Saturday, November 05, 2011
Sooo, did everyone have an awesome Friday? Hope you did. Mine was quite pleasant thanks. It was a chilly and rainy day here in the So. Cal. It was a nice change. We've been getting weather still into the mid to upper 80's and I was sooooooo ready for something resembling November :). Finally got it and pulled out all my stops...Curried Butternut Squash soup and Honey Wheat Bread were our dinner tonight, both homemade by moi. I love making bread and soup, but when the weather is over 80 it is hard to feel like cooking anything much less bread and soup. Both were soooo yummy and perfectly matched to the weather.
It's been an interesting couple of days to say the least. Wednesday evening I sat down at my computer and started typing a blog. What came out was not planned, but it was one of those things that just came, pretty much as I typed it. without much thought. I edited a few things here and there and looked at it and looked at it some more. My fingers hovering over the send button, filled with uncertainty. I knew it was good. I've been writing long enough to know when I've put out one of my best efforts (almost always those are the ones that just flow without me having to think too hard-they are just born good), but I did have a few concerns.
I have a couple of friends who have run afoul of Sparkpeople with blogs that might be called "provocative". I just wasn't sure if my blog crossed some invisible and undistinguished line that is set by Spark, but unknown to most of us until we cross it. See, I'm what they called the goodie-two-shoes back in the day. I'm the girl that always tried to stay under the radar. Unless, I felt like I was safe to speak my mind. I never ended up in the Principal's office, but open and accepting teachers knew that there was a witty and often sarcastic person lurking behind the quiet demeanor and that she could write a wicked paper when called for.
I have always felt for my friends who ran up against the Spark censor police, their blogs were witty, clear, made an excellent point and garnered MANY good review and ALWAYS made you think. I think that thinking is a good thing and should be encouraged much more than it currently is. But, they said "something" in their post that made "someone" upset and they were censored (last I checked the right to speak your mind was protected under some obscure legal document nobody has ever heard of (see, dripping with sarcasm)). The censorship comes in various forms from what I've gathered. Some blogs are simply pulled out of existence, some are asked to tone things down and some are asked to not ruffle anymore feathers, some are told that their subject matter is taboo. I've never experienced it personally...remember flying under the radar.
So, after I typed a blog that I thought might be construed as somewhat critical, I had my doubts. But, it was late at night and I figured I'd post it and see if it was still there in the morning. Not only, was it still there, but it was quickly gathering comments. I've never experienced anything like it on one of my posts before. Every single comment was positive! Every single one...and they were coming pretty fast and piling up.
I was overwhelmed by the response. I had no idea so many people felt the same way I did and quite a few had their own suggestions that made even more sense than my own :). I was blown away! By the time I went to bed on Thursday I'd been awarded a popular blog post thingy. I've only done that once before and it took several days for that post to take off and it took the intervention of several people spreading the word to come read it before it finally reached whatever benchmark exists for these things. So, needless to say, I was amazed. I was amazed that my blog was so popular and that I hadn't heard a peep from "them" about my suggestions on how to improve the Spark experience.
Today, I had a busy and great day, but checked in every so often to see what was happening and read a blog hear and there. After school my kids hijacked the computer and I wasn't on at all for several hours. Finally, I checked my e-mail to see if plans for tomorrow had been solidified and what I needed to plan on. I checked one e-mail that was a comment from a sparkie (one of my favorite sparkies and one of my favorite friends I've never met in person-lol), I'm going to let her stay anonymous unless she chooses otherwise, giving me a heads up that my blog had been removed from the popular blogs. Huh? My phone is intelligent, but not smart and has trouble feeding the spark site so I had to wait to get on the computer to see what this was about.
Gave son a grace period to give me my computer back and sure enough there was quite the interesting situation. My blog is still in existence, still there for anyone to read should that be their desire, but if you go look at the popular blogs page...something lots of people check for daily reading material, my post is not to be found. In their opinion my post does not exists. Someone would have to already know of the post's existence or somehow stumble upon it in order to read it.
I've been censored-just a tiny bit-lol!! My first reaction was to laugh. Really? My post touched a nerve? I suspected it might, but the response was so OVERWHELMINGLY positive I thought that I had been just a touch paranoid about "censorship". And, since my post still exists maybe I was, but what is the point of hiding my post from new eyes at this point?
I kind of don't get it. I also haven't heard any official word as to why this would be the case (kind of rude if you ask me-if your going to yank me let me know why-maybe they don't have the ability to yank trophies once given or that'd be gone too?). I have no idea what the final count on the "likes" was, but it was over one hundred and the comments on the blog itself stand at 93 at this point. By far, not the most popular blog ever written, but a solid turn out (better than quite a few "popular blogs" from SparkGuy, who sometimes gets on the board with less than 30 likes).
Are they worried about how many people were in agreement about the quality of the fitness tracker? Are there absolutely no plans in regards to improving the tracker? Do they already know how poor the quality is and didn't want others to figure it out? Why not leave my post there for all to see and come over and leave a comment on my post about the plans to improve? Or at the very least an explanation as to why it wouldn't be improving anytime soon? Use my blog as the sounding board it was intended to be. Read each and every comment and make a "wish list" and get the programmers busy. Almost 100 sparkers have voiced their opinions and each and every comment makes a valid point. Not one comment was negative in nature or overly harsh, just people speaking their minds. If I were running a site that did not win a contest for best fitness tracker I'd be putting something like my post front and center. I'd be asking "what can I do to beat those other trackers next time something like this comes up".
So, yes, I'm a bit hurt that I've had my popular blog post status yanked (the little trophy thingy is still there, but it sure feels revoked). I also find it a bit humorous. I also somewhat expected it and the censorship was very mild, considering....My post still lives. I am still here. I'm not planning on going anywhere, yet. I think I will, however, name the two off site trackers I referenced, but in deference to Spark did not name...DailyMile and MyFitnessPalm or was it Fitocracy...ehh, not going to go check at this point :). Each of them has features that put Spark's tracker to shame. But, spark offers the community in a much better way (except for a few glitches and I'm not sure why they are so persnickity about those glitches).
Well, it's been a long day and it is time to enjoy a little light reading before I head off to bed. Going hiking tomorrow if all goes well. We had planned a local run, but then sis headed off to the mountains for the weekend. The rest of us decided to follow her just for the purposes of our Saturday workout. Then, today, it rained. It is snowing up in them thar' hills. If we can get up the mountain (roads are plowed, etc.) we will still hike, for the first time in snowy weather....sooooo looking forward to it :). Don't worry, weather is supposed to be nice in the morning and we'll probably be hiking in mud by the time we are done. November snow seldom lasts long in these parts. But, I'm still excited to do something brand new :).
Enjoy your weekend everyone and don't forget to turn back your clocks!! An extra hour of sleep, or an extra hour to workout...your choice (I think I'm choosing sleep since Sunday is my rest day).
Thursday, November 03, 2011
It is high time we had a little chat about our relationship. Don't get me wrong, I still love you. You've inspired me to make vital and life altering changes and I will always appreciate that. I love the friends you've introduced me to and their inspiring stories. I love sharing their ups and downs and seeing them succeed and keep trying even when things don't go exactly right.
However, there is this little quirk you have that is simply driving me bananas (and not in a good way a la Rachel Zoe). You see, your Fitness tracker, it kinda sucks. I know, I'm being harsh, it's not really your fault. That tracker has been around awhile, in it's day I'm sure it was one of the best around. But, we are in the computer age now and things have a tendency to change and improve at rapid speeds and you, well honestly, you just haven't kept up. It is a fine, basic tracker, but here is what bothers me.
First, you don't track seconds (as in portions of a minute). Now, I'm sure for lots of people that doesn't really matter that much. But, see, here's the thing, you've turned me into a runner. Yep, I'm blaming you for that. I never, ever dreamed of being a runner until you came into my life. You with your running teams and especially a few certain sparkers like PinkCoconut and Runningchunky and a few here and there where I saw some similarities in our stories and they started running, so why couldn't I? I became a runner and my spark friends are now heavily slanted in the runner direction with a few bicyclists and horse back riders thrown in because they are awesome people, just like all my runner friends and they don't care that I run instead of ride bikes or whatever :). Now I do things like "train" and to me TIME has become a very important thing. A matter of seconds determines if I'm getting better or just maintaining. Those seconds have become very important to me. But, they aren't important to you. You discard my seconds, to you they mean nothing. I hate that. And here's the part I feel a little guilty about. I've been cheating on you. I know, it breaks my heart too, but you simply cannot meet all my needs. I wish you did. I need those seconds to be realized and there is this really great site that tracks my seconds.
Second, you round up my times. Again, you turned me into a runner and then you round up my times. How insulting is that?!! Highly insulting. My 16:21 pace (I know that is so slow, but it's mine) becomes a 17 or (gasp) even an 18 minute mile. You don't recognize how hard I work for those times and then you just round them up. It hurts my heart. Pace is a vital training tool for my sport that you ignore.
Third, you don't let me call myself a runner because I am slow. I won't apologize for my speed. I'm working on getting faster, but until I do I fully deserve to be recognized as a runner. As a fitness site you really should know that physiologically speaking running and walking are not a matter of time alone. Just because it takes me more than 13 minutes to go a mile doesn't mean I'm walking. Again, it is plain insulting that you don't recognize my efforts. There are differences in effort, force, exertion and lots of other things that I'm not qualified to list that make the difference between walking and running. You wouldn't call a bicyclist a walker if they fell under a certain time, or a swimmer a floater. Just because I'm slow doesn't mean I'm walking and I am insulted everytime you tell me I'm a walker and not a runner. (Have you met some of the other sites out there now (they've sprung up inspired by you, you know) They know how to do a fitness tracker, maybe you could get to know them a little bit better and learn how to treat an athlete). Yes, an athlete, because even though I don't look like your typical athlete I am one. I'm not svelte or lanky and definitely not lean. But, I have a rack of finisher's medals from 5Ks and a half marathon...there has even been a 10K in there, but no finisher's medal. I've run quite a few races now and even though I've ACTUALLY come in last, I've started and finished them...in my mind that makes me an athlete. I should be able to list myself as a runner despite my time.
Lastly, there is no easy way to compare my progress and my improvement. I am a HIGHLY visual person and it motivates me to see my workouts side by side. I like to see in an instant that I ran more miles this week than last. Or, today I had my fastest run to date. I like to see that last Saturday I had my longest run to date (just an example, last Saturday was not my longest run ever, but you get the point). I became what I am today in large part thanks to you, dear Sparkpeople, but I want more out of our relationship and I am hoping that you want more too.
I'm saying these things because I want you to grow and develop too, just like I have. I am more now, today, than I was two years ago, but you, dear friend, have, at your core, stayed the same. You've made some changes and you've grown, but this is one of the things that is holding you back from being awesome. There was a contest recently, you asked for my vote, but you didn't get it and this is why, and maybe it has something to do with why you didn't win against a start up that really does not have as much to offer as you do. Maybe sometime soon we can discuss why strength doesn't count towards fitness minutes, because we all know that strength is a vital part of a healthy body and muscle burns more fat than fat and...well, you know. And maybe we can discuss why the Spark generated strength workouts tend to be lopsided towards one group of muscles instead of balanced and the user can't make adjustments to reps/sets and weight used...again highly annoying (I know I can make adjustments if I set the workout, but I want to be able to track how much weight I use and the sets and reps EACH workout when I let you generate the workout, because sometimes I do 3 sets instead of 2 or 15 or 20 or more reps instead of 10 or 12 or whatever it says...depending on the day, my energy level and if I'm not quite ready to move up in weight, but still want fatigue)
Thanks spark, I am a changed person thanks to you I truly appreciate it, I just wish I didn't have to go to multiple sites to meet my needs.
Sincerely, Heather aka Itshowyoulive
P.S. Just to clarify...nothing against walkers...I got started getting more fit with walking and still track when I do walk. I just want to be the one who decides whether I was walking or running. I often track both in one day because I did walk and run in the same workout. Love walking and walkers :).
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Thanks everyone who input advice on yesterday's "Predicament" blog. I hunkered down in the evening when I got some quiet time and hammered out a ST plan that was a collaboration between myself and Sparkpeople. I used the Sparkpeople workout generator for the starting workout and then added in a ton of exercises to round it out. Did you know that when you let Spark select your strength workout you can choose "full body", "upper body", "lower body" or "core", but you can't select a combo of those? Kind of ticked me off. My intention was to select upper or lower for each day and add core to those workouts, but I could only choose one. So I selected upper or lower for each day I'd planned ST and then went back and added core exercises on my own. I also ended up adding additional strength exercised because I'd noticed in the past that the spark workouts tend to be a little light in some areas and heavy in others and might even miss areas I think are important. For example...the workout spark generated included 3 different rowing type exercises, all of which work chest, shoulders and triceps....and not a single bicep exercise. The only concession to biceps was the seated row which works biceps along with the other muscles. I balanced things out a bit and added a few to make it a little more challenging.
So, I've got my workouts all planned for the month. Cardio on non-running days will be walking the dog at a nice fast walking pace and a video as a back-up if it is rainy or I need a back-up for whatever reason. I loved my sister's idea of doing Just Dance, but I don't have one of those for my wii yet, so on my list of things to do is check the local re-sale stores for an affordable copy and go from there.
Glad I got that done because today has been a day and a half. Started with my run this morning with mom and sis. Today we started our "official" training plan for the Tinkerbell half and started running for time on Tuesday and Thursday. The scheduled workout is 45 minutes of running for each day. Generally we were hitting around 30-35 on an average morning so today was interesting. I decided I really enjoy running for time. I like that it gives a more instant feedback on how training is going. For example if I ran 2.6 miles today and then 3 on Thursday I know right away that I am faster than I was. My GPS tracker can give me similar info by breaking my time and distance down to a pace, but it is hard for me to remember the difference between a 16:47 and a 16:31. I can't remember from one day to the next what my time to the seconds was-lol!!
The kids are on a post-Halloween manic phase and have all been grounded from computer use and further candy ingestion. I've done a fair job of staying out of the baskets though. I have to admit to indulging here and there, but nothing horrible and only the pieces I want, no mindless noshing here.
I also got some interesting news today...our church does this HUGE women's conference every year and it travels from city to city. My mother, SIL, aunt and I have made it a tradition to attend and really enjoy it each year we've gone. For the last two years it has NOT come anywhere near us and most of us can't afford the cost or time involved in traveling to a neighboring state or Northern California (which I consider to be a neighboring state-lol). They are FINALLY coming back in 2012. I knew this awhile ago when I commented last year on FB about them not coming back in 2011. I got a response to e-mail a girl who let me know that 2012 would be when they were returning and was I interested in helping as a volunteer. My answer was a resounding yes. There was no communication for awhile as 2011 progressed along and then the schedule was finally announced and they really were coming to Long Beach (about 2 hrs away) so I e-mailed them again letting them know I was still interested. Today an e-mail came asking for team captains and volunteers. I responded saying that I'd be happy to be a volunteer and if they still needed captains I would be one. I got an almost immediate response that they did still need one more captain and would I call and then be available for web training tonight. I called and I am from an area without any captains so I am in. I get to be very involved in this wonderful event and help other volunteers be involved. I am so excited!! The conference is in March so I've got a bit of time on my hands before the big event. So of course I started making goals-lol!!
First the goals for November...
1. 1000 fitness minutes
2. Follow my schedule EVERY day!! (this is a big one for me)
3. Evaluate my schedule on Suday (a rest day) each week and change things that aren't working or shake things up if I'm getting bored
4. Find time to meditate at least once a week (quiet time in my house is at a premium so this is a big goal-lol)
5. Set daily goals for personal items (housework, school work, etc. and meet those goals)
6. Last, but not least, I hate setting weight goals because I never meet them, but this month I'd like to see a drop of at least 7 pounds which would drop me out of the 260's and into the 250's.
So now a few goals for the long term...
15 pounds gone by Christmas
25 pounds gone by January 29th (the day of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon)
A sub-45 minute 5K by Christmas...a long standing goal that has ripened and needs to be realized
30 pounds or more by the Conference in March....should give me an excellent excuse for a brand new outfit for the conference...if I lose 30 pounds I won't have anything that will still fit :).
Okay, so there we go...fingers crossed and a new mantra ("I AM worth it") and off we go jumping into November and beyond with both feet. :)
Monday, October 31, 2011
I am feeling much better today after a nice relaxing Sunday and all those naps on Saturday, which is good, because my house was tornadoed by the kids over the weekend-lol! Today is clean, clean, clean day.
Got a bit ticked at my husband...he does great things like fetch my wallet from the store where I forgot it, then doesn't tell me that he needs a ride to work, an hour away, until late last night. This trip means getting the kids (and myself) up at 4:30 am, getting everyone dressed and in the car to drive 50 min. one way, drop off husband and come 40 min back the other way. We save 10 minutes coming back because all the commuters head the other direction and the freeways are nearly empty on the return trip. I was NOT a happy camper. He totally destroyed my plans to get up, take the dog out for a 1 mile walk/almost run (fastest possible walk without actually breaking into a run-lol) and then do my strength training. By the time we got home it was nearly time to take the kids to school. My kids have to be at school by 7:10-totally insane, but I don't make the schedule. So, the good part is, I adjusted my plan...tonight being Halloween and all the kids do have to go trick-or-treating and while it will not count as cardio by any means I will be getting out and moving...I'll do jumping jacks or something while I wait as they go to each door :). Strength will happen when we get home during our regular "down time" after the kids are in bed. So, I'll still get it in, just not like I planned.
Which leads nicely into my predicament...November starts tomorrow....I haven't set any goals except to try and lose 10 pounds in November. I am at such a loss for how to plan out my routines....I have struggled with this all along...bouncing around from one routine to another never really satisfied that I'm "doing it right".
Run every other day or every day? Strength broken into pieces or all at once? Video or on my own or computer generated? Running plan or just run? It all makes my head spin sometimes and I consider myself to be a fairly competent planner.
I know that the answer is that as long as I'm doing something and doing it safely it really doesn't matter what I do. But, there are times that I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wish that I had the resources to hire a trainer to tell me what to do and when...
I'm leaning towards this schedule...
Mon...Min of 30 minutes of cardio (walk or video) and ST upper body and core and at least 10 minutes of yoga
Tues...45 minutes of running, ST lower body and planks and at least 10 min yoga
Wed...same as Mon
Thurs...same as Tues
Fri...rest day (yoga only)
Saturday...long run (minimum of 7 miles), ST upper body and core and light lower body ST and yoga
Whatcha think? I haven't determined yet what my Cardio will be other than running or whether I'll do a video or create my own ST plan or use on that someone else creates, that alone might trip me up.
The one thing I know is that I'm tired of letting my indecision decide for me that I'm not going to work out. Time to get on the ball and set some real goals and follow through.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Today was the Skins Fearless 5K in San Diego. It was a great race. My mother, my sister and I did this one together and my niece came along to take some pictures down at the beach. We got up nice and early and headed out in the dark to get to San Diego in plenty of time.
It is not a terribly far drive, but traffic can make it take up to two hours so that was the time frame we were working off of. Lucky us though the traffic was very light and we made EXCELLENT time (just barely over an hour) and got there in plenty of time to check-in and get set for the race.
This race was done in waves and we had all entered the open wave much later in the morning. Since we were there so early we decided to see if we could switch waves and go in the much earlier Females 30+ wave. They were so nice and it was no problem at all. It wasn't long before we were lining up at the start. My mother and I both wore wings and tutus and that was a new experience, but it was fun!
The race course was described as a "double loop lolipop course" and ran right along a bay. It was a beautiful setting and it wasn't long before the wisdom of the waves became clear. The route was a very popular running and biking trail for locals, by running in waves we were able to successfully share the area with locals out for their morning exercise. I started out trying to go slow, but didn't have to worry too much as a shin splint slowed me way down for the first TWO MILES!! I was bummed. I was hoping for something close to a PR, but the shin splint kept me mostly walking for a long time. By mile two I was good though and was able to run most of the rest of the route (took strategic walking breaks to give me a boost in certain areas (the fueling station, a down-hill section and the finish). I finished in a decent time for me (52:15) which I was very happy with considering that in the first mile I was wondering if I'd even finish at all.
I loved running in the tutu and wings, except my wings were rather large and kept hitting me in the back of my head-lol! We figured out a few ways to fix that problem before the Tinkerbell half, it didn't hurt at all, but was getting very annoying-lol!
Another problem during today's race was a total lack of energy. I had no pep, no energy and couldn't really pinpoint the problem until my sister pointed out that I've had a cold all week. Duh...yep, the fact that I'm still somewhat congested and under the weather would have an effect. I've got a few more 5Ks coming up and maybe one of them will be the PR I'm looking for.
We got our medals and a beverage and headed home. I got home and thought I'd jump right into the house work that needed to be done, but got busy on what should have been a quick project but fell asleep!! I though when I got up from my nap I'd be good to go, but turns out that I've only been able to manage small, short bursts of productivity before lapsing back into nap mode. I've slept away most of the day and sweet hubs even got dinner together tonight.
I totally crashed and burned today. It's been a hectic several of months and I've quit the PTA to give myself more time for my fitness and myself and my family (my house has suffered terribly from my business), but this past week wasn't much of a break as I finished up several projects that needed my attention for school and the PTA and I was kept busy preparing Halloween costumes and Red Ribbon Week activities. A quick clarification on Red Ribbon Week-a yearly, week long, program at school focusing on kids staying drug free (all "drugs" including tobacco and alcohol). Each day at our school the kids do something to highlight the day. I was in charge of coming up with the different themes and slogans for each day. Monday, pajama day (wake up to the facts, it's up to me to be drug free), Tuesday, Red Head Day-do something to make your head red (2 kids did red hair paint (their blond hair is still vaguely pink) and 1 did red ribbons all over her head), Wednesday-wear red (police, fire and EMTs were on campus with their vehicles), Thursday-crazy sock day and Friday, hero day (dress as your favorite hero). It kept me jumping.
The combo of still be really busy and having a cold just totally zapped my strength this week and I think it all caught up with me today. I'm still wiped out and will be going to sleep early tonight.
This week it is time to hunker down and get back to my plans so that I can kill that Tinkerbell half in a couple of months. Hopefully I'll wake up in the morning feeling better and ready to make some goals and plans for November.
It's been an exhausting day...hope you all had a great week and are enjoying a wonderful weekend. Hope my friends who are experiencing sever weather this weekend are staying warm and enjoying a restful weekend. Good luck to those who are running races and see you all on Monday (I'm gradually catching up on my reading and getting back to tracking food-yay!).
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