Sunday, January 30, 2011

Parisian Growing Pains

I found all of the runners! They are in the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardins du Luxembourg, je crois). And the walk there would be a good warm up- especially necessary given the near-freezing weather currently, and the less-than-cozy nature of my Vibram Five-Finger KSOs! Also my lack of warm workout gear.

Definitely slacked off after day 3 of P90X. Haven't done a single one since. Owning up to it here, and now not going to bash myself about it any more, but rather use this wide open Sunday to get back on track.

Still taking the stairs at all opportunity. When taken just on my toes, I'm actually starting to notice a definite improvement in my stamina! However, when I use my entire foot, I am definitely still feeling it. Taking stairs in 3-4 inch stilettos, when you put weight on the entire foot, really activates that hamstrings, but not in the slightest at the expense of also working quads or glutes. Basically, everything from the knees to the chest goes into hyperdrive. So, yeah, still feeling that. But it's only two weeks into the daily multiple hikes, so I'm optimistic about where I'll be by the time I go home. Maybe even by the time it's warm enough for regular outdoor jogging! I should just lady up and go out and do it anyway...

Food is still a problem here, but I'm starting to feel my way a bit more. Made up a batch of unflavored chia gel, which I'm taking regular spoonfuls of, plus eating a handful of almonds each day. So that's a little whole food back on the menu. I've also noticed that they don't refrigerate their eggs here, so I could pick some up, and some salt and pepper, and at the very least start doing scrambled eggs, if not also adding some cheese and spinach for some basic omelets. If I can locate some vegan marshmallows, I might also do a few nights of candied yams. I'm pretty sure I've seen yams/sweet potatoes in the stores. And that doesn't require refrigeration. And finally, I'm regaining a little tenuous control over gorging on chips and Mars Bars in an attempt to feed myself with familiar food. It's only been a few days, so no happy dancing yet, but each day counts!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reconsidered Pain

Quick update on the P90X Arms and Shoulders.

Killer but also totally doable, unlike the Plyometrics yesterday. I did, however, discover a rather urgent need for some different resistance bands. Mine are both too short, requiring me to do most moves on my knees rather than me feet, and without handles, which is really hurting my hands. I actually stopped early on a few exercises, not because of muscle fatigue, but because my hands hurt so bad. Towards the end, I got some relief by wrapping some paper towels around my hands, but it was still a little touch and go. Not really sure yet where to find exercise equipment in Paris. I'll have to ask around.

I know there is no tangible change yet, but I'm already feeling more cut in my arms. Silly, but oh-so-helpful in dealing with the full-body soreness that is going to be intensified tomorrow. The Ab Ripper X was after the arms, and I could only do half this time, being wiped out from two days ago still. And, of course, it used the leg muscles that are still dead from yesterdays Plyometrics. So tomorrow's gonna be fun!

Bring it.

Nutella Overload? Not possible.

My legs. *Whimper*

I've started P90X now that I've settled a bit into my room and routine here in Paris. I have my first round of Shoulders and Arms coming up tonight, which should be nicely pathetic. But I'll do my best.

The first day started right off with Chest and Back, and I gamely struggled along. It was hard to adapt some of the push-up moves for the modified knees position, but I managed. Definitely didn't keep up with the tempo, and didn't get too deep in most of the pushups, but I stayed all the way to the end, darn it! Mighty proud.

Yesterday was Plyometrics, and the reason for my legs' state of distress. I had to bug out after only half. That stuff is intense! They say it's the hardest, so I don't feel as bad about it as I could. I wanted to cut out after about 20 minutes, but I told myself if I gave in too early on only the second day, I would jeopardize my likelihood of actually sticking to the entire program. Still, after another 10 minutes, I literally couldn't do any more of it. But I've written down the exact stopping point, so I'll know how much further I can get next week (I can't just start it from the stopping point, because of all of the warm-ups in the beginning). The warm-ups were a workout in themselves! Once I've finished the 90 days, I think I'll keep the full set around even if just for the plyometrics. Now there's a workout that's going to get be up that bachelorette hike!

I live on the 6eme etage ici, which is to say the 7th story. And I have created and stuck to a policy of always taking the stairs up. 7 stories, usually in heels, 1-3 times a day? My tush is going to be up to there...

Eating has been a bit hard here, as expected. I'm currently subsisting almost entirely on crumpets with Nutella, and lots of water. Bought a few things (like nuts, and pre-cooked quinoa) today that I can start to add in, and I brought some chia from home.

Et finalement, I've been doing lots of walking. Lots of walking. And I'm planning on adding even more, as soon as I get some new shoes (read: cute moderately low-heeled boots). I was right, most people don't jog in the streets, but I have seen a few, so I could get out and do it if I really feel the need.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Hope They Have Ice in Paris....

Had my last Superfit session today before I leave for France. It was an early morning one, and my alarm went off in the middle of an REM cycle (I can tell because I was solidly in the middle of a dream), so I couldn't really eat much because my stomach was upset, so I couldn't go all out. But I didn't wimp out, either, which I think is good. I got up when I didn't want to, and I went in when I didn't feel like I could do a good workout, and even though I couldn't kill it, I put forth a worthy workout. I feel like this bodes well for future marathon running- I imagine there will be many days when running 8 or 15 or 26 miles won't sound like anything I want to be doing.

And I listened to my body, and sometimes stopped a few reps short if I could tell it wasn't going to end well. I only moved up to Red (Yellow-Green-Blue-Red-Silver-Black 1-3) on Thursday, so that would have been acceptable even if I was feeling quite chipper.

Read a very interesting chapter on using temperature to help shed fat and build lean muscle, in The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (full disclosure: links to books and products are associate links, but I honestly just link them so you can see what I'm talking about, not as a prod to buy them. Though I would generally recommend them). We tend to think of weight gain or loss as a simple connection between calories eaten and calories burned through exercise. But we forget that they body spends energy in other ways, including heat. So if you cool your body, especially with water and/or around the neck and upper chest/back area, your body works to heat it up, as well as immediately resorting to fat stores for energy rather than sugar reserves. And if you do a cold shower or an ice bath, which will result in shivering, it activates some sort of upper muscle layer, and all test subjects showed an increase in lean muscle mass. So, as I write this, I'm sitting in a recliner with an ice pack perched under by upper back/lower neck, with the Green Bay-Atlanta game on behind my laptop screen. And apparently I'm burning fat and calories. The science seems to all check out, so this could be an excellent addition to my diet and exercise changes in my quest to be at a better running weight. We shall see how my body responds.

Thought I'd toss out a quick snack that I use sometimes:

  • Brown rice cake (I prefer mine w/ sesame seeds on the top, but this variety is surprisingly hard to find
  • Peanut butter (Jif types work better than the natural kind, unfortunately)
  • Chia
Just take one or two rice cakes, but a thin but not too thin layer of pb (less fat with less pb, but it's also pretty much the only flavor this gets), then liberally cover the top with chia. Nom away.

Talk to you from France!

Monday, January 10, 2011


EEEEEEE!!! My P90X just arrived in the mail (from CHINA). When I realized my eBay seller was from China, I started getting worried that it was going to be a pirated copy or something, but it's not! It's in the original wrapping and everything. It was a good price, and even though it took a while to get here, it's here before I leave for France! I'm a happy girl. It would have been a whole lot less headache and only about $20 more to go off Amazon, but I've got it now!

Off to open it up and watch the intro DVD.... YEEEP!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Silly Ideas and Smart Thinking

At some point I need to stop reading new nutrition and exercise books. Very reasonable-sounding programs start to contradict each other, and now I've been up three hours and still can't decide what to eat.

This entire week at Superfit we've been doing "rapid fire." This means that, instead of the usual circuit of 4 resistance exercises and 3 minutes on cardio, rinse, repeat, we've done the entire cycle of 12-15 exercises around the room without stopping, going medium weight, heavy weight, ultra-heavy weight, then 10 minutes on cardio. KILLER. Everyone hates rapid fire, but part of the beauty of Superfit is that everyone is in there slogging along together, so we all gripe and moan, and yet we all do it!

As I prepare to head back to non-Superfit land when vacation ends, I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate the best aspects of it into my training plan away from home.

  1. I'm thinking that one of the keys is the accountability aspect. They expect me to show up three days a week, and they'll call me out (and sometimes actually call me) if I start slacking. So, work-out partner? Or at least an accountability buddy. 
  2. Once I get in, I just put my head down and pound it out until the hour is done. No slacking. I know when I walk in the door that I'm going to kill it and it's going to be awesome. Walking in the door of a regular gym with no pseudo-personal trainer waiting? I might do a pretty respectable job, but it will never reach the same level. So, guided things, perhaps. iPod downloads? Workout videos? Convincing aforementioned work-out partner/accountability buddy to act as a trainer, with the favor reciprocated? With a set time limit or workout goal, so I can't bug out early.
  3. Going to the point of fatigue, or at least only a few reps away from it. Working out a different muscle, and then going back to the first. Generally, when I'm doing something by myself, I call it good the second I can feel the muscle. Which is totally bugging out. 
I think this all comes down to the fact that I need someone else calling the shots. If someone tells me to do it, I'll go all out. But it doesn't work as well when I tell me to do it. This is something to work on, obviously. I imagine most of the marathon training, even with a running buddy and maybe even a coach, is going to have to come from within. But for now, it's good to acknowledge my workout weaknesses and come up with some fixes. 

Re-remembered an old favorite blog, and found a new one. Thought I'd share:
No Meat Athlete (the rediscovered)
Both of these blogs focus on vegetarian food, and running. The No Meat Athlete guy has started running ultras (the ultimate goal!), and the Daily Garnish lady is a trained vegetarian chef, so you know the food is good! Highly recommend them, along with the aforementioned Oh She Glows and Eating Bird Food.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vegetarian Woes

And apparently the rice in Mexican restaurants isn't safe either. Every single recipe I have found for Mexican rice has listed large quantities of chicken broth. Though some research indicated that most restaurants actually use oil and not lard for their beans. Definitely need to start asking.

MAJOR drat on the rice!!

P.S. Stairmaster has a new model out, that actually has a rotation of stairs. It KILLS. 4 minutes made me acutely aware of the upper portion of my lungs, which is not a usual thing to be aware of. But then, when do you ever actually spend 4 minutes non-stop powering up stairs? Well, the eventual goal is 8 minutes w/ a heart rate under 200. And by eventual I mean after my third full marathon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Incorporating the 5-Factor Diet

Finally getting back to Superfit today, and I am so excited! I think that's a good sign, don't you?

I was poking around some nutrition and fitness sites today, and ended up looking into the  The 5-Factor Diet of Harley Pasternak. I have no intention of going whole-hog with it, but he gives a very good blueprint for a healthy lifestyle. Under the 5-Factor, each meal should have five components:

  1. A lean protein. As I am vegetarian, this will come in forms like quinoa, tofu, legumes, and non-fat dairy rather than chicken, turkey, and seafood. 
  2. A low-GI carbohydrate, or complex carbohydrate. Brown rice, vegetables, etc.
  3. Fiber. For me, this will generally be a side-effect of my protein and carb choices, like the beans, veggies, and whole grains.
  4. A healthy fat. Olive oil, almonds (actually, he says to avoid nuts, but that's mainly when he is talking about using them as a protein source), etc.
  5. Sugar-free beverage. Basically, water or tea. A diet soda or flavored water if you are feeling adventurous. 
I'm not going to go with the "Use 5 ingredients" and "Prepare in 5 minutes or less" deals, because... well, I don't want to. I'm not doing the full 5-Factor plan, so why bother? And there's also some deal where you do it for 5 weeks. Pish tosh. This seems like a good set of guidelines to make sure I'm eating healthily so I can get down in weight and improve my cardio endurance and whatnot. It both fits into all of the meals I have come up with for when I am on super-natural kicks (like the quinoa and bean burritos I am obsessed with), and for when I am feeling a bit more indulgent (like the whole wheat tortellini w/ olive oil and parmesan I had for lunch). It acknowledges that protein is important for building muscle (which I constantly work on), and carbs for running (the point of this blog). Fiber is key for overall health, and counting fiber rather than calories is something I've already been working on as it is. And of course, the body actually does need fat to function properly. 

I've come up with a list of various foods and snacks that I already do that fall within these guidelines, and I imagine that by simply adding a handful of almonds or some Triscuits and homemade hummus as a side, I can modify several more. It seems like a good way to make sure I'm getting everything I need, and also to make smarter choices and still feel special.