Archive for February, 2009

Time Off and Running Progress

The most amazing thing happened this morning when I went back to the gym. I say back to the gym because I’d been away from the gym for a full five days. I, of course, had all kinds of excuses for not getting to the gym for five days but I won’t bore you with that here.

What counts is what happened when I finally got back there this morning. I forced myself out of bed at 5:30 AM  because I knew if I didn’t get back to the gym today, I’d maybe never go back. And I have a race in less than 2 months.

So I went. It was windy and really cold this morning. But I went. I really wanted to be in bed. But I went. I got on the treadmill thinking this workout was just going to bite, but here I was.

So I started my walking warmup, thinking for the whole four minutes I was so not going to be able to do any effective running (really still at the jogging stage) this morning. But at the 4-minute mark, I kicked up the treadmill to 5.0 miles an hour (slow I know) and started jogging. I figured if I was lucky, I’d make three minutes the way I was feeling. But then something strange happened. 3 minutes….still feeling strong, 4 minutes…not short of breath, 6 minutes…wow, legs are not rubbery yet, 7 minutes….hey, this is the longest I’ve ever run and I’m still running and finally 8 minutes, ok, time to walk!

But 8 minutes? That’s the longest interval I’ve run. After that, I walked 3 minutes, and then ran 5, walked 2, ran 4, walked two, ran a couple of 3 minute intervals and alternated comfortably for a full 45 minutes and 3.5 miles. And on the shorter intervals, I even kicked up the speed to 5.2 and 5.5 miles per hour. Still slow for all the real runners out there, but huge progress for me.

When you consider that when I started, running a full minute at even a pace of 4.8 miles an hour almost killed me, I’ve come a long way since the end of November. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I feel like I actually may get there. I think I’ll be ready for this race in April. I only have to run two miles (after swimming 400 meters and biking six miles), but I’ll be able to do it. And if I can’t run the whole two miles, I’ll be able to run most of it.

So what started out as a “I so don’t want to be here doing this” running session this morning turned out to be one of the best I’ve had.

I’m biking tomorrow, running again on Wednesday. I won’t be staying away from the gym for a full five days again, and I hope my running progress will be accelerated from here on out. I’m going to keep pushing.

It’s really not easy to get out of bed and get to the gym but when I’m done and all sweaty and I can measure the progress I’m making, it’s so worth it.

My Weight Is Not “Lost”

I gained this week. And rightfully so. Valentine’s weekend, which was also my daughter’s birthday, was a diet disaster. Chocolate, out to dinner, homemade birthday dinner and birthday cake… I was up two pounds at Weight Watchers on Thursday, but that was down from where I was on the Monday following that weekend.

But that was ok. I take full responsibility. I ate too much and I “gained” weight.

It got me thinking though. I get to take responsibility when I “gain” weight. Why do we say we “lost” weight when we are getting rid of it?

I mean, I’ve lost my keys, you lose a tennis match, I’ve lost my mind, I lost my dog, I lost all my money in the crashing stock market….

If you think about it, when we “lose” things, it’s rarely intentional. An these are all things we’d like to get back, in fact, we’d work hard to get them back.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve “lost” 43 pounds. And I have no intention of finding them again. In fact, I still have more to get rid of. And my weight loss isn’t unintentional. I didn’t wake up yesterday morning to find my clothes too big. “Hey, where did those 43 pounds go? I could have sworn they were right here on me when I went to sleep last night.”

Nope. Instead, I’ve worked really, really hard to get rid of the extra weight. I’m careful about what I eat now (except this past weekend) and I get out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to go work out. This is not unintentional.

So I think we need to change the way we look at what we are doing when we “lose” weight. We need a new verb that gives us ownership of the process and all the hard work we have put into this effort.

How about shed, got rid of, obliterated, eradicated, tossed to the the curb? Anything that puts us in charge of the process. I think after working this hard, I should get to have ownership of what I am doing and make sure those around me know I’m doing this on purpose to be healthier.

This past week I gained 2 pounds (ownership). I didn’t find it. I know what I did to get it back.

Next week, I’m going to eradicate that two pounds and hopefully toss a couple of its friends to the curb along with it. There. Now it’s an action I’m intentionally taking. And that’s empowering.

Paying Attention To Triathlon Training Progress

Yesterday was a beautiful day by me, 55 degrees, sunny, a little breezy. It was the first decently warm weather we’ve had in what seems like forever. Because it’s winter, I’ve been training for my triathlon indoors…indoor pool, treadmill and stationary bike. I know training on the equipment is different than actually running on pavement, riding a bike, etc., but I feel like I’ve been building up and I thought I was ready to take at least the running portion outside, especially since it was such a beautiful day.

I went to the gym on Saturday and had a strong 3-mile walk/run and a good 6-mile bike. It was morning (I now realize I’m going to have to get up early through the workweek and get my training in early. It’s just easier). I managed a 5-1/2 minute interval, and longer than 3-minute intervals the rest of the time and for the first time, I ran more than I walked.

So Sunday, early afternoon, I decided to try running in this little park by my house. It’s pretty and they have a .35 mile pavement path. Since I’d run that mileage the day before, I figured I could get around that path at least once at a jogging/running pace. I got excited about it, I visualized it, I never realized how much different it would be to run on pavement. Yikes. I could come up with a million excuses, but I won’t. It  just wasn’t happening for me on Sunday. I still ran/walked 1.5 miles but then I was frustrated so I went home (and then shopping!).

I was talking to a co-worker this morning about my frustration and my now-panic (because race day is only nine weeks away). How am I ever going to run 2 miles after swimming and biking, when I can’t even run it by itself?

And then he asked me a very insightful question that put things in perspective. He asked me where I was nine weeks ago. I had just joined the gym, I wasn’t running at all and I could swim 8 laps. That was it. I’ve come a long way.

I can now swim the full length at a good pace, I can bike the six miles, and I’ve made more progress than I’m giving myself credit for with the run. He reminded me that I’m stronger now than I was nine weeks ago too, so the training should get easier. I hadn’t thought about that. I have a tendency not to look back.

I’m taking today off from running. I’ll swim today. And tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m going to be on that treadmill, working on inching that running time up one day at a time. Come race day, if I have to walk some of it, that will be ok. I’ll still be able to finish the race, which is something I could never have done 9 weeks ago.

“Lose 7 Pounds a Week Eating This Miracle Fruit!”

Enough already! That is the cover headline of a recent Woman’s World magazine. And sorry to call out Woman’s World because so many of the magazines do this. I love this magazine because it’s a super quick, easy skim through and sometimes there is really valuable information, even for weight loss.

But every issue, there is some diet on the cover that’s going to help you lose extraordinary amounts of weight with little or no effort. In this case, the miracle fruit is bananas. I suppose if you eat a banana for breakfast and then nothing else for the rest of the day, you could drop 7 pounds each week, but you won’t feel too great and I doubt that’s a plan you can stick with. Usually, when you get inside the magazine, there’s a perfectly reasonable eating and sometimes exercise plan, along with supplements that are good for you. But 7 pounds a week? C’mon.

I’ve been on Weight Watchers for six months. I’ve lost 41 pounds, an average of 6 pounds a MONTH. I eat healthy and I exercise… a lot. For 6 pounds a MONTH. But this is a plan that is doable for me.  I still eat dessert and pizza. I go out for breakfast or dinner with family and friends. I really enjoy the holidays.

Sure, I’ve made adjustments to what I eat, but they are adjustments I can live with, and I don’t feel deprived. I eat more fruits and veggies and lean protein and fiber. But I also eat chocolate when I really want it.

I’m losing steadily, and I feel I can stick to this as a lifetime plan, which is what it needs to be. It doesn’t help to lose 7 pounds a week if you can only stick to the plan for a week. Not when you have 80 (now 39)  pounds to lose.

I remember in earlier diet attempts, thinking I could lose 20 pounds a month (probably related to claims in magazines that you can lose that fast). Now I realize even that’s insanely unrealistic and unhealthy. When I started WW this time around, I wanted to lose weight, but more than that, I wanted to get healthy. So I didn’t put unattainable goals in place. And that’s helped me  stick to this program this time.

So buy all the magazines, diet plans, weight loss supplements and exercise equipment you want. Anything you do to become healthier is a good thing. But be realistic. Unless you are on The Biggest Loser (and they don’t always have consistent losses either), you’re not going to lose 7 pounds a week. Plan for 1 to 2 pounds a week and you’ll be satisfied with what you’re eating and with your results, even elated when the scale sometimes shows that occasional 3-pound loss!

PS. Losing slowly also keeps saggy skin at bay. Why get fit only to have all that loose skin hanging around the middle!

Juicy Juice

v8fusionI struggle to get my veggies and fruits in most days. I get close, but sometimes five is tricky. I’ve always been a fan of V8 Splash and Fusion juices but they are on the high side calorie and sugar-wise.

Recently though, I discovered V8 Fusion Light Strawberry Banana–50 calories and 10 grams of sugar in an 8-oz serving and only 1 point on Weight Watchers. Plus, it’s a full serving of fruit and a full serving of veggies.

And it’s yummy to boot. I think I can snake a point from somewhere else in my day to drink up and get those fruits and veggies in. Even though I just lost another point.

At weigh-in this morning, I was down 1.8 for a total of 41 pounds, which puts me into the next lower point range. Thank goodness for exercise, which gives me some activity points back.

A non-runner takes up running

I’m starting to think I’m never going to get this running thing down. I was doing pretty well last week (I even ran a 5-minute interval and a 4-minute interval in the same workout). But this week, yikes! I was barely making 3-minute intervals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve come a long way from where I began, having never ever been a runner in my 49 years here on earth.  Not even a little bit. But am I going to be able to run 2 miles by April when I have my race? I’m starting to wonder a little. I can walk if I have to, but I don’t want to. I WANT to run.

Today, I was at the doctor, and I was telling him about what I’m doing (you know the whole get a physician’s advice thing), and turns out my doctor was a long distance runner. Figures. He was telling me how once you get past 6 miles the rest of the run is easy. Yeah, ok. I can’t even get to six minutes. I’m thinking if I tried to run six miles, you’d be peeling me off the pavement way before I hit the finish line.

But I’m running more than I was a couple of weeks ago, so maybe there’s hope and I’ll get there. I did after all run a 5-minute interval once. That means that I have to be able to do it again. I need Bob from the Biggest Loser standing behind me telling me to keep going even when I feel like I can’t.

I have found that weekend running is easier because I can get to the gym in the morning before the stress of the day has worn me down. Maybe that’s the ticket. Run in the morning. I’m glad my race will be in the morning!

And any running training advice would surely be appreciated. 🙂