Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In the Holiday Groove...and Two Year Goal-iversary!

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Thanksgiving was wonderful and I'm glad it's past. I'm really happy with how the past week has gone. I'll start with exercise, since that's been a huge part of what's kept me focused. I think a quick list is the best way to go. I'll start with the day before Thanksgiving...

Wednesday: 3 mile run (including the big hill) and weight lifting legs/shoulders/core
Thursday: rest
Friday: 25 minutes upright bike, weight lifting back/biceps/core

Saturday I went on a monster hike. It was only 4 miles but a lot of those were spent on serious uphill. The terrain was a bit rocky too, which added to the amount of "work" I was doing.

Sunday: rest
Monday: 3 mile run...wait for it, at 9:23 pace!, oh yeah!! I didn't run the hill though, because my calves were sore from the hike. I hope to run it this coming Thursday. After the run I did weight lifting chest/triceps/core.

So that's exercise...food-wise it's been an interesting week. Somewhat feast and famine. Well, not famine of course because I don't do that but more feast and clean eating.

Thursday I ate with abandon. I gave myself unmitigated freedom to eat and drink without expectation. I was mindful though. For example, at breakfast I had oatmeal, fruit and two hard-boiled egg whites. I considered adding sugar and cream to my oatmeal (because that's how I like it) but skipped it to balance out the later eating. At lunch I ate traditional Thanksgiving food with all the trimmings...and then the same at dinner except to add alcohol.

One good thing is my appetite. I can't physically eat as much as I could in my previous life so even if I go "all out" on the eating, I can only take that so far without inducing a painfully full feeling, which I don't like. But I never really stopped eating...meal, graze, meal, graze... I'm sure I managed to eat a ton of calories. For tracking I just wiped out the days' Points plus all my weeklies and called it close enough.

Friday morning came and I reminded myself of my Holiday plan. Eat whatever/how much I want on the day of the holiday, get right back to routine the day/s after. I also had a feeling of wanting to eat clean. I could feel my body processing all the food and drink from the day before. 

Yesterday's lunch - black beans and 1/4 avocado
Things cruised along like that all weekend, clean eating, feeling good. After work yesterday though we took the kids to get a Christmas tree, which meant home for dinner later than usual. I was starving and made the kids a quick grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. I ended up eating half of one of theirs while I cooked myself a different meal. Man are they Pointy! And then, after dinner, the leftover pumpkin pie and whipped cream in the fridge got my attention.

So I had my first T-day leftovers, a slice of pie with whipped cream. I was mindful while eating it, enjoying every bite, and made a plan to put the rest down the disposal when I was done. Yesterday was four days after the holiday and there's no reason to keep leftovers any longer. Oh, and earlier in the evening I'd happened upon an open bag of Cheetos Puffs my mom had brought over. I had two of those and quickly dumped the rest before I lost my resolve. Oh, and I had a pumpkin bar the kids had baked last week too. So yesterday was a high Point day (52), pretty much wiping out all the hiking Points I'd earned and leaving me two points in the red for the week. But I'll earn four at the gym today so I'll be fine.

The kids with our tree
So the holidays are in full swing. Like I said, we got a tree. Did some decorating last night but still more to go. Getting the tree put an excitement in the air for the kids. Now just to keep up with the clean eating even with all the treats around. I got on the scale this morning to see if my weight confirmed what I knew, that I'd been eating and exercising enough to lose weight. I saw 145.8 - super happy to see that 145 number again. I'm very close to being back at my goal weight, which feels great! I'm so super, happy, thrilled, glad, relieved, etc that I got things under control before the holidays even began.

Oh, that reminds me! I completely forgot that my goal-iversary passed. On November 9th, 2012 I reached my goal weight of 145 pounds. It had taken me 5 years, 8 months and 25 days to get there. Just another reason I'm happy to be back on track. Noting the anniversary at a time when I am working hard to be a maintainer felt great!

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope you're feeling back in the swing after Thanksgiving. In case you're still struggling, let me remind you, it feels really good to be on track. Start now, start with your next meal, and before long, you'll remember why you feel so much better when you're living in a way that aligns with your goals.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

8 Muddy Miles (and then some)

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I am on a roll. It feels so good to be in this place, how I wish I could always be motivated and inspired as I am now. Haven't figured that out yet, but that's ok, I'm just happy to be here now.

A map of my long run
On Friday night I went to bed, feeling good about my plan to do a long run on Saturday morning. But when I woke up and saw the overcast sky, the wind...it looked cold! So I told myself to just pick a spot and start running, if I was miserable, I could do a quick run and be done. I chose a spot near some wetlands preserves and headed out. Before long I was running up a hill. Down the other side and then the rest of the run was flat.

Note to self, when running in a wetlands area after rain, expect mud. Miles 4 and 5 were especially muddy, I almost slipped a couple times even and my shoes were soaked when there was no avoiding stepping in puddles. I listened to Pandora (for the first time on a run), Rihanna station. I only know a couple of her songs and don't regularly listen to that genre of dance-pop/hip hop/house-type music so almost all the songs were new to me. That turned out to be an unexpected source of fun, really kept me entertained and I didn't hate any of the songs, even the Nicki Minaj one (I only know it was a Minaj song because she kept saying her own name in the song). A lot of female empowerment stuff too, which I particularly liked.

Anyway, the weather was gorgeous, a bit breezy at times but that balanced nicely with the warm sun, and I just cruised along, happy to know I would run the 8 miles I'd hoped for.

As you can see I averaged an 11:44 pace but I wasn't paying attention to my speed. I just wanted to enjoy the run, and I did.

Happy post-run smile

Muddy calves, muddy socks, muddy shoes

Sunday was a rest day. Unfortunately it was also an eat-too-much-junk day. I didn't plan well and ended up having lunch at a kids' party - pizza and cake. That wouldn't have been so bad - I had one slice of cheese pizza and a very small piece of cake - but coupled with some evening snacking, I got into a hole with my Points (even with the 16 APs I'd earned the day before).

But I woke up on Monday determined not to use the slip as an excuse to stay down. I knew I wouldn't get out of the hole by Wednesday but I didn't want to dig an even deeper one. So I stuck to my daily Points both yesterday and today. And I exercised.

On Monday I went for a run around my gym, including a big hill. I used to run this big hill route when I didn't have enough time to run 3 miles. But I've run it a couple times now as part of a 3-mile route and I think it's gotten a tiny bit easier. Still, it's a big friggin' hill!

But what really got me excited was how fast I ran that last mile. While running down the other side of the hill I thought, "Wow, I'm really moving, what if I try to keep this up when I'm back on flat ground?" So that's what I did. I just kept going with long strides, pushing hard, running! 9:16, roughly 6.5mph. I was running that pace back in the spring, but since the surgery, not really. It felt good. And fast.

After the run I did back/biceps core. I ate a healthy dinner and got to bed at a reasonable hour. No evening snacking. Win! Today started with me getting my period. I've been off-and-on crampy for at least a week so it was about time. My cycle is so unpredictable these days. But at least I'm not having hot flashes at the moment. And, by the way, I have a stellar excuse if I'm up at tomorrow's weigh-in. Not that I need an excuse. No, not me, never.

On to today... I went to the gym after work and rode the upright bike for 25 minutes. I'm back to being able to push myself without it being painful, which is nice. I did chest/triceps/core after the bike, was there for an hour. I left the gym feeling on. my. game.

So there you have it. Weigh-in is tomorrow. Thanksgiving follows. I'll take whatever the scale says in stride, and then eat to my heart's (and stomach's) content on Thursday, and then get back in the groove on Friday. Sounds like a good plan, right?

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Great Week

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I had a bunch of stuff I meant to write about but now that it's Friday night at 10pm....

Anyway, I've had a good great week so far. I hit my goal of exercising 4x during the workweek. I glanced through my workout log and noticed I've hit that goal for four weeks now. Working out four days a week is important to me for several reasons. There's the obvious calorie-burn type reason but that's not the most important. For me it's about stress management and maintaining fitness. I like the level of fitness I reach when I regularly hit that goal. And I feel so much better too.

Once I feel like I'm completely back to my former fitness level I can ease up a bit, miss a day here or there, without much consequence. But for now, staying very focused on the objective at hand. Which reminds me, it might be time for a recovery week. I've kind of forgotten about the concept, which is every 4th week I cut back on everything. Less time/intensity in the cardio and lower weights/reps in the weight training. But I'm hesitant to do that right now, I feel so focused on building my strength and endurance up that I don't want to back down. We'll see. Might be a smart thing.

Speaking of smart things...I signed up for a half-marathon! The Rock n Roll Half Marathon San Francisco, March 2015. I ran the inaugural version of this race in 2013 (with Laurie, who's also signed up). The route has changed since then, which has me so excited to run a slightly different course. A lot of SF races run a very similar course and while this race has some of those same parts in it, some are also new (for me). But I just noticed, the race starts at 6:30am. Holy early race time! Might have to stay in the city that night.

Eating is going ok. I went out to dinner last night. I made a very good choice, a grilled skirt steak that came served with white rice, grilled asparagus and an asian slaw (made w/o mayo). I skipped wine and fortunately they didn't put any bread down in front of me. After dinner I was headed home when a mom-friend texted about meeting up for a drink. Eh, why not? So I added a martini to my Points fort the day. And when I got home...I wanted something salty and started in on a bag of Garden of Eatin' Red Hot Blues. Yum! I think I ate maybe half the bag. 15 Points. It was a big bag.

Between that and the martini, and a larger-than-normal homemade dinner Wednesday night, I wiped out all my weekly Points and even went into the red by a couple Points. Today's workout (30 min run + weight lifting) got me back in the black but I will have to be want to be careful with my choices from here on out if I want to remain in the black. I'm not too worried about it though. I'm planning a long run tomorrow, which will give me a good chunk of APs to work with. And besides, why worry? I ultimately do whatever I want anyway. Just gotta stay focused on what it is I want :-)

And sleep, sleep is one thing I want. Night all!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

*MY* Daily Points Target

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I lost 3.8 pounds this week. I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you take my total loss of 4.4 pounds and average it over 3 weeks, I've lost 1.46 pounds per week. For me, that's still a lot. I usually average somewhere between .5 to 1 pound per week. Anyway, I was kind of shocked to be down that much but I'm pleased to be reminded that the program works.

So there's been an interesting issue as to how many Points I should get set for my daily target. Last week I noticed on my paper weight tracker it said 26 Points. But the WW app had me at 30 Points. Eating 30 Points per day (plus the weekly 49 plus all my Activity Points) had me lose 1.something pounds the first week, I gained .6 the following week (although that included going over my Points the last two days of the week so it's not a fair assessment). 

So last week I asked the receptionist and he said the paper was right and the app must be thinking I'm still on maintenance. I started to pout. Then I remembered, "Hey, this is my choice. If I want to eat 30 Points per day I can." 

So then the thought shifted from how sad for me that I have to do this to what do I want to do? I can't tell you how much the resulting power shift changes everything. It's not an external force upon me, it's about my choice. So I made the choice to follow the paper, 26 Points. And I didn't pout about it.

This week I put in my new weight and the app changed my Points to 32! I checked with the receptionist again, he ran the numbers again with my new weight of 149 pounds and yep, still 26 Points if I want to lose. Fine by me.

A board full of Thanksgiving day tips from fellow WW members.
So next week is Thanksgiving. Lots of talk in the meeting about holiday-eating-strategy. They had us write down a tip and post it on the board. I read a bunch of them and what I liked most was the wide variety of sometimes conflicting ideas, don't eat pie...not even one bite, eat a small slice of pie, lose weight beforehand so you can gain some, walk the dog longer, don't leave the house, plan to gain a few pounds and lose them in January. It's all so personal, right? My way is my way, yours is yours.

I'm going back to my tried-and-true method of eating whatever I want, in as much quantity as I want, on the holiday itself. No measuring, weighing, or tracking. But on the other days, eat (and track) like normal. This method has always served me well. I'm also planning to make a healthy dish or two that I really like for my mom's holiday gathering. Maybe some roasted brussells sprouts with a balsamic reduction and feta sprinkles. 

Ok, that's all I have for now. I'm down 4.4 pounds. Maybe next week I'll go over 5 pounds lost and get a Bravo sticker plus a few claps from the other lonely souls that will be at a WW meeting the day before Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A (Not So?) Simple Question

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Yesterday, I posted this on my Facebook page:

Someone posted a comment asking a seemingly simple question. Or two.

How did you get things turned around? 

What are you doing that is different?

As to how I got things turned around, my first thought was, "I made a decision." But as I thought about it, I realized there's more to it than that. It's true, I did make a decision, but I also do/did some things that supported me getting to that decision, one of the biggest of those being I weigh myself regularly, if not every day. Getting on the scale is a reality check, without it, I can too easily slip my head into the sand and pretend weight gain isn't happening. 

Studies show that daily weighing is an important tool in weight maintenance*. To borrow a few lines from the articles, "
The study showed that greater weight loss was associated with increased frequency of self-weighing, especially among those who self-weighed at least weekly." "These results indicate that an intervention focusing on daily self-weighing can produce clinically significant weight loss."
"It seems that, for successful dieters at least, daily weighing can be a beneficial strategy in weight maintenance, 'It's like checking the thermometer in your house to see what the temperature is, it helps you know how to make adjustments.'".

So, I weigh myself. What else did I do to get things turned around? When I ate a certain way (bingy, snacky eating) I noted to myself how that felt (not good) and patiently reminded myself that this behavior is not in support of my goals. And further, the scale is a direct result of said behavior. Those reminders were NOT beating myself up, nagging myself, shaming myself, etc. They were more like, "Hey, what's happening? This isn't helpful." The reminders didn't result in immediate change but I think they put me on the path to turning things around.

The other thing I did was give myself kudos when I engaged in goal-oriented behaviors. If I resisted the urge to buy a Snickers at the checkout, pat on the back. If I stopped eating halfway through a quart of ice cream, pat on the back. If I made a good choice for dinner, pat on the back. These little positive reinforcers for all goal-oriented behaviors kept my confidence up, allowed me to continue to feel capable and competent, even if I was slipping back overall.

I continued to exercise, even when what I did was very little (a 10 minute run) and I continued to ask myself when and how I was going to intervene with my eating. Just because I didn't know the answer, didn't mean I stopped asking the question. Eventually, the plan to return to WW emerged as what I needed. I'd tried to self re-align and eventually acknowledged when it just wasn't working. There have been many times in the past when that has worked, just not this time.

I'm sure there's more to say about how I got things turned around but that's what comes to mind. On to the next question, what am I doing that's different. This one is a bit easier to answer as the change is obvious.
  1. I'm tracking again. Mostly. I didn't track for a couple of days this weekend when restaurant meals made it too much of a pain in the ass (for me). But I did make very conscious choices about what I ate at those meals and took a stab at how many points I might have eaten in total.
  2. I'm attending WW meetings again. I can't tell you how much they help me.  
  3. I'm focusing on the little things like salad dressing, more veggies with my meal, tea. Little things I used to do all the time that had been sort of forgotten.
  4. And the big things like less alcohol, limiting or avoiding after dinner snacking.
  5. I'm eating daytime snacks again. I'd gotten away from making sure I had two snacks every day, one between breakfast/lunch and one between lunch/dinner. Some people don't need snacks but I know they go a long way toward helping me feel satisfied and not overdo it at mealtime.
  6. While I never stopped exercising I had let it slip just a bit. I'd pushed it down a rung or two on the priority scale, which meant missing a day of exercise was becoming the norm, instead of something out-of-the-ordinary.
  7. Finally...no more fast food. For example, a McDonald's burger is 7 points and a vanilla cone is 5 points. 12 points is a large meal. A burger and cone are not a "large" meal. Not to mention, who knows what's in that stuff. I'm not swearing off fast food forever, that's not my style, but it was getting to be a habit.
  8. Focusing on sleep. I'd let getting a good night sleep slip way down on the priority list. Feeling tired and dragging, staying up until 1am in front of the television...bad stuff when it comes to weight management. I've talked for years about wanting to get more/better sleep but I never really committed to it. I'm getting better at walking the talk.
Ok, there you have it. Gotta run!

* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788086/

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Many Frogs (and a very brief race report)

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The title of this post comes from one my kids' books about a rabbit who lets one frog in and then ends up with a bunch of them. At first he's overwhelmed, and then he realizes the joy that can come with chaos. So that's where I'm at. Life is sometimes chaotic and I'm striving to find the joy in what is. Because believe you me, there is joy to be found.

Ok, on to the speedy update...

10/30/14: Oh the weight gain... I snapped a picture to keep things in perspective. Yes, I've gained some weight, but also yes, I'm still pretty damn fit.

10/31/14: Halloween. I was so solid on my plan to eat no Halloween candy before trick-or-treating. That night I had a few a lot of fun size candies and planned for that to be all the Halloween candy I ate. But I found, in the days after, I kept grabbing treats from the kids' loot. So, a week after Halloween I made a deal with them to sell their candy in exchange for a toy. I remember last year I ended up doing the same thing. It felt so good to get all those sweets out of the house.

11/2/14: So running a half-marathon might have fueled some of my candy-related choices... You probably know my training for this race never really got going and I considered flaking on the run altogether. But then I remembered that 1, I like running, 2, I paid $75 for this and 3, I really liked the medal. Besides, if I pace myself I'll probably be fine but if not, I can always walk.

And I did walk a bit, the long hill leading us back up and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and I walked for a bit on the last hill before I realized I actually had enough in me to run. My first ever half-marathon time (2012) was 2:44:58 and while I was running this race I thought it might be nice to at least go faster than that. So 2:38:34 was my clock time, that did the trick by 6 minutes or so.

Isn't that fun?! After the race Jackie, Deb and I met up for a yummy brunch and plenty of girl talk. Fun! But apparently we were too busy to take a group pic for the blog.

Ok...I have to wrap this up. I've been working really hard on getting enough sleep. I mean, really, truly making it important. So it's 7 minutes until my must-be-in-bed time of 11pm. 10pm is what I aim for and sometimes I even beat that.

I'm going to my fourth WW meeting (this go 'round) tomorrow. Although the scale doesn't tell the whole story here's the story it's telling:

Start: 153.4
Week 1: 152.2 (-1.2)
Week 2: 152.8 (+.6)

So I'm averaging what, half-pound a week? I'll take it. I've been tracking, mostly, but more than that, I've been very focused in my mind on what I want. And tightening up on the small things (like salad dressing and the bread basket) as well as big things (like before bed snacking and alcohol).

As far as my lungs are concerned, still dealing with what seems like a chronic problem. Went to the doctor today, mild bronchitis, she changed my inhaler, added some other stuff...we're trying to find the best way. I'm finally caving to the Singulair, at least for now. I'm tired of dealing with this.

But...even with all that, I've been killing it in the gym. I'm on such a roll. And I plan to keep right on rolling!

10:59pm...night all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Look Who's Tracking 2

If I were a movie title, that would be it. At least for today.

If you've been following along then you know a few things. First, my life has been unusually stressful for, oh, just the past 1.5 years. Second, my weight has been creeping up over the past year, now to the low 150's. My official WW "goal weight" - for whatever that's worth, and I do think it's worth something - is 147 pounds. Finally, I have been, lately anyway, hoping/praying/fantasizing that I could pull this eating thing together in some natural/organic/free-range sort of way that would NOT involve tracking.

And now is the time to acknowledge that, for today, this week, this month...I need more than hope and nature...I need Weight Watchers. And thank goodness the company exists because at least I have somewhere to go when I need it.

Last week I looked up meetings and found one that could fit my schedule on a weekly basis. It's a lunchtime meeting and the bonus is, it's led by Sandy (and Stan is the receptionist). Sandy is a 14 year maintainer (who also happens to run the monthly Lifetimers meeting). Stan is a fellow runner. The two of them have great, supportive, we-know-what-it's-like attitudes. I walked in with zero shame, zero anything, to say I'm here, I'm over my goal weight by 6.4 pounds, 153.4 is my current weight. By the way, that weight puts me back into the overweight category according to the BMI. Can I say I was wearing jeans? At least they still fit.

All jokes aside, this is not an imaginary weight gain. I can feel it in my body, the way my clothes fit and in how I move. Mostly I feel it in my gut. Not my actual gut, but my spiritual one. Something is not right. I have ideas about the who/what/why of what's not right, but I don't need to figure that out to work on making changes.

It felt good to sit in that meeting. I bought the monthly pass and started tracking immediately. It felt good to track. It feels good to be doing something.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why We Give In

I am so excited! I've been talking with the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest about all sorts of interesting stuff. I am fascinated by all things at the intersection of science and food. More specifically, eating. CSPI has been doing some research on temptation and what factors lead us to "give in" when our goals would suggest we should do otherwise. So without further delay, I bring you a guest post by Jessica Almy of the Senior Nutrition Policy Council at the CSPI.

Why We Give In
Guest Post by Jessica Almy, Center for Science in the Public Interest

I love that Michelle puts into words what so many people struggle with. Whether we’re trying to lose weight or eat more fruits and vegetables, we all find ourselves sometimes acting in ways that are at odds with our long-term goals.

Why is it so hard? In a perfect world, we would set goals for ourselves, make choices consistent with those goals, and live happily ever after, right? There would be no late-night binges and no feelings of regret or moments of weakness. We’d only buy the foods on our grocery lists, and when we eat out, we’d keep portions modest and ignore the basket of chips.

In this fictional food world, there would be no candy displays at the supermarket checkout and no tantalizing food ads on television. Food companies wouldn’t bother to spend billions of dollars to market particular food products to us. Instead, they would scramble to reformulate their foods to compete with Big Broccoli.

That’s not real life though. In real life, our decisions suffer when we’re tired, stressed out, or have had a tough day. We respond to cues to eat that we may not even be conscious of. And food companies bombard us with marketing, ranging from TV and internet ads to displays at the supermarket.

Research shows that urges to eat are more frequent than urges to sleep, drink, and have sex combined. When those urges are at odds with what we want for ourselves - as they often are - they become a source of stress that can make it harder to make good choices going forward.  

Just as people living in poverty have a harder time resisting temptation after they’ve made financial choices, people who are dieting have stronger physiological responses to the sight and smell of food than people who are not dieting. These stronger responses actually make it harder to resist. And it’s not just dieters who are more susceptible to temptation either. Adolescents, perfectionists, people under the influence of alcohol, and people who are sleep deprived (like most new parents) are too.

No one is immune though. Self-control is like a muscle that fatigues with use. It’s one thing to pass up pastries in a bakery window on the way to work, but it can feel entirely different on the way home, after sitting through a meeting that required us to hold our tongues and resist the lure of a candy dish on a colleague’s desk all day.

Simply put, when we’re tired or stressed, it’s harder to make good decisions.

Plus, most of us cannot trust our sensations of hunger to guide us to eat optimally. The sensation of hunger is not just the physiological need for calories—it can result from environmental cues, the passage of time, or the anticipation of an eating occasion.

In one study, a group of women were exposed to the smell of baking pizza and/or asked to write about pizza for 10 minutes, while another group did not receive any pizza cues. Afterward, researchers gave all the women pizza to eat and asked them to fill out a survey. The women exposed to the pizza cues consumed significantly more pizza than the other women.

The environmental factors we contend with on a daily basis influence our food purchases and consumption, often in ways that are hidden or beyond conscious cognition, making healthy eating a struggle.

Consider the grocery store. Retailers use displays and sales promotions to prompt us to buy and eat particular foods. Supermarkets don’t put candy only in the candy aisle. They entice shoppers to buy candy they pass in the seasonal aisle, on end caps, and in line at checkout.

We recently looked at the foods, beverages, and products promoted at checkout in 30 chain stores, and we found that nearly every store pushed candy or soda at checkout. Many of these stores are not even in the business of selling food.

We can’t even buy electronics without facing candy and soda at the register. How can we be expected to resist temptation every moment of every day?

Being mindful of the factors that make it harder to make good decisions is a positive first step toward healthy eating. But it’s not enough. It’s not possible to eliminate stress and fatigue from our lives altogether.  

We also need to work together to make it easier to live in ways that are consistent with our long-term goals. That’s basically what we do at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. We try to make healthy eating easier.  To join this effort, click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Alive and Kicking

I haven't had a gap in blogging like this since I was pregnant. And no, I am not pregnant. But there are equally big changes happening in my life and I am nearing the point of writing about them. For now, this is just a brief update to say I am here, I am still fighting the good fight, some wins, some losses, and a lot of ties. My weight is up some, right around 150, give or take a pound. My body fat is up too, 31.5% or so. I can feel, and see, the changes in my body. A tad larger, not as defined, but I can also see that I am still in damn good shape. I've decided to start going to WW meetings every week again. Not sure if I'll start tracking too but probably maybe. Taking things one step at a time.

Ok...an update on a few things that have happened since my last post...

My little angels attended a cowboy themed school event. So cute!

Ms Myra turned 4 (she turned four back in September; we were a little late on the party organizing). She had quite the Hello Kitty bash. I have better pictures on my actual camera but for now, something from my phone.

There's been other stuff too but I'll have to write about that later. Last thing...Back in July I registered for this half-marathon, the US SF half. It's coming up on Sunday. The longest run I've done in ages was 6 miles. Kind of on the fence about whether I should run it or not...but...knowing me...I'll try. And if I try, I'll probably finish. Might be my slowest time ever, but who cares about time at a time like this. Not me.

That's all from me. Hope you all are also still doing what you can. If you're on a roll, keep rolling. If you're struggling, take a deep breath and do what you can. And if you've fallen off the wagon, keep looking for it. I've found my lost wagon many a time.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Not Sick

I'm not sick. These days that feels like big news. But I did wake up with a slight sore throat this morning. If I only get a week or so of not being sick and get sick again - oh boy, I can't even think about that. The bottom line is, my immune system seems to be dead. And I know why, stress and poor self care. The latter being mostly that I'm not getting enough sleep.

I've been doing ok great in the exercise department. I went to the gym three times last week, including a really nice outdoor run that had me leaping up a tall hill like Superwoman, and might go for a run later today. The gym has been hard but good. My muscles are not what they were but I have time to work on that.

Eating has been hit-or-miss. The late night snacking behavior has improved. Now it's on to the birthday party, happy hour, social life eating. That needs some work.

I got on the scale yesterday morning and I was 150.something pounds. In the past that might have sent me into a state of panic and then denial. Not now. Now I know, I am confident, I can and will deal with this. And soon. In fact, I am dealing with it. And the good news is, I feel much better than I did a couple weeks ago. My mood, motivation, is better. Just as long as I don't get sick again. Might have to go on leave for a while if that happens. 

Anyway, this is just a bit of a check in post. Still not sure what's happening with the SF Half Marathon but it's not looking very likely. I haven't run since that 6-miler I did a couple weeks back. I mean, I've run - short gym runs, treadmill runs - in the 2 to 3 mile range, just no long runs.

Ok, that's it from me for right now. Hope all of you that are fighting the good fight keep going. Remember, the first thing is to not give up. Ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Getting Paid by the Hour

I don't want to boast, but the truth is, I'm awesome. And not always humble.

Seriously, I can't quite believe how I pulled myself out of the hole.

As I mentioned in my post on Tuesday, I went to the gym that day.

On Wednesday I did it again. I rode the upright bike for 20 minutes and then did an ease-back-in weight training routine, a bit of everything, including a couple sets of pushups even. Thursday was more of the same. I ran one mile on the treadmill and did a short full-body weight routine.

And then came Friday. I had the day off and was toying with the idea of a long run. What if...what if? Midday came around and I had that get going! feeling, so I ran with it (pun intended) and changed into my running clothes.

I knew I was going out for a run. How far? don't know. How fast? don't know. My body would be my guide. What I did know was this would be an indicator as to whether or not I would be able to run the US Half Marathon, San Francisco coming up in 6 short weeks. If I want to get up to 11 miles the week before the half I had to do 6 miles. But I can't force it, not this time.

So I set on my way, running so easy and slow that, in terms of my exertion, I almost felt like I was walking. "I could run like this all day," I thought. The running continued to be almost effortless so I started to have ideas about shooting for 3 miles before I turned around. But I wasn't wearing my Garmin so I had to run for time. I figured 13-minute miles are about as slow as I could possibly be running. At that pace, I would need to run for roughly 80 minutes to get to 6 miles.

So I kept shuffling along with a plan to turn around after 40 minutes. I should add, I was running in a beautiful area, next to water, with perfect conditions. That helped. As I ran I started having all these amazing, positive thoughts. It went something like this...

Later in the day, after my run.
My body is incredible, I'm running!, this is the way to run, slow, easy, effortless. How lucky I am to be able to do this! Look at that sky, beautiful. And the temperature is just perfect, with plenty of shade. And the breeze that's coming along every once in a while, straight from heaven. I'm so lucky, so grateful that I can do this. See? I still got it, I'm not done-for. These legs, they're carrying me along, slow, easy, smooth.

On my run out I'd look down at my shadow and feel like I had a running companion. Yep, there I am, running. I lost that buddy for the return trip. And on the return I started to feel twinges of discomfort, indications that despite running easy, this was still a challenge. So I slowed down, backed off my already easy pace.

And I figured, why not? I'm running for time. It doesn't much matter how far I go, I've decided to run for 80 minutes and how far I cover in that time-frame isn't all that important. It's kind of like getting paid by the hour to paint a wall. Why rush? The longer it takes, the more money I make. I chuckled at that concept and kept myself entertained for a good 10 minutes thinking about how running for time is like getting paid by the hour. What's the hurry? Slow down, take it easy, enjoy!

And so I did. When I hit the 80 minute mark I laughed, probably in part to being high on endorphins. But no matter, I felt great, and I'm pretty sure I ran 6 miles. The half-marathon is still possible. I came home and mapped my route - 6.6406 miles in 79:30 (I stopped just before 80 minutes because I'd reached my starting point). That's a pace of roughly 12-minute miles. Snap!

My eating has been much improved. I did do a lot of indulging over the past few days but not in a bad way. I was mindful, present, and not just munching on snacks I didn't enjoy at 11pm at night. And as the weekend wraps up, I'm thinking about getting back to my "regular," less indulgent eating. 

Ok, so I still got it. And, I exercised four times this week. Though I was missing one weight-training session. So yesterday I went to the gym, I ran a very leisurely 3 miles (roughly 11:30 pace!) and then did another round of full body weights. Admittedly I was worn out but I was happy worn out, not exhausted worn out. There's a difference.

And so there you have it. I'm all about the comeback. I was down, but not out. Lost, but not forgotten. And now I'm up, found, and working my way to back. It will take a few weeks in the weight lifting department, and who knows how long in the running department, to get back to where I was but you know what? I don't care this time. What matters is that I'm here. And right here is a damn fine place to be!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Did I Say That?!

Blogging two days in a row, you know something's got my attention. I'm writing to respond to this comment on yesterday's post:
Why does it have to be so hard ALL the time?? I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that this is going to be a daily battle for the rest of my life.........really??? EVERY day?? not fair not fair :( Maintenance seems to be a different animal....I wish I had the need to tackle it but alas I haven't even gotten to the lose weight part in order to have a need to maintain....what an effing struggle this all is....grrrrrrr thanks Michele for being so "real" we all need to hear to truth. It gives us ideas and suggestions on how to find our own unique way through the maze.....in our quest for good health. Keep on Keepin on....you are on the other side now. Find a plan and routine to keep you there...oh and then tell us how to do it? lolol
Oh no, no, nooooo. I think I'll separate thoughts in this comment and respond to them one-by-one.
  1. Why does it have to be so hard ALL the time?...this is going to be a daily battle for the rest of my life.

    Not true! It's not hard all the time. It's true there are hard days, sometimes hard weeks, but it's just not true that it's hard every day, for the rest of your life. If I believed it would forever be as hard as it is right now I'd probably give up. I would not choose to endure this kind of tension if it were daily and forever. But I know this will pass, it will get easier again, it does, every time.

  2. not fair, not fair :(

    Maybe it's true that it's not fair. But everyone has unfairness in their lives, at least mine is something I can do something about. Plus, either way it’s unfair. Either I face unfairness by limiting your eating, or I face all the unfairnesses and hardships that come with being overweight. Besides, it’s a common misconception that other people can eat whatever they want, they’re limiting themselves, too.

  3. Maintenance seems to be a different animal.

    Yes and no. Maintenance is different in that you're not trying to get to a specific goal, and I think it's mostly easier than it used to be because I have more skills, habits, etc now. I know when I'm in a down place it sounds super hard but if I really think about it, I know it's easier, that I have way more tools and insights than I used to have. So yes, different, but also the same. The same in that I have to keep paying attention, I have to remember how important this is to me, how much it matters to me. I have to be careful of thinking I'm cured and can move on to other things.

  4. what an effing struggle this all is.

    I would add to the end of that sentence, at times. This goes back to #1. It's not an effing struggle every moment of every day. And I wouldn't even say it was an effing struggle on average. Most of the time it's great. And even when it's not great, it beats the alternative of not struggling at all. In fact that's the true struggle, being overweight and not taking action to do anything about it. That's when I felt truly hopeless. It's a struggle, at times, and a struggle that I happily take on. When I sat on the couch eating donuts I thought that was easier but I now know it was WAY harder to live like that. Down with "easy"! Bring on the struggle!

  5. thanks Michele for being so "real" we all need to hear to truth.

    You're welcome. And I also hope you're reading my happy, alive, dancing in the sunshine posts and saying to yourself, "Look! It can be easy and fun and joyous." Because that's part of the "real" truth too.

  6. you are on the other side now.

    I can see how it looks that way but really, there is no other side. There is here and here is there. I am where I am, haven't moved really, took me with me. Maybe this is too zen mindfulness whatever. And I guess I am on the other side if the other side means I've realized that this is worth it, that I want to work for it, that I have what I need to get here, I've always had it. There was never anything wrong with Michelle that could not be fixed by what is right with Michelle.

  7. Find a plan and routine to keep you there...oh and then tell us how to do it?

    I have! It's called never giving up. It's called paying attention. It's called mixing up my approach depending on how I'm feeling. There's no one plan, no one routine. Last month I could keep tortilla chips in my house no problem, today? Nope. The how to do it changes over time, and then goes back, and then changes again. So the biggest thing I've found is taking charge of my thoughts, my behaviors. I will not deny my desire for a fit, healthy body. And I will use that desire to drive my thoughts and behavior.
I want to thank you Colleen for this comment. It put me in the position of writing out some things I really needed to think about. You voiced some of my inner sabotaging thoughts and by challenging them I reminded myself. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Oh woe is me.

I've been down in the dumps.

The other night I went to bed with a bag of tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa. Really.

That, coupled with some other equally disturbing eating behaviors, has me feeling like crap. When will I learn? Nope, not going to tackle that question. The question I do want to answer is what am I going to do now?

This morning I had the thought, "I want things to change" (and by things I meant my eating behavior mostly).

So then I thought, if I want things to change then I need to change. Things don't magically change on their own, I change my behaviors, choices, thoughts, habits...that's the ONLY way.

And I was also thinking today about the fake it 'til you make it thing. Yeah, that's what I'll do, I'll fake it. How would I behave if I were in a strong, motivated, self-disciplined groove? What choice would I make if I were in a place of feeling good, confident, powerful? So do that. Past experience tells me this can work.

So I'm clawing my way out of this hole. As slowly and patiently as is warranted. Oh, for those that want numbers, I'm roughly 148, 149 pounds BUT...my body fat has gone up to 32%!! That's a change of around 4%, which is roughly 7 pounds of fat, some of which used to be muscle. Ugh. Not thinking about the numbers though, instead I want to focus on what I can do, which is make better choices.

I want to make choices that help me feel strong, in control, powerful and in charge of my destiny. I am not a victim. Crappy and too-much food doesn't fly up and into my mouth - I put it there. And if that act leaves me feeling bad, then I want to change. Can I not tell you about the KFC too-much/crap food followed by a bowl of cereal? Yeah, I told you. Not good. Probably outright bad but minimally, not good. My poor body, I'm lucky it hasn't broken out in hives.

Oh boy, does this situation call on me to practice what I preach. It's not about never falling, it's about getting up. So I've fallen, and I'm down in the dumps, but I will get up. I am getting up. And even in the getting up I acknowledge my imperfection, my humanity, but also my strength, will and determination to never give up. Ever.

I know I can gain this weight back, I know it's a risk. I will not pretend, put my head in the sand. I'll stop all the lies I've been telling myself lately about how I can work it off later, or this little bit won't count, or "but I want it." Yeah? What else do you want Michelle? Let's not forget how important this is to you.

So today I made better choices. By example, I walked into an office this afternoon and happened upon a bowl of fun-size candy. I actually had two pieces of candy in my hand. And thankfully, my brain kicked in, "No," I told myself, "this isn't the way, change what you're doing, all the little choices matter," and I put them back.

And after work, I went to the gym. I might as well have crawled in the door for how I felt. I started on the treadmill with a 5 minute warm up walk, then I ran two miles at between 5.0 and 6.0 miles per hour, but mostly at 5.5mph. But pace doesn't matter, I did what felt easy, manageable. I kept telling myself, "See? All is not lost. You can still run. And you'll build on this, just like before."

Dammit if I don't bare my soul on this darned blog sometimes. The inner workings of a sometimes twisted up, pathetic girl. I know, I'm not pathetic, or twisted up, it just feels that way when I expose some of my thoughts.

Not today, chips.
Anyway, I coughed a little and sniffled some but on the whole I felt good. After the run I did some light weights and a bit of ab work, leaving after an hour in total. Perfect for a first day back after being sick. And tired. And unmotivated.

A moment ago I made myself a cup of apple/cinnamon tea. And at lunchtime today I came home to put the rest of the chips down the garbage disposal. Right now I just don't want those foods in my living space. I know what works at a time like this, and that's what I plan to do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not So Fast

When last we met our brave heroine she was defiant in her resistance to the common cold. Filled with verve, nerve and perspicacity she challenged the viral intruder to take her down.

Sadly, it did.

Ok, I'm being somewhat melodramatic here but yes, I was over-eager in my refusal to believe that something like a wee sore throat and whatnot could stop me. I'm sad to say I was wrong. That wee cold turned into bronchitis, from which I am just now beginning to mend. I'm mending by resting, steroid and regular inhaler use, some antibiotics just in case (I know, but I can't take the chance it's not bacterial at this point even though it probably isn't) and water. Oh, where's my water?

I can't remember my last workout. Might have been that last (maybe I shouldn't have) run. My eating is mixed, some good, some horrible and everything in between. You probably know I've been doing a lot of thinking, soul-searching, to understand my choices and to intervene.

My weight is up by a few pounds but the more telling, my body fat has crept up to 32%. If I stay on this path the weight number will soon follow. That number on the scale is merely fool's gold. I know too much to fall for that line, "Oh, you haven't gained any weight, you're fine." Hmph.

Patience, self-love, acceptance and gripping with all my might to the belief that this will pass. My motivation always comes back, every time. Guaranteed. Just hang on. Don't give up. Don't throw in the towel and eat a half-gallon of ice cream. All is not lost. Make every single better choice you can. And feel good about it. Read those articles on running and think about that new gym-move you read about in Fitness magazine. Act as if. Because it's only a matter of time until if once again is when it comes to the topic of my motivation and habits.

I remind myself to look at my body. It's real, I've worked for it. And I will one day soon rise up out of this damn hole to fight for it. There's the drama again.

But these things feel dramatic sometimes. This is serious. If I don't focus, remember, pay attention, I could get lost. When was the last time I didn't blog for over 2 weeks? When was the last time I ate cookies and fried chicken and fast-food and, and, and all within a two week window? Random candy bars are always a bad sign in my life. And there have been random candy bars.

So, yes, I'll think of the phoenix as she rises from the ashes, I'll call on Shakespeare to remind me that Whatever you do, you need courage and imagine Pavarotti belting out that I WILL BE OK! This is serious, and I take it seriously. I wanted this for decades, I doubted, I cried, I dreamt and eventually, I fought - and won. I still want this. I still falter and struggle but I still want this. And for that reason, I'm still winning. Though I don't feel like a winner.

My motivation is creeping back. I get a glimpse of it here, there. I know all is not lost. I am not lost.

My sister got married this past weekend. Beautiful wedding. I took a mirror selfie of the dress I wore. I'll close with that.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Too Busy for a Cold (and 10 out of 15k ain't bad)

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I started getting sick in the middle of the week last week. I went to the gym on Monday and Tuesday and then not again for the rest of the week. It started with a bad sore throat and then my energy level just took a dive.

I'd registered for this race for Saturday morning, what they call the Double Road Race. For some reason, which I admit I still don't understand, they split the distance up into two legs. I signed up for the 15k, which means I was supposed to run a 10k, take a break for a while, and then run a 5k. Hmph.

Of course I knew almost nothing beyond this interesting fact. I showed up and started running the 10k, moving very slowly mainly because I was still basically sick but also because I've been running 3 miles and less lately. I decided to run at a pace I felt I could maintain all day long if I needed to.

It was probably around mile 1 when I realized we were running the same loop twice. I had nothing on by way of tracking myself - no heart rate monitor, no Garmin. Can you believe that?! I was doing this for the fun of it, nothing more. At the end of the first loop there was a woman yelling out our times, I was around 34 minutes I think. Take off a minute for being near the back of the pack but still, for a hair over 3 miles, that's my easy, slow pace.

And now that I knew what to expect in the second loop (one small hill), I decided to pick up the pace and comfortably push myself. I started passing people, which is always encouraging, and reminded myself that I know how to tolerate a bit of discomfort. My lungs felt good, so did my legs, so I stayed with this now somewhat faster pace.

I finished and stood around waiting for the 5k to start. They had a live band, which was nice, and the weather was good. But as I stood, my muscles started tightening. The idea of doing a 5k sounded, well, silly. So I bagged it and got the heck out of dodge to go hang with my kiddos. I am very curious as to my 10k time but they apparently don't post your time unless you finish both legs. Oh well, I was happy with what I did.

I'd say this is my first DNF but I have a hard time with that given I crossed a finish line and got to stop running. But it was a 15k and I did only do 10k. Ah heck, it doesn't matter.

Sunday was a super fun day, Marek's first soccer game. We signed him up for the league and they've had 3-4 practices so far. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face the entire game. They were so cute running around after the ball. And some of them, my son included, took it pretty seriously. I mean, like, really played.

I'm looking forward to watching them grow into themselves as far as physical fitness and sports go. This is something I largely missed out on growing up so now I can live vicariously through them. Assuming they continue to show an interest of course. And given that we'll be there stoking that interest, let's hope it sticks for a while.

I took about a million pictures as you can imagine, but I'll only share a couple less than 10 here so as not to bore you with my new soccer mom status.

Game face

#6 !!

kidding around with daddy


I love this picture.

Today, Monday, I managed to get myself to the gym. Still on the cold medicine (DayQuil is like liquid gold) but no real coughing to speak of, which is good. I did 25 minutes on the upright bike and back/biceps/core for strength training because, well, because I could. I've got a busy week ahead so any chance I get to squeeze in a workout, I will. The cold will just have to come along for the ride because I don't have time for it to take me down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maybe I'm Amazed

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For years people have been asking me, "how do you do it all?" And by all I think they mean raise kids, work, exercise, blog, keep a friend or two, etc, etc. Well, sometimes something has to give and the past week + it's been the blog. I assure you, I've been mostly busy as heck. And if not busy, sitting on the couch at the end of the night watching bad television (Housewives, anyone?), which I've decided is the TV equivalent of a cheap glass of wine. I'm sure it kills brain cells too but at least it's calorie free!

Speaking of calories... the eating. It got bad. Like, two pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter past midnight bad. And that was after a variety of other "snacks." As I was buttering the toast I thought, "What's it going to be Michelle? This?" For days (or weeks?) I'd been thinking over my re-visiting of old habits and kept reviewing the same material, "I have to stop doing this, this doesn't feel good"...cycling through feeling motivated and strong in the morning but come nighttime, all is lost.

Not all, of course, as I'd remind myself. Most of my clothes still fit (notice I didn't say all) and hey, I still look good, right? And I'm still exercising. But that misses the point. The point is, I'm not happy with my behavior. So I finally started to challenge myself to stop saying the same old thing and start analyzing what it is I'm telling myself that leads to sabotage. And when I listen, the answers are there. Or, not so much answers, as lies.

I found myself saying things like, "It doesn't matter", "I'll start fresh tomorrow", "It's only a string cheese" (if only it stopped there), "But I want it", "I don't care." Some of these are old favorites, others are relatively new to me. In any case, once I started listening, I could start challenging. So that's where I've been putting my energy. And I'm happy to report, I'm course correcting. The evening snacking is slowing down, the random food choice situation is improving.

Because it does matter; starting fresh tomorrow is useless if I stop cold by 10pm; if I'm eating out of a bad habit it doesn't matter what I'm eating, it's the behavior that's the problem, not the food; I think I want it, and maybe I do in that moment, but what else do I want? and don't I want that more?; and I care. I CARE, dammit! So no more lies, no more denial.

Also, I heard of this little trick to change your most-used password to something positive you want for yourself, like WHOLEFOODS24!, and that by typing the positive phrase all the time you subliminally influence yourself. So I picked a phrase for my phone and it might seem silly, but I think it's helping.

we love this little guy!
Mostly though, I had to get my head out of the sand and that's what I'm doing. So...what else am I doing? Keeping busy. Marek started playing soccer so now twice a week practice sessions and weekend games are on the agenda. I still need to get a picture of him in his little outfit, so cute!

And...my big boy starts kindergarten tomorrow. Eek! Remember when he was born a short 5.5 years ago?? He's a little man now and he's sure to let us know that any chance he gets.

We also took a weekend camping trip to Tahoe this past weekend. I took the kids up to a S.Tahoe spot called Zephyr Cove. We had a blast! The kids LOVE camping and we wore ourselves out with lake activities and hiking and general adventuring. It was a great thing to do the last weekend before school starts. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures. I know, so unlike me!

The evening just before leaving I went to the Paul McCartney concert (hence the post title) with my mom and some family and friends. Staying up until 1:30am and then getting up in the morning, pack for camping, drive 3.5 hours to Tahoe, set up camp...ambitious, let me tell you. But I pulled it off.

I'm sure part of how I could pull it off is being in shape. I've been pretty damn good about exercise. Last week I made it to the gym on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday evening we stayed in a hotel near the concert venue. I got there about a half-hour early...just enough time for a run! So I ran for 30 minutes along the water and gave myself TONS of #wycwyc kudos.

And it's a good thing too because I had more than a few cocktails that evening. Oh, and for dinner that night I had a small salad and chicken wings. Yumm, chicken wings. Anyway, back to exercise. So last week was a resounding success. This week is also going well.

Yesterday I was driving to the gym after work while getting an earful from an angry person on a work-related call, complete with shouting and cursing. Ugh. It just pushed me over the top stress-wise. As I walked into the gym I noticed a mat Pilates class was about to start. Ahh, yes, relaxing music, slow moves, that's what I needed. So I tossed out my cardio/weights plan and did Pilates instead. Perfect! And I challenged my stubborn brain when it tried to suggest this workout didn't "count" because I didn't burn x-number of calories or break a major sweat.

Today was back to my normal routine, I went for a 25 minute run outside and then did legs/shoulders/core. The run felt so good. My pace lately has been whateverthehellfeelsgood and I gotta tell you, I like that pace. Who cares how fast/slow I'm running...I'm running for crying out loud!

So there you have it, the update of where I've been for the past 10 days.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hard Spin, Easy Run

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Same old, same old around here. Just been doing my thing, which lately means ongoing struggle with late-night snacking. I'd gotten it under control prior to the backpacking trip, when I was tracking my food on the Lose It! app (which I don't actually love but it did the job well enough), but I've fallen off the wagon. Which makes it sound like I should start tracking again. Something to consider.

Exercise remains good. I got to the gym twice more this week, making it three times (instead of my ideal goal of four). All things considered I feel really good about the effort. After the backpacking trip last weekend and, just life, I was tired and had an emotional hard landing coming back to reality. The wilderness is so pure, so beautiful, and from that distance everything seems manageable and positive. Meanwhile, back on earth, I struggle for that same perspective.

Glenn and I before class
Anyway, gym on Thursday. Spin class was starting up just as I arrived. My gym has this version of spin call Joycycle, which is spin mixed with upper body exercises while on the bike. It's not often that the class time aligns with my arrival, one of my favorite leaders is on deck and there are spots open, but Thursday it happened.

I couldn't stay for the whole class, I only had an hour total for my workout. So I did 25 minutes of spin and then went to lift weights. Whew, that bike had me sweating! After that I did back/biceps/core. I couldn't quite do my whole routine before running out of time but I managed most of it.

Friday was tenuous. I had stuff in the morning that almost derailed me from working out but things fell into place for an afternoon gym visit. But I was dragging. It was hot out and I felt so lazy.

So I told myself to just run 25 easy minutes outside, no pace pressure. Which is exactly what I did. I'm not sure the distance covered but I ran 27 minutes and felt very pleased with myself for doing it. I reminded myself of some advice I've given others. When someone asks, "What's a "good" running pace?" I answer, the pace that leaves you wanting to go out and do it again next time. After the run I did chest/triceps/core for a total of 1 hour, 11 minutes of exercise.

After the workout I had a little bit of time before I needed to pick up the kids. My feet were in dire
need of attention, still with dirt stains on my heels from the backpacking trip. So I stopped into my favorite toe spot and got a pedicure. I chose blue toenails in honor of Lake Tahoe. I'm taking the kids camping next weekend - and get this, all by myself! - at Lake Tahoe. Blue lake, blue toes.

Then I picked up the kids and we went to dinner (I had to have a coffee though to get me through the evening). I had linguini with clams, one of my favorites! And then to frozen yogurt, where I had a good-sized serving with all the toppings. Yes, it was a calorie heavy evening. And then more evening snacking later. Ugh, can I stick my head in the sand and pretend this isn't happening?

Sure, except the scale keeps me in reality. It's been up near 150 ever since returning from backpacking. At first I figured I was retaining water from all the hard work carrying that pack, but now, I'm not so sure. I just want to get back to my normal eating routine and then see what the scale does.

Enough about all that. The weekend is going well. We're having a lazy Saturday at home, kids are entertaining themselves in all sorts of ways while I do laundry, bills, write, etc. I love hearing them play together and I really love that they can figure out how to entertain themselves. Sometimes paying almost no attention to my kids is the best thing I can do for their little minds.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Run Outfit of the Day

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Hey there! Yes, it's almost midnight and I'm just starting this post. Bad blogger! But I want to get a few things out there before I sign off for the day. I think a list will help keep this post short.
  • I was featured in the Runner's World online column, RUNootd (stands for Run outfit of the day).  I tagged this pic on Instagram and it got picked up. How fun! I'd entered their cover magazine contest but when I read how inspiring some of the other entrants are I threw in the towel on that concept. Listen, I gotta get in that magazine. I can die a happy girl then. So, not the cover maybe, but this column is a step in the right direction :) I better keep running!
  • Speaking of... an exercise update. I skipped the gym yesterday. It was a combination of being very busy catching up at work (it was my first day back) and feeling tired. But today I went. I had to overcome a bit of that, "Oh, but I don't feel like going to the gym," it was hot, late afternoon - good time for a nap. But no nap, I went and ran 3 miles on the treadmill in 27:32 (9:11 minute miles - woot!) and then did legs/shoulders/core.

  • And...I have me some tight muscles. I was remembering that the day after past backpacking trips I'd get a massage. I think a massage is in order. When??

  • Eating is so-so. Scale has jumped back up to 149.something. Fucker. I wouldn't have a problem with it except I'm sitting here with a bag of almost empty chips which contains 5 servings and which I've eaten entirely by my lonesome. All is not lost, I made several goal-oriented eating choices today and I'll pick up again tomorrow and continue to fight the good fight. Just as soon as I finish these chips. Oh, and I might be pre-menstrual. Hence the F-word.
That is all. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Backpacking in the Mokelumne Wilderness 2014

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This is my 3rd time attending the annual ladies backpacking trip. The group started going in 2010 and my first trip was in 2012 to Ten Lakes in Yosemite, then in 2013 to Lake Gertrude in Desolation Wilderness. The outing this year was in the Mokelumne Wilderness, a federal wilderness area that is within the boundaries of three national forests - Stanislaus, Eldorado and Toiyabe.

Unlike years past, this year I hardly paid attention at all to where we were going or what the hike looked like. This is in part because I was so busy leading up to the trip and also because pf my confidence in being able to meet the physical challenge. I packed my backpack in a bit of a hurry and was up at 10:30pm the night before finding driving directions to the permit office.

This year I hiked in a day later than the rest of the group. I made the trek with a backpacking newbie, Jen. She and I both had scheduling issues preventing us from leaving earlier. Anyway, the email from Karen went like this...To my knowledge Jen has not backpacked before. So you are the veteran and she will be looking to you for guidance. Congrats on your "promotion"!  ;-)

Oh boy. Fortunately, this being my third trip, I felt pretty comfortable being able to find our way to camp. Jen and I drove to the ranger station and picked up a permit and a map (that could come in handy, eh?). While we were walking around the ranger station I couldn't help but notice the number of "warning" signs.

Mountain lions, bears, coyotes and...the plague! Oh my. Add to that, after asking where we were headed a guy visiting the ranger station offered, "Oh, lots of bears out in them parts." If Jen was nervous, she didn't let it show.

We parked and got our stuff together. My pack was not well thought out and weighed a back breaking 50 pounds! Note for next year, plan your pack and shoot for 35 pounds. After a bit of walking in circles we found the Allen Trailhead and got underway at noon sharp.

Jen and I at the start (the guy taking our pic insisted we both point to the map, so we did)

The plan
Karen had armed us with a photocopy of her map showing the route. I scoped it out on our map and away we went.

Cole Creek Lake 7 miles - our destination
The weather starting out was just perfect, warm but with a little cloud cover and a cool breeze now and then. We'd received the following text message from Group I the day before so we had reason to be grateful for what looked like good conditions.
Hey! Almost to the lake. Had to stop for a thunderstorm. Start early to avoid t-storms. Safety note: if you get caught in t-storm and your hair on your arms get staticy, GET AWAY from that location!!!!!! 
Turns out there was a spot on a ridge where they had cell service so they were able to get this out. The "safety note" prompted me to read up on what to do if lightening starts striking, "During lightening storms forested areas away from the tallest trees are safer. If you are in a treeless area put insulating material (sleeping pad, poncho) on a small rock and sit on it. Only your buttocks and feet should touch the material. Clasp your hands around your knees and pray (I added that last bit) and bend your head down, as in a seated fetal position. Be sure to remove metal frame backpacks, poles - anything metal can attract lightening." Ok, so we're as prepared as we can be for that.

So when we started hearing thunder during our hike in we both smiled that, "I sure hope we survive this" smile and took note of the sky. Fortunately the thunder never got close and there was no lightening or rain.

We made it to the top of the first climb at 2.2 miles and stopped for lunch and pictures. We'd started at 7,307ft elevation and this was 8,224ft. 

Looking down on Silver Lake, where we'd started

After lunch we had more climbing to do so after a brief rest we continued on. There were a few moments of confusion here and there, like what to do when we ran into the barbed wire fence (open it and pass through) but for the most part we were fine. We arrived at Allen Camp to find a dilapidated  log cabin and a beautiful meadow.

By now the weather had warmed up quite a bit and we were about to face a bit of climbing with very little shade. Between the sun beating down, my 50 pound pack, and the elevation - well, we weren't moving very fast. Ugh. As beautiful as the surrounds were, after a while we were head down, one step after the other, in a slow march up, up, up.

A couple miles of our trek included this wide off-road path. And check out the wildflowers. Wish my camera had picked up the yellows but they are lost in the green. So after a slow, hot climb we arrived at our highest peak, Plasse Trading Post at 8,635ft, just shy of 4 miles in to our 7 mile hike.

Jen looking for our trail
We walked around lost here for a moment before Jen realized we needed to continue a bit further on the off-road road before picking up our next trail. Go Jen! Lots of happiness ensued when we saw only 2.5 miles to go.

Almost there!
It was generally downhill from here, with little hills here and there just to keep us on our toes.

Toward the end we were walking in mostly treeless, rocky areas but fortunately there were enough cairns to keep us on course.

Cairns guiding us along our way
At one point we were looking around a bit lost when we noticed an orange bit of flag tied to a piece of wood. Upon inspection it had been left by our foretrekkers, helping alert us to the wooden arrow (strangely nailed to the base of a tree, why not nail the arrow up higher where it'd be easier to see?) pointing us toward Cole Creek Lakes.

I should have taken a wide shot to give you an idea how this wooden arrow was practically camouflaged. Anyway, the orange flag and Jen's eagle eyes (she's got a talent for spotting cairns) saved us...the arrow says 1/2 mile...we're so close! We came upon a meadow and spotted more orange tape tied to a tree, this time with our names on it.

Notice the little hand-drawn map?

X marks the spot. Complete with LAKE, I love these ladies!
So, through the meadow and voila - we spotted water. Woo-hoo!!! We started calling out and sure enough, they were waiting for us on the other side of the lake, "Walk around the lake!! You're here!!!"

To say the area was beautiful would not do it justice. As much as I wanted to put down my pack and take off my shoes, I couldn't help but pause for a picture.

So worth the effort to get here.
And yes, we arrived! Here's some Garmin route data.

Off with the packs and boots, hugs, smiles and cheers! all around, complete with a warm but hearty cocktail. Vodka and Crystal Light - yum! Here's a few random camp pics.

Arrows pointing to our 5 tents.

The kitchen

The pantry - of course we had twice as much food as we actually needed
The cocktails, laughter and conversation flowed - many of us don't see each other but for this once a year trip so we have a lot of catching up to do - and before I knew it I was quite tipsy.

That's our resident biologist Sarah laughing in the background - I love her!

Getting cozy with Karen

and swiping her hat

Ok, I was more than tipsy, let's call it drunk. Holy cow that happened fast. But we were having a blast! Somewhere in there I made myself dinner, a Trader Joe's madras lentils with brown rice. Last thing I remember is Karen, "are you ok?" as I felt myself drifting off to sleep in my chair. I happily wandered to my tent, took two Advil PM (I know, my poor liver), and fell fast asleep. It was only 9pm.

The next morning I woke up a bit after 7am to a sunny day and the sounds of (some of) the ladies making breakfast. Fortunately I felt pretty darned good considering. I heard stories of the drunken hilarity that ensued after I went to bed, including someone (who shall remain nameless) waking up with both a rock and a spoon in her sports bra. As well as the wrangling of ladies up on bluffs calling to the stars. Yep, it's true. But I slept through all of it.

I made my oatmeal and coffee and sat around waiting for both my and the group's energy to kick us into action. After a lazy morning six of us decided to head out to find Pardoe Lake.

Jen, Laura, Karen, Sarah, Erin and I - on our way!
There are no trails to Pardoe so a bit of orienteering was needed. Just in case, we had a plan that if we weren't back to camp by 5:30pm Angie would hike up to the ridge and call for a search party, "So you all damn well better be back by 5:30!"

Karen and Laura discussing the journey
Thankfully a few of these ladies, namely Karen, Sarah and Erin, know what they're doing. And I'm learning more every year. Laura and Jen were the newbies this year and they braved the great unknown wilderness with enthusiasm.

Sarah, Laura, Jen and Erin
Making our way up a mountainside

A map, a keen sense of direction and lots of experience and we eventually found it (we did also have a compass but never needed it).

Our trek

Pardoe Lake

(L to R) Laura, Sarah, Karen, Erin, Jen and myself lounging
We ate lunch, swam, lounged and enjoyed the peace that only being miles away from civilization can bring. And to think I almost missed this. Thank God I got off that couch all those years ago.

My lunch - naan with avocado, salami and cheese
After blissing out on nature we packed up for the return trek.

Karen, Sarah, Laura, Jen and Erin - how cool do they look?

We'd noted landmarks and left plenty of cairns so what took us one hour and 22 minutes on the way in only took 45 minutes to return. Back at camp and more drinking ensued, albeit with less gusto than the night prior. After all, we had a 7-mile hike out in the morning. I got antsy after a while so I took off on a solo tour exploring the near surrounds (telling people where I was going and never going out of shouting distance).

A long afternoon shadow

A happy hiker
I wish I could capture the breathtaking beauty of this valley

Mokelumne Peak
I returned to find the ladies hanging out eating dinner.

I'd eaten too much trail mix and never got hungry for dinner. We returned to the valley lookout to watch the sunset and wait for the stars to come out.

And we got our first group shot!

Me, Jen, Angie, Karen, Erin, Laura, Cheryl and Sarah in front of Mokelumne Peak

Karen trying to get a selfie but getting photobombed by everyone
Sarah and I ready for the night
Karen showing me some love!
I feel so lucky to be included in this group. This has been a challenging year for me and I unloaded a whole lotta life updates on these ladies and they embraced my attempt to find my way. Thank you wonderful women of nature and beauty for the unplugged, authentic, breath of life that is being in the backcountry with you all. If that sounds a bit cheesy, well, it's duly warranted.

Me and Mokelumne
I know my hair is blowing in the breeze but I love this picture
And as the sky darkened, I was lucky enough to snap this picture.

No filter
I sat up and watched the stars until I got too sleepy to stay up. But I couldn't fathom climbing in my tent and the weather was so nice, I dragged my sleeping bag out and slept on a rock, a blanket of stars to keep me company.

I woke up to the birds and sun and to Sarah and Karen greeting me a good morning.

That's me in the background.
My digs for the night
After breakfast and packing things up it was time to hit the trail for the hike out. But not before more pictures.

Strike a pose!

Altogether now!
Ready to go!
The hike back was grueling here and there. I usually hike the return in a bit of a nature-bliss daze and hardly notice the trek but this wasn't a cake walk.

Angie, Jen, Me, Karen, Laura, Cheryl, Erin
Of course we made it and happiness to be done carrying our packs meant smiles all around. We took a dip in Silver Lake before our drive back home. Er, before the drive to Mel's for burgers and sides and then the drive back home.

Well, that's it! There's already talk of where to go next year and I already can't wait. I have to close with a huge THANK YOU to Karen for being the ringleader of this whole thing. Karen, you add a richness to all of our lives, you are so appreciated.