I Literally Forgot To Stop Running

So last night I was going to post about how hard it is for me to find time to run, and how I end up running in the dark so often. At least that was what I was thinking about while I was running. And then something strange happened.  I realized that I had forgotten to stop running. I mean literally….

bwimgaeI’m not even sure how it happened. I have this route that I run. There is about a quarter-mile stretch that is along a busy road and there is one busy street I have to cross before I get to the private, quiet lake area.  I usually walk this stretch, both for safety, and because it is good to warm up and cool down with a walk. Once I get to “the lakes” there are different routes I can take that give me anywhere from 1.5 miles up to 5 miles (if I go up and down the canals.).

So let me go back to the beginning. Originally I was planning on a mid-day run. My new job is much (much) more sedentary than my old one and I thought I should get into the habit of running instead of lunch on days I work from home.  FYI, I don’t mean instead of eating. I still think a protein rich lunch is important. I just meant that as the weather gets nicer, I need to get myself up and away from my desk for a portion of the day.

With one thing and another, the first time I could break away from my computer was around 2:30. I got into running clothes ready to go, when I got an email… with an “emergency”… that took so long that I didn’t have time to run before my upcoming conference call… that lead to two urgent requests… that reminded me I had something I needed to finish before the weekend… Next thing I know it is 7:30. (This happens to me so often, I can’t even tell you.) So, I have to drive my daughter somewhere at 8, but here I am, still dressed in spandex, ready for my run. So once again I’m going to run in the dark.

And I am really not in the mood.  Sitting at my desk all day really saps all my energy and motivation. But I talk myself into. Just run 1.25 I tell myself. Just to get the blood pumping. You’ll thank me for it later.

And the truth is, I did feel better once I was on the road.  I decided about halfway out that I could do 2 miles after all.  I haven’t run 2 miles since before I got sick earlier this month, but it was 48 degrees, the roads were clear of ice, I’m not hacking up phlegm.  So I adjusted my route to accommodate the mileage. Now here is where things get screwy…

Can't Stop - What strange mesmeric powers do you have?

Can’t Stop – What strange mesmeric powers do you have?

I got to my 2.0 miles and my MapMyRun announced it, just so I wouldn’t miss it, but I wasn’t up to the busy street yet and I thought, I still feel okay, I’ll just run to the stop sign. The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song “Cant Stop” came on Pandora and I used the song to push through and then… and then… the next thing I knew I was at my house, still running. I don’t remember the last half mile. I don’t remember crossing the busy street. Boom, there I was. (I hope I checked for traffic!)

And I didn’t feel so bad. I wasn’t going very fast, but I had come farther than I had in a while. And I felt like I could keep going. So I did.  I ended up running 3.1 and then walking a quarter-mile. It wasn’t a very fast run, and the last mile was probably not much faster than a walk, but it was such a weird experience. What’s next?

Love Your Body More

I firmly believe that you can make the changes you want until you come to terms with the person you are. This isn’t just about health and weight. Any change for self-improvement has to come from a place of self-love or it is doomed to fail. I have seen myself self-sabotage over and over and it is usually because I’m attacking the part of me that I hate. It just doesn’t work.

I wasn’t able to write on this blog, change my eating habits, join a gym, or even wear a tank-top until I learned to like who I am, until I was able to look at myself in the mirror with an accepting, non-critical eye.

I was really happy to see this article on the Huffington Post:

Looking at These 6 Things Will Help You Love Your Body More

Some of the “6 Things” I had already heard of. For example, I read The Militant Baker on FB and I recently found A Fat Girl Dancing, which is just awesome!!! Others were new to me. I’m now following Weirdly Shaped and Well Photographed.  All of the links are really great.

What makes it special, is that this wasn’t on a “Fat Acceptance” blog, but something intended for the general audience. Of course there is the requisite hate in the comments section, and even a “Coty Lost 80 pounds” add in the sidebar, but it is nice to see such positive examples getting widespread recognition.

I leave you with my favorite “new find;” 10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy:

 

Jello Shots

Single Serving - Create your own.

Single Serving – Create your own.

Once upon a time I had a Weight Watcher leader, who I adored, who told me (well the whole group) that you could control your eating by focusing on Unit Foods. That is, foods already portioned out for you. Yogurt is a unit food. You eat one container. An egg is a unit food.  An ice cream pop is, but ice cream in a tub isn’t. If you are having trouble with portions, unit foods are so helpful. This is why I portion out my rice and beans and my almonds at the beginning of the week. This is why I buy the single-servings of hummus, even though it costs a bit more than buying a big tub of hummus. Unfortunately, not everything comes in single-servings.

I’ve been looking for a good way to portion out my sauces, condiments, and other small servings while on the go. For almonds it was easy: I use mini Ziploc® bags, and since I reuse them over and over, it isn’t that expensive. But plastic bags don’t really work with anything liquid or semi-liquid. Imagine teriyaki sauce in a bag? I think not.

So I wanted to get those small, 2-oz tubs they use at restaurants for salad dressing and butter. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find them. Finally, I did a search on Amazon. After a lot of false starts, I finally found my solution. I realized I was looking for the wrong thing. According to Amazon, these are Jello Shot Cups. It was less than $8 for 125. Of course I wash and reuse them when possible, but when not, I toss them.

I just love them. I can put anything in them and know my portions are correct.  Even if I just want 1 or 2 tbs, I can portion it out and take it with me. When I bring my rice and beans, I put one of these in the Tupperware. Sometimes I use hot sauce. Sometimes vodka sauce. Sometime soy or teriyaki sauce. So many choices.  They travel great and they keep me in charge of my portions.

On The Go

My view from the patio

My view from the patio

In my business we always talk about solutions that are scalable and sustainable. Those are important words for discussing life habits as well. If the changes you make only work when your life follows a predictable path, than it’s not going to work because, you know, life happens!

So the past few days I’ve been on the road. It was great. I was able to combine a work trip and personal time.  Thursday and Friday I was in (very, very) upstate NY for work, and then I was able to scoot over to Vermont to stay with a childhood friend I haven’t seen in forever. I took the train so I could bring my daughter along. We had a blast. Traveling together was fun because we had plenty of time to talk about everything. My time with my friend out in the rural-ist of Vermont was so good.

But traveling, while on any kind of food plan is a challenge.  What to eat on the Road? Will there be time to exercise? While on the road you are at the mercy of restaurants and fast-food joints. While staying with friends you have to accommodate to how they eat.

On top of all this, my daughter has been trying to eat healthier. Her goals are not my goals, and she isn’t following my plan per se, but I’m learning that that is her journey and not mine. Either way, I want to be a good role model and help her meet her goals. Unlike me, she doesn’t have my 40+ years of reading labels, learning about nutrition, etc. to help her make the best decisions.

Healthy food on the go!

Healthy food on the go!

I decided that rather be at the mercy of the road and the fates, I would prepare for my trip as best I can. We took two suitcases for our journey. The large one was filled with clothes, shoes, and essential personal hygiene products.  The other, smaller, one was a food trunk. It included:

  • Tupperware filled with portions of brown rice & beans.
  • Apples (both whole and sliced)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Individual servings of peanut butter (not for me, of course)
  • Mini-bags of almonds
  • Canned soup (chicken & wild rice)
  • Slim Fast drinks (also not for me)
  • Individual servings Hummus
  • Plastic-ware and napkins

Our goal was to eat out when it made sense, but to have backups when we needed them. Yogurt wouldn’t travel well, I figured, but I thought we would be able to pick up yogurt along the way. I was partially right. In Vermont we had access to Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, which I liked, even though it was very watery compared to the Fage Greek Yogurt I’ve been eating. However, at the hotel in NY I grabbed one of the regular yogurts at the breakfast bar and couldn’t eat more than two bites. When you are used to unflavored yogurt, that stuff with syrup in it tastes horrific. I thought it would be a sweet treat, but it really made me gag.

We did have some luck in the eating out department. Penn station, for example, has a quinoa bar at Chickpea and they created some really nice, hot lunches for us on the way up. We stopped at a no-name country diner for dinner the first night and I had this seared fish that was great. Also, the waitress figured out to keep away rolls, potatoes, and deserts, and gave us extra veggies. While staying with my friend, I was pleased that there wasn’t a lot I couldn’t eat. Her daughter is gluten-free, and they mostly eat organic, so it was pretty easy-going. My daughter didn’t like everything she made, but there were no complaints, because she always had the food trunk if she didn’t like what was being served. On the ride down, we found a place that made homemade chili. We split a serving of it and mixed it into our cold rice and beans. Soooooo good.

As for exercise, it was kind of a mixed bag.  There was a lot of time on the road, so no running there. Also, when we got to Vermont, it was seriously covered in snow. Instead of running, I got to go snowshoeing for the first time. It was definitely a workout, and so much fun.

So, I have two more business trips coming up in the near future. One on my birthday even. I’m looking at what worked and what didn’t, what traveled well, etc. and incorporating that into my plans.

 

Some Scientific Backing

There are things I agree with in the video and things I don’t. Some of my concerns are:

  • First of all, I have seen that cutting back on carbohydrates makes a huge difference, but I haven’t cut out all carbs. I still eat a serving of brown rice nearly every day. I don’t think all carbs are equal. Cereal, white bread, pasta, etc. are in one classification of carbs.  Brown rice, quinoa, and legumes are another.  Processed carbohydrates are what cause food addiction, in my experience. High-fiber, natural carbs do not. Fruits have carbs, but whole fruits are necessary for good health. There are carbs in most vegetables, but they aren’t (generally) high-carb foods, per se. This idea of 5 servings of fruits or vegetables per day is a low bar. I think you need more than that. And you need fruits and vegetables, not either or. There are so many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in these foods.
  • I think you need a certain amount of fiber for regularity. I don’t think you need so many carbs. I tend to avoid carbs for dinner, or limit them rather.
  • I think you need some fat in your diet, but that you really should limit the fats as well.  Fats from nuts (almonds, for example) is not the same as fat from butter or oil. I will occasionally use olive oil in cooking, but again, I try to limit that. I tend towards leaner meats, but there is some fat in meats even when they are lean. I think replacing carbs with high-fat food is what is wrong with the Atkins diet.

In spite of all this, I do think he has hit on some key points:

  • What we call appetite is largely food addiction.
  • Eating processed carbohydrates makes you crave more of the same a few hours later.
  • Limiting your carbs and focusing on protein, fruits, and vegetables.
  • I could sustain this eating program for the rest of my life.

Let me know what you think.

Where Would You Live?

Hooray. The boardwalk to the lighthouse has been fixed. (After being destroyed in Hurricane Sandy)

Hooray. The boardwalk to the lighthouse has been fixed. (After being destroyed in Hurricane Sandy)

The other night at dinner, the question was asked, If you could live anywhere in the country, where would you live.  One guy was from Florida. Another from Syracuse, NY. The other two lived right in Manhattan.  They talked about a lot of nice places, like San Diego, Tucson, and Hawaii. I’m sure they are all nice places.

I said, I would never leave Long Island. They looked at me like I was crazy. Who would pick Long Island out of anywhere in the country? What about the winters? they asked. Yes, it is true, this has been a particularly unpleasant winter. But Long Islander’s know that this winter is not the norm, and even as “bad” as this winter was, it wasn’t terrible. Normally we don’t have particularly cold harsh winters.  We get a few, scattered snowstorms and then the snow usually melts.  Most of the time it stays in the 30 degree range. It was unusual this year to have so many days in the 20’s and teens.  But it wasn’t like we were the mid-west, with temperatures below freezing.

The newly replaced boardwalk.

And what about summers. Most of the time our summers are mild too. 80 degrees is the norm. Occasionally it will climb into the 90s for a heat wave, but it rarely gets over a 100 degrees.  Sure there are some places with nicer weather (I guess), but what I really love is the spring and the fall.  Temperatures like yesterday, for example in the high 50s, low 60s. A nice breeze blowing, but not too cold.  Where the world seems fresh and new again.

And then there is the beach.  I know some people who only go to the beach in July and August. I feel bad for those people. Yesterday I did my workout (I’m still just walking) at the beach. It was sunny and beautiful. There were deer and seagulls everywhere. People had on sweaters, but no winter coats.  After I walked about a mile at a brisk pace, I took off my sweater and was comfortable in short sleeves.  (As soon as I stopped walking I had to put the sweater right back on!)

Sand in my shoes - worth it!

Sand in my shoes – worth it!

I did about 4 miles overall. 3 miles at a brisk pace and another mile more slowly so I could enjoy the scenery and take pictures. It didn’t feel like 4 miles at all. It didn’t even feel like exercise. It was beautiful and made me feel happy.

I struggle walking in sand because I have really bad ankles, but there are lots of boardwalks at the beach I go to. Many of them were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, but I’m happy to report that most of them have been replaced. They still have a bit to go, but I was able to walk 1.5 miles without having to retrace my steps (which I hate) or trudging through sand. This is a .75 mile improvement over last year, so I was thrilled.

So, you can tell me where would you like to live, but as long as I can afford to live this close to paradise, I’m not going anywhere.

My First Business Dinner

Two nights ago I went on a business dinner with a group of men. This was a new experience for me. In my old job, I was the worker bee, and there was someone else who was in charge of wining and dining.  In this new job it was just expected that I would go along. I didn’t even know this was going to be part of my job. I’ve since been told that there is a certain amount of wining and dining that will be par for the course. So, I guess I’m going to have to get used to it.

But here’s the thing: I stand out like a sore thumb. Okay, for this dinner it was largely  because was the lone woman among a group of men, but I work in the education field, so I don’t think it is going to be like this all the time. Plus, my direct supervisor is a woman and the only reason she wasn’t there also was because she wasn’t feeling well. But the truth is there are so many things about me that make me different, but I’m just going to focus on the food ones. I don’t drink alcohol. If I have three drinks a year that would surprise me, but on this program alcohol is a no-no. I don’t drink caffeine. I’ve been caffeine-free for over two years. And I don’t eat carbs.

feast

But I thought that would be fine. I could order fish and a salad, or chicken and a vegetable. No one is really going to be looking at my plate, right? Ha!

They took us to a restaurant in the East Village called “feast,” which does have a small a-la-carte menu, but is known for serving “family style” feasts. Did we want the farmers market feast (vegetarian) or the irish feast (with meat). The men I was with didn’t even hesitate. Who would eat vegetarian? they scoffed. (Me, I’m thinking. The vegetarian looked really good).  Soon four pairs of eyes were targeted on me. Would I want to go with the a-la-carte menu, or would I join in the feast?

Seriously, what could I have said. I said, I’m Irish, so yeah, of course I’ll have the Irish feast.

Now listen, I’ve been to Ireland twice and what this restaurant served was not even remotely like anything I ate in Ireland.  This was more like a tapas restaurant, if you want to label it. The waitress kept bringing small plates with tiny servings of all sorts of exotic foods that seemed Irish-ish, but weren’t.  For example, corned beef wrapped in cabbage leaves, soaked in some type of balsamic dressing. I mean, yeah, it had corned beef and cabbage, but not in any form my grandmother would have recognized. Then there was the seared cod with crisp toast. Tiny pieces of cod, with fried bread on top, and drizzled with some type of sauce I couldn’t place. And the Shepherds Pie? Seriously, this took the cake. There were tiny pastry shells filled with green mashed potatoes and topped with some type of meat I didn’t recognize. Beef? Lamb? Not sure.

There may have been about 12 different dishes brought out over the course of the evening. Some seemed safe, food wise. Kale salad with bugler and prunes, and a light dressing. Other’s were an obvious no-no, like the bread pudding with whipped cream or whisky-laced shamrock shakes. I tasted most items, with reservations: For example, I ate the cod, but picked off the toast and sauce. I ate half of the corned-beef concoction, not because I was worried about calories, but because it tasted terrible. I had seconds on the cauliflower, which was soaking in a delicious cheese sauce, so not really a low-cal choice. I avoided the real no-no’s (like the bread pudding and shamrock shakes) but I have no idea how many calories I consumed over that dinner.

In addition to thinking about the food I was consuming, I also had to keep up with the conversation. Make sure I contributed without taking over. Laugh politely at the jokes, even if they weren’t funny. Not seem like I felt uncomfortable, or that I was falling asleep as the night got later and later. This was fun. This was great. We’ve got to do it again! 

And of course there was the talk about food and calories. One of the gentleman is on Weight Watchers, so there were lots of questions about “how many points is this?” I kept out of that conversations. I also kept out of the one about working out and personal trainers. First, I was the only really heavy person at the table. Not that everyone else was super skinny or trim, but they were all in the “normal” range. Better to keep my food and exercise opinions to myself.

I think I made it through okay.  I hope at the end of the day I’m going to be judged on the job I do, not how well I can schmooze, but I’m not really sure. And I already know that I’m going to have more of these dinners in my future, so I’m going to have to come up with a better plan. One night isn’t going to kill my program, but many nights in a row might.

Hubris is Always Punished

Today is the first day in a week I can sit up without feeling like I’m going to collapse.sicky

It got me. The flu, or whatever, that’s been going around.  I have been sick, sick, sick.  There is no diet when you are sick. I figure I’m consuming about 300 calories a day in cough drops. There is no exercise when you are sick, unless you count running to the bathroom.  (sorry, too much??)

I was so sure I was going to “start strong” in March, only to be brought down by the flu.

So now we are a week into March. I’m not even thinking about running. I might (might) be up to walking tomorrow.

It is a good reminder that I can’t control everything.

One Year Later

I posted this morning about my progress (or lack thereof) in February, and it has kind of been weighing on my all day (no pun intended). One thing I’ve been trying to do is be both positive and more gentle with myself, and this morning all I could think about was how much I failed in February. Compared to January, February was a disaster.

I can dream about running on the beach, even if it is too cold to actually do it!

I can dream about running on the beach, even if it is too cold to actually do it!

But then I also started to think about how different this February was from last February.  January 29, 2013, I went in for what should have been a relatively safe surgical procedure, and nearly died from anaphalactic shock.  I was still in the hospital recovering on February 1. Which meant I had to go back in for the original surgery again on February 13. This time things went better, by which I mean I didn’t almost die, but the surgery was more than a procedure and ended up being a major abdominal event. Recovery was slow and painful.

Except for the days I was actually in the hospital, I did wear my fitbit. In fact, when I needed to increase my stamina, it helped to see how many steps I was taking each day. When I think about how far I have come since last year, I feel much more positive and hopeful. So instead of comparing February 2014 with January, I think I want to compare it to February 2013:

  • Steps taken 02/13 = 44,659
    Steps taken 02/14 = 192,816
  • Days over 8,000 steps in 02/13 = 0
    Days over 8,000 steps in 02/14 = 13
  • Highest step day in 02/13 = 5,655 on 2/27/13
    Highest step day in 02/14 = 12,55 on 2/22/14
  • Number of miles run in 02/13 = 0
    Number of miles run in 02/14 = 15 (Doesn’t seem like only now, does it?)
  • Number of days spent in hospital in 02/13 = 6
    Number of days spent in hospital in 02/14 = 0
  • Number of work days missed due to illness in 02/13 = 16
    Number of work days missed due to illness in 02/14 = 0
  • Number of blog posts in 02/13 = 0
    Number of blog posts in 02/14 = 9

When you look at it from this perspective, this February doesn’t seem that bad. I’m here. I’m stronger than ever. I’m starting something new with my life and I feel good about myself. And from now on, I’m going to look at the positives, not the negatives.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Thank God February is O-V-E-R

Yes, it is time for my monthly update. My New Year’s resolution is to walk 3,000,000 steps this year, and if February is any indication, I will not be making that goal.

I’ve already posted the many, many reasons why February was a disappointment to my step-challenge. All I can say now is, February is over, let the rest of the year begin. On Friday I started my new job, which should make my life much saner. Although we are expected to see snow again in March, I can’t believe the weather will be as arduous as this past month. Right?

192,816 steps

192,816 steps

OK. So here are the lowly stats — (Keep in mind that February is also shorter than other months by 2-3 days.) 

I walked 192,816 steps. That is just under 87 miles. I only ran 15 miles the whole month. The rest was walking, and to be honest, most of it was work-related walking.  Feb. 11 and Feb. 22 were my best days, with 12,550 steps each. 13 of 28 days I met my 8,000 step goal (and one day I came really, really close) and 5 days I had over 10,000 steps.  (Compare to January)

My goals for February were:

  • Exercise on the weekend: I did manage to run 3 out of 4 weekends. 
  • Water: Not so much — Will have to work on this one.
  • Run Envy — Not at all.

My goals for March is simple:

Keep doing your best, and don’t beat yourself up when you struggle.
And keep running!