Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Last weekend was great! Saturday I sat in the cold and rain at Beaver Stadium with my husband and some of his college friends to watch Penn State earn a hard-fought win over Indiana. I admit it—I’m a fair-weather football fan. When the team has a good season, I try to catch most of the games on TV—actually sit through the entire game. When it’s a not-so-good season, I barely acknowledge that it’s football season.
Saturday morning started of with pre-game sweets—apple cake, cookies, coffee cake, etc. Having just had breakfast, it was easy to limit myself to a small piece of apple cake before heading off to the game.
Post-game was a different story. Two glasses of wine took my mind off being chilled and slightly damp. It also took my mind off the array of cheese, crackers and chips that were displayed on the coffee table, all just a convenient arm’s length away. I don’t know how much I ate, but it was enough that by the time we arrived at the restaurant for dinner, I wasn’t hungry. Nevertheless, I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and fries. I only ate a few fries and most of the sandwich.
By Sunday morning, I had a serious case of the munchies. I had my regular healthy breakfast, but nibbled all morning on dried fruit, dry cereal, Tostitos, several Milk Duds, etc. Despite being full, I ate lunch – soup and half a sandwich. More munching in the afternoon, followed by dinner and a couple of mini-candy bars left over from Halloween.
Monday was gruesome—a three pound gain over just 2 days. Normally, this would upset me so much that I’d regret the entire weekend and berate myself or I would say the H*** with trying to lose weight. But not anymore. Now I can keep this temporary set back in perspective—in a POSITIVE perspective.
1. I’m not on a diet. Diet’s are temporary and are bound for failure. I’m on a mission to eat better to provide my body with high-quality fuel so that I can enjoy being active, reduce cholesterol, and keep myself strong and healthy.
2. It’s not all or nothing. It’s okay to enjoy an occasional “goodie.” Life would be a complete drag if cake or pie or chocolate never crossed my lips. Maintaining good nutrition is easier if nothing is out of bounds.
3. I’m not Super Woman. Super Woman is fiction; I’m real. I don’t have super-human will power to totally exclude foods that bring me pleasure. It’s easier to control portion size. Besides, chocolate raises serotonin levels which elevates mood, and who doesn’t need that on occasion.
4. My choice of foods doesn’t define my worth or value as a person. I am not “bad” because I over-ate. And conversely, I am not “good” because I exercised or didn’t eat dessert.
5. Focus on the positive. Overall, I eat and exercise sensibly. And I’ll continue on this path because I feel better, which provides more positive feedback.
6. Tomorrow is a brand new day. Yes, I’ve gained several pounds, but the battle isn't lost. Monday I returned to my usual eating habits, and I headed to the gym for a workout.
I hope you had a great weekend.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Joy Johnson, 81, came in first in her age group in the NYC Marathon. She broke her record from last year's race. Way to go Joy!!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
There is a wonderful story in the Oct.3 1 Wall Street Journal about Joy Johnson, 81, who is running in this year's New York Marathon. Her goal: under 6 hours. And she's not the only one in that age group--there are 26 over the age of 80.
To train, she's been running 50-55 miles per week and to strengthen her legs, she's been running up hills and bleachers. It's paid off--in a marathon she ran a few weeks ago, she cut an hour from her time in last year's NY Marathon.
Ms. Johnson didn't take up running until she was an adult--a 3-mile walk she took in 1985 turned into running 12 miles a day by 1988.
I wannabe like Ms. Johnson. I wannabe strong, healthy, fit, happy, and a positive role model for others. I wannabe an inspiration to others.
What do you wannabe?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This week has been our first for truly cooler weather and the hint of what is to come. Last Sunday we had our first hard frost and several mornings I needed my winter coat and mittens to walk the dog at 6 a.m. Today it is a "winter rain"--cold, damp and overcast. There is no promise of spring flowers in this shower.
It's time to switch from summer to winter clothes. There will still be some beautiful "Indian Summer" days before the snow falls and freezing temps, but for the most part long sleeves, cordoroys, sweatpants, layered sweaters and sweatshirts will be the new uniform at home.
As I re-organize my closet and dresser, it occurs to me that comfort clothes are just as much of a danger as comfort foods. Comfort clothes hide all the wobblies and put them out of your mind until Spring begins creeping in around April and May. Comfort clothes are cuddly, warm, and stretchy. They are forgiving. They whisper to my body, "have that piece of dessert, I promise not to pinch your waist." "I'll be discreet; no one will see the growing waistline, the flabby arms. I will protect you."
Don't let them lure you into complacency this winter. Keep some skin-baring clothes in your dresser and closet and remember that next spring and summer will be here sooner than we think.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Riding in the Seagull Century was fabulous!! The weather was perfect--very cool in the morning and warming to the mid-70s in the afternoon.
On our way to Salisbury University Saturday morning we passed cyclists already on their journey. Goose bumps popped out all over my arms--I'd be one of more than 6,000 cyclists on the road striving to ride 100 miles in 1 day. I still get goose bumps and a shot of adrenaline just recalling the event. It was better than I ever imagined.
When we finally unloaded and bikes & got over to the University, a riot of color greeted us. Bikes and cyclists in every imaginable style and color. A quick trip to the restroom and then we got in the queue to start our adventure. To begin the ride, we had to go down a ramp under the highway single file. As we gradually worked our way forward in the waiting crowd, anticipation kept growing and growing. What a rush heading down the ramp! We were on our way at 8 a.m. sharp!
The event was well organized. About every 20 miles there was a rest station where you could re-fuel with fresh fruit, bagels, cream cheese, water and Gatorade, and stretch your legs. There were adequate job johnnies at each stop--a very important amenity!
Initially, the road was a bit crowded and we had to be very careful. Fast riders in long pace lines would whiz by on our left, sometimes without first giving a courtesy warning. We passed a few cyclists in the first 20 miles pulled alongside the road making bike repairs. Eventually, the cyclists who were riding the metric century, (62 miles), split off onto an alternate route. That really opened the road and made cycling more enjoyable.
The route was flat--the only true exception was going over the Assateague Bridge to the island. I had to keep my eyes focused directly in front of my bike or I would start to get a bit of vertigo and my stomach would start to churn. We didn't see any ponies, but riders who arrived first did. We couldn't resist taking off shoes and socks and wading into the ocean. The cold water was refreshing and rejuvenated our feet and calves.
Throughout the day there was a bit of wind, but not so strong that it hindered us. The miles flew by--for the most part it just felt like a weekend joy ride. Some of the cyclists from riding clubs wore matching shirts. One group had a small Capitol Bldg. perched atop their helmets. A woman had on a bright green Shrek stocking over her helmet.
About 12 miles from the finish line, my left leg began to cramp. There was no way I was not going to finish the ride even if it meant walking to the finish. I pulled over and stretched my hamstring and popped back on my bike. Voila! No more cramping. But another cramp hit in my left calf just a mile or 2 down the road. That one took a bit longer to work out. From that point on, I could only pedal at 14-15 mph. Prior to that, I was riding anywhere from 16 to 20 mph. For the next 6 miles, I enjoyed most of the remaining ride. It gave me time to say hello to anyone I rode next to and chat for a moment before one of us moved on.
But then a complication hit--I had to go to the bathroom. My bladder was full and every dip and bump in the road was a constant reminder that I needed to find a place to pull over NOW! But there was no where to go. Finally, I arrived in town and just ahead was a gas station/convenience store. Hallelujah!! I pedaled as fast as my legs could go, hopped off my bike, haphazardly leaned it against the building and ran into the convenience store like a fire fighter rushing to rescue someone from a burning building. I headed for the back right corner . . . no bathroom. I spun around and headed for the right back corner . . . no bathroom. I rushed up to the clerk at the counter, "P l e a s e!!! may I use your bathroom?" And he said, "I'm sorry ma'am, we don't have a public restroom." I don't know how I held myself back from leaping across the counter and grabbing him by the collar and shouting, "You better give me the keys to your private bathroom before you have a puddle to clean up!" But I restrained myself, and pedaled, very uncomfortably, to the finish line arriving at 5 p.m. My friends had finished up at least a half hour earlier and were patiently waiting for me. No time for talk--just get me to the bathrooms!
Looking back on this wonderful ride, I realized I learned some lessons and reinforced some values:
1. Enjoy the Moment. There are vivid pictures in my mind of the entire ride--too many to include in the blog--the scenery, children riding with their parents, an accident, the corn fields, the feel of the breeze and sun, exceptionally tall cyclists, etc. Often we are focused on the end result, not the journey. How many times have you rushed to finish a project, a task, an event, only to look back and have an unclear vision of how you reached the end. It is the journey, the little accomplishments and set backs, that make our lives rich, multi-dimensional and fulfilling.
2. Focus on the Positive. Being positive creates energy. The miles rolled by almost effortlessly. Sure, there were discomforts along the way, but focusing on them would have taken all of the joy out of the day. I marveled when I came up to each rest stop--the time passed so quickly. Pessimism dulls our senses; optimism excites them.
3. Prepare Mentally and Physically. Riding a Century is as much a mental feat as it is a physical feat. When you are tired, your sit bones are sore, and the ribbon of road looks endless, it requires some will power to keep moving. Physical strength is easily measured--you can lift a little heavier weight, run a little faster, walk a little further. Mental strength is more difficult to measure. Hopefully it matures right along with your physical strength. Surround yourself with positive friends and family--their support and encouragement will make you stronger. Exercise your mind--positive visioning (seeing yourself cross the finish line) and problem solving (working through possible difficulties, i.e., cramping, equipment malfunctions, inclement weather, etc.) Test yourself occasionally--move outside your comfort zone--and see how much stronger you become.
4. Don't Judge Others. The most amazing riders were those who were significantly over weight. My respect and admiration grew for them as the day wore on. Even at mile 80+ they were still going. I can only assume that they finished. I admit that had I seen them at the start of the ride, I would have put money down that they wouldn't make it. Those riders were MENTALLY TOUGH!! I don't know the age of the oldest rider, but I saw a gentleman (at the end of the ride) that I'd guess to be in his 70s. He was slightly bent over and just barely shuffling his feet forward. But you should have seen the muscled calves on that guy! I hope I'm still riding and running when I'm his age.
5. Anyone Can Accomplish "Amazing" Feats. Six thousand cyclists--most just everyday people in average fitness ranges. We are not professional athletes, training is not our primary job. We have found an activity that we love and indulge in it as often as we can. Find an activity that you love and JUST DO IT.
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