Tag Archives: running

Thirteen Weeks Way-In

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If you’ve ever seen Mame, then you’re familiar with the joke about Upson Downs.  I think I’m going to rename my life Upson Downs.

I’m still at a weight loss plateau.  I think I’m going on, oh, up to three weeks of a plateau.     I suppose I need to be a bit more vigilant about what I eat, and how, to make sure I haven’t become complacent with that aspect of my lifestyle.  Plus, I have several after-work events coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I should make an extra effort to eat healthy when I can to prepare for those events where it’s not so easy.  (Breaded chicken cutlets and pasta seem to be very popular at these kind of events.)

I should also mix up my exercise.  Case in point:  I didn’t do any yoga last week.  Zip.  Zilch.  I miss it.  I need to do it.

Speaking of mixing up workouts, Sundays have become my de facto day to shake it up.  Yesterday, I ran the trails instead of the treadmill.  I purposefully did interval training.  I have no idea how many miles I ran, but I was on the trails for an hour.  At one point, I really ran.  I mean knees-pumping-feet-pounding-the-ground-sprinting-flying ran.  It only lasted a minute (if that), but it felt great.  As for the treadmill, I averaged about 11:52 per mile.  On Wednesday, I ran 2 miles in 22:57 (or about 11:29 per mile).  Now that I know I can run on the treadmill for a mile or two, I feel like I should mix it up and spend some time doing interval training on the treadmill.  Maybe that will break my plateau.

How was your week?  What are your goals for this week?

Twelve Weeks Way-In

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I’m twelve weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  The past week feels like a big fail.  I took not one, not two, but three days off from exercising.  Three.  No yoga, no running, no nothing for three days.  On Tuesday, I took the day off because I didn’t feel well.  Okay, I can give myself a pass for that.  On Friday, I skipped morning yoga, then went out after work and didn’t get home until late at night, so I didn’t do anything.  Okay, I could maybe–maybe–give myself a pass for that.  But Saturday?  I slept late, puttered about for a few hours, then hubby and I went out for the rest of the day and got home late.  I could’ve done something in the morning.  I could’ve, at least, done some yoga.  But no, I was a total lazy slob.

The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight, despite my laziness.  Also, when I did get on the treadmill, my pace improved to an average of 11:54 per mile.  And, my mood has been relatively stable.

The bad news is I haven’t lost any weight in two weeks and I’ve hit a plateau.  Weight loss is not my primary goal but, I’ll admit, it’s a goal and a measure of my health.  And, of course, I was lazy.  Remember when I ran 2 miles on the treadmill?  Yep, hasn’t happened again.  Today I made it about 1.85 miles, but I walked it after 1.5.

So, what now?  Time to refocus!  I figure I’ve been at this for almost 3 months now.  I’m in a new season and a new quarter, so why not set some goals for the next quarter?  Here goes:

1.  Try a new activity or sport, and do it at least twice.

2.  Run 2 miles at a time, at least once per week.

3.  Lose 10 pounds.

What are your goals for the next 3 months?

Shake Your Booty Off

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Music can change my mood in a second.  It can make me weepy or it can make me energized.  I’ve tried running both without and with my iPod (RIP, Steve Jobs), and I’ve found that the right kind of music really gets me revving on my runs.  (I also discovered that my running pace apparently has the same beats per minute as Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose”!)  Here are some of my favorite workout tunes:

Body Movin’ – Beastie Boys
Sure Shot – Beastie Boys
Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine – James Brown
Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Ya Mama – Fatboy Slim
We Got The Beat – The Go-Go’s
Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
Maniac (Flashdance) – Michael Sembello
She Works Hard for the Money – Donna Summer
Stronger – Kanye West

What are your favorite workout songs?

Eleven Weeks Way-In

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I’m eleven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  Last week, I challenged myself to tackle the elliptical machine and recumbent bike at the gym, and to do a couple of days of restorative yoga.  I only met half of my challenges.  I tried the elliptical for three minutes.  I just don’t get it.  I didn’t feel comfortable on it, and I’m not even sure I was doing it right.  The ellipticals are really popular at my gym–there’s usually more people on the ellipticals than the treadmills.  Why?  I enjoy the treadmill a lot more.  As for my other goals, I totally skipped the bike.  My left knee is not 100% and I’m afraid the bike would wreck it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.)  As for yoga, I only had one yoga session that I felt was restorative and focused.  Maybe I should start doing more yoga at night, as opposed to before work, so that I can totally relax in it without watching the clock.

As for my other activities for the week, I averaged about 12:20 per mile on the treadmill.  On Sunday, I decided I needed a break from the treadmill and ran around the hilly neighborhood instead.  (Everything in moderation, right?)  I followed it up with yard work.  (Now that’s definitely something I do in moderation!)

I’ve lost about 17-18 pounds overall, and I think it’s starting to show.  There are certain parts of my body that look a bit more toned, although there are other parts that still look just as soft and flabby as ever.  It’s a process, though, so it takes time.  However, I had to go shopping–had to, I swear!–because my black suit was literally falling off me!  I tried on a bunch of size 12 suits and dresses, and was amazed at how well they fit.  Shopping is definitely a more pleasant experience these days.

It seems, however, that my weekends are not as pleasant in the sense that I’m not as good with exercise and diet on the weekends as I am during the week.  On week days, I have a very structured schedule with meals and snacks at certain times of day, lots and lots of water (at least 64 ounces per day), occasionally yoga in the mornings, and the gym in the evenings on at least 4 week days.  But on the weekends?  Forget it.  My “meals” turn into sloppy foraging in the fridge at random times of day, and I don’t drink nearly as much water as I do during the week.  It leads to unhealthy choices.  For example, on Saturday I sorta forgot to eat lunch, so I was ravenous by the time Hubby and I were at a street fair on Saturday afternoon.  We decided to get lunch right away.  Rather than choose a restaurant offering fresh, healthy food, we dashed into a bar and ate nasty pub food.  I actually apologized to Hubby because the “food” was obviously thawed-out, microwaved crap.  I didn’t eat much of it, but I followed it up with a sugary drink from Starbucks.  On Sunday, I ate beyond feeling satisfied at lunch, then went to dinner with a friend and had a bit too much sangria.  My poor weekend food choices showed on the scale this morning.

So, my goal for this week is, again, to do more restorative yoga.  Also, I want to be more consistent with diet and exercise on the weekends, especially with my water intake.

What are your goals for the week?

What’s That You Say?

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Ten Weeks Way-In

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I can’t believe it, but I’m already 10 weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’m truly astonished and pleased that I’ve made it this far.  No matter how healthy (or unhealthy) I am right now, it’s quite an accomplishment to stick it out this long considering that my prior attempts lasted maybe 2 months.  Here’s hoping I’ve really developed long-lasting habits.

This past Tuesday, I joined a gym.  I went to the gym 4 times last week and used the treadmill and the weight machines.  (I also did yoga and other things at home.)  I definitely felt it as my muscles have been a bit tight or sore.  Nothing serious, but I wonder if it means I should work out more or less?  In any event, I really killed it on the treadmill and ran a mile in 11:47 on Friday!  Then I ran another mile!  It was a big day for me.  Not only did I run two miles, but I did it in 24:40.  Two months ago, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be able to run two miles, much less at a pace of about 12 minutes per mile.  I followed it up on Saturday by running a mile in 12:21, then I did a cool down for a quarter of a mile and called it a week on the treadmill.  (Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the type to set big fitness goals for myself everyday.  I’m more the type to keep going slow and steady, and then be really surprised when it actually works one day.)

I’m surprised that I’ve been able to maintain the home cooking aspect of my healthy diet.  Last year when I tried a healthy lifestyle, I got frustrated at meal planning and preparation, and ultimately I gave up and went back to pre-packaged junk food.  I think that’s because, last year, I was focused on counting calories, so it was very easy to quickly throw up my hands at the thought of planning meals every day with a certain amount of calories.  It was overwhelming.  Now, I’m focused on eating real, whole foods, and it’s been more of a pleasure exploring new foods and new ways to cook them.  I’m also surprised by how easy it is to prepare a lot of meals with whole ingredients.  (I’m talkin’ to you, soup.)

For this upcoming week, I’d like to tweak my workout at the gym.  I’m kinda afraid of the elliptical machine, so I’d like to tackle that and see if I can handle it for a few minutes.  I’m also kinda afraid of the bikes, just because I’m worried it’ll really mess up my knees, but I’d like to try a bike for at least a couple of minutes.  Finally, I think I need to spend a couple of days doing some restorative yoga.  I feel like I’ve haven’t really devoted much time to truly practicing yoga lately, and the little bit of yoga I’ve done lately has felt rushed.  I need restorative yoga to balance everything out.

What are your health and fitness goals for this week?

Gym Dandy

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Yesterday was my second day at the gym, and my second time on the treadmill in more than a year.  Last year, I ran maybe a 15:00 minute mile.  Maybe.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been jogging on streets, trails, and tracks, and usually I don’t keep track of how far or how fast I run.  It was just a few weeks ago that I got excited because I ran three laps around the track–and they weren’t even consecutive.

Imagine my surprise at the gym yesterday when I ran a mile in 13:40.  I know that’s not impressive to many (most?  all?) of you, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I only did 1.5 miles on the treadmill before I called it a day.

Which brings up a few questions.  How do people run, like, 5 miles without passing out or sweating to death?  Is it more important to focus on how your body is feeling, or whether you reach a certain distance or speed?  How do you ignore the darn numbers on the treadmill?  (‘Cause when I see it approaching a certain “mile”stone, my mind wants to reach it, then give up for the day.)  How do you fight treadmill tedium?

When Pigs Run

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I am not a runner.  Not exactly.  I’ve never really been able to run.  In the past, during brief spurts of fitness, I was able to stick to a routine on a treadmill.  For one brief shining moment (it lasted all of a day), I actually ran a mile on the treadmill.  And.  Never.  Did.  It.  Again.

Time has passed, the weight has returned, and my muscles have all but disappeared.  As part of my new healthy lifestyle, I decided to give jogging a try again.  This time, I don’t have a treadmill, so I’ve been huffing & puffing on streets, trails, and tracks.  Jeez louise, roads are much harder than the treadmill.  At first, I was just walking.  I added about, oh, 20 seconds of jogging to each day’s workout.  Gradually, I increased my time.  I haven’t really been keeping track of how long or how fast I jog.  I don’t even know how long the trails are at the parks.  I was just glad I could jog at all.

Thanks to the recent crappy weather and local flooding, I’ve been spending more time at the track and I can’t help but keep track (sorry, pun intended) of my mileage.  Four laps around the track equals 1 mile.  Two weeks ago, I couldn’t even jog halfway around the track.  Once.  Halfway.  That’s 1/8 of a mile.  For some people, that’s the length of their driveway.  I felt discouraged, thinking I would never be able to get my fat a** all the way around the track and never be able to run a mile.  When pigs fly, I thought–or run.

And run they did.  On Wednesday, I ran a whole lap around the track.  I know that’s not a whole lot, but it was a lot to me!  For the first time, I felt like I could actually do it, and I didn’t feel like death warmed over.  I wasn’t able to repeat my performance on Wednesday, but I was happy I did it at all.  I didn’t get my hopes up that I’d be able to repeat it.

But I did!  This evening, I jogged three laps around the track!  Okay, okay, so they weren’t in a row, but it’s a start!  Here’s what I did:

     Lap 1:  brisk walk
     Lap 2:  jog
     Lap 3:  brisk walk
     Lap 4:  jog
     Lap 5:  brisk walk
     Lap 6:  jog
     Lap 7:  cool-down stroll

That last jogged lap was a challenge.  As I rounded the final curve, I was pumping my fists–as if boxing the air would make my legs keep going.  I guess it worked, because I did it!  It didn’t even bother me that a man twice my age passed me–more than once.

I’m hoping that in my next “run,” I’ll be able to jog four laps for a whole mile.  Okay, so it won’t be all in a row, but it still counts, right?

Ready, Set, Read!

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Running seems like such a simple thing to do.  Put one foot in front of the other and take off, right?  We did it all the time as kids, right?  Yeah, except for some of us, that was twenty years and (*cough, cough*) pounds ago.  Running as an adult isn’t quite the same, and you really need to prepare before you try to make your Jackie Joyner-Kersee dreams a reality.

I recommend reading a good, basic guide to running, like Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running by Dagny Scott (formerly Dagny Scott Barrios).  Scott is a former editor of “Women’s Sports + Fitness” magazine, as well as a former freelance writer for “Self” and “Runner’s World.”  Scott covers all the basics in the book.  She says all you really need to run is a good pair of running shoes and, for the ladies, a really good sports bra.  I was disappointed that Scott didn’t go into more detail about shoes and other equipment.  As a newbie, I wanted to know what all the fancy cushioning, details, and rigamarole on running shoes is for and whether I really need it.  However, Scott did answer some basic questions that every newbie needs answered, like how you’re supposed to breathe.  (You CAN breathe through your mouth while running–it’s even advised!)

Scott really emphasizes setting goals for yourself and keeping a training log.  She recommends that you have short- and long-term goals, but remember that you’re only human.  Learning to run, and being able to run, takes time.  She offers some example training schedules for everyone from newbies to runners training for marathons.

There’s also discussion about how runners should eat, including important nutrients for your new life as speed racer.  This is followed by a chapter on weight loss which really just reiterates the basic rules we all know, i.e., watch your calorie intake and make wise food choices.  I appreciated the clear and concise chapter on injuries and other ailments that tend to effect runners, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.  Scott devotes several pages (with graphics) of stretching and strength-training exercises for runners.  (Surprise–a lot of ‘em are yoga poses!)

Overall, I thought this was a good book for beginners.  It’s very simple and to the point, and it answers the basic questions.  I’m guessing more experienced runners wouldn’t find much in this book they could use, but us newbies can take a deep breath (through the mouth!) and relax, ‘cause Dagny Scott has us covered.