A Little More Each Day

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

Weight Loss Wednesday: The Value of Patience

A couple of weeks ago, when we talked about how it was going for me so far now that I’m back on Weight Watchers, I mentioned that the scale was stuck after an initial loss of few pounds of post-cookie bloating. The scale stinks sometimes, doesn’t it?

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

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

I can happily report that my patience paid off and the scale finally budged. I’m back in the 170s and think, based on how I’ve felt at various weights in the last couple of years of “maintenance” that I’d like to get back to the upper-160s. I don’t think I’m going to focus too much on a particular number as a goal.

Patience can be a huge and difficult part of weight loss. I’ve said it before and it remains true, we can only control our inputs, not the output of our weight loss effort. The only part of this whole thing I have any control over is what I eat and drink and how I move and to lesser extent, how I feel. It can be incredibly frustrating to work hard at making good choices without seeing a reward on the scale, but in an important way, that stage is helpful too. Now that I’ve been on the maintenance side of things for a while, I have a new appreciation of how important those lessons in patience you get from a plateau are. This isn’t a process that’s ever “over” so the mental strength you get from keeping up your good habits even when the scale isn’t rewarding you is huge. In fact, that’s sort of the definition of maintenance isn’t it? You do good things and the scale doesn’t change. That can be really hard to get used to if you haven’t learn to appreciate the value of just doing those “good things.”

The “good things,” in terms of healthy foods in healthy amounts and regular exercise, are the most important part of all of this. Maintaining those habits is what I’m actually using Weight Watchers for this time around, rather than looking for a particular number on the scale. I’ve decided not to track on the weekends, but rather to just practice making healthy choices to fuel my long runs. The balance of feeding a long run versus counting points gets too frustrating for me and I like the break from tracking for a couple of days. I just pick back up with tracking on Monday. Might this slow down my weight loss? Sure. I’d probably lose weight faster if I stuck to my normal tracking through the weekend. However, in terms of overall health, I’m more interesting in practicing those healthy choices and fueling my exercise than getting to a certain number in a certain time so I’m willing to make that trade off.

I’ve made huge strides in patience with my weight loss since my first round of Weight Watchers a few years ago, where I got a little too focused on hitting those big milestones in a certain time frame. I think this perspective will serve me better in long run and since this is a “rest of my life” kind of journey, that’s definitely a success.

How do you stay patient when you’re trying to lose weight?

 

 

 

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TotR: Running oldies but goodies

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Running Oldies but Goodies: those things that we rely on over and over in our running lives. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting the link up!

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I definitely have some favorites that I’m happy to share! Note that none of these are sponsored – just my personal favorites!

  • I LOVE Feetures socks! These have kept me blister free (knock on wood) for miles and miles of runs. They have varying thicknesses as well, which is really helpful in my super cold Omaha runs. They’re about $15 each, but totally worth it and mine have lasted a couple of years before I started to notice wear in the toes of the thicker pairs.
I check to be sure I have them right before big races. :)

I check to be sure I have them right before big races. 🙂

  • Like I mentioned in last week’s talk about Expos, I don’t like many flavors of Gu but I adore the Salted Caramel Gu flavor and buy it in bulk from Amazon. The chocolate flavors and the Espresso love are okay, but the salted caramel is my go-to. I also like the Sport Beans in fruit flavors for a change of pace, but can’t stand fruit flavored Gu for some reason.
  • Most sports drinks don’t sit well on my stomach when I’m running, but I do well with the Nuun tablets that dissolve into your water. I’ve liked almost all of the flavors but the grape is my favorite.
  • As a Midwestern runner, good cold weather gear is a must. I use a lot of UnderArmour Cold Gear for my shirts and leggings and always go to them when I need new winter running clothes.
  • For warmer weather, I’m a SparkleSkirt girl all the way. No chafing, loads of pockets and I look cute? Win win!!
  • A perk of a hilly course was the ability to see the photographer before I got there so I could be sure a) I was smiling and b) I was running. :)

    This was a SparkleSkirt custom fabric, so this pattern isn’t there now, but the others available are super cute.

My go-to races have got to the be RunDisney series because I’ve had a great experience with all of those races, as well as the Des Moines Half marathon, which I’ve done twice and will continue to return to as long as I’m able. The people were lovely and it was a well organized, well supported race (and flat!).

What are your bits of workout gear you keep going back to again and again? Anyone have a water bottle/belt/backpack that they just adore? I confess I haven’t found one yet I love and would like one before I get back to long summer runs.

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Lots of treadmill time!

While we’ve gotten nowhere near the amount of snow our friends in the Northeast have received, the snow and slick surfaces kept me on the treadmill for half of this week’s miles. Thank goodness for technology so I have some television on my tablet to keep me company! This week, I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to run and stay sane during the winter weather. 🙂

weekly wrap up

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our wrap of the week!

I did fairly well this week in terms of meeting my food & activity goals. I got in 14 miles out of a planned 17 miles, with only one missed workout, which is not bad for the early base building stages of training. I kept up my strength training twice during the week and did my plank every day. It’s amazing how much easier the planks without really thinking about it, just from doing it for a bit every day! I was also good about using the foam roller this week. I got my water intake back up, so I think re-focusing on that goal rather than adding something new was a good call.

Workouts

Monday & Tuesday: Slow, easy miles with lots of walk intervals on the treadmill (2 miles in 27:02, 3 miles 43:08). I intentionally took them slowly because they were my 5th and 6th days running in a row and I didn’t want to push it since I was definitely out of practice with running that often.

Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: Cross training, so I walked and did my strength training.

Friday: 2 miles on the treadmill, with longing for a break in the weather so I can get on the actual road!

Saturday & Sunday: I was supposed to run both days and was looking forward to running outside but thanks to a horrible night of sleep, I was just not feeling a run Saturday. I actually took a nap and that’s really out of character for me. So Saturday was a wash other than some strength training and my planks, but Sunday I actually was able to get on the road. They weren’t pretty miles by any stretch of the imagination – all of the pausing and short steps to avoid icy patches made them slow and stiff-feeling – but they got done.  I do really appreciate all of the neighbors who thoroughly shovel their sidewalks and driveways!

Snowy run

My NSV this week is that I’ve worn pants twice this week. That might not seem like an accomplishment, unless you’re aware that I’ve worn dresses or tunics and leggings pretty much every day for a month. Yes, I find dresses and tunics/leggings comfortable, but more importantly, they don’t have a waistband that won’t close comfortably or that binds. I decided to put on my brave face and actually try on some slacks I’ve been avoiding and low and behold, they do fit. Are they more snug than they used to be when I first put them on? Yes, but they fit and pants when it is below freezing are a very nice thing.

My good deed this week was picking up garbage at the gym. We have wipes for the equipment, so you can degerm it, and people kept tossing the used wipes at the garbage can but never following through when they missed! By the end of a 30 minute run on Monday, there were 4 different wipes down there. So rude! Pick up after yourself! I cleaned up the area before I left but I seriously wanted to call everyone of those other gym goer’s mothers – even if they were grown ups.

I’m on call this week, so I’ve got my training plan set for a light load as I can’t predict my work schedule at all. My goals for this week are to balance that: A) 10,000 steps a day – either I’ll be so busy with work I’ll hit that or I’ll have time to work out, right? B) Track my food every day! Even if I’m busy, I can take a few seconds to track and stay honest with myself about any treats I pick on while I’m on the go.

Super dude!

Have a SUPER week 🙂

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A random Friday five . . .

It has been a bizarre week here. Every day, I’ve either had to be at work super early or got to work late because of weather or child crazy. Yesterday, I was late to work because Oliver refused to wear underwear. Why you ask? Because of wedgies. He didn’t want to get a wedgie so his solution was to just skip underwear all together. I confess I couldn’t think of a great reason that he HAD to wear underwear other than “I said so” and “Nana would KILL me if I let you go to school without underwear.” I promise, however, he did wear underwear school with the agreement we’d go pick out new less-wedgie prone undies this weekend.

Other random thoughts from my week . . .

– I’ve been reading lots of recaps of the WDW marathon and the fact that it is universally hard to run more than 20 miles and that running through the Wide World of Sports sucks have NOT turned me off of this idea means I’m apparently going to run a marathon next year. 🙂 Check out recaps from Fairytales and Fitness, The Fairest Run of All, MissSippiPiddlin and HoHo Runs.

Oops! Broke the house!

– I’m a real Midwesterner now. I’ve operated the snow blower. We got a lot of snow Tuesday and I decided to get over my fear of the snow blower rather than shoveling so much snow. I got it done, but chewed up a lot of the downspout on the house, froze one of my fingers (3 days later, the nail is still abnormal!), blew snow into my garage and some snow into the neighbors driveway. Oops! When I sent my dad the picture of the downspout scattered all over my yard and the list of everything else that had gone on, he did want to be sure his grandson was okay since I’d managed to break just about everything else.

-Did you guys see this bit of news about the New York marathon? Apparently, they are being sued over the lottery system. I was surprised to see how much money they bring in from those fees for entering the lottery! I can see where that would be a step that might help deter people who are not serious from entering the lottery and an important part of their budget, such that race entry fees might increase if that fee went away, but it is a LOT of money. The Lincoln Marathon here in Nebraska has a lottery for a subset of the entries and you make a donation to the associated charity in order to get into the lottery, which seems like a nice approach.

-For a totally free virtual run, check out the Runs for Cookies virtual 5K. Katie does this virtual run for her birthday every year, which I think is a fun idea. I like the idea of lots of people all over the world getting out to run with you on your birthday. What a great party! I’ve done it every year since she started and almost forgot this year! My brain still hasn’t caught on to the fact that January is marching steadily along and over half finished!

-My boss wants to nominate me for a big award and as part of that process, we have to get two letters of recommendation from established, successful people in my field to say that I’m hot stuff. The people I’m asking are both lovely, kind people, so the worst that will happen is that they will kindly say they can’t do it and yet thanks to my rampant impostor syndrome, part of me worries that they’ll be laughing on some level at the insanity of the idea I’d qualify for this. Sigh. I’m not sure I’ll ever outgrow this kind of awkwardness. Just the asking made me want to EAT ALL THE THINGS.

I make sure eating "ALL THE THINGS" focuses on veggies when that binge urge hits.

I make sure eating “ALL THE THINGS” focuses on veggies when that binge urge hits.

Apparently, 50 million people in the US are under the threat of blizzard this weekend. Stay safe, stay warm and good luck finding bread and milk. 🙂

Have a great weekend! Any body else struggle with that impostor syndrome where you have that sense that any day now, people are going to figure out you’re faking it? I logically have a pretty good sense of what I’m actually good at and what I’m not, but that rational sense doesn’t always match up with my emotional sense. This is definitely something I’ve recognized as one of my biggest binge triggers, so I’m glad I got through sending out those requests yesterday without much trouble. Progress!

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Commitment Day 5K 2016

While I don’t really have a race goal this year like last year’s 100 miles of races, I am toying with the idea of doing a race a month. My favorite thing about last year’s 100 miles goal was that it got me out doing a lot of local runs I wouldn’t have otherwise. While my day to day running is solo time and I really value that time to myself, there’s something about the camaraderie of a race that I enjoy. I also enjoy the fact that I don’t really have to worry about finding a route that is the right length or supplying my own water along the way. 🙂

I started 2016 with the Commitment Day 5K sponsored by my gym, Lifetime Fitness. This race was my very first 5K back in 2013(something I chatted about with a couple of other women on the course!), so it will always be dear to me. It was also almost my first “DNS” race as I wasn’t sure I’d get back from my niece’s birth in time to attend this year. Thankfully, I made it back to Omaha late on New Year’s Eve and was ready to head out for this snowy run on New Year’s Day. There’s something I like about the symbolism of starting my new year with a run and this has definitely become one of my “must run” days even if I can’t actually make it to this race.

Commitment day 5k start 2016

Like last year, the race was held at the gym, which is very convenient for me as it is only 10 minutes from home. The first year, it was downtown and we were actually bussed from the gym to the race. The second year (the only one I’ve missed), it was apparently down south by the baseball field. They seem to have now settled on this course by the gym, which I suspect requires little to no city oversight or approval as no roads are closed. We run from the gym parking lot, through a brief stretch of suburbs (less than half a mile) before we hit the paved trail around the local lake. I’ve done lots of runs around this lake, which came in handy as I knew where to expect the slick spots.

Snowy 5k to start 2016

The snow this year was thicker than I ever remember on any prior winter runs on this trail and there were definitely sections where running was impossible because you had to trudge through piles of snow. Thank goodness I had no time goal in mind for this race. I actually had to go look up my finishing time when I wrote this post (39:42) because this is a run that’s all about celebrating the start of the new year.

Snowy 5k to start 2016

It was gorgeous to be out amidst all of the snow, even if it did mean lots of places where you walked (like those bridges!). There was a camera crew from the local news station set up to film us all coming up the final hill out of the park. I’m not sure why they chose that location – between the steep hill and the fact that there was 6+ inches of snow on that part of the path, we were all just trudging up rather than looking in any way like remotely inspiring athletes on a chilly New Year’s Day! I also enjoyed that many families came out together for the event. All in all, there were about a hundred finishers. They did a much better job this year with the post-run refreshments. Last year, there were bottles of water and a protein drink at the finish. This year, we got to come inside for warm coffee and hot chocolate – both very appreciated!
Do you have local (or not so local!) races that you run every year? Why do you keep coming back? I think for me, I come back to this because it was my first and because I like starting the New Year with a reminder that I am actually a runner now.
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Resisting temptation

Yesterday, I had a mandatory 3 hour training session and because they expected people to be grouchy about devoting so much time to mandatory training that could have been delivered online or in half the time, we were highly bribed. There was a whole table snacks and chocolate candy on every table. I was one of those grouchy people attending only because I was required to and irked that content that could be delivered in an hour was instead trickled out over 3 hours. I was also not in the best mood because it was a slick, snowy day, with roads bad enough that it had taken me an hour and 45 minutes to drive the 12 miles to work in the morning and I was already dreading the evening drive home. *I promise I took none of my bad mood out on the instructors or my classmates since we were all just doing our jobs!

Chocolate temptation at a meeting

So, how do we resist temptation when confronted with a “not worth it” treat and our mood puts us at higher risk? It can be especially hard at work or in required social interactions, where you can’t just walk away from the situation.

– Even if you can’t walk away, you can probably move the temptation out of reach or get it out of sight. I couldn’t put it under the table because I did have table mates, but I did shove it over to the other side of the table so it was a little more out of my reach. I also put my water bottle between me and it to block my line of sight. You could even cover it with paper or your bag. Make it harder to see it and reach it.

Reach out for help! I snapped the pic of the chocolate and sent it to my Lovely Ladies Facebook group to ask for strategies and distraction. We joke about a virtual “hand” to smack the not-worth-it food away if necessary. 🙂 If you have an online support group in your healthy eating endeavors (which I highly recommend!) situations like this are a good time to use them.

Distract your brain. Those jokes about the hand and about the class really helped get my mind off the fact that I could see candy and was calculating how many points any piece would cost me. If whatever you’re attending isn’t that interesting (and mine wasn’t), find something else to distract your brain. I started writing this post, mentally reaching out to all of you to think of ways to resist temptation. Getting my mind on my little invisible army always helps. I’m also a list maker. In this case, I started a list of local races I might want to run this spring.

Distract your mouth and your hands. Sometimes getting my mind on something else isn’t enough. My mind is strong but not always strong in the face of Fun Size M&M’s. I decided to treat myself to a Diet Dr. Pepper to get some of that sweet taste I wanted. When my seat mate opened a package of those M&M’s and I could smell the chocolate, I got up to grab some healthy snacks from the snack table. Turns out, the taste of broccoli in my mouth counteracts a lot of the appeal of the smell of chocolate. Gum or mints can also help.

Healthy distraction

Speaking of distracting my hands, they did give us pipe cleaners to play with if we were fidgety. 🙂 I made and unmade this lovely flower countless times but it helped keep me distracted!
Fidgets :)

All of these tricks of course assume that the temptation isn’t worth it. If it is a worthy treat, I’d find a way to make room for it in my day. If your work meetings have worthy treats, I’m officially jealous.

What are your favorite strategies for resisting those junk treats at work?

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TotR: Best race expo finds

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Best Race Expo finds. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting! Be sure to check out the rest of the link up.

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Because I don’t love crowds, I don’t spend a ton of time hanging out at race expos but I have found some fun things over the last couple of years.

  • At the Princess Half Marathon Expo in February 2014, I got to meet Sarah of the fabulous Another Mother Runner duo which was a nice highlight! She signed my copy of Train Like a Mother and gave great tips for my first half marathon!Signed TLAM
  • At the Star Wars Rebel Challenge Expo, there were several fun things! I got a super cute “Let the Wookie Win” shirt and the Rebel Challenge logo jacket. That jacket ended up being a great investment as I wear it often as the top layer for my winter runs.

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  • The Rebel Challenge expo also included CPR training, which I thought was such a GREAT idea! This should be part of every expo!
  • The Disney expos always include a fun Instagram photo opportunity, which gives you the chance for some fun, free race photos.

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  • At the Des Moines race expo, Oliver got his favorite expo goodie ever: a cow bell. What kid doesn’t like a free, super noisy toy? 🙂

Expos can also be a great place to try lots of different flavors of Gus and other gels or fueling options. This is how I learned I do NOT like fruit flavored Gu. Ick. It can also be a place to actually get your hands on lots of running goodies if you don’t live in a town with a dedicated running store.

One thing I’ve pondered recently is the possibility of buying gels when I got to the Expo rather than traveling with them and risking a) an overzealous TSA agent confiscating them for violating the carry on liquid rules or b) gels exploding in my bag. It’s not like there isn’t a wide variety of Gu at most expos, but I haven’t been willing to take the risk yet that they wouldn’t have my favorites.

What’s your favorite  race Expo find?

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Weekly Wrap Up: Back in the saddle and it feels pretty good!

I ran four days last week (the last four days in a row, actually) and I’d forgotten how good this slightly tight, My legs did some work, feeling is. Does that make me a freak? Maybe just a bit. Regardless, I feel good about last week.

Wins for the week:

Ran 14.5 miles for the week, which included 3 runs out in the cold and a 6 mile run on the treadmill yesterday. Our high yesterday was 5 F and most of the day was sub zero, before you factored in the significant wind chill, so there’s no way I was going out in that for an hour plus! I don’t mind the cold so much for short runs, but for longer runs I’ll hit the treadmill and watch Once Upon a Time, thank you very much.

Chilly run

– I didn’t run Monday through Wednesday just because of the weather and not making the time to get the gym for a treadmill. However, I did lots of indoor walking and hit 10,000 steps those days. I actually hit 10,000 steps EVERY DAY this week and I can’t think of the last time I did that!

– I kept up my water with every non-water drink habit, even though that wasn’t my active goal this week, and succeeded with my active food goal of no fruit with my night time snack. Yay!

– I got in two strength workouts, one with a mix of kettlebell / handweights and body weight exercises and one with the suspension system (which made Darrell laugh a lot, like I mentioned here). I also nailed my goal of planks every day!

Good week all around! I also went out to dinner with Darrell Saturday night at a non-kid friendly restaurant. I had wine and dessert and totally enjoyed the indulgence of the food and the leisurely paced meal without guilt. My NSV this week is the fact that I didn’t let the fact that I was planning to indulge on Saturday night allow me to make less-than-ideal food choices all day on Saturday. Breakfast and lunch were still pretty normal healthy choices for me – not too little to “make up” for dinner and not overboard. Big win!!

Areas for improvement:
– I ran four days in a row, instead of every other day like I was scheduled, because I didn’t get my schedule in gear appropriately. As this week starts with runs on Monday and Tuesday, that’ll put me at 6 days of running in a row (thankfully at low mileage and easy paces!). Yes, I was doing that routinely in the fall, but before this week, I’d run ONCE a week for far too long. Going from once a week to six days in a row is definitely less than ideal!
– I didn’t really do any stretching or foam rolling this week, despite the fact that I’ve been having piriformis pain since I fell on that snowy Christmas Eve run. Weirdly, my piriformis has bothered me less this week than it has in the last month, but I still should be stretching and foam rolling!
– While I have been drinking a ton of water, I also noticed I was drinking more soda at home again this weekend. I’d really like to cut that down!
I’m grateful for those new Saucony UltiMitts because they do a great job keeping my hands warm. Having my fingers inside individual little glove-finger covers, but then nestled together inside that wind resistant mitten is a double whammy that keeps my fingers from getting too cold and painful. I need to come up with a similar warm covering for my feet! Maybe doubling up on my wool socks?

My good deed this week is the fact that I’ve raised a kid who does good deeds. O was explaining how to me how he holds the door open for people (as we were doing this at swim lessons) because “that’s generous and nice and it’s important to be generous and nice.” He’s very proud of his big new word generous and works it into a lot of conversation, not always quite appropriately.

I don’t think I’m going to set a new food goal this week. I’m going to keep tracking and keep up with the fruit and water goals I’ve had the last two weeks because both of those are things I’ve let fall off my radar too quickly in the past, so I’ll keep another week of reinforcing those two before I move on to add a new goal.

In terms of activity, I’m pretty comfortable with the success I’ve had with strength training and daily planks, so I’m going to add onto that. As I noted above, I ended up running four days in a row because I didn’t make it to the gym in time to run Monday and Wednesday like I’d originally planned. While I handled lots of back to back running days just fine when I ran in the fall, I should warm up to that now just like I did then.  The plan is set up to ease me into lots of days of running in this base building phase and I should respect that. My activity goal this week is to actually do my workouts on the days assigned so I can protect my legs and to remember to stretch and foam roll/use the stick afterwards. I don’t want injury to derail me early on in spring training, so let’s get those habits set now while I’m at low mileage!

I really need to get better about doing this regularly!

I really need to get better about doing this regularly!

In other news, I’ll be sending my extra Christmas copy of Bart Yasso’s book My Life on the Run out to Jennifer at RunningonLentils – congrats on winning the giveaway! Send me your address at littlemoreeachday@gmail.com and I’ll get the book out ASAP.

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our weekly workout wrap up. I’ve really enjoyed reading both of your recaps of the WDW marathon weekend so far! Check them out here and here if you’re like me and contemplating taking the marathon plunge. 🙂

weekly wrap up

I hope everyone has a great week! I saw something from the Chicago Weather Service on Facebook that says this is statistically the coldest week of the year on average, so fingers crossed that it warms up a bit soon! Single digits get old fast – especially for my cold digits 🙂

 

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Friday Favorites: Heading into a frigid weekend!

It is projected to be below 0 all day on Sunday. Sometimes I still can’t fathom I’ve moved somewhere this cold. Needless to say, this weekend’s running will take place at the gym on the treadmill. There are limits to even my ability to bundle up in the cold!

These wintery landscapes are more fun to look at than run on!

These wintery landscapes are more fun to look at than run on!

Now that you’re all shivering at just the thought of how cold it is going to be Nebraska this weekend, on to some interesting things I’ve read in the last couple of weeks that you might be interested in:

As I’m looking at a year of training, it can be daunting to find ways to fit it all into my already busy life (especially if I take on the marathon – yikes!). The tips here in this Womens Running article on incorporating training into your life are good ones to consider if you have the same worries. I particularly try to remind myself that a) even in just 5 minutes, I can do stretching or strength training or something that will further my goals and b) it doesn’t have to always be PERFECT. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

One of those five minute workouts can be with the new TRX-like suspension system I got for Christmas (I forget the brand name, but it is the one on Amazon that is WAY cheaper than TRX). This is quick and easy to set up at home and allows me to do some types of body weight exercises that can otherwise be difficult to do effectively without a gym. This article with 8 TRX Moves that Increase Strength includes lots of core and leg work that will be a big benefit to my running, although I’ll definitely want Darrell as a spotter for some of these! I already tried a few this week and he had a good time laughing at me trying to get into position, but practice makes perfect, right? I will also say that these moves have been great for my core strength, even the ones that seem more arm or lower body focused, because of how you have to hold yourself in position. I love a workout that gets me lots of bang for my buck!

We’re a few weeks into the new year now and it can feel like the momentum from all of those do-the-great-things new year’s resolutions starts to fade right about now. I really like this post from Swim Bike Mom that reminds us that it is really about one day at a time. All we can control is this moment, and doing the best we can in this moment. A series of small good moments will add up to those big changes we want, so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.

Speaking resolutions, and to head into our weekend with a laugh, check out Christine’s list of New Year’s Resolutions that didn’t make the cut. I particularly like #1 (life is too short to go without dessert!) and #10. I confess I’ve NEVER cleaned the ceiling fans in my house. My dad, a.k.a. Commander Clean, would be horrified. I also confess that I’ve spent far too much time this week daydreaming about the dessert (and wine!) I’m going to have on date night tomorrow because I cannot waste the opportunity for scrumptiousness when we’re going to a nice, grown up restaurant.

With my super cold weekend coming, I’ll be testing out a new homemade bread recipe to go with of course, lots of soup. Soup on the stove and bread in the oven seems like just what we need when it is inhumanly cold outside! What’s your favorite soup for a cold day?

Have a great weekend!

 

 

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Book Club Review: Fast Girl

This month’s Taking the Long Way Home book club selection is Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness, written by Suzy Favor Hamilton and Sarah Tomlinson. I vaguely remember hearing on the news a few years ago that there was a famous runner who was caught working as an escort in Las Vegas, but it didn’t register much because I wasn’t particularly following professional runners at that time and during the time that Suzy was a college and Olympic runner, I wasn’t following running of any kind. Thus, I came to this book without much background knowledge of who she was a runner or anything of the fallout from her time in Las Vegas. I did of course read the Wikipedia page to find out who she was because that’s “research” these days, right? 😉

Fast Girl

In case you are similarly unfamiliar with Suzy Favor Hamilton as a runner, she’s a champion college and professional middle distance runner from the 1990s and early 2000s. She was on the Olympic team in 1992, 1996 and 2000, all of which are detailed in the book, along with her college career and earlier years of running. I found this to be a fascinating read. The authors give an open, sometimes raw accounting of Suzy’s life and how it was shaped by running and by her mental health issues. The story starts in Las Vegas, but then takes you back through her childhood with stories of running and family life. It progresses through her successes in high school and college running, with glimpses of the stresses and early warning flags of mental health issues that were looming in the future. They also candidly discuss her marriage and the impact of the birth of her daughter on her life and her mental state. It can be painful to read in places, just in sympathy for her and for her family, but draws you in and moves very quickly to the end that you know is coming thanks to that introduction in Vegas.

I teach in a medical school and keep a list of non-“medical” books that I think our students should read to get a different perspective on medicine and disease in real people beyond the textbook (not a psychiatrist though, so this isn’t the kind of thing I personally teach). This book really gives an unforgettable glimpse into bipolar disorder, from the racing thoughts, to the sexual hyperactivity and lavish spending that come with mania, as well as the dangers of antidepressant use in triggering manic episodes. This story will illustrate this for our young doctors in ways that a PowerPoint slide never will.

Another issue that this book brought to mind for me is the danger of relying solely on exercise as self-medication for mental health disorders. I frequently see inspirational pictures and memes about how running is cheaper than therapy and while there is no question that physical activity can help with mood disorders and many other medical conditions, we should not let that blind us to the need for further medical and mental health care. Running is a safer form of self-medication than drugs and alcohol that people also turn to in lieu of psychiatric care, but can be just as problematic if it keeps you from getting all of the help you need. Several times, she talks about how reluctant she was to get help in part because of embarrassment and the stigma of mental disorders and in part because the nature of the disease makes it hard to see that there is something wrong. Her family is not the only one who has had difficulty discussing the mental health disorders they’ve each struggled with, individually and collectively. A hugely important lesson in this is to reach out for help if you’re struggling and to reach out to your loved ones if you think they need help. We cannot be afraid to talk about these things and to reach out.

Be sure to check out Wendy’s review, as well as the others in the link up. I’d also recommend this podcast interview with Suzy Favor Hamilton on Another Mother Runner in October 2015 for more insight into the book and her life.

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