Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Mishmash

So the best thing happened after last Saturday's long run - I found out that one of the women in my running club is a knitter!  Eeeeeeeee!! I was more excited about that than the fact that I'd run a 10K!  Not only is she a knitter, but she's very active in the local knitting guild (which I recently discovered), and she's not a fan of the owner of the local yarn store here in town.  It was a relief to chat with her and realize I wasn't alone in my bad experiences with the bulldozer lady.  And, she recommended another yarn store - it's about 20 -30 minutes south of town, but hey - considering the frustration I feel every time I walk away from the local yarn store, that drive will be worth it.  I'm really, really happy to find a group (you KNOW how I love my groups, be it running or working out or whatever!), and I can't wait to attend my first knitting guild meeting in a couple of weeks!

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Speaking of knitting (oh WERE we??), I finished the pink baby blanket!!!  Woohoo!  My fingers couldn't take much more pokes of those sharp needles, and my hands were cramping up with all the hours I was putting into it.  But it's done, and will be delivered to Coach Dale tomorrow morning - he and his wife became the parents of a sweet baby girl less than two weeks ago!
This pattern is knit on the diagonal...you start in one corner with three stitches and keep increasing each row by two - it felt like it took FOREVER before I got it wide enough to start decreasing down to the opposite corner.  Didn't end up being a fan of this pattern and I doubt I'll do another blanket like this, even though it came out really cute.  Plus, the yarn - James Brett's Marble Chunky - wasn't as soft as I'd like, especially compared to the striped baby blanket that I showed you last week.  But that's the difference between acrylic and merino wool...now I know, and I'll make better choices with my yarn.
 
I decided to girl it up even more by weaving a pink ribbon through the edges - no such thing as too girly, right?  The ribbon is easily removable once the baby is more active, but I liked the sweet touch for now.
Baby blanket #3 is finished!

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I saw this on Pinterest, and while it was captioned "Helping Grandma," it very easily could apply to me:
Seriously, why are there so many buttons?!  And, why do I always hit the wrong ones?

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Roxie had a post the other day about showing gratitude for all that you have by taking care of things (like exercising your healthy body, cleaning your house, etc.) - and it shamed me into deciding to clean one room per day...it's not like I don't have time, but honestly, there's other things I'd rather be doing.  However, living with shedding creatures means that it seems like the house always needs cleaning.  Which gets overwhelming.  So this one-room-per-day thing might make it feel mentally manageable.  I started with my bedroom - even went so far as to clean the cat and dog nose prints off the windows.  Then?  I don't know what happened exactly...I took the curtains down to whack the dust off of them and the room brightened up immensely.  Next thing I knew?  I rearranged the furniture, which was a challenge what with moving a king-sized bed and a heavy dresser by myself.  But I am woman, hear me roar - I got it done, vacuuming and dusting along the way.  Woohoo!  Now, if I were a good blogger, I'd have remembered to take a before picture...as it is, I got a "slightly into the process" shot and then "during" and of course "after" - and the best thing?  My side of the bed is directly under the ceiling fan now, and I'm hoping this helps me stay cool and sleep better.
 
We have plans to paint this room and the adjoining bathroom, but that won't happen until the Christmas break - Jeff likes to paint, but his schedule has him gone too much right now to do any big projects.  I have some new sheets and a coverlet picked out - the walls will be a light gray, and bedding will be white and gray with some blues thrown in.  Should be nice once it's done, but in the meantime, this is a good start toward the change.

Oh, did I mention that Jeff was out of town while I did this?  It's not the first time he's come home to a switched-up house.  Gotta keep things interesting, right?
Almost before - curtains are down, dog crate is moved from corner by the dresser.  I was also in the middle of washing the bedding so the spread is missing.  But the funniest part of this picture is seeing Henry looking in the window - he was sleeping under the bed when I started vacuuming and wisely decided to leave.  Didn't stop him from watching the events from a safe distance, though!
During - I thought about angling the bed (I've done that with a queen previously) but it didn't work for the king.  This was my resting point when I was gearing up to move that dresser to the opposite wall.
After - don't ask me why removing the curtains and just flipping the room makes it look so much bigger, but it feels huge now.  I like it - and now I really can't wait to get it painted and get the new bedding!
 
The gold chair doesn't go, and I wish I could have it recovered in a more contemporary fabric color, but I have race entry fees to pay and running shoes to buy!  Oh well,  at least it shows off the gorgeous cowl that Janell knitted for me - with our weather being so hot so much of the year, I can't wear it very often, but at least I can still see it this way!
Funniest part?  The cats were so disturbed by this that they refused to go into the room for a full day.  They just sat, looking toward it, and then kept glaring at me (I took this picture while sitting at my desk).  I only rearranged one room - imagine how they'll react if we ever move!

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Jeff and I have 7 miles on tap tomorrow with the running club - it's going to be another hot one, so my number one goal is to survive it.  After that, breakfast with some running club peeps, and then a nap.  Live big, right?  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update

I made it pretty far into this season of training before getting hit with aches and pains, but this week, my legs have been protesting all of the running.  Motrin has become my friend once again, I've been using The Stick on my legs, and the coupon for a $45 massage that I've been hanging onto?  Might just get used in the next couple of weeks...hopefully that will get all the knots out and "reset" my legs for the next part of training.

Saturday's long run went much better than the previous one.  I can't tell you what a relief that was!  It was still stupid hot, but there was a slight breeze at times which helped to cool our sweat-soaked bodies.  We had 6 miles on the schedule, but Coach Will changed it up to 6.2 - an official 10K.  Considering that I loathe 10K races (mostly because they are coupled with 5K's, and the majority of the runners end up doing the shorter distance, while the fools go on to run the longer, lonely 10K) (I have been that fool a couple times), I didn't mind this distance.  When Jenny and I started out running (Jeff is still out of town), I said in a cheerleader-type chant to her: "what are we gonna do?!" and she responded "watch out for cars!" LOL.  Awareness, it's a good thing.

This course takes us through some busy intersections - some that we cannot cross against the light; it's just too dangerous.  So we had a couple of unplanned rest stops at red lights - probably a minute each - but we really didn't take a break until mile 3, when we hit the water station.  We refilled our bottles, had a GU, and then started back up.  I think that break hit me mentally, because at about 3.75 miles, I wanted to stop and walk.  I told Jenny that, and we agreed to push it to mile 4 - that's when it's good to have a running buddy who will keep you going.  We walked for about a quarter mile at mile 4, and then pretty much ran (red light stops excluded) the rest of the way in.  Just the fact that we didn't feel like death throughout the run made it so much better, and my confidence has bumped up a notch about doing these long distances.
Team Sweaty Jelly!

Monday morning Erica was kind enough to come over and run with me at 5:00 am - she had a busy work day and needed an early start.  Paco, who normally only gets to see her on Thursday mornings, was thrilled - he LOVES her.  So cute - I think he really believes she's coming over to see him, not to run with me!  The run was great fun as usual, but because we ran an hour earlier than we normally do, it was really dark, which made it hard to see roadkill until we were practically upon it (either a possum or armadillo - we didn't want to look too closely - and a snake)...gross!  Tuesday evening Julia and I met with our running club and did speedwork at the track.  It wasn't pretty - at 8:00 pm, it was still 96 degrees!  But we got it done, and then had dinner afterward:
We wanted soup, but as this was our late dinner, were hungrier for more than a cup, so we each ordered a bowl.  Cauldrons arrived!  Too funny.  Hot and sour for Julia, wonton for me.  Yum.

I have a confession:  some mornings, after I've finished my run?  I come home, take a quick shower, throw on an old nightgown, and go back to bed (after I've had a chocolate milk and some Gatorade, of course).  These 4:15 am wake up calls, coupled with my multiple wake ups during the night (I'm hot! I'm cold! I'm WIDE AWAKE! It's fun being me...) have been getting to me.  The nice thing is that Paco lays on my legs during these naps, and that pressure feels good on them - I'm thinking he could be considered a reverse foam-roller.  Anyway, I know I'm very lucky to be able to do this, and the best part is that when I wake up again (usually between 8 and 8:30 am) I feel refreshed, human, and ready to start my day - and I've already done my exercise, which is a nice bonus!
Awkward shot taken with iPad of my view when I woke up after my Monday morning nap...Paco and Henry sleeping on me.  My little helpers!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Disordered

I've written that I was anorexic in high school - I think it's pretty obvious, based on my "before" pictures, that I got over THAT problem.  But my disordered thinking about weight (I can always weigh less!) and body image has been hard to shake, even after 30-plus years.  Which is one reason why I stopped weighing myself nearly a year ago - that scale just held too much power over me, in my mind.  No, it's not logical, but that's why they call it disordered, right?

It's also no secret that I've been disappointed with how my stomach looks after my weight loss.  Even at my smallest size, which was about two years ago (during the height of my half marathon training), I still could see my distended, flabby belly showing in every outfit.  While I was thrilled at my smaller body, I hated my stomach.  Cut to now.  I'm not actively trying to lose weight, but I am seeing good changes from all this running - my legs are toning up, and my clothes feel looser, which is great - I'd put on some weight during Hell Year (2011 - my mom's cancer diagnosis and my ankle injury led to some stress eating), and it's coming off without a lot of effort under the guise of dieting.  I just make decent food choices most of the time, and don't feel the need to eat a bag of coconut M&M's on a daily basis any more.

I have many days where I'm happy with my body, and what it can do for me.  I like being able to wear cute clothes.  I think I've figured out what looks flattering on my body, and I try to only wear clothes that I feel good in.  But as good as I feel when I look straight in the mirror, if I catch a glimpse of myself from the side view, those feelings disappear.  There it is, my stomach blob.  Hard to escape it, and I know that even if I were to buckle down and go back to a more rigorous diet, it would still be there - sure, it'd be smaller, but based on how I looked two years ago, it's not going to go away.  I think it's just a sad remnant of too many years of being overweight - my body can't bounce back to perfectly thin anymore.  And that's something that I work to accept - what other choice do I have, really?  I'm not one to continually whine and moan about my plight (well, except for running in hot weather), especially when I did this to myself.

So back to that disordered thinking.  I hesitated to write about this - it's embarrassing to realize that I'm still just one stop away from getting on the crazy train when it comes to body issues. But something hit me while watching the synchronized swimming competition at the Olympics, and it brought it all front and center - hipbones.  Seeing the hipbones on these women - razor-sharp, jutting out - for a moment, I wanted that. 
Team from Spain - hipbones galore.

I pretty much gave up on the idea of ever seeing my hipbones again after I'd lost 100 pounds and they were nowhere in sight.  I wasn't interested in starving myself to see if they'd reappear - I had better things to do, and was enjoying having a fit and healthy body.  The thing is, I still am.  Except, that it scares me to have thoughts like "I wonder if I stopped eating, if I could get my hipbones to appear?" - what the heck???  I thought I was DONE with that kind of thinking.  Besides, I could not starve and continue to run, and I also like my frozen yogurt way too much to never eat it.  But wow...the fact that this thought has entered my mind more than once since seeing those swimmers has made me realize that this disorder is still lurking in the back of my mind.  It doesn't make sense, and while I feel crazy for even entertaining these thoughts I'm sane enough to not act on them, but there you go - apparently some things never really disappear.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Mishmash

I have been a movie-going fool lately...it helps that the matinee price (anytime before 6:00 pm) is only $4.00, so movies don't end up being a budget-buster like they are in so many other areas.  Max and I saw Ruby Sparks, which was really good, and also Hit and Run, which was awesome...my dad would really enjoy that movie.  And, I was proud of myself because during Ruby Sparks, I actually asked a women sitting in the row in front of us if she could hang up her phone so I could enjoy the movie.  I KNOW!  She was texting on her iPhone before the phone call, and then actually answered it and proceeded to carry on a conversation.  The crazy thing (to me and Max) was that she was old enough to know better - I'm talking at least 70.  See, it's not always the kids who are annoying with their cell phones!

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I finally finished the striped baby blanket!!!!!  Every time I complete a knitting project, I am awed - me, the queen of procrastination?  I guess that shows how much I like knitting, right?  This came out pretty cute.  I love the stripes and the color combination - the only thing I'm not 100% thrilled about is the edge where I changed colors...it's not as straight as the other side.  Maybe there's a trick to that, but I'm just calling this an additional "handmade" detail and am going with it.
Soft and squishy - I'd love to make a full-sized throw out of this yarn (Cascade 128 Superwash 100% merino wool, if you're interested)
 
I cast on 100 stitches and knit 10 rows of each color.  There are 19,000 stitches in this blanket!
Love how the back looks like ticking where the stripes change color; left edge shows where it's not as straight as the right - that's the side I changed the color on.

This is for my former running club coach Joni, who is due with baby Davis in October.  I hope they both love the blanket.  I really enjoyed making it for them, and I love the colors that Joni chose for the nursery.

One more baby blanket to finish (the pink one) and then I'll be onto another fun project, but one I'll get to keep!

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Max has been in town this week - he turned 23 on Wednesday, and we celebrated with Mexican food and a margarita.  One last hurrah of fun and relaxation before he starts school next week - he'll be a Super Senior, aka a fifth-year college student.  He's going for a BS in both Mathematics and Computer Science - I wonder if you get two diplomas when you graduate, or do they cheap out and put both degrees on one?  Anyway, this should be his last year of college, fingers crossed!
My youngest is 23!  When did THAT happen?!?

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Other than movies, running, knitting, napping and a bit of shopping (Max is now set up with a rice cooker/steamer...healthy dinners await), it's been a pretty quiet week around here.  The biggest excitement has been the opening of our town's first Panera Bread, but the parking lot has been filled to bursting every time we've driven by, so we are waiting for the initial thrill to wear off before going.  Finally, we don't have to drive to Denton to go to a Panera - nice!

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Tomorrow is another 6 mile run - it HAS to be better than last week's, right?  I'm crossing my fingers!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Good, Bad and Ugly

I'll start with the good:  Monday morning Julia and I met at 5:45 am and ran 3 miles.  This was a much-needed redemption run for me, as Saturday's 6 miler was not great, and I was left wondering if I've lost my running ability.  Monday's run showed me that I still have it, but apparently it took Saturday off.  Although the weather had promised a morning low of 72 degrees, it ended up being 76 - which was actually the coolest temperature I've run in lately.  Anyway, this was a mile more than I normally run on Mondays, and it was a great way to start off the week!

So the bad:  Saturday's 6 miler was just fubared from the beginning. I know I complain about the heat, but seriously, this was bad even for us - it was 83 degrees at 6:00 am - AM! - and 90% humidity.  While we were gathering before the run, one of our coaches, who had been out leaving water jugs along the course, drove up with the news that a road was blocked off by police and they needed to reconfigure the route for the full marathon group, who were scheduled to run 9 miles that day.  So that was a bit unsettling, especially after the shooting earlier in the week...this was very close to that area.  (side note: what the hell, people?!?  stop with the violence!)  They eventually figured out what to do, and we all took off.  Jenny and I ran together (Jeff was out of town), and within the first half mile two police cars and the mobile crime unit (which looks like a giant RV) drove past us, leaving the crime scene.  Great...it's already a bit unsettling to run in the dark on these newer routes, but to have the extra angst of "what the heck is going on??" was not helping, either.

We started out slow, like you are supposed to do on your "long slow run" days.  We did OK until we came too close to being hit by a car - and that was our fault, I'm embarrassed to admit. We were chatting, and crossed in front of the entrance to a large student housing complex - we ran against the light, we saw that one car was turning left, we assumed that the other car was as well - big mistake, as it went straight toward us.  Massive panic, several "oh sh*ts" were uttered, and luckily we made it across safely.  THAT got out hearts racing, and we actually had to take a minute to compose ourselves.  Stupid on our part - Jenny and I have been running together for a couple of years now, and we've never done anything like that.  Believe me, we were extra cautious the rest of the run!  There is no room for assumption when it comes to motor vehicles and runners - we KNOW that, and yet, we still pulled a bone-head move.  Luckily we were able to live and learn from our mistake.

Back to the run.  We made it to our turnaround point, where water was waiting.  I refilled my bottle and poured some over my head and down my neck, which revived me for about 30 seconds.  Jenny's heel was hurting, and she was ready for a walking break...she didn't have to ask me twice at that point.  We ended up doing our patented (lol) "lightpost intervals" for the next couple of miles (run from one lightpost to the next, then walk...although this time we did every other lightpost).  We ran it in for our 6 mile finish, but honestly, it was an ugly run. 

I was feeling pretty low about my extreme lack of running ability the rest of the day.  I even looked up the last "first" time I ran 6 miles to see how I did, and that just depressed me even more, because I was so much better at running two years ago.  Notice that I'm not saying FASTER - although I was - for me, that's not the point.  It's that I used to be able to run pretty much continuously, and this summer, that has not been the case.  After a day of whining and moaning to Paco (Jeff was lucky to be out of town), I came to the realization that most likely the issue is the weather.  Because honestly, I have been spot on with my training this season - I've done every single run on the schedule, including all the hill workouts.  You know that break up line "it's not you, it's me"?  I'm thinking "it's not me, it's the weather" - and until further notice, I'm going with that.

I may not have a "good" long run for another month or two.

I may end up slogging through the next 6 and 7 milers on tap.

I may end up walking part of them.

But I believe that even though I'm having such crummy runs right now, the time I'm putting in on my legs is going to pay off on our first gloriously cool morning, and I will end up being the runner that I want to be. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

HOW Old???

I've been getting hit lately with social zings of aging, and I keep thinking to myself "I am not THAT old!!!"  Here's a couple examples:
  • In the new movie Hope Springs, the characters have been married 30 years and are in a rut. You guys, they look OLD.  I mean, put-on-a-cardigan-and-slippers-and-puff-on-a-pipe old - and that was Meryl Streep's character (hah! I crack myself up).  Jeff and I have been married 28 years.  Does this mean that in two short years WE are going to look like cranky old fogies?
  • I was looking at some volunteer opportunities online.  One jumped out because they wanted you to "share your wisdom" (the first thing I thought was "believe me, you don't want MY wisdom" LOL) - but they were looking for people who are 60 years or older.  Oh, that's pretty old, I thought.  Than I realized that I'm only 11 years from 60.  What?  How can 60 be old, then?
There is definitely a disconnect between how old I am and how old I AM.  For example, I occasionally will read that someone has died, and they were, say, 48 years old.  And I think, oh how sad.  Then it hits me - I'm 49 years old!  The worst was, though, when my high school alumni page recently updated the "In Memorium" section and I saw quite a few new names added to my graduating class.  My former classmates.  Of course, I'm still picturing them as teenagers, but still...how can they have died already?

I don't feel any particular age.  Turning 30 didn't bother me (well, except for the massive blunder SOMEONE made with a less-than-optimal birthday gift), and turning 40 was no big deal.  No angst, no mourning of my youth...it really was just another year.  And while I've consistently held this attitude, it didn't always show on the outside.  As I lost my excess weight, I cannot tell you how many people told me that I looked younger.  It's amazing how many years you lose along with the pounds.  I always joked that the extra fat in my face filled in the wrinkles and kept me younger-looking, but truly, there is a huge difference:
Left: 43 years old; Right: 48 years old.

I'm 49 years old.  I know it sounds cliche, but I really do feel like I have a new lease on life, physically, since I've lost weight.  Mentally I was always there, but now, the outside matches the inside.  Just one more bonus to finally getting that weight off, and every day that I keep it off feels like I'm putting the exterior age on hold...or at least in the attic with my old picture.

Oh and also?  I'm NOT old! ;)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Mishmash

You may have seen on the news that my town had a bad shooting on Monday - it was a pretty awful day.  With a smaller town, it seems like almost everyone knew at least one of the victims.  We didn't, but it's still very shocking and sad.  Our running club actually did our 5 mile run last Saturday very close to that area - about a quarter mile away.  You never know what kind of insanity lies behind someone's front door, or how close you actually are to it.  The funerals are this weekend, and the healing process is beginning.  Rough, rough week, though.

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The dog days of summer are here - makes sense, as it's August, and it's supposed to be hot in Texas.  However, it was hotter last summer - we had a string of 100 degree days for over three months - but I've been feeling the heat more this year, and I couldn't figure out why.  I finally realized that last summer, I started every weekday off with over an hour in the pool.  That must have kept my body temperature lower for hours, as I don't remember waking up already sweating like I am now.  Too bad I don't belong to the gym anymore - that pool is sounding mighty tempting!

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I went to see my future second husband's new movie the other day, and as it was a noon showing, I quickly threw a lunch together to sneak in (yes, I'm one of those people):
Chicken salad sandwich, pretzel sticks, and a chocolate coconut water - not going to even pretend that I drink this flavor for the electrolytes - it's purely a sweet treat for me!

The movie - The Campaign - was funny.  Not as hilarious as Anchorman or Talladega Nights, but along those lines.  Always nice to see my man, and I have to say that Zach Galifianakis was really good as well.

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The squirrels have been so cute lately - I looked out my window to see three of them lazing in the crook of our tree.  The best shot cuts off most of the third squirrel, but you get the idea.  I think I need to go out and trim the branches of the scrub in front so I can get a clearer picture:
Baby squirrel is sleeping!  Cuteness overload for me. :)

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I got to play with a sweet husky on Wednesday:
 Jooney - she looks like a pup, but that's because she was rescued from a starving situation - she's actually about 5 years old.
My former co-worker (from my old job at the Arts Council) recently adopted her.  It's a giant love-fest in that house - very sweet to see!

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I'm calling this one Funky Fashion Friday, because I was wearing a lot of color.  Ever have one of those days where you just want to wear everything that you love?  Usually I'm a little more restrained, but I threw it all on:
Subtle, I know ye not...
Found this top on clearance and I think I will live out the rest of summer in it as it barely touches my body, which is perfect for the insanely hot days here.  I don't even care that I look like I could be pregnant in it - loose and flow-y wins.
Tried to get a shot of my new necklace without showing too much cleavage (not easy; cropping to the rescue).  Anyway, the super-cute purple necklace was a REALLY early Secret Santa gift, and I love it!

I wore this when I met my former co-worker for lunch - around the house, I just wear running shorts, but I don't like to subject non-runners to that mess if I don't have to, so I wore the capris.  You also are seeing my super easy summer hairstyle of "comb it wet and let it air dry" - or "beach waves" as they call it on Pinterest - hah!

Have a great weekend - you all know my agenda...six miles and a nap!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - "I Wanted To Win This Medal"

 26.2 miles in 2:08:01.  I'm impressed!!!

"I wanted to win this medal" - that's what Stephen Kiprotich, winner of the men's marathon at the Olympics, said afterward in an interview.  Oh how I could relate to that!  Of course, in that particular race, not everyone gets a medal at the finish line like they do in the marathon/half marathon races here.  But the sentiment is similar - getting a prize at the end after doing something very difficult is what most of us want...it's the proverbial icing on the cake, and a nice reminder for years to come, of a big accomplishment.

Jeff and I are going to try and earn medals together for the first time on November 11th - we signed up to run the San Antonio Rock and Roll half marathon!  I'm excited...I've always wanted to do a Rock and Roll race, and we used to live in San Antonio, so this will be extra special.  We were scheduled to do a 12 mile run with our running club that weekend, so we figure that the extra 1.1 will be no big deal...hah!  No, the whole race is going to be a big deal, but we are planning on having fun and enjoying the RnR atmosphere, and crossing the finish line with smiles on our faces, and then driving home with medals around our necks.

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Saturday's 5 mile run went much better than the previous week, although I my legs were pretty spent around mile 4 - normally, I can honestly say that my head is telling me to stop but my legs actually feel fine.  This time, my legs were tired.  I guess that is to be expected, though - after all, I just ran 4 miles.  Jeff was feeling the run, too, which makes me think the heat was making it harder than normal.  I kept repeating my "forward momentum" mantra to myself for that last mile, and soon enough, we hit 5 miles and were done - whew!  Ice-cold washcloths were waiting for us - I swear, after a long run I'd gladly pass up just about anything to get to those washcloths!
Shoes off, washcloth on...beginning to feel human again.

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We had our last official hill workout yesterday - speed work at the track is now on the schedule.  I doubt I'll make many of those, as I am not a fan, but we'll see...after actually making all 5 of our hill workouts - something I never thought I'd do - I've learned to never say never when it comes to running.

Speaking of hills, I was quizzing Erica about the San Antonio RnR race course (she ran it a couple of years ago), and she said "there's a hill at the end, but it's mostly just an annoyance" - I love that attitude and plan on adopting it.  Hill?  Just an annoyance.  Like a pesky gnat.  Nothing to get all worked up about.  I believe that looking at hills as an annoyance, rather than my standard "OHMYGODIT'SAHILL" will serve me much better, don't you?

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This coming Saturday we have 6 miles on schedule.  All I have to say about that is YIKES!

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Finally, this sums up how I feel every time my alarm goes off at 4:45 am so I can get up and run early to beat the heat(which is a misnomer since it's always hot...I guess we're beating the sun?):
Yep.  Looking forward to the short few months where I don't have to run in the dark in order to avoid heatstroke!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Quick Reviews - Hunger Shield, Skinny Dippers, Breath Slim

Hunger Shield
Hunger Shield had a unique marketing gimmick of sending a crushed bag of potato chips along with their product, as an example of what not to eat to lose weight.  Interesting - it caught my eye, that's for sure.

Hunger Shield is a powder drink mix that is marketed as an appetite control product.  It comes in portable stick packs that make it easy to mix with water (anywhere from 12 - 16 oz is recommended).  It has 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, and comes in at 40 calories. 

My thoughts:  I liked it.  I thought the citrus flavor was refreshing - not overly sweet like so many artificially-sweetened diet products tend to be.  I can't honestly say if it was the product that made me feel full, or it was due to the 16 oz. bottle of water that I mixed the product into, but I had this in the late afternoon and wasn't hungry for dinner as early as I was normally.  If you try this, my recommendation would be to use cold water, or pour over ice. 

Hunger Shield is offering My Journey to Fit readers a 20% discount if you'd like to place an order - click here to activate the discount.

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Skinny Dippers
The flavors were refreshing...

Skinny Dippers are a zero calorie frozen treat sweetened with Splenda.  They are marketed as a low-glycemic product that is a good option for low carb dieters as well as diabetics.

My thoughts:  They taste fine, but the aftertaste of Splenda is a turnoff for me.  But then, I don't like artifically sweetened products, so this probably wasn't a good match for me from the start.  Also, a box of six is $5.99 plus shipping - and there is absolutely no way I'd ever pay that much money for what is basically a sugar-free Otter Pop (and you can get 100 of them for around the same price).  Thanks for the sample, Skinny Dippers, but at this price point, I'll be surprised if these stay on the market much longer.

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Breath Slim
All the goods - product pictured in box and put together for use.

Breath Slim is a product that is marketed as a way to promote weight loss and healthy living while learning to breathe correctly. 

My thoughts:  I was extremely skeptical about this.  Really, you can BREATHE your way to weight loss?  I wasn't buying into that idea, and I told my contact that when she offered me the product to try.  I was, however, interested in trying it out to see if I could get my breathing a bit more controlled for running, and my contact encouraged me to give it a test.  So with a lot of trepidation, I tried out Breath Slim.

How it works:  Basically, you fill the container with water to a level marked with a line, attached the tube and mouthpiece, sit up straight, and inhale slowly through your nose for 5 seconds, hold that breath for 5 seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth (into the mouthpiece) for 10 seconds.  You are breathing through water, and if you exhale too quickly, you will force the water out of the container (I did that a couple of times).  This takes concentration to do it consistently and correctly - or at least, it did for me.  They recommend that you do this for 20 minutes every evening, well after dinner. 

I've tried to control my breathing through yoga with limited success, and I do think I did a better job with controlled breathing using Breath Slim because exhaling too quickly almost always resulted in a bit of a water bath...that surprise would get me back into the slow breathing groove instantly!  So I'd say that I had success with it on that level, and the anxiety-breathing that I was experiencing while running has lessened quite a bit.  Did I lose weight while using Breath Slim?  I have no idea, since I don't weigh myself. Would I recommend it for weight-loss help?  Nah - I'm still skeptical.  Plus, it's not exactly cheap - Breath Slim costs $49.95.  However, if you are looking for help with controlled breathing, then you might be willing to spend the money on it.

Thank you to Hunger Shield, Skinny Dippers, and Breath Slim for sending me your products to try - it's always fun to see what new things are popping up!

FTC:  All the products mentioned in this review were sent to me for free.  Opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cranky Shelley Dispenses Some Tough Love

My inner cranky person doesn't come out that often, but when she does, look out.  Whining, excuses, and yoyo weigh-ins have hit a nerve with me lately, and I'm unleashing the crank.

It's time to get busy and lose the weight you want.  NOW.  Do it now.  Today.  Stop making excuses - I swear, if I read "I was on the road and HAD to stop at a fast food place for lunch" one more time, I'm going to scream.  No one is forcing you to do that.  Plan ahead.  Make better choices.  Alternatively, go hungry - are you really going to wither away and die if you don't eat lunch?  Probably not.  And if you're hungry, maybe that will remind you to throw a couple of healthy snacks in your bag to tide you over for the next time.

Stop waiting until whatever is over - a celebration, a crummy job situation improving, kids moving out, health issues resolved, after that vacation...I could go on and on, but you get my drift - there will always be things that you can use as a reason for not starting or continuing with your diet, but if you aren't careful, another year is going to go by, and you'll still be waiting...unhappy with how you feel, dreading having to dress for a special occasion, and sitting on the sidelines of life.

Begin a healthy lifestyle today.  You can plan yourself to death, read a million books (and blogs) about dieting, make your grocery list, look into joining a gym, but none of that is going to help until you actually start, so start already!  Jump in with both feet.  Go for it - there is no perfect program, and you will not do everything exactly right.  But if you're not doing anything to make the change, than nothing is going to change.  I hate to break it to you, but most often this is going to involve saying no to a lot of the stuff you're currently eating.  I can guarantee you that 99% of the time, you'll get another opportunity to eat that same food in the future, if you want.  Yes, it all tastes good, but having a fit and healthy-sized body feels even better.   

Those of us who are, or who have been overweight have used food as pleasure too often.  I'm sorry, but the hard truth is that if you really want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to let go of enjoying every morsel of food so much.  I know that for a lot of you this is not what you want to hear, but I believe it's truer than anyone would like to admit.  So stop focusing on bacon (easy target - I could have listed MANY foods here) and start focusing on how good your body feels as you get the excess weight off.  Is it hard to sometimes go to bed at night with muscles sore from working out, or with a slight grumble of hunger in your stomach?  Sure.  But when you wake up with energy, like what you are seeing in the mirror, and don't dread putting on clothes because they aren't strangling you with tightness, then hey - the trade-off is worth it...and it keeps getting better.

Food is good.  Having a healthy body is good.  Can the two coexist?  Yes, but you have to be willing to make some better choices.  And keep making them...or you're going to be on the weight-loss roller coaster forever.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Mishmash - I Be Jammin'

I played Susie Homemaker on Wednesday and canned my own jam.  My first time ever...Lori posted a jam tutorial recently, and as I read it, I thought "I can do that" - so I did.  Let me tell you, it's a bit hectic, with all the peeling and chopping and boiling and more boiling and what the heck was I thinking, doing something that involved standing over boiling pots in this heat?!?  Plus, I am a "clean as you go" cook, and there is not time to do that while you have all these pots boiling on the stove.  But, I persevered, and the result was totally worth it:
PEACH JAM!!!!!
 Yes, I am quite proud of this!
The fixin's - jars, pectin, utensil set (all purchased at Target), lemons and peaches, plus sugar in the background.  Who knew it was this simple???

Jeff came home just as I was putting the labels on the jars - I told him that I almost called him to pick up some vanilla ice cream on his way home, so we could try out the jam.  I swear, not two minutes later I looked up to see him, keys in hand, walking out of the house!  The jam made for a tasty ice cream topping, and the next morning, I had a piece of buttered toast with it, and I swear, it was the best! jam! ever!  OK, I might be slightly biased...
It even LOOKS like jam!  I'm still amazed that I managed to make this.

By the way, the recipe I ended up following is here.  Sure, it's much simpler to buy a jar of jam at the grocery store, but this was an adventure, and I'd do it again, just for the novelty of it.  Thanks for the inspiration, Lori!

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I didn't hear from two of the winners of the Bulu Box, so I did a redraw, and the new winners are: 

Kim (comment #29)

Please email me your mail address ASAP (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) so I can get this giveaway finished, and y'all can receive your Bulu Boxes.  Congrats, and thanks for playing!

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Sit and Knit update:  I'm loving how this striped baby blanket is turning out - knitting the main color before and after each accent color is so cool!  These are all the colors of the new baby's room, and I think it's great that the mom chose shades that won't look too babyish after just a year or so.  Nearly done with it - I ran out of the main color (the medium blue) and had to order another skein online (apparently I needed one skein of the main color for each skein of accent color - now I know!).  And although weaving in all the ends because of the many color changes seemed daunting at first, it went by pretty quickly thanks to a lot of Olympics watching on TV.
Blue with gray, navy and reddish-orange stripes - and I love how the back of the blanket looks like stitching where the stripes change colors!
So soft and cozy - this yarn (Cascade 128 Superwash Chunky) is great and I'd definitely use it again.

My other baby blanket has taken me forever, and I think it's because the pattern is kinda boring.  Don't get me wrong - I like how it's turning out, but it's on smaller needles than the striped blanket, and it just takes a long time to get through each row.  At least I'm finally on the decrease, which means that eventually the rows will get shorter and shorter (this is knit on the diagonal, if that makes sense).
This is HALF of the blanket, which means I need to step up my knitting on it!  I may weave a soft satin ribbon through the eyelet holes around the edge, just to frill it up even more.  
I was so excited to finally reach the mid-point and start the decrease, which means that I turned the corner, literally.  At least now the end is in sight!

Once these two blankets are finished, I'm going to make a throw for myself.  Because what would make more sense than to knit blankets and throws during the hot hot summer?  Maybe making jam over a hot stove?  Or running outside?  Obviously I don't go for comfort in anything that I do!

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Since I've been busy this week with jammin' and knittin' I don't have a whole lot to post about, so here's just one last thing - squirrels, hanging out in the big tree outside of my window.  I can't get enough of them:
So cute!

Another 5 miles on tap for tomorrow, and it WILL be a better run than last week.  So it is said, so it is true, right?  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Mind Games

I got a lesson on Saturday in what not to do before a long run - and also, a reminder of how similar a bad run is to a bad day of dieting.

First off, what not to do:  As we were running 5 miles, and will be continuing to increase the mileage on our long runs, I've been trying to figure out how to eat something substantial before those runs, when, in actuality, I am not a good eater early in the morning.  I've been managing to choke down half a Clif bar before we leave to meet up with the running club, and this past Saturday I went for broke and ate the entire thing.  Go me - more fuel for the 5 miles, right?  Well, not so much...around 2.5 miles, I started feeling like I was going to vomit - that bar kept climbing higher and higher in my throat, and I ended up (disgustingly, to those around me, I might add) retching and had to stop and walk while trying to see if it was going to come back up.  It didn't, but I felt pretty crummy, and it was hard to get started running again.  And yes, it was hot, blah blah blah - 82 degrees when we started at 6:00 am (moral of that story is you can't win when it comes to running in Texas in August) - but I could have endured, had I not felt so bad halfway through.  And then came the head games...how I really blew that run, I'm not a good runner, I should just stick to 2 miles - I'm sure most of you know the drill when it comes to self-doubt and flagellation.

I finished the run and after several cold cups of water and a couple of ice-cold washcloths later, I started to feel human again.  I had a headache the rest of the day, though, so I was probably overheated, which I'm sure didn't help anything.  It happens - even with everything we try to do to ward it off, it just comes with running this time of year. 

Later on, I uploaded my Garmin - and saw that I finished that run in 1:07 - really?  I then looked in my training journal for my previous 5 mile runs, which were in early June - both of those clocked in at 1:06.  Wow.  Even with the stopping, walking, retching and general malaise, I was not that far off from my other 5 milers.  That reminded me of how, back when I was actively dieting, counting calories, and keeping a food journal, if I had a "bad" meal, or snacked on something that wasn't on plan, I felt like I'd blown the entire day UNTIL I entered everything into my food journal.  Then, I could see that I hadn't done irreversible damage to my diet and that it wasn't, in fact, nearly as terrible as I'd made it out to be in my mind.

How many times have you quit your diet because of a bad day of eating?  How many times have you given up on a sport because of a bad workout?  I've done it many times, and I know it's not just me.  Saturday's run was a good reminder that in reality things are never as bad as they are in my mind if I let myself go there, and unfortunately on Saturday, I went there.

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The nice thing about running is that for every bad run, there's usually a good run that follows, and my 2 miler on Monday was perfectly fine, and my second mile was the fastest I've done since coming back to running.  Hills yesterday?  Done.  Jeff is even in town this week and got to do them with our group - fun times, fun times.  OK, fun when we're done.  Still, I'd rather be running than any other sport, and I'm so glad I can run now.  So I'll take the bad with the good over nothing at all.  And try and learn from my experiences.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We Are All Different: What Works For ME

It's been nearly a year since I stopped weighing myself.  Guess what?  I haven't gained a bunch of weight - in fact, my clothes are looser now.  It helps that I was able to start running again this year, but I'm not going to pin everything on that - I think I've finally stumbled into what works for me, and I thought I'd share it with you - not to say that you should do what I've done, but rather, to give you more ideas and options to craft your own way through this weight-loss process.

For years - heck, for decades - I've thought myself to death with diets.  It's exhausting, trying to figure out what will work for me, seeing what works for someone else and trying that, tweaking every plan to make it fit into my lifestyle...spending countless waking hours thinking about what I should be doing to lose weight, and then, of course, actually doing it.  As we all know, dieting can be a never-ending process.  No wonder so many of us give up before we get to our goal!  So you might be surprised when I say this:  I pretty much eat whatever I want at this point.

It sounds irritating, I know - I'd be irritated too.  Isn't this a blog about diet and exercise and maintaining a healthy weight?  Who can eat whatever they want and not gain all of their weight back???

Well, not to be flippant about it, but I've been doing it for nearly a year now, ever since I declared myself done with dieting.    The struggle with food and all of the "shoulds" (I should eat this; I should NOT eat that) has eased tremendously.  I think that by giving myself permission to eat, I've been rewarded with learning to trust in my instincts.  I'm beginning to understand how naturally thin people do it.  You see, most of the time I want fairly healthy food - while I've gotten lazy about eating a perfectly balanced diet on a daily basis, if I add everything together for a week, it pretty much evens out.  I don't count calories, and I don't actively restrict myself from eating this or that, but I AM aware of what I'm eating and my portion sizes.  I also have been known to skip a meal if I'm not particularly hungry, or just have a little fruit instead.  In my not-too-distant past, I would have dismissed that notion as crazy.  But it's part of a balancing act that seems to work, without it being too much work, if that makes sense.

We all have to find our own way when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a new body.  For me, letting go of what was stressing me out (which was always thinking about diet and meals and the number on the scale) has given me the freedom to eat in a sensible way...and to discover that I actually prefer to stay on the side of healthy eating more than I ever realized.  One example of this is that last month while I was in California, I didn't have any See's Candies.  None.  There was ample opportunity, and I still love chocolate, but I just didn't want to get started with them.  For one thing, I know they'll be around next time I visit.  For another?  I'm really liking how my body is shaping up with all of the running I've been able to do, and the chocolate didn't entice me like it usually does.  Now that's not to say I didn't have any treats while I was there (french macaroons, anyone?), but I'm getting better and picking and choosing stuff like that, and not going overboard.

I've been so pleased with many things that have resulted from my weight loss - being able to do physical things, like running and hiking and swimming without a second thought of "can I do this?" to getting dressed every day and liking my clothes and how I look in them - sure, that's shallow, but live in an overweight body for a couple of decades, and you'd appreciate fitting into cute clothes, too.  It's been really, really nice to not struggle so much over something that we have to do everyday - eating - and I hope that you, my sweet readers, can find your way through it as well.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Mishmash - Bulu, Hippie, Beach!

What a great response to the Bulu Box giveaway!  Glad I had 5 to hand out - here are the winners:
Joanne
Farrah Morelli
Anita Seuss Kaushik

Congratulations!  Email me (40somethingsjourney@gmail.com) with your name and mailing address, and I'll get your info to my contact at Bulu Box - if I don't hear from you within a week, I'll draw for new winners.  Thanks for entering, and thanks again, Bulu Box, for doing such a generous giveaway!

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Sit and Knit update:  Let me just say that I'm so glad I run early in the morning - that way I've gotten my exercise done and can knit the day away, guilt-free.  Well, I still have guilt about neglecting housework to knit, but hey - at least my conscience is clean when it comes to workouts!  Last week I couldn't show you my latest windmill bag, because I made it for my mom's birthday (which was Tuesday - woohoo, hope you're still celebrating, Mom!).  Here it is, and oooh, do I love the colors:
 
And now I'm officially out of yarn to make these bags.  So either you'll never see another, or I'll just have to go shopping.  Hmmm, wonder which direction I'll go?

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Jill at The Sassy Pear was looking for a granola recipe recently, so I linked her to my Hippie Granola, only when I did, I realized that I've made some adjustments to the recipe I originally posted, so I thought I'd post how I make it now...just in case you are looking to make a yummy granola.

Hippie Granola
3 cups oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill extra thick)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp (generous) salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line rimmed jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.  Stir honey and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth.  Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, toss.  Spread on prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, stir, then bake for additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven – granola will crisp up within a few minutes.  Let dry, break up and store in an airtight container.
 The ingredients - dry and wet.
 Left - before baking; Right - after.
 
 My favorite way to eat the granola - on some greek yogurt with fruit.  YUM!

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Along with watermelon, my other favorite summertime fruit is cherries.  And this summer, I'm also eating them frozen - I just toss some in the freezer, stems and pits intact.  I first tried them when I was *wait for it* in California (haha, you know I can't let go of that trip just yet), and as good as they were out there, they're even better here with our crazy hot weather.  If you try this, just eat them slowly so you don't accidentally break a tooth on the pit.
Frozen deliciousness on a hot summer day!

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Jeff has been scanning old slides lately and boy have we seen some doozies!  This picture is awesome for two reasons - 1) the oil slick on my face...I remember Seventeen magazine saying you should use moisturizer under your make up and I was all, "no thanks, I make my own"; and 2) the perfect rolling curl in my hair...I had to work my old Clairol curling iron hard to get that look!  I was a senior in high school when this was taken - 17 years old.
Jeff said this picture scared him, with my eyes staring into his soul.  So naturally I made it his desktop background this week when he went out of town - bwahahahah!

And in case that picture gives you nightmares, here's a more recent one - Theresa and I were wading in the ocean when a big wave came in and splashed us pretty good:
Fun, fun times!

Have a great weekend!