Saturday, December 29, 2012

Come One, Come All!

Can you feel the energy building?  I'm actually really excited about the new year for some bizarre reason.  Normally it goes by without much fanfare in my life but this year just feels different.  I'm looking forward to getting leaner and stronger in the new year.  Doesn't mean I want to lose weight necessarily, but I do want to gain more muscle and lose fat.  More on that in my resolution post.  Anyway, the fitness energy is building and I can feel it.

Unfortunately, there's usually a party-pooper in the crowd and lately I've heard grumbles about the resolutioners coming. You know, those people who vow to start fresh with the New Year and flood the gym in January.  But I'm here to say BRING IT ON! I want to see them, I want to cheer them on, I want them to STAY. Come one, come all - my gym is ready for you, and I, for one, will be there with a smile to greet you.  More importantly, I hope you stay.   

I can attest to how good life feels when you're in shape and moving your body.  So if you're starting the new year with a plan to have 2013 be your year to find that out - get moving!  And be sure your plan includes a way to deal with the inevitable dip in motivation so you don't fall off the wagon 3-6 months down the road like half the people will.  Don't be that 50%. 

So no workout today, Saturday is rest.  Things went a bit different than I planned.  We took Marek over to a friend's house to play and Miguel and I took Myra to the mall. I had a few things to exchange.  I ended up in The Gap and found a couple tops I liked.  So of course I had to take pictures to share.  First is a simple workout t-shirt.  All my workout tops are pretty big on me so it will be fun to have one that fits a bit better.  Sorry for the crappy pictures. 

Gap workout T-shirt with old workout tights.
The other thing I got was a tank top.  Yep!  And I swore to myself I'll wear it on the first really nice day for an outside run.  I doubt I'd ever wear it to the gym, a little too up close and personal for me, but an outside run I could do.  I didn't realize how much my sports bra would show at the top but I guess I'll survive.

Gap exercise tank.
New workout clothes are a fun little way to boost your gym mood.  Of course for years I was part of the over-sized clothes crowd.  I started wearing shorts this past year to the gym, which was so weird at first, I felt half naked.  Now I'm used to wearing them and actually feel really hot if I wear the loose pants that I used to wear. 

Shifting gears...I've not written about this yet but I've been reading running books lately.  It started when Meb Keflezighi's memoir, Run to Overcome, was on sale for .99 for the kindle.  It was interesting to read about his high-level training, his disappointments and injuries, and also his personal history.  He's an extremely positive person (even more than me I think!), which of course I like.  He's also very religious and mixes in a lot of bible verses and often refers to his motivation and trust in god, so if that would put you off you might want to skip it.

I finished that and recently purchased Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I'm really enjoying this one too. Books have been a fun way to motivate myself.  In the beginning I read a lot about food, primarily about the evolution of our American diet, the food industry, marketing of foods, etc. Books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation.  I watched a lot of food related documentaries too, Super Size Me, King Corn, and Food, Inc. I have a few on Netflix I'm needing to watch - Forks Over Knives comes to mind.  Oh, and this year I watched Weight of the Nation from HBO - if you get a chance I'd watch that for some heavy hitting, even  fear-based, motivation.  The relationship between obesity and dementia alone should scare you straight!

My whole triathlon endeavor started by my reading Slow Fat Triathlete, by Jayne Williams.  I never even imagined doing one before that.  Unfortunately Jayne has gained a fair amount of weight and is now moved into the Fat Advocate world.  I say unfortunately but she doesn't see it that way.  Anyway, I then read Your First Triathlon by Joe Friel, a really helpful book. 

Which reminds me of some of the more cognitive focused books I've read on this whole thing.  The one that I related to the most was The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person by Judith Beck.  By the time I'd read it I had already incorporated much of what she espouses on my own through trial and error.  But the book still resonated with me and gave me even more focus as to the way I want to think and behave. I should also pay homage to Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength by Bill Phillips. I did the 12 week program in 2005 and lost 30+ pounds of fat during those 12 weeks. And despite falling off the wagon, hard, after the 12 weeks were over I know I learned a lot during that time about diet and fitness that helped me when I got back on the wagon two years later.

I guess this has turned into a post about books and movies. Maybe I should do a permanent page on recommended books and movies (Update: I made a Books & Movies page!). I'm currently working on a "What I Eat" page because I get asked that a lot. So maybe after I finish that. 

Anyway, I have a long run on the agenda for tomorrow. Catherine and I will be running together in the afternoon. We haven't picked a route yet. I better go charge my garmin.  Hope you're having a great weekend!

Oh, I almost forgot. This is a big milestone day. A gross milestone, but a milestone nonetheless. Lost my first toenail due to running. After the Livermore Grape Stomp my toenail started changing colors. And today it finally gave way. Now I'm short one big toenail. Good thing is, it doesn't hurt. If there was any doubt that I'm a "real" runner, it's gone now!
Lost Toenail from Running (sorry if this grosses you out!).
p.s.  I updated the Where My Journey Began page if you're interested in checking it out.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The #9 Cloud

Recently my husband told me I'm like a whole new woman.  Those aren't the exact words he used, but you get the idea.  At first I didn't think much of it but it kept popping back into my head and the more I thought about it,  the more it hit me, I am like a whole new woman. And I'm not only talking appearance here, I feel different, I behave different, I think different.  In some fundamental ways, I'm still the same me as before, but in some other equally fundamental ways, I'm different.  Anyway, I'm not looking to do an in-depth analysis of all this yet but I can say that one thing that's changed about me is the drive I have to get out there and live.  Maybe it's from years of sitting on the sidelines, being on the bench and out of the game.  Or maybe it's just because there's nothing holding me back anymore - not only can I do a lot more than I ever did before, but I want to, and more importantly, I am.

And sometimes that's as simple as having a great day.  And today was one of those days.  I had almost too much fun on the bike but by the time I got around to doing my strength training I was totally fired up.  I had to stop myself from dancing between every set.  Sometimes I didn't stop myself.  The good thing was, the gym was almost empty so I didn't embarrass myself too badly.  I did chest/triceps/core.  I've stepped things up in the pushup department.  Instead of doing 12, 10 and 8 reps I upped it to 20, 15 and 12.  Big jump, right?  I just felt capable, and I was.  And I added weight to the Lying Barbell Tricep Extensions, up to 10 pounds from 5.  That was a real challenge but I muscled through (hee hee).

So can you tell I was in a good mood?  Nothing like a post-body-moving exercise high.  There's a catch, though.  Ain't there always?  I was starve-ING when I left the gym.  I'd hardly eaten since breakfast and now it was late afternoon.  I know - poor planning on my part.  I came home and had a string cheese and shared an avocado with Myra (that I mostly ate) and then had a taquito.  Healthy lunch, right?  But food was still on the brain and I was in the mood for something...bad.  Fried chicken should do the trick.  I'd been wanting it since Christmas Eve for some reason.  So we had KFC for dinner.  I had two crispy thighs and skipped all the sides.  I figured if I wanted chicken I should just eat chicken - no reason to add to the madness by eating all the other stuff.  Oh, and I managed to find two bite sized chocolates so I ate those too.

After dinner I felt a sort of bleh feeling that I will blame on the bleh food choices.  But no matter, I remember my fabulous mood from earlier today so I'll just reminisce about that to keep me happy.   So, what's on tap for this weekend, you ask?  Tomorrow I'm taking the kids to Laurie's house for a little socializing.  Not sure what else we'll do with our day but hopefully something fun.  And Sunday Miguel has a soccer game in the morning so that means I'll be doing my long run in the afternoon, hopefully with my buddy Catherine.  Those longs runs are SO much more enjoyable with company.  Who knew? 

Still working on some New Year goals.  They are definitely going to involve the races I have planned, maybe something related to my body fat percentage.  I might make a goal or two NOT related to health and fitness, imagine that!, but I have a little space in my mind to think about other things too now.  Really, these are all icing. The health of my kids and family, my own health, having all my basic needs met, love and being loved - I'm so lucky.  I know that, and I try not to forget that when I get caught up in all the other complexities of life.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weight Watchers Scale by Conair: Review and Giveaway!!

Recently I mentioned to my Facebook peeps that Conair contacted me about doing a review and giveaway of their Weight Watchers Inspirational Glass Scale.  Of course I was excited to do so.  They sent me the scale for the purposes of my review but the opinions are all mine.  And they'll send you one too if you win the giveaway!!

I have to admit, when I was told about the scale I wondered how much difference a little sticker on a scale was going to make.  You all know about my sometimes contentious relationship with the scale.  I have quite openly accused it of lying and I've been known to banish it for periods of time.  The darned thing just can't be trusted and sometimes it's outright nasty.  So yeah, the scale and I have some history.  And I thought, hmph, put a happy sticker on it and all's well, eh?  We'll see about that.  In any case, the scale is an important tool on this journey, nothing like solid numbers staring you in the face.  I try to see those numbers as feedback, not failure, not judgment, and not even success, just feedback.  Because success is really about the behaviors I engage in, the thoughts I'm having, how I feel about my body and how functional that body is.  My personal success is about momentum, a full, active life and a positive, empowered attitude.  The number on the scale is only part of that story.  Ok, I'll get off my scale soapbox now.  In any case, the number matters, no matter what I say - so why not have a little fun with it?

I unwrapped the scale and I was surprised by how sleek and low profile it is.  I think it's maybe a 1/2 inch off the floor. And the glass top gives it a modern, clean look that I like.

The first thing I did was get out the stickers and choose the ones I wanted on my scale.  They give you two pages of stickers, and one of the stickers is blank so you can personalize it.  I thought my goal weight might be a tangible reminder of maintenance.  Or maybe I should just write, "You're hot!" and be done with it.  See?  There's something about this that is fun, and encouraging, and I'm surprised by how much these little stickers change the scale-mood (if there is such a thing).

determination - check!
So, here are the stickers I chose.  Determination was the first one I put on.  Then Every Day is a New Day.  They also had One Day at a Time, which is another classic one.  And Smile, because smiling is always good.  Finally, You Go Girl!, because it was just plain fun.  And I put on all the butterflies they sent.  Butterflies are such a perfect metaphor for this journey.  Breaking out of the cocoon of inactivity and extra weight so I can fly around and see the world, perfect, right?  When I was trying to think of a new blog name (before I decided to just cross out loser and replace it with maintainer) The Butterfly Diaries was in serious consideration.

Anyway, the stickers are those vinyl ones that are removable and reusable so you can change things up when you want.  I suppose if I were in a slump I could write "This Will Pass" for a reminder that slumps don't last forever.  

The weight seems accurate, my weight was only .2 pounds different on this one than my regular scale so I think that bodes well for the accuracy of them both.  And I like that the logo on the scale is just WW and their little swoosh logo and the color is very subtle.  So much so that you can barely see it in these pictures (it's on the bottom).  The scale looks smudged in my pictures but those are reflections, it doesn't seem to show smudges in real life, which is nice.

I love that it measures to 1/10th of a pound!
Ok, here are some stats on this thing: 12.4" X 12.4", has a 400lb capacity.  Runs on a long-life AAA lithium scale (included) and has a 10 year warranty.  They retail for $29.99 and are available nationwide and at  But who wants to buy one when you can win one here for free?!  Just leave a comment and I'll do a random drawing five days from today, on January 1st.  Perfect timing with the new year and resolutions. Btw, that 143.9 is my midday weight, it's lower in the morning.  Yeah, I know, I'm nuts.  But that brings up another issue, 128.1 pounds is the weight on the box and in the promo pics.  I wonder how they decided on that number? 

Anyway, speaking of resolutions, I think I'm going to make some goals of my own.  Not sure what they will look like but I'm feeling like it might be fun to get in on the fitness craze that overtakes the country this time of year. And I'm in talks with the management at my gym about maybe doing something there.  Stay tuned, you know I'll write about it all, probably endlessly.

As far as my own fitness craze - I made it to the gym today.  I did an outside run loop from my gym and it was even more beautiful and perfect than yesterday.  I ran 4.5 miles in 43:19 and then went inside the gym to do legs/shoulders/core work.  I added a new shoulder exercise, Arnolds, after asking a trainer at the gym what exercise he would do if he could only do two shoulder exercises.  He said lateral raises (which I'm already doing) and Arnolds.  Perfect because you know how much I love anything that involves dumbbells.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get some bike time in and then chest/triceps/core are on the agenda.  I'm super pleased to be getting in all my strength training sessions despite the sickness deal.  Determination, don't doubt it for a second.

p.s.  Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into the scale giveaway. I'll do a random drawing five days from today, on January 1st.  Be sure to include a way for me to reach you if I can't reach you through your comment.  My first giveaway - yay!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Sore Throat and a Warm Heart

It's been an interesting week so far.  I started getting sick just as it was getting underway.  I worked on Monday and dragged myself through the day.  I was debating with myself about exercise but when my body starting aching all over, I knew I had to take a pass.  I got home, took some ibuprofen and tucked myself in bed pretty early.  Fortunately my mom was able to take over most of the final preparations for Santa's big arrival.  The ibuprofen took care of the body aches but my throat was still sore.

Christmas morning and I woke up feeling a bit better, which was helped by the excited squeals of the kids, "Santa came and left wots of presents!"  The kids had a blast opening them, Marek used the highest pitch voice yet to scream "Star Wars Legos!".  Myra is still young enough to enjoy the unwrapping more than the presents themselves.

After all the present fun we had a yummy breakfast.  My mom made a cheesy egg souffle with ham and toast.  My body started hurting again midday so I took more ibuprofen and accepted the sad reality that my 4 mile run was not going to happen.  It was also pouring rain, not that the rain would have stopped me. 

We spent the day playing with the kids and watching movies.  My mom and I made dinner - a rib roast, wild rice with mushrooms and pine nuts, and brussells sprouts (with butter!).  I opened a bottle of very good red wine, no one else drinks the stuff so I got to enjoy it all by myself.  I was in the mood to imbibe and figured I'd have no problem drinking the whole bottle.  I got a bit tipsy but before things got too crazy it was time to eat dinner.  By the time that was over I couldn't put anything else in my body.  So, turns out I can't polish off a bottle of wine by myself after all.  I shared this sad fact on Facebook and my friends were full of good advice, telling me that I need more practice, I need to train harder, and that pacing is important.  The word wineathlon was even offered up.  Ha!

Not too long after dinner I started feeling run down again.  I went to bed on the early side but for the life of me I couldn't sleep.  My throat hurt terribly, I couldn't seem to get comfortable and despite feeling tired as heck, I just couldn't sleep.  Around 11pm I gave in and took some Advil PM (I know, my poor liver!) and hoped like heck I'd feel good enough to go for a run in the morning.

I woke up this morning with my throat still being sore.  It hurt to swallow but my body felt ok.  And I felt pretty well rested.  I decided I could run.  But it was cold out and I thought it'd be better to go run on the treadmill at the gym and get some strength training in as well.  I got to the gym but the sun breaking through the clouds and the cool, still air beckoned me - so I ran outside after all.  I decided to do my old 3-mile route and run easy given that I'm probably still a bit sick.  Once I was underway I started thinking about how an "easy" run used to be something I didn't understand.  There was no such thing as an "easy" run in the early years.  Now I understand, and it feels so good to be able to go on an easy run. The air was cool and crisp, the ground wet from early morning rain, the decorated houses and the quiet - it all added up to make for a very peaceful and fulfilling run.  I was feeling so good that I wanted to keep going and contemplated adding on some mileage. "Michelle, don't be silly, you're sick," I told myself.  I took my own advice and kept it to 3 miles.  After the run I did back/biceps/core for strength training.  I dragged a bit with the weights, I felt stiff and the weights felt heavy.  It probably didn't help that all I'd had was a few sips of coffee before the exercise.  Not enough fuel for the fire. 

I was so grateful to be able to get some exercise in.  The rest of the day was spent eating and sitting around so it was a good balance.  Tomorrow was supposed to be a morning boot camp class with a friend (my mommy/running buddy Laurie) but it got canceled so I'm going to the gym instead.  Just as well, this way I'll be able to do my normal strength training routine.  And I plan to go again on Friday, which means I'll get my three strength training sessions this week.  My throat is still sore but my body is feeling much better.  I'm going to try to hit the sack early and hope I have an easier time falling asleep.

So the food has been all savory, salty, sweet, sugary, fatty, high-calorie goodness.  But I'm feeling pretty done with all the indulgence, at least as far as food is concerned, and ready to get back to my chicken breasts and roasted veggies.  I got on the scale this morning and I was just above 143.  Still within the normal range but a bit above where I've been hanging out lately in terms of weight.  No surprise there.  Of course I feel compelled to drop the extra pound or so even though I'm still below my goal weight.  Don't get me started on the insanity of it all. 

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday, whatever your faith or celebration.  And if, like me, you went a bit overboard on the calories - don't fret.  You're just really good at celebrating :)  You can get right back on track starting with your next meal.  Besides, we won't be wearing shorts or a bathing suit for months!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gusty Run

I started out writing this post and trying to listen to music at the same time, didn't work.  Winter brings me a renewed enjoyment of music and I'm currently all cozied up in the easy chair listening to Perry Como, Glenn Miller and the like - perfect for a rainy day.  My father gets the credit for introducing me to this music.  He was born in 1925 and always loved big band and swing.  I remember him telling me that "pop" music was just the same beat droning on and on and he just didn't get the appeal.  He also listened to a lot of classical and while I enjoy that too, I tend to be a softy and listen to "light" classical.   That's a picture of my dad, Merle, and brother, Greg taken decades ago.  I think we were in Canada at a house rental for a summer vacation.  That little smirk my dad has on his face is so classic him.  And I've always loved this picture because his son has a version of that same smirk on his face.

Aaaanyway, got off on a little tangent there.  Back to our regular programming.  Despite dragging my butt on Friday I managed to get myself into the gym.  And I had a great workout!  I don't think I've mentioned my plan to increase my treadmill speed by .1 every two weeks.  So I was doing 6.2 with 2 minutes of 7.2 intervals every three minutes.  Yesterday I increased it to 6.3 and 7.3 respectively.  So I ran 3 miles in 27:03 on a 1% incline - and felt great!  After the run I did chest/triceps/core and generally felt like the hard core athlete that I am.  Wink.

So exercise has been good but I tell you, I really feel strange about my eating.  My weight is staying the same so in that sense things are going well.  But my behaviors don't feel healthy and reasonable.  I went to a family holiday party yesterday (a day off from exercise, btw) and ate a lot of snack-type foods (chex mix, crackers/cheese, hummus, etc) and then ate a late lunch, followed by two desserts.  I was pretty full and thought I might be done eating for the day.  I went out that evening to shop for a new pair of cold weather running tights.  Mine from last year are getting loose.  More on that in a bit.  Anyway, back at home and the kids were in bed and I started to get hungry.  Three bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios (the kids' cereal, I know, I know) later and I just felt not good.  Granted this was spread out over a couple of hours but still, I don't need to be eating like that.  I should have just had dinner like a normal person.  And at the very least, I did not need the third bowl for crying out loud!  So this is the type of thing I need to figure out in maintenance.  Just because I can eat a certain way (ie, unhealthy) and get "away" with it in terms of my weight, doesn't mean that's how I want to behave.  It just doesn't vibe with how I want to live in terms of diet.  So I'm trying to be patient with myself, but lord knows I can't voice these issues to anyone around here because they're practically accusing me of being underweight (which I am far from being) as it is.  "I need to stop eating so much" will bring exasperated looks and trying to go into the psychological details of the unhealthy behaviors would bore them to tears, so that's what my blog is for, right?  Anyway, I want to improve, figure it out, and not have this become a slippery slope into old behaviors. 

Enough of that, let's talk about today's run.  The training plan called for an 8 mile run.  The weather outside was frightful - rainy and cold but the worst was the wind.  My weather app showed 20+ mph winds and a friend posted a picture of a downed tree in his front yard.  Eek!  I wasn't sure running in that weather was the best plan but my running partner Catherine couldn't do any other time.  So run we must.

Last night I purchased two pair of cold weather running tights.  One by UnderArmour and the other were Nike.  Both had a microscopic fleece lining inside.  In the end I chose the UnderArmour Women's Coldgear Fitted Leggings (for under 55 degrees - which is called spring in some parts of this country).  They just fit me better.  I was concerned they were too thin to keep me warm but the Nike's were no thicker so I gave it a try.

So I wore those with a long sleeved tech running shirt and my Sugoi Versa jacket. Oh, and I had a headband to cover my ears and a visor hat to keep the rain out of my eyes.  Catherine and I hit the road and I decided pretty quick that I just had to run at a comfortable pace.  It was too cold, windy and rainy to try anything else.  The wind turned out to be not so bad, which was a welcome surprise.

We did a large loop from near my house and had a good time enjoying the winter weather and chatting.  Our loop included some time on a trail, which was super wet, a little muddy, and added to the childlike enjoyment of it all.  We were nearing our last mile and I knew we'd been running pretty slow (just based on how I was feeling) so I suggested we pick up the pace for the last mile.  Off we go!

Here are the splits from the run (full Garmin stats here).  We ran the last mile in 8:23!  It helped that we were running on a slight decline. Our overall pace average was 10:20.  I guess that's what happens when you're busy dodging puddles.  We had a little cool-down walk (and suddenly I was freezing!) and then back at home I couldn't get out of my wet clothes and into a hot shower fast enough.  Oh darn!  I'd wanted to get a picture of us in our wet weather running clothes but forgot until we were already out of our jackets and shoes.  Oh well, here we are post-run.  We were trying to re-enact our awesome running!

Brrr...Catherine and I cannot be stopped by a little rain and wind!
After the run we both took a hot shower, which is the polar opposite of an ice bath!  But it felt so good to warm up.  All cozied up in fleece and then we spent some time stretching and using the foam roller.  For some reason my body felt really tight and sore, like this was my first long run.  Maybe it was that last mile at 8:23!

The rest of the week will be tricky.  I work tomorrow but will have to hit the gym early because they close early.  Tuesday the gym is closed.  Gasp!  Tuesday it should be easy enough to get out for a four mile run at some point.  Wednesday through Friday I'm home with the kids and Miguel is working.  I'm hoping to take a boot camp class with Laurie on Thursday morning.  And I have to figure out how to get to the gym on Friday.  Next week calls for a 9 mile run.  As much as I enjoyed the rain today, I sure hope we get nicer weather next weekend so I can take another crack at that 9:30 pace.

Before I close, I just want to share a sweet moment with you.  A picture of Miguel and Marek from our family session a couple months back.

Somebody loves his daddy!