Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Difference of Fuel

October 1st I began a nutrition program through Swim, Bike, Fuel. 

Swim Bike Fuel is all about eating whole, nutritious, as organic as possible, healthy food. The goal is to feed your body the best fuel possible to become better athletes. And to really become healthier overall.

I've changed quite a few things with this program. I'm not counting calories which is freeing. I don't have to obsess about how much food I've had today. I just focus on making the best possible choices, cutting down on sugar, and giving up artificial sweeteners. I haven't had Diet soda in a month!!

The lessons are given one day at a time so that it isn't overwhelming. Eating out is still hard, but I've been trying to choose the best choices, more veggies and less wheat and refined carbs. There is a 20% allowance for the non-great food. I've been doing okay at that, maybe went over last week, but I've been staying aware which is different. Staying conscious of what I'm putting in my body and more importantly if what I'm eating will make me sick or not is a pretty big deal. Usually I would just eat it no matter what. I have also come to realize that regular wheat bread makes my weight go up and a bit bloated.

So what I've been eating lately:

Green Smoothie - organic soy milk, banana, baby spinach, avocado, and chia seeds.
Or Chicken Sausage, part of a sweet potato that I baked, and an egg.

This week home made squash soup with grilled chicken.
Last week I had Taco Salad twice. Salad, meat and been chili, tomato and salsa. I skipped the sour cream and cheese. 

Maybe chicken, with vegetables and some quinoa.
I've still been using Blue Apron, so every other week I've been eating the meals they send. This is a good way for me to stay on track and eat fresh, whole food.

As of today, I've lost 6 pounds. That's a healthy weight loss of 2 pounds a week, so I'm okay with that. I'm still a work in progress in getting my exercise consistent. I have been working out at least 4 times a week, but I'd like to get to 5-6 days. And if I can keep my back pain in check that would help a whole lot!

I took measurements at the beginning of the program so when it is over I'll retake my measurements and look at the comparison. But I can really tell when I'm on point with the balanced eating. It really does make me feel better.  

Oh, and I also just took a big leap and signed up for a half marathon trail race that will be two days before my birthday!
The Babcock Gristmill Grinder!

The Gristmill from the Sticks and Stones race I did last year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bridge Day 5k

In 2013 a 5k would have been nothing for me to run. That is what I ran when I didn't have a lot of time. On Saturday, October 15th, a 5k was a big deal. I've worked on getting back to that mileage. I'm slower, a lot slower.

And it wasn't easy.

Let's start on Friday. I joined my sisters in an adventure in itself. We went tent camping for the night. It was located in Fayetteville, WV (the location of the race) which is not far from where I live. We got the tent set up. Realized it has two holes in it because it's probably twenty years old and was given to me by my grandfather. So I crossed my fingers that it didn't rain.

After dinner and trying to find my sisters friend who ended up going the completely wrong direction and having to stay with my mom, we went to the bar at the campground to watch several bands play. I should note that the bands didn't start until 10 pm. I usually go to bed at 10! And close crowds are not my scene. And I'm trying to not drink a bunch of alcohol so that it doesn't throw my body off course from eating healthy. Needless to say by 12:30 I was back at our campsite, sitting by the fire. I went to bed shortly thereafter. I was doing okay with my three blankets on top (it dropped into the 40's) and two sleeping bags underneath me for some cushion...for about an hour. Then the musicians decided to move the party to their cabin. Which was right behind our tents. All night. Literally all night of singing, loud talking, laughing, etc. I woke up at 6:20am to get ready and they were still going. How in the hell did they still have voices after that long???

Other than being tired and a bit pissed, I felt okay. I was afraid my back would act up from being on the ground all night, but I got lucky and after some stretching it felt okay.

I was at the high school by 7am to pick up my bib. I ate peanut butter and banana on a slice of Ezekiel bread for breakfast in my warm car. We had to load onto buses by 8 to get to the start line, so I just hung out, looked at Facebook for a while, used the port-o-potty, stretched some more until 8.

Security for this event was extremely high. Higher than any other race I've been to. We listened to the local police give us directions and they checked anything we took with us. Bags weren't allowed. I suppose they are rightly cautious in this day and age of any bomb material that people could take on the bridge. The FBI was even there!

We had a strict start time of 9:15. Therefore, we just had to hang out on the side of the highway for an hour. Since this is the inaugural event, maybe that will change in the future, but it got to be a bit boring. No one was allowed onto the bridge yet, but they had bathrooms that everyone could use. Which was a good thing! I did meet a lady, Lynn, on the bus who lives in Fairmont. Where I used to live. So I got to reminisce about the wonderful trails in that area that I miss so much.

Lynn and I at the finish line.
FINALLY, 9:15 came and we were off!

Going across the New River Gorge Bridge was beautiful. I tried to take it all in.

My first running selfie, haha

The morning had started out relatively chilly, so most of us had on jackets. The race offered to take our things to the finish line, but most of us kept ours. I think we all regretted that. Two minutes on the bridge in the sun and I was hot! But it was beautiful! And my sisters arrived to the bridge in time to see me go by! That made my day!

I was still smiling at this point! After the highway, it was all hills. I don't think I've ever run on so many hills for a 5k ever! They had posted a video of the race course, but I didn't bother watching it. Maybe it was a good thing I didn't because I would have been dreading it. I knew there were some hills, but I didn't expect them to be as steep as they were. I'm not ashamed to say that I walked up just about all of them.

Walking the first hill

If you want to see the race course video you can go here, https://splice.gopro.com/v?id=D6n44zX1q

After a lot more hills and a loop around the town park, my watch vibrated with the notification of three miles. We weren't close to the finish yet! Turns out it was more around 3.65 miles long rather than the 3.1 it was supposed to be. But that was okay. My time was off because of that, but I knew it was going to be slow. I finished with a time of 45 mins and 46 seconds. I was happy to be done!

After I got my beautiful handmade medal for finishing I met my sisters to enjoy the festivities.

By the time I finished, the bridge was pretty packed. We had a good time though. The jumpers from the bridge are crazy! Here are a few pictures from the day.
"Jumping from the bridge" yeah right!

Add caption

Can you tell we are sisters?

Santa? Kei finally made it safely to Bridge Day (after getting lost the night before)

Those specks are people!

We probably walked another three miles that day! But it was a beautiful day.

After lunch in town and packing up our campsite, I immediately went home, showered, and took a two hour nap. It was glorious!

In all, I wasn't exactly happy with how my 5k turned out. I was glad I could do it and finish it. However, I was hoping that my legs would have been stronger. That is something I am now working on. I set up my bike trainer and I'm already working in more strength training.

I also wasn't thrilled to see how I looked in the photos of the race. I long for a day where I am happy with how I look. But it's a work in progress. I definitely feel better now that my eating habits are getting better. I can already tell a difference in my energy levels. I've lost a few pounds and I'm pretty sure I've already lost some weight around my waist. So that is all good. But really I am just so happy right now that I can do any of this that what I look like is an after thought. I know I can get stronger, it will take consistency though.

My next race will be the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, so I'll keep working at it all. And it's a flat course so I'm hoping to see my finish time to be closer to 32-34 minutes. But we'll see!

Until next time, I will be consistent with my exercise and eating habits and work on getting stronger! :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

In 7 Months

I haven't blogged in about 7 months! I suppose that I just didn't feel worthy of writing anything down, since I haven't been doing much and having such a hard time with my health.

But I've been trying to turn myself around and feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

I did have a few 'big' things happen this summer:

1. Um I got Married!!

It was a small get together. We got married on the steps of my great grandfather's church. We had our close friends and family there. Then we simply went to one of our favorite restaurants, had a wonderful meal and cake that his sister made for us. It was perfect!

We wanted  a small wedding so that we could have a nice honeymoon.

Hello, Alaska!

We went to Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Anchorage, and the Prince William Sound. It was all gorgeous. We had a blast! I'd love to go back and do some hiking. We only had about a week, so we were limited on what we could see. I absolutely loved it though!

2. I've been running, kind of.

It has been slow going. My back is still not right which makes running correctly kind of hard. I have bulging discs which over the summer I had my nerves burned (it's called radiofrequency ablation) to help with the pain. It helped some, but I still have pain. I'm trying though. I used Runs For Cookies training plan to get back up to three miles. It's pretty damn humbling, when you were used to running half marathons and now I'm not sure I can do the 5k I have on schedule for tomorrow. It's damn frustrating!

But I have to work slowly. I have to strengthen my core so that my whole body is stronger and my back won't be so week.

I am excited for the 5k in a way though. It's the inaugural race for a big event that we have in our area. It's the Bridge Day 5k.
(This picture is from their website.) But I get to run across that bridge and be among the first to do so! The race supports Active Southern WV, which is an organization whose mission is to make our communities in this area more active and healthier. Which is awesome!

I just hope I don't die!

Depending on how this goes, I'll start either increasing my mileage or just work on getting stronger and better at running this distance. We'll see.

3. I've began a new nutrition plan/class. It's with the popular Swim Bike Mom group, called Swim Bike Fuel. I am not a mother, but its great for people that are/want to be active and need help nutritionally to fuel themselves.

It began on October 1st and it has been eye opening to say the least. I've learned so much already about added sugars in our food, artificial sweeteners (goodbye Diet Coke!), and what's best for me.

It's a six week course, so I still have a ways to go, but I'm learning. I've already implemented quite a few of the lessons, such as giving up Diet soda, cutting back on the added sugar in my food, and planning when I want to have a treat and when I need to pass. And water! I've been drinking so much water! Most days now I've been consuming more than 100 ounces of water per day. Which is crazy to me. I've never been good about drinking this much. I've also never had to pee so much in my life!

Next step is working on getting more green veggies in my life.

I've definitely been having withdraw from the sugar and artificial sweetener. My head hurt and sometimes I feel extremely tired, but I know it's from years of feeding my body unhealthy foods. I'm really happy I made the commitment to eat healthier. I'm not going to be perfect at it, but it feels good to be trying. It's also really nice to have a group to lean on and to learn from. Because I have been getting some harsh/funny looks and comments when I tell people that I'm cutting back on certain foods.

There will be more adventures in my future, I'll just have to take it somewhat slower for now.

Walking with Mattie and my family at Babcock State Park

Part of the Appalachian Trail, WV

Appalachian Trail

You never know what you'll see when you go outside!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lost Weekend

Last weekend, I did the opposite of being healthy. I participated in an awesome event called Lost Weekend.

It is called thus because by the end you have no idea what day it is and where your weekend went. I drove 4+ hours to Winchester, VA to watch 20 films in one weekend. Yes, TWENTY films! The local film club at the Alamo Theater put on this event and a friend of mine invited me. Though I was worried about not being able to walk because of my back after sitting for more than 40 hours, I went for all 20 films. And I'm so glad I did. They were awesome. All independent films, including a couple of animated and some foreign films. Some were ones that I would not ordinarily watch on my own, but turned out to be do good.

First film called The Lobster. Yes that is a Lobster bib and a Lobster Costume.
At The Alamo they serve food, not just popcorn and nachos, but actual food. Which I loved. We don't have one of those, but I wish we did.  But I ate the most unhealthy options all weekend! It began with Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes with a side of fruit on Friday morning (which I then had on both Saturday and Sunday because they were so good), the popcorn (of course) with unlimited refills (awesome!), turkey club, some cheese fries, and then some mozzarella sticks and fries. I had a pizza at some point as well. It was all kind of blur. But it's obvious that I went to town. Afterwards the bad eating kind of reminded me of eating while by myself. It was okay to eat all that junk because it was dark and no one could see me. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it, including the Makers Mark Milkshakes that I had! But I just wonder if I would have chosen differently if I hadn't been in a dark theater. One thing is for sure, my legs and feet did not thank me for all of the salt! My feet were quite swollen by Sunday. I did a lot of stretching and used a pillow for my back though, so I was actually okay on that front. I did take some ibuprofen a couple of times when I started to feel stiff. 
We got crowns for watching all twenty! They will also have a small gathering with food where people can buy the next tickets early if they watched all twenty which was cool. I got some great swag as well. Including a cloth bag, a wine glass (with a sample of wine), candy, and coupons. Here is a list of what we saw:
The Lobster
The Vanished Elephant
Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore Documentary)
45 Years (really good)
Wild Tales
Nina Forever
Men and Chicken (probably one of my favorite strangely)
Boy and The World (Animated)
A Tale of Tales (another favorite)
An Honest Liar
Sea Fog
Louder Than Bombs
Monster Hunt (Animated, so cute)
Youth  (Really Good)
Mustang (Another good one)
Men Go To Battle
Carol (Fantastic)
Liza The Fox-Fairy (This one was funny, but I was happy it was a Hungarian film, since I lived there!)

There were a few Oscar Nominees in the line up which was fun. We went to a small Oscars party after the last movie on Sunday. It was nice knowing at least some of the movies that were nominated, haha.

Yesterday I did another thing that I've been wanting to do. My nephew, niece, sister and I went to an Indoor Climbing Gym. It's been open a few weeks. I don't have a lot of upper arm strength so I was a little nervous to try it, but it was a lot of fun. My nephew only tried it once, but made it about half-way up the wall. The wall goes about 35 feet up and there were endless variations. There are different color variations to follow with different levels of how hard it is. We of course tried some of the beginner ones. My niece and I both made up all the way on one of the easiest sections, but only about half way one the slightly harder one, haha! We both liked it and definitely will go again. Maybe my sister will try it next time. The belayers (those who hold the rope and kept us from killing ourselves) were really friendly and encouraging of us newbies!

After getting shaky from climbing we enjoyed some hot drinks there and played a board game of 'Would you Rather'. It was a fun little night and the kids really enjoyed it.

My sister and I also tried making soap for the first time. I've started using Essential Oils (DoTerra Brand) and we decided to give it a go. The first batch turned out pretty well. We used Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil), Frankincense, and Lemongrass. I think it will help with dry skin. We also used a Shea Butter base which should help with dry skin. We bought the supplies for it at Hobby Lobby. It was rather easy and kind of fun!

Today I enjoyed a nice trail run with ol' pup. It was a really nice day out and we had a good time in the mud. Did three miles today with lots of sniffing stops.

The annual AmazingRace that I have tried to do most years in Tennessee is coming up the first of May. I would really like to get my 5K time down closer to 30 minutes like it used to be. I'm not sure there is enough time, with only about 8 weeks left, but I think I will try. I'll have to look if there are any plans that are short enough. But I'm hoping if I buckle down, add speed work and more strength training that I can get close. I would have to really improve in those eight weeks though. My last 5K was around 35 minutes! If I don't reach it then, maybe that will be a good goal for the coming summer.

Well I should get packing, I'm off to Washington, DC for work tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Getting There

I wanted to wait to write another post until I had a real update for my back, for my mental state, for my food intake, good or bad. And here it is:

Bulging Discs in my back:

I had the steroid/ numbing agent shots on December 1st and December 15th. The first shot helped exactly zero. The second shot did help some. However, the biggest help has been the new physical therapist. The one I went to the at the beginning of the summer felt like a personal trainer of sorts. The new one actually felt like what I had in my head that a physical therapist should be. I had my last appointment this past Thursday. After about 8 weeks of physical therapy I'm getting stronger and feeling better. I still have some bad days, like after I decided to shovel heavy snow yesterday. Stretching really helps though. I have to work on getting my hips stronger. I couldn't believe how week my hips are when I have to lift my legs to the side. See the move on the far left.

I'm also doing a lot of hip thrusts, butt squeezes, and band workouts, haha.

Mental State:

Doing much better. I've been able to get to running more on a regular basis, which helps my moods immensely. I've had some lazy days, it is winter after all, but I've had the energy and the outlook enough to make myself get up and do something. That's not as easy when you're feeling down. I still can't wait until it's warm outside and sunny later in the day! I did venture out on Saturday on the coldest day I've ever tried to run in. It was only 14 degrees Fahrenheit! Of course, as soon as I got out there I thought it was a big mistake, haha. But after I got going and started running it really wasn't bad at all. It wasn't windy which made it very tolerable. The rail trail that I was running on was also pretty clear. Of course, I had to take my Lab/ German Shepherd mix since that trail is sketchy as all get out. I've probably mentioned it before, but it runs through town and unfortunately a lot of drugs and muggers cross it. It's really the only flat place to run that isn't far away. I don't want to have to drive far right now, because I'm only up to 2.5 miles so it wouldn't be worth it. We survived though!

Weight and Food Intake:

Weight hasn't budged despite the fact that I've been doing rather well in keeping track of my calories. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm trying not to let it stress me out. I'm guessing that the further along I get with my running the more probable my weight will drop. My goal is around 1600 calories a day and I usually get right around it. I usually have one day that I'll go beyond that, but not more than 2000 calories. I'm also secretly hoping with all the ab exercises I have to do will get my stomach tighter over time ;)

I haven't signed up for any races yet and there is a reason. I really want to, but I don't want to force myself to over run and end up hurting myself. I want to make sure I get a good base of at least a 10k and then I'll think about races I might want to do. For now though, the goal is to keep getting a stronger core and to build up a comfortable base. I would like to be running comfortably 4-5 times a week with 3-4 days of strength training with stretching everyday.