Sunday, August 09, 2009
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"
I signed up with SparkPeople on 26 January 2009, but I consider my real start to be 2 February, which is the day I reset my ID, published my goals, and got to work. It has been fruitful six month, full of accomplishments, surprises, and discoveries.
I never had any doubt that I would meet my weight loss goals. When I set a goal for myself, I'm fairly single minded about pursuing it (my husband would say obsessive, but he's not writing this blog). I knew that I would do what it took for as long as it took. No, my concern was for what would happen after I met my goals. The traits that make me good at reaching goals don't always lend themselves to the longer term. By this I mean that I am prone to throw myself into things at a rate and pace that is not sustainable for the long haul.
I knew the challenge would not be with my diet. About 6 years ago, I learned that I was extremely salt sensitive and as a result, I had already eliminated all processed foods and fast foods from my meals and started cooking everything myself. I enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables and my diet was already fairly healthy. I was just eating too much. I also had a bad habit of skipping meals (because I would get caught up in projects and lose track of the time). Both of those problems were fairly easy to solve with the Nutrition Tracker. In fact, I became very good (too good) at cutting my calories, and I ate fairly consistently at the low end of my calorie range.
No, I knew that my long term challenge would be to find a sustainable physical activity. I had been successful on this front in the past. Most recently, I was a regular walker, having found a walking buddy at work in a good friend of mine. I also went faithfully to a local yoga studio, which I enjoyed very much. But, unfortunately, my teacher moved her studio across town, too far away to fit into my day. Then my friend retired and I started working from home and eventually retired myself. And even though I had a treadmill right outside my work room and my own yoga mats and props, I found that I did not continue with my exercise once I was spending all my time alone at home.
In the short term, after joining SparkPeople, I was on the treadmill every day, upping the intensity and duration every week. I soon discovered that I needed to increase my calories when I increased my exercise minutes to avoid plateaus, but for the most part, I made fairly steady progress. However, I knew that once I reached my target, I was unlikely to use the treadmill every day. I need to find the key.
I started looking for goals that were health oriented rather than scale oriented and that were either open ended or longer term. I got very interested in the nutritional profile of my diet, and set an ongoing goal of meeting all my macro and micro nutritional requirements through the food I was eating without having to take supplements to make up deficiencies (this is really only possible if you aren't cutting calories a lot). I set a goal to reduce my resting heart rate to below 60 bpm. I also set body composition targets and added goals to run races at increasing distances over the next year, starting with a 5K in the spring.
And then I ran my first 5K. I have already blogged about that race and about how it was like a switch flipped in my head. I discovered that I loved to run outside and that I loved to run in a group. All of sudden, running ceased to be exercise and became a passion. I enjoy both the solitary and communal sides of running and can't imagine not having it in my life. I signed up with a training group and haven't looked back. I'm currently training for the Austin Marathon on 14 February 2010, which is the day after my 60th birthday. All my friends are invited to party with me at the finish line.
So here I am, a work in progress. No one will ever confuse me for a Joan Benoit or a (female) Lance Armstrong. But every day I'm a slightly stronger, slightly faster, slightly better ME.
Friday, August 07, 2009
An addendum to my story yesterday about my recent measurements and my trainer's reaction to them:
When my husband got home from work last night, we went to the neighborhood pool to swim (him) and aqua jog (me). As we walked the two blocks, I told him the story about my measurements and about my trainer's asking if he had noticed that I was "getting ripped." He responded, "Well, I really noticed it when I took those pictures of you at your mother's," (This trip was at the end of May). I laughed and said, "I hadn't started working out yet when we made that trip." "Yes, I know, but I thought you looked very good then."
LOL, Do I know my sweetie or do I know my sweetie?
In all fairness to him, most of the more dramatic visual changes did happen with the first 20 pounds lost. These last 6 pounds (and the reason I added the strength training) are all about my health and athletic goals. I want to get rid of as much inter abdominal (less visible) fat as I can because I am convinced that is necessary for me to reach my goal of managing my blood pressure without medication. And I want to get stronger so that I can run long distances without injuring myself. Except for these two considerations, I was pretty happy with 135 and also thought I looked pretty good then. But looks are only part of my equation.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Today was measurement day for me at the gym. Once a month, my trainer gets out his calipers and tape and we see how I've progressed.
He started taking measurements, and after a couple he said, "this is going to be good!" Then a couple of awesome's escaped (he's 22). He was getting more and more animated. When he finished, he did his calculations and showed me the sheet. In the two months since I added strength training, I've lost 6 pounds. But those 6 pounds break out as 8.149 pounds of fat lost and 2.149 of muscle gained. I've also lost 1.5 inches from both my waist and my hips and reduced by body fat percentage by almost 5%. "That's really great progress," he said, "I rarely see that much muscle gain with that much fat loss." I should add that when I started this training, I increased my calories to maintenance level and my protein intake from 15% to 20% of calories eaten. So this fat has been lost without cutting calories. I probably would not have gained as much muscle if I hadn't increased my calories. So I was feeling pretty good.
We went upstairs to start my session. He was still pretty jazzed. "Look at those biceps," he said as I did my rows. "Your quads are started to get cut," he said as I did my leg extensions. "Is that good," I asked sweetly (I probably shouldn't pull his leg). "Oh yes," he said, "That means you're getting muscle definition," as he showed me his quads. Hmmm, not bad. (In case you are wondering, his quads looked slightly better than mine.)
"Has your husband said anything about how ripped you're getting?" he asked as I did my back extensions. "Well, no." "Really?" he seemed disappointed. "You've got to remember," I said, "that we've been married 35 years and he's a smart man. He told me I looked good before I started working out." He only seemed slightly mollified. "Well, he said, when you go on vacation, I'll bet he notices then."
He's a really sweet kid and I like working with him. And, now that I think of it, he's also a bit of hunk in a triathlete sort of way. But I was feeling a bit protective of him, so I didn't give him KATMOMMA's phone number.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I've had some interesting experiences this weekend with different Galloway pace groups that have really set me to thinking.
Yesterday, as I am previously mentioned, was the final run of my Galloway Getting Started Running group. (We ran 5 miles.) We had a choice of three pace groups -- 3/1, 2/1, 1.5/1. I ran in the 3/1 group (run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute). We all started at, basically, the same time. Now, "common sense" tells you that the 3/1 group would get to the finish line first. But that is not, in fact, what happened. Both the 3/1/ and the 2/1 group got to the finish at the same time. And the 1.5/1 group showed up very soon after we did. How can this be? We were running a lot more than they were. Well, obviously, we weren't running as fast when we ran as they were. Which is a good illustration of two things that Galloway says repeatedly. First, that walk breaks don't slow you down all that much, and second, that inserting frequent walk breaks before you need them allows you to run faster during the run segments. I'm been turning this over in my mind since yesterday and have come to an interesting conclusion -- the runners in the 2/1 and 1.5/1 pace groups were actually adapting their legs and stride to faster running than we were in the 3/1 group. Hmmmm.
I don't normally run two days in a row. But today was the first run of my Galloway Marathon training group. It was only a 3 mile run, which would make a combined 8 miles for the weekend. I have done 9 and 10 mile long runs recently, so I figured I would be ok. But I decided to be conservative and run with the 1/1/ pace group today. In addition to my husband, the pace leader and me, there were only two other runners in this group. These two runners were either new runners or runners who hadn't run recently. They were both having a lot of trouble, so we ran slowly. At the end of the 3 miles, both my husband and I felt like we had just had a good warm up run, so we decided to go around the loop again. We kept the 1/1 interval.
Now, it has been very hot in Austin this summer. Both yesterday and today it was 80 degrees when we started, with a dew point in the 70's. All of us in the 3/1 pace group yesterday really felt the heat and humidity, including the pace leader who is a very experienced runner with 50 or 60 marathons under his belt (including Boston). We slowed down the last mile or so and were definitely ready to stop after the 5 miles. Today, around mile 5, I commented to my husband that it felt cooler today. When we got to the end of the run (6.5 miles), my legs still felt fresh and capable of going on and my heart rate was at the low end of my training zone. Unlike yesterday's 5 mile run, today's 6.5 mile was really enjoyable. When I downloaded the run info from my Garmin, I saw that, unlike yesterday, we actually picked up speed as we ran the last 2 miles.
I checked the temperature when the run was over and it was definitely NOT cooler. So, if the outside temp was the same, the only explanation I can come up with is that my own core temp must have been lower. And the best explanation for that is that I ran 3/1 yesterday and 1/1 today. And the fact that we picked up speed at the end suggests that today's run was a better endurance "training" run than yesterday's, even though that "common sense" makes us think that we are doing better if we run the longer run intervals. The latter might be true in a race, but long runs aren't races. I'm going to try to remember that as I choose my pace group on future runs.
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