Before I get into the heart of today's post, I just wanted to share some news: I officially kicked off my summer running program. My goal is to be able to pretty solidly run/jog (whichever I tend naturally towards, I guess) 2-3 miles. I'm still deciding this week whether I want to train with the standard Couch to 5k program (7 weeks to be able to walk/run a 5k, or a little over 3 miles) or with this "8 Weeks to Become a Runner" program over at Runner's World (8 weeks to run nonstop for 30 minutes, or a little over 2 miles). One lets me cover more distance, one lets me go for longer times. But regardless of which I end up with, the first week works roughly the same.
Unlike prior attempts at running, this summer I am not just deciding to myself that it would be cool. I have roped in my parents to keep me honest, and I will be printing out my training schedule once I decide on it and posting it in the kitchen, for all to see, crossing off days as I complete them. If I can complete either of these programs by the time I get to San Antonio in late August, I will be prepped and ready to join the half-marathon training group run by my school. Today, I went power-walking with my dad for a good 75 minutes or so, on hilly terrain, with 7 separate jog intervals thrown in. Not by time, but rather by distance. We estimate that the majority were about 100-125 yards, but one was an absolute killer, and included a pretty decent hill. I'm still working on keeping my pace slower but my foot rate quicker, and I experimented with the whole "leaning forward at the ankles" style. It shows definite promise, but it's going to take some getting used to.
So much for a quick update!
What I've really been wanting to get on here and talk about for a few days now is nutrition and work-out recovery. Not in the traditional sense of what to eat immediately following a workout. Rather, how my overall nutrition has affected my ability to recover from workouts.
Though I started making an effort last summer, I didn't really start eating in a totally nutritious manner, focusing on whole foods, until this past month. And despite the fact that on my first day back at Superfit I could barely squeak out reps on Blue, I am now solidly in Red, even on my weaker muscle groups like biceps and chest. I can do the full set of reps, and not be dead the next day. I'm eyeing the calendar for when I want to make the transition into Silver. I've never done Silver, but then I've never had my muscles repairing themselves this quickly.
Beans have been a large part of my focus. Refried beans with melted white cheddar for breakfast, red beans and rice for lunch or as a dinner side, sauteed tofu every which way, Cuban black beans with a little feta on top, hummus (the perfect homemade hummus is still a work in progress), sauteed falafel (nailed it on my first shot, and now it is an essential), burritos, and black bean chilies. Good sources of healthy carbs, protein, and with the exception of the tofu, fiber. All low calorie, as well. I'm not really counting calories as I go, but when I look back to see how I've been doing, I can tell that I'm staying nicely under 1500 most days.
I'm not doing milk much anymore, preferring to drink water with meals and use yogurt for my cereal, but I'm still getting in dairy. As I just said, yogurt features prominently. Still can't stand it plain, unless it is for my tzatziki sauce for my falafel, but vanilla on its own, or mixed with some Kashi Go Lean Crunch. Pretty hooked on Trader Joe's non-fat Greek yogurt right now, but I'm going to need to find an acceptable alternate, because Texas has no Trader Joe's. The nearest one to my university is over 600 miles away. Boo. Also eating small amounts of many different cheeses. Still having love affairs with feta from my time in Greece and goat cheese from my time in Paris, of course. And sometimes when I'm feeling naughty I use my vegetarian parmesan (and white cheddar if it is in the house) to make an alfredo sauce for my whole wheat penne. Made with limited butter, non-fat milk, and whole wheat flour, so I'm not being too horrible, but definitely not a simple pesto or marinara sauce.
Grains are always easy to work in. I finally got a strainer small enough to rinse my quinoa, and it really does make a difference to the taste! It's wonderful now! I'm making up batches of brown rice or quinoa each week to have as a side with my tofu, since I found out that tofu has no fiber (who knew?). Though I bet the sprouted tofu I've seen at Trader Joes does... must investigate. Then, of course, there is whole wheat pasta, corn tortillas, and the occasional healthy whole wheat pancake inspired by the various creations of Angela at Oh She Glows.
I want to work in more vegetables. A few weeks ago I was able to eat some stir-fried carrots and broccoli without the customary gag reflex (pretty much entirely a mental thing). I've asked my dad to help me learn how to do it myself. I'm also aggressively attacking my issue with onions (they make that horrid squeaking sound in your ear when you bit into them) by adding them to as many recipes as I can find. Raw but processed in my falafel, and whole but sauteed in my Cuban black beans. And more Green Monsters. I just want to figure out a way to do so that keeps the amount of beans, grains, nuts, and yogurt that I am enjoying in my diet right now, and the right amount of calories to give me enough energy to continue moving up in my weights. Especially now that I am adding in cardio to my non-Superfit days. I will have a slight increased need for calories, but I don't think I will actually need to increase my intake much at all.
From my small binge last week, I learned that I actually have significantly decreased my stomach size, or whatever else it is that causes you to feel full at various quantities of food. When I was bingeing horribly in France, I could pack away a disturbingly large portion of food before I felt it. Last week, it was easily half that before I had to take a "I feel sick" pause. I'd like to not alter that with added consumption of vegetables. So it's something to consider.
But, point being: being fit is so much easier when you are fueling right! Letting your body recover and build strong new systems with the right nutrients feels wonderful and speeds up improvement. Something to remember for the future, when I am tempted to stray into packaged meals and all white food and the like.