Saturday, January 08, 2011
So, Yesterday, My VFF Bikilas arrived!!! I was STOKED!! After finding out about these, doing some research online, reading SP message boards, and other such things, I thought these might be a great shoe for me.
For those of you who aren't familiar with these, they are shoes (the Bikilas are the ones designed specifically for running) that similate being barefoot, only that your feet are protected greatly from the elements - sharp objects and other such things. The idea is that our bodies and feet were designed a certain way, which, if we learn to use properly, will prevent injury. For example, our feet work best with a forefoot land, which barefoot running (or running with minimalist shoes like VFFs) helps develop, and a shorter stride. Running with more "forgiving" conventional shoes leads to more heal landing, and longer strides, which leaves runners more injury-prone... well, in theory. I am courageously trying that theory out!! Tenderly and slowly though, because the transition must be done carefully or it can lead to INJURY.
Most of you already saw them in my new profile pic, but I LOVE the hot pink and orange! They are SOOOO me! You would think you would be able to see them a mile away....
But my hubby came home last night, walks in the door (where he could see me), walks around (as well as PAST me) for a few minutes situation his stuff that he brought home from work, goes to the bathroom, comes out (he's home for about 10 minutes at this point), and out of the blue says:
"So, where are they? I wanna see them!" In a somewhat demanding (though playful) tone.
I'm like, "Dude, there on my feet." To which he was really surprised...
ANYWAY, I am planning to keep you all up-to-date on my experience with these.
WHY I chose Vibram FiveFingers:
First off, I LOVE being barefoot. Serious, I hardly wear shoes. I grew up in Washington State out in the country, and I was ALWAYS barefoot. My dad teases me that I never wore shoes until I was 12 years old. In the summer, you will hardly EVER find me with shoes on, and if, they are flip-flops. Wintertime requires shoe-wearing here in Germany, so I do. But often, in the summer, one of my favorite things to do is to run around barefoot, playing tag with my son, which he LOVES too!
I seem to already have naturally good foot form and high arches. I have been properly fitted for running shoes, and since I have high arches, I was told to wear shoes WITHOUT support. Wearing support, I guess, when you don't need it, throws your natural foot posture off. Didn't know this before, so for years, I always thought arch support in my running shoes was important.
My forefeet are wide and toes spread a bit, which helps in transitioning to VFFs.
I already run with a shorter stride. I played around with my stride a LOT during the training for my first 2 HMs, and found that a shorter stride felt easier and less fatiguing, and when combined with a faster turnover, actually INCREASED my pace, but still felt easier!! After doing this, I read from several different sources that a shorter stride is actually much better for runners, because the further out your foot lands from your body, the more impact on your knees, heels, ankles, etc, and the more injury-prone you may be.
I am a naturalist at heart. I love cooking all-natural, I love natural products, natural furniture, things made out of real things like wood or leather. I just like the natural basics, so the idea of learning to run and use my body the way God naturally designed it appeals to me very much.
I already pay €120 for my running shoes, so they are not an increase in price. PLUS, since VFFS do NOT rely on synthetic cushioning, my suspicion is that they will last longer, for more mileage. My running FORM will be the key, not the padding in the shoe, since there is virtually none. So, my guess is, if I get myself transitioned into these shoes, I would need to buy shoes less often. ** However, this is JUST my theory, not based on any info I have read, simply my own reasoning! I will definitely be testing this out to see.
Here is my transition plan:
Even in my normal running shoes, focus on forefoot-landing, not landing on heel. I have already started doing this during several of my runs.
Wear them often, like around the house and such, to get used to the way they feel, and let my feet become accustomed to them. Not hard, since I am a SAHM and am ALWAYS barefoot, unless I have to go somewhere.
On my off-days from my normal training plan, or even after my "normal" run, go out for a quick 1-mile or less run in them.
Once I feel comfortable with them, do my shortest run of the week in them (usually 3-4 miles), and work up slowly from there.
Run on flat surfaces - not hard for me since I run on the pavement. (This is a tip I read referring to first trying them out.)
I took them out this morning for my first official run!! I ran 10.6 miles in my "normal" shoes, then came home briefly, changed shoes, and went out for a mile in my new VFFs! They are VERY VERY comfortable. They fit like gloves!! I didn't have any rubbing of my toes at all, which I was a little concerned about, because they fit so snug. I have bought too-small running shoes before, that felt like they fit in the store, but when I ran in them, the crammed my toes something terrible!! But my VFFs were NOT that way!!
This is what I noticed:
They felt very natural, very comfortable.
The traction was good.
They seemed to lead me quite naturally to a forefoot landing.
Running in them DOES work your muscles differently.
There was no rubbing, except for a little bit on the top of my foot where the opening was.
The socks that I got to go with them make them fit really snug, so I ran without socks. I might try to add the socks again later, we will see.
WARNING: I have read it, heard it stressed over and over that the transition to these shoes MUST be slowly and carefully carried out, since it requires different form and posture, and works your muscles differently. I also read that these shoes may not be for you if you already have achilles problems. Also, if you tend to be a very strong heel-runner or have had heel injuries, I would also think twice. If you require other forms of support in your running shoes, I would also be careful about VFFs. It could be, if transitioned carefully and properly, they can help your issues, but I would just be cautious. It might be a good idea to start running barefoot (a mile or so at a time), and see how it feels before purchasing these shoes. Those are just my tips....
So there you have it, SparkFriends!! My full report for my first day with VFFs!! Hope it is helpful!
Happy Weekend, and Spark on, my friends!!
Saturday, January 08, 2011
I'm gonna pump out 2 blogs today, because I feel it's goofy to combine these 2 subjects - so STAYED TUNED for my blog on my new Vibram FiveFingers!!
The verdict on my wrist:
Inflamed tendons in my wrist due to the hard work I did shoveling my driveway. Followed by further agitation with my subsequent strength training activies. Not sure if that means technical "tendonitis" or not. Dealing with a bit of a language barrier here, so I am not sure if the doctor said it was tendonitis or not. But definitely enflamed tendons. Isn't tendonitis chronic, and not just stemming from one isolated situation?
My wrist got wrapped in a swab with anti-inflamatory ointment on it, and I was to take anti-inflamatory meds 2xs a day. Plus, I am taking my Omega-3s, because they are supposed to naturally help inflamation too. So, my arm was wrapped like this:
Then, I self-prescribed some love from my kiddos to help with the healing. Reilynn ("Thing 1") kissed my "boo-boo" without much coaxing:
Thing 2 was not so cooperative. Mommy - "Eliane, mommy has a boo-boo. Can you kiss it and make it better?"
She hesitates. "Com'on, Eliane, please give mommy's boo-boo a kiss. Please?"
"Ew, Eliane!! I did not say 'wipe your nose on it!' I said 'Kiss it!'"
"Oh, yes, sweetie, that makes it feel MUCH better.!
And today, I have full range of motion with almost NO pain whatsoever!! I feel a little twinge here and there, but its not really painful. And I can rotate my wrist fully without having to limit the movement because of horrible pain.... WOOHOO!
Friday, January 07, 2011
Last weekend, on New Year's Day actually, my husband and I were trying to get our driveway shoveled free of snow. We really waited too long, and it was already packed, but we were getting warmer temps over the weekend, which means it was loosening up and was easier to shovel than when its frozen solid. I didn't want it to partially thaw, then freeze again, and then it be an icey mess. That is NOT COOL.
So we are shoveling and I notice a little bit of pain in my right wrist. So I tried to adjust how I was using the shovel to use less force, and more momentum, to break up the hard spots. I didn't notice any significant pain or discomfort after that....
Then came BodyPump. I went to BodyPump on Monday night, and felt fine, really. But afterward, on Tuesday morning, I had extreme tenderness in my wrist. Certain movements or positions with my wrist really hurt. It hurt(s) right where the wrist bone is and a little down my arm (so I am guessing tendons?), and also the palm of my hand is sore. When I try to hold anything between my thumb and other fingers, it also hurts.
But I HATE having obstacles in my fitness plan. If I plan it, I wanna do it. So, it seemed to be a little better, though not pain-free, on Wednesday... Yes, I went to BodyPump AGAIN. Not the smartest, but I did it. I tried to be very careful, and pay attention to what exercises hurt it, tried to make sure my form was proper when it came to my wrist.... but Thursday morning, it was STILL WORSE!
It's so frustrating. I don't want to take time off of my ST. I don't want to be held back by this. I have some goals I want to achieve (particularly with the Rachel Mac Progress Picture Challenge ) and if I can't get my ST In.... ???
Then I thought for a minute: "What if that were my ankle? What if I were having pain this severe in my knee or foot? My running would be OUT THE WINDOW!!"
And I was immediately thankful. Yes, it hurts when I put pressure on my hand. It hurts to cut my vegetables as I cook dinner. It especially hurts to pick up the cutting board and set it back where it belongs. It hurts to pick up my kids. It hurts even to press down on the soap dispenser to wash my hands.
But in all my running I have done, I have never had pain this bad. Sure I have had some piriformis related pain, tightness in my hip and butt cheek, some knee irritation here and there. But all things that were minor, certainly not this painful. Nothing that sidelined me, for sure. I am SOOOOO thankful for that!
I know, as frustrated as I am about my silly wrist, I would be REALLY DOWN if I were not able to run. Running is my passion. Running has been in my blood for so long. I started running more than 10 years ago, and even though there have been long periods void of running here and there (mainly due to pregnancies, but not always), I always, ALWAYS had the itch to run. Don't get me wrong, I believe STRONGLY in rest days or even longer rest periods. I schedule rest weeks and days into my running plan, because I think it is necessary for the body to take a break. BUT I HATE having something stand in the way of fulfilling my schedule, an unplanned-for obstacle, sickness, injury, whatever. Drives me nuts.
Running, I love it.
I love the way my body feels alive when I have been running regularly. I love how I feel right after a run.
I love coming in from a REALLY LONG RUN, and having that really fatigued feeling like I really pushed my endurance that day.
I love coming in from a short tempo run, where I pushed myself hard on speed.
I love just zoning out during my run, and letting my mind wander to all sorts of things.
I love singing when I run, when my iPod starts playing one of my favorites.
I love running in the dark.
I love running when its snowing, running through thick snowflakes as they come down. It's so beautiful!
I love running when it's light out, especially on beautiful sunny days.
I love running new trails, new routes, and exploring along the way (Thank you, Garmin, for making that possible, AND still know how far I go!)
I love that running makes my weightloss/management so easy.
I love setting running goals and shooting for races.
I love how running is so invigorating.
I love running out in the country here in Germany where I live - it is SOOO beautiful!
So, in spite of my annoying wrist situation, I am very thankful that it isn't a running injury. I WILL be going to the Dr. in just a couple of hours to get it checked out. I hope this clears up quickly.....
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Gonna make it sound all official-like today.
I love food. I have always had a sweet tooth, for as long as I can remember. And certain traumatic experiences as a teenager and thereafter made eating a very emotional experience for me. To be quite honest, I can PACK AWAY some food, for real. So, learning to control my appetite and what I eat has been quite a struggle at times. How have I done it? I put some thought into what has helped me, and thought I might pass it on.... Some of these things, many of you have already heard, but I always like to add things that personally work FOR ME... Personal touch, that's how I roll. That's why my blogs are always long and wordy....
Darcy's Top 10 Tips for Sticking to a Healthy Lifestyle:
(Again, these are eating/food-related)
1. Habits: It all comes down to habits. Habits will make or break you. I think people should take your focus off "diet," and start focusing on etching out some good solid healthy habits. This helped me tremendously a few months back, when I was struggling with getting back on track. I heard this little story years ago, when I was a teenager, and it has always stuck with me (I used it in a former blog too):
There was an old Indian man who had 2 dogs which always fought with each other. The Indian man would always predict which one would win, and was always dead on. Someone once asked him what his secret was, how he always knew which one would win, to which he replied:
"It's whichever one I feed the most."
I don't think this story is even real (since it was used to prove a point like I am doing now), and I have no idea why it was an Indian man in the story, but that's how it was told. from what I remember. Point is, habits are like the dogs in the story - we have good habits and bad habits. As we "feed" our good habits, making healthy choices, eating right, not making excuses when it comes to exercise, not reaching for those pit-fall foods, we strengthen those good habits. It gets easier and easier to stay on the right path, the longer we keep at it.
Likewise, when we continually make excuses to not exercise, or continually make allowances for bad eating, or eating too much, we are strengthening those bad habits. So, when it comes to a test, a situation that is hard to resist, and you are finding that you are always giving in, chances are, you have been letting the wrong dog eat a little too often.
So, which "dog" are you feeding today?
2. Stop focusing on the NEGATIVE! I have read it so many times, so many people say they don't want to "deprive" themselves, they don't like dieting because they feel too "deprived". If we are constantly thinking about, whining about, pining after what we CAN'T have, of COURSE we are gonna feel deprived. Try instead to focus on what you CAN have, what you SHOULD have. Because in all reality, when you "deprive" yourself of those things that you SHOULD be leaving out, you are also "depriving" yourself of the health risks that come from being overweight, and living unhealthy.
For example, when I first started my healthy lifestyle pursuit 2 years ago, I thought at first it was gonna be SOOOO hard!! How was I gonna do it? But I picked a solid diet plan that was formulated with a daily mealplan, so I was constantly focused on what I was SUPPOSED to be eating. It was GREAT! Likewise, recently, I started focusing on trying to get more protein in my diet, as well as more veggies, and I can't believe how easy it has made it lately! It's taking the focus OFF the NEGATIVE, and focusing on the POSITIVE - what good things can I put in my body today???
3. Have a plan, and stick to it. Some people might do good at just cutting certain trigger foods out, or lessening their portion sizes. But for me, a definite plan really really helped. My "diet" started me out by making a meal plan each week, then formulated a grocery shopping list. This has stuck with me for 2 YEARS, and I NEVER thought I would be the type of person to do this! It really helps to plan everything out, and like I said, focus on what you ARE going to eat, and NOT what you're NOT eating.
4. Fill up on good foods. I feel SOOOOOO full and satisfied if I fill up on good wholesome foods. Lots of VEGGIES, fruit, protein (for me, lots of meat), and healthy fats. I stress veggies, because they REALLY help me feel full, and are usually very low in calories! I also limit the carbs like bread, pasta, or potatoes - they seem to be trigger foods for me, that leave me feeling VERY hungry (which I posted in yesterday's blog). When I am full of good food, I don't have the uncontrollable cravings.
5. STAY HYDRATED - I know this is like a total "DUH!!!" point, because we hear it ALL the time, but seriously, hear me out. We all know that water is essential, particular to weightloss. But not only does water help control the appetite in general and help us lose weight better, I feel that water helps control my sweet cravings. I have noticed when I am really thirsty, and I start eating sweets, I will WOLF THEM DOWN, and just keep going. Of course, I always had a problem with sweets, but when I am not well-hydrated, it is a milllion times worse. My mom told me years ago, that when the body is thirsty, it often displays this in the form of hunger pains, so always drink first!! I think when my body is thirsty, I crave sweets....
6. Find a sweets substitute. I don't mean sugar substitute. I mean, find something that relieves the craving, without you giving in. I found that almonds are great - they have a slightly sweet taste, crunchy texture, and help me avoid giving in to something detrimental. Also, when I need something sweet, drinking tea with just a touch of honey really helps. Find something that is as nutritious as possible, that works for you.
7. DON'T BUY IT!! Don't buy it "for the kids" or "for the hubby". Don't pick it up at the store, contemplating whether you should get it "just this once." Don't read the label to see if it's "really THAT bad." Don't get it. If you have it at home, it will make it a million times harder to resist. For that matter, don't even walk down the isle of the junk food at the store. Don't even go near it. I just avoid it, plain and simple. I try not to even look in the direction, or linger long enough to even want it. I go to the store with my weekly grocery list, and I stick to the list.
8. TAKE A DEEP BREATH!! There are gonna be some times when we have food around, or are around food that is tempting. When I see a food, say, like chocolate, or cookies, my IMMEDIATE impulse is, "OH, I want some...!" and I start reaching for it. I have started just stopping, taking a deep breath, relaxing, and then telling myself, "You don't really want OR need that." And I step back. I was amazed at how much that helped me through the holidays. I had chocolate AND cookies within reach at any given moment, and didn't bother with it on most days.
9. DON'T SWEAT the slip-ups. It seems like this one is really, really hard for some people. The scale goes up ONE DAY for ONE POUND, and some people are already discouraged. Someone brings some donuts to work, you have one, and you totally beat yourself up and eat bad for a week. There are times when I don't eat good.... AT ALL!! But the MOST IMPORTANT THING, is NOT to let it derail me. Get back on track ASAP, and move on. You can't erase what you ate yesterday, but you CAN start fresh RIGHT NOW.
10. Find a nutritious way to keep fun treats in your life. I make my family pizza (though I try not to eat too much of it myself), and I make cookies every now and then. But I try to make EVERYTHING 100% whole grain, and I try my very best to supply those sweets or treats as nutritious as I can. Be creative. There will be a time when a reward, a treat, is well-deserved. Try to find out how you can make it without totally killing all your hard work!
So, that, my friends, is how I have gone from looking like this....
...to looking like this:
I know its a long blog, but I hope it is helpful to some!!! Happy Sparking, Friends!!
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Can it be? Can someone even do that?
Well, I do. Not super low, but definitely lower than SparkPeople recommends for my calorie range. I think on most days, I am between 120-140 g carbs. I don't really stress or worry about it, I am not that strict about it, but I certainly don't "carb-load" or change my diet for my running. And I know, I know, there is a BIG push in the running community to load up on carbs. I don't buy into it, however. I just wanna put some thoughts out there. This is just to be a help to others, and get people thinking. I have seen many other runners struggle with their weight after they started running hefty distances, and it is JUST A HUNCH of mine that this might be why.... Here are my thoughts:
I NEVER was a big fan of the low-carb hype. Hated it actually. Thought it was a fad. Blew it off. Whatever.
Until one day, I read a book my sister recommended to me called "The Maker's Diet", a book written by Jordan Rubin. It is a faith-based diet philosophy, shall we say. Excellent book. I highly recommend it.
The diet is this:
Whole foods, organic if possible, everything as natural in its natural state as much as possible, not processed by heat (oils, honey, milk, other things like that), refined, stripped, skimmed, pasteurized or any other processing. EVERYTHING, and I mean, EVERYTHING 100% whole grains, in fact he recommends that you not eat ANY bread unless it is sprouted grain or sour dough. Absolutely no artificial sweeteners or other additives. Only raw honey, or organic whole cane sugar (Sucanat, Rapadura, those are 2 examples, but there are others on the market.) LOTS of veggies, but also LOTS of meat. And I guess I could add here - high fat if you compare with conventional diet recommendations.
I started this diet at the same time I started running to get back into shape. The first 2 weeks were nearly carb-free. I immediately started dropping weight like crazy. Four days into the diet, I do remember hitting a "BLAH" day, where I had no energy whatsoever, but after that, I felt great.
The second phase (2 weeks as well) added a few more carbs back in. I pretty much stayed in this phase for several months, losing weight EASILY while RUNNING and training for my first 2 half marathons, WITHOUT TRACKING a single calorie. I finished my first marathon in 2:05, completely without the help of supplements or extra carbs in my diet. I finished my second HM in 2:08, but that distance was actually just about 14 miles (22.4 km exactly), so my pace was faster for the second, again, without the help of fuels, gels, or carb-loading.
After I got about 15 lbs away from my goal, I found SparkPeople (YAY!!!!!), and started tracking calories too. I found that with tracking calories, I felt more free to eat a little more carbs, because I would just track the calories, and it was all good, right??
Wrong. It was at that point that I REALLY began STRUGGLING to keep my hunger at bay. My calories would just blow through the roof, and I often felt like I just had to eat and eat and eat. The more carbs I seemed to eat, the more hungry I was.
Well, I still worked hard and reached my goal. I loosened up A LOT after that on the carbs, but let me stress here that I STILL followed the whole-foods philosophies, making all my own bread 100% whole-grain, trying to keep everything whole-grain, and nutritious.
But I kept struggling to keep my hunger at bay with my running. I kept wanting to blame the running as the culprit. And the funny thing is that I do not think my performance improved much at all from eating more carbs. Yeah, sure, I went on to PR at my next 2 HMs, 1:57 and then 1:55, but I think it was the TRAINING that made the improvement, NOT the carbs. (I am not shooting for professional numbers, here, and I know I am just an average runner, but I think that is pretty good on a low-carb diet!)
In December, I joined Rachel Mac's Progress Picture Challenge, because I am looking to tone up more, and wanted a new goal, something different than running. Plus, I feel as a runner, ST is VERY important. So, I started focusing the last several days on really packing on the protein, and staying away from bread, pasta, potatoes and such. I try to get all my carbs from my fruits and veggies. My only splurge every day is my COFFEE!! To which I always add my Organic Whole Cane Sugar!! That is my treat!
My Nutrition Goals at this time:
120+ g Protein per day
100-140 g Carbs
Fat... whatever, I don't care about fat, I don't believe it causes heart disease, and I know I am stirring up a lot of controversy by saying it, but if you wanna get a different side of the story, pls read Sally Fallon's book "Eat Fat, Lose Fat." My goal is mainly to stay within my calories, so whatever my fat comes to is fine with me.
Anyway, The last several days, I have really shot to get that protein in!!! And you know what??? I FEEL GREAT!! I have also PILED ON the veggies - raw, cooked, salad, however I can get them, and stuck to fruits and beans as my carbs (except for today... don't look at my nutrition tracker... I baked cookies for a neighbor and nibbled.). I am not having problems controlling my appetite, and my running is fine.
It is my theory (and has been for a long time now) that carbs are really over-rated, EVEN for runners, and that maybe part of the problems I was having with controlling my appetite had to do with the carbs. They seem to be a trigger food for me, that sends me into a wild cabinet/fridge draining session (where I "drain" the food right into my mouth, that is.) Some people may do fine eating more carbs, but some of us may thrive better eating less, let me stress again, EVEN as a runner. If a certain diet works for you, then stick with it. Take the motto - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!!
Of course, these are just my OPINIONS, and simply what I have noticed with my own weight, with my own hunger control issues, and my running. Just wanted to throw this out there as food for thought for some other runners....
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