftover rotisserie chicken, a few chopped grapes, almonds, and onions with lettuce on a high fiber wrap, and had that with a side of watermelon. This held me over for a while, but by 3:00 I was hungry again. Usually I don’t need a snack until about 4:00.

I’m a big proponent of eating when you’re genuinely hungry, so I had some pudding. I was still hungry, so then I had some applesauce. Then some more chicken salad. Then a peach. Then some grapes. Finally, I chewed some gum to keep myself from eating more, which I would have easily and happily done.

I then went to kung fu and afterward a bunch of us went out for sushi. I partook in a delicious sushi boat, my portion of which should have been more than enough. But then the boat was empty, and I was raring for more. There was a  l-o-n-g  wait for our meal, so they brought out some pineapple on the house. I ate a bunch of that, and was still hungry! In fact, on the walk back to the car we passed a restaurant that smelled of chicken wings and I was totally up for that, though that would have been insane.

This is an unusual thing for me. Typically, I am satisfied with the amount that I eat and don’t feel deprived. Today I ate so much, and I still wasn’t sated. Very strange. I hope this isn’t the new thing.

That would be bad.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has days like these! I’d hate to be alone with my sometimes insatiable appetite, not that I’d wish it on anyone.

At least, not anyone that I like.

Workout Stick-To-It Tip

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

If you’re anything like me, you have the best of intentions when it comes to working out, but often life gets in the way. Either I get side-tracked or I simply no longer feel like it. (I’m definitely not perfect!)

Here’s my trick: I put on my workout clothes.

Sounds too easy, and not much like a trick, right? Allow me to elaborate: When I get up in the morning, I often think that I want to (or should) go for a run. But I have this whole morning routine which involves making and eating breakfast with my husband before he goes to work. I could run before that, but it would make things too complicated, not to mention the fact that I don’t like running on an empty stomach. Running after he leaves makes a lot more sense, but takes a lot of motivation – it’s so much easier just to head up to my office and start work myself.

But if I’m wearing running clothes, I won’t do that.

So, as soon as I think I want to go for a run, I put on the appropriate clothing. Then I do whatever I need to do first, and I will always go for my run. I would feel way too guilty taking off my running clothes without having gone for a run. Running clothes should only be allowed to be removed when they’re drenched in sweat :)

Give it a try – maybe it’ll help you too!

And We’re Back!

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The Great Road Trip of ’09 has come to an end. I had a fabulous time with my friends, but I’m glad to be home. All told, we drove over 2300 miles – through 10 states – in 6 days. It was a wonderful experience that I won’t soon forget.

Ok, enough of the touchy-feely stuff. Time to get down to business: How successful was I at following my plan? Overall, I’d give myself a B+.

First for the food:

Breakfast each day was pretty good, though not perfect. I did the best I could with the options available to me at hotels. Nothing crazy, and anytime I had something that wasn’t particularly healthy, like a bagel, I split it with one of my friends rather than eating the whole thing myself. I also had a ton of light yogurt – much more than usual – but it was nice to have something cold in all those hot Southern states!

I was REALLY good at every lunch break on the road, too. I had salads with minimal dressing, fruit & yogurt parfaits (love those), good choices at Subway, etc. Since I knew I was going to have delicious dinners, it was easy to make smart choices for lunch.

I was also exceptionally good while we were actually in the car: Before we left El Paso, we went to the grocery store and filled a cooler with healthy snacks – apples, nectarines, baby carrots, bottles of water, and some 100-calorie snacks like cocoa roast almonds. This was KEY and I highly recommend it. It would have been so easy to buy junk food at gas stations on the way if we didn’t have healthy food at hand.

And then there was dinner. Oh boy, was there dinner!

As planned, I enjoyed the local cuisine for dinner in each of the places we visited and didn’t feel guilty about it. We went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant in El Paso, had some delicious Italian in Austin (though I don’t think Austin is really known for their Italian, this place had the best lasagna I’ve ever had), all sorts of tasty creole dishes in New Orleans, and some awesome greek salad and spinach pizza in Nashville. I didn’t go overboard on any of my portions – in fact, we usually ordered a few dishes and shared.

I did more drinking than I had planned on, but even that wasn’t out of hand. A margarita in Texas, a hand grenade in New Orleans, and then a few rum & diet cokes here and there. Nothing crazy.

Now, the exercise:

I’m sorry to say that I never made it outside to run. It just never worked out, for one reason or another. I’m a little disappointed about that, but what can you do, right? That’s certainly not to say that I didn’t work out, though. We made a point to go to the hotel fitness center a few times and get in a real good workout. I love doing a treadmill workout next to someone – I always push myself harder and further than when I’m alone, so that was really cool. I don’t get that at home very often.

Unfortunately, the push ups and sit-ups have fallen to the way-side. I’ll pick that back up this week. I may even repeat the week I completed last since it’s getting really challenging. Did you guys stick to the program while I was away, I hope? If not, start back up with me now!

In addition to the explicit workouts, there was a TON of walking. We walked for miles in each of the cities we visited, and I loved that, especially since there was so much time spent on our butts in the car.

I knew that the real judge of of my efforts would be the scale, so this morning I broke it out, even though I traditionally weigh myself on Fridays. Ready for this?

175!

I find that incredible. Not only did I not gain weight while on a week-long vacation, I actually managed to lose a pound. That just goes to show that if you make a plan and stick to it, you can enjoy your vacation – and your life! – and still meet your weight-loss/health goals.

I just proved it.