Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals: Gym Visits

With the new year approaching, I have of course been contemplating fitness goals for 2016.  I think we're all aware that I tend to be loquacious and I thought as a favor to us all, I'd break this up into a couple of shorter posts.  See GOALS, part 1 here.
Image source: Jawbone Email

2016 GOALS, part 2 -

Total Number of GYM VISITS: 

I wanted to make this an explicit goal for the year.  Something that I actually measure and track in my daily running log, which by the way, I am still using this year, all the way at the end of the year.  (That's a major accomplishment - never made it past summer months before.)  But I wasn't sure exactly what the goal should be, so here's my thought process:

52 *should * be easy... 150 is clearly too hard. Wait, how many times / how often did I get in there THIS year?  Fun Fact:  I can check that using my LAFitness app...

Check out this pattern:



So it turns out, yes, averaging once a week SHOULD be easy, since it's what I'm already doing.

Tripling that to 3 times a week just strikes me as impossible, setting myself up for failure.  So that's out.

Doubling it, though?  Seems daunting but if I'm committed to increasing my gym visits (translation:  actually DOING strength training and swimming more often), then making the habit stick should be tough but doable for the first 6 weeks, then easier, until I hit my Really Busy last-three-months of the year. And by then, all I have to do is remember that Gym Time is My ME Time, and hit it on the days when I've had a bad day and I'm feeling maybe a little bit stabby.

And, on the advise of The Hubs, amp that goal up by 10%, because if it sounds "doable", it's probably just a little too easy.  So then, 51 * 2 * 110% = 112.2.  Let's call it 110.

OTHER GOALS:

Remaining goals for the year are basically tangential... and should be achieved as part of these two larger Mileage and Gym Visits goals.  But for the record,

I am setting a goal of 30 swim sessions (counts as a gym visit)

I would like to incorporate some additional speed work into my running training programs.  The point of the speed work is to get back to running comfortably at an 11:30 pace.  To that end,

I am setting a goal of a Sub-35-minute 5k.  

The last time I set a similar goal, I hit it at the St. Patrick's Day race, so on the off-chance that happens again, I'm upping the ante already to a sub-34 5k.  My PR is 34:32 at an 11:07 pace. (Let's hope I need to refer back to this in 2016 to remember what I said.)

And yes,

I am setting a weight-loss goal for the year:  25 30 pounds.  

I am reticent about declaring this goal.  This may be worthy of a blog post of its own, but it's a post I'd rather not write so I'll keep it short.  My current weight is about 202 and has been steady within a couple of pounds of that number for most of the past year, despite all my activity.  Some of that was beyond my control, but that's over now.

I'm owning it.  I'm clinically obese and losing 25 pounds doesn't get me out of that classification.  But I'm over 40 and weight loss has proven MUCH more difficult since reaching that milestone.  I'm shooting for realistic, attainable goals.

But, again applying The Hubs's "amp it up" rule... let's make it 30 lbs.  According to the CDC, that gets me into the "overweight" category at 172.  I'm going to have to make some diet changes to get there, but I'm gonna #wycwyc the hell out of it.  That's all I have to say about that.

I'm ready to make next week the start of 365 days of Owning It.  As the tag-line says... It's MY life.
I'm going to LIVE it.  
I'm going to RUN it.

Image from SheBlogs

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Goals - Mileage

I don't LOVE the concept of New Year's Resolutions, but I am a big proponent of GOALS.  With the new year approaching, I have of course been contemplating fitness goals for 2016.  I think we're all aware that I tend to be loquacious and I thought as a favor to us all, I'd break this up into a couple of shorter posts.  I need to do work after all...

Image from Google Image Search

2016 GOALS, first up -

TOTAL MILEAGE: 

My 2015 goal was 750 miles, a big jump from 2014's goal of 500 (running-only).  I made that larger goal because I wanted to focus on riding my bike more often and the only way I could get that kind of mileage would be from getting on the stationary bike at the gym or on my actual real-life bicycle and hitting the trail.  This would help me in both riding the bike more, and (BONUS!) encourage more gym visits when the weather or my schedule made outdoor biking undesirable.

It worked!  I made big strides in my biking mileage - about 180 miles that I wouldn't otherwise have gotten.  I want the goal for next year to be challenging, require more biking, and get my running game back on track.  Last year I also committed to running only shorter races with the goal of getting faster.  That did happen, and it didn't.  I did run only shorter races - nothing longer than 10K and I did three 10Ks - but my pacing has not been improving.  My workouts have been sporadic and unfocused.  I haven't followed a dedicated training plan or done regular speed-work.  In all honesty, walking both dogs at the same time, while convenient and time-saving, really didn't move my toward that goal of getting back to pre-half-marathons pacing.  All that said, the mileage goal needs to incorporate MORE running, more consistent running, more focused workouts, yadda-yadda-yadda.

More of THIS:


Here's what I'm thinking:  a 20% increase in biking mileage gets me to around 220 bike miles.  Add in a 10% increase in running / walking mileage and I get to something like 880.  That sounds doable. And, on the advice of The Hubs, amp that goal up by 5-10%, because if it sounds "doable", it's probably just a little too easy.  So then, let's call it an even

930 Miles.

I like 930 because it's also my dream pace of 9:30.  (You may not recall, but I do:  my best-ever one-mile pace is 9:50.)

Next up:  a new parameter to measure in 2016.



Monday, December 21, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, No 4

Well Carla has done it again.  I read her post this morning on how she endeavors to instill confidence in her daughter and she asked for comments, saying "what do you believe is one thing adults can do to help preserve girls’ self-esteem?"

I've been meaning to write a blog post.  My last post isn't what I really want on my home page.  This new post was going to be about some small changes I've implemented in my routine recently.  I've also been noodling on a post about 2016 goals (what with the new year looming, who isn't?)

So clearly it was time for a new post.  My attempt at a short comment in response to Carla's question, turned into THIS:


I once tried out for little league baseball.  My brothers were both super athletic and loved it, and one summer I thought maybe I'd give it a shot.  At tryouts (I didn't know then but I do now... there's no being "cut" from the team, you just get put in different leagues or on different teams based on your ability.)(As an adult, I have the language for this - it wasn't "tryouts"; it was a "skills assessment".)

But anyway, at tryouts, the first exercise was fielding the ball.  Kids lined up and one at a time, you went onto the field and some adult (a "coach"? was this The Coach?) hit 10 balls in your general direction for you to catch.  I was terrified of being hit in the face and didn't catch anything that came at me in the air.  Not the pop-ups, sure as hell not the line drive.  I think I actually just squeezed my eyes shut and held out my glove.  Balls 10; CPAGrrrl zero.

Next, he hit 10 ground balls in my general direction.  This I thought I had a chance at.
But I missed all of them.
Every.  Single.  One.
All.  TEN.
  • They went around me, 
  • They came at me faster than I expected, 
  • They went straight between my legs while I flailed with that glove in one hand and reached with my other, bare, hand in desperation.  


I failed.  
Like, really, REALLY failed.  
And in front of our entire neighborhood.
In front of my father and both my brothers. 

The whole process probably took less than 5 minutes but it seemed to go on for hours.  I don't think I'd ever been THAT bad at ANYthing before. I was beyond embarrassed.  More than that - I had a great vocabulary - I could list TEN different words for how I felt.

I was mortified.
I was crushed.
I was humiliated.
I was ashamed.

I tried to hold my head up as I got back in line for the next round, our turn to hit.  The kid in front of me - I can't recall his name but I knew him from the neighborhood (and we were not friends) - he said something, berating me for not even being able to pick up a ground ball.

That was it.  I burst into tears as my father walked up.  I imagine he was saying something cheerful and encouraging.  I also imagine he had no idea what to do with a crying potential-ballplayer.  I imagine how confounded he must have felt.  (Basing this primarily on my own utter confusion any time someone begins crying in a situation where it's the last thing I'd expect.)  I don't know if he asked me if I wanted to leave, or if I said I wanted to or what.  But that's what happened next; I went home.  Baseball tryouts:  OVER.

I've learned to enjoy watching baseball.  But I've never been part of a team sport.  I was on a youth football cheer squad.  But my mom was the coach.  I'm not sure I ever really gave myself credit for that.  (Perhaps I should have.  Perhaps I should still. Perhaps I should.)  In high school, I started tryouts for the volleyball team, but quit before the first cut.  I have never joined in a company softball game.  The physical activities I participate in now are all individual - running, walking, biking, swimming.  I rarely even join a class at my gym.  This stuff isn't "my dad's fault."  Hell, I wouldn't say any of this stuff is even a negative outcome.  But I believe this stuff was influenced by the outcome of that day.  I wish my future choices had been influenced by a moment where I stayed in that line, even though I didn't want to.  I might have found out I was better at hitting the ball.

CPAGrrrl Cheerleader
Maybe I wouldn't have learned to be better at going after a literal ground ball.  Maybe I am simply Not Good At That.  But maybe I would have learned sooner how to go after a metaphorical one.  My father accidentally taught me that day, that it was OK to quit when something was a physical challenge.  And I believe NOW, that was a lesson I would have been better off without.  

I learned at an early age that my brain was a powerful tool muscle, that there are very few academic challenges I can't overcome with some effort.  And those lessons have stuck with me and gotten me through countless struggles.

I learned early to value what my MIND was capable of.
  • Sometimes you need more time, 
  • Sometimes you need to ask the right person for help, 
  • but sooner or later, 
  • ALL problems have an appropriate solution.  (correct? maybe, sometimes there are more than one of those) (and sometimes there are none.)

This GRRRL ENJOYED using her brain for fun and learning.

At the same time, I have walked away from countless physical challenges, saying:

  • "I'd never be able to do that." (says fucking who?) 
  • "I have no upper-body strength." (True, but why was that viewed as a permanent condition?) 
  • "I am not very coordinated." (I imagine that can be remedied or at least improved upon with some practice.) 
  • "I fall down a lot." (OK frankly that's just truth.  I fell down LAST Friday and was limping for 2 days.)

This GRRRL knew the value of long hours practicing, working to learn a new skill.
I think the concept I'm after here is "GRIT."[Thank you, Wikipedia.]  GRIT [thank you, amazing Ted Talk.] can be taught, and I eventually found it in my own way.  I just didn't have it yet, not when it came to "sports-y" things.  I believe GRIT to be the most important thing I can teach my child, the most important thing I learned from my parents, from my upbringing.


It took GRIT to keep going back to school after every obstacle that interrupted forward progress.  I was never ashamed that it took 12 years to finish that degree.  I worked my ass off EVERY MINUTE of those 12 years.
There are moments as a parent when you blow it.  Sometimes you KNOW you blew it - that time you snapped at your son for something small but really it was because your boss made you feel like shit at work that day and you hadn't had a chance to decompress before picking up the kids from school - you know you blew it that minute.  You do what you do - maybe apologize, maybe not, maybe you try to make up for it some way, definitely you try not to DO that again... (Parental GRIT in action.)

But sometimes - and as a parent these are the things that scare the crap out of me - sometimes you don't know you blew it.  My father blew it that day.  I'm sure he didn't realize it.  Certainly at the time, I had no idea anyone besides me was blowing it.  And it's not that he did anything wrong.  But looking back with the clarity of a 40-year-old woman who wishes she'd had more appreciation for what her BODY was capable of, as well as her MIND, I sure wish he'd found a way to make sure I stayed to the end of tryouts.

LIES I TELL MYSELF
(and proof they're not real)
No. 4

"I CAN'T DO [this thing]"

LIE.

Here's the truth:

I don't know how to do [that thing]. 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Walk Without a Dog

Today, I took a walk.  I went somewhere I’ve never been before, and walked around for a half-hour or so.  In a new place, one I’ve never visited with The Hubs, or with one or both of the dogs for an adventure, or even on my own or with a girlfriend, I walked.  The path was steep, so I climbed and climbed, slowly and slowly.  I watched my footing, as one does when navigating unfamiliar terrain. 

I did not think about my deep sadness.  I did not ponder grief.  I did not recall watching my dear bully struggle, in pain, and labor for breath.  I did not think about how useless and stupid I felt, watching him in his last moments, unable even to help him die with dignity.  I didn’t brood about how deeply affected my family has been by our big strong dog’s sudden but still somehow drawn-out passing. 

I didn’t mull over how much work I had waiting back at the office, or consider what I should do first upon my return.  I did not make a mental list of tasks and priorities.  I did not plan what’s for dinner or what I’ll do this weekend. 

I wasn’t even avoiding meditating on all these things.

I just watched my footing.  And I walked.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

What I Did Last Summer (or Late Fall)

I am surprised that my Manifesto Post was a full 2 months ago - I have been blogging in my head all along but haven't given myself the time to write it all down!  Life certainly hasn't slowed down, and neither have I... so here's a rundown of what I was up to the past couple of months, largely in pictorial form:
  • I did that bike ride I've been talking about!  22 Miles from home to my brothers-in-law's house and it was just as much fun as I'd suspected.  

  • Sadly, my #milestreak is broken, but I restarted it.  My mid-day walks have become part of my routine now.  I don't know how this might play out as the weather turns nasty, but I'm enjoying them, so I'll keep it up as long as I can.


  • Ran a few races

We Care Twin Cities 5K and 10K Challenge, check
Wishbone 5K-9 Run with Coty the #RunnerDog!
  • Celebrated Number Eleven with The Hubs!

  • I am now a #261FearlessAmbassador! Check out the web site for this newly organized non-profit organization and see if there might be a 261 Fearless running group starting near you! Our mission is to bring active women together through a global supportive community – allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running and walking onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment.   POWERFUL STUFF and RIGHT up my alley.  I will be incorporating their message into my social media posts and occasionally here as well.  I couldn't be happier to be part of this amazing group of women!


  • The Cubs blew it.  Again.  We had some fun watching, but I remember it being a lot more fun the last time around - 12 years ago we had a blast, right up until we lost it.
Wrigley Field on a happier day.
  • I read this post from @RoniNoone and started implementing some different strategies.  These small changes have really made a positive difference in my life recently.  I'm going to write separately about this one... in LESS than 2 months.
  • And I've worked.  A LOT.  Turns out, I have found myself yet another job where September and October are freaking INSANE busy and stressful.  But I'm managing, and doing my best to stay consistent.

Working from home, Louie likes to help.
  • But these are still my best friends.




It was a pretty good "summer." 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Live it. Run it. A Manifesto of Sorts?

I am applying for the 261 Fearless Ambassador program.

One of the questions is this:

If you could give advice to other women who are trying to incorporate running into their life, what advice do you want to share with them? 

This question sparked some passion in me that I could barely control.  I had to edit it down to the space allotted for responses.  So I thought I'd share it.
Here is my answer:


When I started running, I did everything I could to do it in private.  I didn't want anyone to see me trying to run, trying to teach myself how to run.  I had led a very sedentary life and in my late 20s I was trying to completely change how I viewed myself, the type of activities I spent my time on, and what I wanted to do with my life outside of work.  

I was afraid other runners would ridicule me, I was afraid that drivers on the street would honk and make fun of me, yell things from their car windows and embarrass me.  I was fat and I felt old and clumsy and I was terrified of being seen in public trying to change that.  

Eventually I gained the confidence to join a group of beginner runners.  Essentially it was a Couch to 5k-type of program and it COMPLETELY CHANGED MY WORLD.  My outlook on this activity was radically changed by the time I'd finished the 10-week program.  

I learned that the running community is not a group of high school jocks who are going to make fun of me for being slower or for struggling.  It’s a group of SUPPORTERS who have my back!  

The “intimidation” and "fear" I experienced was really more about fear within myself.  Fear of failing, fear of succeeding, or maybe just fear of trying something new.  

Don’t let THAT stop you!  

NEVER LET FEAR STOP YOU FROM DOING WHAT YOU WANT!  
Go out in the street!  
Run and walk on the trails locally! 
If you really need an excuse or to take attention from yourself, 
GET A RUNNING PARTNER - GET A DOG!  ANYTHING.  


Just don't ever let fear control your actions.  

It's YOUR life.  
Live it.  
Run it.

Actually, now that I've written that last bit, I like it so much I think I'll make it my new tag line.  Because this blog isn't really about faster times and weight loss these days; it's about how I'm living my life, and the ways I'm changing how I live my life.  I like it!


Friday, August 28, 2015

100 Days! 100 Days!

A few months ago, @RoniNoone offered a #milestreak challenge and I proclaimed, "I'm IN!"

 #Milestreak


Today is a big milestone for me:  I have #wycwyc-ed my way to DAY #100!  One Hundred Days of walking and / or running at least one mile a day. I would like to RUN more, but right now, my life is structured in a way that makes a RUN-streak a "guaranteed failure" situation.  I loved that this challenge allowed for "Run, Walk, Skip or Crawl" - just find a way to get it done.

This challenge has required some creativity (turns out there's a 1/4-mile loop if you walk the perimeter around my office building/parking lot), some commitment on days when I was swamped (aka "needed it the most") and days when I wasn't feeling it (aka, "needed it the most"), and some decision-making about what "counts" as walking a mile ("DOES hunting for a bottle of wine count?" - "What about unpacking the car last weekend for the Race for the Cure registration event - back and forth back and forth?" I wore my GPS out of curiosity and it turned out to be about 0.5 mile - should that count for the day?  It was a long and tiring day... but I decided in that case, Nope, it doesn't count.)

I haven't walked today's mile yet, but 
Today is NOT the day I break my streak.  

I have really enjoyed this challenge.  It has reminded me that it's really not all that hard and definitely not all that time-consuming to get a mile in, even in the middle of the work day, and once in a while, the dogs can get a two-a-day, even if someone else already took them for their Daily Adventure.

Maybe this is an odd way to celebrate, but because I'm working today and won't have a lot of time for extra exercise, I plan to walk at lunch and / or after work today, and celebrate with a 15-mile bike ride over the weekend.  (Yeah, bike miles don't count for my streak, but I have this other goal in mind:)

See, a few months ago, my brothers-in-law bought their first home.  Instead of living in an apartment a few blocks away, they now live in a very small town about 20 miles away on country roads.  We see them only slightly less than before - it's not THAT far.  But ever since they moved, I've had this idea about some day biking to their house, having The Boys meet me there with the truck, and then we can eat, drink & generally Be Us, and drive home in the truck with the bike in back.  (I would also have to pack a change of clothes in the truck and probably hit the showers when I arrive, but we're all close like that, it's cool.)

I don't ride my bike all that much, and 20 miles is an awfully long way for a leisurely rider like myself with a beat up cruiser of a bike, not really made for serious road mileage.

But I'm ambitious like that.  

I've been making a point to ride each weekend, anywhere from 5 to 10 miles.  This weekend I'm upping the ante.  I figure if I can get 15 miles on Constitution Trail and the country roads north of here, and get home via a route that DOESN'T go up that one big hill near my house (trying to top that hill at the end of a long ride is how I hurt myself back in May), then I think I can probably handle 20 a couple of weeks after that.  The roads are mostly flat and if I can physically do it, the only other concern is safety - and I should be able to select a route that keeps me off of the busiest of the country roads to the house.

So, a 15-mile bike ride is on tap for this weekend, in celebration of

100 Days (and MORE!) of Streaking.

Keep Streaking, My Friends

Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy, Safe and Warm


This post first appeared as a "Guest Post" on www.carlabirnberg.com. Carla is amazing - check her out!

The Hubs and I rescued this pitbull two years ago.  He's anxious, sometimes unpredictable, and early on, there were moments when he was downright scary.

We didn't know his history.  His behaviour and responses were like nothing we'd encountered in previous pets.  We wondered how to train him.  We worried if we didn't fix him address the behaviours, he'd do something really bad and end up euthanized. Longstoryshort, we brought in a professional who taught us how to teach this dog.  How to read him, how to redirect him.  How to remind him that he doesn't have to be in charge all the time.  And slowly, he learned to trust that we could keep him safe.

He still gets agitated sometimes, and when he does, one way I calm him is to make him sit (this is essential - he can't "hear" me if he's too agitated to sit), and I kneel (get down on his level), hold him steady with my face right by his (but not blocking his view of The Scary Thing That's Got Him Upset) and whisper as calmly as possible:

The world is a happy, safe and warm place.
No one and nothing can hurt you here.

Happy, Relaxed Louie
Until Louie bounded into our lives, I don't think I ever gave much voice to my own feelings on whether the world is truly a happy, safe and warm place.  Certainly people and things can hurt me (and have, of course).  From my early teenage years until I was... well into my 20's I guess, I can't quite say... I didn't really find the world to be all that happy, safe and warm.  For a variety of reasons that I won't go into, there was a great deal of instability in my life that carried on even once I had the ability to control such things (which one cannot do as a teen, but somewhere between 14 and 25 that responsibility shifts and it's on you, right?)  During that time, I would not have used any of those words, Happy-Safe-Warm to describe my experience of life in general.

I can identify the moment when that began to shift.  It wasn't a switch that was flipped (I don't feel safe did not overnight become I Feel Safe), but the day I met The Hubs, my world view began to change.  It was not "love at first sight" but within a matter of weeks, I found myself gravitating to wherever he was.  I wanted to cocoon myself in his apartment and never leave.
Louie is a fan of the Cocoon Lifestyle
I wouldn't have used these words at the time, but looking back,

I felt that as long as I was there, 
I was cloaked in something that made me feel 
Happy, Safe, and Warm.  
I felt that no one and nothing could hurt me, as long as I stayed inside of that bubble

And why would anyone leave such a bubble?  Ever?

The Hubs is a talker.  When he's happy, he's talking.  When he's angry, he's talking (but louder).  When he's reminiscing, he's talking (storytelling, more slowly).  When he's tipsy, he's talking (animatedly). When he's agitated, he's talking (faster and about anything and everything BUT the thing that has him agitated). He was willing and able to do all the talking, and he didn't need me to say much.  No pressure to talk about my feelings (yech) or my history (oh dear god no I don't want to get into that) or my plans for the future (at that point there were none to speak of) or my worries or my fears or any other damn thing.  I could sit with my feelings and listen to him and when (if) I wanted to talk, he'd listen.  Meantime, he would carry our conversations.

I wasn't SILENT, mind you.  I just didn't want to talk about anything REAL.  Not then.  I wanted to stay in the bubble, and I didn't want to acknowledge that anything else existed. And these days, The Hubs is one of maybe three people I really want to "get real" with.  (Yes, I know.  Louie isn't the only one around here with Trust Issues.) (Or maybe not? Maybe all anyone really needs is those three people.)

I read two posts from Carla Birnberg recently that sort of rattled my brain, kept bouncing around and wouldn't leave me. The first, about the concept of having a Safe Person, brought all this history to mind.  It reminded me how unstable, unsafe I felt in the Bad Old Days of my early 20's.  It reminded me what a blessing I have in The Hubs.  He has been my Safe Person.  We didn't call it that, though.  We just said "You're my favorite thing to do."

The second was this post about... well, to be honest, her words prompted me to talk to others about it, and I have had trouble explaining what this post is about!  I guess the way I read it, it's about the definition of "listening."  It touched me and reminded me of a specific conversation.  Her post resonated with me so much that I commented:

I worry often that The Hubs thinks i’m never listening. He’s a “yammerer” too and in the earlier days of our relationship when we’d snuggle into the wee hours I would often fall asleep, ear to his chest, listening to his voice.
I asked him if it hurt his feelings when I’d fall asleep while he was mid-sentence. He brushed it off – I think it DID, at least a little, hurt his feelings. Until I explained:
“Your voice calms me like a lullaby. It makes me feel happy, safe and warm. I never want you to stop talking and I never want to interrupt.”

We don't really snuggle late into the night these days like we used to. (When did that stop? And WHY? I resolve to incorporate more snuggling.)

He is STILL my Safe Person, my favorite thing to do.  
He still makes me feel Happy, Safe, and Warm.  
Every.  
Day.   
When we met

20 years later

Last weekend - Snuggling RETURNS!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Day Is It?

Last night was the last night of the 2015 Heat Wave women-only running group.  I sure do love that program.  I was a volunteer leader again this year - which is funny, because I'm not SUCH a strong runner... I'm just very enthusiastic.  Even as "leader" for the "back-of-the-packers" I sometimes struggle to keep up.  Last week was awful - my calf muscles were tight and wanting to cramp and they just never let up, the whole run I was just in pain.  Until about 40 minutes in.  That's right, you heard me.  FORTY minutes.  I had a miserable night and as a "Group Leader" felt like a failure.  But I guess I can say I was providing an example of how even experienced runners have a SHITTY RUN now and then.  Suck it up, buttercup.

During THIS week's run; however, got into a great discussion of "Balance." Shifting focus from "weight loss" goals to "fitness" and "attitude" orientation, and how that can affect things both positive and negative.  This past year, my goals had to make that shift, which required a great deal of soul-searching and conscious effort to reward myself for different behaviours, set different weekly / monthly goals, and begin looking at the number on the scale in a whole new light.  That gave me some space (mentally), taught me to be kinder to myself, and ease up on the pressure to Always Be Losing.  (When losing becomes impossible, that pressure is a recipe for self-hate, not self-love.)

My goal was to stay active, enjoy the "Active Lifestyle" I have constructed over the past six to eight years, and get comfortable maintaining that level of activity in the body that I HAVE, rather than waiting to start enjoying activities when I have the body I'm "supposed to obtain."  The part of that shift that was hardest for me was learning to tell the difference between "being kind to myself" vs. "being lazy" or "being complacent."  It's still not second-nature, but when I take the time to think through my decision-making process, it's always really easy to decipher.

Sometimes, "just showing up" is a win.  And I'm all about rewarding, celebrating, and acknowledging those days and giving props to myself when I Just Show Up.

From Michelle's Facebook Page - I saved as a great reminder for myself.
But other days... I can do better than Just Show Up.  Some days, I could kick the crap out of my workout and still come back for more.

The trick is knowing what day it is, and pushing myself appropriately.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Smoothie Adventures, Horned Melon

Here's what today's breakfast looked like as it was being assembled:


Horned melon:  SCARY FRUIT! It looks obscene and rather frightening when you slice into it.  Here's a close-up:

I was also very concerned when I saw all of the seeds.  And even more so when the smell hit me.  If you LOVE cucumber, you'd love the smell of this fruit.  Me, I hate cucumber.  I'm using the word "Hate" here.  I REALLY don't like the stuff.  The smell makes me a little nauseous, the texture makes me feel like vomiting.  And the taste... I do not find it pleasing.  (I love pickles and zucchini though...)

This thing smells strongly of cucumber.  I gamely pressed on, though (and decided if I just couldn't ingest the end result, I'd hit a drive-thru on my way out of town).  (Yes, I had a backup plan, and it was a drive-thru.)

At this point, I'm fairly certain this is going to be an unmitigated disaster, so I Googled a "real" recipe for a Horned Melon Smoothie (really this is so I have someone to blame when this is inedible and I put it down the garbage disposal).  Google says those seeds are edible, so I squeezed one half of the melon until all the jelly-like stuff and most of the seeds had come out.  

Every recipe I found had basically the same ingredients:  pineapple (there's a little in the mixed fruit bag we have on hand... oh crap I'm out), blueberries (check), and mango (check).  So I throw in half a frozen banana, half a mango, a couple handfuls of my frozen blueberries, and a crapload of frozen grapes in various colors, laid the cup on its side in the freezer (so the liquidy melon stuff wouldn't just be stuck by morning), crossed my fingers and went to bed.

This morning I added protein powder and as much water as it took to fill the cup to the "max fill" line, took a deep breath, and hit "Blend."

This.  Was.  Edible.


I liked it.  It was not actually all that different in taste from the other recipes I've been making. 

Though, with the skin from all those grapes and blueberries, and of course those seeds (which were broken up pretty well, but could maybe have gone another 20 seconds in the blender), the texture was kind of gritty.  After a while I learned to just swallow and stop trying to chew that stuff.

And it was so filling (think of all those seeds...) I was only able to drink about half.

I did NOT leave a sample for The Hubs.  He wanted nothing to do with this mess!

I'm a little curious how all those seeds (think "extra fiber") are going to affect my digestive system.  But it's 2pm and I'm alright so far, for what that's worth. (Too much?)

All in all, I say it was a successful experiment.  I'm still up for trying new things.

What about you?  Have you tried something new recently?  What is an unmitigated disaster, or were you pleasantly surprised?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Smoothie Love and a Weigh-In

The Hubs came home from a Sam's Club trip with a new toy a few weeks ago:  a NutriNinja(r) blender, food processor, smoothie maker and all-around most amazing tool in my kitchen right now.

The Ninja with accessories
Having this thing right there on the counter has quickly altered the way we have been cooking:  fresh salsa last night made from roasted poblano peppers - this was a last-minute decision and was considered, decided upon, and done, all in about 5 minutes.  Pureeing fresh produce to add flavor to whatever we're making for dinner just became a no-brainer.  And breakfast... well, if you follow me on Twitter, you know my whole breakfast routine has changed overnight.

I've gone a little nutty with smoothies lately. Partly it's the design of the NutriNinja... it came with three cups, which have to-go lids (hello, morning commute, how are ya?).  Total.  Game.  Changer.  What I've been doing is prepping the cup with fruit the night before (basically about 1 1/2 cups of frozen fruit plus 1/2- to 1 banana), putting the sippy-cup-lid on and sticking the whole thing back in the freezer. While I'm at it, I get my vitamins ready and set up the coffee as well.  Now I'm good to go in the morning.

Breakfast, Before and After
All I have to do is turn the coffee pot on on my way to the basement to do my hair and makeup, then come upstairs to kiss The Hubs goodbye, pull the cup from the freezer and add liquids (yogurt, juice, milk, water - some combination) and protein powder, screw on the blade and hit GO, and the IQ thingamabob does the rest.  The machine really seems to know whether or not the fruit has been blended enough to drink.  I don't have to babysit and pulse and shake it up so get fruit to fall down into the blade.  I hit that GO button and get my coffee ready and by the time that's ready, breakfast is ready too.  Put that sippy-cup-lid back on and out the door I go.

My consumption of fruits and vegetables (okay, fruits, mostly) and plain Greek yogurt has gone through the roof.  I've been practically hanging out in my favorite produce section every Sunday perusing whatever weird tropical items they have on hand (that I would normally ignore because I don't really know what to do with them). They are ALL good in smoothie-form!

Some of the ingredients I've been using (obviously not all at once... usually 2-3 at a time):

Ready for freezing
  • Dole mixed frozen fruits - a Sam's Club item that I'm burning through lately.
  • Frozen blueberries, something we've always kept on hand but ran out of very quickly last week.
  • Bananas were on sale recently at Aldi for like 12 cents a pound so we bought... well, ALL of them.  I just waited for them to get really over-ripe and then packaged in sandwich-sized sip-top baggies and lay flat in the freezer.
  • Fresh blueberries - they go bad fast but I just rinse and layer on a paper towel in a baking sheet and put it in the freezer.  In this case it was much cheaper than the frozen.
  • Grapes - see what I did to fresh blueberries.  Again, these were on sale SUPER cheap recently so I bought them all.  I've never heard of grapes in a smoothie but it works marvelously.  Also, they're fun to eat when they're frozen.
  • Mango?  Yes - a little goes a long way because it's so flavorful and you can freeze it once you bust into it.
  • Dragon Fruit?  Oh yeah.  It looks like cookies & cream but has a super mild flavor that really gets lost if you're not careful.
  • Papaya?  Getting used to it.  a little goes a VERY long way for me.  Taste is weirdly spicy, smells like a vegetable - a little like a red bell pepper, maybe? - but the texture is very much like a melon - cantaloupe or pumpkin maybe.  It's weird but a nice flavor to keep the daily breakfast smoothie from getting boring.
  • Horned Melon?  I bought one last Sunday but haven't yet had the nerve to cut it open.  I guess that's tomorrow's fruit experiment.
Giant Papaya
I love that I can "eat" breakfast in the car, no muss no fuss, and NO DRIVE-THRU.  This is working really well with my lifestyle right now.

For the record, nobody's paying me to write this.  I am just in love with the product.  but if you're interested, I believe The Hubs picked this beauty up at Sam's Club.  I've been giving out some @NutriNinja love on Twitter for a couple weeks now.  They shared some recipes and helpful tips as well!

This morning I was getting ready to leave, I went into the bedroom to kiss my sleeping husband goodbye and tell him "I love you, have a great day" as I do most Mondays and Tuesdays.  He rolls over, and still sleeping... grunts, "Oh God it's Smoothie Time again.  Close the door!"

So there's a little peep-hole into my world.

On a more serious note... I have for no obvious reason, dropped 4 pounds from my previous week's weight.  I'm skeptical, holding excitement at bay until next week's weigh-in.  I can't take the disappointment when this happens and all or nearly all of the weight reappears the following Sunday.  My goal right now is maintenance and getting fitter / healthier by eating healthier foods and moving more.  I really don't want to get caught up in obsessing over my weight right now.

But hey, I'm gonna stick to the smoothie thing for now - because I'm enjoying it - and if it happens to be putting pressure on the scale to move that direction, so be it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, No 3

LIES I TELL MYSELF
(and proof they're not real)
No. 3

"Sh*t it's too late to go to the gym.
- I don't care. It doesn't matter."

LIES.

Here's the truth:

I do care. 

It does matter. 

When I say these things, it's because: 

I feel frustrated. 

I feel powerless. 

And maybe I really DON'T have time now that I've worked late. So maybe today isn't going to be a Gym Day after all.  Too bad, life is tough.  Plans fall apart, they change.  Deal with it. #SuckItUpButtercup

But to say "I don't care" and "It doesn't matter" devalues my efforts.  It's one of the worst ways I can sabotage myself with negative self-talk.  Here's why:


  • If It Doesn't Matter, then why go to the gym at all?  Why plan on it in the first place?  If I Don't Care, then what's for dinner? Deep-dish pizza?  Pasta with extra Alfredo sauce? Just dive right into a vat of ice cream? 
  • That's the next step in that line of thinking.  If I Don't Care, there's no reason to eat mindfully, make goal-oriented food choices... because if I Don't Care, there's NO GOAL to work toward.  Convince myself that It Doesn't Matter and not only is the battle lost, there's no battle left to fight.

I'm pretty sure at some point I read a post from Michelle that I would really love to reference here... but I can't seem to find it.  She's been blogging pretty regularly since like the dawn of time, and she's very insightful, so I'm sure it's there somewhere... 

Here's what one article has to say on the topic:  Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Yourself
"There’s no use. Telling yourself there is no use steals your personal power and leaves you with no motivation." 

One of the suggestions in this article is to clearly identify when you have such thoughts. This is actually something I do often.  Because when I HEAR these thoughts out loud, they sound RIDICULOUS - which, of course, is exactly what they are.  RIDICULOUS. Calling it ludicrous puts me in the position of devaluing the THOUGHT, rather than the other way around.  I can reclaim my value, confidence and esteem just by segregating my negative thoughts into their own little Shame Box.


Here's the author's suggestion:  “Use the following formula: “I just had the thought…” (repeat the negative thought here). If you caught yourself saying, “I am not worth it,” for example, then you would pause and say, “I just had the thought, ‘I am not worth it.’” Using this formula securely labels the thought as a mere thought. If you do not realize that what you said was just a thought, you run a higher risk of taking it personally and allowing it to ruin your day.
Here's another good article on the subject (I found while looking for that mystery post on Michelle's blog!)  Challenging Negative Self-Talk - this one provides questions we can ask ourselves to help challenge those lies we tell ourselves.  For example: 
  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?
  • Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?

I don't really have any wrap-it-up conclusions for this post.  I'm writing here about a concept that continues to challenge me.  I'm working on it.  And I'm going to keep at it, try to catch those I Don't Care and It Doesn't Matter thoughts as they happen, call them out, and keep acting like I DO care; it DOES matter.  

Because it matters. 
To ME.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, No. 2

My favorite blogger has been on hiatus for a bit.  As a result, I've welcomed some new bloggers into my life, and I've been feeling the urge to write again myself.  If I'm not finding motivation and inspiration in my usual sources, I'm going to create it on my own.  Cuz that's how I roll.  I'm going easy on myself though - not making any rules about whether and when and how often and how much to write, but today I had one of those inner-dialogue type of moments and I'd like to write it down while I'm thinking about it.  Blogging, #wycwyc style.

SO!
LIES I TELL MYSELF
(and proof they're not real)
No. 2

"I wake up STARVING every morning!"

LIES.

There are times when I think "I'm hungry" and later realize it's something else.  I'm not really talking about that.  There are TONS of great blog posts on the topic and I'm sure I have my own take on it if I think about it for a while, but for ME, specifically, I always eat breakfast. 

Like, ALWAYS

Not as a diet / nutrition axiom (everything I've EVER read on the subject insists you must never, never skip meals if you aim for long-term weight management and fitness - FUEL YOUR BODY!), but because it's pretty much the first thing I think about when I wake up most days. 

"What's for breakfast?"

"Oh, I have to pee.  What's for breakfast?"

And I'm not talking about having a nice fruit smoothie.  Or a bowl of high-fiber cereal and a bit of Greek yogurt.  I wake up thinking about eggs, bacon, sausage, and biscuits.  Basically I wake up thinking about a Hardee's breakfast sandwich.

I've learned over the years that I'm not really all that hungry first thing in the morning.

Don't get me wrong, if you put that breakfast sandwich in front of me, I'm GOING to eat it.  I will not hesitate.  (Gotta work on that...)  But if I have a shower, a cup of coffee, it wanes.  The urgency fades.  And, like a morning fog being burned off in my brain, the urge to eat ALL THE FOODS subsides and a more reasonable desire for breakfast takes its place. 

Then I can enjoy my Greek yogurt with some granola or nuts.  Maybe some dried fruit.  Or maybe on a Saturday morning, a couple of eggs and a single piece of toast.  Especially on a Saturday, when typically I'll get a fair amount of exercise and I need that extra bit of fat and protein to keep me going.

I've also learned that if I can get through this early morning desperate desire for food thing, I can control the rest of my day pretty well.  I have VERY weak Resistance Muscles in the morning.  Coffee helps, a LOT, but that usually doesn't come into play until after I've gotten to work.  Until I've had my coffee... I'm vulnerable.

Oh... what got me thinking about this today?  Here's what greeted me when I came in.  This is not even lunchtime, people!  Those aren't MUFFINS (at least that would be a breakfast food!) they're just DESSERTS.

REALLY????

I have developed a strategy to calm, pacify, and sometimes control this monster that is released each morning. (Jillian Michaels and a bunch of scientists have some sciency explanations for all this in her book and elsewhere, if you're interested.  It IS nice to find I'm sorta normal.)  It's not fool-proof, but most days I can count on it to keep me away from the drive-thru.

It's a three-step process:

Step 1) Get up late so I don't have time to make sausage and eggs and bacon and biscuits for breakfast.  This is the easiest step.

Step 2) Keep ready-to-grab breakfast foods available at all times.  This includes but is not limited to: 
  • Greek yogurt in tasty flavors that I'm likely to actually EAT.  (Not that revolting banana atrocity I tried last week.  Not that.)
  • Cottage cheese - take 10 minutes on Sunday and put cottage cheese in 5 or 10 of those tiny Tupperware containers that hold a half-cup each.  And don't forget to buy a vat of the stuff at Sam's Club.  (And while I'm on the subject, I personally don't bother with Low-Fat or Non-Fat cottage cheese.  It saves you TEN lousy calories per serving, and something delicious somehow gets turned into something noxious when they remove the fat.  Just eat good tasty cottage cheese in an actual half-cup portion and you'll be fine.)
  • Home-made granola bars or loose granola - tons of great recipes out there, take 45 minutes out of your weekend and you'll have a month's supply and it's delicious.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.  Who doesn't love a hard-boiled egg?
  • I have been known, on occasion, to make ahead things like egg cups or hearty muffins, but lately that's not been my thing.  Has worked just fine when I've done it, though.
  • Protein bars - I keep a stash of them in my desk drawer, and I've been known to keep some in the trunk of my car and/ or in my purse.
See?

Step 3) and some days this is actually the hardest step for me, even though it sounds simple.  I do my very best not to drive to work through the Gauntlet of Fast Foot Joints that lies between my house and my office.  I can't eliminate every possible bad choice - even the gas station has doughnuts every morning - but skipping the main drag that takes me past all the breakfast sandwiches keeps me relatively safe until I've had my coffee and I'm thinking straight. 

So, once again, Screw you, lying voice inside my head.  I'm gonna eat this yogurt and enjoy every bite.  And later, I'm going to have a sensible lunch.