Saturday, February 13, 2010
Well...here we go! It was about a month ago that I saw that flash of orange in the Detroit airport, purchased The Spark, and began my own personal 28-Day Jump Start program. And now it's 28 days later, and my Jump Start is officially at the end. It's been quite a ride, with some stunning successes, and also plenty of potential for improvement. I have learned a lot about myself, my journey, my hopes, dreams, and goals, and I'm grateful to have had the experience.
Beginning with my successes. I have been very successful with my fitness routine, particularly my goal of integrating consistent strength and flexibility exercises into my busy schedule. I initiated this effort with a fast break goal of doing 10 minutes of strength/stretching each day, and I'm happy to say that I'm on day 28 of a Spark Streak in this department! I have mixed up my training between "old school" exercises like squats and lunges, weight lifting, core work on the balance ball, Pilates, and yoga, and have found it to be much easier to work it into my schedule now that it's a habit of sorts. It's so simple to do some stretches for ten minutes while dinner cooks or throw on a quick Pilates video when I'd normally be goofing off on the computer!
My running has been going...incredibly well, even better than I could expect at this point in my journey. I have my sights set on the Shamrock Shuffle 10K next month, and I have no doubt that I'll be prepared to finish the race. I've completed the 10K distance a few times now, both on a treadmill and outdoors, and although I'm not the fastest girl on the block, I can get the job done with a smile on my face! Between my strength training and continued practice, I'm feeling my endurance and strength increase week by week, and I'm proud that I've come from barely being able to run 100 yards to being able to cover a distance longer than six miles without any major hassles! I've been stuck inside on the treadmill most of the winter, but last weekend decided I had HAD it and ventured outside in sunny twenty-degree weather to run. BEST decision of the week! It was glorious and it was amazingly therapeutic and energizing to take in some fresh air! I felt like I was on top of the world for hours after that run. I'm looking forward to another one tomorrow.
Additionally, another thing that I've started to think about and a goal for the coming month is to mix up my cardio training with some interesting cross training options. Honestly, with cross training I was almost at a dead loss as to what to do. Walking on the treadmill is OK-ish but doesn't really feel like "mixing it up" and honestly puts me in the path of temptation to break into a run, thereby defeating the purpose of cross training. The elliptical is challenging but hardly engaging...honestly it bores me almost to tears! The group fitness classes just arenít my bag, and the ones that might interest me are at times that I canít typically make. So...that left me shrugging my shoulders and resigning myself to the fact that maybe Iím just destined to be bored by cross training? Then one of my friends, an avid runner, announced that she wants to train for a triathlon because she was interested in mixing things up and challenging herself in new ways. (Kinda reminds me of the reason I started running...) And a light bulb went off. In high school I was a good swimmer...and loved it. Iíve also done plenty of biking in my day, and remember it being quite a workout, especially on hilly terrain. Hmmmm...a tri might be an interesting project to put on my radar. Not immediately though...the bike I owned in college met a tragic end and I currently donít have a bike (possibly a crime in the city of Madison), but still...the gym has a pool. And the gym has bikes. Indoor ďvirtualĒ triathlon-like training could be the answer to my cross-training boredom. I initiated this effort by trying the Expresso bike last night. It has a screen on it which displays a virtual ďcourseĒ almost like an arcade game and you can ďraceĒ with a pace biker (great for competitive souls!) and I had a blast trying out a sunset ride through the park, followed by a hilly coastal ride. Wow, Iíll tell you what, I felt wobbly and jelly-legged when I got off the bike! What a workout! Donít quite know how triathletes go from biking to running without falling over? But that was cool! Iím so going back for more! And I have plans to dig out my swimsuit and purchase some goggles. And maybe Iíll see if the birthday fairy can bring me a bike in June? So many things I want to try, so little time! And of course we must not forget about that little thing called the half marathon on my radar...sooooo excited about this one! But who knows, there's a chance that I might find triathlon training on my schedule for 2011 or 2012!
Moving onto other subjects, one of my weak spots has been food. I have really been weak about giving into the munchies and following the See Food diet. You know, the one where you see food in the pantry or fridge and eat it just because itís there? Yeah, that one. I know everyone has their weaknesses, but this is one I would like to pay more attention to in the coming weeks. Iíve worked very hard to get to my goal weight and donít want things to get too off-kilter there. A friend reminded me that I can probably eat quite a bit since Iím exercising a lot compared to what I used to do...but there must be some balance. A couple of opportunities for improvement are as follows. Really get that ďfive a dayĒ of fruits and vegetables. I can be inconsistent with it, but I know itís good for my health and itís true that fruits and veggies are very filling and satisfying if theyíre of a good quality. So...Iím considering it to be a renewed Fast Break goal to consider in the coming days. Another goal I have is to try some new fruits and veggies (or at least new ones to prepare the ďusual suspectsĒ), as I recently realized that my produce repertoire is quite limited, mainly to broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, blueberries, carrots, and apples. Maybe commit to trying a new item or method of preparation each week to mix things up? Iíd also like to really watch the quantity of fast food I eat and the food I purchase from the work cafeteria. Itís so easy to gravitate towards unhealthy grab Ďní go items like French fries, cookies, and cheese curds, but honestly I usually regret these purchases after the fact, tasty as they may be in the moment. Also, another area to improve is the brainless evening snacking. When I was first married and even as recently as early in 2009, my husband and I would come home after a long day, eat dinner, and then park it in front of the TV and munch away. He still has a tendency to do it, and lately Iíve been fairly weak when heís invited me to join in. I think my best viable option is to commit to keeping appealing healthy snacks on hand so thereís always something satisfying available that wonít ďundo my dayĒ as some cereal commercial once said. My latest infatuation is chocolate mini wheats...not the best thing in the world necessarily but far better than some of the stuff Iíd eat with my hubs! A couple of other food-related things Iíd like to consider are adding some new recipes to my dinner repertoire (as Iím in a serious rut right now!) and integrating a bigger variety of meat and non-meat sources of protein into my diet (how much chicken can a girl really eat?!)
All that said, my weight is remaining stable, and Iím proud that Iíve maintained successfully since November. Three months is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but every journey must begin with a single step, so they say. Iím excited about everything I am learning each day, as I plod along my journey. I find myself feeling more confident, more content, and more willing to chase my dreams. Iím feeling good, and I know there are still many exciting things waiting for me down the road.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Until my Disney racing debut! I can't believe that my big day is approaching so fast. This is totally nerdy, but I downloaded the .PDF of the race course and put it on my desktop so I can look at it for inspiration. It's going to be a kick-butt 5K course...it takes me around the World Showcase and all through EPCOT, my very favorite Disney park. Talk about a great introduction to Disney racing! I'll feel sort of naughty running through the park when it's not even officially open for business yet ;) I'm already thinking about what I'm going to wear, how I'm going to carry a a camera (so I can take pictures!) and all the other fun little details. I'm as excited as a five-year-old on Christmas Eve!
I'll tell you what, though, I am seriously OVER this winter weather. I guess I shouldn't complain too much, especially given that my East Coast friends are getting blitzed this weekend, but still. I've had MAJOR cabin fever and I'm ready to get outdoors and pound the pavement for realsies. A treadmill just doesn't quite do it for me...there's only so much Food Network I can watch, you know?
Anyway, this morning I woke up to a glorious, sunny day. The snow looked pristine under the clear blue sky, and suddenly, oddly enough, I heard Leslie Sansone's voice in my head chirping, "It's a great day to take a walk!" (When I was new to exercise, I did her videos faithfully...and I still have some of the chatter memorized from all the dozens of times I followed the workouts.) I looked at our thermometer and realized the cold was at a frigid, but bearable, level, so I thought "Well, what's really stopping me?!" I ate a hearty breakfast and bundled up. Last night I had been nursing a sore knee, but today it was feeling MUCH better. I wasn't scheduled for running and didn't want to push my luck, so walking it was.
My lovely Garmin finally got to see the light of day for the first time since December, but my iPod batteries had died, so I was without music. Not that it was a bad thing...it was kind of freeing just to be out there, just me, my sneakers, and just *one* gizwitchie. I had the peace and quiet I needed to just relax and think. Sometimes a girl needs that! As I walked down the snowy street, I relished the beautiful weather and sunshine and appreciated the lack of distraction. Exercising at the gym is all well and good, but I'm surrounded by so many people, gadgets, and machines there that it doesn't really feel like a getaway. My 3 1/2 mile walk felt like a mini-vacation of sorts. I'm sooooo glad I got out there. There were a few slippery spots on the sidewalk and a few "whoa whoa whoa" moments where I had to catch my balance, but the cold didn't bother me one bit. And I couldn't help but think, "In one month, I'm going to be kickin' it in FLORIDA! I'll have my first Disney BLING and it will be amazing!" I had a smile on my face for most of the 52-minute workout. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and I'm glad I was there to enjoy it.
Now I'm tempted to take tomorrow's scheduled run outdoors...maybe I just will!
Monday, February 01, 2010
I can't believe that it's February already! It feels like just last week that I was writing my New Year's Eve "2009 in Review" blog entry...and now here we are. Time flies when you're having fun...I guess? I'm all ready for Valentine's Day (mmmm....conversation hearts and chocolate...) but actually more excited to think ahead to all the goodness coming in March: my son's birthday, a vacation to Florida, and the beginning of RACING SEASON! Can I get a Woohoo? But that's not to say that there isn't fun to be had during the next twenty-eight days!
Looking back at January, I'm proud of the things I have accomplished in one short month! I didn't have any specific goals for the month, but managed to keep myself on track and have fun in the meantime. In January...
I maintained my weight.
Between running and walking I traveled 83.28 miles. I did 1358 fitness minutes.
Mid-January, I committed to at least ten minutes a day of strength training and/or stretching, and I have a nice 16 day streak going so far!
I got my 8+ cups of water just about every day.
I made a renewed effort to get fruits and vegetables every day, and it's going great! I'm also doing pretty well with eating less pre-packaged foods and more whole, filling foods.
I bought The Spark and have been working through it.
I've been journaling more consistently.
I met some of my Spark Friends and tried rock climbing for the first time! (Well...the first time in many years, so it may as well have been my first time.)
It's been a great month! In the coming month, I hope to continue making progress. I plan to continue with my whole foods, fruits/vegetables, and water. I still eat a little more fast food than I'm comfortable with (although it's not a ton...) and want to expand my repertoire of healthy go-to foods. I plan to use the nutrition tracker consistently to keep tabs on how I'm doing with my food-related choices. I want to continue with my consistent strength training and stay strong with my running. Not sure how many miles I will get, although I know my mileage will probably creep up as I get ready for my upcoming races. The most important thing for me is to run safely and injury-free! I'm also hoping for another opportunity to rock climb with my friends. I can't wait to see how February turns out!
Monday, January 25, 2010
I think this Spark Jump Start plan is just what I needed to get the motivation flowing again! In spite of some work-related stress and business at home, it's truly been a GREAT week. I've accomplished quite a bit this week, and I feel like a ROCK STAR!
I started my Spark Jump Start plan last Sunday, meaning that I'm on day 9 now. My three fast break goals were to do 10 minutes of strength training, eat one fruit and one vegetable, and journal every day. I'm happy to say that I'm on a nine day Spark Streak with all three goals!
The hardest one for me has been the strength training one, but honestly, it hasn't been that difficult. It's really pretty easy to carve out ten minutes when I'm waiting for dinner to cook or after my son has gone to bed. I've tried a variety of lower and upper body exercises, some from DVDs, some from SparkPeople videos, others from fitness magazines. One plus with strength training is that there is such a wide variety of things you can do to keep your muscles mean and lean!
This past weekend, I also had the joy of meeting a few of the Spark Madison team members at Boulder's Climbing Gym for some ROCK CLIMBING! I had been rock climbing exactly one time in my life, about five or six years ago when my hubby was still in college. His university's gym had a wall, and we had a rock climbing date when we were bored one afternoon. Anyway, I was a bit nervous because I wasn't exactly a seasoned climber and had NO idea how I'd do! We started our session with a short spiel from an instructor, who taught us how to put on the harnesses, clip onto the ropes, climb, and belay, and then we let loose on the gym's many climbing walls! I had a BLAST! It was so much fun working my way to the top of each wall, and each one was a new and unique challenge. It was wonderful to meet some new friends, cheer each other on, and get an incredible workout all at the same time. I felt kind of like a superhero up there, and I'd definitely rock climb again! Maybe I'll have to ask my husband for lessons for my birthday? My experience just reminds me that trying something new can be a little intimidating, but so often 10000% worth it!
My running is also coming along very nicely. I took the early part of the week off because I was sore from my biopsy and also under doctor's orders not to do vigorous exercise. But once the biopsy came back clean (praise God!) and I was healed up enough to get back to it, I picked up my training right where I left off. I am still incredibly happy with using Jeff Galloway's run/walk technique. My endurance feels like it's growing by leaps and bounds, and just about every run leaves me with a heightened feeling of accomplishment and confidence. This Sunday's training run marked a neat little milestone in my running journey: I ran the 10K distance for the very first time! It was on the treadmill (silly winter weather keeping baby-about-the-cold me from running outdoors!) but I'll take it! I completed the distance in 1:11:23...which I don't think is half bad for a first-time penguin 10K "waddler." We'll see how subsequent attempts at this distance go. I'm just thrilled that I DID IT! It seemed like I got from Couch to 5K fairly quickly, but 5K to 10K took quite a while. So now I can daydream about tackling the almighty half marathon in the coming months...
This week I plan to keep working on those fast break goals and building up some big Spark Streaks! Also, I'm focusing on some of the week 2 suggestions, like eating five fruits and vegetables each day, drinking my water, eating breakfast, exercising 10+ minutes each day, and getting some sleep! I already do pretty well with most of these, but the sleep one may be a challenge! I do see the value of a good night's rest, but I tend to be a night owl, and when bedtime rolls around, I seem to think of a million other things I want to do besides sleep. So we'll see how this week's efforts go!
And, as always, I just have to give a huge shout out to all of my wonderful Spark Peeps, who have done such an amazing job of cheering me on, thinking of me, supporting me, and showing me that I CAN make my dreams come true! THANK YOU!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Today is "Day One" of my Spark "jump start" program, my efforts to renew my commitment to my health lifestyle. I approach this program not with a goal to lose weight, but with the hope of revitalizing my enthusiasm for fitness, eating well, and following a healthy lifestyle. One of the stories from The Spark that struck me is that the author, Chris Downie, committed to doing just ten minutes of exercise each day. When he made this subtle change to his day-to-day life and as it grew into a bigger and bigger "streak" of exercising every day, he started to see big changes that spilled over into many aspects of his life.
Never underestimate the power of the Fast Break!
A Fast Break goal is a minor lifestyle change that is easily attainable and not difficult to perform consistently. The idea of a Fast Break goal, in short is to build confidence as I succeed and build up "streaks" and get me moving back in the right direction. These small, continuous steps can ultimately grow into something big! The Spark program suggests choosing three of these goals, one for nutrition, one for fitness, and one for motivation. Last night, I spent some time brainstorming small goals and subtle changes I'd like to make to my lifestyle. Here is the long list I wrote out:
Drink 8 cups of water each day
Drink 20 oz or less of diet soda each day
Have x days per week when I don't drink any diet soda
Eat at least one fruit and one vegetable each day
Track calories on SparkPeople each day
Keep eating out/fast food to x times per week
Stay within points/calorie range x times per week
Try new healthy recipe x times per week
Do 10 minutes of strength training each day (or x times per week)
Run 3x each week consistently
Stretch x times per week
Journal/blog each day
Post on SparkPeople x times per day
Comment on SparkPeople member page/blog x times per day
Read motivational/inspirational material (books, magazines, etc) 10 minutes x times per week
Take good care of skin (I struggle with this!)
As you can see, I had a lot of ideas! These are all things I'd eventually like to work on, but since the program calls for just three goals which are easy to accomplish, I picked one out of each bucket and stuck to ones I felt confident about. The others represent areas where I have potential for improvement, and I can address these in time. So, after considering my list a bit more, I decided on my Fast Break goals:
1 - Eat at least one fruit and one veggie each day
2 - Do 10 minutes of strength training each day
3 - Journal each day
I chose #1 because I believe I will have no problem with it, but I want the accountability to ensure that I stay consistent. Of course it will be acceptable to eat more than one of each, and I expect that I will most days. I chose #2 because I do struggle to get my strength training in, and I feel like doing ST will help my running and get rid of some of the "fluffiness" I still have. Even though I HATE ST, 10 minutes each day is not much to ask. And I chose #3 because journaling is a great de-stressor and I would like to have a consistent chronicle of my journey. I do have a detailed journal from my first months in Weight Watchers, but I've not been quite as consistent with journaling lately. I'd also like to take my journaling away from just being a food/fitness log (which is what I used it for previously) and make it more personal and more about my experiences, stories, and how I feel about my journey. In any event, I did try out SparkPeople's nutrition tracker for the very first time today. While I had a sense of how I ate in Weight Watchers points, I'd like to see how my typical day's diet falls out in calories, fat, protein, carbs, etc.
So here we go! My Fast Break begins...NOW!
Get An Email Alert Each Time PHDMAMA06 Posts