Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Chronicles of Heart Rate Training: Day 1

Today I'm tried something different (gasp!).  I'm taking up heart rate training for my running program.  So, today was day one of said training.  I did 77 minutes keeping my heart rate in Zone 1 (which for me is 120bpm to 132bpm).  My expectation was to go out and probably do about 6 miles or so.  Mind you, I'm already aware that I usually train at about 160bpm on a regular basis.  Now, looking at heart rate through a whole new lens, I realize that 160bpm puts me in about Zone 4...almost at maximum heart rate.  DOH!  Anyhow, I'm going to give this a shot and see where it gets me.

It's hot.  And humid.  And sunny.  I'm already starting to sweat and I just got out of my car!  Oh well, gotta get 'er done!  So I start out.  My heart rate starts to jump just from moving my feet a few steps.  I see this is all going to be quite the learning experience.  I'm only about a tenth of a mile in and my HR is already 140bpm.  Hmm...guess I should slow down a bit.  But I'm already going SO SLOW.  How could I move any slower?  I decide to try power walking.  Works for a bit, but then my HR drops too low, so it's time to pick it up again.  I feel like I'm shuffling my feet.  I hit one mile and look at my watch: 15:09.  Are you kidding me???  This will put me at about 4.5 miles when all is said and done...for 77 minutes of work?  I hate this.  This is agonizing.  Here I am, plodding along, at a pace that my grandmother could beat me at with her walker if we were racing, and I'm supposed to do this for another 62 minutes?  Good grief.  But, I have to give it a fair shot.

Now, I am not a patient person by nature.  I have a purpose for many things I do in life.  Go into the store, purchase what I'm looking for, get out.  I don't sit and do nothing very well (although, others in my family might tell you otherwise...).  Today I have to pay attention to a totally different measurement than what I'm used to.  Instead of watching pace, I'm watching heart rate, and my heart rate is telling me that I usually go too fast...in ALL of my workouts.  Crap.  Maybe this is God's way of telling me to "slow down" and "enjoy life" and "take it all in".  Whether it's divine intervention or not, I'm very much hating this workout.

I find that I like the downhills the best.  I can pick up my pace without too much shift in my heart rate.  Nice! But, it's not all downhill on my run.  There are some uphills, which means I have to go even slower than the snail's pace that I'm already at because my body's working harder to get me up the hill.  And then there are the flats.  The flats are probably the hardest part.  You feel good enough to chug along, but at the same time, your HR is increasing and it's harder to even realize it.  So then you have to slow down.  More.  I'm seriously moving at 19:00 minutes per mile at some points.  That's slower than I walk!

There are so many benefits to HR training.  I've been reading about them, which is why I feel I should try it out.  Give it a fair shake.  See where it takes my running and my body.  Slow, sometimes agonizing, but fun.  I finish 4.62 miles in 77 minutes with an average pace of 16:41 minutes per mile and an average HR of 132 bpm.  Nothing stellar, but it's one more step on this journey.  I'll be learning discipline, how to listen to my body, and patience...three things I definitely could improve upon.  So here's to the completion of my first official HR training workout!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1: A great day for a resolution.

We've made it halfway through this year.  Do you remember your New Year's resolutions?  Have you completed (or started) any of them?  If you're anything like me, you certainly remember them because they're the same ones you make year after year.  And, if you're anything like me, you started off strong, but have since lost your initial motivation, your spunk, if you will.  It's HARD to keep New Year's resolutions!  If you are successful or have been successful, how have you done it?  What's the secret?

My annual resolution is to lose weight.  I know how to do it.  I know what works and what doesn't.  I know that it's good for me, it'll improve my longevity, my quality of life, and my mental health.  But honestly, I've done little more than talk the talk for the past few weeks.  So, with that said, I'm making a public "Start of Summer Resolution": to lose weight.  Yes, I know what you're thinking...what makes this time different?  Well, let me tell you.  First of all, I'm posting this online...to everyone...even people who don't know me.  Yikes.  Second of all, I'm going to document my journey from start to finish...online...to everyone.  Lastly, I'm making a S.M.A.R.T. goal this time.  "Well, what the heck is that?" you might be asking yourself.  Let me explain.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are exactly that - smart.  This is an acronym for a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Why have I failed before?  Because my "goal" has only been "to lose weight".  There's nothing holding me to that goal.  I don't have a timeframe for when the goal should be completed; there's no amount or measurement that I'm striving for; and it's not realistic.  Do I want to lose 5lbs, 50lbs, or some amount of inches?  Do I want it gone by September 2012 or Christmas 2013?  And can I reach that goal in the amount of time I've allotted?  When you don't put metrics to your goal, you have nothing to grasp.  Your brain is going crazy at this point because it can't comprehend what you're trying to accomplish - because "losing weight" doesn't mean anything.

Instead of losing weight, my new goal is this: to drop three dress sizes (measurable) by Thanksgiving, 2012 (timely) by following a plant-based lifestyle and exercising six days a week (specific + attainable).  A S.M.A.R.T. goal is realistic when it's real to you, when you know you can do it.  You have to be willing and able to put forth the effort.

As far as the dress size goal instead of number of pounds, I've made the decision to get rid of my scale.  My brain and my heart can't be controlled by the scale any longer...it makes me nuts (moreso than I already am).  I have allowed the scale to rule my life ever since I can remember.  I have been known to weigh myself on a daily basis; sometimes multiple times in a day!  If you do that, know that I've been there and I feel for you.  It sucks.  Get rid of your scale.  You'll be happier for it.  I need to do this by feel, so I'm going with baggier clothes (that always feels good).

Now I have a goal laid out.  What's the plan?  I eluded to it within the goal, but I need to break it down in steps.  I'm currently an omnivore who loves the idea and the ideal of only eating what the ground has provided, but implementing it has been an ongoing struggle.  Don't worry, you'll get all the details of that on this journey as well.  The steps I outline in this blog will build on each other.  While step 1 will be for this week, it will continue throughout this journey.  Step #1 toward my weightloss goal for this first week: CUT OUT THE COFFEE.  I know, I know...this is absolutely crazy as I am an avid coffee drinker.  However, in my past battles of the bulge, I've found that when I stop drinking coffee, I don't binge later in the day.  For me, that equals success.  So, week 1 is removing the caffeine (and the sugar associated with it) from my life.  If you see me and I'm grumpy, you know why.  Feel free to cross the street...I'll understand.

I'm not eating any more food today.  I've had more than my share by far.  Tomorrow is a new day with a new purpose and a new life.  I'm going to wake up, go for a run, spend some quiet time reflecting, and eat to live.  I am done living to eat.  My life is more than food; I am more than food.  I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a personal trainer, a running coach, a motivator, a cook, a homemaker, a marathoner, a triathlete, a maid, a reader, a writer, and so much more.  I'm going to start living my life that way.  Go live your's.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh.Em.Gee: My First Triathlon!

So, I've survived my first ever triathlon...as you can tell by the fact that I'm even writing this blog.  What an experience!  In order to tell this story, I have to start a week ago...bear with me.

Sunday, May 13th, was Mother's Day.  The weather was nice, so Mark (my husband) suggested we take a family bike ride - what a nice idea!  And it was, until the flag flew off the bike trailer.  Mark had been pulling both girls in a bike trailer for about 7 miles at that point.  He had also pulled them to the top of a pretty steep hill.  The steep hill was where we lost the flag...at the top...the very top.  I had already climbed The Hill twice, but, being the kind wife that I am, I told Mark to take the two screaming girls home and get their dinner started.  I would climb The Hill once more to obtain said missing flag (again, super wife).  I went to clip back into my pedals, only my foot slipped off, and the bike jammed forward into my tailbone...HARD!  Feeling instant pain radiate throughout what felt like my entire pelvic bone, I mouthed an expletive to my husband, fought back tears and told him to go on.  I took several deep breaths, clipped myself into my pedals, and started chugging up The Hill.  Needless to say, the flag is back on the bike trailer; I made it home in one piece, albeit riding in my drops the whole way and cringing every time I hit a bump (and there happened to be A LOT on the way home).  Ice and ibuprofen were my two best friends for the rest of the week leading up to the race.  Thanks to the help of my husband (super husband) and my mom, I was able to rest the following two days to some extent.

Wednesday morning, I decided to swim.  I figured that would be the least impact on my tailbone, and it would be a good way to gauge what else I could do the rest of the week.  Fortunately, my kick is weak anyhow, so I didn't rely too much on that as it was.  However, it still hurt.  I did my workout, got out of the pool and told myself I was NOT riding my bike later that day.  Thursday I ran...slow to start, but I surprised myself with an 8:30 mile at the end.  Not sure where that came from!  During that run, I had an epiphany: I'm going to do this race and really do it just to finish.  Because I had to go out a little slower than usual, I was forced to really take in my surroundings that night.  The fresh air, the smell of freshly mowed grass, the sun on my skin, the pavement beneath my feet, and the people I passed.  What a joy running was!  Why not just have fun with this race and all future races I do?  Sure, competing to set a PR is ok, but what happens when you just go to complete it?  That was my plan for the triathlon.

Friday, we attempted another family bike ride; this time, we avoided The Hill.  We had fun taking the girls to Peace Valley Park and letting them stretch their legs by wading in the lake.  When we got home, I could feel my tailbone enough to make me take notice, but not enough to lay me out on the couch for the rest of the night.  I was healing, and my body was telling me that, come race day, I'd be ready for it.  Saturday was a nice 3.5 mile jaunt with my Fleet Feet No Boundaries buddies, and then a great afternoon filled with vegetable garden planting and yard work.  I was in my happy place.

Then, 8:30PM rolled around and my nerves took over.  I'm very good at procrastinating, so I had just tried on the shirts I had borrowed to wear the next day (Friendly Tip if you do a triathlon: Don't wait until the night before to try on your clothes).  I started freaking out!  Two of them were too small (I thought), and one was too big!  Now what?  Do I go to Kohl's or Walmart to find something else to wear?  Do I wear my bathing suit and pull my shorts on at transition?  Do I suck it up (or in) and put a t-shirt on before the bike so my flab isn't waving in the wind?  So many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there repeatedly trying on the different tops I had.  I called in the patience and reality check that I knew my husband would provide.  Mark told me that I had nothing to worry about, that I looked fine in either of the small(er) tops, and that it wasn't about what I was wearing - it was about what I was doing.  Point taken, Super Hubby!  I settled on this matter and continued packing my transition bag.  Mark went over a checklist with me before he put me to bed (he literally had to tell me to go to sleep), and I set my alarm for 4:30 the next morning.  I laid there, wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling for awhile, but soon I drifted off to dreamland.

The next morning, I rolled over and said to Mark, "I don't want to do this."  Essentially, he told me to shut up (Note: author has taken liberty to paraphrase the previous remark) and get ready to go.  I got dressed, went downstairs for breakfast and coffee, and then headed out the door with Mark, all the while going over a mental checklist to make sure I had everything I needed.  We got about 10 minutes from our house, and I blurted out "I forgot my ID!"  I had not picked up my race packet like a good girl the day before, and I needed my photo ID in order to even get it.  God bless Mark.  He calmly turned around, drove home, and patiently waited in the driveway while I went in to get what I needed.  On the road again.

And then, the race was on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Worries are So Minor.

The Dash
By Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who love her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

My step-grandmother passed away tonight.  It was a whirlwind of a loss.  My mom called me at 5:45 to tell me that the doctors believed she suffered a brain aneurysm and that her brain had shifted.  There was nothing the doctors could do for her at this point, so they took her off life support and were just waiting for her to pass.  She did less than two hours later.  Barbara, you will be missed by all those whose lives you touched.  May angels lead you in.


In the grand scheme of things, my shit is too small to be so worried about.  As I sit here typing, I've spent the last two days feeling sorry for myself because I can't get my nutrition just right in order to lose weight and fuel my workouts.  I've been so incredibly stressed out about it that I've been eating myself and my family out of house and home.  Yet, tonight, I'm snapped quickly back into reality and reminded that life is too short to get hung up on the small stuff.  This is small stuff.  My imperfections are small stuff.  This life is only the beginning.  I'm wasting it by feeling depressed about things that are not going to change overnight no matter how badly I whine, cry, get angry or wish.


Instead of "why can't you get this right?" or "why can't you be perfect?", new questions are instantaneously flooding my mind.  What is your purpose?  Are you a blessing to those around you?  Are you living your life with intention?  Do those around you know how much you love and care about them?  Are you living your life as an example to your children? Your spouse? Your friends?  What was the last act of kindness/love that you did today?  What are you doing to better the lives of people around you?


I'm angry.  I'm upset.  I'm sad.  I'm shocked.  As my husband hugged me and then helped me clean up the playroom, I wanted to yell at him for not doing it earlier while I wasn't home.  Instead, I stopped myself and thought "he's helping me now, and thank God he's here."  Life is so ridiculously short, and it seems that I have to be reminded of that too often.


How are you spending your dash?  I know that my dash needs improvement, and I'm not letting another second go by without changing it.  Tomorrow, I'm waking up with intention: to be a blessing to everyone I see. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Whoa, baby!

"Whoa, baby!" is my youngest's favorite new saying.  And it cracks me up every time she says it.  Of course, when I laugh, it makes her say it even more.  This is one cycle I don't mind continuing.

A cycle that I NEED to break, however, is my nutrition.  Especially now that I'm signed up and committed to running a marathon, this is a key component that I need to figure out.  Throughout my entire life, I've struggled with my weight; yo-yoing back and forth between various weights, trying every diet and supplement available, wishing there was a magic weightloss formula that worked overnight.  Alas, there is no such thing.  Trust me; I've checked!  So, if I want to be a serious athlete and even just be able to complete this marathon in October, I have got to get this on track.  I've read countless books and talked to many people about this subject.  I can talk about it for hours...but when it comes down to living it, I'm not so well versed.

So, where do I go from here?  I think I've been pigging out for the last week for several different reasons, but since I'm a stress-eater, the biggest reason is probably just that: stress.  I know there are people out there who will say, "You're a stay-at-home mom now.  How could you possibly be stressed?"  Well, if you've never tried it, don't judge.  This has been one of the most challenging adjustments I've ever made.  Granted it has been the most rewarding.  My girls have been fantastic!  The stresses come when there are those not-so-good days.  You know, the ones where the kids don't sleep at all, and they're too tired to listen to you.  Nothing keeps them entertained, and all they want to do is have your undivided attention.  Those days seem to crop up more often than not.  And you know what?  Yoga doesn't help with those days.  I have to be "on" 24/7.  I can't take a personal day or call out sick.  And patience is not one of my strong suits.

Another stressor lately has been the fact that it's tax season.  My husband is a tax accountant.  Put two and two together, and you'll figure out that he's not around very often.  Last night he rolled into bed at 3 in the morning after leaving the house at 7:30 AM.  So, it's a delicate balance of wanting my husband to get his rest, but needing additional parenting support.  Only 4 more weeks!

It's time to put all of these things into perspective and get myself on track.  No more complaining.  It's time to take action and lose this additional weight so I'm prepared for this marathon.  I can do this, especially by October!  My courses of action include: (1) keeping a food log, and (2) keeping a training log.  In keeping a food log, this will help me to analyze several different things.  The first is what I'm eating.  This is important because if I'm not getting the right nutrients, my training will suffer.  Also, it will help me to figure out how I was feeling when I was eating.  Was I truly hungry?  Was I eating emotionally?

Simultaneously keeping a training log will help me to see what types of foods helped my training and which ones hindered it.  This will be huge during this extensive training period and will help me to avoid things that didn't help prior training.  I have a feeling that this will be a lot of trial-and-error, and someday I'll figure it all out.  But for now, practice makes perfect, and I know I can do this.  It's all scary, but...

"If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough."

And believe me, this one scares me!  But only by motivating me to push myself further than I ever thought possible.  We can all do more than we believe we can.  And I'm looking forward to this journey.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Um, I signed up for a MARATHON?

Mark this day down in history...I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon (yes, the full 26.2 miles...of running...)!  What am I thinking?  I think I've completely lost it.  But, I also think you have to in some way in order to even contemplate attempting the full marathon.  You have to lose yourself to take on the intense training, the mental preparation, the nutrition, and the eventual satisfaction of completing said 26.2 miles (of running - seriously, what am I thinking?!?) in order to visualize the person you want to see crossing that finish line.  Am I ready?  Not today.  Ask me in 7 months when I'm at the start line.  Was I ready for my first half-marathon?  Nope.  Did I finish two already, have a third coming up and several races in between?  You betcha!  And I've loved every second of getting to those finish lines.

Now, being that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have a little bit more time on my hands to do some additional training.  At least, I'm hoping that I will.  Looks like a treadmill will be in my very near future.  Ugh.  At least the weather is getting nicer, I have a double-jogging stroller, and I have friends that like to run, too.  Support is going to be HUGE!  On those days when I have long runs, I'm going to need that extra kick out of bed or onto the road.  Perhaps a running buddy; that way I can't bail on the run.  I have to be there because someone else is waiting for me.  Eh, maybe not... :)

So, now what?  The training plan I found doesn't have me starting until 20 weeks prior to race day.  I know I have a lot more to do even before that training starts.  First things first: I need to focus on completing my next half on March 31st and setting the PR (personal record) that I want.  I shaved off 7 minutes between the Rock 'n Roll half and the Philly half last year, so we'll see if I can do that again this time!  Yikes!  So that's the first thing I'm going to do.  After that, who knows.  If anyone has any tips, please send them my way!  I'm a sponge right now, trying to soak up any and all information I possibly can on this feat.  You can also feel free to tell me I'm crazy.  The more I hear that, the more motivated I'll be to remember that you do have to lose your mind a little to embark on a journey like this...but what a journey it's going to be!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm back...

So, it's only been about 2 1/2 years since my last post...I've been a little behind.  There has been so much that's happened since then that I'll spare you the details and start from my current situation.

I quit my job about a month ago, and I'm currently a stay-at-home mommy.  The girls are in daycare through the end of this month, so I've been working with my mom and getting the house in order for when they are here full-time.  It's been great so far.  I've caught up on some projects around the house that I've been putting off, met up with some friends that I didn't have much time for while I was working (quite unfortunate, might I add), and I've had some time for myself.  What a change already!  I can't wait until the girls are here full-time.  I already have lots planned!

Mark (my husband) started his own accounting firm about a year and a half ago, and business is taking off.  Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on the perspective from which you're looking at it), he's busy and has some other projects in the wings as well.  I don't get to see him much during this time of year (did I mention he's a TAX accountant?), so that transition has been difficult in the past few weeks.  But, we're getting into the swing of things.

I've also started a Personal Training Certification class through Montgomery County Community College that meets every Tuesday and Thursday nights until April 12th.  This has been exciting so far as I'm getting to put into practice something that I've come to love over the past few years: EXERCISE.  I've also found that I'm much more into helping people reach their fitness goals and maintain them than I ever thought I could be.  I'm so excited for this new venture and am looking forward to putting it into practice!  We're at the beginning stages of the class, so I'm learning A LOT of anatomy - a class that I've always wanted to take.  I have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head so far...stay tuned!

As for the weight loss portion of this blog, I had my second child in October of 2010.  Another baby girl; her name is Chelsea, and she's a beautiful 15 month old already!  Keira is now 2 1/2, and they're both growing up so fast.  With my second daughter came a weight gain of about 30lbs (on top of the 30 I hadn't gotten off from having Keira).  Today I can happily and thankfully say that I'm down 40lbs and almost back to the weight I was prior to having Keira!  This has taken a lot of hard work and dedication.  After I had Chelsea, I decided to sign up for a few running races to keep myself on track (think about it: you put out X amount of dollars, you better at least be able to finish!).  I signed up for the ING Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon that was held on September 18, 2011.  After I signed up for that, I figured I might want to break myself into the long-distance running world a little bit slower, so I signed up for the Broad Street Run that was held in May of 2011.  That's a 10-mile race.  "Easing" was probably not a true option.  So, to get my feet wet for that, I decided to sign up for the Get The Lead Out 10k race (6.2 miles) that was held in early April, 2011.  I finished all three races.  I even signed up for a second half-marathon, the Philadelphia Half-Marathon, held on November 20, 2011.  Finished that one, too, and even came in 7 minutes faster than the ING Rock 'n Roll Half in September!

A little while ago, I decided to become vegan.  Not for political purposes or animal rights to be totally honest, but for my health.  I've done a lot of research on not eating meat and eating more whole foods.  Believe me when I tell you, stop eating processed junk.  You'll be amazed by how much energy you have, how good your mood will be, how much better you'll sleep, how much easier it will be to breathe.  And the weight will start to fall off.  (Reference: Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Blog: www.diseaseproof.com.)

Today is the day I become accountable again.  I'm looking to lose another 40lbs this year.  I did it last year; you damn well better believe that I can do it again this year.  I'm making this a reality.  Join me in my journey through this jungle we call weight loss.  But let's change it's name.  Let's start calling this a journey to something, not from something.  From something constantly references the past and calls our attention to what we were.  Heading to something helps us focus on what is to come and the wonderful life we have to look forward to.  This is the start of my journey to a life full of wonderful memories; of being able to play with my kids and not feel tired or out of breath after 5 minutes; of sharing experiences with my family for as long as my body will let me; of a healthy new beginning that can start now, because I'm ready to face this head on.  Here's to your health and happiness as I'm finding mine.