Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Course correction - where is that map?

Not sure where to start with this one.  I'm really close to finishing a great book that was featured as the book club selection for Another Mother Runner entitled "Down Size: 12 Truths for Turning Pants-Splitting Frustration into Pants-Fitting Success."  The author, Professor Ted Spiker, is someone I had never heard of, even though he blogs at one of my favorite magazine's website - that being Runner's World.  I promise, I'm done linking other pages :).

I wasn't ready to read yet another how to be successful at weight loss book, but I had some time at Barnes and Noble and took a quick look at it.  Much to my surprise, it is full of honesty portrayed through humor and personal experience peppered with scientific studies and a host of prominent exercise physiologists' opinions on the topic.  I enjoyed the first chapters so much that I popped for the audible.com version so that I could listen while I'm walking.  On that note, I was able to log over 20 miles of walking last week and am aiming to keep that up until I am cleared to run after surgery on Christmas Eve.

Professor Spiker and I could have been separated at birth.  I laughed; I agreed; I shook my head in amazement of how right on he was with what I've experienced during this journey of improved health and weight loss that I've been on for the past five years or so.  I've been thinking lately that with all of the research and reading I do with regard to nutrition and exercise, I should be able to tweak what I eat and how I exercise to work specifically for me, and not blindly follow a prescribed eating plan, nor a generic half-marathon training plan.  This is not my first time at the rodeo.  I have data that I can rely on of my own accord. 


One of the best take away gems from the book is the "if/then" plan of attack.  For example, if I am at a meeting at school and I haven't had a chance to fuel properly, then I will have a protein bar in the car/mypurse/myworkout bag, etc. with a bottle of water for emergencies.  The whole fail to plan and you're planning to fail.  I've always subscribed to this, but breaking down into this very easy thinking is exactly what I need.  Today, I'm focusing on fueling my body and not my mind.  This morning's breakfast is something I've been looking forward to doing since I saw it appear on my twitter feed a few weeks ago.  I had 2 tablespoons left of Nuttzo in the jar (yes, I measured it!) and made some Bob's Red Mill high fiber oat bran cereal to mix into it with a few strawberries on the top.  It was SO awesome, and so filling. 
I also made a low-cal green protein shake that's in the freezer for later, as this breakfast filled me up so much that I wasn't hungry.  Imagine that.  It's really cold outside and I like to do my longest walk of the week today.  I'm going to go bundle up and see how much I can get done and concede to walking the treadmill for the last portion if I feel I need to warm-up.

I so need to just focus on the present - one meal at a time, one walk of the day and set the rest of the day up for success.  Today, I'm roasting all the squash sitting on my counter, baking up some chicken breasts and getting fresh greens at the store so that I'm ready for tonight and tomorrow and making the best choices possible.  No one is going to do this for me and no amount of me justifying my choices due to my busy schedule or my energy level or whatever is going on will do it either.  Time to put back on the big girl panties and get it done.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New idea for breakfast and our first taste of the white stuff...

As I've written previously -- incessantly it seems -- it's been hard to get on the horse and stay there.  This morning, I made breakfast for the family that includes cinnamon bread french toast, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and your juice of choice.  I woke up hungry and knew I had to have a snack before I made their breakfast and clean up the kitchen before I could concentrate on what I was going to make for mine.

Thank heavens for a small honeycrisp apple and a tablespoon of Nuttzo.  I decided I either wanted some cheesy egg dish or pancakes made with cottage cheese that I had spotted during the week.  I didn't keep track of where I saw it, so did a quick Google search on my iPhone in the kitchen and found this great blog.  I used the recipe for cottage cheese pancakes and upped the cinnamon to a full teaspoon and used the whole egg.  I had a few strips of bacon leftover from the family breakfast and some tasty raspberries in the fridge.  I also had these single use packets of Nuttzo we received from the company when I participated in the Ragnar Chicago Relay back in June.  This was most tasty and a perfect Saturday morning breakfast.  I may even spring these pancakes on my kids some morning and see what they think.




I've been able to walk every day this week and am currently up to 20 miles, which is a great base for me when I'm running.  I'm planning on keeping this amount of mileage up until I can run again on Christmas Eve.  I should be ready to go by then, and stepping up to speed should hopefully be easier.  Yesterday, we got our first taste of the white stuff.  Thankfully, it didn't stick.  One of my good friends who I run most of my races with gave me a call and asked if she could tag along on for my walk yesterday.  It was great to catch up and chat with someone while walking, even if by the time we got back it was beginning to get very chilly.  I'm going into the weekend feeling accomplished and prepared.  I hope this sticks better than the snow!



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Forgiveness

I was perusing Facebook this morning after eating breakfast (again, not my finest breakfast choices...better, but not where I want them, but more on that later) and read an article on Kara Goucher's recent performance at the NYC Marathon.  Most people have heard the conditions were less than ideal, and it was tough on many if not all people running the race, mortals and elites alike.  Kara has a special place in my heart because she is from Duluth and those of us from Northern Minnesota tend to stick together!  Anyways, this particular image was among her facebook photos: 
I've been struggling as of late, and can't seem to find a groove that lasts much longer than a couple of weeks at most.  Why can't I do what I did to lose 135 pounds originally and have it work to get the 15 or so that have crept back on back off?  Granted, I cannot workout with the same intensity or do the same things I did thanks to surgery recovery, but as we all know, weight loss is about 75-80% diet anyway.  I started googling forgiving oneself and then refined it as it relates to weight loss.

This article has some great strategies to do just that.  These 14 examples of positive thinking are great:

1.    Avoid absolutes and exaggerations
2.    Halt negative thoughts immediately
3.    Look for the positive
4.    It's OK to blow it
5.    Don't bully yourself
6.    Encourage yourself
7.    Lose the guilt
8.    Only you are responsible for you
9.    Be responsible for your feelings
10.  Be kind to yourself
11.  Let it go
12.  Learn to accept compliments and build your self-esteem, self-image and confidence
13.  Let bygones by bygones
14.  Focus on what's possible

So much great info underneath all of the headings in the article.  It's a quick read and I'd encourage everyone to peruse it.  The best take-away message for me was under number five.  "Don't hold yourself to standards that you wouldn't expect others to meet.  It's great to want to do well, but expecting yourself to be better than the best and then punishing yourself when you fail is a vicious cycle.  Using expressions like 'I should have' is just a way of punishing yourself after the fact.  Stop it.  Live in the present and move forward.  Don't drag the past along for the ride; it gets heavy...."

This seems to be a theme, because yesterday's blog post from Another Mother Runner on a positive attitude outlines having the rare ability to take a set-back or challenge and turn it around to make you stronger.  It all comes back to this:

I'll be channeling my inner Dory and Sara Bowen Shea and try to take these challenges head-on and learn from them to make me stronger so that 2015 is my best year yet.  At this point, I'll settle for a good and solid, Tuesday, November 4, 2015.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding my way back to the main trail

This past weekend has proven more challenging than I anticipated.  I'm not sure why I thought it wouldn't trip me up, because I didn't have a clear plan on how I was going to get through the weekend making good and healthy food choices.  I went into the weekend woefully unprepared since I had spent the week previous at school chairing the Scholastic Book Fair.  I did so well bringing my breakfast with me and hitting a local shake shop for a protein shake for lunch.  On Friday, I was busy preparing and hosting a sleepover birthday party for my youngest daughter.  On Saturday, I traded in my old vehicle for my new 2015 Subaru Outback that had just arrived from the factory just a mere 30 minutes after the party-goers had been collected.  It was a perfect set-up for fail.  So pretty though :). 

I got up this morning all prepared to enact "No Crap Monday" and proceeded to get everyone out the door on a half-cup of coffee.  Meanwhile, I'm running lunch to my husband after dropping off the girls at school and getting more and more hungry by the minute.  There is no way I'm going to eat anything in my new car, so at least that took a side trip through a drive-thru out of the equation, but I still managed to hit Quik Trip and grab a small box of 6 doughnuts so that I'd have some "for the girls" when they got home from school.  I was so close to being home and avoiding the damn doughnut.

So, after a doughnut and a piece of leftover quiche in the refrigerator, followed by a frozen homemade waffle with a tablespoon of Nuttzo on it - I'm now full......well, I have logged it into My Fitness Pal and am moving on with my "No Crap After 9:30am Monday."

All the ups and downs of weight maintenance have at least taught me a couple of things.  I may or may not pay attention to it when I'm in the heat of the moment -- thankfully, most of the time I do nowadays.  Two of my biggest challenges are being overly tired and overly hungry.  I'm getting pretty good at stopping myself when I'm craving junk later in the afternoon and identifying it as being tired and either distracting myself or just going to lay down for 15 minutes or so.  I usually avoid the overly hungry state of mind by planning my meals in advance, but after this weekend - this has fallen apart.

I ran across this little article on the web that highlighted five tricks used to beat unhealthy eating habits.  Some I knew about such as using a mint or gum after a meal when you know you've had enough to eat, but yet that little voice inside your head whispers that maybe you need something sweet in addition to your beautifully healthy and spot-on meal.  However, this little tidbit about food psychologists believing that foods we would describe as crispy, like potato chips or french fries, are even more hard-wired to be more attractive to us.  The author goes on to say that millions of years ago, early primates ate lots of insects and plants and if something our ancestors ate was crispy, it was a sign of freshness and meant that it was safe to eat.

Of course the information about the ghrelin hormone and how it is produced when you're hungry is also old news for me, but I guess I didn't realize the mechanics behind it.  Once the hormone is produced, it interacts with the neurotransmitter NPY in the brain and it signals to you that your body's energy levels are low.  NPY lives in the hypothalamus -- there is no amount of willpower that can withstand the signals that the hypothalamus sends to the brain.  It controls energy levels, memory and emotions.  This little graphic created by the University of Sydney outlines the satiety index. 
Something else for me to keep in mind when I get to the point of no return with regard to healthy food choices.  Let's hope the next time this happens is never - or at least somewhere in the distant future!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The day after....

Halloween....usually I end up being the martyr and politely say "no thank you" to candy that is offered to me.  Then, the next day or days depending upon how much candy is left, turns into grabbing a piece here and there; either out of convenience or worse, out of a feeling of deprivation.  "I said no yesterday, I deserve a piece today and it's totally fine if I'm eating them by the handful in secret."

I wasn't planning on having any candy.  I didn't open the bags until just before the kids starting coming to the door.  I didn't overbuy the amount of candy.  I had been cleaning all day in preparation for a sleepover party for my youngest daughter and hadn't fueled properly the whole day. I figured if there was a day, I might as well loosen the reigns in Halloween.

I'm oddly at peace with the whole situation.  I had my fill of fun size candy bars, a small piece of my daughter's cake, and that was dinner, but, that's ok.



The challenge will be getting right back to basics and not letting the major amount of sugar and processed carbs circulating in my system today dictate my healthy choices today.

Sieze the day will be my motto, along with my own little addition....No Crap Saturday!!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Morning Rant on Media vs Obesity and a really cool weather app!!

Ok, normally I don't  pay attention to the major amount of unrelated-to-weather stories appearing on the Weather Channel's Facebook Page (unfollowing them shortly).  In fact, I've been getting my weather-checking fix by using several different and cool apps on my iPhone....but more on this later.  This is the image and headline for this morning:

Why does the media - or anyone else for that matter - think it's ok to run around and take pictures of people who are overweight and just use their bellies or butts to support whatever story they are doing.  Are they getting consent from all of these random folks?  Or is it not necessary because you can't identify their facial features?

This bothers me.  First of all, when I was at my heaviest and struggling to find a way out of my situation, it was my worst fear that I would turn on the news, local or national, and have my butt or belly on the screen.  There are real people attached to these bodies that have lives and people in them that love them.  They have strengths and talents, and along with that, many people carry so much shame about their situation.  I know this first-hand.  I so wanted to manage my stress and emotions in a healthy manner, but I couldn't, and I didn't know why.  I was successful in so many areas of my life, but why couldn't I figure this out?  Maybe the Weather Channel knows...

Is it so hard to treat others with respect?  Regardless of their faults and trials and tribulations?  Last time I checked, no one is perfect.  Helping one another and building each other up should be the foundation of our society and not tearing each other down.

Now that I'm off my soapbox - if you'd like to check out probably the best weather app I have found, and I LOVE my weather apps, especially as it gets closer to a long run or race; search out Dark Sky on the App Store.  I believe it costs about $4 or so, which is down from what it was when it first came out.  I actually got it on a Starbucks free download, and it has turned out to be such a great resource - and looks so cool.  It will pinpoint where you are and you can set your home address, so that when there is weather in the area, it will send you push notifications depending upon the sensitivity setting.  My kids are in awe every time we hear the alert signal, and look outside, and sure enough, this app is spot-on.  Living in Northern Minnesota - this is no small feat.  Our weather can turn on a dime and most of the time, it isn't for the better!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mind over Matter

I started out this week with renewed commitment to healthy eating.  I had no residual surgical pain, I could get to the grocery store and if I can't exercise at the intensity level I did pre-surgery - what a great time to dial in the diet and get back to basics.

I dubbed Monday, October 20th as "No Crap Monday" and put that as my Facebook status for the day.  I linked a picture of my healthy breakfast (I was not originally thinking I'd put this on my blog, so the picture quality from my phone is less than stellar, but you get the idea). 
Egg white scramble with a small bit of oatmeal in a mug made in the microwave.  A few of my friends cheered me on, and another few jumped on my bandwagon.  As I navigated my way through the day, that little label and announcement on Facebook put healthy eating in the forefront of my mind, and every time during the day I thought about popping some little bit of food in my mouth for a taste - I stopped.  Told myself and others around me, no - this is No Crap Monday.  It was the first perfect day of clean eating in a while.

So, to perpetuate the goodness, I tried to think of something for Tuesday.  I had many suggestions from the peanut gallery on my Facebook page, and ultimately settled for "Tough Love Tuesday."  Another suggestion was Tossed Salad Tuesday, so I made this a priority as well - find or make the best possible salad I could.  I had a lunch meeting at Va Bene, a great local place owned by a superb family and was able to drink lots of water, say no to the most delicious homemade focaccia bread, and order the Nicoise salad. 

Much to my surprise - another great day - no cheats and no BLTs (bites, licks or tastes).  My husband brought back some amazing chocolate from Belgium and offered me a piece.  I politely declined (don't worry, I had several pieces before the surgery...) and he says, "oh yeah, it's no shit Tuesday."  Well, not exactly the wording I used, but the sentiment was most certainly there. 

The post-surgical bloat came off in earnest over the past couple of days, and I'm sure a good portion of it has to do with eating to fuel; not eating for entertainment.  I got out for a 4 mile walk on Monday, and a 2 mile walk yesterday.  I have a sick kid at home today, so I'll have to carve out some time later when the hubby gets home in order to get outside, or head down to the treadmill.

I think today's label will be "Water Wednesdays" as I've been slacking in the hydration department for awhile.  For the first time in awhile, getting back to my pre-plastic surgery happy place (140-145) looks like it is achievable.  I seemed to put on 10-15 pounds pretty quickly after surgery, and it has just been difficult to get the scale to move in a downwards direction.  Here's to continued success for me and everyone else this week! 



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Long Road

A view from my recent walk...and a metaphor for so many reasons.  This has been a difficult year for me, yet - when updating this blog - I realize despite not completing the races I did the way I wanted to; I accomplished quite a bit.

The highlight of 2013 was participating in a Ragnar Relay (10/4/13) from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC with the ladies from Another Mother Runner and 23 other ladies I had never met from all across the country.  I trained hard, ate clean and was ready to rock it.  Unfortunately, from a running standpoint, it was hot as Hades that weekend, and just getting it done was enough for each leg.  I conquered my fear of running by myself, at night, and through a cornfield.



A few short weeks after the relay, I was scheduled to finally have some plastic surgery to remove the sagging skin leftover from losing 135 pounds and having three children by C-section.  It was a difficult surgery (7 hours on the operating table to be exact) and a difficult recovery.  I had a hard time knowing how hard to push it when I was given the green light by my surgeon to resume my normal activities.  He was well aware of the intensity I put into my workouts, and was fine with a stepwise approach to returning to my normal baseline of activity and strength training.  I struggled with where I was before the surgery (in damn good shape) and where I was after the surgery nine weeks post-op (still in pretty good shape), and unable to pick up where I left off.

It has been a year of one step forward and two steps back.  Just this past week, I underwent another surgery; this time to fix a couple of incisional hernias.  I had the umbilical one at the time of my surgery last year, but it was determined to be safer to address it at a later date.  In the meantime, I developed another one near the incision of my tummy tuck scar.  In fact, it was not from the plastic surgery at all, but rather one of the original incisions from the c-sections.  I finally feel like my body is ready to go, but if I've learned anything over this past year, it is to respect the healing process and check my ego at the door.  I'll be walking regularly, at a brisk pace, for awhile and ramping up my strength training slower than this past go-around, in hopes that 2015 will be the year of pain-free training and finally get that sub-2 half-marathon PR that I so desperately desire.

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Update and Recomittment to Blogging

More to come soon - need to get out for a walk (and not a run for now....).  I did however, update my runs this year, moved my past runs to their own page and fixed a broken link.

-Michelle