Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pizza, Cookies and Indian Food—Oh My!

When commenting on my lunch choice to a colleague today, I said “I’m on the see how much I can eat while still continuing to lose weight plan.” While that is indeed the core philosophy of healthy weight loss I believe in, the last few days have been more like the see how much JUNK I can eat while still continuing to lose weight plan. And that doesn’t jive with half marathon training, or how I want to fuel my body.

I had cafeteria pizza for lunch twice last week. I went out to dinner with Aaron on Friday, but ate a sensible portion and limited my beverages. I lost weight. It’s Thursday, and I’ve had cafeteria pizza for lunch twice this week. And a Twix bar. And a chocolate chip cookie. And we went out for Indian last night and ordered the meal for two, even though I know that getting a single entree is better for me. Then I ate some of those leftovers for dinner tonight. Oh, and I skipped my cross training yesterday.

I don’t feel bad about this, but I do feel the need to acknowledge it. I just went back and tracked everything, and I’ve used all of my weekly points and five of my activity points…just three days into my week. Before Weight Watchers, I would likely have used this as an excuse to give up on my weight loss efforts. I’d go get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and watch TV, then eat pizza again tomorrow and maybe get two cookies just because.

After over a year on Weight Watchers, that behavior is no longer what I cling to. I accept the fact that for some reason I felt like I needed to inhale fat and carbs for the last two days. I know that I have a 3.5 mile run on the schedule, and I’ll make sure to get to the gym to get it done. Since I chose pizza over my planned lunch today, I already have healthy food in the fridge at work. I’ll recognize that this particular lunch has left me “wanting more,” and I’ll bring a smart snack with me to work (maybe half a Lara Bar). I’ll eat the healthy, home-cooked meal I had planned for last night for dinner on Friday night. And each day this week, I’ll stick to my daily points with an extra point or two here and there that I earn from activity. I’ll drink a lot of water. And I’ll likely stay the same or lose this week, because I’m still on plan, even though I ate junk. I tracked it, I’m not in the red, and I have a plan moving forward.

Life happens, whether you’re losing weight, maintaining weight, or letting your weight balloon out of control. I’m glad I’ve learned to recognize this, accept it, and make choices to return to the path I’ve committed to.

Now, I plan to sit on the couch for another hour, at least, until I go to the gym. 🙂

Head Games on the Treadmill

So much for a week of running outside. We’re back in the land of the polar vortex…which meant I was back in the gym.

I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty excited if the gym was completely empty every single time I was there. I’d be almost as happy if it was packed in the weight/cardio area, but all the treadmills were empty. Because for some reason, I really dislike being on the treadmill next to someone. Actually, it’s being next to someone faster than me that I don’t like.

I arrived at the gym tonight to find an empty row of treadmills. Hooray! As soon as I grabbed one, someone else did as well, but in keeping with appropriate gym etiquette he didn’t pick one on either side of me. And he walked most of the time, so he actually made me feel good about my 4.0 run/jog. When I was 2 miles into my run (having taken two very short walk breaks, but feeling excellent), a guy got on the treadmill immediately to my left and was probably running at 6.0. For some reason, hearing/seeing his stride made me not be able to stick with mine. I tried turning up my headphones, looking slightly to the right, staring at the foggy window in front of me…nothing worked. I slowed to a fast walk. Then he slowed to a walk, so I sped back up. Then when he returned to a run I lost my rhythm again. We did this for about half a mile, until I got sick of the mind games I was playing and told myself I wasn’t allowed to walk again until I hit three miles (which was just another form of mind games, I know). At that point, he got off the treadmill, and I was able to finish my run in peace.

I had a similar experience sitting on the couch before heading to the gym (stay with me, here). I recently joined the Women’s Running Community group on Facebook (highly recommend!), and tonight someone posted a video of what they saw as a back of the pack runner at mile seven of the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I was aghast at how many people where so close to her. When I run races, the crowd usually runs ahead and I’m hanging out with a handful of people, but she was still in a crowd at mile seven. If watching videos of races and running next to someone on a treadmill messes with my head, how on earth am I going to do 13.1 miles on my own? I will, but it should be an interesting experience, that’s for sure.

In other news, today was weigh in day and I’m down another 1.1 pounds. I ate every single daily, weekly, and activity point I had last week. This running thing sure does pay off.

So, tonight I successfully completed my 3.5 mile run (Nike+ says 3.7 b/c it wasn’t calibrated perfectly for the treadmill). Tomorrow I will cross train instead of run, like I promised myself last week. Perhaps I’ll pull out Jillian Michaels, just so I don’t have to go to the gym. I sure as hell won’t be going outside.

February 25 Run Photo

Tools For Weight Loss Success: Dish Up In The Kitchen

In a recent Weight Watchers meeting, we were asked to consider a new routine we wanted to add to our life. One of the routines was something like “think twice before reaching for seconds.” When I read that, I realized I’ve started eating my meals in a way that makes seconds a non-issue.

I often cook large portions, even though there are only two of us eating dinner. We like leftovers for lunch and weekends, and if I can spend an hour making 8 servings or 2, I’ll choose 8 every time!

However, I’m never tempted to go for seconds because we don’t put the extra food on the table. Yup, we dish up our food right next to the stove, making sure we have appropriate portions on our plate before we sit down at the table to eat. I often have my food scale handy so I’ll know that I’m eating 3 ounces of steak and 150 grams of potatoes, for instance. What makes it to the table is what I’m planning on eating.

If there are leftovers, they are often already in a tupperware container by the time we sit down. If I’ve made something in a pot or large pan (like a soup, stew, or stir fry), I’ve already run it through the Weight Watchers recipe builder and indicated how many servings I intend for the recipe to make. However, it’s impossible for me to know the actual serving size unless I know the weight or volume of the total dish. To do this efficiently and without making a mess, I use a 1-cup ladle to transfer my soup/stew to a large storage container, or put the entire stir fry on the scale to get the total weight. Then I just need to divide by the intended number of servings to know how much food to put on my plate.

I’ve never needed to go back for seconds when I use this technique. Occasionally my husband will, but he’s allowed to eat whatever he wants 🙂

So, if you’re struggling with adding additional food to your plate during meal times, try taking the serving dishes off the table and portioning your food directly onto your dinner plate.

Have you tried this technique? Do you have any additional tips & tricks?

Race Giveaway

You may know that the half marathon I’m training for is the Women Run Pewaukee Half. Well, Running Diva Mom is currently hosting a giveaway for a free race registration on her blog. Posting about it here gets me an extra entry, so while I hope you choose to enter…I hope I win! 🙂 I haven’t actually registered for the race yet, so it would be amazing to win the entry fee. The giveaway runs until March 3.

5 Mile Long Run

Another record! I ran 5 miles today. It seems like it was a good idea to take Thursday off; my legs felt great today. I’d like to thank Meg for pointing out that my training plan does not call for speed workouts. I’d been adding them in for variety and “to get better.” Well, I just started reading Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons (affiliate link), and he flat out says:

“The vast majority of runners are happy just to finish comfortably in a reasonably good time and thus do not need sophisticated training methods. Speed training gets in their way. The extra leg fatigue can make doing the vital long runs much more difficult. It is one stress too many, even for experienced runners.”

So, that is that. No more speed work for me. I might revisit this decision after my half marathon, but not before. The other thing Hal mentions in his book is that his novice plan only requires three days of running. I’ve been doing four, because Wednesday always says “X miles or cross.” So not only was I running on an optional day, but I was turning it into speed work. I suppose I should consider doing cross training for the duration my run would take, in order to maintain a day’s rest for my legs after each run.

So, on to my run today. I waited until 3:30 p.m., when the temperature was 29 degrees and sunny. There were 15-20 mph winds from the west, so I created a route that took advantage of all the north-south roads in my neighborhood, slowly heading east. I was able to map a five mile route that never took me more than a mile from my house. I’d be running into the wind for the last mile, but it was the most direct route home at that point, so I would have no choice but to do it.

I also wanted to start testing out fuel on my run. I remember reading somewhere that if you’re planning on running more than an hour, you should start fueling at 45 minutes, and then every 30 minutes after that. I mentioned this in a women’s running group on Facebook, and someone suggested that if I wanted to use fuel today, I should actually take it at 30 minutes so I had time for my body to digest the fuel and benefit from the energy (I was expecting my run to take 1:12). The group got into a discussion about the best fuels, and I didn’t get too caught up in that. I just want to eat real food when I run. Before I left, I cut up half a Lara Bar into six pieces and shoved it in my pocket.

For the first mile, my feet felt heavy. But, I was running close to a 14:00 mile pace. That’s pretty good for me, and I was concerned that I was running to fast for my longest run to date. I purposely tried to slow down. I kept running until the two mile mark, and then I started walking and ate three of the Lara Bar pieces. When I returned to running, I could almost immediately feel the tiny bit of food in my stomach. It was warm, and it was like I could feel it digesting. It was slightly uncomfortable for about 5 minutes.

I walked again at about 3.25 miles, when I had to navigate an icy sidewalk. By now the discomfort of digestion had passed, and I considered eating the remaining three Lara Bar pieces, but decided against it. I just kept going. I was listening to Jillian Michael’s podcast, and right around this time she was doing a call-in segment with someone, and she said something like:

You only have a chance at failing if you’re attempting to do something great. If you’re always trying to do great things, it’s ok if you occasionally fail. There are others that won’t even try.

Just kept running… At the 4.1 mile mark I walked for about a minute or so, then returned to a trot determined to run the rest of the way. I didn’t care how fast I was running, as long as I was moving. When I rounded the corner into my neighborhood at the 4.6 mile mark, I remember thinking, “It seems like my legs should be much more tired than this.” I can only hope that’s how I feel during the last mile of my half marathon in May.

I finished just a few houses from home, in almost exactly the time that the NIke+ app had predicted I would run. I took the obligatory selfie, and promptly went inside to stretch, something I’m committed to doing after each run from now on.

February 22 Run PhotoFebruary 22 Pace Chart

February 22 Splits

I took the liberty of stretching out my training plan because I wanted to get started in February, so next week I’m just repeating this week, but increasing the long run to 5.5 miles. I’ll need to try something different for fuel. Someone had suggested applesauce with honey & peanut butter added, so it’s substantial but doesn’t require chewing. I’m not sure that appeals to me, but I could mix applesauce with some of my homemade jam to pack in the calories. We’ll see. The race I’m running provides Gu gels & pretzels, so maybe I should get used to using those unless I want to carry my own fuel. I’m sort of opposed to Gu, though (chemicals).

Looking forward to tomorrow – only 40 minutes of cross training. That will probably be a walk with my husband.

I Skipped My Run Today

I had 3.5 miles + strength on the scale today. I did not run. My legs felt pretty tight, and I was feeling a bit lazy, so I convinced myself that I was avoiding possible injury by not running. This is a definite possibility, but it still feels somewhat like a failure to not run. I did, however, do two rounds of the runner’s yoga stretch sequence I used to do after every run. I really need to get back into doing those stretches immediately after my run. For the first sequence, I held each stretch for 10 seconds. For the second round, I held each stretch for 30 seconds. My calves, achilles, and shins definitely needed the stretch.

I also did core work—25 crunches, 25 oblique crunches on each side, and 25 leg raises. I also did two sets of 15 weighted squats, standing rows, bicep curls, and chest flies. I did a few pushups, but I stink at pushups.

Today was not a total failure, but I did not stick to the schedule. I’m sure that the stretching (which I’ll try to repeat tomorrow), and the rest will have me ready for my long run on Saturday—5 miles. I know it was ok to miss today. I’ve read that if you’re doing a 4-run-per-week training schedule, you can occasionally skip one of the weekday runs without adverse consequences. I may need to consider just doing my Wednesday short run as a normal run—not speed work—to avoid straining my muscles from overdoing the intervals.

Ran Too Hard

I only had 2 miles on the schedule today. So, I decided to do 4×400’s around my block. I set my Nike+ app to alert me every quarter mile. Conditions were similar to yesterday (30 degrees, black ice in patches), but I felt safe. I did a slow jog for the first .25 mile, killed it on the running intervals (hit about a 10:00 pace), and walked in between them. My overall pace was slightly faster than yesterday, so I was really pushing it on the runs. This is obvious, now, when I sit on the couch wheezing from my asthma and being very cognizant of a sore left achilles. I’m going to stretch it out and hope it’s nothing. I still feel better than I did 6 months ago when all I did was sit on the couch.

February 19 Pace Chart

February 19 RunThis is my “um my leg/knee feels a little icky and I can hardly breathe, but I managed not to quit during the intervals when my lungs were burning” face.

This run reminded me of when I was doing my 5K Runner program. It was all I could do to get through each running interval. The difference this time is that I have months of prior runs to think about, and I know I’ve covered the interval distance as part of a strong finish to a much longer run before. Tonight, I actually had my hand up on my phone so I could see how much of the interval I was going to miss when I quit…but I kept going.

I wasn’t blogging prior to my first 5K…but there were some interesting moments. One that flashed through my head on my run tonight was when I ran in an unfamiliar park in Indianapolis during a business trip and got stuck outside a park gate minutes before it was supposed to open…but it didn’t open…and then it poured rain for over an hour and I eventually backtracked and walked 1.5 miles back to my hotel. Maybe when I have some time on my hands (or I’m procrastinating my dissertation), I’ll do some beginner flashbacks.

Tonight’s post-run fuel was half of a peanut butter cookie flavored Lara Bar. It totally tastes like a peanut butter cookie! We’re apparently already in a state of emergency in preparation for yet another winter storm, which could be snow, ice, rain, or all of the above…so I’m fairly certain tomorrow’s 3.5 mile run will be on the treadmill. Ick.


Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday!

Tuesdays mean two things: first run of the week, and a Weight Watchers weigh in.

Last one first…I’m down another 1.1 pounds, even after eating every single one of my daily, weekly, and activity points (and 7 points I didn’t really have. oops). I’ve made a conscious effort to refuel after my runs, and although that is a pointy snack (5 points), I think it’s helping with my metabolism and recovery. The receptionist at Weight Watchers asked me to speak up when I got my five pound sticker and tell everyone how many points I’d been eating. Hopefully that will inspire others to stop depriving themselves.

I had a great day at work today, came home to a super easy chicken taco salad dinner, and lounged around until my tummy settled. I went to check out my training schedule and was slightly surprised to see 3.5 miles on it. I’ve been running 3 miles every Tuesday for the last two months. I had to tack on a whole other half a mile?!?!?! 🙂 I dressed for the weather (long sleeve wicking shirt + tech shirt and pants), stepped out onto the porch and promptly came back for one of my lighter fleeces. It was already dark, and it definitely felt chilly.

For the entire first mile I was running on pretty dark streets (why weren’t the street lights on?), and the melted snow was just starting to freeze, so I think I was running on my toes more than normal. I can definitely feel it in my calves. I thought for sure I was moving at a snail’s pace, so I was pretty surprised when the voice in my ear announced my first mile at 13:41. I was running a familiar route, so I knew the distance was correct. Wow. I promptly took a short walk break 🙂

I walked once per mile for about .05 miles, but still managed to keep my overall pace at 13:54. I know my goal is distance and not time related, but it’s nice to see my pace improve. It probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve lost 16 pounds since I started running.

This run felt great. Can’t wait for the snow and ice to be gone for good!

February 18 Run PhotoOne last thing. Although the main purpose of this blog is to chronicle my journey to a fit & healthy lifestyle, I wouldn’t be opposed to it generating some income at some point. So, I’ve created a page that showcases the running-related gear and entertainment I use and like. Each product links to Amazon, and anything purchased through the links on my page will generate a small commission for me, and cost nothing extra for you. Check it out if you want (you can use the My Favorite Products link on the top bar to get there at any time).

I’ve also added some contact information and details about what types of products I’d be willing to review on this blog (which would hopefully result in a giveaway for my readers). Last, but not least, I’ll probably be applying to join an ad network once the blog hits its 3-month anniversary. If any of these additions every get annoying, please tell me.

Let The Record Setting Begin

Today was my longest run ever. I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, because for the exception of a 5K in March and a (yet to be determined) 10K in April, I should achieve this every Saturday between now and May 10.

February 15 Longest Run

I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to pre-run fueling. Last night instead of our planned steak dinner, we decided to try a new German bar/restaurant that had just opened near us. We missed Bavaria (our favorite vacation destination so far), and wanted to see how well they could replicate it. When it comes to beer, they definitely nailed it! I had a liter of Radler (beer + citrus soda), which it turns out is actually low calorie and low alcohol content. Of course, we had a (huge) pretzel with mustard, and then we each had a sausage topped with sauerkraut and relish and served with some french fries & a pickle. I ate half my sausage (not the bun) and about half the french fries.

This morning, I had some pumpkin oatmeal and milk for breakfast (good choice) and finished my dinner for lunch (questionable choice). Three hours later I headed out for my run. I had waited for the warmest part of the day (a balmy 24 degrees with a slight wind). I mapped out a 4.5 mile route that would take me through an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Within the first quarter mile, I burped and it tasted like sausage. That’s a running first. For some reason Nike+ stopped announcing my pace at each mile, which I think was good. I ran at what I perceived to be an “easy run” effort. When I saw the numbers after my run, I was pleasantly surprised at how much faster that is now than when I started running.

As I turned into the new neighborhood, I was struck by how gorgeous it was. There were tall trees framing the country road, and a lake on my left. I turned right into a subdivision and realized I’d have some hills to deal with.

Shortly after the two mile mark, I stopped for a short (maybe .05-.1 mile) walk. Usually, when I have to stop to walk I consider that a failure. But, I realized that I was walking at approximately where the first aid station would be during my race (and I plan to walk through all of them). I began to reframe walking not as a failure, but as a chance to regroup, gather my strength, and—in some circumstances—refuel. Taking short walk breaks should help me avoid having to walk the last few miles of the race.

After another mile I heard footsteps behind me. There was another runner, going much faster then me. When he passed me, I noticed that my stress level (generally low to nonexistent in running and every day life), increased. This could be why I’ve performed so terribly in races (even virtual ones). I start to try to compensate for my slow pace and keep up with people faster than me…and it tires me out. This time, I recognized it and tried to keep my pace steady. I believe I succeeded.

When I turned the corner into a more familiar neighborhood, I took another very short walk break, then resumed at a good pace. This was the home stretch. I felt good, I was only peripherally paying attention to the podcast I was listening to, and I knew I would be able to finish the run. I had to walk a short distance because the trail connecting a dead end road to another subdivision was completely snow covered, and that was where I hit the 4 mile mark. I still felt great, so I decided to pick up the pace until the end. According to the pace chart, I ran the final half mile almost a full minute over my average pace. I’m very happy with how this run turned out.

February 15 Pace Chart

February 15 SplitsIf this is how every long run feels, I’m going to be a big fan (I know I won’t be this lucky for ever). I have a few new blisters (not painful), and I refueled with a Lara Bar immediately after the run. Dinner was a tomato chickpea soup, and we’re about to head out to see Monument Men. Nice little Saturday 🙂

February 15 Run

I Didn’t Have A Treadmill Run In Me Tonight

I got on the treadmill tonight to do three miles and my legs felt yucky. I don’t know how else to describe it. My lungs were fine. I ran 1/2 a mile, walked a tenth of a mile, ran another third or so….and was done. BUT, I’m bound and determined to stick to my mileage schedule, so I settled into a fast (for me) walk at 3.4 and stuck that out until I had a quarter mile left, and then finished it off running. My heart rate was still up, and I was still covering the distance, so I don’t feel too terrible. I can’t wait for this snow to be gone!

Then it was on to strength. I did 25 crunches, 25 oblique crunches on each side, and 25 transverse ab leg lifts. Then two sets of 15 squat/shoulder presses (realizing now it should have been bicep curls…oops) and two sets of 15 standing rows, both with 8 pound weights. Then two sets of 15 bench presses, and almost two sets of 15 chest flies (turns out I can’t handle 8 pound weights with my left arm for that, yet). Last but not least, two sets of 15 tricep overhead extensions. I didn’t do much with the legs today, but I was really feeling my legs during the fast walking on a slight incline, so I think they’re covered.

So, 3 miles + strength = DONE. Guess what tomorrow is? REST DAY! Woohoo! I’ll be having a steak dinner with my valentine.

February 13 Run PhotoLook – you can sort of see a bicep muscle 🙂

A Snowy Night Run

My car slid all over the roads on the way home. I rolled through one stop sign when I was going just a smidge too fast. This means that the roads were snow/slush covered—not exactly prime running conditions. BUT it was only 17 degrees outside, there was once again no wind, and the inch or so of snow we got today was really fluffy. So, I convinced myself that I would run on the sidewalks in our neighborhood. Who cares if people hadn’t shoveled—it was soft, fluffy snow!

Well, that thought ended about three houses down when I stumbled on uneven snow and realized this particular neighbor hadn’t bothered to shovel after Saturday’s snowfall either. There are a few neighbors that clearly haven’t shoveled their sidewalk all month. Then, there are a few empty lots that haven’t had a sidewalk shoveled all winter.

So, I zig-zagged from sidewalk to street, trying to find the area with the best chance for solid footing. I abandoned the plan to run two laps around my block and ventured into the adjacent neighborhood, hoping for better conditions. Nope. I ended up back at my house with .15 miles left to go, so I overshot home and ran until the sidewalk ended (AKA someone decided it wasn’t their job to shovel the sidewalk of the home they moved into earlier this winter), then turned around and overshot the house again until I hit two miles. Take a moment and imagine me running back and forth on the street in front of our house, slowly, as I trudge through the snow. I hope it made you smile.

February 12 run photoThe pace was slower than last night, but I was working just as hard, if not harder.

February 12 Pace ChartSee where the pace drops after I’ve finished about half a mile? That’s where I ran out of shoveled sidewalks for good, and was mostly running in the slushy street. The first mile was 14:10. The second was 15:14.

I’ve got 3 miles + strength training on the schedule tomorrow. While the temperature should be in high 20’s, we’re supposed to get more snow. I’ll probably end up at the gym; it will make the strength training easier, I suppose.