Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mixing things up

Part of the reason that I've been going to physical therapy since June last year is that I sit a lot at my job. It took quite a while to figure that out but that's where we are: it's not the running, it's not the walking, it's the sitting. I'm trying hard to take standing breaks at least once an hour - my Apple Watch buzzes in case I forget about it, so that's getting better than it was before I started paying more attention.

The other factor in my continuing hip/glute/lower back pain is a lack of cross training and more specifically not doing any resistance/strength training. I love to walk outside in the morning - it's relaxing, it's a great way to burn calories while getting some fresh air - but combining four mornings of walking with three mornings of wogging (repeated walk/jog intervals) is great for my cardiovascular endurance but not so much for my muscle strength. I keep saying that I'm going to go the gym in the mornings to lift weights but then I get cold feet the night before and decide to just go for a walk instead.

This weekend I decided that if I was going to make a change, I needed to work with my motivational style, which is far more obliger than anything else, so I sent Kay Lynn a text message to ask if she'd meet me at the gym Tuesday and Thursday mornings this week; she said yes. After sending a follow-up text message Monday night to confirm, I knew I couldn't back out.

Not a picture of me from this morning
So, up I got with the 4:30 a.m. alarm, dressed, took care of Alouysius the Pug, and off I went to the gym. Kay Lynn was on time, as always, and we got started. Thirty minutes later, I'd finished two full-body circuits and we still had time to hit the treadmill for a 20 minute walk afterwards.

My new workout schedule looks like this:
  • Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday will remain my dedicated days for wogging
  • weights on Tuesday and Thursday
  • walking plus gentle yoga on Saturday and Monday (day before and after my long wog)

How do you fit both cardiovascular and strength training into your exercise routine? Do you have a preference for one over the other?

Monday, February 08, 2016

I just finished a 10 mile training run - now what?

This morning marked two weeks until I'll be lacing up my shoes, slipping into my pink princess running skirt and tiara, and running the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando. If I hadn't been training for this since October 5th, I'd probably be freaking out about now.

The basis of most race training plans that I've seen is shorter runs during the week that allow you to work on your speed, combined with increasingly longer, always a little slower runs on one weekend day to build endurance and stamina. This week, my weekday runs were both 45 minutes long and my long run today was 10 miles which took me two hours, twenty minutes to complete. That's a really long time to do anything, much less something that takes your breath away and makes the angry muscle in your hip/glute area flare up in protest.

So what did I do to keep my mind entertained for 140 minutes? Same thing I do EVERY time I run: I fantasized about what I was going to eat today for breakfast!

I run for brunch!
Image from via Pinterest

My favorite post-run breakfast indulgences are:

  • French toast made with homemade gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread, baked cinnamon apples, scrambled eggs, and turkey bacon
  • multi-grain and nut pancakes made with pumpkin puree and topped with butter, plus ham and scrambled egg substitute
  • sweet potato pancakes with a dusting of cinnamon and topped with butter, plus chicken sausage and scrambled eggs
  • Eggs Benedict made with avocado and tomato slices on whole grain English muffins

The difference between this morning and when I last ran 10 miles two weeks ago is that I stopped eating flour and anything with more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, so I couldn't snarf down any of my usual favorites, which made me a little anxious as I ran, frankly, because being able to eat delicious food is 90% of why I run. (The other 10% is for the race bling.)

So, what did I have for my post-run breakfast today? Half of an omelette with gouda cheese, turkey bacon, home fries, and avocado inside, and drizzled with plain Greek yogurt on top and some fruit on the side. Add in several glasses of ice water and several cups of coffee and I was a happy girl. While I'm not ready to say that I'll never have a piece of French toast again, it's good to know I can still find delicious indulgences without putting a ton of sugar into my body!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Ten days without eating flour, excess sugar, or anything after dinner

Today marks ten days I've gone without eating any flour, any packaged food with more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, or anything at all after dinner, and I have to say it's been surprisingly easy.

The nastiest challenge I faced came on Monday (Day 6) when I brought bundtinis to work to celebrate a team member's promotion. In addition to those little beauties, we also had lemon bars, churros, and chocolate ganache brownies delivered with our catered lunch from a local restaurant that day as well - yikes!

What kept me from throwing in the towel and telling myself I'd start again the next day was deciding to have a Peanut Butter Cookie bar with some hot tea mid-afternoon. Having a controlled amount of sweetness, savoring it fully, and tracking it without any guilt made the other desserts lose their Death Star-like pull on me.

Three ingredients, no flour, 18g of sugar

In the past, I might have tried to power through with just the tea but possibly made a poor choice for dinner because of lower blood sugar and 6-1/2 hours between lunch and dinner, so this is firmly in the "win" column as far as I'm concerned.

Since then, I've made space in my daily calories for this or another flavor of the same brand most afternoons. Before this little experiment, I'd have used those calories to have something sweet after dinner, so I've just shifted that to the mid-afternoon timeframe, without any bad effect on my pre-dinner blood sugar test.

Anyone else making significant changes to their food or exercise programs? How are you doing and do you have any recommendations about new habits to support the changes?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Fitting it all in

I have a full-time job that keeps me busy during normal working hours (roughly 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday).

I used to schedule social engagements for after work hours and get to bed just as the 11:00pm news was starting. Of course, I didn't usually get out of bed until 60 minutes before I needed to leave for work, either, so I suppose it sort of worked out. (It didn't really, though: I was chronically sleep deprived, my anxiety and depression were both in high gear, and I was 100 pounds overweight. If you discount all of that, though, I was a model of good habits.)

Nowadays, at close to a healthy weight and training for two half marathons plus a 15K (all in the next 11 weeks), my schedule looks a bit different:

  • Monday morning, 7:00am - Pilates Reformer class
  • Tuesday morning, 7:30am - Vinyasa Yoga class
  • Wednesday morning, 6:00am - leave for short interval run (between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on which week I'm at on the training schedule, but I always add in enough straight walking to bring my total time to 60 minutes)
  • Thursday morning, 7:00am - Pilates Reformer class; Thursday noon - Vinyasa Yoga class (in the gym at work)
  • Friday morning, 6:00am - another short interval run
  • Saturday morning, 7:00am - Weight Watchers meeting; 9:30am - 60 minute walk
  • Sunday morning, 6:00am during Winter/5:30am during Spring/Summer - long slow distance run (between 3 and 10 miles, depending on which week I'm at on the training schedule)

grouchy after a long run in the rain
A display of ill temper after 7 miles of run/walk intervals in the driving rain last Sunday

In addition, on every work day I add in 20 minutes of laps around the interior of our building at work with a flight of stairs between each floor; there are four floors and I walk each one twice) plus a 30 minute walk outside with my teammates and - when I'm able to leave work on time - a 30-45 minute walk with TCB and our Pug after work and before dinner.

On weekends, we still walk the Pug and also go for a walk after dinner.

On Sundays after my long slow distance run (and after breakfast), we go somewhere to walk for a while - our favorite location is the nearby indoor mall because there's no need for sunscreen or extra layers of clothing to keep warm.

I don't accept many social engagements on weekday evenings because I'm beat from work and also because I need to get to bed at a reasonable hour in order for my body to have energy in the morning for training or cross training activities. This change has been very good for me because I'm far more selective in the commitments I make to friends or community service organizations now rather than overcommitting and then not being fully present. I give considerable thought to which people and activities will contribute to my overall health and happiness, and, by extension, those that will not, and I choose where to invest my time accordingly.

Making time for what's important is simple but it isn't always easy. How do you fit self-care into your daily routine?