Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vacation Wins and Woes

On my annual Christmas vacation right now, and actually got in a workout yesterday. I've been making a point to take the stairs, and we've done a fair amount of walking, but yesterday I actually hit up the hotel gym for about 40 minutes. Went on the treadmill for about 12 minutes, and spent probably close to three actually moving at around 7 miles an hour. I don't think I was properly running, more like light quick jogging, but the fact that I kept it up for almost three minutes is actually quite a victory. I guess all of those times I walked up the gigantic escalator at Tenleytown in Washington DC this fall actually paid off!

From the treadmill I rotated immediately to the recumbent stationary bike, set on level 6 "Hill" for 12 minutes, and then went hard on the elliptical for 12 minutes. Finished it up with some lat pulldowns, tricep dips, and a killer 80 second wall-sit, then the family came and fetched me for lunch.

It's been hard to eat properly here. I was just getting on a huge semi-raw, highly nutritious food kick, and there's not much here that fits that bill. If I was being very very good, I would have ordered the roasted vegetable appetizer at Pavz instead of the focaccia with dipping oil, but I'm just not that into veggies yet. Working on it, but not there yet. As it stands, I'd much rather leave the roasted veggies for places I can go anytime, like Macaroni's Grill or whatever it is called, and get what I really want the few times a year I can get to Pavz. It seems mentally healthier, if not physically. Had lots of salsa at the Mexican restaurant a few nights ago, and was happily working my way through my mom's rice and beans, when I suddenly realized that these beans might have lard in them. I never did ask, but I should. I need to start checking that at Mexican restaurants the same way I check about fish sauce in peanut sauce and sweet chile sauce at Thai restaurants (one of my absolute favorite meals is to go to a really good Thai restaurant and get the deep-fried tofu with sweet chile sauce for dipping, and brown rice and peanut sauce).

I'm making an effort at breakfast, though. I'm not going for veggie-filled omelettes, which would probably be the best choice, but the first morning I had a slice of their whole-grain bread, toasted, with a small serving of peanut butter, and the past two mornings I have gone for oatmeal. Granted, it is instant oatmeal of the Maple and Brown Sugar variety, but it's better than heading for the cinnamon rolls!

Tried to order P90X off of eBay, but after I paid eBay removed the listing, and the seller won't get back to me, so I'm starting to suspect he stole my money and ran. I'm going to get it back, but it's still irksome. It looks like I'll have to be a good girl and actually order it from the website. Don't know if I've mentioned this, but I'm planning on using it this next semester in France in order to a) not die when I return to Superfit in the summer, b) finally shave off the weight, in time to do some replacement clothes shopping in Paris!, and c) get into shape for the bridesmaid hike this summer. And I'll finally be able to do big girl push-ups. I'm excited. I've got to figure, if I can put myself through the full P90X, I can put myself through marathon training.

Over and out, y'all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Musings on Inspiration

Starting to readjust to my circuit training, after almost two weeks back on it. I've found that getting really pumped and mentally in the game before I walk in, often through a conscious effort, helps me to really get all I can get out of the workout. Obviously, just going through the paces is a whole lot better than not going in even if I'm not bringing my A-game, but why not always bring said game? I'm paying for it, I might as well get all I can get!

Sometimes just having a really happy daydream going on works- my best workout ever came when I spent most of my time imagining winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Yesterday, I was fresh from starting Apolo Ohno's book Zero Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday. I am only about halfway through, but it is very inspiring (which seems to be rather the point). Oddly, though, what really got me going was not from a part I have reached yet. The only season of Dancing with the Stars I ever watched was the season he won, and I suddenly remembered all of the effort he put into nailing the jump in the paso double. The next thing I knew, I was pounding out lat pulldowns like nobody's business. So, good find.

I've been eating smart today. I kinda screwed around a little the past few days, but today I've been solid. Breakfast was a mix of Kashi Go Lean! and Kashi Go Lean! Crunch (regular has more fiber and protein, Crunch is tastier and has more whole grains), with skim milk and a healthy serving of chia mixed in. Lunch I had to do on the go, so I packed two slices of sharp cheddar, some reduced fat Triscuits, and a handful of almonds in a plastic baggy, all consumed with some ice water. And then dinner was a quick but tasty affair- a bowl full of quinoa, heated, with teriyaki sauce and chia. It's the first time I've tried teriyaki sauce with something other than rice, and I have to tell you, quinoa and teriyaki sauce work wonderfully together. I'm still perfecting my own teriyaki recipe, so for now I just buy bottles of it from my favorite local teriyaki restaurant. NOT the nasty stuff you can buy in glass bottles in stores. I don't know what that stuff even is, but it is not teriyaki sauce, I promise you. I don't care what the label says.

Talk to you soon! And Merry Christmas*!!

*I'm a huge Christmas person, but I have no wish to offend. So if you want a shout-out for other occasions, hit me up in the comments! I'll gladly wish y'all a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Random Government Holiday in December, Happy Stare Dramatically Off Into the Distance Day, or whatever else your heart desires (within the bounds of propriety, of course!!). 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weddings in Barns and Paris in the Springtime

I've become suddenly taken with cooking and preparing healthy, raw, etc. meals. I think this is a result of becoming hooked on several foodie blogs (OhSheGlows, EatingBirdFood predominately, also Fitnessista and Eat.Run.DoYoga.). It's probably a good thing! It means I am spending my time getting excited about all of the awesome fuel I can give my body, rather than the random junk I can stuff my face with. And the goal is to make it all taste good, which is a HUGE bonus.

One of my number one meals right now is pretty simply and very good for you. I came up with it after reading Born to Run. It's pretty simple:

  • Small corn tortilla (high in fiber, whole grain)
  • Thin layer of cheddar/jack grated cheese blend
  • Generous layer of quinoa (high in fiber, high in protein- a complete protein, whole grain)
  • Layer of refried beans (fiber, high in protein, good for processing fats)
  • Second layer of quinoa
  • Layer of chia seeds (high in fiber, protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids, high in antioxidants)
  • Smallest dash of ground sea salt (for taste)
If I have the time and inclination, I like to prepare the tortilla with a dash of olive oil on the stove, then melt the cheese onto it, and preheat the quinoa and beans in the microwave, assuming I haven't just made the quinoa fresh. However, the tortillas I have right now, combined with a very enthusiastic stove, tend to create solid shells that don't wrap nicely, so I've taken to just loading everything up and popping it in the microwave. A little less gourmet, but still tasty, and very convenient! If I was super snazzy I would layer in some grilled pepper chunks or strips of kale, but I'm just not that hopped up on vegetables yet.

I've restarted my intensive circuit training three days a week at Superfit. It's my first week back, and I've made it in all three days this week. Actually holding up fairly well. I'm on significantly lower weights than I would like, but I've been able to make it through each work out and be functional the next day. While it's cold out and we are still without treadmill, I'm using jumping jacks and a funky stair regimen to work on my cardio, in lieu of actually going out running. I know, I should just lady up and do it, but it turns out that jumping jacks are actually a lot more work than I remembered. Seriously. Get up and do a hundred. Right around 40, you will start to realize it's not just kids play.

I read about the stair thing somewhere online, I think. I don't remember where, or I would link it. It's a way to get in a crazy stair workout, without having to go find stadium stairs or anything in your city. All you need is a standard flight of stairs that can be found in any house.
  1. Climb up one stair, then go back down.
  2. Climb up two stairs, then go back down.
  3. Climb up one stair, then go back down.
  4. Climb up two stairs, then go back down.
  5. Climb up three stairs, then go back down.
  6. Climb up two stairs, then go back down.
  7. Climb up one stair, then go back down.
  8. Climb up two stairs, then go back down.
  9. Climb up three stairs, then go back down.
  10. Climb up four stairs, then go back down.
  11. Climb up three stairs, then go back down.
  12. Climb up two stairs, then go back down.
  13. Climb up one stair, then go back down.
Are you starting to get it? The first couple of times you do this, making it to six stairs is a real accomplishment (if you are cardio-challenged like me, at least). The goal is to make it to ten stairs (and then obviously work it down, with 9 stairs, then 8, then 7, etc.).

Stairs are really an excellent workout. It is NOT a gentle one. It lands a body blow to your heart and lungs if you aren't careful. I try to mix it up, whether or not I work to the gasping state (usually if I'm climbing actual stairs and I'm late for something) or slow down when my heart really starts to pound.

I'm going to be in Paris spring semester, which has me a little worried as far as keeping up my eating regimen, not to mention solid workouts. Apparently, in Europe, people don't go out jogging on the streets. I'll have to see if that is still true. My current plan as far as workouts go is to get P90x to use in my dorm room, and then just walk everywhere. When I get back for the summer, I'll start training in earnest for the San Antonio Rock'n'Roll Marathon that will be held in the fall of my senior year. Fortunately, I have a more firm goal than an as of yet un-signed-up-for marathon: one of my oldest, best friends is getting married this August, and she wants to go on an overnight backpacking trip for her bachelorette party! I don't want to be the stick in the mud that slows the whole group down, so I want to be in tip top shape this coming August.

I'm really glad about that last part, actually. I do genuinely want to be healthier and in better shape for what it will do for me, but I can't deny that the largest part of my desire is to lose weight and look good. And while that is perfectly valid, any fitness guru will tell you that looks aren't enough motivation to get you out of a nice warm bed on a chilly day. So, wanting to look good in my bridesmaid dress wasn't going to get the job done. But I legitimately want to be able to keep up with the bride-to-be on her bachelorette hike, and not slow anything down. And she is a freakishly fit person. So it's going to take some doing, but I'm feeling motivated and confident.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm changing the purpose of the blog slightly. I do still intend to complete a marathon at some point within the next few years. However, at my current weight and fitness level, with my current diet, it's just not gonna happen. So, for a time, this will evolve into a weight loss blog of sorts. There will be food journaling, accounts of workouts, analyses of my eating habits, tales of my adventures in cooking for myself, links to health articles I find, etc.

So, to start.

I'm living in Washington, DC for the semester, off-campus. It's a pretty good area for running- lots of wide sidewalks and little parks, and I'm actually pretty close to the Mall. That said, I've actually only been out maybe 5 times the entire semester. I did have a bit of a breakthrough, though. Whenever I read Born to Run, I get so inspired to go running. It seems like it will be the most amazing feeling. Then I get out there, and while I'm jazzed that I actually got my butt out of bed and into my running gear, I'm mainly just going through the paces (as it were). Then, one day, as I was out running home along the Mall, I saw that a light was about to change. Another runner and I both kicked it into high gear and sprinted across the street just in time. I found myself actually giggling out loud as I leapt to the sidewalk on the other side. I figured it out! Before, I was out jogging. Jogging is kind of boring. But in that sprint, not only was I bonding with my fellow runner, but I was actually running. I guess I'd never really run before. Running is AWESOME. Jogging, not so much.

Now, this does present some issues of its own. The greatest of which is my cardiovascular system. It was starting to actually develop with regular use of my bike a year ago, but then some lowlife miscreant STOLE my beautiful precious bike literally the night before I was going to move it inside the dorm. So, no more bike riding for me. And my cardio plummeted. All of which is to say, I can't sustain full-out running for very long. And by very long I mean more than about 25 seconds at a time. Jogging, I could eek out 1 minute if I had to. So it might take a little/lot longer to rebuild my cardio system.

Especially with my general lack of motivation to work out. I made an attempt at fixing this early on in the semester. As I am living off-campus, I have limited access to the gym. If I wanted to trek for 50 minutes to get there, yes, I could use the campus gym, but frankly... no. Just no.

Aaaaand it's 1am, so I'm going to sign off for now, and finish this up tomorrow. Night, y'all!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Born to Run


First of all, it explained why my feet always fall asleep and my calves hurt and what have you when I try to go running- it's the shoes! Also taught me a lot about proper running form, the proper mentality, and the proper diet, without being preachy. Also, it's a heck of an entertaining read, so I highly recommend it.

My first try at running barefoot and with proper form was hit and miss. I went a mile, though certainly I wasn't running the entire time. I noticed a distinct lack of calluses on the bottom of my feet, so I had to switch back into my shoes (ballet flats, not tennis shoes) part way through. In the book, it tells you that because you are retraining your body to run, it shouldn't feel easy the first few times- there needs to be a period of adjustment. I assumed the calluses issue and my inability to both flick my heels and pump my elbows properly simultaneously was my adjustment. And of course, there was my general lack of cardivascular endurance, but I figured that would go away with some work.

Then I woke up the next morning.

I have never had muscle pain so intense in my life. It was entirely located in my calves and ankles. I could barely walk. I was convinced that I had done something horribly wrong, but I got on the minimalist/barefoot running forum associated with Born to Run and described exactly what I had done and exactly what I was feeling, and they all assured me it was normal, and actually meant I'd done it exactly right. Don't run on the calves when they are that sore, they said, and in a few weeks the muscle pain should disappear almost entirely. And they were right, and I'm starting to get through a mile faster, which I can only assume means I am doing more running than walking. Also, getting through more with bare feet.

There are still issues to be worked out with my form- I'm running with more of a sprinter's stance than a long-distance one, I need to work on putting more of my foot down, not just the forefoot. I still need to figure out the elbow-pumping, heel-flicking dynamic. And of course I still need to be able to completely run one mile, at which point I will bump it up to doing whatever it takes (i.e. lots of walking if necessary) to hit two miles, and so on and so forth. My goal is to be able to eek out 5 miles by July.