A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Favorites: A motley crew

Anybody else have hair band rock now in their heads?

I have a really motley assortment of favorite reads this week and apparently a lot to say about them all! A little behind the scenes of this particular regularly-scheduled post: I keep the draft open all week and link the articles I like, along with my thoughts on them, as I go through the week and am frequently surprised by either a totally unintentional theme that emerges or how absolutely unrelated they are! In addition to trying to come up with something to tie all of these random thoughts together, I also have to go edit and take out all of the “I like this . . . ” because that gets boring to read over and over. πŸ™‚ My favorite part is looking through the random photos on my phone from the week to stick in as well.

Gorgeous clouds after our morning thunderstorm!

Gorgeous clouds after our morning thunderstorm!

Jennifer, over at Running on Lentils, has been doing a great series on the Hanson’s Method over the last month or so that you should definitely check out. While I’m incorporating a lot of the principles from that book into my training plan, I wasn’t brave enough to tackle it in its entirety but she is. She’s a rock star! I love the overview she’s giving of the different types of runs in the plan, from Easy to Tempo to Speed Work, which are a great introduction to the concepts of those types of runs in general and to the Hanson’s twist on them in particular. This week’s post on speed work includes links to her prior posts on tempo and easy runs. Definitely check it out! I’d also recommend checking out her recent post on her approach to vegan eating. While I’m not vegan, I am working on less meat in our family’s diet for many of the reasons she cites here in terms of health, environmental impact and industrial practices in raising animals for food. It’s a really rational, interesting discussion of a complicated issue and I highly recommend checking it out.

Another random photo from my week: My non-crafty mom attempt at a dinosaur outfit for dress up day at preschool this week. Not to bad for something we had to work around swim day clothes as well! I promise O colored the eyes.

Another random photo from my week: My non-crafty mom attempt at a dinosaur outfit for dress up day at preschool this week. Not to bad for something we had to work around swim day clothes as well! I promise O colored the eyes.

I really liked this post from Livestrong this week, with Gabby Reece’s 8 Tips for Living a Balanced Life. I was particularly intrigued by the mindset of addressing your worst habit. Tackling one problem at a time is so much less overwhelming and helps avoid the mindset of “I’m not doing anything right.” I may try that on days where I feel like I’m struggling. I also absolutely agree that there’s no way to have it all. We have to think about our priorities and choose what gets our focus in any given moment. That may change from moment to moment and we have to forgive ourselves for the fact that we have to make tough choices some days.

I mentioned yesterday that I have a friend who is starting to run (Yay Kallie!) and one of the things she and I have discussed is how running goes from being fun to not fun within any given run (SO true) and how you feel after you’ve finished the run. I run for a lot of reasons, but I don’t often think of “fun” as one of them – certainly not at 5 am when the alarm clock goes off. Talking to Kallie reminding me of the euphoria of those first run intervals, in that “holy cow I’m really doing this!” sense. I definitely feel that some days and I almost always derive a huge sense of satisfaction from finishing a run and tackling a big training plan. I’m doing this weekend’s 6 mile as a local 10K, knowing I’ll likely have my first last-in-age group finish based on prior year’s times for this run, just because races are fun. With that in mind this week, I found Jessica’s post about Was It Ever Fun? really thought provoking. It’s important to evaluate our fitness of choice periodically to see if we’re still getting what we need out of it, not just in physical fitness or calorie burning (because you can get those lots of ways), but in terms of joy and satisfaction and sanity. There are lots of ways to move and be active and if you can find one that truly brings you joy, you’re much more likely to stick with it. As I’m slogging through summer runs, with slow paces and huge efforts thanks to the heat and humidity, I was especially struck by her last comment: “I need to let go of the part of me that is attached to outcomes.” Keeping the joy in mind, regardless of the “grade” we get on a particular workout, is such an important goal.

Did you guys see the news that the NFL now has a female coach? As a football lover (I am Southern after all), I think this is very exciting news. As someone who works in a field without many women in the upper echelons of power, I also really appreciate the fact that now she can serve as a role model for other women considering that career path. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping other younger women find a way to be successful. I also like the part about the cheerleaders helping with her hair. We hear so much about women being catty and evil to each other, so that kind of support is cool.

For our usual dose of smiles and cuteness, check out this post “If Disney Princesses Were Moms“. I’m a little gratified to see that Ariel grew up to see the error of her ways. πŸ™‚

This weekend, I’ll be running a local 10K since I had a 6 mile run on the schedule for Sunday anyway – when did I become someone who signs up for last minute races “just because?” I also have a girl’s night tonight to see the movie Trainwreck. Wish my socially awkward / introverted self luck with that since this is a new thing and newish bunch of girls for me! Stepping outside of my comfort zone is good for me, right?

Have a great weekend!

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Simple tips for running form (from a total non-expert)

I have a friend who is getting started running (Yay for her!), which has me thinking a lot about beginner running questions. I know that when I first started out, I would get overwhelmed by thinking about the form of how you’re supposed to run and wondering whether I was doing it “right.” Obviously, I’m not an elite runner or a sports medicine specialist or anything like that (so be sure to get advice from a real professional) but these are the things I keep in mind:

Take shorter steps, with your foot landing underneath you: I cannot concentrate on heel striking versus mid foot striking or anything like that when I run – it’s just too much for my brain! However, I do frequently remind myself to keep my steps shorter and keep my feet landing underneath me. As a beginner it felt like I need to take longer strides to get faster and it turns out that just the opposite is true generally! Also, by not overstriding, I’ve minimized a lot of the trouble I had early on with plantar fasciitis and other aches and pains. There are also lots of tips about using these shorter steps to increase your cadence or foot turnover, but that’s frankly beyond my mental abilities most days. πŸ™‚ You should totally try that if you can though.

Drop your shoulders! When I first started running, I would frequently find myself with these sharp pains and aches in my shoulders afterwards. I expected leg pain but shoulder pain? That threw me off. It turns out, I tend to hunch my shoulders when I’m working hard. Now I periodically check my shadow and my shoulders to see if I’m out of whack. I’m not the only person with this problem, apparently, as it frequently comes up in form tips. One of my favorite ways I’ve seen to address it is consciously raising and lowering your shoulders at every mile marker to recenter things. I also liked the tip I saw a while back that said to imagine a super hero cape flying from your shoulders. What better visualization could there for your running?

Sunny days can be good for form checks!

Sunny days can be good for form checks!

Keep your hands soft: Hunching your shoulders and clenching your fists not only leave you with weird aches and pains after the run, but they also waste energy that the rest of your body needs to run. Keep your hands soft, as if you were holding an egg (or in my case frequently, a flower you see on the side of the road that you pick for your flower loving boy).

Running the last two miles holding Oliver's flower kept me focused on not clenching my fists.

Running the last two miles holding Oliver’s flower kept me focused on not clenching my fists.

Lean forward from your ankles or your hips, not your waist: You don’t want to hunch over. It isn’t efficient and it doesn’t feel good. I find myself doing this going uphill, so I visualize a lasso from my hips to whatever tree/light post/person is ahead of me to pull me along without bending over.

Swing your arms to power your run: Yes, your arms actually help you run (so I should totally drop and do push ups RIGHT NOW). Importantly, be sure they’re swinging in a way that helps you run – i.e. back and forth, not across your body. Twisting your center mass constantly is not a good way to move forward more efficiently.

Tweaking your running form can make you a more efficient runner and decrease your chance of injury. If you’re having pain with your running, going to a physical therapist or other sports medicine specialist who could evaluate your form may be really helpful in identifying problems. Thankfully, (knock on wood) I haven’t had any long lasting or serious running injuries but I frequently self-check my form. It’s a great way to distract myself when I’m in the middle of a long run (or at the END of a long run, when I know my form can suffer) or to feel like I’m doing good “work” in my easy runs that might otherwise seem useless. Don’t worry – I know easy runs are important and good work. Obviously, running form is a hugely complex thing and there are lots more nuances to it than the things I’ve mentioned here but these are the little things I find it easy to think about on my runs as a purely recreational runner.

For more information from far more expert people, check out these articles:

Ten Changes to Improve Your Running Form

The Starting Line: Proper Running Form

Good Running Form for Beginners

Do you check your form while you’re running? Have you ever been formally evaluated? I confess, I’m a little afraid that if I were formally evaluated, they’d tell me I was doing it all wrong and I’d have to start over!

If you were a beginner runner, what questions would you have?

 

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Looking back on a month without tracking or a weigh in

I’m coming to the end of a month without weighing in or tracking any food and it’s been interesting. I won’t lie – I’m a little terrified of weighing in this weekend for the first time in such a long time, after a month that included a birthday and a week in Italy. This is the longest I’ve gone without weighing in YEARS and I’m at two plus months now without tracking food.

I did fairly well this month, even with Italy. Loads of veggies - the tomatoes were SO fresh

I did fairly well this month, even with Italy. Loads of veggies – the tomatoes were SO fresh

Despite my fear of the weigh in this weekend (which is a whole ‘nother thing we’ll get to in a minute), there have been a lot of benefits to this month.

– I’ve been much more mindful than usual of my food choices because I don’t have the “excuse” of having a recent good or “good enough” weigh in. This has made me realize that I’ve used being happy with the number on the scale as a rationale for lots of suboptimal food choices. After all, if I didn’t gain weight after a week where I ate too much pie or granola bars on every ride home, then those things are fine, right? The problem with that mindset is that it totally ignores the quality of the food. It matters less how the things I eat affect the number on the scale and more how it affects my overall health and those two things aren’t necessarily related shockingly enough. This really has made me a lot more thoughtful about food as fuel, which is one of my big goals for this year. The overall quality of my diet has been a lot better this month, if you don’t count all of that wine in Italy.

– Without the “earned it” mentality of calorie/point tracking, I’m finding that a lot fewer treats are “worth it”. When I think about foods in terms of “Is this really worth it as a once in a while indulgence” versus “Is the worth spending my last 300 calories on,” I surprisingly find myself being a lot more selective in my treats.

– I’m also not falling into the trap of spending my “earned it” calories/points on less-nutritionally sound foods. I had the major hungries all day yesterday after running 8 miles Sunday, 2 miles Monday night and 3 miles Tuesday morning. That was a lot more mileage in a short amount of time than I’ve done in a while and it just left me super hungry. In times gone past, I’d look at the calories I’d burned and say that I was hungry and therefore entitled to that last Gooey Butterfinger Bar on the counter (yes, there’s still ONE left). Instead, I found myself thinking about healthier choices to feed that hunger as well as strategies to avoid these “rungries” in the future with the onset of 6-day-a-week running this week (here’s hoping the Hanson’s cumulative fatigue approach pays off).

All of these things definitely feed my overall goal of learning to see food as a fuel for a healthy life. The question I struggle with in my mind is the fear of weight gain. If I keep this up, not tracking and sporadically weighing in with an on-going mindfulness about my choices, is that good enough? How much weight can I gain before this approach is no longer good enough? Why is that even a question – why is the number on the scale such a big factor that I’m afraid of weighing in this weekend? It shouldn’t be, I know, and yet I know that I can rationalize things away until my clothes no longer fit. Finding the balance between avoiding the weight gain I know carries health risks and breaking free of this over-reliance on the scale as a measure of my health and self worth is SO hard. I don’t know that there’s a good answer to this but it’s where I’m struggling now and where I have struggled for a while. I know that the benefits I’m getting from focusing on food quality and learning to be mindful outweigh the risks of weight gain by giving up weighing in and tracking (because make no mistake, those are both well proven strategies in weight loss/maintenance and giving them up is a risk) but that’s easier said than done.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

For now, I think I’m going to keep this strategy going. I’m stepping up to 6 days of running a week in my half marathon training and good nutrition is going to be very important to support that. I need to keep my focus on quality and taking it off calories is the best way I’ve found to do that, weirdly. As a safeguard, I’ll keep up my body fat measurements every Saturday morning and I will weigh in once a month. I’ll also do some tracking the first week of August and use the Racing Weight score system to check in. I’ll do it again at the end of the month to be sure I’m still on track. And of course, I’ll continue to over share with you guys about all of this mental wrangling because it really does help me stay on track. πŸ™‚ Thankfully, August includes NO travel and only one family birthday, so the temptations to stray (ah, the lovely wines of Italy!) will be less than they were this month.

Do you find that you make better food choices or worse when you stop tracking calories? Am I nuts? I know I’m overthinking, of course and I also know that it is ridiculous to be afraid of the scale. We should be afraid of snakes and dinosaurs, not inanimate objects on the bathroom floor. πŸ™‚

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Tuesdays on the Run: Core Strength and Running

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Core Strength and Running, which is coming at a perfect time for me as I find my training ramping up (speed work and tempo runs next week). I know how important it is to keep regular strength training as part of a running plan and yet still, I put it off or forget about it even though it can be easy to work in. Core work is the one thing I’m pretty regular about because I definitely notice a difference in how I feel with my non-running life when I keep up with planking more so than with all of the other strength training I know I should be doing. Thanks as always to April, Patty and Erika for hosting!

Tuesdays-on-the-run1

Core strength is important for daily life as much as it is for running, in terms of improving balance (key for long injury free life!), avoiding/minimizing back pain and improving stability with movement. Those issues are especially important with running. Your mechanics are a lot more efficient when the center of your mass is stable, right? I even remember reading somewhere that adding core strength makes you faster and who wouldn’t like that? Sadly, I don’t think core work is necessarily going to be the complete solution to having abs of steel thanks the layers of fluff and loose skin we tend to carry over those stellar muscles so I tend to focus more on the FUNCTION I’m gaining with core work than any cosmetic benefit.

I have a feeling I'm going to look a little pregnant for the rest of my life.

I have a feeling I’m going to look a little pregnant for the rest of my life.

First, a caveat: I’m not a trainer or sports medicine professional of any kind so these are just the things I like. Always get advice from an actual professional!

Planks are definitely my go-to core exercise because they hit so many different muscle groups (abs, back, arms) and because I can fit them in anywhere/anytime. Here’s a link to the basic plank if you aren’t familiar with them (sorry I have no personal pics!). It’s important to think about your form and be sure you’ve got everything aligned – holding it longer in a bad position won’t do any good! My personal planking best is 2 minutes. I’m thinking of re-instituting a plank every day goal to see if I can beat that.

I have a couple of plank variations I like as well, that I was introduced to by my trainer back in the day when I had one. They up the ante in terms of arm and shoulder strength and as a busy mom, anything that allows to work out multiple muscle groups (core and upper body) is one move is a huge bonus. Check out plank up and downs here (plank on forearms up to full arm and back) and plank with shoulder taps here (that’s a good starter list of body weight exercises in general). What’s really cool to me is remembering that I literally COULD NOT do these when I first started with the trainer back in late 2012/early 2013, but got stronger and got the hang of them. Even better, I still can do them even though I’m definitely not as diligent with my strength training these days. I still remember Darrell laughing at me as I attempted to demonstrate the up and downs in his office while telling him how evil and crazy my trainer was for thinking a human being could do this. Darrell, of course, could do them easily. Darn testosterone.

For more about the importance of core strength and running, as well as some workout ideas, check out these links:

Build Running-Specific Core Stability

The Core of the Matter

3 Reasons Runners Should Perform Core Workouts

5 Core Exercises that Improve Stability and Running Efficiency

Definitely check out the Tuesday on the Run link up today for more workouts and more info about the importance of core work with running!

On a more personal note, my breath literally caught this morning when this showed up in my Facebook feed:

Oh my baby boy

Oh my baby boy

I cannot believe how fast he’s growing up. I vividly remember this Gymboree playdate and it seems like only yesterday. Instead, I now have a big kid who proudly spelled both Oliver and Jessica for me in the car today (he’s learning to spell my name because he likes me – swoon!) and who has a pre-K graduation already on my calendar. On the one hand, I want to go back and relive my smooshy baby over and over and on the other, I can’t wait to see what he grows up to be. All the feels this morning, seriously.

What’s your favorite non-crunch core workout (I hate crunches!)? Be sure to share and to check out the Tuesdays on the Run link up for more ideas for core strength.

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: When does fall get here anyway?

Oh my it is hot! I keep reminding myself that all of these hot weather runs are getting me ready for a great fall running season. This week was great overall and it felt good to get back onto the workout and healthy eating wagon after traveling. That’s definitely key in keeping vacations from leading to out of control weight gain – when you’re back home, get back to your normal healthy patterns ASAP!

Workouts

Monday Two miles on the treadmill before I picked O up at daycare (single parent day as Darrell was in Arkansas) with a mile without a walk break – it’s amazing how much easier it is to run when you take the weather out of the equation!

TuesdayΒ  Yet another week where I was supposed to run Tuesday and didn’t. If I don’t get back on the right weekday plan of “Tuesday run, Wednesday rest” this week, I’ll need to look at the schedule to be sure I don’t need to shift the week to avoid too big workouts in a row with the training plan increasing in intensity soon.

Wednesday I headed out to run early Wednesday morning. Wednesday isn’t a great day for me to run, schedule-wise, so I didn’t get my 3 miles in like I intended. I ended up at 2.25 miles and just couldn’t drag myself back out in the evening to finish off the 0.75 miles. I had two 2-3 mile runs and two 3 mile runs on the weekday schedule this week, so I just chalked this up as one of the shorter runs. I almost scrapped the run all together because of headphone problems! There’s no reason I’d run in the heat without something to listen to other than my ragged breathing. πŸ™‚

Thursday 3 slow miles at 11 am in the blazing sun – wow was it warm! Still, I got it done at 12:30 pace, reasonable for my easy runs. I also did a round of body weight strength exercises (planks, push ups, squats, bridges, clamshells).

Friday 3 miles, broken up over 1.25 miles on the treadmill before I did a little happy hour date with Darrell and 1.75 miles on the road after O got to bed. I am so proud of myself for getting back out there for that extra little bit so I didn’t cut this day short!

Saturday Cross training on the schedule, which was a 30 minute walk and some body strength exercises.

Sunday 8 HOT miles. It was hazy and like running through a warm damp cloud for the first 3 miles before the sun burned everything off and started blasting down. I am proud that even though my mind was complaining about the heat, my legs just kept plodding along. I did take an extra walk break for water here and there and actually broke out my water belt for the first time so I’d have plenty of hydration.

That haziness did not make for a pleasant run. Add in the fact that I didn't start running until almost 8 am and UGH.

That haziness did not make for a pleasant run. Add in the fact that I didn’t start running until almost 8 am and UGH.

I did some bridges, planks and yoga after the run, as well as using the stick. It’s time to get serious about taking care of my legs post-run!

All in all, I got in 18.25 miles running this week, which is not too shabby for this point in training.

My NSV this week is a big one: I didn’t finish things. I tasted a Key Lime Oreo, which was disappointing, so I threw the rest away. The bread at Outback steakhouse wasn’t as good as I remembered so I didn’t finish the small piece I’d taken. I had a ton of pistachios and a goat cheese thing in a salad that I didn’t love so I didn’t finish them. That’s HUGE for me. That act of saying “I don’t need to keep eating this just because I started” is one of the most difficult and crucial weight loss skills I’ve gained. Yay me!

The biggest victory was taking just a small bite of the awesome Butterfinger brownie bars. They were dangerous so I just had a bite and threw the rest away for self-preservation. :)

The biggest victory was taking just a small bite of the awesome Butterfinger brownie bars. They were dangerous so I just had a bite and threw the rest away for self-preservation.

My good deed was buying school supplies for the drive at O’s preschool. He got a big kick out of helping me unload everything and examining all of the things “big kids” need for school.

Love every chance we get to involve him in giving back to the community.

Love every chance we get to involve him in giving back to the community.

I’m grateful that we got through yesterday’s pool party with no child disasters, reasonably good behavior, no binges and no sunburns. O is wiped out today thanks to all of the playing yesterday!

This is one of the rare occasions he got in the pool. He mostly played on the edge, throwing balls to Darrell and shooting water guns.

This is one of the rare occasions he got in the pool. He mostly played on the edge, throwing balls to Darrell and shooting water guns.

This week’s long run is a little shorter, to make up for the fact that I’ll be adding an extra day of running this week. So far my legs are holding up well, but I need to get more diligent about foam rolling and yoga since I start longer runs and speed/tempo work in the next month.

I hope everyone had a good week (and that it cools off a bit for all of us!). I keep reminding myself that along with this hot weather comes watermelon season, which I LOVE, so it’s not all bad. What’s your favorite summer treat?

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Friday Favorites: Re-entering the normal world

It has been an exhausting week! I definitely do not bounce back as well from travel now that I’m older. That makes me especially glad that it is Friday!

Here are a few of things that made me smile this week. I definitely appreciated having these to read when my mind was too exhausted to focus on more productive things. πŸ™‚

– First, two things that gave me all of the “feels.” Patty, at No Guilt Life, is running the Princess Half Marathon to honor her lovely son Jacob. As a mom, I cannot imagine losing a child and it is so lovely that she is raising money for Children’s Miracle Network in his honor. Definitely check out her site to contribute to fundraising, read her story and look into joining the CMN team for the Princess Half Marathon. I loved the Princess Half Marathon and can’t think of a better race to run for fun and for a good cause. Also, the lovely Mary at Runs to Get Waisted has found a great new job and it was so great to read about all she’s learned through this difficult process. Most importantly, everything she says about the awesome Lovely Ladies Losing It group is absolutely true. This is a fabulous group of supportive women who have supported each other through lots of life things beyond our original weight loss and healthy goals and I am glad to have them.

At this point, I was about 15 pounds into my weight loss. For a little while, O didn't recognize me in these pics but now he knows it is me.

At this point, I was about 15 pounds into my weight loss. For a little while, O didn’t recognize me in these pics but now he knows it is me.

– Yesterday we talked about talking to O about my body and I know that one day I’ll have to really answer questions about why I look so different than I do in his early baby pictures. Talking about weight loss is a careful thing. I liked many of the ideas in this post on Scary Mommy about talking to your child about a 100 pound weight loss.

– I can remember vividly worrying when I joined eHarmony that I’d never find anyone who loved me fat. Instead, I found someone who loved for everything I was, not in spite of the fact that I was fat (I did worry a bit that he loved me BECAUSE I was fat and asked him after I lost weight to be sure we were still good – not a factor. Whew!) All of this is to say that as a former fat girl, I really appreciated reading a lot of “My wedding was perfect and I was fat.” So many of the things she said resonated with me. We should not limit ourselves and our lives because of our weight. We should be allowed to feel beautiful. It is so hard to get there (and I’m not always there now), but worth the effort.

I still remember how happy I was in this moment - and that if you take photos on a swings in a dress, that white dress is definitely going to get stepped on and get dirty. :)

I still remember how happy I was in this moment – and that if you take photos on swings in a dress, that white dress is definitely going to get stepped on and get dirty. πŸ™‚ PS Isn’t my husband adorable?

– For fun today, I highly recommend this post about the wonders of Calvin & Hobbes and what we can learn from that wonderful series. I CANNOT WAIT until O is old enough to read C&H together. I have several set aside for him – now that I think about it, tonight may be a good time to break those out. πŸ™‚

Have a good weekend everyone! We have a pool party to attend – wish me luck in the weather & body confidence arenas! I’m bringing these beans and these Butterfinger bars (which have gotten me marriage proposals) so at least I know the food is going to be great. Don’t worry, I’m also bringing a veggie tray for balance and so I know that O will at least have some cherry tomatoes to eat to balance out the goodies.

Hopefully we'll get in more cooking lessons this weekend too - we're loving it!

Hopefully we’ll get in more cooking lessons this weekend too – we’re loving it!

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“Why” can be a powerful question

O is going through a phase where he’s fascinated with my belly:

I have a feeling I'm going to look a little pregnant for the rest of my life.

I have a feeling I’m going to look a little pregnant for the rest of my life.

Between losing 110 pounds and then regaining 10-15 of it, I have this squidgy flap of a belly. Oliver is in a phase where he’s constantly grabbing and jiggling it. He’s particularly fascinated with the way it hangs down when I do planks. Every time I ask him to stop I get caught by this mental stumbling block when he asks “why.”

Obviously, you should respect other people’s personal space and we’ve talked about not touching other people in ways that might make them uncomfortable. In his defense, I should point out he has stopped since I explained it that way and he has thankfully NEVER done this to anyone else. What gives me pause is how long it took me to come up with a good answer to this particular “why?” My honest answer is that it makes me feel uncomfortable because I’m self-conscious about my belly. It hangs out there as a reminder of my failures, at least in my mind, and yet I have this little voice in my head that reminds me that I absolutely CANNOT say that to Oliver because I want him to have a healthy self-image and relationship with his body.

If I’m not willing to say that kind of thing out loud for him to hear, why am I saying it in my own head? This bump doesn’t make me a lesser mom, a worse wife or less effective in my job. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s occasionally annoying when I run but it hasn’t kept me from running 5 half marathons in the last 18 months (HOLY COW – Is that right?).

We had our first cooking lesson this week: Scrambled eggs. He'll tell you that eggs have protein for your muscles so you can run and play.

We had our first cooking lesson this week: Scrambled eggs. He’ll tell you that eggs have protein for your muscles so you can run and play.

I talk a lot about what a motivation Oliver is in my food choices and in my exercise. Maybe it’s time I start using him as a motivation for upping my mental game as well. When I find myself in those negative mind spaces, I have to ask myself if I’d ever want him to hear me talking out loud like that. Whether we say those things out loud or not, kids pick up on it and for his sake and mine I need to come to peace with my belly.

I have a pool party to go to this weekend, so making peace with my belly is especially important. πŸ™‚ There are definitely more awkward body parts he could be fascinated by, so I should be glad it was just my belly and thankfully this mostly occurred at home! Kids can be so odd. He truly didn’t understand why it made me feel bad. He liked that I was “soft” and wanted to know if my “skin stuck to my muscles like [his] when [I] was a kid.”

Anybody have any other tips for short circuiting negative self talk?

 

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Italy NSVs

Since I set the goal of not weighing in this month (terrifying!) keeping an eye on my NSVs (non-scale victories) is super-important to help keep me on track. This was especially key when I was traveling, where temptation was around every corner AND I didn’t even have any workout gear to balance out any indulgences! Keeping track of my food on Instagram definitely helped and while my mind keeps dwelling on the things that weren’t the best choices (oh the wine!), I’m trying to keep my eyes on the good things so I finish out the month strong in terms of making good food choices to fuel workouts. With that in mind, some of my NSVs from my trip to Italy:

– While I didn’t have my running shoes or even clothes that were workout friendly until the last day, I didn’t let that stand as an excuse to avoid exercise all together. I decided to take the stairs up to my 7th floor room every chance I could. I counted – it was over 150 steps each trip and I made the trip at least 3 times a day! I wish I’d had my FitBit to see those numbers add up!

I only  did the elevator twice all week - the first day and one other day when I'd had too much wine to safely traverse the stairs :)

I only did the elevator twice all week – the first day and one other day when I’d had too much wine to safely traverse the stairs πŸ™‚

– I made sure to fill my plate with half veggies at every lunch and dinner, which allowed me to have a taste of the various pastas or other indulgences, but not go overboard.

Loads of veggies - the tomatoes were SO fresh

Loads of veggies – the tomatoes were SO fresh

– I only finished ONE dessert all week! I would have a bite or two to get a taste and then switch to fruit. Thankfully, there were always fresh fruit options with dessert so I could make the healthier choice.

Unless the dessert was stellar, I was able to skip it! Huge victory!!

Unless the dessert was stellar, I was able to skip it! Huge victory!!

– I had a huge lesson in body image while I was trying to find clothes to wear. Some things weren’t sized at all (???) and others had sizes that didn’t match up to ours. I didn’t let that throw me off when I was out shopping. I held things up, estimated their size and WAS RIGHT!! I frequently initially picked up the biggest option, but would remind myself that I wasn’t that size anymore and reconsider. That’s a huge step forward in seeing myself as I really am now.

I almost bought this dress in a vintage shop - no idea what size it was but it was cute :) Ultimately, too short for a work conference though!

I almost bought this dress in a vintage shop – no idea what size it was but it was cute πŸ™‚ Ultimately, too short for a work conference though!

Yes, I didn’t drink enough water and yes,I had too much wine but I had lots of wins too. I also got myself back to normal eating as soon as I got home rather than letting the fatigue and jet lag lead me astray, which can be a big factor in travel weight gain. I’ll be honest and say I’m expecting a gain when I weigh in again in August after my birthday and this trip in one month, but in terms of making the best choices possible on a trip like this, I think I did well. In the long term of weight maintenance and healthy living skills, this was a great experience.

In looking back through the search function of the blog, non-scale victories are a common topic but I think that’s a really good thing and a great habit to stay in for anyone making healthy lifestyle choices and trying to lose weight. It can’t be just about the number on the scale because we can’t control that part completely. We can control the good habits and our mindset and NSVs are an invaluable tool in your arsenal in that respect to keep us from getting discouraged or distracted.

What are your NSVs this week? Celebrate yourself!

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My kid’s thoughts on my running

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is alternative medicine and running, which I don’t really have any thoughts on (not a sports medicine practitioner and don’t have any personal experience with it, so don’t feel right talking about it). Instead, I thought I’d share something else running related today. Definitely go over to the Tuesdays on the Run link up to learn more about everyone’s experiences with alternative medicine. I’m looking forward to reading and learning more today! Thanks as always to April, Patty and Erika for hosting!

Tuesdays-on-the-run1

I saw this little survey on Happy Fit Mama (here) and thought it was really cute, so I had to ask O these questions to see what he thought of his mama’s running:

1. What does Mama eat before a run?

– Yogurt (I’ve learned the hard way back at the Midnight Run that my tummy in fact does not handle yogurt well pre-run)

Pre-run snack

My usual pre-run snack

2. How far does Mama run everyday?

– 8 miles (He was amusingly certain about this)

3. What was Mama’s favorite race?

– Mickey’s race (He’s right about that!)

I didn't get in line for the official photo in front of the castle, but there were photographers catching us in movement too (and videos!)

I didn’t get in line for the official photo in front of the castle, but there were photographers catching us in movement too (and videos!)

4. Why do you think Mama runs?

– Because exercise is good for you (Explaining the sanity part would probably be too complicated for an almost 4 year old, right?)

5. What injuries has Mama had from running?

– None but I broke my leg (Lots of things come back to him breaking his leg. I did explain that I have fallen and hurt myself and that’s why we’re careful when we run.)

6. Do you like going to Mama’s races?

– Yes! I get to clap and say Yay Mama and you smile! (So cute!)

7. Have you learned anything from having a Mama who runs?

– No (This made me smile – also very certain about this answer)

8. Does having a Mama who runs make you want to run?

– Yes. Can we run today? I didn’t get any exercise yesterday.

Racing for the finish!

Racing for the finish!

9. WhatΒ  your least favorite thing about having a Mama who runs?

– Nothing. It’s fun!

10. Do you think you’ll run when you are Mama’s age? And how old you think your Mama is?

– Mama is four. I will run when I am as old as Mama but when I am as big as Daddy I will stop. (Apparently I’ve gotten younger in the last few weeks – earlier this month, he thought I was 20.)

Oliver was in charge of candle placement, clearly :)

Oliver was in charge of candle placement, clearly πŸ™‚

I may have to periodically repeat this little survey with Oliver since it made for some interesting conversation on the ride to and from school over the last day or two. Knowing that he is watching is such a huge motivation for me in making healthy choices and in staying active. No matter what he says, he’s clearly learning something. πŸ™‚ Now I’m off to learn something by reading the Tuesday on the Run link up about alternative medicine!

What do your kids think about your running or other exercise? I’ll bet my dog just thinks I’m nuts. Why would you stay on the path when you run when there are so many interesting things in the woods and the ditches?

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Italy!

What a week! Lots of travel, a little chaos and a little family stuff – I’m glad to be settling back into “normal” today. Workout-wise, this week didn’t look at all like I’d planned thanks to the serious delay in my luggage. I arrived in Pisa on Sunday and didn’t get my bags until sometime in the middle of the night Wednesday/Thursday. Thank goodness I’d planned for this week to be a light workout week in my training plan! Note to self: next time, put a pair of sneakers and one set of workout gear in the carry on!

Workouts

 

Monday I got in a 30 minute walk during the lunch break at my conference. I was wary of doing more than that since I only had the one pair of clothes to wear and didn’t want to get them too sweaty!

Tuesday My mad dash around the walled city of Lucca for almost 2 hours while I tried to find some toiletries (contact lens solution was surprisingly hard to find!) and clothes to get through the week definitely counts as a workout right?

Lucca was gorgeous! I wish I'd been able to explore more than just shop!

Lucca was gorgeous! I wish I’d been able to explore more than just shop!

Wednesday I had some casual clothes thanks to Tuesday’s shopping trip, so I spent the afternoon conference break hiking (and getting lost as you can see here) in the hills around my resort. 7 hilly miles definitely counts as a workout! I even ran some stretches despite my totally inappropriate shoes.

Yep, my little Croc flats headed out on this path!

Yep, my little Croc flats headed out on this path!

Thursday Once I had my sneakers, I eagerly headed out for a little run along the flatter portions of the hiking trail. Gorgeous! Probably around 2 miles in around 25-30 minutes (I didn’t unpack the Garmin).

I finally got my shoes in time for one quick run in Tuscany Thursday!

I finally got my shoes in time for one quick run in Tuscany Thursday!

Friday I spent all day Friday flying. In addition to taking the stairs every chance I got, I took a 20 minute walk in the O’Hare airport. This was a never-ending, exhausting day!

Saturday I got home around 1 am. My mom had been staying with O because Darrell had to leave town for a family member’s surgery (all went well!) and she left as soon as we woke up Saturday morning. O was so great about me being tired. We had a busy morning, unpacking and buying groceries and handling other chores, but then spent the afternoon lounging and napping together. I went to bed with him at 8 pm! Needless to say, no workout, although I will say that just being upright felt like a workout!

Sunday I was still tired and jet lagged, but managed to get in some strength work (goblet squats with the kettlebell; planks; push ups; bridges) and a 20 minute walk. O and I also played some soccer in the front yard.

Today I’m scheduled for an easy 2-3 mile run. My plan is to stop at the gym and knock out a couple of miles on the treadmill. I know if I wait until Darrell gets home, I won’t head back out to hit the street and get those miles in outside. I’m still exhausted!

I had several NSVs on this trip, which I’ll cover in more detail Wednesday, but for now I’ll say that my favorite is the fact that I’m exhausted and yet there is still an untouched brownie on my kitchen counter that O made with his Nana while I was gone.Β  If Darrell doesn’t eat it when he gets home tonight, I’ll have to throw that thing away – too much temptation! My good deed was helping someone with their luggage while I was navigating all of those flights. Yay for upper body strength! I’m grateful that everything turned out well for Darrell’s family and that he’s on his way back home. I have huge respect for anyone who stays sane as a single parent! I have a great kid, but it is definitely easier with two sets of hands on deck!

How long does it take you to get back into the normal swing of things after you’ve been away? I feel like it takes me longer and longer the older I get. πŸ™‚

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