Monday, March 31, 2008

No More Clif Bars for Me

My weight is under the dreaded 2-double-Oh for the first time in a while. I didn't track my food religiously last week, but even those few days of entering the data gave me a real idea of how I need to eat right now, and when I stopped, after a few more days I started getting fuzzy again so it's back to the plan.

Here's a pitfall I fall into, again and again and again. I think it's because it takes a few days for any eating change to show up on the scale. What happens is, I'll be "perfect" for a few days, and the scale won't budget. Then I slip - eat an extra scone, a few cookies, too much wine - and the next day I've lost weight. Then I think, oh, I can have that scone, that wine is no problem. And before you know it, all self-discipline is gone, and I'm up three more pounds.

I am wearing jeans that I put in the back of the closet months ago because they were huge - now they're snug. (At least I have plenty of clothes that fit, since I didn't throw anything away.) But I refused to get depressed about it, just motivated!

So I made another batch of my yummy barley lentil yogurt salad, stocked the fridge with everything high fiber, high complex-carb-and-protein, highly delicious. No more clif bars for me - they are a trap. I'm eating real food only. Clifs and their ilk are too sweet, too chemically, they get my tastebuds wanting candy bars and cookies. Oh and they are too expensive. (Except when they're on sale at Price Chopper, 10 for $10. Maybe I'll pick some up when racing season starts.)

Last week's workouts (which I did track in FitDay:)
Total Running: 3 times, 1 hr 10 mins total, 7.5 miles approx (including one day of sprints)
Total Core/Strength: 3 brief sessions (10 mins each)
Total other (mostly walking): 3 times, about 20 minutes each
Total Bike/Spin: 1 45-minute session
No swimming.
Not my best week, but consistent. This week I'll step it up again, and next week I'm going on vacation - a week in Costa Rica!!!! Not sure what kind of exercise, other than hiking/walking, I'll get, but I don't care! (And I know I"ll be eating healthy - rice and beans, ceviche - what could be bad about that?)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A mixed bag this week

I ate a lot of chocolate this weekend. Lots of bread-and-cheese type things, not so great on the fruits and vegetables. I didn't go nuts, and I didn't drink too much, and tomorrow is another day!

I did my longest long run in 6 months - I'm 5 minutes ahead of the schedule I set for myself. The run itself was a hair shy of 4 miles, and I was consistent at run 5 (or better), walk 1 (or occasionally 1:30.) I've noticed my heart rate changing too - a month ago I couldn't keep going if I hit 150 - I'd be gasping for breath. Now I can keep going for a while in the low to mid 150's. I think that's a good thing, right? But I'm sore now - I hope I didn't push too hard by adding a full mile and nearly 10 minutes to last week's run. I don't think I'll add that much again next week. (One advantage to running farther- change of scenery! The farthest end of the 5 mile loop I'm working up to is lovely.)

On the other hand, I missed a few workouts this week due to cold/rain and busy schedule. I ran Sunday and Monday, did spinning on Tuesday, and then basically nothing til Saturday.
I've also realized that my arms and chest are ridiculously weak - everyone else in my Pilates class and sustain a plank for a minute or more, but my lower back cries out in agony after 20 seconds. Time to get back to the balance ball.

My goal for this week: do FitDay every day and GET ENOUGH SLEEP. (I slept 11 hours last night - catching up on WEEKS of deficit.)

My first race of the season is 5 weeks away - the Sharon Classic. I did it last year in 61:20 - can I match that this year?

Friday, March 21, 2008

What a little information can do

I am so excited about FitDay. Everyone always says that writing down what you eat makes the difference - I think really knowing the calories and nutrients of what i eat is going to be huge for me - I had no idea how much fat I eat! Here is the chart from the third day - compare to the one from 2 days ago:

First of all I cut out 200 calories, mostly from alcohol and fat (The day in between these two was worse than the first on all counts!) Not that I'm quitting drinking altogether, just being more aware of the total caloric picture! I also realized I probably should be having more protein - quite a surprise considering how much legumes I consume! Though on a "normal" day in the past few months I probably ate a lot more - peanut butter, cheese, etc.

On another subject: IronWil, in her blog (she is in another universe from me, athletically speaking - serious Ironman territory) suggested looking at your blog one year ago, 2 years ago etc to compare where you are now, mentally and physically, with how far you've come. In her case, she is less obsessed, less intense, more in balance, than she was. I was afraid to look at this time last year, thinking I'd fallen behind, lost my edge. But I'm about where I was, maybe even a little ahead, running wise, compared to mid-March last year. I hadn't gotten my bike out by this time last year (and haven't this year either) - the only major difference is I was doing a lot of swimming last year. This year I've already done some bricks, sort of - days when I spin and then run; last year I hadn't yet. I hope I do a tri this year - I hope the hypnosis helps! (I'm going to my first appt. next week.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eye-opening, part II

Here's what I have learned about myself:
This is yesterday's results, according to FitDay. As of 5pm I'd eaten 1409 calories. Knowing that, and knowing I'd have to really account for everything else I ate was a real incentive not to binge when I got home. But it was hard - I was in the kitchen cooking, the kids were milling around (actually they were planting seeds) and I was HUNGRY. I ate basically normally at dinner, including using plenty of olive oil when I was cooking. It is mostly estimates, of course - if you put in "1 small corn muffin" for example, the program may say it had shortening as an ingredient when it really had canola oil. You can add custom foods by inputting the nutrition label, but I don't think you can create one by combining ingredients to create a recipe. (You can in the PC version, but I think I'll stick with online, as I work at 3 different computers at different times of day.) That being the case I don't think I can draw a lot of conclusions about the percentages of different kinds of fat, for example. But on first glance, it looks to me like I need more protein, less fat, and more fiber. Oh, and maybe cut back on the wine! But, considering my workouts yesterday (according to FitDay I burned over 3,000 calories between "basal" "lifestyle" and my 2 workouts), it could be a lot worse! I think this could be a valuable tool for me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A lot of fitness bloggers have links to online logs and diaries so I was looking around for one. I've tried a few and never stuck with them, but I found one called FitDay that has a fairly easy to use food journal, and a not-great but not too bad fitness one. It's simple, you can add custom foods, (but not custom workouts and they don't have Pilates or spinning) -- all in all I think I'm going to use it for a while, and here's why.

It is 5pm and I have eaten 1400 calories today. (1409, to be exact.) Based on what I have learned I should be eating around 2000 a day to lose a pound a week.) I have NO idea how many calories I eat in a typical day - that's the kind of day where I'm pretty good til I get home, then I eat everything in sight while reading the paper, talking to the kids, making dinner, and generally not focusing on what I am doing. (I eat a TON while doing other things - like now, while I type I'm eating a half-serving of cereal. I REALLY need to work on this but more about that anon.)

I think tracking my food this way for a few days will be even better than the notebook (I'm doing that again too, to track mood, energy, etc.)

So now I know what I need to do when I get home - limit my dinner to 600 cals. That includes the 1-2 glasses of wine I usually drink, plus the porkchops, the chocolate I filch from the kids' leftover goody bags, and anything else.

Now I might give myself a little more today because I did 45 minutes of HARD spinning and a 30 minute run, or maybe I should just eat the way I usually do, enter that in FitDay, and get a real idea of what it comes out to be. Either way it's pretty interesting. And today was a pretty good day, so far. We took a coworker out to lunch for her birthday but I had sushi, nothing high-fat, (though I did have ice cream at work and a small corn muffin at staff meeting.)

Anyway the point is, to learn more about how much I'm really eating and where the calories are coming from.

Then to focus on not reading/talking/doing housework/working WHILE I eat, but just EAT while I eat. I.e pay attention to the food.

My friend Monique, who has struggled with food as I have, has recently lost 22 pounds (on her way to her college reunion.) She looked at me today and said, pleadingly, Don't Backslide!! I know my progress has inspired her. I already have backslid, a LOT, but I am DETERMINED!! I will turn this ship around.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The plan is working!

This week I:
Ran Tuesday Thursday Friday and today (Sunday) - by today I was up to 40 minutes run (with walk breaks only every 4.5 minutes, give or take) plus cooldown.

Spinning Tuesday
Pilates Saturday
No swimming.
Still overeating, haven't lost any weight.
So, not perfect, but I definitely feel my fitness coming back. My weekday runs are shorter than I'm capable of, with a few bursts of speed, lots of walking breaks (I'm running to suit my partner) but going out often. That seems to be a good thing - I'm gently working out, but not exhausting myself so I have a lot to give on the weekend.

The official training runs start in 2 weeks - we had FIFTY kids sign up for the Marathon Project (that's middle and high school students) and so far, about six mentors. That doesn't seem like enough to me - I hope a few more come forward! Despite all our efforts to tell people you can be a total beginner, people don't seem to get that - when i tell them we're training now by running 3 minutes, walking a minute, their whole expression changes and they suddenly say, "oh, I could do that!"

The people running this show are great - they told hilarious stories of running with the kids last year, and gave out gift certificates for sports bras like they were cups of coffee - everyone got one (except me and my coworker - as staff we declined to take tickets and left them for the volunteers! But I WANTED one!)

I am very exhilarated by this new endeavor - I think it's going to be an amazing experience!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

consistency, motivation, happiness, heart rates, and other random thoughts

1. Consistency: that's the key, right? What good is a week with 7 workouts if you so exhaust yourself that you do nothing for the next six days? A plan needs to be stuck to. After a full week off, I ran Friday, did Pilates/elliptical yesterday, and ran, sort of, today. And saw this:

2. Motivation: The sort of was this: I spent another whole day home with my sick daughter. (Thankfully, her fever and bone-crunching aches were gone today, leaving her pale to the point of grey, without any energy whatever, but good mood. She lay on the couch all day while we drew pictures, read out loud from Harry Potter, and just chatted about this and that.) By the time my husband got home with a carload of groceries, it was nearly 5pm. (Daylight Savings time, so bright and sunny. We'd forgotten about it, so he left for Sunday School with younger daughter an hour late!) I came up with a bunch of Very Important Things I had to do before I could go out, and puttered around looking for water bottles, camera batteries and other distractions for even longer. I had a sore musclet here, an ache there, and generally a Bad Attitude: It's too cold. I have things to do. I'm tired. I am a horrible runner and can only walk. Etc. But finally I went, and after I walked the first five minutes I just decided to run for a little. And it felt OK. It was a very lazy run - 2 or 3 minutes at a time, stopping to take pictures all along the way. But I think it's OK to have a run like that once in a while - not so goal oriented. I will edit this post later tonight to add some of the photos I took - bluebirds, deer at close range, stubbly cornfields, cow's feet, setting sunlight. Nice. I was out about 35 minutes and at least I got my blood moving. (Oh and the sore muscles felt fine, and I LOVE MY NEW SHOES!)
And on my run I also saw this:

3: Happiness. My daughters' bodies are jawdroppingly perfect. PERFECT. Long slender legs, flat bellies, elegant necks, huge shiny blue eyes. They are also CHILDREN - they haven't gotten the shots of hormones, the bumps and bruises, the stretchmarks, and all the other marks of being an adult human female. The women we compare ourselves look more like 9 year old girls (except for the big boobs) than 99% of us will ever. And yes, I admit it, no need to pretend otherwise: my body is not as beautiful. It is fat in places theirs isn't. I have flesh that moves when I'm standing still. I droop. (And did when I was 9, for that matter - I NEVER looked like my children do.)

So. I still get to choose how I FEEL about that. I can try to change my body, and I do. But I don't have to FEEL bad or sad about how my body looks, not if I don't want to. How my body looks is mostly out of my control. How I feel about it is not.
I also saw this:

I call it, "Ice Face."
4. Heart Rates. I am meeting with Triathlon Goddess Tina, who is now a certified personal trainer, to learn more about my personal heart rate zones so I can work out more effectively. She gave me homework: to find my resting heart rate first thing in the morning, before I get out of bed, for three days in a row. That is harder to do than you might think: how much does one's heart rate go up just rustling around looking for the watch, trying for a few minutes to get an accurate pulse on one's neck? I think I came up with 60 this morning, but I might actually wear the strap to bed tonight to see if I can get a better one tomorrow.

Other random thoughts. It's all mental. (DUH!) I think I can't because I always couldn't, or never did, or was teased for never having learned how. To overcome a lifetime of "I can't" takes constant conscious intentional purposeful reframing my brain. Because until I believe that "I CAN," I never will.

Friday, March 07, 2008

How's it going?

OK since you asked:

The new shoes might just be amazing. I ran outside in them (in the chilly rain, ugh) today for the first time. My left foot LOVES them. My left knee is mostly happy. My right foot wonders if there's something a little weird with the outer edge, but is pretty content. My right knee said "hello, I'm here" once, but then quieted right down again. This is the first pair of shoes I've had since I started getting serious about running that felt good right out of the box and hasn't required me to fiddle with inserts and insoles to make them fit. Not stopping to tighten or loosen. No blisters. No feeling of swimming in a sea of too-large-ness. Just smooth support - a platform to run on. Perfect. Just goes to show: it all depends on your own particular foot. (As I'd mentioned before, this model of New Balance has horrible reviews on Road Runner Sports. I wonder if that means they're more likely to be discontinued and I should snap more pairs up quick! The Asics I'd been running with will go straight to the garbage after one more test run in these. And the Saucony Hurricanes that I liked but lost (really!) and replaced with the Asic (because the store I went to in the mall didn't have the Sauconys) will lose their hallowed place in my memory as The Best Shoes for Me. Because these are way, way better! (Even though RRS says I need "Stability Plus" and these are just "stability." I suspect that just means they are lighter with less cushioning, and I seem to like that better!

My food diary is revealing fascinating things, things that should be glaringly obvious but weren't until I made myself write it all down. If food is there, I'll eat it. I have ZERO control around tempting foods. If I bring my food to work, and don't go out, I'm great. But if I go to the bakery across the street for coffee, I CAN'T STOP MYSELF from getting a scone too. If I'm at an event where brownies are being served, I WILL eat a brownie. Or two. And some cucumber sandwiches even though I already had dinner. If I'm home for a day taking care of two sick children (such as today), I'll eat a whole loaf of French bread that's out on the counter, instead of the delicious salad veggies that are in the fridge, in the drawer. I am a creature of impulse. Sometimes I can control this, but right now, it seems, not. Danger zones: the hour when I'm making dinner, and the hour afterward when I'm cleaning up. Once I go upstairs to put the kids to bed, I won't go eat more - I'm not a night eater. But between 5 and 8pm I can eat enough calories to last a whole day -- or two. (Even if I've eaten very well all day long, and by well I mean plenty of food including protein and fat - ie I should not be that hungry and usually I'm not - I just eat.)

Today's run was the first workout since Saturday. Sunday I was exhausted and rested. Monday I was still sore and achy, plus it's a really hard day to get in a workout. Tuesday was supposed to be a run day - I think it was POURING all day. Wednesday I should hae gone swimming but didn't and the rest of the day was out of the question. (One reason why: my mother in law showed for a visit when I thought she was coming NEXT Wednesday! She waited at the train station for HOURS before we could get her!) Thursday - was with her most of the day, then just racing so hard to catch up at work from all the lost time that a mid-day run was not an option. And that gets me to today - home all day with two extremely needy and demanding little divas. At one point I took a business call and went into my office, and they, who have recently discovered how fun it is to use the telephone, used my cellphone to call my husband and tell him they were bored. Little buggers - I'd been their entertainment all day long! But bless his heart, he came home early (with wine, hooray!), which let me go out for a run before it got dark! I have GOT to toughen up about running in the rain (or get a jacket for running in the rain.) I almost bailed because it was drizzling, and got quite a chill when I got home. But did my 4:1, for 32 minutes plus cooldown walk. (A few of the 4's were really 2's - what's weird is, my heart rate can come down to under 130 but I still feel like I can't catch my breath! I need to learn more about using my heart rate effectively. Above 150 and I just can't sustain it, but I know lots of athletes who can run forever in the 160's. How?)

Monday, March 03, 2008

A few days to rest

I'm slowing down my plan slightly - I took Sunday and Monday off. I was so exhausted after 7 days of consecutive workouts - just bone tired and aching. I gave my new shoes an indoor trial run on Saturday - 10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 on a bike, 15 on the elliptical. They're kind of high cut - they come perilously close to my ankle bones - but my left foot was VERY happy. Right foot, not so much (it actually went a little numb and was feeling like it was rolling to the outside in an odd way), but I'll wait and see how it feels after a few days of rest. Tuesdays I've been doing a double - spin + run - but can't spin tomorrow because of a morning meeting, so I'll be very fresh for the run at lunch - I might try to do my "long run" since I'm staying late at work.

I have gotten very focused on my eating: I started a reporter's notebook where I am writing EVERYTHING I eat and drink on the left and how I' m feeling (tired, hungry, emotions) on the right. I started today, and I think I ate somewhat better than I've been, though still some impulsive/compulsive eating at moments of anxiety or uncertainty. I need to plan every bite in advance - it's the only possible way I'll get this under control. (Though the hypnosis will help too, I hope!)