Running Journal – Some weeks you just surprise yourself

Last weekend’s mountain haul put a cramp in my running game this week along with travel. Tight legs and tight schedules left me with only two days of running on a treadmill for 1/2 hour each. The other downer is that I am always deathly afraid I’m going to fall off the treadmill so I run really slow, 5 mph. Yes, that’s right, 12 minute mile.

Anyway, it was a no excuses morning today. My kitties woke me up trying to burrow under the covers, get either me or my husband to play with them, or just kept flopping on my legs trying to get comfortable. This went on for about an hour starting at 6:30a. So, at 7:30a I just got up and threw on my running stuff.

Elsa got me going with Let it Go – don’t judge, it gets me to run up a 200 ft elevation in 1/2 mile out of my neighborhood. Except this morning I was having wardrobe malfunctions. The new running/yoga pants I bought seemed to want to slide down my butt rather than come along for the ride. I almost stopped and turned around after only about 100 feet and then thought better of it. If I did that there was no telling if I would actually go back out again. Pulling them hard up to my chest and yanking them further up to my knees and thighs, I just opened up my stride and kept going.

About every quarter mile I could feel them slipping down and would grab ahold and lift them again. Thank god I was wearing one of my chubby girl shirts that hung down halfway on my thighs. No one was going to get a glimpse of my lacies or butt crack.

Despite the pants slide, I was hauling. I could feel it. Longer stride, faster steps, muscles activated. The hills weren’t challenging me in the same way they normally do this morning and the flats and down-hills were exhilarating as I felt like I was flying through my town. Lights and traffic also seemed to be in my favor as I easily crossed streets and intersections without having to stop.

I was able to get in a bit of a trail run as my playlist launched into Miranda Lambert’s Little Red Wagon and I ran-danced to her declaration of loving her apron but not wanting to be your momma. I think I might even have been singing a bit, so gladly I didn’t run into anyone along the way.

Anyway, hitting the center of town I hit my next big hill which slowed me down a bit even as I tried to keep my pace and open my stride more to leap up instead of using my lazy short step move. But, it is a short hill and getting up to the commons I was able to once again pick up steam and head back home.

Stopping my tracker and pulling up my pants once again, I felt good. My runner’s high was in full gear. The sweat was starting to pour out. And amazingly enough, this was the first time I finished without the tinge in my hips or tightness in my legs. Something was definitely different today.

921That difference turned into a personal best – 3.85 miles at 9:21 minute mile. I shaved off 23 seconds from my last PB during a 5k and more than 30 seconds off to my typical outdoor pace. Need to work on my hill – having a hard time cracking 10:00 min mile but this is still 15 seconds faster for my first mile out. If I can shave off another 30 seconds overall, then Tom and I can run together – if he slows down abut 30 seconds.

So, what I think happened is that the mountain hike strengthened my legs and I took it slow and easy during the week. My body was able to recover and gave me a bonus/thank you gift for treating it well.

Note to self:

  1. Switch up my intensity to get gains.
  2. Wear running pants with a drawstring so they don’t fall down.
Advertisements

My Five Reasons to Stand Up Paddle.

SUPI found stand up paddle boarding (SUP) this year and am hooked. It is so much better than sitting in the bottom of a wet kayak or kneeling in a canoe for me. I was going to wait until the spring to get a board, but just couldn’t wait, even through it meant my new skis aren’t going to happen this year.

Since I’m probably going to go on and on in my blogs about SUPs, I figured I’d give you my five reasons for adding SUP to my exercise and activities. Maybe I can convince you to try it or finally give and get a board.

1. Great workout

If you are a cardio junkie, the heart rate just isn’t going to be there – unless you really go all out racing style. But, paddling on the SUP hits just about every muscle. My legs are always engaged. My core is helping with stability and power in my strokes. My arms and shoulders pull me through the water. At the end of my excursions I can feel tightness everywhere, especially my upper and side abs.

Here a nice little chart from SUP Fitness that breaks it down:

SUP calorie burn

You can see that touring on your SUP can be just as good as running if you are touring. I can attest to that from a few hours paddling up and down the Westport River on a windy day against the tide. On the other hand, I have days when I’m paddling around Whitehall or a family outing on the Sudbury and Concord Rivers where it is more casual but certainly more exercise than a walk.

2. Changing up the exercise routine

Calories is really only one aspect that makes SUP great. SUP gives me a chance to let my muscles do something else than pounding trails and pavement. Running 5-6 days per week is tough on my hips.  After a motorcycle accident where I cracked my pelvis and  primarily what got me into my chubby girl era, anything I can do to offset overuse and keep running for most of my life I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, getting on my SUP after a hard 4 miler is not easy. My legs give a little shake.

That is minor compared to the fact that I can get the same high on my SUP as I do on my runs. The adrenalin still pumps, especially when I get in some hairy situations between wind and current that make me have to really focus on balance and dig in. Most of the time all is well. But, there was the one time I actually fell in. The adventure can be very real.

3. Getting into my Zen Zone

Nothing beats getting on the water and having the sun pour down on you. I’m a beach girl. Have always been a beach girl. So getting out on the salt marsh rivers, deep clear lakes, and ocean edges brings me to my Zen Zone. If ever I am stressed or over worked, its the water that makes me whole again. Add in some exercise that is rhythmic and I tune into my body in the best of all environments.

SUP takes me to my happy place the way running doesn’t. The ease of paddling means that I don’t have to pay attention to my achy calves pushing me up a hill. I don’t see the path in terms of miles the way I do when I run. I just go. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running. While running is meditative for me as I turn in on myself and thoughts. SUP does the same thing but in a gentler way, like Yoga.

4. Communing with nature

37034377121_031c1be451_zRunning trails, hiking and skiing mountains, snow shoeing, swimming in crystal clear lakes and basking in the glory of waves and surf is where I get my energy. Getting my body back only makes this easier. My SUP is another way that I can get outside and feel connected to nature. Its calming. The fresh air makes me feel alive. And, standing up high on the water gives me such a different perspective across the known and unknown waterways than in a kayak, swimming or lolling on a noodle.

I love that after touring for about an hour I can drop to my board to have a quick bite and drag my feet in the water. If I’ve moved farther ahead of Tom while he takes pictures in a cove, I can drop down to my board and lay back to catch some rays and float. I can feel nature all around me and I’m part of it.

5. Getting exercise while doing something fun

There is something to be said for getting in your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day by doing something you would just do for fun. SUP doesn’t feel like exercise for me. In fact, when I first tried it, the reason I did so was because it was something fun to do with Tom as he kayaked.

I keep reading about how getting your exercise doesn’t mean going to a gym, getting on a cardio machine, running and biking for miles, or taking classes. If you can find an activity to do for the same length of time that is fun, and you would do for fun, that increases your cardio and builds muscle, do it. Exercise does not have to be only about losing weight, keeping weight off, or anything having to do with body health. It shouldn’t be a chore.

There are a lot of things I like to do that are just fun and have nothing to do with if I can lose weight or maintain my weight. I ski because of the joy I feel speeding down the mountain, twisting through the glades or slamming over the bumps. Its just exhilarating. I hike because I like walking through nature and experiencing a jump in the river or waterfall. I like to back pack because it makes me feel like a kid again when I would have overnights in the woods at camp. Never do I think about how many calories I burn or personal bests.  SUP is part of that category of things that are just fun to do – which means I’ll be able to and want to do forever.

Traveling by SUP; Paddling the Charles

Last weekend I tried out stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and fell in love. It was so much better than kayaking and canoeing. I didn’t have to sit in water. I could see out across the lake. And, I got an amazing full body workout for what felt like little effort.

So, today, I went to the Charles River with Tom and rented a SUP. We trekked down the river, peeking in on various coves where herons, swans, ducks and geese all were handing out. We took time to relax where I at lunch on my board and Tom in his kayak. I powered against the current and wind. And at the end, my legs were getting tired, I could feel my abs and sides, and my arms were becoming rubber. But, it was all so good!

I pulled into the dock where a college student helped me off the board and asked how it went.  When I told him we had made it down to a big bridge about two and a half miles down, he was surprised. Standing in line to pay for the session I realized most people only stayed out about an hour.  We were out there almost three.  How could you resist? We had a nice 5.2 mile trip today in sunny 80 degree weather.

Anyway, I am definitely thinking that in the spring I’m going to get a board. Besides cruising along rivers and lakes, there are these great SUP yoga classes and I can even take it with us to the ocean. I’m not going to surf through. I saw some videos and it is exactly like real surfing which I failed at miserably and it scared/scarred me for life. But, a little foam to cut through and then paddling parallel to the shore is just my speed.

Not really a true ‘travel’, but it was a quick journey that was every bit as Zen as my runs (which I also did this morning before we left). If I’m in a city with water and SUP rentals, I may just have to switch between running and paddling on my trips. I’ve go so many coming up this fall from San Francisco, Las Vegas, NYC, Chicago, Switzerland and Tokyo. Almost all have water ways.  Will I be lucky enough with weather to SUP? I sure hope so.

 

Chubby Girl Makes Progress

Sunday was my birthday. This chubby girl is getting old – 48. Leading up to the big day I really wasn’t thinking about getting older or thinking about my birthday at all. It was on Friday when Tom asked me what I wanted to do this weekend and my daughter was trying to get my new sizes that it really dawned on me. I’m turning 48!

Getting healthy and fit has been consuming. Almost OCD. For the last 10 years all I had thought about was how to get back to good health and lose the weight. Everything was about, don’t let me be fat after forty, then it was don’t let me be fat each year after that. When I hit 45 and was verging on 46 I have to say, I resigned to my fate and I gave up and ballooned to almost 170. So now, in the past 7 months, I was in overdrive trying to reach my goal and haven’t really looked up.

What I realized this weekend was how far I have come. I am not thinking about myself in a negative light as the ‘fat girl’ (chubby girl is a cute way to describe what I was). I am no longer thinking of myself as Jabba the Hut who is mostly confined to a single place out of shear size (I have a picture I call my Jabba picture but Tom’s hidden it from me now). So when I had to think about what it was that I wanted to do to celebrate a year older, I felt like I was already celebrating. In fact, my celebration was to do two things I absolutely love – go for a run and hit the beach. I did both.

Ultimately, my family got me thinking about my journey to date. I can measure progress is so many ways and each gives me something to be thankful for and motivated to keep up my lifestyle. I had a great birthday, and it was one present I finally gave to myself.

  1. Running – daily runs of 3 to 5 miles. Shrunk my time from 12.5 min/mile to 10.5 min/mile. Ran my first 5k in 8 years two weeks ago. One year ago I could barely go for a 3 mile walk in the woods or walk up a hill without huffing and puffing wanting it to be over. While still 20 pounds more than when I ran A LOT more, running has reshaped this 120 body to be back in those old clothes (see below).
  2. Sleeping – no more sleep apnea. no more snoring. I don’t wake up several times a night, usually only once and can get back to sleep in less than 30 minutes.
  3. Clearer skin – adult acne has calmed down. I’m thinking that healthy eating has made a difference.
  4. Hiked mountains – 3 hikes in the past 2 months. All 3000+.
  5. Steps – from under 3000 per day to an average of 15,000 per day
  6. Weight – down 48 pounds ~30%. From size 14 to size 0. From size L/XL to S/XS. From big girl swim suits to bikinis.
  7. Heart – RHR dropped to between 48 and 52. I was typically over 65 and as high as 69.
  8. Fears – diabetes and heart issues; not anymore.
  9. Dress-up: I’ve confessed to stealing my daughters jeans (which she let me keep). My purple velvet Theory top fits again and looks better on now than when I bought it. I can wear a patchwork and embroidery Oilily skirt that I love and haven’t worn since 2004!
  10. Food: Still food obsessed but healthy living has brought out more of my creative cooking. Oh, and I think I could actually become a vegan if I didn’t like eggs so much! I love my veggies (just not kale).
  11. TMI – let’s just say that Tom appreciates my new body more. 🙂

And, after months of hiding my chubby girl self, here are before and now pictures. I don’t say after since this is forever – forever healthy living, forever keeping trim, forever working at it one day at a time.

Before: (if you can’t tell – that’s me on the right with the baseball hat)

35519221871_a77d607905_m 34830012013_f315e529f3_m

Today:  On left, standing on Mt Cardigan.

35507213581_62d83e7f3a_m jeans (2)

 

My Weight Loss Mishaps While Traveling

It’s been 7 months and my weight loss and healthy living efforts certainly have paid off, in spite of my traveling. And, I do mean in spite of. Because, when I started I was much more diligent to figuring out this eating and working out on the road thing than I am now. The weight loss mishaps are a bit more frequent and I have to be diligent about recovery. Here’s my weight loss reports for the last 90 days. Overall trend is great, but I do yo-yo around a bit. That peak on 7/1? That was my return from Stockholm. Ugh.90 day weight loss

For those of you struggling and at times kicking yourself for your own mishaps or might have even completely fallen off the wagon, I’m going to share my mishaps (what I call syndromes) and what I do to get past and keep going.

Mishaps first:

Amazing restaurant syndrome: We all know how much of a foodie I am by now. I’ve even confessed to my food addiction. I do my best to find work-arounds to keep from getting hungry by having healthy things on me at all times and picking hotels that give me good healthy choices on the menu. But, when you need to go out and eat with colleagues and clients, things get a little challenging when suggestions for Italian or that amazing steakhouse come up. I’ve put down a few dumplings and spring rolls at the Asian restaurants.  I’ve gone for the bratwurst and fondue in Germany. I had a fried chicken sandwich at KFC. There was also the night of wine and caramel apple pie. I’ll be honest, I’m happier with Italian and the steakhouse because I can easily get a big bowl of mussels in wine sauce, big salad, or a double order of veggies.

Jet lag syndrome:  This is more of a problem when heading to Europe. Arriving in the morning, even after sleeping on the way over, I am still out of sorts. While I’ve been known to hit the gym when getting to the hotel as late as 9:00p at night if state-side, I’m way too tired to do more than grab lunch, soak in a tub/stand under the shower, and crash while CNN international is on the television. The next morning it takes all I have to get moving and the best I can do in most cases is walk the city.  For what ever reason, while I book hotels abroad that have fitness centers, I never go in.

Airport/Airplane and Station/Train syndrome:  I’ve looked, believe me. The food options in terminals and the trains/planes are horrid. While I’ve found some information online to help me know what the calories of things are and I’ve even asked the concierge desks of United if they have nutritional info, it is simply not out there. The United lounge (yes, I still fly United) has this creamy pasta alfredo I can’t seem to not put on my plate. The Luftansa lounge serves hot dogs (sorry, sausages), amazing desserts and you aren’t bothered with bartenders – just pour your own glass of wine/champagne or grab a beer. The business and first class meals on flights are small, but I’m not convinced they are really that low in calories and fat. They certainly have a lot of sodium. And, when going international, Luftansa again knows how to keep you happy with temptations of various course selections, desserts, sorbet in between courses, chocolates and the ever-flowing drink. Amtrak is equal to this with the 1st class meals on the Acela, but there really aren’t that many choices to eat healthy from the café car. The Hebrew National hotdog is 150 calories according to the package, but I don’t think that really included the bun.

Recovery:

  • Mental adjustment: In the beginning I beat myself up about my mishaps. Tracking everything, there wasn’t anything I could hide from. My 1500 calorie days stared me in the face. My Apple Watch rings weren’t closed. I didn’t have the work-out dot above my rings. I could go into a mode where I got really restrictive and exercise manic. Less than 800 calories per day for a week and working out for 90 minutes. This made my hungry, tired, ultra sore, and not a nice person. I’ve since worked more on improving my self-discipline so that when I do go off the rails it’s not a big deviation and I’m mentally back on track come the next meal or when I wake up the next day. I have to almost meditate my way back to long term thinking to achieve my goals.
  • Food choice: I’m a better planner now. I know if I’m stuck in route for long periods or have meal-meetings then I need to adjust the size of my other meals or be better at my choices if there are better options. This means I eat a ton of salad on the road, and that is not at all my happy place. I also eat small amounts. I’m better at knowing the right portion size after months of measuring and weighing my food. So that piece of salmon on a restaurant plate is 2-3 times the size of what my portion should be. I cut that portion off and only eat that. Breakfasts might consist only of a yogurt, 1/2 cup berries and a coffee. Sometimes it’s only the yogurt or berries. Then I have more wiggle room in the day. So, even when there really isn’t a lot of choice on the menu for healthy eating, I at least find the best options, maybe ask for some slight modifications, but keep my portions in check.
  • Exercise: Getting my running game on these past couple months has made a huge difference.  I burn more calories, my hunger after running is low, and it absolutely clears my head better than machine work-outs. I like it better too because in the past if I traveled to a great location I may not have time to really get to the see the place. Now, I can throw on my running shoes and set out in the morning for a tour. I also seem not to have the same feeling of drudgery with my run that I do for other exercise. This means that even while jet lagged in Stockholm last week, I got my runs in each day (except the day I got sick). Lesson here is that upping my exercise offsets a slight excess of a meal and doing something I love means I will do it.
  • Read-out: I’m an analytic junkie about my numbers. Calories, macros, weigh-ins, nutrients, activity level, you name it, I play by the dashboards and drill downs. When I get back from trips, the first thing I do the morning after is get on the scale. So far, I’ve only had one trip where I actually gained weight, last week’s trip to Sweden. That said, within a couple days, I got on the scale again and was down 1/2 pound from pre-trip and then another 1 1/2 pounds a couple days after than. Why did this matter? Seeing the scale again in context of my efforts/behaviors and getting back to the routine once home provided both motivation and encouragement. My gain was most likely water, in this case. What I will point out is that when I did come back from this last trip I didn’t go to extremes when I saw the scale, I just got back on the horse.

There really isn’t any rocket science to this. It’s about excess in moderation. Inevitably, this is how we should be approaching a healthy lifestyle. While my goal now is fitness level and weight loss, I’ll be in maintenance mode within a 2-3 months. I’m a little girl and watching how much I eat, the choices I make and the amount and level of activity will always make a difference to me staying at my goal or going back to my chubby girl self.

In the end, killing any fatalistic thinking that leads to the inevitable unhealthy lifestyle is key. Pushing away thoughts that give permission to avoid exercise or eat rich foods everyday is also key. I wish I could provide and even capture the silver bullet to proper weight and fitness. But, the real solution seems to be the ability to embrace a life that balances religiously mind, body and food. Throw in a little spiritual soul and its just a little bit better. It’s just about loving yourself and showing it.

Official health living start date: 1/3/2017
Starting weight: 168.8
Current weight: 122.9
Goal weight: 115 (but shooting for 110 to have wiggle room)

 

Scenic Run In Stockholm

Well, I made it. It was a long trip to get here, but I’m finally at my hotel in Stockholm. Yesterday I was a mess and slept on and off in the afternoon and took in a late dinner in the Asian restaurant in the hotel.  The Berns Hotel is wonderful. It is the perfect boutique with a scrumptious magenta velvet sofa and big windows that let in a ton of light – even at 4:00a when the sun comes up! (What I didn’t mention was that the sun really didn’t go down until after 11:00p)

Stockholm Run

But, that was okay. It got me up and working on a presentation and by 7:00a I was ready to throw on my running shoes. The hotel is a block from the river where I could follow the marina and cross a bridge over to an island where the Museum of Modern Art was.  I circled the island then out across the bridge to follow the river past these wonderful European buildings.

There were people walking, biking and running everywhere. Some were heading to work. Others were on morning walks. Others like me were getting in their runs before the day started. One of the dock areas I passed was lined with tour boats for scenic tours throughout the islands and bridges. Seniors, Asians, and mixed tourists were all getting off buses and the subway to line up and get on their boats.  It seems the sun gets everyone up early in Stockholm.

The number of bridges and boats is incredible.  This truly is a city of islands and water. If there isn’t a boat, you can still see where there may have been boats in the past as there are random stairs and landings sprinkled about. There is every kind of boat imaginable from fishing and other commercial boats, to tourist, pleasure, and even reproductions. Just off the side of one marina was a makeshift shop where the hull of a reproduction boat was being built. I definitely have to check out the Viking Museum.

I loved the running tour. It made me feel part of the city even as I took in all the sights. I know where I want to go now. I know what I want to got back to and take pictures of. I also have a better sense of where I am in the city. The day is gorgeous, so I’ll add a ton of walking to get me around. Just more time to soak up Stockholm.

Let the travel begin

The next two weeks are crazy. In NYC as we speak. Heading to Philly. Off to Stockholm and Geneva next week.

I’ve been lucky to have a bit of a hiatus from travel for a month. It went a long way to putting me in control of my exercise and food. Ever sick of the ‘salad’, eating at home let me get creative with vegetables again and even find ways to create salads that I like vs. the rabbit greens you get in restaurants.  And, as much as I try, I hate kale. Why is every restaurant salad now kale!

Day one travel isn’t going quite as planned. I missed breakfast this morning after rising late and scrambling, but was easily able to curb my hunger with a coffee on the way to the airport and tea on the flight. I hit up some NYC restaurant I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it was on Avenue of the Americas down from the Hilton. Ahi Tuna tar tar and a big ole plate of grilled asparagus hit the spot. I crunched down on a Lemon Skinny Girl bar and another coffee during a conference presentation. Then I promptly lost lunch and snack on the cab ride to the airport due to the worst driving I ever experienced causing me the worst car sickness you can imagine.  So, completely not a bulimic moment, but man it was gross. Thank god for the bag holding my heels (heels removed).

I found this great dumpling restaurant in the airport and had Asian chicken lettuce cups and Edamame dumplings. It was so yummy and made me immediately forget my cab ride over. The only downside is that since 7:30p (it’s now 9:00p) the fire alarm in Terminal C has gone off 4 times. It’s hilarious how all the travelers look up, groan, and don’t even consider getting up to exit. Me included. So far all is well. Probably the crazy storms messing with the system.

I’ve got minimal time to get home tonight and pack for three days in Philly. I should have done this ahead but again, planning wasn’t in my cards. I think I’m secretly hating having to travel. The biggest thing is to make sure I bring my running gear and Bluetooth headphones. I may have to do a Rocky impression in the City of Brotherly Love. Or, I could jog around Temple University and use their stadium stairs for conditioning; although the real fun would be to do it because I’m going there to get my daughter to her college orientation and I could be the embarrassing parent.  No, I won’t do it, but thinking about it makes me giggle.

Anyway, for the day, I’m not doing that bad. Calories are in check. I hit my standing goal (12 hrs), exercise goal (over 30 minutes), and steps goal (over 10K) on my watch. I’m 100 calories shy on my move goal (400) but maybe after this I’ll get up and walk around the terminal. I’ve got almost 2 hours to kill still after my first flight was canceled and my current flight is delayed an hour. They will kick my out of the lounge in 45 minutes too.

Status

CW – 125.5
Achievement – out of the overweight BMI! Average run 3-5 miles.
Current trouble – I have almost no client presentable work clothes that fit. Down to four dresses I luckily kept from years ago.
Current luck – Old pants that are 2s and 4s in a saved bin fit! Just wish they were light enough for summer.
Working on – 10 lbs to go. Hitting 6 mile run. Climbing Falling Waters, crossing three peaks, including Lafayette, and going down Bridle Path in Fanconia Notch, NH for September. Woo Hoo!