Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My New Normal

These last two weeks I've embarked on a new relationship.

Admittedly, I've been a bit distracted. I apologize for the infrequent posts. I've met a guy who is a little controlling. He's smart and confident and looks great in a pair of jeans, but he's kind of demanding. So I've been spending all my energy trying to make him happy and live by the principles he has laid down.

Now before you get all women's lib on me, its not what you think.

Turns out I'm a little in love with Dave Ramsey. Yes, I know he's married. But I can admire from afar can't I? I'm not sure what it is about him. Anyway, my friend, Heather and I were watching one of his DVDs one morning over a cup of coffee. We were captivated by the man's common sense approach to personal finance and were hanging on his every word. Every so often we would glance over at each other and share an "a-ha" look of approval after a particularly poignant principal - but we dared not speak and risk missing the secret to life, or world peace, or whatever other brilliant nugget the man would throw our way. About this time I was sizing Dave up and realized he is a nice looking guy. He oozed confidence, intelligence, and common sense all at one time. (A rare combination, indeed!) I was smitten.

Reality, in the form of my son, walks upstairs, glances at the screen and says, "Who's the old bald guy?"

Nothing like ruining the moment.

Sure, the moment consisted of two 37 year old women sitting on a couch with a mediocre cup of coffee and gazing at a 52 inch screen, nodding in agreement to a guy who hosts a radio talk show on personal finance. But I was enjoying it right up until that old, bald guy comment. Sheesh!

Once I got over the pathetic-ness of the situation I pressed ahead with his plan for debt-free living. Like any new relationship, it is all rainbows and unicorns in the beginning. But when the harsh reality of my shiny gold Macy's card getting mutilated set in.....well, it stung.

What does all of this have to do with my running goal?

Well, as much as I would like to separate one part of my life from another, its not always possible. And the drastic change in my approach to finances has seriously sucked all energy and focus previously reserved for calorie counting and mileage logging.

Its been a little painful. I don't do well with simple living. I like stuff. I have lots of stuff. And I want more stuff. But I also like to travel a lot, keep a flexible schedule, and don't do well working for others. So it seems prudent that I work on eliminating debt from my life in order to carry-on with my "laissez les bons temps rouler" style of living.

The good news is that my new-found discipline in regards to my health seems to be translating well into an extra dose of discipline regarding my finances. I actually think it is a natural progression that would've happened regardless of how Dave looked in his jeans.

And while Dave demanded a bit more of my attention for awhile, I am sure to find a way to integrate all these changes into my new normal.

Just give me a little time to mourn for Macy's.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lessons in Contortion

In my effort to build up core strength I shuffled through my vast collection of workout DVDs to find something that met the need. Many were still sporting their original shrink-wrap as if to mock me and previous attempts (or non-attempts, as it may be) to strengthen my body.

I stumbled across one entitled, "Yoga for Weight Loss". I figure this would be the perfect answer. Yoga builds core strength, right? And if you can lose weight in the process what's not to love?
Now here's a shocker.....I've never done yoga. But surely if they make a yoga DVD aimed at weight loss it will be suitable for fat people. I mean, that would be the target market for such a product, right? And I would think that most fat people are not yoga masters so certainly it starts at a beginner level.

I'm all pumped up. I'm gonna lose weight, build some abs, and transport myself to a zen-like state all with one DVD. I'm proud of myself for taking this training seriously and this is exactly what I need. I even used some new hair product and I'm having an incredibly good hair day. I'm oozing positivity and ready to take whatever Little Miss Yoga Chick throws my way.

I make sure the house is empty for this first attempt. Because, really....have you ever seen a fat contortionist? And why would you want to? It can't be pretty.

But I'm convinced that in no time I'll be mastering all these silly poses and I'm anxious to see how they marry weight loss and yoga together. So with the house empty, my confidence soaring, and my hair looking even better than Little Miss Yoga Chick I hit play and wait while the secret to all my problems is revealed over the next 53 minutes.

The relaxing music fills my living room. I can almost smell the flowers and feel the spray of the ocean depicted in the beautiful scenery. I listen intently as my instructor tells me of all her credentials, important celebrity clients, and unique philosophies. Bring it on!

We start sitting Indian-style on the floor. This is brilliant. Exercise where you sit. I'm a model student and concentrate on my breath and my tail bone. Soon we're standing up. So far so good.

My first moment of concern was when she instructed me to "fold forward". I look up at the TV for direction. Yep. She folded alright. Right in half. Like the clamshell DVD case where she lives. I don't necessarily "fold", but I manage to bend over some. That sitting muscle is getting in the way. This was my first clue that I may have not been the target audience for this particular DVD. But I'm sticking with it. No way am I throwing in the towel yet.

Now I'm bent upside down, my arms are behind my head, and I'm shaking my torso side to side. I'm not entirely sure how I got here. And I'm wondering how exactly I'm supposed to follow along when I'm upside down and looking at my inner thighs. But, dutifully, I wait for instruction. She is giving me a good, descriptive play-by-play so that I can keep up.

Thankfully we return to standing position and I'm praising God as she spends a little time on neck rolls. Neck rolls are almost as good as sitting. She continues to instruct me on the perfect mountain pose. I'm good at this one. Its a standing one again.

Then all of a sudden my calm instructor turns into the Auctioneer from Hell. With the cadence of a jackhammer in overdrive she rattles off a sequence of poses that have me "swan-diving" into a folded over position again. Then I'm in a push up position, then a cobra, somehow from there I've got my butt sticking up in the air in the downward facing dog pose. At the same time I'm trying to adhere to her orders to spread my toes and breath and stretch and lengthen and rotate this or that inward. Eventually I'm standing up again, but I'm not really sure how I got there. I find myself embracing every vertical moment.

Then she utters two short horrible little words.

"Two more."

I turned to the TV and asked, as if she were really in the room, "Are you kidding me?"

She didn't answer and was in full-on auctioneer mode by now.

I should've seen this coming. I mean, you did - right? When I started this entry you probably knew this couldn't end well. It was like watching a horror movie and telling the stupid blond girl not to go into the woods. But I ran willingly.

I tried. Really I did. I figured 53 minutes isn't that long. Surely I could stick this out a little longer. Then I looked at the counter. It had elapsed a mere 7 minutes and 45 seconds. And I wasn't feeling very zen-like.

I figured it best to salvage the good hair day and admit defeat.

I may take on Little Miss Yoga Chick again someday. But in the meantime, I've got this Pilates workout that might work. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oh Look! Shiny Object!

It is the thought that counts, right?

'Cause I've been thinking about you guys a lot. And now here I am, a week since my last post about missing a measly hour and wondering where the heck the last seven days went! I'm pretty sure I can still blame that on Daylight Savings Time.

This week has brought about many demands on my time. And now that the honeymoon phase of this whole self-imposed challenge has worn off, I'm finding I have to work harder to carve time from my schedule for exercise, food prep, and calorie logging.

The trick is staying focused. Early on in the game I had laser-beam focus. Nothing could deter my attention from my goal. Hence, those first couple weeks were just easy peasy

Have any of you ever been to Filene's Basement? Its like a bargain hunter's utopia. You must go early in the morning when new shipments are brought in, and it helps to know the layout of the store. Once those doors are open you have to high-tail it to the purses - 'cause that's where the good stuff is! You might notice the other cute displays, but you breeze right past them because you don't want to miss out on a good deal. Sure, you may look at that stuff on your way out....but for now you just want to find yourself a new Coach bag for 70% off. Or, if all the planets align just right, there will be a pair of Louboutins in just your size.
That's the kind of focus I'm talking about. Eye-on-the-prize, run-over-granny-to-get-there, mommy-needs-a-new-pair-of-shoes, elbow-to-the-gut-if-you-don't-get-out-of-my-way, focus.

Things were a wee bit different this week. I was still focused on the goal - but maybe only with one eye. The other eye just caught a glimpse of a shiny object in a store window on my way to Filene's. So I just had to wander in, take a look around, and then get back to the matter at hand. Its not like I maxed out the credit cards or got stuck in a book store or anything....I just got distracted by all those blasted shiny objects vying for my attention.

While I'm sure ladies reading this know exactly what I went through last week, I imagine the guys might not have such a great handle on it.... Its kind of like when you first get to the football stadium. You need a beer, right? You go straight to the nearest vendor and hook yourself up. You don't really notice much else. The first beer is the most important of the game and tastes the best. Once you have your beer you are focused on getting to your seats to scope out the view, until one of the Hooters girls walks past. Focus momentarily redirected. Shiny object.

You'll get to your seats eventually.

And you get my point.

So I made a few changes to "the plan" to tweak what is and isn't working for me. First off - I found a different site to log my food diary. While I really love all the information that nutridiary has, I found myself manually entering nutrient counts for much of my food. It was time-consuming. I started with myFitnessPal today and it has an extraordinary database of foods. I haven't had to manually enter even one thing yet. It doesn't show as many stats as nutridiary, but maybe simpler is better for now. I need something that will take less time in order for me to keep up with it.

I've also decided to add more core work before I ramp up the running. My walking/jogging sessions are up to 4.5 miles, but when I push it to more of a running pace my back gets really sore. I believe this is because the "sitting muscle" I've built up around my abs is not doing much to help the poor back muscles out. So instead of pushing myself and being miserable, I'm gonna stick to a slower pace and take this week to work on more core-strengthening. I think this will benefit me more in the long run (pun totally intended).

Little successes include: smaller pants (yay!), my Wii Fit age is now 5 years younger than my actual age (I'm sure there is no actual science here - but it makes me feel good), and I found it is possible (and satisfying) to have just one bite of chocolate cake.

So this week I need to get just a little more selfish about things. I need to take more time to exercise and sleep. I have REALLY been lacking in the sleep department.

More sleep. More exercise. More focus. Less laundry. That's the plan. (Although some Coach bags strategically placed along my running route wouldn't hurt either!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Want My Hour Back!

I'm all for "springing ahead". I'm the first one to enjoy those extra minutes of daylight as the wintry grayness melts away to make room for the greenness of Spring. I'm anxiously awaiting weeks of dinners prepared outside and retiring my stove in favor of a 50 pound bag of charcoal.

I look forward to drinking a glass of wine outside on the deck without donning long underwear.

And washing my car without fear of the windows freezing shut.

Really, I'm not that hard to please.

I love me some summer.

But today. In my present state of grayness......I really need that extra hour. I tried to prepare myself to part with the precious minutes today. I did not waste it on sleep. I got up extra early, in fact. As if to laugh in the face of the Daylight Savings Time people. I don't need an extra stinkin' hour of sleep! Nosireebob.

But it is 11:15pm as I type this. It should only be 10:15pm. Do you know how many things on my To-Do List could be crossed off if I just had an extra hour? Today was just not a good day for me Daylight Savings Time people!

I was really sick last week. I would've gladly given up an hour of that time. Heck....I would've given up five if you would've just left me my lousy 60 minutes today.

So something had to give. I still had to feed the kids. The dog still had to go out. There was that laundry that wasn't gonna wash itself. And really? Do you think I'm gonna give up my online chatting time? We must keep up with the social networking.

So, as much as it pains me, I had to give up the run today. I wanted to go. Really I did. But those darn Daylight Savings Time people ripped it right from me. And even without logging my running time today, I'm still behind on "The List".

I don't see anyone trying to take an hour away from Monday. Cuz that would make too much sense. Why do they have to mess with my Sunday? And, since I brought it up.....what is with the whole mysterious missing hour at 2:00am? Why can't "they" say we lose an hour at 4:00pm on Monday? 3:58....3:59.....5:00!!! Time to go home! I don't even have a 9-5 job and I'd be all for it. I imagine there are lots of working folks who'd think that's some brilliant thinking right there.

You're welcome.

But, sadly, no one in authority at the Daylight Savings Time headquarters listens to me.

They should though.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I just love that the weather is getting warmer. Love, love, love, love, love it!!!

The snow is almost completely melted from my yard and I have stowed the shovels and salt in the garage - not too far out of reach though, we are in Wisconsin. I'm sure I'll be rummaging for a shovel again before the May flowers show up, but for the time-being it is beginning to look a lot like Spring.

There is a whole winter's worth of dog poop scattered across my lawn and the melting snow has revealed the gray deck that needed to be stained LAST year. Winter is good at hiding things like this. But when the summer sun shows up the sad-looking deck and poop minefield will have nowhere to hide.

I'm thinkin' the same can be said for my "new quasi-running" body. I mean, right now I'm safe all bundled up in some long pants and a hoodie. I may look a wee bit out of place running down the block dressed that way in July! So I'm ramping things up again. The thought of subjecting my poor neighbors to images of me in moisture-wicking tech shirts and (gasp!) Spandex while training seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I'm sure they appreciate me thinking ahead on this one. I'm considerate that way.

I like being on this side of summer - especially when there is still a good bit of time to prepare for it. There is so much to look forward to. Even the work seems exciting right now. I can't wait to mow the lawn again and break out the pressure washer.

Right now I'm dying to start Spring Cleaning. Can I just count that as part of my training? Cuz I'd really rather clean out closets than Turbo Jam or check in with the Wii Fit. But there are the neighbors to consider.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Falling Off the Wagon

Not only did I fall off - but the darn thing hit me and ran me over!

Now I know I had the birthday slip-up.....but that really wasn't so bad. I was still aware of what I was eating and managed to get a few minutes of exercise in.

These last two days involved a monumental fall from grace.

As I mentioned before I had a little road trip planned. My daughter and I drove up to Wausau for her birthday. She had an interview with a talent scout (which went very well) and she wanted to take the trip instead of having a party. So I felt obliged to make the whole two days feel like a party for her. Of course this involved a dinner of Chinese food, a late-night snack at Arbys, a little cake for the room, breakfast at the hotel, and lunch at Fazolis on the way home.


Now usually I am a big proponent of going online to find the best choices before dining out at such establishments. But, frankly, I just didn't take the time. Couple the fast-food extravaganza with a busy schedule that involved much sitting and no exercise.....well, it was not a productive couple of days for me.

As a matter of fact I managed to find a couple of the pounds I lost earlier in the week. I was off to a great start walking/jogging four miles each day Sunday through Tuesday. But Wednesday and Thursday were worlds away from my beginning of the week effort.

Today I'm climbing back on the wagon. I'm a little bruised from the fall, but still intact. Thankfully I have a weekend that involves lots of work and no birthday celebrations. That should help! So I'm still hoping to salvage the week as far as the weight loss/exercise mileage goes.

I'm not letting myself feel too terrible about it. I had an amazing time with my daughter. We shared a great couple of days together and I know she will never, ever forget her twelfth birthday. Not to say I couldn't have had a equally amazing time with a little more planning and some better choices - but it is what it is.

And I never would've seen her try to suppress that giggle had I not ordered the Pu Pu Platter.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where's the Bathroom?

I understand that this might qualify as Too Much Information, but we're all friends here, right?

I'm just curious....does everyone who drinks the recommended daily intake of water have to pee a bazillion times a day? I've never had a problem drinking water. I love the stuff. But I've upped my game and increased my water intake in honor of the new healthier lifestyle.

And, honestly, I haven't slept through the night since.

I tuck myself in to bed around 11:30pm each night. I spend about an hour reading and then I'm off to my peaceful slumber. But each and every night since I've made this deal with the Devil I find myself staggering out of my warm cocoon just so I can pee. I only get between six and seven hours of sleep a night. Each of those minutes are precious to me. And once I wake up I have a hard time getting back to sleep. So the stupid bathroom breaks are really irking me.

What's really disturbing is that I've actually tried to talk myself out of making the trek to the bathroom while still in bed. Out loud. I'm pretty sure there are men in white who will haul you away for that.

My eyes will open and I'll contemplate the urgency of the matter. It usually starts with an audible and sarcastic "really?" and then ends with a frustrated murmur of "this is just stupid.....just rediculous....dumb....stupid.....(muffled babbling).....ugh!"

And during the day is not much better. Thankfully I do the majority of my work from home. While the frequent trips to the bathroom are irritating, its not terribly inconvenient. But I do a lot of shuffling the kids around and I now need to know the location of the nearest bathroom every 30 minutes! And today I walked/jogged three miles - which wasn't a struggle endurance-wise, but I'm thinkin' one more mile and I might've had to fend off Fido at the next fire hydrant. Sheesh!

Of course this could have a little something to do with Karma. You see, I'm kind of like the Potty Nazi when it comes to road trips. My kids are real troupers and understand that all stops must be choreographed for optimum usage of time. Which means potty breaks happen during refueling of the car or the passengers. And never is there a stop JUST to pee. And they are good at this! I've trained them well. What worries me is that we have a small road trip next Wednesday about 3 1/2 hours up north. Usually this is a no-stop distance. But I'm afraid I will have to hang my head in shame as I pull off the road every 20 minutes. I fully understand that this will open me up for many frivolous pit-stops on road trips to come. My kids are also good at holding things over someone's head. Again, I taught them well.

So I'm hoping that my body will eventually get used to this water in/water out thing so I can get a decent night's sleep someday soon.

At this rate, I'll be running my 13.1 miles in a pair of Depends!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why Do People Run?

I've begun spending a lot of time learning about runners and the world they live in. I've read books, picked up a couple magazines, and even watched a documentary about folks training for the Chicago Marathon (its called "Spirit of the Marathon" in case you're interested) in an attempt to understand what drives people of all ages and fitness levels to push themselves to run long distances.

Because, frankly, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If someone asked me a few months ago what would cause me to run I imagine the only two possible scenarios would involve someone chasing me, or an ice cream truck at the end of the street.

And yet there are those out there running 26.2 for fun. There are the elite runners who actually run to win such races. And imagine my surprise to learn that 26.2 miles is not long enough for some. There are 27 mile races and 50 mile races. There are people who run marathons in all 50 states and on every continent. Its amazing to me. But this is a much different world than the one in which I live.

And it makes my goal of a half marathon seem almost puny. I mean, some of these runners run 13.1 miles just for the heck of it. I can just hear them at the water cooler,

Susie Runner: "Hey Joe, there's a half marathon this weekend. That would be a fun way to spend a Saturday. Wanna go?"

Joe Cool Runner Dude: "I'm taking my kids to the zoo later that afternoon, but I'd love to pound out 13.1 miles before that. How about you meet me at my house and we jog there."

Since this is so far removed from my world I can only guess what drives such craziness. Competition, the challenge, endorphins, raising money for good causes, learning the secret handshake....I don't know. Its a fascinating subject. But I suppose, for now, I can only answer the question for myself.

I cannot yet qualify myself as a runner - so I can only speculate. But I imagine the sense of accomplishment is what will make these months of training worth the effort. For me it is an exercise in goal-setting. Setting a goal, making constant progress toward that goal, and then seeing a tangible reward in the form of a blingy finisher's medal. A little extra structure and discipline is sure to serve me well - and I am embracing that. I just can't see me doing this for "fun" once that goal is met. We'll see.

Perhaps my thoughts and motivation will change throughout this journey and I will better be able to answer the question, "Why do people run?"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

Yes, I know this should've happened last night. I had intended on it. Honestly I did. I mean, that was the deal....Wednesday Weekly Wrap-Ups. But I know you guys understand that this has been a tough week and you will forgive me just this once, right?

This cold is kicking my butt. I took some medicine last night and it knocked me out. So that's my excuse for not checking in. I was thinking of skipping the weekly wrap-up altogether this week simply because it was so crazy and, frankly, a big ole blur at this moment. But for the sake of monitoring progress I'll suck it up and post the stats.

Here goes:

Calorie Counts: 1482, 1421, 1422, 1279, #*@!#, ???, ???

For three days I didn't log in calories. I'm unsure how I did two of those days. But I know for sure that the day of my birthday was just ugly. And, like I said, we're just gonna overlook that little fiasco.

Having a house guest here made it difficult for me to keep track of the food intake as well as I had been doing. I still feel like good choices were made most of the time. But I also know that I could've done MUCH better.

What's Working: This week what saved me was having lot of fruit and veggies all cut up and ready to grab. It seemed like I was running around constantly. One of my favorite snacks were frozen seedless grapes. They are so good they almost felt naughty! Just rinse them and stick them in the freezer in a shallow container and then pop them in your mouth like candy. Its like a dieter's version of bonbons.

Favorite Food Finds: I didn't spend much time in the grocery stores this week. I will mention my favorite cereal though. Total Cranberry Crunch. Good stuff. And lots of good nutrients in there. I will eat it as a snack at night if I see that I'm lacking in iron or calcium for the day since it delivers a full 100% of the recommended daily values of each. The four grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber help too.

Struggles: I think we've covered this. Unexpected house guest. Mom bearing gifts o' food. Birthday cake(s). Best laid plans going awry. It happens. I'm moving on.

Minutes Exercised: 260
Miles Walked: 3

What's Working: This week? Nothing. Its a bust.

DVD I'm Liking: I thought the post-sex strut scene in "500 Days of Summer" was simply brilliant. Oh! You mean workout DVD's....I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Struggles: My exercise was greatly affected by my being sick. I had just enough energy to make it through my daily responsibilities and not much more. When I would start walking or doing something the least bit exerting I would just start hacking up a lung. It wasn't pretty. I did spend at least 30 minutes each day with the Wii Fit Trainer Dude just to keep him on my good side.

Pounds Lost Since Last Wednesday: 2.5 pounds
Total Pounds Lost: 17.5 pounds

I'll take that. And next week will be better. I promise.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sometimes Its Just Easier to Eat the Cake!

Did ya miss me?

I told myself that I would post every day to keep myself focused, but somehow these last few days got away from me. And, coincidentally, so did my focus.

I had a trifecta of diet sabotage bombard me this weekend: My birthday, a chest cold, and a surprise visit from my Mom. I mean, really, need I even say more?

I went into the weekend strong and confident. I managed to stay within my allotted calories during a night out with friends at a favorite restaurant. (Of course this meant not eating anything all day....and then consuming 1300 calories in one meal....but, technically, still on track!) I grocery shopped for healthy treats, I printed out recipes for healthy appetizers to enjoy during my birthday celebration, and I spent hours preparing a spread I could be proud of.

Then in walks Mom.

Now I love my Mom. And some of you may think its a little strange that I'm sharing these details with perfect strangers and not my own flesh and blood. But I'm just not ready for my eating habits and running ambition to be the topic of every single conversation. Not just between her and I. But also between her and every other person she talks to in the course of the day. So I've chosen to keep much of my kinfolk in the dark on this.
At least for now.

My Mom lives six hours away. She decides she wants to spend my birthday with me and shows up bearing gifts and calorie-dense treats. So much for the cucumber sammies. Instead she unloads enough cookies for a small nation, a 13x9 chocolate cake, a stoneware dish of homemade mac & cheese (with three kinds of cheese I might add), homemade Italian beef complete with french bread and five pounds of mozzarella cheese, a BIG box of truffles from Harry and David, and countless other delicacies on which to gorge. Did I mention that I already had a spread of food? And did I mention that there were exactly four of us?.....including my kids who are scrawny little things.

I did my best to forgo too much of the evil food and munched on the healthy stuff. But, like your Mom, mine is seriously offended if you don't eat a little of everything.

I even made a low-calorie version of carrot cake for myself. It was really quite good. It had only egg whites in there - no yolks, applesauce and crushed pineapple for sweetener, there was very little sugar in there too, and whole wheat flour. I used non-fat cream cheese in the frosting. And, surprisingly, I was impressed with the taste of it. Very moist. My son has been munching on it since Sunday, so it even gets the teenage boy seal of approval.

Of course there was also the decadent chocolate little number staring at me. I easily could've resisted the stinkin' cake. I couldn't, however, deal with the guilt-inducing gaze of my Mom and her comments how no one liked her cake. For some reason, my Mom believes that the amount of food you consume is a direct relation as to how much you love her. So I decided it was easier to just partake in a slice for the sake of harmony.

Sometimes its just easier to eat the darn cake!

So I've decided that my birthday will not count toward my little Lent challenge. Thankfully the scale is still moving in the right direction (albeit at a much slower pace) and I haven't completely undone all my hard work.

But after these last few days I'm just thankful I don't look like my Mii on the Wii Fit!