Friday, November 19, 2010
A weekend plan of attack for my weekend in Michigan? Free.
Accountability buddies to keep me on track? Free.
An actual weight loss over a weekend away and 15 lbs. gone by the New Year? PRICELESS.
A week ago I was seeing fellow Sunny Gals and their great plans to lose weight by the New Year. They each had an accountability partner and a goal gift. Some had jewelry, others tattoos. A light bulb turned on in my head, and I thought - I want that. I want an accountability partner. Lately with my back injury and the colder weather I felt laziness oozing over my body and I wanted to rebel and shout, NO!
So I asked my Sunny Gals, the best team EVER, who else didn't have an accountability partner that wanted one. Tabi (TABIKATZZ) stepped up to the plate. She is an amazing woman, and just recently set up home in her new residence ONEderland, a place I want to move to come the New Year. I knew she would inspire me. Also, we both love books. I'd say it was a perfect joining together for a great accountability team!
We came up with the goal of losing 15 lbs. by January 1st. We knew that for both of us this would be a stretch, but what's a goal if it's easily attained? That's just the future. This needed to be a goal we both worked hard to achieve. My goal would put me into Onederland, and her goal would bring her that much closer to her goal weight.
We each bought a book we really wanted and wrapped it up as a visual reminder. We can only open this gift once we lose the 15 lbs. The book she chose was "Eat, Pray, Love" and the book I chose was a parallel version of the Bible that has comparisons of four major translations, all on the page next to each other. This would prove invaluable in my bible study, and I thought would be a perfect book because I want to start using it NOW.
I'm really excited about this, and I also found out that my good friend Jenn (KITHKINCAID), also wants to lose about the same amount of weight before her trip to Germany. So now I have not one, but two accountability partners!! I am set, and together we will all reach our goals.
Now onto my plan of attack for the weekend. I'm going to Michigan with my entire family and that means fattening foods galore. I'm talking eggs cooked in bacon grease, crackers everywhere and eaten all day long, popcorn, pizza, and wine just to name a few things. I don't want to see a gain from this weekend, or even maintain. I want to see a LOSS on that scale, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner.
So, here's what I'm going to do.
I've already packed my workout bag with my running shoes, HRM and thermal wicking t shirt. I have my hat, gloves and a plan to run the Kal-Haven trail and bring along as many of my family members as I can round up.
I am bringing a Leslie Sansone mini miles DVD to do in the morning or at night, and get my dad and sister to do it, too.
I'm bringing resistance bands.
I'm packing healthy cereal to eat at breakfast, bringing healthy snacks like grapes, carrots, unsalted sunflower seeds and granola.
I am going to stop on my way home and purchase a cute water bottle. I'm a sucker for beverage containers, especially cute ones, and my old water bottle somehow lost its straw. So I'm going to buy a cute water bottle and fill it OFTEN. This will keep me away from the wine and soft drinks.
I'm only going to allow myself ONE glass of wine per day.
I am not going to eat ANY crackers, chips, or cheese. One just leads to another.
I will bring my vitamins and eat them.
NO fast food. Period. If I am forced to go through a drive-through I will order a salad with healthy dressing or a grilled chicken sandwich. But I am making my dinner tonight so that I can eat while driving and not stop through a drive-through.
That is all.
I will also post a blog report on Monday on how I did, AND weigh myself Monday morning as an added kick-in the butt.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This week our WIN challenge calls for a blog about sodium. It was a goal to track our sodium this week and also share our thoughts.
I’ve stayed within my range all week. Here are my numbers from the past 5 days. The range is to have less than 2,300 mgs:
2,126 (This is high because I added SALT to my popcorn)
I’ve actually stayed within my range since really revamping my diet. A few months ago I started the Flat Belly Diet (FBD), but with viewing it as more of an eating “plan” and not a “diet”. I agree with those that think the word “diet” is truly a 4-letter word.
I used to always go over my sodium limit and my Spark tracker would show me this. I would Google tips on how to reduce my sodium, how to get it under control, but I always failed. I thought it was impossible.
Well once I started the FBD my sodium naturally went down to an acceptable level. I learned that the FBD is really just a way of eating more “clean” and avoiding all of those processed foods I ate before. I have since learned that the FBD is a good introduction to eating clean in general and a great starting point for beginners, like me, who relied on frozen Lean Cuisine meals to get me through lunch, or snacked on the “low-fat” Pringles, thinking I was doing a healthy thing. With this new way of eating, I was eating way more fruits and vegetables and hardly any processed foods. So I think if you do just ONE thing, it's to stop eating processed foods.
I was counting calories, sure, but the weight was barely coming off. Once I got my sodium under control I lost inches in my waistline and the scale finally started moving.
Sodium is one of those things that we need – but in moderation. So it’s tricky. Did you know that just one teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams of sodium?? That’s more than the daily required allowance. A pinch here and a pinch there really can add up. And it's not just added table salt that is the enemy here. Many processed and prepared foods contain LOTS of sodium.
According to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Dietary Department, on average, Americans digest more than three pounds of sodium annually, mostly through salt. (Salt and sodium are not the same. Salt is made up of both sodium and chloride.) Foods we eat may contain low traces of salt but still contain sodium.
Sodium does have its good points. Sodium:
Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body
Helps transmit nerve impulses
Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles
Controls blood pressure.
Keeps a level of positive and negative charged particles in fluids and tissues.
Keeps calcium and other minerals dissolvable in the blood stream and sodium aids against sunstroke.
Our bodies only need so much. According to The Vitamins and Nutrition Center Web site we only need 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, or a single teaspoon of table salt. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Dietary Department states that the human body only NEEDS 500 milligrams of sodium each day. However, the body can safely handle as much as 3,300 milligrams daily.
So what if you have too much? Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure or swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs. An overabundance of sodium also can cause osteoporosis because sodium enhances calcium loss. Too little sodium can lead to dehydration.
When we use less sodium and salt our liking for salty foods decreases over time. To cut down on sodium we can:
Read labels to find food with less sodium.
Taste foods before adding salt and then add less salt during cooking and at the table.
Use spices for flavoring instead of salt.
Use garlic or onion powder instead flavored salts like garlic salt or onion salt.
Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods.
Opt for low-sodium products. If you do buy processed foods, choose those that are labeled "low sodium."
Remove salt from recipes whenever possible.
Use herbs, spices and other flavorings to enhance foods.
Stay away from condiments. One tablespoon (15 milliliters) of soy sauce, for example, has about 1,000 mg of sodium.
So how much do YOU need?
According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
Don't exceed 2,300 mg of sodium a day if you're a healthy adult.
Don't exceed 1,500 mg of sodium a day if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes; you are black; or you're middle-aged or older.
Taste alone may not tell you which foods are high in sodium. For example, you may not think a bagel tastes salty, but a typical 4-inch oat-bran bagel has about 532 mg of sodium.
The bottom line? Avoid products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
Your taste for salt is acquired, so you can learn to enjoy less. Decrease your use of salt gradually and your taste buds will adjust. After a few weeks of cutting back on salt, you probably won't miss it.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Today I got a call from a friend of mine. After talking a few minutes she laughed and said “So, I see from your status on Facebook that you are a runner now?”
She knows me well, and knows my story. My weight loss, and also that I've run 4 5ks. So I thought it was odd she was saying something like that, but I knew she was kidding – mostly.
So I said “Yeah?” And she pushed the issue. So I said “Well, I am a runner.” But I didn't sound as firm as I would have liked. I kind of said it softly. Then I followed that up with “I think anyone that runs 1-3 times a week is a runner.” and she laughed, as if that didn't define a runner to “her”, but OK, she was going to let it go at that.
Now, like I said...I'm pretty sure she was kidding. She's a joking kind of person.
It kind of pissed me off.
Now I know there are different “levels” of runners. There are marathoners, of which I have some friends who run marathons. They rock. There are people that run 10Ks, 8Ks, 5Ks, 3Ks and those that run just for fun. Those that run to get in shape, keep in shape, or just because they like the feel of the pavement under their feet.
All of these “types” of runners has got me a little dizzy. How about you? WHY does there have to be a “class” or “type” or “intensity” of runner anyway? Why do I feel like because I "only" run 5ks that I'm not an “official” runner???? What is wrong with this picture?
I told my friend that if you run 1 – 3 times a week you are a runner, but the truth of it is, you are a runner if you RUN. If you just RUN out the door and take a run down the block, you are a runner at that point in time.
I am also a writer, and this sort of “defining what sort of runner I am” reminds me all too much of a writer who is unpublished. Oh, the unpublished writer is always having to justify him or herself at parties or gatherings. The conversation goes something like this:
“What do you do?”
“I'm a writer.”
“Oh, really? Where have you been published?”
Now, funny enough, and yes, this is usually the question at the top of the list, sometimes they may ask “what do you write” before the “are you published” bit, but they always ask if you are publlished, funny enough, most people that ask this are NOT writers themselves. Actually writers hardly EVER ask this question of another writer because it is RUDE.
Yes, I am a published writer. But even if I weren't, I AM a writer. I write. That is the definition of a writer.
Same with a runner. Do you run? Then you are a runner!
There is no magic certificate that you get to officially pronounce to the world that you are a runner. Yes, there are medals. I know there are medals. Yes, some people get them. And some don't. Just because you don't receive a medal does NOT mean you are not a runner.
Back to that conversation above. After a while, writers will usually not tell other people they are writers. Or they sort of whisper it. They certainly don't go about shouting it.
Same with my “running” status. I am allowed to post a quote onto my Facebook page with a running quote. There isn't any sort of law against it. I can associate myself with runners. And the quote I wrote is very appropriate to my little rant in this blog here.
The quote that I shared on my Facebook page was this:
"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." -Author Unknown
So that means it doesn't matter how many people have gone before you. How many others have crossed that finish line. What matters is that YOU cross it. That I cross it, at some point.
There is nothing stopping me from sharing an inspirational quote. Now if it makes you feel weird because you aren't a runner, skip it. Don't comment on it and pass it by. It doesn't care. I don't care. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad.
Because I have runners as FB friends, close friends of mine, and I know they will appreciate it. And I'm not going to edit myself for anyone.
Funny thing about that comment from my friend, which I'm sure I am making WAY BIGGER of a deal than it is. I know I am. BUT. It made me feel a certain way. Like I didn't have a right to quote something about being a runner.
The funny thing about that is, like I said earlier...it pissed me off. Well, the funny thing about being pissed off is...it makes you do things. Sometimes crazy things.
I drove my daughter to her dance class at 10 a.m. this morning. It was pouring rain. After running her into the building, I had my book and was sitting along the wall, along with all the other parents, and bored off my butt. A little nagging voice inside my head was replaying that conversation over and over. And I kept thinking that you are what you do. So..I threw down my book, went out to my car and got my gym bag out of the trunk. I brought it inside and changed into my running clothes and shoes. I slapped on my HRM. I got my iPod set. I put my gym bag in the locker at the park district where Lucy's class was being held, and I pushed “play”. “Rock your body” remix came on. It was so appropriate. I was pissed off and needed to move.
I walked out of that ladies room like Wonder Woman. I strutted down the hallway, everyone looking at me. I meant business. Bondi band? Check. Thermal long-sleeve shirt? Check. Gloves? Check. I reminded myself of the Frog brothers from the Lost Boys. I was Corey Feldman, except his red ninja head band was replaced by a Bondi band embellished with flowers. I was ready to go. I was fierce. (Did I ever tell you than an alter ego comes out when I run? It was in full force!)
I slammed open the door and let the rain in. And I started to run.
I am a planner and if I do run outside (and I don't normally, see my prior blog "Love poem to my indoor track") I map out my route before I go, but not this time. I felt half crazy, running in the rain and not really having a destination. I ran down a path, but it stopped short. I ran through a park. I ran on the grass. I ran up and down some blocks and you know what? I felt great. I felt like a RUNNER. You know why? Because I AM a runner. Who else would be crazy enough to do this? I burned off steam and about 200 calories. I only ran a mile because by that time I had to get back to pick Lucy back up. I walked back in the building and everyone along the wall stared at me again.
Yes, I'm red, my throat is burning, but I am alive and I ran while you all just sat there. Not that there's anything wrong with that :) I'm just sayin'.
But I ran.
Let's say it all together. Feel free to say it with me and scream it at your computer monitor.
I AM A RUNNER!!!!
And I will scream it to the world.
I AM A RUNNER!!!
And don't let ANYONE tell you that you aren't.
Now watch me go.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
~ Will Rogers
"Someday you will run so fast and so far your heart will feel like FIRE...."
~ from the book "Someday" by Alison McGhee
A picture of my track, my love.
Due to financial reasons, last week I considered dropping my gym membership. Lately all I've been utilizing is the indoor track, not the classes, not the pool. Just the track. I wondered, is it worth it? Can't I just run outside? Yes. I can. But WILL I run outside? I'm not sure. Yes, maybe...sometimes...but a little voice inside my head says perhaps I'll forget it. When it's cold out I might just stay under the covers...
Don't get me wrong, I admire all of you who do run outside. You are super heroes to me! I do want to run outside some time during the winter, but to keep my schedule of running 2-3x a week I KNOW me, and I will not get out in the cold snow that often to run. Once a week? Maybe. Once every two weeks or once a month? More likely. For me.
And the thing is, if that what will help me, I deserve an indoor track if that's what I need to reach my goals, to continue running in the winter, to get healthy. I will just have to cut from other areas of my life. I'm already downgrading our cable and looking for another cell phone provider. I already bring my lunches to work and that's how I justified this gym membership in the first place.
So I'm keeping it!! I'm happy now. I already missed my track in the week I've been away due to my back. My track may not be 100% necessary, but it's my comfort blanket right now. I love it and I'm not ready to let go. Not yet. I wasn't looking forward to figuring out how to run outside in the winter. Although I AM going to start running outside, I won't do it all the time now that I have my safe, cozy indoor track that I LOVE.
Here's a poem to you, trusty and warm indoor track.
My feet hit the black track
It always pulls me back
It there when I need it,
quickie at lunch
late evening after the kids are asleep.
It's there when I want it,
It never lets me down.
Its there for every stride
It holds me up
helps mold me
Its my track
I hope I never lose it
It's my track...
and I deserve it.
NOW my goal is to get up early twice a week and get my butt to the gym to get those runs in. On the weekend I can sleep in - a little. And I may just take a class or two...
Monday, November 08, 2010
"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." -Author Unknown
As some of you may know, about a week ago I woke up on a Friday morning and my lower back was hurting so badly that I couldn’t even sit in my desk at work and had to call in sick. It hurt to move, let alone walk or run. The first thought to cross my mind was “What about the Hot Chocolate??” I was devastated and couldn’t see me running a 5k anytime soon.
I went to a chiropractor that came highly recommended and she took tests and x-rays and to make a long story short I need to see her a lot over the next 6 weeks. She gave me an adjustment and told me that I would be OK to run if I felt ok, that I should stop the moment I was in any pain.
So I knew it was all in God’s hands, and that I would do my best. I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I had to walk any of it, but I would be let down and disappointed. I started to view the race as not a “timed race or event”, but just as a nice run along the lakefront. Seeing it this way in my head made it seem like it was a short distance and something that was more casual than a “race”. 3.1 miles? No prob!
The day started out cold, I had my newly purchased “Will Run For Chocolate” hat on, winter gloves, and a wind resistant jacket. I had spent the night in the city at my sister Kara’s house so that we would be ready for the 5 a.m. wake up call, and to get on a Metra at that time of morning would just be brutal and insane.
She was so sweet and even laid out my cereal for me that morning, with a banana on the side – my race day breakfast of choice. I felt loved and nurtured and later she told me it was to get me to hurry (I tend to be a slow riser), but it still was such a sweet gesture.
We got on the Blue Line and I am used to the suburbs, so to see at least 50 people at the stop – all in brown Hot Chocolate hoodies was just amazing! Then once on the El it was packed with…you guessed it…hoodies! The race had 30,000 participants, so I guess it makes sense. It was just surreal to be getting on the train in the dark with all of these other people, all going to the same place. But it made me feel like a part of something, and also made me feel like an athlete – it was pretty cool.
Me (right) with my sister Kara
We met up with fellow Sparkers Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick. I missed Mel (MELMEI), I must have passed her on the street. I also met Shelley (FARLEY_GIRL) and another Sparker, I don’t remember her name right now (I'm terrible w/ names)…I had to leave the group to meet up with my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) because I had safety pins for her, but we stopped to check our gear first. It was already past 7:30 and the race started at 7:40. The gear check lines were LONG. We ended up check all of our gear (mine, Kara and Jan’s) together under my number because for some reason the line was MUCH shorter, we’re talking 3 people vs. 40. By the time we got to the race corral it was so packed we had to wait outside of the corral and wait for the line to move up and then we all herded in. It was 10 minutes past the official start time of 7:40.
Official picture from RAM Racing to give you an idea of how dark it was.
Official start picture from RAM Racing.
And we’re off! I started off slow and easy and kept that pace most of the run. I saw my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) a few minutes after we started running , which was great because she is the one who inspired me to run a 5k, and we usually run together, and I wasn’t able to find her before the race to give her the safety pins, and it made me sad. I saw someone that looked like her pass me, and I looked at Kara and said “I think that’s Kris” and it was! So I ran up to her and we ran for a bit together, but her pace is naturally faster than mine so I told her to go ahead.
I did speed up to go around walkers at times. I didn’t mind the walkers at all, but I do think they need to have a later starting time. There were so many of them that they weren’t all off to the right, many were on the left and at times the path was narrow and it was difficult to pass. They had entertainment on the route, there were cheerleaders and I thought that was pretty awesome.
I kept running, stopping for some water at the break station, and because this is where the main traffic jam happened. I had to stop for a second anyway, so I might as well grab some water. Then I kept running.
As I turned the corner, looking onto the lake front the sun was rising and it was just gorgeous. The song from Bedoin Soundclash “Mountain Top” came on my iPod and it was so appropriate. I felt kind of like I had climbed a mountain during this journey of mine from a couch potato to a runner. I felt a calmness wash over and a voice inside of my head said “Don’t forget this. Don’t ever forget this.” It’s not every day that I get to run along the lake front. The sun was shining and it was just a gorgeous Chicago day.
At this point traffic along the path slowed down to a halt. Almost everyone in front of me was walking, and the other runners took to the slope of grass that was above the path so that they could run. I followed suit, but then soon regretted my decision when I saw we’d have to jump down in order to get on the next stretch of slope. Jumping was not in my plan of keeping my back and knee healthy. So I remained on the path along the lake and it slowed me down, but I kept running.
My sister Kara and her boyfriend Jan pretty much ran by my side, sometimes I would lose them but they would catch up and we crossed the finish line together. I had never ran a race with my sister Kara, so this was very cool to me, an experience I will cherish forever. As I neared the finish line a song that I wasn’t aware I put on my workout playlist came on. It is a Christian song called “Unrestrained” and it was just perfect to have that be the song as I neared the finish line. The song is from a compilation album called "Pure Worship" and it starts off with "Lord, I worship you, most Holy Lord, you have my attention." - I certainly did have His attention as I didn't know this song was on my workout playlist. It is about honoring God in every way, and pouring our love on him and my whole life belonging to Him. Even in my running, I am worshiping God, and as the song here, giving him my heart unrestrained. I couldn’t have done any of this without God. It was really a wonderful moment. I keep my Christian music separate from my workout music, and it was just a happy “accident” to have that song come on!
Overall I finished in 41 minutes and 38 seconds. This was my slowest 5k time to date, but you know what? This was the best race experience I’ve had so far. My back injury forced me to relax about the race and also to just enjoy the scenery. I wasn’t nervous like I normally am. I think I learned a lot from this experience, most of all to just enjoy the race! That could be applied to life, too. Sometimes I tend to be a worrier and instead of enjoying the moment I worry it to death. From now on I am going to try and take things one day at a time.
I also finished 43rd out of the 100 entrants in my age class. So I was in the top half, not too shabby for someone who a year ago would never have thought of running a 5k.
After the race with my sister Kara
After the race with my two sisters - Kris (STEMMEFATALE) on my left and Kara on my right.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) after the race
Then it was onto the hot chocolate and fondu! The fondu was a very nice set up. The elements were all in a dish and then fresh, hot chocolate was scooped into your tray and you were ready to dip!
After that I said goodbye to my sisters and headed off with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick for a photo shoot at Buckingham Fountain. My camera was acting up, so only one of those came out, but Jenn took several great shots, one of us posing as Charlies' Angels, it was hilarious!
Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)
Patrick, Me, Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and my Family
Then we walked about a mile to go to brunch at Yolk, a restaurant I had been dying to go to since I saw it on Check, Please. It was worth the 45 minute wait (where we all stretched out as we waited).
I ordered the Eggs Benedict and ate half of it. It lived up to its name of the best in the city! The coffee was also excellent.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID)
Jen (JENJESS48) with Patrick. They walked their first 5k, I'm so proud of them!
Then it was off to catch my train.
I had a great time and it was so much fun to meet fellow Sparkers!! It’s a day I won’t forget soon. I am so very proud of Jenn (KITHKINCAID), who ran her first 5k and to know that I inspired her to do so. To have a friend that inspired me to try a new dance, Zumba, and to have inspired her back is just amazing. Kind of like a fitness "pay it forward". There isn't any gift greater than that. And to run the race with her was an experience that is just priceless.
If you think you can't do it, YOU CAN. Just put one foot in front of the other.
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