Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update - Just Call Me Popeye

My 5 mile run on Saturday was excellent.  Loretta, Amy and I had a good pace, great conversation, and we finished strong.  This was the first run that I've used GU on in a long time; we hit mile 3 and each of us took our respective fuel, and I swear, I felt like Popeye after he eats his spinach - baBAM!  I was feeling great!  Sometimes I don't think GU does that much for me, but I must have balanced the need for extra energy just at the right time, because this stuff made me strong to the finish (or finich...wasn't that how he pronounced it?):

It was just like this, only with GU instead of spinach...

I couldn't have asked for more (well, except for cooler weather but hey - August in Texas?  ain't gonna happen).  In lieu of actual cold weather, several of us cooled off in an extreme way afterward with the ALS ice bucket challenge:
For the record?  Ice water is shockingly cold, even when you've just run 5 miles in 80 degree weather.

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After we ran, got doused and had breakfast with our crew at Blue Baker, Jeff and I went to Planet Fitness to get a quick circuit workout in since he was going to be gone on Sunday, which is when we usually go.  We skipped the step part in between the machines because we'd already run 5 miles, but got in all ten of the machines in the 30-minute circuit room.  Afterward, we were STARVING...like, lunch can't come soon enough except that we were in dire need of showers by that point.  We took a quick detour at a convenience store on the way home for some chocolate milk and that did the trick.  Even though I'm still trying to lose some weight, I have a feeling that I won't be physically able to cut calories on my long-run Saturdays.  Which is fine - one day a week shouldn't mess up the other six.

Oh, and about going to PF after our long run?  That was Jeff calling my bluff.  Earlier in the week he lamented how he'd have to miss our Sunday workout because of "work" (he went to a conference in New Orleans...not exactly work, as we all know).  I flippantly said that we could just go after we ran, so as to be sure he wouldn't miss out on exercising.  Well, he said yes, so I was stuck.  By the way, working out after running 5 miles is a lot different than working out after running for 30 or 40 minutes.  I do not particularly recommend it.

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Speaking of PF, I realized on Monday that it's time for me to scale back a little with the workouts.  During the summer months, Julia and I were going four days a week, plus I was going an extra day with Jeff.  It worked because we weren't running as much, but now, I'm pretty tired when I hit the gym right after I've run.  So I think I'm going to drop a couple of PF days and see if that makes a difference.  This week, I went on Monday and I'm going today, and I'll go again on Sunday.  That doesn't seem like enough, but my shoulders are bothering me a little (they started hurting when I was doing one particular machine), so I probably should give myself a little respite from daily gym workouts.  I kind of hate to do this, but I have a feeling if I don't, the choice won't be in my hands...my body will force that decision - and I've had that happen too often for my liking!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Stress and Dieting

It's no secret that I finally lost weight when my life shifted to having less responsibilities - I started my last diet just as our youngest graduated from high school and shortly afterward left for college.  I was able to focus on myself and be a little more selfish with what food I allowed in the house - I can be mean to my husband and deny him treat food, but I always had snacks on hand for my kids and their friends...which of course I also indulged in on a regular basis.  While losing weight is hard, I wasn't dealing with a lot of other stressors that made me struggle with how I reacted to them, so I was able to stay on track for most of the nearly two years that it took me to get to where I wanted to be. 

Over the years since my initial big weight loss, I've had some stressful times, from running injuries, to my mom's cancer diagnosis, to various other issues.  And I've coped with sugar.  Sure, I've coped in healthier ways as well, but my first instinct is usually to reach for something sweet, which of course leads to guilt, gain, and regret.  As time has gone by, it's gotten a little easier to not always follow through on my stress suger eating, so I was a little surprised (and disappointed) to discover that last week, as we drove home after the second adreneline-filled self-defense class, where I'd fought off my "attacker" for what felt like several minutes (most women seemed to get away within 20 or 30 seconds), I wanted SUGAR in a bad way.  

Luckily for me, I don't keep much in the way of sugary snacks in the house anymore.  Self-preservation, you know.  Although, I was a little ticked at myself for not having a secret stash of candy somewhere in the house - but this is exactly why I do this - so I have to work harder, and think a little more, before I manage to get my hands on something that I know I don't really need to eat.

Now, this stressful situation was situational.  And short-lived.  It wasn't an ongoing thing, like having a family member with a serious illness, or other out-of-(your)-control instances.  Which made me wonder, are we (the royal) being unkind to ourselves when, on top of dealing with something really stressful, we practically self-flagellate after we self-soothe with food?  Is there a time when it's OK to eat the sugar?  I'm not saying go on an all-out binge, but at THAT moment - you know, the one where you just need something familiar to feel calm for an instance - can it be OK?  Can we (the royal) ever be as nice to ourselves in stressful circumstances as we would be to a friend or family member in the same situation?

I'm curious - what is your take on this?  Can you self-soothe with sugar (or whatever your comfort food of choice is) and truly be OK with it?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Mishmash

This was my Facebook post from Monday:
Paco's status: 4:30 am, woken up from sound sleep. Put outside to pee. Skunked. Bath at 4:40 am. Hate life.
So yes, that would be TWICE in the last 10 days that Paco got skunked.  And in case you were wondering, skunk smells like burning tires.  Also, I've bought hydrogen peroxide in bulk:
On the positive side, Paco's white fur has never looked so bright, thanks to his peroxide baths!

Sighhhh.  Really, it's our fault.  If we weren't waking up so dang early to run, the skunk and the smell would be gone by daybreak.  Moral of the story:  Running is dumb.  No, wait.  We are dumb for not learning the lesson about nocturnal roaming skunks.  Here's hoping our brains will engage before we automatically put Paco outside again tomorrow morning - front yard for him this time!

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I've mentioned that I live in a college town.  You always know when the students are back because the grocery store shelves are picked cleaner than if a school of piranhas came through, and also, you don't dare go to Target.  One of my friends made that mistake last Sunday, and posted this picture to her FB page:
The line for the checkout...you can't even SEE the checkstands!  Lordy.  I'd have abandoned cart and walked away at that point.

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I took a two night, women-only self-defense class this week, taught by a sheriff's deputy.  It was really eye-opening, informative, and empowering.  But also scary, after hearing firsthand about what terrible things can happen to you.  Julia and I drove together, and the first night after she dropped me off, I was a little freaked out walking into my dark and empty house.  Luckily, I had Paco the Wonder Dog willing to spend the night on my bed instead of in his crate.  He might have smelled a little skunky, but he sure made me feel safe:
I got your back, Mom.

On the second night of the class, the instructor put on a padded suit and we each got a chance to practice what we'd learned.  It's not about fighting, but about getting away (which does involve fighting, yes, but the gist is that you fight to get free and then run away from your attacker).  So when it was my turn, he grabbed both of my wrists and it was crazy.  He's over a foot taller than me and all I saw was the black padding...it took what seemed like forever to get away, and I was a mess afterward - heart pounding, sweaty, instant massive headache, plus I had the shakes.  But I got away!!  Now THAT was a good feeling.

We all signed waivers when the class began, and the instructor told us we'd be bruised afterward.  He wasn't kidding - here's just one of several:
Bruised for a good reason.

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Sit and Knit update:  I've been working on some Christmas gifts, which has been fun.  I much prefer to enjoy the yarn and the process rather than feel rushed to finish something, so I'm starting early and making a nice little stack of homemade goodies.  Naturally, I can't show you them because I don't want to spoil the surprise, but here's a couple of other things I've made recently:
Dishwasher sign magnet - well, it will be when the magnet arrives...

This was a request from runners Phillip and Sarah - I've never done any stranded knitting before, and I have to say, not a huge fan.  The two colors of yarn constantly twisted around each other, and that was a little much for OCD me.  I need to stitch them together once I get the magnet - I ordered a super-strong magnet because I knew it wouldn't stick to the dishwasher otherwise.  I chose Boston Marathon colors, since Phillip is hoping to qualify to run it.

Apex Ladder hat - so named because I bought the yarn in Apex, NC.  Pattern is actually called Woven Ladder.  The pink in the yarn is neon and looks pretty cool in person.

This is more of a hip, youngish hat style, so I made it for my niece Theresa.  She lives in a beach town and it gets cold and damp there - hopefully she'll get some use out of it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

Our summer of Fun, Fitness and Friendship went by too fast!  School is starting back up and Julia had to go back to work, but we managed to squeeze in one last run/Planet Fitness/Starbucks day:
Until next summer, my friend!

Of course we will still run very, very early and sometimes go to PF together, but the lazy hazy relaxation afterward won't be happening.  I guess that's part of what makes it so special - knowing that it only happens for a short time.

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Our run on Saturday went much, much better than the last week.  It wasn't particularly cooler - about 80 degrees vs. 82, and the humidity was about the same (a lovely 93%) - but I didn't feel like I was going to die, so that was a huge improvement.  This was a scale back week, which I love - we only had to run 3 miles.  Shoot, I ran that for my regular runs during the week, so this felt fine.

Julia and I were shirt twins:
 
Another way I can tell I'm getting lighter because this shirt that always fit a little too snug for my liking.  Hurray for being able to shop in my closet for "new" clothes!

And just for fun, here's a Hoka flower:
I couldn't pass up this photo op after our run.

Monday, August 18, 2014

So, How's the Diet Going?

It's been about four weeks since I wrote my "Time to Diet" post, so I figured it was now time for an update.  Although, to be honest, I'd been dieting since we came home from North Carolina, so when I wrote that post I was already a couple of weeks into it; this is actually a six-week update.

Things are going well, thanks for asking!  My body is definitely looking better - partially due to the diet, partially due to working out at Planet Fitness five times a week for the past six weeks (plus what I did before our two-week vacation).  Running club also started up again, and I've added an extra day of running (I'm actually following the schedule this year, so I'm running four days a week now), and I'm sure that is making a difference as well.  As an aside, I have to say that the difference in simply doing the 30 minute circuit vs. when I was killing myself three days a week working out with my small group (back in 2009/2010) is amazing...amazing because I am not incredibly sore like I used to be and yet I'm seeing muscles develop, plus I'm feeling stronger.  Moderation - it works!

But, I've always said that you can outeat your exercise, so for me to try and lose weight, I was still going to have to make some significant changes to my diet.  I had a few blips, mostly in the area of under-fueling my body before stressing it out by running several miles in the heat and humidity, but I think I've got that figured out a little better.  Basically, I'm eating even more protein than I thought I needed; my carbs are mostly coming from fruit, some baked sweet potato fries, and a little granola with my Greek yogurt in the morning.  I'm not counting calories, but I am very aware of what I'm eating, if that makes sense.  I guess after so many years of dieting and then maintenance, I know what I need to do to stay status quo, and what I need to do to get to status slim (haha).

You might be wondering how, since I don't weigh myself, can I definitively tell that I'm losing weight?  It's the clothes, pure and simple.  Things are looser - my denim capris are not tight at all, fresh from the laundry.  A too-snug running shirt that my mom sent me in February is now loose enough to wear - I was thrilled enough to snap a very early-morning selfie in it last week:
 Ignore the squinty eyes and instead please note that this shirt is not stretched tight over my stomach rolls - hurray!

This whole "getting lighter/dieting" thing isn't going to result in drastic changes overnight, and I knew that going into it.  My goal is to make running easier by having less of a body to haul around, and my races aren't for quite a while, so I'm happy with the progress I've made thus far and don't feel stressed by any deadline to hit a certain point by a certain date.  I'm eating what I want on the weekends (Mexican food, chips and salsa, and frozen yogurt) but even then, I'm still aware of how hungry I am and have left food on my plate when I start feeling full.  The only time I feel a little deprived is when I watch my friends eat the delicious treats (cinnamon twists, chocolate croissants, cookies) at Blue Baker, but you know what?  The day I really, really want something like that?  I'm going to have it.  And then I'll get back to doing what I've been doing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Mishmash - All Creatures, Great and Small

It was like an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom around here this week!  Here's what we encountered, just since Saturday:

Skunk.  Well, we didn't SEE it, but hooboy, did we smell it.  When, you might be wondering?  About two seconds after we'd let Paco outside.  I don't think he got sprayed directly, but rather, the skunk had just left his mark and Paco walked into it.  Super fun, as it was 4:30 a.m. and we were busy getting ready for running club.  We had to leave him all smelly until later, but thanks to Debby's skunk shampoo recipe that she'd recently posted, we got him washed up and smelling like a dog again.

Bees.  That same day, Jeff took Paco to sit outside in the sun to dry off from his bath.  All of a sudden I heard "BEES!" and they came running back in.  THIS was outside our kitchen window:
That is a blanket of bees draping over the eave!!!

I have a beekeeper friend and called him, because I knew enough to not kill them.  He came over about an hour later - in the meantime, they'd moved to our living room window:
Jeff thought it was fascinating.  I said I would think it was fascinating if I were watching this on TV, not right outside my window!
Another view.  Pretty sure there were about a million bees at this point.

My friend came over, did his beekeeping observations, and said that there was a queen in this mess, and her workers were looking for a place to build a hive.  He thought they'd probably move on, but made plans to come back the next day and remove them if they were still there (he had somewhere to be that day, so he couldn't remove them until then).  Later on, we noticed they weren't on the screen, so Jeff went in the backyard and saw this:
According to our beekeeper friend, they were resting on the roof...they were tired from all that swarming around.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but this was about 3x3 feet in dimension.

By late morning on Sunday, most of the bees were gone.  Whew!  I know bees are necessary, but I'm a NIMBY (not in my backyard) person when it comes to them.

Rats.  Our youngest came home for a quick trip over the weekend, so we got to see the new little ratties again.  They have bonded quite well with the older rat, Louise:
Louise and her look-alike, Andi.
Louise keeping Andi and Olli warm?  They all seemed content.  I think Louise is enjoying mothering the little ones.

Cicada/Bat.  OK, not a bat, but when it flew at me, I thought it was one, so the scare counts for that, right?  Story here, in case you missed it.

Bunnies.  Julia picked me up early on Wednesday to go to Planet Fitness, and we saw two pet bunnies just hanging out, near my driveway.  The next morning, she came over to run, and when we finished, the bunnies were right by the big green grassy area in the middle of our street.  They must belong to someone, because when I got near them, the brown one came right up to me:
Please to ignore the sweat - that is what 45 minutes of running at 5:30 a.m. looks like.  The ears on the brown bunny were huge!  They stood straight up, while the ears on the tan bunny were all soft and floppy.  The tan bunny is just munching away on the grass...breakfast time!
Not the greatest pictures, but it was dark.  Cute little things - I later found out that the neighbor two houses down owns them, and can't seem to keep them in the backyard. 

Dog.  Of course I had to include Paco!  As soon as I picked up my phone, he posed:
Um Mom?  I wud like to meet bunniez.  Promise not to chase dem.  PROMISE.

Sure Paco...sure.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

After a fairly decent summer, weather-wise, the extreme heat and humidity hit Texas with a vengeance last week.  On the one hand, we were lucky to have it hold off until August.  On the other hand, UGH.  It made for some pretty awful running conditions.  I mentioned on Friday's post that my run the day before was rough, and it was...but Saturday's run?  It was like running through a hot blanket of air.  Which makes it hard to breathe, and to move, and mostly made me question my ability as a runner.

We had 4 miles on tap.  It was 82 degrees, with 93% humidity.  My running buddy Loretta and I started out deliberately slow, doing 1:30/1:00 intervals.  I felt OK for the first mile and a half, but then it felt like I couldn't catch my breath.  We got to the 2 mile mark where we refilled our water bottles (and got a little extra break), turned around and headed back...and then, my chest tightened up and I REALLY couldn't breathe.  I told Loretta I had to stop, and the more I tried to catch a breath, the more I couldn't.  You can imagine the panic and tears as I fought to stay in control...poor Loretta, she was having a good run until this.  But I'm very glad she stayed with me and helped to calm me down.  We ended up walking most of mile 3 before I felt decent enough to get back to running for the last mile.

When we got back to the park, I could tell that I wasn't the only one who'd had a rough time out there.  This weather is not conducive to running, not at all.  Hopefully next week it won't be as bad.  I then had to put on my Organizer hat and get the last few people signed up - this was the last day of registration.  Julia went around snapping pictures, and I have to tell you, I looked a lot happier in this picture than I felt:
My shirt was wetter than when I pull it out of the washing machine.  Thankfully I remembered to bring a dry shirt to change into for when we went to Blue Baker.

Before all that misery, we took a group picture - here's most of our members (we are officially up to 50 this year):
My running club peeps!

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The weather still hadn't let up for Monday's run - we had 40 minutes, easy, on our schedule, and believe me...Amy and I took it easy.  We were doing just fine but then a big brown thing flew at me from some bushes and hit me in the side of my eye and I screamed like a banshee because I thought it was a bat and then Amy screamed and it got a little crazy.  Turns out it was a cicada, which, don't Google it unless you like bugs.  So that was pretty gross.  But hey, it took our minds off of the heat!

We decided we needed coffee when we were finished, so went to the Starbucks.  While we were there, Amy realized that she was wearing her "coffee capris" which made the morning perfect:
Here's Amy, looking impeccable.