Friday, December 21, 2012

Keeping on Keeping On

My last "update" blog post was on Monday.  Today is Thursday and it feels like a whole world has transpired since then.  I have to admit, I am packing more into my life these days than I thought possible.  And I'm living, feeling more in touch with myself and the world, more everything, than I ever have been.  But I'll get off all the psychobabble introspection and stick to the facts, ma'am. 

The gym and the eating are going fair to middling this week.  I had my long run on Sunday.  Monday was a gym day - the bike followed by back/biceps/core.  The highlight was 2 sets of pullups, 3 reps, then 2 reps.  It's going to be a long road to 3 sets of 8 but I have nothing but time and, body willing, I'll get there.

Tuesday got all wonky and I didn't run.  And then Tuesday evening all hell broke loose in terms of my eating.  I'd had a stressful day and that, combined with no exercise = no bueno.  I ate TWO candy bars in addition to dinner rolls and whatever else I could find to munch on.  I was a bit frustrated with myself but have also grown enough with this journey to try to sit with acceptance, and avoid judgment.  I called my mom to see if she could come over on Wednesday so I could run and she could!  Whew!

So Wednesday I planned out a road/trail run out at the college.  The trail portion is my summer bread and butter loop.  I needed a bit more mileage to hit 4 miles so I parked on the road a half-mile or so from the trail.  Given the trail and the hill I knew trying to hit a 9:30 pace was not realistic so I just tried to do what I could and hope for the best.  It was a gorgeous day for a run, perfect chilly weather, I swear I ran with a smile on my face.  Anyway, here are the garmin stats:

I managed a 9:57 pace and ended up running 4.38  miles instead of just 4.  With the hill and whatnot, I'll take that pace!  And all the food demons were banished with having moved my body.  I'm really moving into a comfortable place with all this.  I think.  Have to be careful not to get too comfortable, that's when things can sneak up on you.  Have to stay frosty, as they say.

Yesterday, Thursday, was another gym day.  I did my 25 minutes on the upright bike followed by legs/shoulders/core.  I got to the gym a little before lunch, which is usually not good energy-wise, so I had an AccelGel beforehand to give me a little pep. The gym was practically empty and I sort of zoned out mentally and just enjoyed pushing my body through my routine.

After work I drove into the city for a work holiday party.  I got a late start and the traffic was horrible so I missed the first part of the party (which saved me from eating too much Chinese food!) but I made it for the gift exchange and scored a new set of salad tongs, something I actually needed.  My salad tongs were "wrapped" in a santa hat, hence the picture.

Today (Friday) is another gym day, heading out after work to do an easy 3 miles on the treadmill and gearing up mentally for Sunday's long run.  Oh!  And something fun I haven't mentioned.  Living Social had these pole dancing "fitness" classes a while back and, lucky me, I got three of them.  Not sure when I'll be taking the classes since they are a bit of a drive (at a studio over in Berkeley) but I'm looking forward to challenging myself in a new way.  Rest assured I will NOT be doing the move in this picture with only three classes but whatever I do, I'll have to share pictures.  That is if they are not too entirely unflattering or NSFW.  This is a family blog after all.  Ok, not really but you know what I mean.

That's all I got!  Gearing up for the big day.  Trying to stay in the moment and not let the hustle and bustle distract me from the warmth and joy of the season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Holiday Rule - And 5 Ways I Use It To Avoid Winter Weight Gain

I stumbled upon this post from last year and decided it's worth a re-post this year.  A little late but hopefully still helpful.


It's getting cold outside and that can only mean one thing...comfort food!  The number of unexpected encounters with food has been inching up lately and that's got me to thinking about my eating/food plan for the holidays.  My current plan is this: When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  What?!  "What kind of plan is that", you ask.  Easy.  There are only a handful of holidays.  Because, by "holiday", I mean the actual, post-office-is-closed, family comes over, holiday.  That would be Halloween (optional, depending on how strongly you feel about celebrating), Thanksgiving, Christmas (or insert other winter holiday here), maybe New Years Eve (unless you're like me and it stopped mattering years ago) and..well, that's sort of it.

Sure, there are other holidays throughout the year, but it's the winter holidays that really get us.  I think it's this mixture of cold weather, family, parties (as in, alcohol), and good food that can undermine our best intentions.  The power of the winter holidays to tempt us is why I came up with my food plan, "The Holiday Rule."  Yes, I actually call it that.  And I already told you all you need to know to follow my plan.  When it comes to the holidays, eat whatever you want.  On that one day.  So, how does the holiday rule help me get through the holidays without gaining weight?  Here's how I use it to keep my momentum up.

1.  I get to enjoy the holidays, feel like I am indulging just like everyone else, without guilt.  Because I plan to eat whatever I want on that day, I don't feel regretful about it.  Not even a little bit. In fact I sort of rejoice.  My day has come, I can relax, indulge, not worry or judge, or do any of the other food related craziness I might ordinarily do in the midst of all that food.

2.  I got this tip from a friend - I remind myself that my body does not know it's "the holidays".  If I eat a warm sticky bun for a snack it will still be 425 calories, and we all know the effect that will have on the body. The fact that it's December and cold outside doesn't change that.  

3.  I sometimes compare what I'm tempted by to the food I will eat on the holiday.  Now this is a tricky one that must be used sparingly because, well, I don't want to spend too much time daydreaming about food.  In any case, what I do is look at the tempting food and ask myself if it's as good as the food I'll have on, for example, Christmas.  Usually not.  It might be good, but it can't compare to my mom's cheesy egg souffle she always makes for breakfast.  Or Gulliver's corn.  Nope, this isn't special, it's just store bought cookies.  Move along Michelle. 

4.  Aside from the actual holidays there are other times when I might indulge a little (though not a full no-restrictions holiday day).  Some examples are the work holiday party, a friend's holiday party, my kid's holiday party...are you seeing a pattern here?  A party.  So at other times, like when I run into a pile of chocolate dipped biscotti at the office, I ask myself, "Is this a party?"  No, it's not a party.  I am not indulging just because it's Tuesday and there are biscotti.  "This isn't a celebration, there's no reason to indulge", blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

5.  When I am tempted by food on days other than the holiday, let's say a pumpkin pie turns up at my kids playgroup, I can remind myself that my time to indulge will come, it's just not today.  This reassures me that I'm not deprived, that I'm not going to miss out on pumpkin pie for the rest of all time, but that it's just not happening today.

I use this approach on Weight Watchers too.  I would just count the day as having used up all my daily points and leave it at that.  And you know what?  I kept losing weight.  The holiday plan works for me!  Everyone has a different approach to how to deal with the increase in temptation around the holidays, I think the point is to have a plan and prepare ourselves. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ignoring a National Tragedy

This post is going to be entirely off topic as far as my normal blog topic.  But it's been bubbling up inside me all weekend and I have to get it out.

My husband was watching the 49ers football game while I was making dinner on Sunday evening.  I could hear the TV but wasn't really listening.  They interrupted the broadcast to air President Obama's speech in Newtown on the Sandy Hook school shooting.  I first heard of the shooting on Facebook.  I was scanning my news feed on my phone Friday morning and saw these posts from some other moms.
"Could not pick up my daughter fast enough today...heart is so heavy."

"walking through today with a heavy heart... I want to go home and be with my kids.... I cannot even wrap my brain around this tragic event."

"Hugging my kids extra tight today. So terribly sad about today's events."
I knew something bad had happened, but what?  I jumped over to CNN and saw the headline.  No, not kids.  No, please no.  20 kids?!  Elementary school kids?!  No.  Quick, turn it off.  And I did.  I got off my phone and decided in that moment that I could not handle this one.  This one in particular, being a mom to two small children - it just hits too close to home. 

But why do I feel so guilty?  I think part of me feels it's disrespectful to ignore the loss of life.  To tune out of the pain and grief.  I tell myself that watching the news and crying over the innocent lives  lost won't help anyone anywhere.  But I still feel bad.  How can I ignore this?  How can I just tune out to something so horrid? 

I wonder how this is tied to 9/11.  When I think about it, that's the last national tragedy I tuned in to.  I watched the news, glued, hanging on every detail.  What happened?  How?  Why?  And I cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  So many lost lives, so many dreams destroyed.  Horrible images of fire and destruction are seared in my brain.  Even today reading about 9/11, seeing those iconic images of the planes bursting into the twin towers, even still I can tear up in an instant.  It was so long ago now, but the tragedy is set deep in not just the national conscious, but in my own.  I wonder if these mass killings trigger a bit of that pain.

By Saturday I was feeling the weight of the story.  As much as I avoided the news, the images and the headlines were everywhere.  I made my own Facebook post.
"I can't watch the news. Haven't so far and won't. I am all full up on the underbelly of humanity. I'm starting to think the 24/7 media coverage that ensues after one of these nightmares is part of the problem. I might have my head in the sand but so be it."
It was a defensive post in response to the strange sort of guilt I was feeling by ignoring the whole thing.  My head was in the sand, deep in the sand.  I didn't want to see one little face, hear about a small child who loved to run and listen to dance music.  I didn't want to see a line of school children walking out of a war zone.  I can't handle the dramatic music while the news rips my heart out with a slideshow of innocent kids in happier moments.  And the parents, going to bed without their babies, it's just all too much.

Then there's the murderer.  More than anything, I didn't want to see him.  I don't want to know his name, read about his childhood and the probable causes of his loss of humanity.  I don't care about his motivations, his parents or where he grew up.  Why are we making these people famous?  During a live sports broadcast if someone runs naked onto the playing field the camera cuts away so as not to give them what they want.  Attention, national attention.  Fame.  For some people, by any means necessary.  But I don't want to participate.  I can cut away.

I can turn away from the media's autopsy, from the cable version of grief and sorrow.  Instead I will hold my kids a bit tighter, take that extra moment to let them put on socks "all by myself", bake cookies and dance in the living room.  Do all those things that make a childhood so special.  My head may still be in the sand but my heart is filled with gratitude at being able to fall asleep knowing my kids are safe and sound, tucked in bed, hopefully with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

Still, the drum beat of the 24-hour news cycle goes on, amped up with dramatic music and pre-commercial teasers, "stay tuned for a shocking interview with the school-bus driver."  We stare, hands over our mouths and tears in our eyes, shocked.  They strive to keep you on the edge of your seat, needing to get the next kernel of information.  We all want to understand.  But knowing which way the murderer ran around the school grounds, what he was wearing, who he talked to that morning - none of it brings the kind of understanding that will help.  It's as if watching the news and getting information has become part of our national grieving process.

And I think I want to grieve too, I need to.  Twenty children died.  Six adults.  As much as I want to tune out and cut away, the loss of lives can't be ignored.  Which brings me back to President Obama's speech on Sunday night.  I'm in my warm kitchen, making chili and cornbread, listening to my children play in front of the Christmas tree and his words drift in from the TV room...  
"...I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight.
And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone."
And I cry.  At first I try not to, and then I don't.  I will share in this sadness, I will not let you grieve alone.  I won't be watching the news or reading the articles, but I will be caring.  My tears won't bring back your children, won't guarantee the safety of my own children, but they will show that we are not alone.  That as parents, as Americans, as humans - we are not alone.  Not in our celebrations, nor in our sorrow. 

Pondering a Goal Pace

The big month of December keeps rolling on forward.  The parties, the food, the alcohol...and the exercise.  I both exercise restraint and exercise my body.  Both are going well.  Not perfect, but good enough to maintain.  Tuesday I did my 4 mile training run partially on the road and partially on a trail that leads to a small waterfall.  I ran the 4 miles in 37:59 for an average pace of  9.29 minute miles.  I am still evaluating my goal pace for Kaiser but I'm considering shooting for an average of 9:30 minute miles, for an overall finish of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 27 seconds.  I'm waiting a bit longer before I commit to that goal because I want to see how my pace holds up over longer distances.  The run felt great and I was hyped about my pace when I finished.  My bottom line goal is set, under 10:00 minute miles for a finish time of 2 hours, 11 minutes.  Either way I plan to shave at least 30 minutes off last year's time of 2:45.  Here are the Garmin stats on my run.

I've had these chocolate mint squares in the house.  I made them to give to neighbors but I haven't given them out and I've been eating them almost every night.  Anyway, Wednesday was a day off from exercise and normally I'd be home with the kids but I had to work.  Thursday was another run.  I had a super busy day booked so I got up at the 0'dark hundred to go to the gym before work.  It's always so hard for me to exercise first thing in the morning but I knew that was my only option.  I did my 3 miles on the treadmill and then legs/shoulders/core and incorporated that dumbbell hamstring curl I posted about last time.  It felt too easy though, not sure I'm going to keep doing it.  Might have to break down and use the machine where I can add more weight.

Friday morning I hopped on the scale, 141.6 pounds.  Not bad considering I started my period the next day.  That's 5 weeks of maintenance!!  I hit the gym after work, started with 20 minutes on the upright bike (I was pressed for time so I had to shave off 5 minutes) and then did chest/triceps/core.  I had to drop two sets of triceps cables because of lack of time but I got everything else done.  I was in and out in 46 minutes and burned 340 calories during that time.  That evening we went to the kids' preschool holiday party sing-along potluck.  I ate lots of yummy stuff, including some cookies and other treats.  I started to eat this one cookie and didn't really like it so I tried to be stealth in throwing it in the garbage.  It was a really big cookie so I felt a bit bad but life is too short for so-so cookies, right?

Miguel had to work on Saturday and I took the kids to playgroup in the morning.  More snacks.  I had a cookie, some of a yummy muffin and a couple mimosas.  I have the best mom friends!  I blame my food choices, at least in part, on knowing I was doing a long run the next day.  Carb loading is always a good reason to indulge!  My mom came over in the afternoon and watched the kids while I went out shopping.  I was out for a long time but got almost everything done, which felt good.  I ate light the rest of the day trying to balance out the morning treats.

Miguel and I went out in the evening with a plan to go shopping and see a movie.  After a couple hours walking around the mall he mentioned he'd been invited to a party and I could tell he wanted to go.  So off we went.  By the time we got there it was 10:30 and I'd had a light dinner at 6:15.  I had one beer and immediately felt it.  I went on to have two more and in the end I had a great time dancing and being social.  Fortunately they had food so I was able to have a second dinner.  And desert.  They had maybe 5 different types of cakes and of course I had to have a bit of each one.  Chocolate, dulce de leche, shortage of sweet choices!  We left after the police came for the second time asking for the music to be turned down.  It's been forever since I've been at a party that the police had to quiet down.  I think we got home around 2am.  On the drive home one of Miguel's friends teased me that there's no way I was going to run the next morning.  "Mark my words," I said.

I asked Miguel to kindly let me sleep in in the morning and he obliged.  I woke up at 5am, 7am, and a bit before 8 when I heard the kids get up.  No sign of a hangover, thank goodness, just tired.  He got up with them and I wondered if I would be able to fall back to sleep.  Next thing I know it's 10:30am and the house is quiet.  He'd taken the kids to the soccer field to watch a game.  Ahhh, nice.  Before they got home I had my coffee and breakfast and arranged my plans to run with my friend Catherine.  She and her daughter came over at noon and we were on the road by 12:30.  Not a morning run as planned but a run none the less.

I really wasn't sure how it would go, considering the late night and possible dehydration - though I'd only had three beers, I danced a lot and didn't drink a ton of water.  Add to that I am on my period, my legs were a bit sore and stiff and well, I just wasn't feeling very optimistic.  But in the end the run was great!  Chatting with Catherine made the time go by fast.  It's such a luxury to run with someone else.  I was totally happy to average 9:32 with a hill thrown in but of course thought, "If only I'd run two seconds faster per mile!"

Anyway, after the run I wrapped up some donation gifts and took my son out to drop them off.  Then we hit up another friend's house to drop off some clothes that don't fit me anymore.  I also gave out the chocolate mints, those really need to be gone.  And finally the grocery store.  Back home and I find out we're having some friends over for dinner.  I made chili and cornbread (and broccoli - must have a veggie) and generally enjoyed a warm house on a cold winter evening.  There's one bag of chocolate mint squares left and I ate four of them after dinner.  And my stomach hurt most of the afternoon and evening.  Long runs do weird things to my system.  Now that I think about it, I was probably dehydrated.  I'll try to focus on drinking lots of water today to get my body back to a happy place of being well hydrated.  And I hope I can pull off a week of semi-clean eating.  I feel like I've been indulging a lot.  But tonight I'm hitting up Chevy's with some moms for margaritas.  Oops!  I'll just have to avoid the chips and go for a "skinny" margarita.  Balance, balance, balance.