Thursday, August 25, 2011
Last Saturday I finished the last training run of SparkPeople's 5K Your Way run/walk program. And it was the toughest run I've had yet. I didn't have as much caffeine as usual and I was visiting my in-laws so I had my back up shoes and ran on a different treadmill. Ugh, what a horrible combination. The belt wasn't as padded as the one I'm used to and my shoes just sucked. My recalcitrant iPod did not help at all: it kept playing swing from my gym mix when what I really needed was classic rock. Hitting the forward button 1,000 times didn't seem to force home the point. [sigh] My legs and feet hurt during and after the run, and my muscles refused to loosen up regardless of how much I stretched.
Monday was my next scheduled run and I was really nervous. Not only because Saturday's run was so bad but because I wasn't convinced that SP's plan would get me to the point where I can run 3.1 miles without stopping. In fact, I was quite positive that it wouldn't: the last training run was 1 minute walking, 4 minutes running and I simply didn't believe that I could go from that to 45+ minutes straight running.
All day Monday I tried to calm my nerves by telling myself that I am only competing against myself and that no matter what I do it will be a personal record. I'll just start running and see how it goes. The SP plan called for running for 30 minutes straight, which I knew wouldn't be enough to cover the distance, but I decided to stop worrying and start running. Then see what happens.
Simple plans like this one always work best for me, lol. When my workout time rolled around I was feeling good. I had my usual shoes and was at my usual gym. All positive things. My iPod was also very cooperative, which was enormously helpful.
As my warm-up wrapped up, I started to get nervous again. I went back to my mantra: "I'm only competing against myself. And it will be a personal record no matter what I do." I started to run and tried not to stare at the time display. I disciplined myself to check only after each song. My first surge of pride was at the 10-minute mark; going from 4 minutes to 10 minutes straight is a big jump. I told myself to keep going, if at all possible, until 30 minutes. The training plan called for 30 minutes, so running for that long completes the training and earns my reward; I'd already decided on a big reward for finishing the training - a new iPod Nano Touch. I kept running, inching closer and closer to 30 minutes.
But then something magical happened at 30 minutes: I stopped running for time and started running for distance. My calves twinged but only a bit and I wasn't tired yet. The closer I got to 3.1 miles the more I wanted it. I wanted to earn the Nano for doing the whole enchilada, not just finishing the training. And I wanted to run a 5K for the same of doing it; it has been The Big Fitness Goal since I started on this journey a year and a half ago. I wanted the pride of accomplishment for such a major goal. So I kept running.
Great tunes, pride, and the prospect of a huge reward are fantastic but can only keep me going for so long. I silently cheered myself along. But what really kept me going was imaging you, my SparkFriends, cheering me along, too. Every time I was tempted to slow to a walk, I asked myself what my runner friends, LOTUSFLOWER, KITHKINKAID, and YOOVIE would do. The answer was always "keep going!" And I imagined the rest of you as a cheering section at a race. (Yes, I have a very fertile imagination, lol.) That fueled me to 3.1 miles, 48 minutes, when I slowed down and started to cool down.
I would never have attempted to run a 5K, let alone finish one, without SparkPeople. The tools to drop my BMI and get fit are incredible. The running program really works. But it's my SparkFriends that have been the biggest help and inspiration. Thanks, guys!
Because I am a plotter and a planner I am always thinking about what comes next. I've been mulling this over since Monday, and the conclusion that I've drawn is that I'm just going to keep running. I'll do 30 minutes on the treadmill fairly regularly and try to increase my speed, which is admittedly very slow. And I might attempt another 5K in a few weeks. But right now I want to keep my runs fairly unstructured and just revel in the joy of being able to run at all.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
For me being healthy is quite simple: respecting my body so that it gets through the day without difficulty and can handle all the fun stuff I want to do, like hiking, biking, dancing, rafting, climbing, etc. To keep my body adventure ready, I drink 8+ glasses of water a day, sleep for 8 hours a night, exercise regularly (3 cardio and 2 ST sessions a week), and eat a healthy diet with at least 5 freggies a day.
Here's the catch: actually doing this is a lot harder than it seems like it should be. We all know how hectic life gets and how easy it is for the best-laid plans to come off the rails. So another huge component of living a healthy life is not obsessing or being a perfectionist. I'm a recovering anorexic, so this is TOUGH for me. My mantra is something a college Spanish conversation professor always said: "close enough is good enough." Lately I've been forgetting that and royally beating myself up. I need to warrior up and realize that I am not the enemy. Neither is food. Or the scale. Okay, maybe the scale is, lol. There really isn't an enemy here. It's just me, trying to make every day a good one. Good choices, good mental space. Some days will be great, others are just going to have to be good enough.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
This is week 2 of my radically earlier schedule. By "radically earlier" I mean that I now go to bed at the time I used to get home from work. Seriously. I only work 8 hours a day now, instead of 10, and my commute is dramatically better because I get out the door before traffic really starts.
Let me count the ways in which this is awesome:
I get three hours back in my day.
I have a whopping 5 hours at home before I need to go to bed.
I can cook dinner on weeknights. And prep my lunch, breakfast, and snacks the night before. The sum total is that I'm eating a bit better but doing much better at staying in my calorie range because I plan and prep better.
DH and I eat more meals at the table.
I'm better rested. (I can sneak in a nap right when I get home, if I need it.)
The house is cleaner and better organized because I can keep up with things during the week.
My cats are happier because I'm home more.
DH seems to like having me around more, too.
I'm doing a better job of getting my workouts in. If I can't get to the gym at work, I have time and daylight at home.
I have more time for fun on the weekends because I'm taking care of little things during the week.
It's easier to keep up with my SP goals across the board and I think I'm making more and faster headway than I had been.
My commitment and motivation are way up.
Yeah, total win across the board. I think this schedule change is just the boost I needed to get back on track and back in the game. Look out 160s, I'm coming for you!
Sunday, August 07, 2011
The first three weeks of July went great. That third week I was on vacation in the Southwest and did a great job of sticking to my plan. But when we got home the wheels came off. There's no good reason, only excuses. And as my dad, a middle school basketball coach, likes to tell his kids "excuses are like a$$holes: we all have one and they all stink."
The good news about July is that I only gained a pound and a half, which is a minor miracle considering how I ate and how rarely I worked out. So I'll take it. I did have three major non-scale victories, though: I significantly increased my cardiovascular intensity, my hamstring and back flexibility have markedly improved, and the entire office was talking about how much weight I've lost.
Once again I find myself saying that this month will be different - and this time I mean it. Yup, we've heard it many times before. So I have to prove - as much to myself as y'all - that this time I mean it. Therefore it is time for a radical reboot.
Let's start with my schedule. I started my new job last Monday and my work tour is COMPLETELY different. I used to work from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Now I'm working 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and in a different building. (This building is on a human scale, unlike the old one. I already vastly prefer it.) I still get my three hours of gym time on the clock a week and the gym is still so close to my office that there's no excuse for not going. I also like this new schedule better despite the ridiculously early hours. I get home around 3:30 or 3:45 instead of 8:30 or 9, giving me plenty of time to do stuff around the house, make dinner, and/or work out if I haven't already.
The next thing I did was revamp my back to basics bootcamp. It now includes the following:
Measure my food.
Eat 5 freggies a day.
Track my nutrition.
Meet my daily calorie goal.
Do 3 cardio sessions a week.
Do 2 ST sessions a week.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
Sleep at least 8 hours a night.
Morning skincare routine. (Gotta de-gremlin a bit. I've been slacking on skin- and haircare.)
Evening skincare routine.
These are very doable goals and I've done pretty good against them, although not perfectly, this first week of August. But it's about progress, not perfection, and I've shown good progress. So I'm letting myself off the hook for the rest. Improvement is sufficient for now.
The rest of my monthly goals are staying about the same. There are only three changes from my usual:
Stick to my Back to Basics Bootcamp at least 5 days a week. (Oopsie, didn't quite make that this week. I went over my calories and/or didn't get enough freggies 3 days this week. But I can keep trying for the other weeks in August. And the effort keeps me honest.)
Finish C25K. I have two runs for week 7 and all three runs for week 8 left. 5 runs in 3 weeks is eminently doable, but it'll mean getting to the gym promptly so I can use my time on the clock to run on the treadmill; it's too hot and humid to run outside in August in DC.
Lastly, but most importantly, don't let my weekends away derail me. DH and I are going to Ohio next weekend to visit my family and then Williamsburg, Virginia, the following weekend to visit his family. I need to stick to my plan as much as possible while we're there and not let myself slide when we get home. This is going to be the hardest part all month. Please join my teeny cheerleader in urging me on and keeping me on the straight and narrow!
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Two weeks ago DH and I got home from an amazing trip to the Southwest, including Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, Montezuma's Palace, and Sedona. We've been positively swamped since we got home, so this is the first chance I've gotten to post a photoblog; I also updated my SparkPage with some of the photos we took.
We started the trip with Las Vegas; DH attended a convention for work and they put him up in the hotel where the conference was held: the Venetian. This hotel defines opulent.
The highlight of our stay was a gondola ride followed by (shockingly healthy) sorbet for me and gelato for DH.
The left case is all fruit-flavored sorbets weighing in at only 80 calories for a small. I opted for the limoncello, which was both authentic and lovely.
That night we ate at a little trattoria in the hotel, then saw Cirque du Soleil's Criss Angel Believe (which I don't recommend, btw.) But the evening redeemed itself by a walk down the strip.
We stopped by Ethel M's on the way out of town for gourmet chocolates and a stroll through their cactus garden.
Our next stop was the Hoover Dam. Both DH and I are infrastructure, history, and engineering nerds - though not in equal measures, lol - so we were blown away. Images can't do justice to the scale of the project, especially when you consider that only 7 men died building it in the 1930s - and it came in under budget and well in advance of the deadline. Made us both wish the government still functioned like that...
The next day we went to the Grand Canyon and took waaaaay too many pictures. It was hot but not obscenely so, and I was well-prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and UPF clothes. The park was busy but the Park Service does a great job of managing visitors so we never felt crowded or overwhelmed. We hiked along the rim for a bit, then drove to other scenic stops along park's main road.
We stopped at Sunset Crater Park on our way to Sedona, where we stayed for two nights. Sunset Crater was formed by a volcanic eruption and remains otherwordly to this day.
Sedona is justly famous for the scenery of its red rocks.
We started our time in Sedona with the swankiest brunch I have ever experienced: a five star hotel right on the banks of a creek. The food was amazing, but so was the scenery and the company.
We visited Montezuma's Castle, which are ruins of cliff dwellings that had nothing to do with the Aztecs, and bummed around town before heading to Phoenix for our flight home the next day.
The trip was fantastic. We saw so much! We did some loafing but were mostly active. I refused to log anything, figuring that doing a ton of hiking in the heat and eating mostly like this:
and rarely like this:
would be good enough. Turns out I was right: I held exactly even in weight. And my sun precautions worked perfectly: I got a bit of a tan but never burned. It really was a perfect vacation.
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