Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 6: This body needs carbs

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Ahh, Saturday. We had a sleepover at my mom's house last night. My brother and his family were over too and the kids went ballistic with the excitement of it all. We all stayed up WAY later than usual. Myra was up just a little later than usual so I got up with her at 8am. Marek slept until 11am! I think that kid has my food and sleeping genes. God help him.

I made myself some food.

Breakfast: two fried eggs, ham and avocado.

I played with Myra all morning, mostly painting, while the big kid slept.

Snack: Banana, orange.

Lunch turned out to be more like extended snacking, which is usually not good.

Lunch: 2 small slices of ham and later, back at home, a bit of leftover rice and chicken.

Back home and Catherine came over for our run swap. She left first while I watched the kids. While she was gone the kids asked for some pretzels for a snack. I started thinking about what the doctor said about my glycogen stores being low and, well...I had some pretzels. I was worried about my run and just wanted to have some easy fuel to help me out. Excuses, excuses, I know. But hey, I'm still not eating caffeine and I'm 99% there on following the program, so - er, maybe 97% - but anyway, I'm doing great overall so I feel okay good about my choices.

Snack: Pretzels and plaintain chip combo

Oh yes, and a few plantain chips too.

So Catherine returned looking a bit worn out and mumbling about how, "I forgot about the pain." What a pep talk, eh? I ignored her, used my inhaler and promptly changed my clothes to leave. I'd been planning on only running 3 miles given the whole bronchitis thing and just how hard running has been lately but Catherine's 7 miles inspired me so I picked a slightly longer 4-mile route.

The run started out hard. It was my legs. They hurt. I'm not used to that. And I started thinking again about my doctor's theory (she's a runner too) that they've been hurting because I need more simple carbs. So they hurt, but I'm tougher so I kept going but I remember thinking, "this body needs carbs." I'll spare you all the details but it's enough to say that things eventually turned around. At just under 4-miles I started feeling good. No, not good...great!

So I passed the block I was supposed to turn on to head toward home and instead kept right on running. I decided to run an even 5 miles. I was coming to the end of another block and checked my Garmin to see if I was nearing the 5 mile mark when lo-and-behold, I was at 5.15 miles. And I'm feeling awesome! Let's make it 6 why don't we?!

I re-routed myself again and kept right on running. Oh, the fact that my pace was getting faster and faster didn't hurt my feel-good vibe either. Check out my splits.

A funny thing just happened. I thought, "let me pull up the elevation to see if the big hill was in the first mile or second" (a bit of both) and saw how for the first two-and-a-quarter miles I was running slightly uphill (and at one point, more than slightly).

One of the neat things the Strava does is tell you your Grade Adjusted Pace (GAP) for every mile and overall. So I averaged 10:27 on the run (which I LOVE, by the way) but taking into consideration the elevation changes, 10:17. It makes you faster on uphills, slower on downhills. Here, it's easier to show you.

You can see where I gained elevation the GAP was faster, but where I lost, it was slower. You know I get a bit preoccupied with the numbers but the bottom line is, I ended strong. I felt great in the last couple of miles. Oh sure, I was hurting a bit in the last half-mile but mentally I was so happy to be enjoying the run that it didn't bring me down.

I got back and started cooking.

Dinner: Teriyaki chicken, rice, brussells sprouts.

I was momentarily tempted by some ice cream pops in the freezer but it was fleeting and easy to bat away. I'm enjoying my now stronger resistance muscle and I don't want to weaken it. Old/new again habits are forming and I know this is a tender time. Keep on keeping on, that's the best thing I can do.

I'm still not sure about changing up the food plan. For me a big part of this challenge is to stay entirely away from processed foods. I don't want to start eating breads and pasta and all that. I'd really like to keep that part of this up for 28 days. But what my doc said is niggling at me so we'll see. It's going to come down to how I feel with the exercise. She'd said some people's bodies are really good at breaking down complex carbohydrates and turning them into fuel and others are not so good and do better with simple carbs. Maybe I'm in the latter group? Too early to judge, it's only day 6, right? And I've been eating white rice, that's a simple carb right? So who knows what my leg soreness is about.

If you feel like weighing in on all this, I welcome your opinions in the comments. I always learn so much. Signing off...until tomorrow.

ps - I had an off-leash dog encounter during the fire-road portion of my run. Nothing happened, and I'm sure he was a friendly dog, but it still got my adrenaline going. Hate that!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 5: A visit to the doctor

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Today started out lazy. I took another day off work, really wanting to be sure I kicked whatever was creeping around in my body. Eventually I made an appointment with the doctor. My plan was to go to the gym after the appointment, depending on the news I received about my health.

Breakfast: Two fried eggs, ham, and some steamed sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are becoming my new bestie.

Snack: Banana

I ran a few errands, including picking up my currently favorite jacket from the alterations lady after losing a button. Anyway, because I'd slept in so late I didn't get hungry for lunch until around 2:30.

Lunch: leftover chicken and rice soup, 1/2 avocado.

I finally got to the doctor's office in the late afternoon. They were running so far behind that I had no hope of going to the gym afterward regardless of my health. In any case, I got in to see the doc and thank the heavens, no pneumonia! Whew! But, I do have a viral bronchitis. I'll take it. She said to start using my inhaler every 4 hours while I'm awake and before I exercise (after too if I'm wheezing). Did you hear that? Exercise! Yep, I don't have to stop exercising.

As far as why I'm so tired, she thinks it's a combo of the bronchitis as well as no refined carbs. My body is used to have quick, easy fuel. Now I'm only giving it slow fuel, it has to work harder to turn an apple into energy, than, say, a croissant. Ohhh, a warm, I'm getting distracted. Anyway, she said I might want to increase my caffeine a bit to compensate. But no doc, no caffeine either.

Well, then of course you're tired! She even theorized that my glycogen stores are low right now, which is why my muscles are feeling more sore than usual. So, all's good. Cleared to exercise, no pneumonia, no meds to take (other than using my inhaler), and just waiting out this viral bronchitis business, which will go away on it's own a week or two here.

Then to pick up the kids and head to my mom's for dinner. My mom was so sweet, she made me a special meal, since I couldn't eat the raviolis she was serving everyone else. Actually, it was for myself and my sister-in-law, because she's doing a 14-day detox thing and can't eat carbs or processed foods.

Dinner: cedar wrapped salmon with zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and thai basil, salad with balsamic vinegar and leftover sweet potatoes.

The meal was super yummy. Only problem, I felt like I could have eaten that same meal twice. I definitely have a munchy food thing going on. I just feel like I want to be eating.

And later, I had a bite of Boston cream cake. Marek cut it for me, put it on a plate and "served me" and I couldn't say no. Of course, I also wanted to try it so I can't put all the blame on wanting to be a nice mom. I took one bite and then surreptitiously hid it away. The bite wasn't all that great, which made it easy not to want more.

Well, that's all I have for now. It's late, and I'm tired, so I'm off to bed. I might try and get a bike ride in in the morning, we'll have to see how it goes. I have Sunday run plans with Catherine so that's set. Hopefully my lungs will be a tad better before then, less wheezing.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 4: A day of rest...or two

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I took the day off. Yep, called in sick. And I'm doing what you're supposed to do on days like this, sitting on my rump. It's only about 1:30 in the afternoon as I start this post and, so far, no extremely tired feeling. I'm hoping it was just some sugar/processed foods detox thing and NOT that I'm getting sick.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with maple syrup

**Update - I forgot, no grains for the first 7 days. And the maple syrup was likely a no-no as well. You can imagine how disappointed I am in myself. Wink.

I cooked 1 cup of Bob's extra thick rolled oats and ate maybe 2/3 of it. I added a tablespoon of pure maple syrup. I like things sweet and I wasn't sure the one tablespoon of syrup would do the trick but it was good. Could the lack of refined sugars be resetting my taste-buds already?

If I am able to pull off this no refined sugar for 28 days thing, I bet my taste-buds will change. Neat, I hadn't thought of that. Of course, I could always change them right back with a few bags of m&m's. Anyway, I sat around all morning, resting and catching up on articles and a few bad TV shows before lunch.

Lunch: Kitchen sink soup - chicken, rice, zucchini, sweet potato, avocado

I know, weird combo, right? And it was a bit different, but not bad. I put the rice in and then remembered the sweet potato. I would have skipped the rice if I remembered earlier because I didn't need two starchy ingredients in my soup.

So, a few words on how it's going. To know how it's going I need to remember my purpose for doing this, which is two-fold.
  1. Raise my awareness of what I'm eating while breaking bad eating habits. I'm hitting it out of the park on this one! I've been logging all my food here and on the challenge website and, aside from a few plantain chips the first couple of nights, I've been very happy with my choices. Oh sure, I've gone "off plan" a few times here and there - with things like quinoa and black beans - but a) those are damn healthy foods overall and b) it's not enough to defeat the purpose. I've fought off "bad" cravings for things like a McDonald's ice cream, candy, pretzels (ok, pretzels are not so "bad" but they are highly processed so there), etc.
  2. Check out the gluten free thing. So far, no good information on this as yet. This is only the 4th day and I'm also giving up refined sugars and dairy so it's hard to know what's what in this arena. I guess I'll only really know when I start to add things back in at some future point. 
As far as exercise for today, I'd planned to finally take an indoor computerized bike class, RST (race specific training) tonight with TriMore fitness. This is the one where you bring your own bike. I've heard so much about how awesome they are and each time I make plans to go, something comes up. As long as I didn't start feeling super-tired this afternoon, I planned to go.

And then I got tired. I took a nap from 3 - 4:30pm and woke up tired. That's it, I decided not to drag myself to the class. I could see myself lifting weights but cardio just felt out of the question. I took my temperature, 99.5 degrees. Not too bad but between that and the exhaustion I decided to take tomorrow off work too. I'm willing to rest if it means staving off some even worse illness. I'm going to call my doc's office in the morning too and see if I can get in. You know what I'm afraid of.

Dinner: Chicken & rice soup and a slice of ham.

Evening snack: Banana, orange.

I'm not drinking enough water. As in not nearly enough. In fact, let me get some now. I'm sure more water would help my overall situation. Ok, that's it from me. It's 9:40pm and I'm off to read and then sleep.

ps - still resisting temptation. Today it was for 1: fried chicken and 2: carrot cake. I drove right on by the fried chicken place and closed the fridge (at my mom's house) as soon as I spotted the carrot cake.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day 3: Is this what detoxing feels like?

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It's Wednesday and I was not in my pajamas watching the kids eat cereal at 9am. I was at work. I wish my employer could see how emotionally painful this is. I wish some people could get it.

So there I was, bright and early in the morning, getting us all ready and making myself a real foods meal.

Breakfast: 3-egg, chicken breast and avocado scramble.

That kept me full for a while.

Snack: Banana, orange

I ended up having a late lunch because that's when I could get to the store with the salad bar.

Lunch: Salad with chicken breast, broccoli, peas, roasted veggies, sprouts, oil/vinegar for dressing

I started feeling tired around midday. I'm making so many changes with this eating routine that it's hard to know what it might be. Not eating enough carbs? Zero caffeine? I doubt the lack of dairy is involved. I got 7.5 hours sleep last night, maybe 7, so I doubt that's it. Anyway, I felt so tired the sound of the gym was dreadful. But I dragged myself there knowing I'd feel even worse if I skipped it.

I started with a run. My legs felt like they'd almost never run before, each step was hard. I had the initial intention to run three miles but quickly lowered my expectations, "just run a mile." I stayed at 6.0/6.1 the whole time, no 6.5 for me today. One mile turned into two when I decided I wanted at least 20 minutes of cardio. Why 20 minutes? I remember reading that it takes 20 minutes to get a serotonin (the supposed "happy" brain chemical) boost from physical activity.

I was so happy to be done with that run, even though I was wheezing quite a bit when it was over. After that I did back/biceps/PT exercises for strength training. More hard work but it felt manageable at least. I started to feel cold and the worry factor about being/getting sick shot up, though the doors to the gym were wide open and it was cold outside so hopefully it was just that.

Between the fatigue, the possible chills, and how much I was wheezing - I decided to take tomorrow off work. I think I need some rest. Dinner was out with Miguel. We had Chipotle, for me that meant a burrito bowl with brown rice (trying to increase my carb intake), black beans (I forgot that I'm not supposed to have beans until Monday), chicken, fajita veggies, salsa and guacamole. It was filling and yummy. The only problem was I felt like I was freezing in there! Not a good sign on the wellness scale. Maybe if I rest I can ward off whatever might be happening.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 2: It's 28 days, how hard could it be?!

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Your standard Atkins breakfast I'd guess.
Today is a rest day from the gym and I think my body needs it.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, a few bites of a banana.

It was filling, and tasty.

My day started off rough and went downhill from there.

Snack: Apple

I had no plan for lunch and ended up with...

Lunch: a can of split pea soup from Trader Joe's.

We're not supposed to eat processed foods on this plan. I'm guessing something in a can is "processed". But if you'd seen the list of ingredients, it was something straight out of a Michael Pollan book - all whole, all organic, not a scientific ingredient in sight. I decided it was a better choice than the packaged salads with 9-million ingredients. And it had roughly 10 grams of protein in the whole can.

The other thing was carbs, it had plenty of those. My buddy Mira pointed out that my low energy yesterday might have been due to no carbs. No fuel for the fire, so I took that to heart. Only problem with today's lunch is it had only about 150 calories. Methinks that's too little for a meal.

Snack: nada (whoops)

I picked up the kids early from pre-school since it was a rest day from the gym. We came home and I settled in for a promised game of Candyland. Marek is totally into it and it's so much fun. Myra is more into playing with the cards, which works too. I lost both games. Bummer. I had a good time hanging with the kids and getting a bit of housework done in the meantime.

And I suffered all day from heartbreak over losing my day home with them tomorrow.  I think that's why I was down all day. It's that or no refined sugars. Or I'm PMSing. Or, God help me, all three. I got back into Myra's plaintain chips, though as I recall my portion was reasonable. I'm quite sure they are not "on program" but I decided in the moment (probably not a good time to be deciding) that it was a better choice than whatever else I might eat.

Dinner: salmon on the Foreman grill, sauteed zucchini.

It wasn't easy to not snack tonight after dinner. Not easy. But I reminded myself of the purpose (or one of them anyway) behind my doing this program - to raise awareness of my eating and to break bad eating habits. What is the point of doing this program if I'm going to not work hard to break my bad habits? Asking myself that kept me in check this evening. But, like I said, not easy. And this is only Day 2.

Well, that's it from me. It's 10:08pm and I'm in bed. I plan to read a bit and then doze off to some happy dream state in which all my problems are like the bubbles kids blow, that they float for a moment or to and then pop and disappear.

PS - 141.4 on the scale this morning. I know someone asked in the comments recently (though I can't find the comment now) if I'm weighing every day. I'm not, more like several times a week. No rhyme or reason, other than wanting to stay well-informed. And another commenter, Toledo Lefty (from Perfect in our Imperfections blog), reminded me that it can be crazy-making to read too much into short-term fluctuations, look for trends over time. Great advice. Thanks for commenting folks!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 1

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This has been an interesting day so far. I feel tired and I'm not sure why. Maybe just the busy weekend. I don't think it's the lack of caffeine because I tapered down. But today is a BIG day! So I need to rally, build excitement for the journey on which I'm embarking. That's 28 days of clean livin' folks!

Tasted better than it looks
Day 1:

First day with no caffeine.
Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, hot tea
Snack: Grapes, 1/2 avocado
Lunch: Grilled tilapia, salad w/ no dressing, cabbage and carrot soup
I dealt with some pretty heavy temptation in the afternoon to have a snack, mostly my mind kept wanting a McDonald's ice cream cone. Yeah, I know. But hey, I didn't give in so Yay Me!
Snack: Orange
I stayed pretty drowsy all day but dragged my sleepy self to the gym anyway. I started with 25 minutes on the upright bike. Holy hell it almost killed me. I did level 9 again because I'm stubborn like that and whoa, was it hard. I had to slack off toward the end, my legs just didn't have it, but I finished the 25 minutes and went on to do legs/shoulders/PT exercises for weight training.

Despite how my legs felt on the bike I got through my workout pretty well. I made a slight change to my routine, dropping side lunges and adding shoulder presses. My routine was too leg-heavy with only 2 shoulder exercises. Anyway, I stumbled out of the gym feeling I'd done all I could. I'll admit, I got a little scared that I have pneumonia again. Mainly because I was wheezing and struggling on the bike and that I felt tired today. I'll have my nurse friend listen to my lungs but I honestly don't think I have it.

After the gym I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some challenge-friendly food for dinner. A steak (wow!), some fruit and veggies.
Dinner: Ribeye steak, quinoa and sauteed mushrooms and onions.
The mushrooms and onions were delicious, I could have eaten a whole plate of those. Dinner was filling, as you can imagine. I was too tired to grill the steak so I just cooked it under the broiler. Not as good but still pretty good. I've managed to resist the temptations this evening. Oh, except I had some of Myra's plantain chips before it occurred to me that they are fried so that means they're out. Whoops.

Today's final bit of news comes from the scale. I hopped on this morning and was surprised to see 141.8 pounds. That's 3.4 pounds down from five days ago. I'm not complaining, but sadly I think some of that might be muscle because I am still 29.5% body fat. Let's do the math.

145.2 pounds at 30% body fat = 43.6 pounds of fat, 101.6 pounds of lean mass
141.8 pounds at 29.5% body fat = 41.3 pounds of fat, 100.5 pounds of lean mass

1.1 pounds of lean mass lost +
2.3 pounds of fat lost =
3.4 pounds lost

Of course I'd like to see NO lean mass lost and ALL fat, but maybe that's unreasonable? I don't know enough about the physiology of weight loss to know if this is normal. I read an article recently that said "for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single one of those muscles." I guess that means I'm burning 40 less calories per day than last week. I'm (mostly) kidding, I doubt it's that precise.

Anyway, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens. So it's 42 minutes past my new 10pm bedtime so I'm off for some zzzzz's. Hope you're doing well, ever-reaching toward those goals. Never forget how much it means to you. And that your happiness is worth the time and effort.

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Running Low on Caffeine & Oxygen

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Today was a good day. Well, it had it's moments, but overall, it was good. I made an omelet for breakfast with butter, whole eggs, veggies, cheddar cheese, a slice of Canadian bacon and avocado. I also had a whole wheat english muffin (with butter) and some fruit - wow, now that's a yummy meal. And let's not forget my one ounce of coffee. Do you know what an ounce of coffee looks like?

1 ounce of coffee

Not much. I've been drinking herbal tea in the morning, satisfying my desire for a hot morning beverage. I can't say I'm missing the coffee. Tomorrow will be the big day, my first day with zero caffeine. And my first day following the 28-day Healthy Lifestyle Challenge. I didn't have a burst of energy this afternoon like I've had the last few days but that might have been because, oh I don't know, maybe because I ran 6 friggin' miles at elevation. Now that will take the wind out of you.

I was also wheezing a lot during the run and after. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. It was another unseasonably warm day in the mountains and even though I'd packed clothes for running in freezing temps, all I wore were a pair of cold-weather running tights, a long sleeved tech shirt with a slightly thicker shirt over that. No gloves, no headband covering my ears. It was about 45 degrees, in the sun I felt perfect, the shade was a tad chilly but nothing painful.

But boy was I struggling. I got a stomach cramp around the 2nd mile and had to live with it off and on for the rest of the run. When it seemed to be getting worse I told myself I'd stop when I had to, but otherwise I'd keep going. Fortunately the pain ebbed and flowed and never got so bad that I had to stop. I had to push myself that last mile or so, I really wanted to stop, "Michelle doesn't quit" was good enough to keep me moving forward.

After my run I got curious to know if anyone has ever calculated how much time you lose when running at elevation. Sure enough, someone has. I found this thread on discussing the issue of adjusting pace for elevation. If I understand correctly I can safely take off about 24 seconds per mile on my pace based on the elevation at which I was running. My average pace for this run was 10:51, subtracting 24 seconds puts me at 10:27 per mile. My 6.5 mile run from Catherine's last Sunday was at 10:47 pace, with hills, so that all sounds about right to me.

Like I said, I was wheezing a lot after the run, way more than normal. I used my inhaler and things got a bit better. I've been wheezy ever since. Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow and be back to normal. Food wise it's been a good day. I had that big breakfast and then didn't eat again until dinner. That's not normally how I roll but today it seemed to work.

And like I said, tomorrow is the first day of the 28-day Health Lifestyle Challenge through my gym. I'm planning to have 1/2 of an avocado and 2 hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. With tea. Beyond that, the day is a mystery. I might have to do the Whole Foods salad bar for lunch. Except it's so pricey, so maybe I'll run home for something else. I don't know, I'll figure it out. I always do.

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at