10 Unexpected Things Running Did To Me

I was climbing into the shower, for the second time that day, and I started to chuckle, thinking about how normal it is for me to take more than one shower a day sometimes.  That never happened before I became a runner, and then I realized there are lots of things I do or think about since I’ve become a runner–aside from running, anyway.

  1.  I look for sidewalks.  Say what?  Yes, I look for sidewalks.  As I’m driving, I look for sidewalks because sidewalks are potential running routes.  I live in a city which means lots of cars and busy streets.  And because motorists don’t always notice or pay attention to runners, sidewalks can be vital to a runner’s life and health!
  2. I notice hills.  When I train for a long race, I always include hill training–running fast uphill.  Hill repeats are on my list of top 10 things that make me frown the most, but it’s nearly impossible to run anywhere in Tulsa without meeting a hill.  So…you want to run a good race, you train on hills.  So I notice hills.  I look for hills, especially ones with sidewalks, and file it away for when I need to run some hills.
  3. I go through a lot more sunscreen.  I have very pale skin and can burn almost at the mention of being outside.  I spend hours outside each week now running, so to prevent those inevitable burns, applying sunscreen is part of my getting ready to run routine.  A word to the wise here, even if you don’t have super pale skin that burns easily, wear your sunscreen!  You can still wind up with skin cancer from those harmful UV rays.  I like to wear sunscreen lip balm as well because, you know, lips are skin too.
  4. I do a lot more laundry.  Now, compared to parents with kiddos, the amount of laundry I have is probably still peanuts to them, but since I’ve taken up running, my laundry basket is never empty.  And being involved in multiple sports, I can go through several workout outfits in a day.  It seems like there’s always a stack of workout clothes in or on the dryer!
  5. I take more than one shower a day.  I can’t help it.  I shower in the morning to get ready for the day (a shower in the morning is my caffeine!), but after an evening run, I have to shower again to get that sunscreen and sweat off before I get in my bed.
  6. I pay more attention to the weather.  I want to know before I head out the door for  a run that I am dressed appropriately.  So I’m always looking at the weather forecast.  Because Oklahoma weather is so squirrely, I keep a bag with me that has running gear to help me through unexpected weather–gloves, arm warmers, a hat.
  7. I notice runners.  I don’t mean to say I didn’t notice runners before I was one, but I really SEE runners now.  I see the commitment it takes to go for a run.  I see their dedication to health and fitness.  I see the hard work it takes to run up that hill.  I see them and I mentally applaud them and can’t wait to go home and jump into my running shoes.
  8. I pay more attention to what I eat and when I eat it.  Before running entered my life, I tended to just eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  But running changed that.  If I eat something too heavy, I feel sluggish and sick when I run, even if it’s a meal from the night before.  If I don’t eat enough carbs before a run, my blood sugar crashes.  So I’ve had to find that balance of figuring out what works for me to run on and how long before I run I should eat my last substantial meal.  And I’ve had to think about eating after a run–getting those carbs to replace my glycogen stores and making sure I’ve got a good protein source to repair my beaten up muscles.  I think about food a lot, obviously!
  9. I eat a lot more bananas.  To go along with the whole thinking about food thing, I eat a lot more bananas since I’ve started running.  A banana is generally my go to pre-run snack, and a banana in a protein shake is generally my post-run recovery snack.  I always keep bananas in my house and nearly panic when I run out.  I’ve been known to go to the store for nothing but bananas!
  10. I plan my schedule around running.  The last way running has unexpectedly changed my life is the way it’s changed how I plan and organize my day.  I think about how many miles I need to run that day, what kind of run it needs to be (hills vs. recovery–such as a hard or an easy run), and what the weather will be like.  Taking all those things into account and looking at what all else I need to do that day, I plan my day.  Sometimes that’s getting up super early to beat the heat.  Sometimes that’s meeting my running group in the evening, but whatever the day includes, you can almost bet that somehow fitting in a run, or a workout, had something to do with the order of events.

Talk to me:

How many loads of laundry do you do every week?

What is something you have to do that makes you frown?

Save

Half-Marathon Training: Lessons from the Heat

Another week.  Another 26 miles on the running shoes.  That was my weekly total last week.  It’s crazy to think that less than a year ago, I ran that many miles in a few hours!

Anywho, training went well last week.  I had some time off from work so I was able to make every group run during the week, including our tempo run on Thursday night.  I ran at the top of our tempo pace, and it felt great!  I, seriously, couldn’t stop smiling I felt so good!017So going into our 10 mile run on Saturday, I felt optimistic.  I had done well with 9 miles last week.  Weekly runs had felt good.

But 3 miles into our run, we stopped for water, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it, at least not at our current pace.  I paced myself slower than the rest of the group like last week, but I was still struggling.  My legs felt heavy, and I couldn’t get my breathing under control.  Usually by 3 miles in, I’ve got my breathing where it needs to be and my legs are starting to wake up.  This time, though…it wasn’t happening.

The pace group just below mine came in for water, so I joined them for the rest of the run.  The pace was at least 30 seconds a mile slower, and yet, I still struggled.  I felt like I had never run before.  Like ever.  It was horrible.

And it was horribly humid.  I had on a loose-fitting shirt, but even though it was moisture wicking, that thing got totally water-logged from sweat and slapped against my body like a wet towel.  My legs were like lead, and one hill lead to another and another…

And on we ran.  Would we never reach 10 miles?  I continually fought the urge to walk, willing myself to just put one foot in front of the other.  Angela, a fellow runner I’m getting to know, must have seen what a hard time I was having.  She came up beside me and just started chatting.  I didn’t say much,  mostly just listened, but having her there got me through to the end, and finally that terrible, no good, really bad 10 mile run was about to become a bad memory.

But as hard as that run was, looking back (because, you know, perspective is everything), I learned some things in those steamy, hilly, miserable 10 miles.

  1.  Long runs don’t start the morning of the run.  Long runs are a product of what we do all week.  Let nutrition and hydration lapse, and it will affect your long run.  Looking back, I had not eaten as healthily as usual or drank my usual amount of water in the days leading up to our long run.  Given the 1000 percent humidity on Saturday, that most definitely played a part in my struggle.
  2. I can do hard things.  If there’s a lesson I learned (or learned again) it was that I can do hard things.  I may not want to do hard things, but I can.  It’s sometimes mind over matter, as in the case Saturday, when I knew I had the physical ability to run 10 miles at our pace.  It was just a matter of pushing through the discomfort from the heat, humidity, and hills.  A word to the wise here, though.  There’s NO shame in cutting a run short if you’re feeling bad physically.  Know and listen to your body.  If you’re dizzy, light headed, nauseated, in real pain, or feeling any other symptom that you are concerned about, just stop.  It’s okay to stop and probably dangerous to your health to keep going.
  3. People make doing hard things bearable.  At the end of our run, I learned that nearly everyone in the training program had a tough run that day.  In fact, a record 25 people had to be picked up by the sag wagon.  I’m telling you, that humidity was horrible.  Seriously, I’m not sure I would have found the strength to keep going had it not been for Angela.  That’s what running with a group is all about for me.  It’s all of us, sharing an experience, and cheering each other on.  Next time, I hope I can be the cheerleader instead of the one needing to be carried.

So what obstacles stand in your way to reaching your health goals?  Take my lessons from a hot, miserable run and learn from them.  You want to lose weight?  It doesn’t happen in a day.  It happens from the choices we make over time.  Making a lifestyle change is hard, but trust me.  You can do hard things!  You can!  But those hard things don’t seem as bad when you’ve got people around you supporting you and cheering for you.  So who are those people in your life?  Let them know the goal you’re working towards and walk on their encouragement.  We’ve got this!!!

Talk to me:

What’s the weather like where you live?

What’s your health goal for the week?  Tell me and let me be your cheerleader!  (Pretty please?)

 

Save

Half-Marathon Training: Bringing Up the Rear

Another week of training is behind me.  Did I meet that determined goal to get all my miles in?

Well, kinda.  (Do y’all say kinda and y’all where y’all live or is that an Oklahoma thing?)  I got my Monday recovery run in and most of Tuesday’s track workout.  That aggravating hip flexor/groin issue is acting up again, and I had to cut the workout short on Tuesday.  Now, it’s MRI time to see what’s going on in there.  Great.

035I managed to sneak in a short run Wednesday before work (it was actually quite invigorating), and I was all prepared to get a run in Thursday morning when I left work.  I had my bag with me and everything, but a long night shift and a second shift coming up Thursday night squashed my will and determination.  Exhaustion won out, so I wen039t home and crashed instead of running.  And once again, I missed a workout.

Today, our long run day, we had 9 miles on the schedule.  I was feeling a bit nervous since my longest run over the last few months has only been 8 miles.  But I went into today’s run with a bit of a race strategy in mind.  I know me and that it takes 4-5 miles for me to find my groove.  It just takes me a while to find my breath and rhythm and pace, but when I find it, I’m ready to run.

So I stayed in the back of the group, pacing myself a bit slower but keeping the group within striking distance.  I found myself, at first, wanting to scold myself for not keeping up with the group.  You may remember I’ve had issues with being in the back of the pack before.  But as I ran, I realized some really great things were happening back there:

  1.  I had a chance to soak in my music and our surroundings.  So many times when I’m running in the thick of the group, I’m keeping up with conversations, trying to not run into people, trying to keep up but not go too fast.  But in the back I ran mostly alone, and I had time to really listen to my music and to enjoy the scenery around me.  Score for being in the back!
  2. I learned from my fellow runners.  When you run in the back, you only see the backs of people.  But that’s a great vantage point to watch running form.  I saw all kinds of gaits today, but what I honed in on was one guy who looked totally relaxed as he ran.  His arms were swinging gently from his shoulders, and while his elbows were tight to his side, his shoulders were totally relaxed.  I took a mental picture and filed it away.  That’s how I want to be when I run.  Score again for being in the back!
  3. I learned patience and pacing.  Long distance running involves a lot of patience and proper pacing.  Go out too fast and you’ll wear yourself out before you get to the finish line.  I’ve been told over and over as I’ve trained for long races to be patient.  Stick with your pace, and then when it’s time to go for it, use the energy you’ve stored up in not going out too fast to finish the race strong.  But pacing myself has always been hard.  Even with a running watch.  That’s one of the best things about running with a group.  The coach sets the pace and all I have to do is stay behind him.  But today, in the back by myself, I couldn’t just rely on the coach’s 046pacing.  I had to consciously pace myself a bit slower.  It’s hard to not get into race mode when you’re running behind people.  I just always want to catch them, but today, when I would start to get too close, I’d adjust my pace.  And it worked!  By about mile 4 I had my Popeye moment where everything inside of me started to feel alive; my legs felt loose and light, and then I ran with the group, in the middle of things, for the remaining 5 miles and felt great doing it!  Score yet again for bringing up the rear!

So onward and upward!  I have some time off from work this next week when work will not be an excuse to keep me from meeting my running goals.  It’s been a week of good runs, and I feel encouraged (if I had a “thumbs up” emoji, it would go right here!).

Talk to me:

What did you do this past week?

What are some common phrases in your neck of the woods?

Save

Half-Marathon Training: Time Trials!

So we’re about 4 weeks into half-marathon training, and it’s been a month of ups and downs.  And time trials.

Sometimes I’ll have a good run, and I think the slump that’s been hounding me this entire year is on the downhill slope, but then another run happens that leaves me feeling like a novice runner, and I come home feeling beat up and discouraged.  But I keep lacing up my shoes and heading out the door because one thing I refuse to be is a quitter.

Over the last few weeks our training has included a couple of different time trials.  Time trials are benchmark runs used as a measure of fitness.  They’re generally not much fun but they are incredibly useful in assessing progress, or lack thereof.

The first time trial was a 1.5 mile run at the track.  Yeah, you know me and track workouts, so a fast 1.5 miles at the track was NOT something I was looking forward to.  For those 6 laps we were instructed to run at 100% effort.  Give it all you’ve got.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Run as hard as you can.  And this was the weather forecast for the evening of the time trial–just one word:  HOT!  012The coaches don’t cancel track workouts until the heat index reaches 105 degrees, so since we were only like at a heat index of 104 (kidding–I have no idea what the heat index was but actual temps felt like 104!), the workout was a go.

I ran the first mile in 8:08, not my fastest mile, but I was okay with that time.  But with 2 laps to go, I just couldn’t hold on.  I was starting to feel queasy, whether from the heat or effort I’m not sure, but I ended up walking about 100 meters of each of the last 2 laps and finished my 1.5 miles in a disappointing 13:09.014Then today was the Bedlam Run, a local 5K/10K, that our training used as 023a 5K time trial.  We needed to run 6 miles one way or another, so some chose to run the 10K.  I chose to run a 1.5 mile warm-up and cool-down on my own and race the 5K.  I was a bit nervous since I haven’t been running well and my last 5K was a total disaster, but the warm-up felt good, the weather was exceptionally cool for August in Oklahoma, and I felt excited to run.

While the race was meant to be a time trial, I also knew that with the struggle I’d been having with pace and distance, if I pushed myself too hard, I wouldn’t be able to finish, even a 5K, so I went into the 037race with a goal of running half-marathon race pace, 8:50-9:15 per mile.  From the start I hit 8:50, felt great, and had a good race finishing in 27:44, third in my age group.  That was an unexpected surprise!  And there were super yummy pancakes at the after party.

030I felt good during the race but had a terrible time with the 1.5 mile cool-down (go figure), but over all I was encouraged–until I checked the chart that predicts race times based on a current race.  So with a 5K time of 27:30-28:00, it’s not likely that I can set a half-marathon PR.  Boo!  Hiss!

There’s a part of me that just wants to throw in the towel, but the competitor in me says I have to keep trying.  The realist in me also knows that I have to be prepared to adjust my race goal.  Maybe, if everything is perfect and it’s my day, maybe I can run a PR on race day.  But if it’s not my day, I’m trying to accept that a good goal is racing my best, feeling good doing it, and finishing strong, regardless of time.  It’s not the finish I want, but as with all things in life, it’ll be a learning experience, and I’ll gain something from it if I just look for it.

So onward and upward!  Tomorrow starts a new week.  I WILL get my miles in!

Talk to me:

How are your health and fitness goals coming along?

What did you do today or this weekend?

Half Marathon Training: I Didn’t Die

This week began the official training for the fall half and full marathon season.  I was a bit nervous to begin training since I’d kind of lost my running mojo, but at the same time I was excited to have a new goal to work towards.

Mondays are recovery run days, where the goal is just to move but not to overtax the muscles.  It’s to allow the muscles to heal from the long run of Saturday so the run is short and slow.  Even though we hadn’t yet done a long run, we ran recovery pace for 3 miles.  It was miserably hot (when is it not in Oklahoma in July [insert frowny face]?), but despite the heat and humidity, the run felt great.  I came home drenched in sweat but feeling immensely content and incredibly happy to just be able to run.

But then Tuesday morning came.  Track workout.  Thankfully, track workouts are offered at 6a.m. during the summer.  Running speed intervals during the heat of 6p.m. just makes me really unhappy, but at 6a.m., temperatures are a little lower which makes the workouts slightly more bearable.  If you followed me during marathon training at all, you know I do NOT like track workouts.  But I do them because the benefit is huge.  Running speed intervals has been crucial in helping m008e develop speed.  But this week the workout felt so hard.  Maybe it was because I had just run less than 12 hours before, or maybe it was because we did long intervals–1 x 1200 and 4 x 800.  Anyway, I only made it through 3 800 meter intervals.  On that third 800, my pace was way off, my legs were lead, and I was just done.  I had to come home and just lay on the floor for a bit to recover.  I hate that I wimped out, but…I did a CrossFit workout following track.  Maybe that made up for it???

Wednesday morning was an early CrossFit workout, followed by a bike ride at the river.  I’d like to truly add in some cross training during this training session.  I counted CrossFit as cross training during marathon 013training, but it’s really strength and conditioning.  Cross training mimics running, in that it’s exercise that uses the same big muscles as running–walking, cycling, etc.  So with Wednesday being cross training day, I cross trained with a bike ride.  I’m always humbled by how unfit cycling makes me feel.  I can run for 30 minutes without struggling, but 30 minutes on my bike makes me huff and puff.  I guess that’s a sign I need to spend more time on my bike, uh?

Thursday.  Holy cow!  I was so sore.  Speed intervals, heavy deadlifts…just sitting down was hard.  Thankfully, strength training in CrossFit focused more on upper body.  My running training schedule called for a 3 mile run with “sprinkles”, 30 second bursts of basically sprinting.  I thought I could get it in after CrossFit, but the conditioning workout included 400 meter runs.  I did 3 rounds of the workout, running each 400 meter in under 2 minutes which just did me in.  The workout helped to decrease my soreness, but I had nothing left in the tank for a running workout.

Friday morning, I got off work and headed to the gym for a bicep/tricep workout.  It was a short 30 minute workout.  I was hoping to pick up the run that I missed the day before, but sleep won out, and I missed the run again.

Saturday.  My favorite run of the week!  Saturday runs are long slow distance.  It’s the longest run of the week but at a conversational pace.  I love these runs, and today’s run felt amazing.  Because I’m training for a PR, I picked a pace group just one step faster than the pace I’d trained with for the marathon.  I felt a bit nervous, but the pace f015elt great!  It gave me just the right amount of challenge.  I felt I was working hard (well, kind of hard) at the end but never really struggling.  It started raining just as we finished our 6 miles, but who could tell?  We were already dripping wet with sweat from the pea soup like humidity [insert another frowny face].  But I came home feeling great, excited about running again, and feeling encouraged that the PR I’m going for might actually be within reach!

All in all, a good first week of training.  I picked up the pace, and I didn’t die!  Yay!  Here’s to the second week of training, and not missing a run this time.

Talk to me:

What’s the weather like right now where you live?

Do you enjoy running, or being outside, in the rain?

Death of a Nemesis

So you may remember that I’ve had a rather love-hate relationship with my lawnmower.  Of all the gadgets I’ve acquired to help me maintain a house, the lawnmower has been the one that has made me curse the most.  Seriously.  And I don’t curse.  (Well, unless you count what I say under my breath as the jump rope keeps biting me when I miss double unders.)

003I fought with my lawnmower every time I did spring maintenance on it, but generally once I got the thing up and running, we got along pretty good.

Until last summer.  The thing just up and died on me with the back yard half mowed.  I probably kicked the thing, thought about saying a few choice words, slammed a door or two, and probably popped a blood vessel from being angry–at an inanimate object.  But there you go.  That’s how my lawnmower affected me.

At a loss as to where to go to get a lawnmower fixed and not wanting my neighbors to be ashamed to live next door to the house with a jungle for 01c73695ec5cb5a4339ebab6f85c8a8c884f018810a yard, I hired a lawn mowing service to mow my yard for the rest of the summer.

And then they had to keep coming this year because my sick little lawnmower was still caput.  But the thing was, I was enjoying not having to mow my lawn.  I didn’t miss struggling with my mower.  I didn’t miss the dirt blowing into my eyes and nose and getting sopping wet with sweat from walking back and forth across the yard in searing heat.  I liked coming home and seeing my yard neatly mowed and edged.

But then I started thinking about all the money I was paying to have my yard mowed when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself, except that my lawnmower had pooped out on me.  My independence won out and I found a mobile small engine repair service to come and smack my ornery lawnmower into compliance.

Only there was no smacking it into compliance.  After an hour in the repair man’s mobile fix-it trailer, he gives me the word.  “I think its had it.”

I felt strangely sad.  This lawnmower and I had gone 9 rounds every spring for the last 10 years, and as mad as that thing made me, it mowed 001my lawn neatly.  So I watched the man put my frenemy into his trailer and haul it away to the lawnmower graveyard.

So now I am lawnmower-less and trying to decide what to do.  Do I continue paying to have my lawn mowed or do I buy another lawnmower, command dominance over it, and spend time every week outside in the blazing heat to keep the grass under the control?

Oh, the trials of being single!

But, seriously, all jest and joking aside, these situations are some of the hardest for me as a single gal.  Sometimes it would be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off and to talk through decisions with.  But that’s not my present reality, so I’m just kicking my options back and forth, arguing with myself, weighing the pros and cons, evaluating my priorities.  Is having more time to do other things more important?  Or is freeing up finances most important?  ARGH….

Talk to me:

What would  you do?  Buy a lawnmower or pay for lawn service?

The First Mile

It’s 100 degrees here in Oklahoma, but last night I attended an event to kick off the fall race training season.  Seems kind of strange, right?  It’s boiling hot but we’re gearing up for fall races.  I mean, you know it’s seriously hot when the cooler of water looks like this:

041But when your goal is a 15K, half-marathon, or marathon some time in the fall, now’s the time to start training.  And Tulsa has a lot of great races coming up in the fall–Tulsa Run 15K, Route 66 marathon.  I’m giddy with excitement!

Yep.  That means–HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!  But this time I’ll be training for a half marathon, instead of the entire 26.2 miles.  I’ve been in a running slump for most of this year, struggling with pace, distance, and just enjoyment of the sport, and I’m just not mentally prepared for the rigorous, 30-40 miles of running a week marathon training involves.  This summer I’ve just taken it easy.  I’ve run at a pace that felt good, not pushing myself, running when I wanted to instead of running because I felt I had to.

And I’m feeling my running mojo return.

Last night I attended The First Mile.  Hundreds of runners descended on a local Fleet Feet (running) store, gathered into pace groups, and took off 043in the insufferable heat for a 1-mile or 3-mile run.  Me?  I went for the 3 mile run.  One mile’s just a warm up!

And it was awesome!  I saw some friends I haven’t seen in months, and getting to run with them was just great.  The run felt good, and I came back feeling excited to begin training again.  But first, I hung out in the shade holding up the wall for a while.  It was stinkin’ HOT!  I was ever so grateful for the lady who came around passing out cold, wet towels.  Heaven, I tell you!042Once I cooled off, I enjoyed some of the free goodies–sweet potato burrito and a green apple Sno-Cone.  I seriously can’t remember when I last had a Sno-Cone, and in this heat, it was divine!

047046

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here we go again!  My goal is a half-marathon PR with a finish time of 2 hours or less.  I’ll have to work hard for that, but I’m feeling excited and ready to go for it.  Come along with me on my half-marathon adventure and see if I get that PR!

Talk to me:

What’s a new goal you’ve set for yourself?

What’s  your favorite Sno-Cone flavor?

Save

Sunny Sleeps

Hey, humans!  Sunny here again.  My human has had a lot of trouble sleeping lately.  I don’t get that since day time is like the best time ever to sleep.  But since it doesn’t know how to sleep during the day, I’m hijacking its blog again to give you some daytime sleeping tips.

011The first tip to sleeping during the day is finding something to rest your head on.

 

 

012

 

Second, find a comfortable position.  It may take a while, but when you find that position, just close your eyes and you’ll drift right off.

032

 

Third, corners are super comfy.  It’s like having a blanket wrapped around you.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll fall asleep in a corner.

 

 

029And lastly, keeping the light out your eyes can help you sleep during the day.  Now, light doesn’t bother me too much, but I’ve noticed my human wants things dark when it’s trying to sleep.  Strange, but if you must, sleep with your head under the blanket.  Let me tell you, there’s no light under there!

 

 

So there you go.  That’s all there’s to getting some good sleep.  Trust me.  I know.  I sleep about 12 hours a day.

Sweet dreams!

Signed Sunny, the cat

My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Coming off the clean eating challenge, I’ve been spending more time searching out and trying new recipes, which equals more time in the kitchen.  I’ve found there are a few gadgets that I use frequently that make cooking so much easier.  Now, I’m not promoting any company.  These are just the brands I happened to purchase, and I have no other experience with other brands that produce similar products.

  1.  Magic Bullet.  I usually drink at least one protein shake a day, either after coming home from the007 gym, a run or as I’m getting ready for my night shift at the hospital.  I love the ease of using this mini blender.  I just throw everything in and presto!  I have a perfectly blended shake in under a minute with relatively little cleanup.  I also like the strength of this blender.  Here I’m trying out my hand at making almond meal (basically finely ground almonds to take the place of flour).  Making almond meal took a bit of time, and I had to keep shaking the container to get the larger nut pieces to fall down to the bottom by the blades, but I wound up with some nice almond meal!  I also love using my Magic Bullet for making my own ranch dressing (from cashews!  Really!  I’ll have to tell you about it one day.)
  2. George Foreman grill.  For the longest time, I just threw so028me chicken in the oven to bake, but then I discovered this little personal grill.  In a matter of minutes, I can have tasty, moist grilled chicken, salmon, or turkey burgers.  I’m anxious to try it out on some veggie burgers and grilled veggies.  And I love the ease of clean up.  No pans with stuck on chicken drippings.
  3. Kitchen scale.  One thing that became super helpful to me in attaining and maintaining a significant weight loss was portion control.  I picked up this kitchen scale for around $10, and it’s been incredibly helpful to keep me on track with portions.  It has both metric and standard measures, so when some recipes call for so many grams of an ingredient, I can put the scale on the 006metric measure and figure out how much 114 grams of zucchini is.  Or I can measure out 3 ounces of meat for a serving instead of just eyeballing it.
  4. Garlic press.  This may seem like a funny gadget to list among my 0149ef10166b9e45ac93ea5eec9dfd67a4ac5cf3fffavorites, but I use it all. the. time.  I cook with a lot of fresh garlic, so having a press to mince those cloves of garlic is so much easier and faster than chopping it up by hand.  This press is not of great quality, but it does the job.
  5. Shaker cup.  Here’s another one of those kind of odd gadgets to mention among my favorites, but I love my shaker cups.  I’ve found that if I take a serving of my favorite chocolate protein powder to work and make a shake close to quitting time, it curbs my hunger and my desire for unhealthy sugary treats.  I have one shaker cup that uses a wire whisk kind of ball.  I don’t like this one as much; it doesn’t get the powder off the side of the cup very well.  My favorite cups have the harder ball inside that really blends that powder as well as a blender.018057f86b4751e42f874c551a009026acad20ad46Here’s to happy, healthy cooking–and eating!

Talk to me:

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

If money was not an obstacle, what’s one kitchen gadget you’d love to have?

Clean Eating Challenge

Back towards the beginning of May, a friend I CrossFit with, knowing I’m in the process of launching my own personal training business, asked if she could tell me about the clean eating program that got her on the road to health and feeling better, something I may be able to share with clients.  I have to say, even with my nursing background, when it comes to nutrition and how to guide someone into making the best decisions for weight loss, I just feel overwhelmed.  Anyone else feel like that?  There’s so much seemingly contradictory information out there.  And here’s the thing:  nutrition is THE most important part of weight loss.  Exercise all you want, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

On top of that, I found myself stuck in a bit of a food rut.  Terrified of gaining weight again, I’d basically been eating the same foods I’d eaten during my weight loss process.  But having gained a few pounds in the last 6 months, I found that even following that routine, my weight wasn’t budging.

So I said, “Sure.  I’d love to learn about that.”

Now, my friend is an Arbonne consultant and the program recommends using Arbonne supplements.  But before you tune me out, let me just say, regardless of your feelings about Arbonne, supplementation, and the like, what I learned about clean eating was worth the money for the starter kit.  And no, this is not a post about Arbonne.  I just want to tell you about my adventure into clean eating.

So the challenge consists of 30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no peanuts, no wheat, gluten or soy.  And the only fruit I was supposed to eat was green apples and berries.  Yeah.  When I looked at that, I asked myself the same question I heard from a gazillion people who heard what I was doing:  “What do you eat?”

I mean seriously, what was I going to eat?  I usually had yogurt and peanut butter every day.  Seriously, every day.  And I often ate whole wheat tortillas and bananas.  Would I be able to run without a banana to fuel me?  And no chocolate covered almonds?  I could almost feel myself twitching at the thought.  But I was also intrigued.  Could one eat tasty food that eliminated so many products?

In a word, YES!  If you think about it, really all the program did was eliminate highly processed foods.  The basis of clean eating is eating foods that are as close to the way God created them as possible–cage free eggs, grass-fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables, brown rice, nuts (aside from peanuts).  It emphasizes the quality of the food.

And the idea behind eliminating certain foods is to help identify how your body reacts to them.  The program is commonly referred to as a “detox”.  Now, I tend to think that if your liver and kidneys are in good working order, the body naturally detoxifies itself, but I was intrigued by the idea that some of these highly processed foods may be affecting me without my knowledge.  I wondered what would happen if I eliminated them.

Thankfully, the program provided recipes.  So I would pick one or two dishes to make for the week, buy the groceries for those meals, and choose one day to meal prep (which usually took about 1 hour).  These are some of the things I ate:

001Apple slices with almond butter

 

 

 

 

 

004Spaghetti squash with homemade sauce

 

 

 

 

 

003Grilled salmon, cilantro lime quinoa, salad with homemade ranch dressing (it’s amazing what you can do with cashews!)

 

 

 

 

002Blackened chicken with a spinach and raw veggie/black bean salad

 

 

 

 

 

And these are just SOME of my meals!  I learned about cooking with fresh herbs, combining spices to make the most delicious flavorings for salmon and chicken, the wonder of fresh lemons and limes.  I discovered a whole new way of cooking!

But the bottom line, as I’m sure you’re dying to know, did I lose weight?

Let me tell you what the challenge did for me:

  1.  I lost 4.4 pounds.  It doesn’t sound like much, but at my size losing anything over about a half pound per week is a LOT of weight.  And I lost a little over a pound a week without trying.  I ate good food, and I ate when I was hungry and until I was full.
  2. I lost an inch around my waist at my bellybutton, 4 inches (I know!  Couldn’t believe it!) around my lower belly where that stubborn fat roll just wouldn’t budge, and an inch off my hips.
  3. I went from having nearly daily headaches requiring some kind of pain aid to 2 headaches in the entire 4 weeks.
  4. I lost that sluggish feeling that I thought was just normal for a night shift worker.  I still feel tired frequently because my sleep schedule is totally out of whack, but even when I’m tired I don’t have that brain fog going on.  Anyone know what I mean?  And I’m finding I have more energy overnight at work.
  5. Nearly all my sugar cravings are gone.  I thought I would have a hard time with giving up sugar, but I felt so satisfied with the food I was eating, I didn’t really miss it.  A couple of times I had a rather strong chocolate craving, but I felt way more in control and was able to resist the temptation.

So now the challenge is over, and I have to decide what to do.  Will I incorporate those eliminated foods back in or not?  There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to because I feel amazing, but I also want to be able to eat with my friends and not stress out about what I’m eating.  I think I’ll probably wind up doing what most people do after the challenge–follow clean eating habits at least 80% of the time.

I’m excited to continue to incorporate this new way of eating/cooking into my life!  I’m experimenting with baking with almond and coconut flour, and I can’t wait to try arrowroot.  I’m also anxious to pull out my favorite recipes and see how I can “clean” them up.  Eating has become an adventure, and I’m loving the ride!

Talk to me:

What makes eating healthy hard for you?

What are you eating these days?

What’s your thought on clean eating?

 

Save