Tag Archives: healthy living

Gotta Run One: So Far, So Good!

Howdy, ya’ll!

I’ve been working on my “Gotta Run One” challenge for, as of today, nine days. How has it been going? Has it been increasing my motivation or detracting from it? How are my little victory sticks doing with no official extended downtime? (Disclaimer: Every knowledgable runner I know said that I would be OK running daily as long as my rest day runs were short, slow and gentle.) Read onward to find out those answers and more!

1. How’s it been going?

So far, so good! I’ve really been getting used to the process of getting out there every day, which surprises me. Why? Certainly not because I lack an interest. Moreso because some days I genuinely do only have time for a single mile — and before this challenge, having only 15 spare minutes or whatever would mean that I just didn’t get my run in for the day. With this challenge, though, I am forced to take those 15 minutes and make it happen every single day. No excuses. And, to my delight, what’s been happening on days other than those time-crunch days? I find that once I’m already out there pounding the pavement, I’m usually inspired to stay out for more than my owed mile. Often it’s 5K for a shorter run; one day, it was 5 miles. I’m trying not to overdo it and overtrain, considering that I am a relatively “new” runner and my long run mileage is really ramping up quickly — I want to avoid injury! So I’m trying to do, out of 7 days, 2 “one or two” mile runs, a medium-length 5 miles or 10K, two shorter 5Ks, a “whatever I feel that day” run, and of course one long run. So far this little challenge has provided great reason to get out and stay out.

 

2. Is it increasing my motivation or decreasing it?

Yanno, I was really interested to see how this would pan out. I figured one of two things would happen: either 1) the mandatory mile-a-day would lead to me resenting running or 2) it would become the type of habit that I loved even more than I had previously. Thankfully, at Day 9, so far the latter seems to be the case. Rather than it being optional, it’s mandatory — that’s the point — and so instead of waging war with myself about “Eh, but this HEAT/HUMIDITY” or “Eh, but I only have time for like two miles which is barely worth it,” I’ve been happily going out there and doing what I can do, knowing that at least one goal — the goal of running every day – is being met. I actually think that’s where a lot of the joy in this is coming from: I’m being freed from my self-hewn prison of thinking that I MUST log bigger miles or I MUST try to keep a good speed every time I run. Of course, I don’t run as fast as I can every day or always run 10K or more. I have speedwork days, short run days, hillwork days, etc. I think what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been hard on myself — and, 30 lbs later, it seems that it’s been a good strategy — and that I’ve been disparaging of running very short distances. For example: the lone mile. This challenge is helping me reclaim that and is helping me find joy in the corners and hollows of the sport where previously I’d either not been looking or never noticed.

 

3. How do I feel?

This was the part I was concerned about before the challenge began. The good news is that so far, I am totally fine! Having rest days where I just jog a solitary mile has really been fine as a recovery method. Otherwise, because I’m tempering my speed and my courses, running hard(er) 5 days a week has been no problem. This week alone, on Monday I ran 5.2, on Tuesday 3.19, and Wednesday 8.18. No real soreness to speak of. Of course, today will be a 2 or 3 mile recovery run. The weekend will likely hold some shorter runs and maybe one longer one. Keeping it switched up. And on the shortest running days, I’m doing yoga as crosstraining. Gentler yoga one day, and more intense yoga (the P90X yoga actually) the other day.

4. So overall?

I’m happy, and not sore, and finding a lot of joy in the process. Stay tuned for more to follow! I’ve heard some people keep patterns like this up for a year or more… We’ll see where this journey leads!

Couch to 5K Update: Week 7

Um, Week 7 is SO not subtle.

Day 1: Run for 25 minutes.

Now, because I forced myself to do this back when they only asked me to run 20 minutes (I was intent on hitting that 2 mile marker, and at 5.0 24 minutes is needed for that), I was not too terrified.

I did it, and it was fine. At one point I did have to stop for about 23 seconds to hit buttons on the remote to start the next episode of The Office (we have the Wii hooked up in the basement which is how we’re streaming Netflix to that TV and I CHALLENGE you to use a Wii remote while still running), but I ran for an extra 1 minute at the end (so, 26 minutes total) to make up for it. I didn’t linger. I just had to wake up the remote and clickety-click.

As I’m running the full 26, I find that I get a little bit restless but I think that’s only because I have gotten so used to the time being broken up into smaller increments — it’s not because I’m TIRED or DYING. But it’s hard to figure out how to deal with the restlessness. I’m sure I’ll get used to it as time goes on. I find myself eying the clock too often. And again, it’s not because I’m too fatigued — I think I’m just too used to those distances being broken up.

 

I tell myself, The important thing isn’t whether or not you’re bored at times — the important thing is that you can (and HAVE) run more than two miles without stopping, now!

 

I tell myself, You will get used to this. Just like you got used to the broken-up times, you’ll get used to the all-at-once times.

 

I tell myself, You are seven whole weeks in, and going strong. An actual 5K run is within reaching distance.

 

I tell myself, Yanno, I’m really proud of you.

OH! I Should Tell You This Before I Forget!

So yesterday I had a really stressful day. I won’t bore you with details — but it was an emergency/unforeseen situation related to schoolwork and deadlines. I was so stressed that I was shaking — couldn’t sit still; couldn’t calm down. I knew I needed to get myself into a better place before I could accomplish anything to fix the situation.

SO WHAT DID I DO?

I went home from work and — to my shock and delight — my knee-jerk impulse re: how to calm down was to RUN!

And I did! I’m on Round Two of Week 4 for Couch to 5K — I’m not repeating weeks, to be clear, but I run more than three days a week so each week I just repeat that week’s workouts until the weekend, when the “next week” begins.

But yes, for the first time, I sought solace in going for a run.

And it worked.

I fixed my emergency situation feeling much more calmly about it all.

How cool is that?

Weekly Weigh-In #8

Well, in a strange and miraculous twist, I did lose weight this week!

Last night, we ate a bunch of berries. This morning, I woke up, ate my prunes and my nuts, and went for my run. Then, I had to hurry and shower to get to my hair appointment at 9:45 AM.

After my hair appointment, I had to run to Wegmans to pick up something. Namely, the snap peas I forgot to ask Chelsea to pick up earlier this week.

Then, quickly, before I got ready to go meet my friends for lunch, I weighed in. Imagine my delight when the scale read 174.9!!!!!!

This is an exact tie for my all-time lowest WW weight, achieved summer of 2011.

This is a really big deal to me! I’m so excited!

All that hard work, finally paying off. From here on out, we are past the major hurdle of losing what I had gained back! Now, we are on the right path.

Last week: 175.7
Today: 174.9
Loss: 0.8
Since January: 8.4
Since highest weight: 17.1

I am really, really happy.

I Am Breaking Up With The Internet.

Sort of.

Not completely.

Here’s what I’m thinking. It is absolutely my personality — that of the traditionally rabid grad student — to research to death anything of interest. So now that I’ve been working hard on my health, my eating, my fitness — what do you think preoccupies a huge amount of my time? Yes, researching ways to do it harder, better, faster, stronger. (Thanks, Daft Punk, for the phraseology.)

I have the personality of a terrier in this way. And, at the risk of sounding snotty, you don’t get the job I have or get this far this young in academia without an inordinate amount of energy devoted to making yourself better. So it is intrinsic to who I am — can’t turn my brain off, and can’t settle for half-assed work.

So here we are, with me and my fierce Googling addiction.

I think it needs to stop.

Chelsea has been saying — and my friend Ben said, too — that I’m changing a lot of things all at once and that it’s hard to see specific results over short spans of time. I believe they are correct. My friend Arielle says to be careful about obsessing — that it hurts more than helps. I believe she is correct. And I said to MYSELF, “Gosh, golly, gee — when I peruse the internet there are as many results saying running causes weight gain as saying running is the best way to lose weight, as many sites saying one thing as saying its polar opposite.” NO WONDER I AM SO GOSHDANG CONFUSED. It’s impossible to get real, factual, nonbiased answers on the internet because, there, everyone is both an expert and a critic.

I realize I could go see a nutritionist, but I reckon at this point there’s little they could tell me that I don’t already know, plus it’s expensive, plus I don’t need a standing appointment of any kind. I’m not in bad shape. I don’t need THAT type of extensive help.

But I do need, I think, to distance myself from the raucous frenzy of the internet and all its fitness gurus, self-help gurus, experts of all varieties. I must remove myself from it or I’ll go crazy.

Chelsea, Ben and Arielle are right: If I continue to do what’s healthy and right, and I give it time, and I am consistent, I will absolutely achieve the results I want.

So I suppose that’s the plan.

From here on out, for a whole month (AAH!) I will not use the internet to look up things about weight loss. I will, instead, only use it for recipes and other various types of fun/food purposes. I will still obviously do WW and count points. But I will not scour the internet looking for new ways to make myself feel like crap when I am doing EVERYTHING right.

Hmph.

I — and my longterm health — do not need more rain on Parade Day. It’s hard enough to feel good without other folks seeking to make you feel bad. Or nervous.

Knowing your sanity is worth it?

Definitely part of the Points of It All.

Confusion.

Lately, I’m a little confused.

I’ve been eating within my points. I’ve been running regularly. And at my midweek check-in weigh-in (I don’t really obsess over numbers but I do like to see if/how/when they fluctuate throughout the week), I gained about 1.5 lbs.

Realistically, I know this could be from anything. I’ve looked into it all on the internet, and what do I think now? I THINK I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE THE INTERNET, because all sides of every argument have wildly compelling statements to make, and I don’t know who’s right. I mention this because I looked up “Running, weight gain,” and found a ton of sources saying running can make you gain wait. These sources spouted everything from ideas about water retention to soothe muscles to a slowed metabolism and beyond. This seems fishy to me – running is exercise: the burning of calories. And if I’m not eating extra calories, shouldn’t it only help – not hurt? Of course, to Google “Running, weight loss” gets another vast set of answers, all declaring that running is the single best way to lose weight.

Who is right? I don’t know.

I do know that these pounds I’ve lost have come at the cost of such effort and hard work. To gain some of them back isn’t acceptable. I don’t know what to do.

I looked into, also, if there are any dietary factors contributing to my weight gain so far this week (though, like I said, numbers aren’t everything and plus I have two or three more days until weigh-in). Some things I discovered:

  1. After not eating grains for awhile, it’s possible that my eating bulgur and quinoa and oatmeal last week resulted in my body’s hanging onto those things longer than it should. Think of the way folks on Atkins gain ALL THE WEIGHT BACK when they eat like, a single bagel. This might be a minor version of that hustle. I’ll try a grainless week again and see what happens. (For the record, I am absolutely still eating carbs and getting enough of them. I just am not using grains to do it.)
  2. It is possible that I’m not getting enough fats – which can, apparently, slow weight loss. I’ve been trying to look up how much fat a person my height and size should eat, but am struggling to find a number. I do know that my breakfast has about 2 grams of fat, my lunch has 2.5, my dinner has somewhere between 5-10, and my nightly yogurt has 4.5, putting me at an estimated total of 19. That number, friends, is low no matter how you slice it. When I add in my healthy oils, I get 9 extra grams. So 28. Still sounds a bit low. I’ll investigate.
  3. I’m willing to make any dietary changes necessary to stay healthy and stay losing. If eating nuts will benefit me more than that nightly yogurt, so be it. If I need extra olive oil, so be it. I want to lose weight AND be healthy. There’s GOT TO BE A WAY to do both. But whenever I take to the internet to explore what’s happening with me, I find so many conflicting opinions and ideations of what’s wrong or right or what to do next that I just… I don’t know. It’s discouraging.

So here’s hoping that Friday sings a different tune when I hop on the scale. Midweek, I’m feeling really confused and discouraged – I’ve been working out and eating right, and for the first time in a few months, it somehow has backfired.

*Shakes fist to the sky, wrathfully.*

 

Gripes About Grains

Guys, here’s the thing.

Like, the real thing.

The thing is: I just don’t believe I MUST have grains to have a balanced diet. I am open to being told I’m wrong, but I have done not a small amount of sleuthing on the subject and here’s what I’ve learned:

1. All the “YES EAT GRAINS” people indicate that grain is a necessary thing, because of its fiber content. On the flip side of the equation, many others wrote that I can get all the fiber I need day to day from my fruit and vegetable intake, which is significant. I don’t mess around with my veggies.

2. Yes, some grains are very filling and pack much more protein than, say, white rice. Meanwhile, they still don’t pack as much protein as, say, my protein shake in the morning or my greek yogurt at lunch.

3. YES, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I AM AWARE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROCESSED CARBS AND WHOLE GRAINS. YES I KNOW. YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MANSPLAIN. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONDESCEND. I GET IT. That being said, I know there’s some grains that are far better than others — but they’re still quite a bit of points for not all that much punch, compared to my other alternatives. So why would I eat them? Isn’t that counter-intuitive if my fiber content is already high?

This is a serious quandry for me. I don’t believe in diets that are so restrictive that entire food groups are missing. I also don’t believe in weight loss that isn’t sustainable. I also want to make sure my body has every single thing it needs to be healthy, happy and strong. So I’m not trying to be ignorant, here, or obstinate.

But my thinking is this: If a cup of bulgur, cooked with some alfalfa sprouts and spinach, is 4 to 6 PP and leaves me feeling semi-hungry, was it worth all that hassle? Especially when a greek yogurt gives me more protein, and once I add flax seed, some Omega-3’s to boot?

Further — I’ve really taken a shine to that crock pot oatmeal I posted about. However, that gives me WAY less protein and nutrients than my breakfast shake, which contains protein powder, spinach, kale stems, flax, banana, and almond milk. So sure, I got some godforsaken grains in. But I didn’t get all that other stuff. And isn’t that other stuff more important than grains?

ANOTHER key point — I’m aware that not all grains are wheat-based; I know it’s possible to eat “gluten free” without eating “grain free,” and I am not confusing the points. Certain types of whole grain do not have gluten. And I cannot stress enough that NONE of my dietary concerns are about what gluten-free or grain-free means — but I want to add, also, that people survive JUST FINE without grains on many grain-free diets. If I’m very conscious about my veggies, fiber and nutrients otherwise, why must I have grains?

I’m saying this as someone who LIKES grains — who enjoys quinoa, who made bulgur for the first time today (that’s a post for another day though), who misses her breads and pastas. I have nothing taste-wise against them; quite the contrary.

But as someone on WW who gets a specific amount of cash to throw around, so to speak, is it really worth it to cash in entirely on stuff like oatmeal and forego my spinach smoothie?

NOTE: I can’t fit everything into a day and still lose weight. I can’t have the smoothie AND the oatmeal AND the yogurt, etc. I can’t. I am ALWAYS looking for smart ways to use my points so I’m not lying and flailing like Kim Kardashian when confronted by her failing career. I’m not making an excuse. I can’t have 6 points of oatmeal, 5 points of smoothie, and four points of yogurt and still have enough flexibility left to have dinner. Cannot. So don’t come at me all D0 b0tH GrrRRrLllL itZ fiNeeeee! Because I can’t — and it isn’t — or maybe it is.

I’m trying hard to figure out the best way to eat and the best way to keep losing weight. I’m working out regularly – 4 to 5 times a week. I’m eating right. And this past week, I only lost 0.5 lbs — which isn’t acceptable, to me. I had eaten more grains last week, and now I’m concerned they’ve had something to do with it.

Do I really need grains to be well? Or can I carry on with my whey protein shake, my yogurt, my bread-free soups/dinners and my healthy oil intake and still be just fine?

The Tiniest Victory.

Guys, the hormones must be setting in —

because the longer I think about how frustrated at this week’s small weight gain I am, the more I feel like crying.

Isn’t that dumb?

I know it’s dumb.

But I’m sitting here at my desk with my multiple bottles of water, thinking about how my entire diet consists of green smoothies, nutritionally planned and portioned meals… And somehow, I have gained weight. And somehow, I so feel like crying about it.

Several things cross my mind:

1. Well, after that freaky 4.7 lb loss, some minor gain is probably to be expected.

2. DAMN YOU, uterus! And your stupid hormones too.

3. I did not make any mistakes. So why did I gain?

4. I still want to cry.

Sad, withered, defeated-feeling.

BUT THEN…

I left the office for a few, and when I returned, there were delicious-looking, huge chocolate chip cookies on one of our tables. I tell you: in this hormonal, emotional, biologically-ravaged moment, I wanted one of those cookies more than I wanted my own soul.

I did not eat one.

I kept walking.

I just kept walking.