A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

A Rant March 4, 2014

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 6:17 am

Maybe a rant isn’t the friendliest way to start off my paleo month, but winter in NJ hasn’t really left me feeling friendly.  So before I record my measurements/weight, I need to get a few things off my chest.

A disclaimer: I don’t mean to overgeneralize, even though I often sound like I am. Please forgive me for when I make sweeping statements to “you” about “women.”  I’m speaking from experience and disclaimering every few lines gets tiresome.

Can we please, please, please, stop telling women how they should look?  Everywhere I turn on the internet, women (and I’m sure men, too, but I’m talking about personal experience here) have it crammed down their throats that they need to look a CERTAIN way.  Be thinner. No, wait, don’t be thinner, be strong. No, don’t be strong, that’s gross– be curvy. Real women have curves.

And the realest woman award goes to... Circle!

And the realest woman award goes to… Circle!

I think the message is clear. YOU, i.e. how you look right now– that’s not good. Fix it.

Women (on my FB feed) are often times the worst perpetrators of this, so I am going to say something that I think needs to be said:  Putting down other women for how they look is not a healthy way to feel better about yourself.  Making fun of Miley Cyrus, saying that obviously gorgeous models are “fat,” or slamming skinny for not being “womanly” enough are not going to make you feel any better about your own body. We’re all guilty of this, and we all know it’s true.  So let’s try to stop– or at least be conscious of it when we do it.

One day, I will have the confidence to twerk in white pants.

One day, I will have the confidence to twerk in white pants.

The only thing worse than this is when women put down themselves.  We’re taught to hate ourselves, so we all do sometimes– I do, my mom does, my best friend does– because we’ve all internalized this message. WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. No. Matter. What.  Pick up a picture of yourself from when you now (in retrospect) can say you looked good. Now think about how you felt at the time. Did you feel like you looked good? Be honest with yourself–I’ll bet that if you think about it, you probably still weren’t happy with how you looked then.  But you did look good then and you look good now.

Two real life stories that help illustrate my point:

A few months ago, I signed up for 10 training sessions at Crunch gym.  This is a gym that is plastered with “No Judgements!” wall decals, seemingly subscribing to the “love yourself” fad.  I wanted these sessions to just be check-ups–make sure I’m eating healthy, make sure I’m exercising.  The trainer sat me down and asked me how much weight I wanted to lose. And the answer was none. I honestly didn’t want to lose any weight.  I wanted accountability to help me stay on track with my own goals–which involved working out and eating better.  Losing weight could happen, it could not happen, but that wasn’t my main objective–I just knew I was happier when I was doing those two things.

His response? Let’s measure your body fat percentage. Oh look–it says you’ve got too much fat. Count your calories. Eat 1200 calories a day. (The conversation that roughly followed: “Can’t I just eat healthy foods? I really don’t like counting calories.” “No.”)

Except when we are totally going to judge you, fatty mcfatpants

Except when we are totally going to judge you, fatty mcfatpants

I promptly asked to be reassigned to a different trainer, with whom I had a much better experience. But the message was clear–you are not good enough.

Second story:

At the peak of my fitness a few years ago, I dated a boy I’m going to call Howser.  At the time, I weighed my lightest–around 135-140lb–and was incredibly active. After a month or two of seeing each other, I asked him about being exclusive/more serious. His response? I wasn’t the “full package” because (I am being 100% serious here) my chest was too small.  He literally said this to me.

Spoiler: the package is full of boobs.

Spoiler: the package is full of boobs.

Now clearly he had some issues that went beyond my body.  But with that said, that was one of the only times that a (grown) man ever said something that derogatory about my body to me–and it was during a time in my life when I was thinner and in better shape than I had ever been before.

The moral of these stories is that if I try to please others, I will never be good enough.  Women spend so much energy trying to look good for other people, that it becomes difficult to even discern what looking “good” means to ourselves.  Sometimes I feel bloated and disgusting and sometimes I feel sexy and beautiful.  But do I *actually* look different at these times? Probably not.

I’ve struggled with weight and body image for most of my life. I was tortured as an overweight child, and as a result, I was self conscious about my body through adolescence into adulthood.  By the time I was 24, I had gained a lot of weight and was generally unhappy, so I made some life changes.  I didn’t magically feel great overnight.  But being healthy and fit helped me feel good about myself, because I could feel good about doing something for myself.  I choose to be healthy because of how it makes me feel–not because I want other people to think I’m attractive/strong/thin/amazing.

If opinions are like assholes, then women are constantly covered in shit.  Coming to terms with myself has meant coming to terms with the fact that no matter what I look like, some people won’t find me attractive–and that’s OK. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about conforming to someone else’s standard of beauty.  It’s about feeling good about myself and what I choose to do with my body.

I decided to do this rant at the start of my paleo month because a) it had been on my mind and b) I really didn’t feel like doing before/after photos, measurements, etc., because this month isn’t just about my body. I’ve been in a mental rut lately, so one of my main goals this month is to feel good–have more energy, be happier–not lose weight/inches.  Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t mind losing weight because I think it would help my run times for the half marathon I’m training for–but that’s not really what this is about.  I started a few days ago, and have already dropped a couple of pounds (which is normal for me whenever I drastically change my diet).  But my readers will just have to understand that (while it’s OK for me to want to improve myself physically), this month, it’s more about me mentally.

My before picture.

My before picture.

 

March Madness: Going Paleo February 24, 2014

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 9:30 pm

Recently, I just haven’t been feeling good.

I wouldn’t say I’m completely out of shape. I’m training for a half marathon, so I’m running 3-5 times a week, and I go indoor rock climbing 2-3 three times a week.  On paper, that looks like I’m living a pretty healthy, active lifestyle.

But winter has taken a toll on my mental health. Waking up before noon is a struggle, I lack motivation, and consequently my diet has gone to hell.  I still don’t eat fast food often, but I do eat my fair share of comfort food, with dark chocolate and sweet potato fries forming their own level on my food pyramid.

Secret Ingredient: Crack Cocaine

Secret Ingredient: Crack Cocaine

This summer, I’m turning the big 3-0.  I just got engaged and I’m finishing my last semester of graduate school– I’ve got a lot to look forward to. But I’m still overwhelmingly just feeling– well, blah.  And blah births blah. It’s a neverending blah-cycle of destruction.

Well, it’s time to break the cycle.  I think a good first step for me is diet. Eating comfort food is a quick fix for a bad mood, but in the end it leaves me feeling bloated, cranky, and tired.  So, for the month of March, I’m going paleo.

The paleo diet is a little controversial and definitely a lot culty (sorry crossfitters).  So let me come right out and say this upfront: the concept of the paleo diet (let’s eat what cavemen ate because they were totally healthy!) is dumb. It’s based on flawed logic that presumes that diet (which actually wildly varied for our ancestors depending on their region) is the reason that our prehistoric brethren didn’t have cancer, diabetes, or other modern day health concerns– completely ignoring the fact that they were all dead by age 35, well before most people get those diseases anyway.

Why does the diet need this stupid concept anyway? Eating isn’t religion. Eating doesn’t need a theoretical belief system to make it right.  And I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have protein powder.  I want this to be clear because I don’t think eating paleo is the only way to eat healthy, and I don’t strictly adhere to all the paleo rules.  Generally, the paleo diet just advocates what all healthy diets advocate: eat a lot of lean meat, fruits, and vegetables.  This is the cornerstone of every “eat healthy” diet.  So why say I’m going paleo at all?

Partly, it’s just for ease of communication.  But I do think that many of the paleo principles are a good fit for me. I hate portion control and counting calories; for me, it’s not sustainable. I also don’t like the way eating a lot of processed/grainy foods makes me feel, even when I do manage to consume them only moderately. In the past, when I’ve done a modified paleo diet, I’ve felt great– in fact, before I moved to New Jersey (the land of 24 hour diners and delicious pizza), my everyday diet was more or less paleo.  I got sick less, was happier, had more energy, and just generally felt better about myself.  Diet was just one component of why I felt good, but in the dark days of winter in New Jersey, I can at least control that part of my life.

So, what does “modified” paleo mean? Well, it means something different for everyone– that’s the beauty of modifying a diet. I’m going to try to stick to most of the basic paleo diet rules, but with a few key exceptions:

  • Dairy.  I’m not a big milk fan– I voluntarily buy coconut or almond milk at home anyway– but if I’m at work and I get a coffee, I’m putting some 2% milk in it.  They don’t have sugar-free alternatives, and honestly, 1/4 c of 2% milk isn’t going to ruin my diet, but it will definitely make my coffee more enjoyable.  I’m also going to still eat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and goat cheese.  These are all relatively healthy forms of dairy that pack a lot of protein, and since I don’t have a lactose intolerance, I don’t see the sense in excluding them from the diet.
  • Sweet potatoes. I don’t eat these too often, but including a small sweet potato in my diet a few days a week (especially since I’m half marathon training) is a healthy way to satisfy my inevitable carb cravings.
  • Fruit.  Usually, fruit is a big part of the paleo diet, but this is one food group that I will probably restrict more than the diet recommends.  I try to stick to low glycemic fruits, like berries and cantaloupe, although I will eat bananas when having smoothies or paleo pancakes.
  • Protein powder/bars. While highly processed food is usually a no-go, I will still use whey protein for my smoothies and Think Thin bars for a quick, sugarless, gluten-free protein-filled snack. I could shell out more $$ for official paleo protein/bars (just like the cavemen used to), but this doesn’t seem worth it.
  • Alcohol. Bottoms up! I don’t drink often, but if I feel like, I’m drinking.  I’ll try to stay away from sugary mixed drinks, but since my poison is usually diet coke and vodka (ew, right?), I should be fine.
  • Off days.  Once a week, I go on a long run– currently, it’s 7 miles, but it ticks up weekly for training.  On this day, I will not eat paleo. This doesn’t mean I’m going to McDonalds– but it does mean that if I want brown rice sushi, whole wheat pizza, sweet potato fries, or froyo, I’m going to eat it.

Will this make me lose weight? Maybe. Before I moved, my weight ranged from 140-145lbs. Here, my weight ranges from 145-150lbs.  I wouldn’t mind ditching the extra NJ weight, but if I don’t, I won’t be crestfallen. Health is more than weight– if I feel better, have more energy, improve my run times, and am less cranky, I am 100% fine with staying in this weight range– although I suspect that I’ll probably lose a little weight over the course of the month, especially when I first make the switch.  My goal is to blog my progress throughout the month. Because people absolutely love before and after statistics, I’ll document measurements/weight & maybe some photos, but keep in mind that I’m not necessarily doing this to see any sort of drastic physical changes. I’ll also document my running progress, mood, and daily diet for the month of March.

Cats: A Healthy Paleo Snack

Cats: A Healthy Paleo Snack

 

 

A Healthy Revival! March 31, 2013

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 5:06 pm

After years of neglect, I think it’s nigh time that I revive my health blog!  My healthy escapades didn’t end (and if you read my last blog post, even though I never posted my results, I’m pretty sure I did stick to my fitness challenge), but somewhere along the way my blogging waned.  Recently I’ve reminisced about the good ol’ blogging days, which always helped me stay motivated and focused, and so I thought… well, why not start up the blog again!  What better time than now!  Then I let two months pass.

But now I’m here and that’s what counts!  So what’s been up in my “fit” life?

Well, for the most part, a sad lack of focus on health and fitness.  After moving from Tucson (with an amazing rock climbing gym, Bikram studio and YMCA) to NJ (with… well, none of those things, plus a lot less free time) my healthy lifestyle took a nosedive.  I’d workout a few times a week, and sort of think about eating healthy while chowing down on delicious east coast pizza.

I noticed, though, that it wasn’t just my healthy lifestyle that had bit the dust.  Even though I may have not looked too different, I felt different.  I gained about 5lbs, lost almost most of my muscle, and just felt unattractive (in a way that no amount of supportive-boyfriend-compliments could help).  So last month, I decided to stop making excuses and start to change my lifestyle.

One of my biggest challenges is time.  Driving to/from the gym adds a precious extra twenty minutes to my workout that I could spend… well, working out.  And during the week, I’m pretty limited in my free time.  I also HATE getting up early to workout, in a it-makes-me-feel-like-hurling kind of way– especially if I try to do cardio.  So that’s why I opted for a home exercise plan.  After reading lots of reviews, I decided to go with:

p90x-article

Now, if you want, you can order the DVDs from their websitefor about $120.  I definitely DO NOT condone downloading these for free on a torrent site, and I DEFINITELY paid full price for them.  In all honesty, if you’re not sailing the seven seas of the internet like a pirate, $120 isn’t really too bad in comparison to the cost of a gym membership.

In addition, you’ll need some equipment, most of which I already had:

DSCN5836A pull-up bar

DSCN5831A yoga mat and a range of hand weights

As of this weekend I’ve survived my first month!  While I did take before pictures, I’ll only reveal those if there’s a notable difference at the end of the 3 month program.  However, this month I did drop about 2 lbs and a total of 3 3/4 inches (plus I gained a 1/4 inch on my flexed biceps)!  I also can officially do 4-5 pull-ups again, back to the same number I was at when I moved here six months ago!

The pros:

  • Variety!  There’s a different workout everyday for the first three weeks: three strength, two cardio, and one yoga.  If it’s nice out, I’ll sub out a cardio workout for a 5.25 mile run around the park.  Next month, I’ll be switching out two of the strength videos for two new ones.  Beach body calls this “muscle confusion.”  I call this not getting bored with the same stupid video over and over and over again.  Either way, it works well.
  • Results!  I can do pull-ups again.  I can see my upper abs.  I feel stronger.  I can run faster.  Yes, I have to push myself, and no, the workouts aren’t easy, but I consider those to be pros because otherwise, I’d just be bored.
  • Convenience!  I love that I can do this workout on my own time, at home.  I can’t blame class time available or traffic for not doing my workout, and I have complete control over my schedule.  Yes, the workouts are time consuming (six days a week for 1-1.5 hours a day), but because I know and can plan my schedule around this (and not have to add on any travel time) it totally works.

The cons:

  • Space!  I live in an apartment in NJ.  It’s not super small, but it’s not super large either.  Having to move my coffee table every time I want to work out definitely gets old.  So does having a limited amount of space for a few of the workouts.  For instance, core synergistics has me rolling all over the floor, which inevitably results in me covered in cat hair and bumping into the couch.
  • The diet!  I started this thinking I’d follow the diet, and I did for three whole weeks.  Not only did I not lose a pound, but I also felt like it promoted unhealthy binging during a once a week “cheat” I’d grant myself.  I found that, in trying to cram in the amount of protein the diet prescribed, I’d actually be eating more than I wanted– and instead of eating one square of dark chocolate or a cup of froyo when I craved it, I’d binge out once a week on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a bag of chocolate chips.  This week, I’ve dropped the diet and just practiced healthy, mindful eating, and I’ve lost almost 2lbs.  I’d say the diet is definitely more geared towards dudes who want to “beef up.”
  • The cheese!   Specifically, Tony Horton’s incredibly cheesy lines during the workouts.  Usually, I don’t mind it– it’s ridiculous and terrible, but laughing at him can sometimes help me work through the pain.  But when he quotes Forest Gump during yoga– in the stupid voice and all– it kind of kills it for me.

The program is three months long, so I’ll be posting my progress over the next two months!  I also talked a friend into doing it along with me, so if you’re interested in the male perspective on these workout videos (which, in my opinion, are geared towards men), I’ll report on how he progresses as well!

DSCN5824Olive asleep on my P90x worksheets… maybe she’s dreaming of Tony Horton!

 

My August Fitness Challenge! July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 9:37 pm

After a month of vacation, restaurants, and pampering, I think I’m more than ready to get back to a healthy lifestyle.  So it’s time for an:

August Fitness Challenge!

I’ve decided to design a challenge for myself based on what I want to improve, mainly strength, muscle tone, and weight.  So, here are my rules:

  • I will do 100 pushups, situps, squats, and calf raises everyday!  The pushups will probably be the roughest, and I know I might have to kneel for my last couple sets at first.  I also will vary the activity– so i might do a mix of crunches, leg raises, and Pilates for the situp portion, for instance.
  • I will run 3 miles everyday!   This is pretty self explanatory.  It can be on a treadmill or outdoors.  I won’t have any particular speed goals in mind other than keeping up the run at at least 6mph (which is pretty slow for me at this point).

The new sneakers my Mom got me for my birthday will be put to good use!

  • I will eat a gluten free and sugar free diet.  This one seems the easiest but will probably be what I struggle with the most.

What challenge would be complete without before and after data?  So here are some measurements and unflattering photos to kick off the month:

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Weight:  143.6lbs

Shoulders:  40″

Right arm:  11 1/4″  (Flexed 11 3/4″)

Left arm:  11″ (Flexed 11 1/2″)

Chest:  34 1/4″

Waist (two fingers above bellybutton):  31″

Hips (at widest spot):  39 3/4″

Right and left Thigh:  22 3/4″

Right calf:  14 1/4″

Left calf:  14 1/2″

The fine print:  Month begins July 30th and ends August 30th.  I am allowed four "cheats" during this time frame, 1 a week, for each activity.
These activities will be in addition to my normal workout routine, and I will still be climbing, doing yoga, and taking YMCA classes throughout 
the month.
No kittens were harmed or measured during the creation of this challenge.
 

Healthy Fail June 17, 2011

Filed under: Diet,General health — fitnessie @ 2:06 am

Oh health blog, how I’ve neglected you!  I wish I had a good reason for it, but the truth is, I don’t.

I just haven’t felt very healthy lately.  I’ve been continuing to struggle losing the last bit of weight I want to lose, but I’m not sure exactly why i’ve had so much trouble sticking to a healthy diet.  Over the past three years, I’ve lost about 40lbs, and I am really proud of that.  But I don’t want eating healthy to have been a phase.  I feel better about myself when I eat right, so what’s been the problem?

The truth is, food is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.  People use the term “intuitive eating” a lot now, but I’ve never been an intuitive eater, unless intuitive eating means a large fry, chicken nuggets, and a milkshake.  I’ve come a long way these past three years, but the truth is, whenever I try to “listen to my body” it just tells me it wants ice cream, peanut butter, and french fries.  They’ve done some interesting studies on youth, self moderation, and food intake, and (while I don’t want to use this as a crutch), I think that maybe at a very young age I messed up my internal food-regulator.  Very scientific sounding, I know.  But eating healthy for me is exactly the opposite of intuitive.  I know it will make me feel better to eat something healthy, to stay away from gluten, and to not eat until i’m vomit-full.  But every inch of my body screams for me to do that, and it takes will-power and determination to not.  It’s like a drug.  If I stay healthy for a bit, it gets easier, the cravings lessen, and it becomes (while not intuitive), not a daily trial.  But one slip up resets it.

So that’s why diets that are similar to the paleo diet, that label “good and bad” foods, are so much easier for me.  Eating everything in moderation is a daily trial for me.  Recently, I went to a new gym where they did a personal training meeting, and gave me a little print out of my goals, weight and measurements, and a plan.  The plan included eating a 1600 calorie a day diet.  When I eat “paleo”, this is roughly what I end up doing, though I don’t calorie count.  So i thought i’d give a couple weeks of calorie counting a try and see what happened.  In the end, I think too often I just end up over indulging on something that isn’t healthy and cutting out a meal to make up for it, thinking it’s ok as long as I stay within a calorie count.  I also end up eating when I’m not even hungy to try to reach 1600 calories some days, while other days I’ll eat over and feel bad.

It’s hard to write about failure, especially a failure that is completely within my control.  So I’m going to write down positive, proactive steps and ideas I have.  For those of you who are intuitive eaters or paleo eaters or struggle with food in genearl, I would love to hear your feedback/ideas.

  • I will feel good about myself.  This is huge for me.  I will feel good about the way I look no matter what I weigh, what I ate the day before, or what the scale says.  I will put on something sexy and not take it off because I feel fat.  I will naked sexy-pose in front of my full length mirror all by myself just because I want to see how good I look.
  • I will not shortchange my accomplishments.  This entry is focused on diet failures, and not exercise, but exercise is one thing I’ve had little trouble maintaining.  I still run a couple times a week, climb a couple times a week, go to gym classes a couple times a week.  I’m strong.  I can do more push ups in 10 minutes than my boyfriend!  I am, no matter what the arbitrary numbers say, in good shape.  I have muscles.  I can run for an hour without stopping, I can climb a 10a at the gym, and I can do 3 pull-ups.  I feel good doing these things.  That is pretty huge all by itself.
  • I will eat better.  I will not count calories, I will not eat paleo, I will not binge and purge.  I will try to limit or eliminate gluten from my diet.  I will eat roughly three balanced, healthy meals a day with a couple snacks in between.  I will try to limit my intake of refined sugar and starchy carbs.  I will eat portion sizes of my food.  I will eat plenty of protein and fat and vegetables and fruit.  I will occasionally eat gelato and feel great about it.  I will not substitute my meals for dark chocolate pomegranate seeds.  I will say no thanks when someone offers me something and I will be empowered by doing so.

I know that a lot of my journal has been informative or cute, but another reason I made this journal was for these occasions, where I just need a forum or community to talk to who understands and maybe even shares my struggle with health and body image and food and everything.  So forgive me for not having a recipe or an update on the new gym I went to this month (which was actually quite neat!) or cute pictures of everything I’ve been baking for Isaiah.  I will try to get back on top of things!   So, I’ll leave this post with cute pictures from my trip to Mexico with the boyfriend, where I un-apologetically ate my weight in guacamole, and a promise for more proactive living (and blog posts) in the future.

San Carlos, MX

Snorkel Beach!

Why you should always wear sunscreen.

Crane-won sunglasses + pirate Isaiah= awesome

 

Half-Marathon Success! April 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 5:44 am

While I apologize for my lack of blogging this month, I promise that I have not been slacking off!  On the contrary, I’ve been busy training for my half-marathon, which I rocked this past Saturday!

One of my New Years resolutions this year was to run a half-marathon.  About five weeks ago, I started training for the Havasu Half, which takes place in Lake Havasu, AZ.  Fun Arizona fact:  The original London Bridge is in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Some eccentric rich dude had it shipped here, piece by piece, in 1967. For my half-marathon I ran over it– and thankfully it did not, in fact, fall down!  The run took me around the shore of Lake Havasu for about 13 beautiful miles.  The day was luckily gorgeous– while it had been pouring rain the whole drive up, when I woke up the next morning I was happy to see the sun, with the perfect cloud/wind ratio.

I was running on 5 hours of sleep, so i uncharacteristically downed a coffee, popped some Advil, had a sensible breakfast of a banana with peanut butter and a Luna protein bar, and went down to the London Bridge Beach to pick up my “goodie bag”, which had my number, an awesome sweat-wicking t-shirt, and my tracker!

So, I’ll be honest.  I was nervous.  Super nervous.  I was silently (and sometimes audibly) cursing myself for not having run a race ever before– not even a measly 5k.  Also, while the cool weather was almost instantly appreciated once I started running, I was quite chilly waiting for the race to start.

But all my butterflies flew away as soon as I started running.  I wasn’t sure how fast I was going– at one point, I know I passed the 2:10 minute pacer, but I spend so much of my time running completely zoned out, I wasn’t sure that she didn’t re-pass me.  The run was absolutely beautiful.  And not once did I ever hit a wall or feel like I needed to stop or slow down.  I actually felt great– endorphin charged and happy– the whole run.

It was so amazing to see the clock when approaching the finish line and realize i was actually 6 minutes under time! Here are my official stats:

2011 Havasu Half Marathon, Women, 20 – 29 Years Old

Place Name S Ag Chiptim Split Pace Bib
24
Vanessa Phillips
F
26
2:03:25
20:04.6
9:15
1484

I can’t believe I ranked 24th out of the women in my age group!  I have to say that, had I realized I was going to run so close to 2 hours, I would have tried to get under 2 hours– but now I’ve got a goal for next time!  Upon crossing the finish line, I had an amazing boyfriend, a medal, and a free beer waiting for me.  One of these things was a terrible idea– I’ll let you guess which.

(hint: it wasn’t the medal)

I’ve struggled with the idea of calling myself a runner.  What makes someone a runner?  I’m not going to win any Olympic competitions.  But I think that, officially, after this race, I don’t have any qualms about calling myself a runner.  Somewhere on this run, it just sort of clicked for me– the fact that, after a long car ride and little sleep, I could still get up and run 13 miles, and run them at a damn good personal pace– well, that’s it.  I might not be a sprinter, or the best runner, but I feel comfortable now with just that statement– I am a runner.

But to what do I owe my running success?  There are 5 things that I could NOT have done this run without.  So if you’re thinking of running your own half-marathon, here are some tips:

1.  Train! Train, train, train.  You don’t wake up one morning never having run and say, gee, golly, I think i’ll run a half-marathon!  For the past five weeks, I have been training, and the only reason that it only took me five weeks was because I already was able to run about 6 miles without stopping when I started the training.  Here’s a breakdown of my schedule:

2.  Have a rocking playlist.

This little guy made my training and race so much more enjoyable.  Here’s the music that got me through it:

  • Hot Boyz- Casiotone For the Painfully Alone
  • Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell-  Das Racist
  • Fembot-  Robyn
  • E.T.-  Kate Perry
  • Tonight-  Enrique Iglesias
  • Bottoms Up-  Trey Songz
  • Gold Digger-  Kanye West
  • S&M-  Rihanna
  • Monster-  Kanye West
  • Down On Me-  Jeremih
  • Blow-  Ke$ha
  • No Hands-  Waka Flocka Fame
  • Power-  Kanye West
  • I Gotta Feeling-   Black Eyed Peas
  • Somebody Told Me-  The Killers
  • We R Who We R- Ke$ha
  • Tik Tok- Ke$ha
  • Telephone-  Lady Gaga
  • Konichiwa Bitches- Robyn
  • Poker Face-  Lady Gaga
  • California Girls-  Kay Perry
  • Paper Planes-  M.I.A.
  • Merry Happy-  Kate Nash

3.  Never underestimate your footwear. One of the early snags I ran into was a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot after running.  I’d never felt this before, but I’d also never run so much outside.  I had good sneakers, but needed to add one of these little guys in my right shoe to make my budding plantar fascisitis disappear:

Thank goodness my coworker had a spare pair of these inserts from when she had a similar problem!  After using this for a week (and taking Advil/icing my foot), I was virtually pain-free!  So, if you notice something isn’t quite right, don’t just ignore it.  Proper foot-gear can have a huge impact on your running enjoyment.

4.  Carb load! I’d normally be the last person to say this, but when running long distances, you NEED your carbs!  Even though I was doing some pretty intense physical activity this month, I still gained weight.  But there was just no way I could run that much and not eat!  My pre-race meal?  My first ever trip to Carl’s Jr., where I scarfed down a guacamole turkey burger, zucchini fries, and a Oreo milkshake!  Healthy?  Maybe not exactly, but it’s full of the energy you need to finish such a long run.  So, if you’re planning on running a half marathon, don’t plan on dieting!

5.  Have an amazing, supportive significant other!


Or friend.  Or relative.  But really, I honestly don’t think I could have done this without someone there for me, and I was especially lucky that it was someone as supportive and wonderful as my boyfriend, Isaiah!  He drove the whole way (11+ hours), woke up bright and early to drop me off at the starting line, and was there waiting for at the finish to snap that photo of me crossing the line!  Not to mention all the moral support he offered along the way.   I very highly doubt I could have done this without him.  So, if you’re thinking of doing something like this, try to have someone you know you can count on, no matter who they are in your life, there.  Even if it’s not a long drive, having someone waiting for me at the finish line made all the difference.

So, that’s that!  While I’m certainly not going to give up running, I am looking forward to getting back to the YMCA and having a more well-rounded fitness routine.  I’m also looking forward to getting back to a healthy diet, and have decided to go paleo+dairy for the month in an effort to shed some pesky pounds and get my healthy diet back on track!  If you’re confused or curious about paleo, don’t worry– a paleo post is in the works!

 

A Month of Purgatory March 7, 2011

Filed under: Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 3:35 am

A few months ago I bought a LivingSocial deal for a month of unlimited classes at Crossfit Purgatory.  This past month my favorite step teacher at the YMCA quit, and I decided to put my membership on hold and give Purgatory a try.

I’ve done a few crossfit-style workouts before.  Typically they’re short, high intensity work outs that combine cardio and strength training.  If you’re curious, here’s a list of common crossfit exercises.  So I had a rough idea of what I’d gotten into.

I found that my difficulty with the WOD (workout of the day) would vary greatly depending on whether or not i’d done the activity before.  For instance, I’d always been a bit intimidated by these:

But after a couple weeks at crossfit, we were good friends!  I found myself using weights I’d have never picked up on my own and doing things with them I never thought possible (like 65 clean and jerks with 55lbs in 10 minutes).  I always felt like such a wimp there compared with some of the weights the people around me were using, but I was proud of myself for using them at all!  And for the record, one of the best new exercises I learned had to be the overhead squat. It works everything!

There were snags, of course.  Like the damnable jump rope!  I never jumped rope as a kid, and I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it.  So when it’d be a part of the WOD or the warmup, it was always a bit frustrating for me.  I did improve by the end, though!

So, here’s my very last WOD:

For the deadlift, the goal was to use the max weight possible (since the repetition number was so low).  I actually think I could have done more, but I felt good for doing 145lbs for my final set!   My partner very kindly took a few shots of me throughout the sets.  I look very determined!

Then it was on to the WOD.  I thought this would be a relatively tame one for me since i’m pretty familiar with sit ups and push ups.  Box jumps are just what you’d imagine– jumping onto a box.  Here’s the one I used (I had to stack a weight on top to up the height since all the bigger boxes got snagged):

By the end I was panting on the ground, barely able to move!  I said that I did 7 rounds, but I actually think I did 8.  But when in doubt, I go for the lower number!  When you finish with a workout, it gets written on a big white board for all to see.  This is one of my favorite parts– it builds both a competitive and cooperative environment, where you get to cheer on friends, congratulate them on a workout, but still turn it into a sort of game where you want the best “score”.

All in all I REALLY enjoyed my month at Crossfit Purgatory!  It had a really welcoming environment, and was a great way to make some new friends.  The workouts were COMPLETELY kick ass, and I can tell I’m way more buff.  The instructors were supportive and pushed me just the right amount.  I also noticed my climbing improve from all the strength work!  The only problem?  The cost.  It’s way more $$ than your average monthly gym, and I sadly can no longer afford it.  But if you’ve got the money to spend, I completely recommend it!

This month I’m going to be training for my half marathon!  Expect an mid-month update on my training!

 

 
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