Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weary Wednesday

This weeks been crazy so far, but I'm proud to say that I've been making good choices! I've committed to eating healthier, and while I didn't follow every rule from my list, I did try. One of the commenters, Lucy from Run Chunky Run, said that I should focus on one rule at a time, and hopefully it will snowball into a healthy eating lifestyle. I tried following them all, but used her advice and picked one to really focus on this week. I chose drinking enough water, because I've been really dehydrated lately and I noticed that I'm less hungry when I drink enough. I'm proud to say that I've been drinking water like crazy and it has helped with my eating as well. In addition, I followed Janae's (from the Hunger Runner Girl) advice and tracked my food on and it's helped me pay more attention to what I eat as well. 

In addition to the changes in my eating, I've also been working out more. I decided my new workout plan would be to run 3 days a week (tues, thurs, and sat) as usual and also do 30 day shred 5 days a week (mon-fri). I've never done strength training before. EVER. The 30 day shred DVD is a workout dvd by Jillian Michaels that mixes cardio, strength, and abs for a grueling 30 minute workout sure to leave you crying for your momma. I've only done it for a couple of days and I'm sore everywhere, but in a wonderful can't beat a killer workout kind of way. I'll do a full review after I make it through a few weeks of the video (if I can make it!) but trust me, she kicks your booty. 

We know Jillian, we know. 

Anyways, through the adventures of kicking my rear end into shape I've had a couple of embarrassing stories to share the last few days. I'm a klutz and prone to putting myself in really awkward situations on top of that, so I have these kind of moments on pretty much a daily basis. My boyfriend claims it's one of the main reasons he loves me so much, because I'm kind of a mess, but in a way you "have to love". (Thanks  bf!)  I realized that I've never shared some of these only-i-could-do-that moments with you guys and thought I'd give you a couple from the last few days: 
  • It's been humid and ridiculously hot, so last night my asthma was in bad shape at the gym. I felt okay, but my wheezing was a little more out of control than I thought. Not one, but THREE employees at the gym I run at came up to me (separately) to ask me if I was ok. Apparently I sound like I'm dying when it's humid out. Our conversations were like this: Them: "Um, ma'am are you ok??" Me: "Yup." Them: "Are you sure?! You sound kinda..." Me: "Yea, I do that sometimes. Asthma + weather= no fun" Them: "Well maybe you should take the rest of the day off" Me: "I'm ok" and then I put my headphones in while they walk away looking terrified that they're about to get sued for watching me die in their gym. Way to kill my groove Gold's Gym. 
  • This morning I went to work to teach swim lessons with super sore/stiff quads and was doing the post-lunges waddle. My five-year-old student asked if I had hip problems because I "walk like [his] Nana". Awesome. 
So next time you feel like a weakling at the gym or doing some strength training, just remember that there is someone out there being made fun of by a five year old and smile. :P
I'm off for another fun-filled session of torture with Jill! 
QOTD: Are you prone to embarrassing moments like me? If not, tell me your secrets!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Rocky Relationship with Food

This weekend I moved out of my apartment. After lugging boxes up and down a flight of stairs, scrubbing the surfaces clean, and cramming my possessions into my tiny mustang in 110 degree heat, my first thought was "Hey I should make some cake pops to celebrate and blow off some steam". That's right, my first thought was copious amounts of sugar and carbs. So, of course, without further thought I made some and inhaled them. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to binge-eating. The stress of moving 3 times in less than a month and everything else I've had going on, immediately had me stuffing my face with these beauties:

white chocolate covered cake pops inside a waffle cone drizzled with dark chocolate with a peanut m&m and sprinkles on top
Was it yummy and delicious? Yes. Did it make me feel sick to my stomach, for many reasons? Definitely.

Later, as I was recovering from my sugar hangover, I really started to think about my relationship with food. I've always known I was an unhealthy eater; mac n cheese, frosting, and greasy pizza are some of my favorite friends. But I never took the time to really think about why I eat what I eat, why I overeat those things, and what it all means.

I'm a terrible fad dieter. I have typical cycles of dieting that go like this: first I get really excited about a new diet. THIS is going to be the time I'm really going to do it. I'm going to get my weight under control. I'm going to be perfect. No cheating EVER. I buy all the stuff I need for my diet and I'm ready to go! Next I actually start and I do great....for a week. Life is great, I feel better, my weight is coming off, then life happens. Something stresses me out, I have a major exam, I get sick, I have an asthma attack, it's someones birthday and they are serving my favorite cupcakes, ...whatever. And I cheat. I then convince myself "Well, I cheated all ready, I might as well really enjoy myself! One day of cheating won't kill me." And we all know that one day leads to every day, and soon I'm off the diet completely, feeling guilty about it and shoveling more food into me to consol my guilty conscience.
When I'm not "dieting" I eat for the wrong reasons. I eat because I'm bored. I eat because I'm sad. I eat because I'm stressed. I eat because I'm happy. I eat without thinking. I do a LOT of mindless eating.

It's finally starting to sink in that dieting has not and will not work for me. EVER. I need to break the cycle of binge-eating, mindless eating, and guilt-driven dieting. It's just not working for me. I need to change my lifestyle permanently, not just until the extra pounds are off.  Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a diet.

I really need to start focusing on what I'm eating and why I'm eating it before I put food into my mouth. Food is fuel, and should be enjoyable, but not just in the "right now". Unhealthy food tastes great, but makes me feel sick after and adds extra pounds that affect me in so many ways. Healthier options can taste great too, and leave me feeling better and weighing less. So why wouldn't I choose to eat healthy?! Waaaaaaay easier said than done, but I came up with a few "food rules" to hopefully help me think about things before I eat and make better choices for life.

  1. Drink plenty of water - I never drink enough water. My new goal is to carry my water bottle with me everywhere so that I can stay hydrated. My goal is at least 80 ounces a day. 
  2. Eat at the table without TV, laptop, or cell phone - I am a big time grazer. I do a lot of mindless eating while I'm on my laptop or doing homework. Sitting down to eat without distractions will force me to think about what I'm eating and realize when I'm full. 
  3. Portion things out ahead- I don't pay much attention to portions, which obviously causes problems. If I eat out of a giant bag of potato chips, I'll eat the whole thing. But, if I measure out a portion of chips, generally I won't bother to get more. 
  4. Drink a full glass of water before each meal - This will not only help me stay hydrated, but will also help me to make sure I'm actually hungry. It takes a while to drink a glass of water, and I may decide in that time I'm really not hungry but feeling ________. 
  5. More organic and real - I am the queen of processed and plastic foods. I want to consciously make an effort to eat more organic foods. They usually taste as good or better anyways!
  6. More protein, less carbs - I eat huge quantities of carbs all day long and rarely get enough protein. I'm going to try to focus on getting protein every meal. 
  7. Allow small "cheats" but make them treats - I build "cheating" up to be this huge thing to feel guilty over which leads to more cheating. If I do "cheat" and make a poor food choice, I need to be ok with it and move on. I also need to consider it a special treat and eat a small portion, rather than binge on that "cheat" food. I want to focus on eating healthy while still allowing myself to occasionally treat myself with the things I love in MODERATION. 
  8. Eat slowly - I inhale food. I need to stop and enjoy what I'm eating so that I feel more satisfied after a meal or snack. 
I'm really hoping that by incorporating these things into my life, I will adapt to a healthier relationship with food. It's clear that right now, our relationship status is definitely rocky. 

QOTD: How is your relationship with food? Do you have any extra rules to add to my list?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I got my Virtual 5k medal in the mail from Kayla from her Beat the Heat 5k - It's super cute! I loved doing this race and the medal rocks. It's making me want to host another one of my own!

The medal and a cute thank you note
2. I finally dragged my booty to the gym - I've been slacking on my running, and swimming at work instead, but a run was way overdue. Since it's still about 100 degrees at night around here, that means time on the treadmill. I ran a 5k in 34 minutes (which is slow, but crazy fast for me!) and it felt wonderful to get back to running. Also, my gym got new treadmills that look a lot like spaceships to me.
my new spaceship
3. Moving sucks - I've moved way too many times growing up, but luckily I always managed to get out of most of the packing (because I was too young). Now, I'm not only moving out of my apartment and into a new one, I'm helping my fam move out of our house. This means I'm losing my bedroom at home (it was time anyways) and having to decide what I want to keep out of all the junk I've collected over the years. I'm not that sentimental of a person when it comes to my things, so I was surprised how hard it would be to give away some of my stuff. I'm 22, I'll never play with my barbies again, but man it feels like blasphemy to throw her in the trash! haha

Questions of the day: Have you ever had a big move? What was/would be the hardest part for you? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just Keep Swimming...

Every time I swim long distances that little song from Finding Nemo gets stuck in my head. You too? Anyways, I thought I'd share some more swim tips today to keep your summer workouts fun and effective. Like I said before, swim drills are great to improve your form and speed, as well as work your muscles harder and therefore, get a better workout. Here are some of my personal favs:

A pull buoy

  • Kick sets: This one is really basic, but a proper kick is crucial to swimming. A kick set is just a set where you only kick. You can either do this without a board and only use your arms to take a breath, or by using a kickboard. If you use a kickboard hold it out farther in front of you so that you can maintain a horizontal position, not right under your chest causing you to change your body positioning in the water (which defeats the purpose of a kick set). A good kick comes from the hips and has your legs fairly straight in the water. I see a lot of new swimmers kicking by bending at the knees, but this will slow you down DRASTICALLY. Remember to keep your kick fast and small, rather than slow and wide (ie opening your legs wide) for the best results. My last tip for a good kick is to make sure you point your toes. 
  • Pull sets: The opposite of a kick set, is a pull set. In a pull set, you use only your arms and focus on technique and breathing, while strengthening your upper body. To do a pull set, you can either use a pull buoy or just let your feet drag. A pull buoy is a big help if your pool has them. If you use them, make sure to position it inside your upper thighs. 
  • Finger tip drag: This is one of the best drills because it really works your arms and shoulders and conditions you to use better form. This one is kind of hard to explain, but I'll do my best. Basically, you swim normally with a few changes. As you reach your arm to pull, drag your fingertips across the top of the water. This promotes high elbows during the recovery part of your pull, which is really important. Here's a quick video:
  • Catch Up: The catch up drill helps you to focus on using a long pull and correct body position and rotation. To do this drill swim with a normal kick, but change up the arms again. This time extend both arms in front of you and swim with one arm at a time. Pull with your left arm, keep your right arm extended in front of you. Recover with your left arm until both hands are extended again in front of you, then switch sides. Here's another video:

  • Breath Control Sets: Breath control is very important in swimming, so there are a few sets you can do to work on it. Ideally when you are swimming you want to take breaths on odd number of pulls, so that you alternate sides. For example if you do 3 pulls per breathe you would pull once with your right arm, once with your left, then on the third pull on your right arm you would take a breath. For a good breath control set, try doing one 25, 50, or 100 (whatever your workout calls for) of 3, 5, and 7 timing. This takes practice, but really helps with your swim. The second breath control drill that my swim coaches made us do often was to "give us" a certain number of breathes we could use for each 25 yards. We'd start with a high number (pick based on your current level- maybe 7) and lower until we only had 1 breath for an entire 25 yards. This "drill" didn't work on speed (most of us went slow) but it helps you to learn just how far you can go with limited air, and conditions your lungs.  
Hope these drills help you out!

QOTD: Do you practice drills for swimming or running? What's your favorite one? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Busy Week? No, make that life

I've been busy as usual lately, so I thought I'd catch you up on some of the things I've been doing lately. 

Saturday was my bf's mom's birthday (did you follow that?). So, to celebrate his family took her to dinner last night at a Japanese steakhouse and I got to tag along. I love his family, but the best part of their family get-togethers is seeing his niece and nephew. They are the sweetest kids ever, and "Uncle Cam" (my bf) is rockstar with kids so it's even more fun to watch them play together. Here's the boys showing off their "giant fists". 

Dinner was great and afterwards, Cam gave the kids rocket-ship rides around the parking lot. I hope they are never too old for this because it makes my day to hear them giggle and beg for another trip around!

My superhero

After goofing off with the kids for a while, we went home and had a little bit of time to relax together. Then, this morning I woke up, and drove to Stillwater on a mission: to get my apartment for next semester. I had a lot of drama looking, but finally found a great place. I'm so happy to have that taken care of now! I tried taking pics but the humidity was killing my camera phone, so this is the only decent one I got. 
My new kitchen
So now all I have to do is: move out of my old furnished apartment, buy furniture, move into my new apt, get ready for school, help my parents move out of their house (long story- but they're moving too), downsize all my stuff because I won't have an extra closet and bedroom for my old junk at my parents' anymore, finish out my summer job, and squeeze in my half marathon training plan that is supposed to start this week.

Oh, and all before the end of the month. I can do that right????

Tonight, I'm hoping to get in a run to ease some of my stress! I promise I remember this is supposed to be a blog about running and being active :/

QOTD: What do you to help you relax when you're stressed?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swim Tips

Recently I considered signing up for my first aquathlon (a triathlon minus the bike portion), but some bad news  got in the way:
Thanks a lot E.Coli
But it did get me adding in some swim workouts again and researching stuff on tris and aquathlons. I looked through the blog world and was very surprised to see that most triathletes are most uncomfortable with the swim portion. Some of the blogs I read daily, with runners that could lap me twice in a 5k, struggle with the basics (like flip turns) when it comes to swimming. I've been a swimmer my entire life, and on swim team since I was about 6. I also teach swim lessons from pre-k kids to kids wanting to join a swim team to adults. So I thought I'd share some quick tips about swimming for those out there thinking about adding swim workouts or trying out tris. Champ wanted to help too.
I'm going to try to do a few posts on swimming tips, and hopefully you can amp up your swimming with them. Swimming is a great workout for your entire body, and is low-impact, so it can be used if you are recovering from an injury. I'm going to focus mostly on freestyle, since it's the stroke of choice for tris. So to start, here are some beginner swimming tips to get you started in the water:

What to wear and how to wear it:
  • Goggles- goggles are important for obvious reasons, but I see so many people wearing the wrong type and size. This is why I highly recommend going to a swim store or sports store that will allow you to try on a few pairs before you buy. A proper fitting pair of goggles should make a seal around your eyes and stay on for a few seconds without the strap behind your head. So just press the lenses on your eyes and put your head down. If they stay on for a few seconds, they are a good pair. A lot of girls have a hard time finding goggles that fit well, myself included, if they have smaller heads, so consider kids goggles as well. Some good brands to consider are: Sporti, TYR, and Speedo. 
My goggles- Speedo Women's Vanquisher

  • Swim Cap- If you like your hair, I'd highly recommend a swim cap. Not only will it protect your hair, it will also keep your hair out of your way and your goggles in place, and speed you up a little. Use the silicone type, not the latex ones, because they are much more comfortable, cause less damage to your hair, and are easier to get on. Another tip I picked up in my swim lesson days is to put on leave in conditioner before you put on your cap to better protect your hair. 
  • A swimsuit - the most important part. Please don't wear a bikini unless it's made for swimming! If you're swimming right at all, it will come off I promise. Most good swimsuits come in number sizes from 28-40 ish. A good rule of thumb is that your size will be your bra size for practice and one down for competition. Competition suits are supposed to be super skin tight, but if you're just swimming for your health go for comfort! I know it sounds crazy, but a lot of girls wear sports bras underneath their suits for added support and comfort (plus you don't have to worry about the entire pool noticing how cold you are). I hated this idea at first, but now wear one with my suits every day. Make sure you get a dry-fit one rather than cotton. Some good brands are TYR, Speedo, and Nike although Nike tends to fit differently so try them on. Speedo provides the most coverage, TYR seems to require a sports bra because it cuts far in on the arm pit area, but if you wear one it's no big.
My current suit - a TYR model

Okay so now you've got the basics for swimming gear, let's talk about some beginner tips for in the water:
  • Cup your hands - in my classes we call them "ice cream scoops". Keep your fingers together with hands cupped like you would if you wanted to scoop up water. You'd be surprised how much of a difference just adding this will make. 
  • Keep your knees straight - If your doing freestyle kick, you're knees should remain almost completely straight. If you struggle a lot in the water, chances are you are kicking your legs like you pedal a bike rather than like scissors opening and closing. 
  • Kick fast and small - Another major problem I see in beginners is that they tend to kick they're legs really wide open and slowly. The faster and smaller you kick, the faster you will go. 
  • Rotate your head, don't lift it - When you breathe, rotate your head to the side, don't life it forward and up. This will help you tremendously. 
  • Use drills - Drills are a great way to improve your stroke and make you stronger. They are vital to effective swimming. I'll do a post later with some great drills to use. 
  • Use a pool with lap lanes or a lake - Trying to swim laps in a crowded public pool will frustrate you FAST. Not to mention, having to dodge people constantly will not allow you to have proper form. If you can find a place with dedicated lanes or lap swim time, do it. 
  • Use manners - Often times you will have to swim with another person in your lane. Swim etiquette says that you always swim to the right of the black line in the lane. Also stay a good distance behind the swimmer in front of you so that you aren't drafting off their wake or hitting their feet. 
  • Consider lessons - if you're new to swimming and really considering a triathlon or incorporating swimming more into your workouts, lessons can really help you pick up tricks and improve your form. Lessons aren't just for learning how to swim, but also for those that swim and want to improve their swimming or learn techniques and drills. Some swim instructors will even write out swim workouts for you. 
Hope these tips helped and they weren't too beginner. I'll be adding more advanced tips and drills in future posts to come! 

As Dory would say, Just keep swimming!

QOTD: If you were to do a triathlon (or have), what would be your weakest leg? Swim, Run, or Bike? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Goals and "Big Kid" Planning

It's getting close to the end of my summer, and I'm realizing this is my LAST SUMMER EVER as a "kid". If all goes as planned (it better!) I'm graduating in December of this year. After that, I'll be moving from summer vacations at home lifeguarding, all night study sessions at the library, exams and lectures, and all the other things that make up college life to getting a "big kid" job and supporting myself for the first time ever. I'm terrified, for obvious reasons, but also very excited to move forward. 

Anyways, lately thinking about my future career and life plans, has got me thinking about my future health and fitness goals and plans. I've dedicated a much larger part of my life to being healthy since November (when I began running), and it has completely transformed my life for the better. I really want to transition that to my working life, and expand it's role in my life even more. I'm a strong believer in setting goals, so here are some of my health and fitness goals for the future:
  • Overcome my unhealthy eating habits- I'm probably the most unhealthy eater ever, and I'll admit it. Cheese, carbs, and sugar make up 99.9% of my diet and I eat in mass quantities. About once every month or so I try to diet. I do great, choose healthier foods, and eat smaller portions... for about a week. Then life gets in the way; I have an asthma attack or a major exam stresses me out or it's 104 degrees at work. Whatever the event, something small gets in the way and I make excuses to cheat a little and then cheat some more until I'm not longer dieting again. I know I'll never be the type of girl that eats tofu and carrots everyday and is totally satisfied, but healthier choices and portions are a must. 
  • Run religiously - When training for races I do my 3 runs every week without fail, but when I don't have something exciting on the calendar, I tend to put it off. I'd like to get to the point where I work out no matter what, and don't drag my feet so much getting to the gym. 
  • Run in fun places - I treadmill run too much! I need to get past my excuses and get out there and run new trails and routes so that I keep motivation up and have more fun, not to mention challenge my body more. 
  • Be more adventurous - I like doing fun adventurous and ACTIVE stuff! So I need to quit letting being busy and living in a boring state (sorry Oklahoma but you know it's true) get in the way of that. 

  • Complete at least 12 races a year - I'm well on my way (10 so far this year) but I don't want that number to shrink once I'm in a full time job and back to school. 

  • Meet more runners - I'm terrible at meeting people and getting out there. I love meeting new people and hearing about their journeys, but when it comes to group runs etc. I've always shied away because of my slow speeds. That's gotta quit! 
  • Add in strength training - I don't do any, and I should. Enough said. 
  • Move every day - I've stuck to 3 days a week of running for almost 8 months except with a short (failed) attempt at a 40 day challenge for about a week.  I still believe that rest days from running is important, but I should do other things like walk more, swim, bike, play with my dog, use wii fit, or anything to just get in some more cardio every day. 

  • Get educated - My running store has running seminars about all kinds of things like natural running (pose method) or proper nutrition. I want to start attending events like these and reading up on running/health books. I'd love to feel like more of health and fitness blogger rather than someone who likes running and I feel like a big part of that is knowing your stuff. 
I'm sure I'll think of more, but for now I'd say they are pretty big goals, but ones that I can be excited about. 

QOTD: Do you have big health and fitness goals you are working towards? What are they?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July Frivolity

The fourth was an exciting day for me. Not only is it a national holiday, it's also my anniversary with my guy. In fact this one was our five year anniversary! We don't get to have much quality date time together because of our busy schedules, so date night means a lot to us when we do get to have it. We agreed to make this year date and dinner only (no presents!) to help save money and so that we could really make our day special. Cameron was in charge of planning the date and I "planned" dinner. Cam surprised me with tickets to Frontier City, our local theme park. We love fun active dates, plus this was where we went on our first date, so it was a perfect place for our anniversary! Cam came to pick me up and we posed for a quick pic before he reminded me that we wanted to go on water rides and a dress probably wasn't the brightest idea. Yea, but I never get to dress up! 

Pre-Smart Theme Park Clothing
I changed into shorts and a tank and we left for the park. We had a blast riding roller-coasters, remembering our first dates there, and just having fun together. Sometimes its so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grime, that I forget just how much fun being with Cameron is. He's wonderful for so many reasons, but probably my favorite thing about him is that he always keeps me laughing. I can be very uptight, and I love that around him I'm much more relaxed and act like a kid again. We finished up at Frontier City at the ferris wheel. 
After Frontier City we went home to change for dinner (and I got to wear my favorite red heels!). Dinner was at one of our favorite restaurants Charleston's. We shared a bottle of pinot grigio and ate great food. It was a perfect date. Then we came home to watch fireworks together and have dessert. Cameron LOVES carrot cake, so I made some carrot cake cake pops earlier that day to have while we watched the fireworks. I've never had cake pops before, but they are delicious. Here's a recipe if you're interested. I made mine with white candy melts and sprinkled walnuts on top. The finished product turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself! We watched the fireworks together, but like I always say in my corniest voice "everyday I see fireworks with him". 

I had a great night, and it helped me to remember how lucky I am and that I need to take more time to smell the roses. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful fourth!

QOTD: What did you do to celebrate?