Monday, July 27, 2015

Having Fun One Day at a Time

Another week is in the books. This was one in which the fun meter was off the charts! When it comes to things I value in life, fun is way up there.

I wish I could tell you all about my workouts but sadly, there weren't any. My elbow starting hurting really bad early in the week, so much that I could barely bend it by Thursday. So I made an appointment to see my doctor, she diagnosed golfer's elbow. Huh? Well, there was that one time I went to the driving range a couple months ago, I bet that did it! LOL, ok, probably not.

More likely to blame is my intermittent gym visits. She explained that tendons weaken faster than muscles and so while I can go to the gym once a week and still have the muscle to lift weights, my tendons are not so happy with that model of exercise. Bottom line, I have to rest the elbow until the pain is completely gone. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't run, I have no good excuse for that, other than being too busy having fun!

Ok...so what have I been up to? I'll share some bits and pieces from last week in a somewhat random order...starting with one of my lunches.

@ the cafe at work
And here's a necklace I saw and had to have. The inscription underneath says "No matter where you go, there you are."

Here I am
On Wednesday I took the morning off to finally go to Spirit Rock, a meditation retreat center. I sat for a 45 minute meditation and then listened to what they call a Dharma talk, covering the Buddha's teachings, a model of natural mental health and well-being. I believe meditation is an important piece of my journey to allow for the peace, calm, love and joy that is within me to blossom and thrive.

If there's a heaven, I bet it looks like this.

A big thank you to my friend Katie for nudging me out there. Speaking of Katie...a pic of her and I taking in the music scene this past week.


Lots of music this week. And a bit of alcohol too. On Saturday night I went out with a group of ladies to celebrate Nahla's birthday. We danced the night away. I had pizza and french fries for dinner. Don't hate me.

I love the smiles! Happy birthday Nahla!
I ate and drank, but not too much. And I think I danced enough to at least balance out some of the calories. In fact, maybe dancing was my exercise this week, lord knows I did a lot of it.

I closed out the week with a visit yesterday to see my brother, which was WAY overdue. We talked for a couple hours, catching up on all that is for both of us. And then I had a visit with one of my true besties, Joy, who I don't get to see as often as I'd like. We did a lot of catching up as well while she fed me sorbet and cookies. Love her.

And now it's Monday...I won't make any proclamation about what I'll do in the exercise department this week. For now, I'm taking it one day at a time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beach Body Sunday

Who doesn't love weekends?! This was a good one, a nice balance of mommy, friend and me time. I'm starting with a picture of the snack I packed the other day. I've been trying to remember to take more pictures of my food to give you a better idea of how I eat.

sliced cucumber, string cheese and agua
Doesn't that look healthy? Sometimes while I'm packing my snack it seems kind of blah, but later in the day when I'm hungry it tastes like the best thing ever!

Anyway, so Friday the kids had an after-school party and I had most of the evening to myself. I went to a support group meeting and then some of those folks were going out to dinner after so I joined them. We went to this new place called Veggie Grill, so yummy! I had a veggie burger (hold the mayo, pesto sauce on the side) with a bowl of tomato soup (made w/ almond milk).

Saturday the kids went to a birthday party with their dad, which was kind of unexpected so I didn't have a plan for how to use the time. It was super-hot out so I decided to do a trail run in an area that's generally a bit cooler and with some shade. I ran for about an hour, roughly 5 miles, and felt so flippin' pleased with myself when I was done!

Happy post-run smile!
After the run I went to the gym and lifted a few weights. After a shower and change I joined up at the party and even danced a bit! I forgot how hard dancing can be, I was totally sweating!

Heart's Desire Beach in Tomales Bay
Up and at 'em Sunday, I took the kids to...the beach! The beach is such a strong reinforcement for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Nothing compares to going to the beach (or pool), where you can either comfortably put on a bathing suit and dive in, or sit on the sidelines in shorts and a t-shirt. I found myself watching a couple of the moms who were significantly overweight. Some put on bathing suits and got in, which I love. Others stayed out and when one kid asked his mom to get in the water with him, "I didn't bring my bathing suit."

Of course I can't make any assumptions about how they feel about their bodies, why they did or didn't get in the water, if they want to lose weight or not, etc. All I know is how it used to feel for me at the beach when I was that overweight. I'd have some fun, but I didn't feel as comfortable and at ease as I do now. And I know it had as much to do with not being satisfied with my behavior as my body. 'Cause my body still has all manner of flaws (hello cellulite!) but I feel way better nonetheless. Funny thing, while I'm writing this I'm munching from a bag of tortilla chips on the couch. And that's after the bowl of cereal. Progress, not perfection. Whatever, this pretty much sums it up, right?


After the beach I had a night out with some of my favorite moms. It's been a while since I've connected with them and the evening did not disappoint. We started at a wine bar and then walked to a restaurant. I ordered an appetizer for my entree, blackened prawn tostada, but then munched on all the shared apps, the bread, and, of course, more wine.

Blackened prawn tostada
Fun night out! And today I had a blackened salmon salad for lunch, which was great. I had the dressing on the side and they brought out two thingies of dressing. I could not imagine putting all that on my salad. In the end I hardly used any. I might start saying no dressing because I'm pretty much down to using none. I really enjoy tasting the clean, unadorned flavor of the food and as long as there are some moist ingredients (eg tomatoes, avocado, cucumber), it's not too dry. In this case the tomatoes and the gorgonzola, and the salmon too actually, provided plenty of moisture - and flavor!

Blackened salmon salad with tomatoes, gorgonzola, red onion.
I had planned to go to the gym after work but it didn't happen. Yeah, I've been eating a lot lately so I better want to get my snappy ass moving this week and at least make it to the gym three times. Or two. But three would be better. Ok, it's past my bedtime. Lights out!

Friday, July 17, 2015

R-U-N vs K-F-C

What day is this? Oh, Friday! Bam! I love Fridays, especially one with nice weather. I had plans to take the kids camping this weekend but I had something come up that prevents it. No matter, we'll find some good stuff to do. I'm thinking a beach outing is in order.

The last couple days have been fair - a mix of good, kinda ok, and yeah whatever. Wednesday evening I worked until 6:30 and then took myself to a support group meeting. By "support group" I'm referring to a 12-step type of group. I don't have addiction issues myself but I've had them in my family for decades and so I'm finding the support, and the insight that comes from hearing others with similar issues, helpful.

So I went to that and by the time it got out, it was 8:15 and I was hungry. I considered going to the gym, which closes at 9pm. If I went, I'd have maybe a half-hour to exercise. But I was thinking of having KFC. Hmm, run or fried chicken? I knew what the "right" answer was, but I wasn't sure I wanted to go that route. So in the end, I thought, "my brain isn't thinking too straight right now, so I'm going to let my body take over" and allowed my arms and legs to drive my car to the gym.

I didn't even realize I'd had that thought process until just now, in writing about it. It's an interesting concept, letting my body take over when my brain isn't doing so hot. Anyway, I went to the gym, changed and in the end I got to run on the treadmill for about 20 minutes. Good stuff! And then guess what I did? Drove myself to KFC and got some chicken. Yeah, well, does it have to be one or the other? I think in this case both was better.

So I had chicken for dinner. I probably needed a piece or two to be satisfied, but instead I had two pieces plus three wings. That's my "yeah whatever" from above. Moving on. Because moving on is sometimes the best thing I can do for myself. And besides, the choice was not a disaster, I didn't have that plus an Oreo shake from JitB.

Ceviche tostada
Still, I got up yesterday morning and mentally set an intention to make goal-oriented food choices. I got on the scale, 145 pounds. Keep it up, Michelle. The day went just fine, I had my normal breakfast, a mid-morning snack of a rice cake with laughing cow cheese wedge, lunch was a ceviche tostada (with more than a few bites of my fellow luncher's nachos), and for dinner...I'll get to that in a moment.

So I wrapped up work and was trying to decide what to do with myself. Not having the kids and not having plans is still a somewhat new experience for me - as you know, I like to keep busy. Anyway, I decided to ride my bike to the gym. I haven't been on my bike since the last time I blogged about riding and remember saying then that I hadn't been on my bike in ages.

I got my bike down, dusted off the cobwebs, ate an energy gel, and hit the road. The 2.5 mile ride to the gym was fine, including riding up a little hill. On the way I made the decision to ride my bike to a group meeting afterward, so I only had 20 or so minutes to exercise. I got there, did some pushups, triceps stuff, some lunges (ouch!) and a couple other things before packing up to ride to the meeting.

The meeting was great, I always hear such helpful things and if something is not helpful, I leave it, "take what you need and leave the rest." I usually walk out with an inner sense of calm, which is mostly what I'm after. I don't know if I'll get more involved, "work the steps," etc as I'm still really new. They say to attend six groups before deciding and this was only my fifth.

After the meeting I was starving! So I rode to a shopping center near my house to check out their Off the Grid food truck offerings. I wanted something healthy, given the fried chicken from the night before. In the end, I couldn't find anything I wanted so I rode to a Japanese restaurant and had a sushi roll (tuna and avocado) followed by a bowl of soba noodles with chicken. Yum!

I was stuffed and it was dark so I made the short ride home. I probably rode 10 miles altogether, which felt good. I should be riding everywhere when I don't need the car. Ok, that's it from me. I'm still not sure what I'll do with the kiddoes this weekend but adventure is on the horizon. Adventure, some whining, probably a tired-mama come Sunday evening. At least I know I have the energy to manage it all...Bring it on!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Michelle 3.0

We all go through stuff from time to time, and as I mentioned a few posts back, I'm going through it now. No big "thing" happened, but I'm not thinking and feeling as good as I could be. Or should be. Or, most important, want to be. And when I say "thinking good," that's what I mean, too many of my thoughts are negative and unhelpful, which then leads to not feeling good.

This doesn't really have a lot to do with food or exercise (though I think they've been impacted, especially exercise), which is sort of a miracle in and of itself. I have some significant mental crud to wade through that isn't about food/exercise/weight/etc?! Holy cow, I must be moving toward Michelle 3.0 or something.

Michelle beta was me from birth to my early 20's.
Michelle 1.0 was early 20's - early 30's
Michelle 2.0 was mid 30's to early 40's
...and now the work has begun on Michelle 3.0

Maybe that's a little silly but sometimes it's fun to throw a bit of silly into serious things, lighten the mood. Not that self-growth is a necessarily serious topic all the time, just happens that for me I'm wading around in the muck of my thoughts and emotions, uncovering some long-held emotional junk that needs clearing out.

It's not easy. I find myself feeling down, negative, struggling to believe I'll sort this stuff out and get back to myself. Though I know I will, I have enough experience to know I'll figure it out in due time. Yet I'm hard on myself sometimes, even while doing this mental work I'm admonishing myself for getting to this place, "What's the problem? Why am I so damn psychological about everything? I just need to get out of my head, make a decision to be happy, and get on with having fun!"

Ah, that it's that easy. In a way it is, but in another way, it isn't. And that's ok. So I try to be gentle with myself, be patient. I'm journaling again, something I haven't done (other than this blog) in ages. And I'm starting to meditate. Meditation has been calling to me for years, decades even, and I've ignored it. But I'm starting to listen. For someone like me, sitting with a quiet mind is so calming. And I'm attending a self-help group to get support and learn more about how I might navigate some long-standing challenges in my family of origin.

The point is, I'm taking action. Oh, I also want to re-focus on getting enough sleep as well as exercise more often (it's been 2 times a week lately!). My diet has been ok, there's room for improvement but all-in-all, I'm happy with it. Speaking of eating and exercise - I mean that is what this blog is all about, right? - I'll do a quick update on that...

I went to the gym today. Ta da! Would you look at that? The introspective blueberry decides to roll herself out of her head and into the gym for some exercise. I did 20 minutes on the bike (that was hard) and then a light, full body weight lifting session. I felt much pleased with myself, and even felt a bit more like a strawberry than a blueberry for the rest of the day.

Food is food, I don't track anymore, haven't been since shortly after I got back into a healthy weight range, tracking is a means to an end for me rather than a way of life. But I do weigh myself regularly and this morning I was a pound or so above what I'm maintaining these days (145 is my maintenance weight, I've sort-of decided). So I was 146.something. No surprise there, I ate and drank a bit more than usual this past weekend. Yesterday and today I've been making decent choices and I know I'll keep that up and see the number drop back down.

Speaking of decent choices...today at a staff meeting the table was like a dessert smorgasbord! Plates of cookies, bags of candy, popcorn...ugh. Fortunately some kind soul brought a bowl of cherries and I'd brought a peach. I had fruit and TWO bites of cookie and that, people, was all! I resisted. It's been a while since I've been able to resist the dessert-conference table.

So here I am giving myself a pat on the back for getting through. Dinner was a piece of grilled fish, white rice and a few bites of veggies. I did do a little after-dinner snacking - some pretzels, a string cheese - nothing to cry about.

Ok, well it's 11pm and that's my bedtime. Off to restore the brain and the body so I can tackle tomorrow with a full tank. Did I just mix my metaphors? That's so beta.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Running Away to Eugene

Sometimes it's fun to run away and what better place to do it than the running capital of the world? In case you didn't know, that would be Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is famous for running because of the coaches at University of Oregon, including Bill Bowerman the co-founder of Nike, and runners like "Pre" aka Steve Prefontaine.

Why Eugene? Well, aside from the running, I was chatting with a colleague who's from Eugene and after listening to how beautiful the area is, I decided to go! I arrived early Saturday morning and started the day by renting a bike and riding around town. There are two rivers that run through the area and one of them, the Willamette River, has a paved multi-use trail that runs alongside it.


The area also has some amazing duck ponds.


I've never seen anything quite like them, beautiful. I spotted a great blue heron resting on a branch in one of the ponds.


Alongside the path there were blackberries growing so I stopped to sample a couple. A bit tangy but enjoyable.


I stopped again for lunch - a burger and salad at a trailside restaurant. Plus an Amber Ale from Oakshire, one of the local microbreweries.

Back on the bike and off to explore the town's running history. The paved path intersects with Pre's Trail, a 4-mile wood chip and bark trail created in the 70's at Pre's suggestion. Of course I had to hop off my bike and run a bit on the trail. It actually felt really good to stop pedaling and start running! I think my legs have some triathlon muscle memory.

Me, with Pre's trail behind me.
Pedaling again, the next stop was the shrine to Steve Prefontaine. He died in an auto accident on his way home from a party; the rock where he crashed has become a memorial. It was tough to find and I had to pedal up a big hill to get there, but I made it. As you can see people leave all manner of running related memorabilia to pay homage. I found myself looking up some of his famous quotes and I think my favorite is this one:
You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.
Pre's Rock
Then off to my final stop, Hayward Field, where Bill Hayward and Bill Bowerman became famous coaches and Pre ran, among other famous runners.


Day two was all about nature. Well, nature and bridges.

Lowell Bridge

Unity Bridge
I took the second picture on my way to Fall Creek Trail, to hike along Fall Creek. This area was so gorgeous, accompanied by perfect hiking weather and the day couldn't have been better.


I hiked roughly an hour in before finally accepting the river's irresistible invitation to get in the water. Chilly! But so refreshing. I'd brought along some trail mix and fruit and that essentially became lunch.
 
My lunchtime swim spot
After drying off I started the return trek, but something started niggling at me to run. I was wearing long pants, light Keen hiking shoes and a tank top but I decided this was good enough and I started running! It felt so amazing, almost like running was a superpower. I ran back to the start of the trailhead and was hot and sweaty. So back to one of the other good swimming spots for a swim. All in all I ran about 45 minutes!



What a beautiful day! Back at the car and off to explore a waterfall I'd read about, Salt Creek Falls. It was a 50 minute drive, up into higher elevation and through my first experience of real Oregon rain. But it was so worth it! The falls were amazing.

Salt Creek Falls, 2nd highest in Oregon


On the drive back to Eugene I stopped in Oakridge at Brewer's Union Local 180 for dinner and an IPA. What a cozy find that place was...good stuff all around, almost more than one person can stand.

Well, that's my trip. Back to reality. I loved the area and I hope to get to know Oregon more in the future. Obviously so much gorgeous outdoors to explore!!