A Little More Each Day

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

Weekly Wrap-Up: Home again (temporarily!)

It is so nice to be back home!
HomeI got some much appreciated park time with these guys when I got home Sunday. 🙂

Last week, I had to travel out to Louisiana at the last minute to help my mother coordinate a lot of healthcare issues for my grandmother. It was exhausting, but I’m glad I was able to help move things along a bit. I confess it was also very motivating, in a weird way. My mother’s mother and her brother are both hospitalized with complications of diabetes and high blood pressure that have been drastically worsened by their poor self-care. Right now I am weirdly angry that they are dying and disabled due to treatable, manageable conditions – or what are frequently treatable conditions (I know there are always exceptions). Neither of them ate well, exercised or took their medications. Neither of them got proper medical care. Lots of reasons fed into that lack of care but a big part of it was not believing the seriousness of the conditions or the need for medical treatment. With diabetes and hypertension, you often feel just fine until your disease has progressed to a point where you’re suddenly having end-organ damage and failing. This gene pool is abysmal but it’s mine and it’s a big part of the reason I lost weight and cleaned up my diet in the first place. It’s the reason I looked at the DASH diet guidelines for hypertension again when I finally got home this weekend (here) and the reason I told myself that it didn’t matter how hard it was, I had to pull myself out of this hole of poor food choices. It’s the reason I set my alarm for 5:45 today to head out to run a bit for the first time in ages.

I am happy to report that I DID get in my long walk over the weekend. I walked 7.5 miles in the Dallas airport during my long layover Sunday morning.

Airport walk

I am less happy to report that as I did that in Crocs, I have a blister. 😦 With a 7 mile walk and a 7.5 mile walk behind me, I feel confident that I can get through a 10K and 5K in Cincinatti for Flying Pig weekend.

I’m particularly proud of myself for getting that walk in, even with the very real possibility I’m going to be missing that race weekend for a funeral. It was so tempting to skip the long workout between the fatigue and the lack of proper footwear if there’s a chance it’s all for “nothing” but I suspect that if I’d been just sitting in the airport for hours, I’d have made a lot of bad food and drink choices. Moving helped avoid that.

Goals for this week:

  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies. (Specifically, 5 servings of each a day)
  • Do two run/walk workouts. (More on that specific plan later!)
  • Meditate daily. (I’m overwhelmed, to say the least with all of this family business)
  • Get a 4 mile walk in over the weekend. (Sort of a taper walk, before next week’s races)

Travel fitness tip: Google your airport name and “healthy” or “fitness” to find ideas for healthy food or exercise options in the airport. In the DFW airport, there’s a 0.7 mile walking path in terminal D marked by mosaic tiles like the one I took a picture of above. There’s also a yoga space, with mats and yoga videos on the TV!

What’s your favorite travel fitness tip?

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting the wrap up!

 

 

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Re-evaluating goals for the year given this little hiccup

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is a review of the month of February. Honestly, I can’t remember much of February before this injury with my neck/arm, so I decided that I would instead take a look back at my big picture goals for 2017 and look at how I might need to adjust things based on this 4-6 week hiccup in my usual fitness routine.

My word for 2017 was FEED, not run or lift thankfully, so I was pleasantly surprised to realize that a) I’m not going to have to adjust things as much as I expected and b) I’m not as far off track as I expected!

  • Feed my family: Okay, Darrell is temporarily taking over this duty until my strength in my arm returns, but I am so proud that we are still doing well with this. Before the injury, I was trying new foods and really enjoying cooking for the first time in a while. Now, instead of letting this change to our household dynamic have us eating out every night or getting take out, we’ve shifted our schedules so that Darrell goes right home from work at 5-5:30 so that he can start dinner. We’ve done a reasonably good job maintaining healthy choices and everyone is pitching in to keep us eating healthy!

Family cooking

  • Feed my body: The steroids have done a number on my body, physically, but I’ve done a better and better job through the year of feeding myself healthy foods. I’ve started re-reading the Beck diet book, which I found very helpful when I first started losing weight and am reconsidering all of the things I’ve let slide over the last year. I had a huge win this weekend of staying mostly on track with healthy choices and not saying “screw it, it’s the weekend.” Win!
  • Feeding my brain (Reading): Do audiobooks count? I haven’t read much since my injury (other than the Beck diet book in small doses) because I’m afraid of how to hold my head. However, my purchases over the last week included a table and a new pillow to support my reading in bed and in my chaise lounge, so I’m going to get back on the wagon.
  • Feeding my spirit: Doing fairly well with this one! I’ve been meditating most mornings and it was very helpful both in the MRI and in traction yesterday at PT. I’m using an app call Breathe because it offers a few short options (3 – 4 minutes) and is free, so it’s working out well.
  • Feeding my relationship: I’m definitely appreciating Darrell on a whole new level. Neither of us expected “in sickness in health” to come so quickly, but I love what a good team we are. He definitely needs some time off duty to rest though. Being a caretaker is exhausting. Maybe Oliver and I will go away again for an evening . . .
  • Feeding my self-esteem: This one is taking a hit. I’m so frustrated with my body for continually betraying me even though I’ve made huge strides in how I care for it. I know these things just happen and I know it could be worse, but to be totally real, I’m frustrated and depressed and wondering why on earth I ever bothered trying to be healthier. I promise I’m working to counter that voice, but I won’t pretend it isn’t there. Note to anyone else with that voice inside: It is worth it. Eating healthy foods and moving regularly are good for you, in however big or small a way you can do those things. Period.

I actually never set any big running goals for 2017. I’m not going to set one now either. I don’t know that I’ll be able to run again without aggravating this cranky cervical disk. I hope I can, but I’m not going to hang my hopes on that because it will just send me further down this “woe is me” path if I make unachievable running goals. Instead, I’m going to set a goal now that I am going to keep exercising 5x/week, whether I can run or not. That means walking and hiking and biking and anything else that’s safe for my neck. I’m registered for the Flying Pig 5K, 10K and half marathon the first weekend of May. Obviously, I’m not going to run that. There’s no way I can do that training with this amount of time off of running and the very gentle re-entry that I’m going to need once I am cleared to run again. I know some rock stars who can do that but I am not one of those. That’s okay. Instead, I’m going to train to walk at least the 10K (and hopefully the 5K – I think I can do that) so that I can participate in at least part of the weekend and still have that “get moving” goal. Walking near the 16 minute mile pace needed for the course is actually going to be quite the challenge too!

How has your February been? Do you feel like you are on track for your goals for 2017?

 

Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting Tuesdays on the Run!

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Why should I care about waist circumference?

Recently I wrote about how I was going to focus on things other than my weight during my training plan because I didn’t want to restrict my food and underfuel. I’d like to avoid going too far in the overfueling direction, so I’m going watch things like how my clothes fit, body fat and measurements.  A commenter pointed out that waist circumference is really the only thing you need to measure and I thought it would be good to talk about why that might be true.

imageWe’ve talked in the past about the limits of BMI (more here and a great recent online article here). Why would we expect waist circumference to be any better?

Waist circumference has been shown to provide information about risks of obesity-related disease above and beyond that provided by BMI alone. Specifically, it is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and triglyceride abnormalities, high blood pressure, heart disease and overall mortality. This is particularly true in patients in the overweight to obese range, with BMI less than 35. It helps us answer the question of “overweight but healthy” people like me, with BMI in the 26-27 range but no apparent health problems and a healthy lifestyle.

Why might waist circumference be a better measure of risk? It has to do with where you have your body fat. While overall obesity is associated with an increased risk things of like heart disease, fat that we carry around our abdomen is particularly high risk. Other advantages of waist circumference are practical. In some patients, we can’t measure height, which is a key part of the BMI formula. Even when we can measure height, we often don’t. Most clinics I’ve been to just ask how tall I am and my self report could skew my BMI numbers.

So where do you measure?

Graphic of Measuring Tape Position for Waist Circumference

This graphic is from the NIH (here), showing where you should actually put the measuring tape. Stand up straight and ideally, measure first thing in the morning before you eat or drink so you’re not measuring breakfast. Don’t suck in, no matter how tempted you may be.

I have yet to have my waist circumference measured at a doctor’s office, but that day may be coming. In the meantime, it’s an easy and an important thing to measure at home with my handy dandy measuring tape. If you want to read more about the science behind waist circumference, check out this extensive review from the WHO.

Do you measure your waist circumference? Have you ever had it checked at a doctor’s office?

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Managing your energy

Last night, I went to bed at 8:15 pm. I was probably asleep before Oliver. I blame the state of politics in the US as I stayed up far too late on Tuesday night watching CNN. When I was younger (and pre-lupus), I could have a night with 6 hours of sleep and do just fine the next day. Those days are long gone. These days, if I get too little sleep or push too hard, I feel it in whole new ways. One of the more annoying quirks I’ve developed since the lupus started is dizziness on days I’ve done too much. Yesterday, I was having dizziness enough that I had to close my eyes to stop the spinning when I did something as simple as turning my head to look at Oliver at dinner. I definitely get much more profound “You’re DONE” reminders than I used to.

Managing your energy levels is important for all of us, not just those of with autoimmune stuff. We all have times of day when our energy is good and times it isn’t. Learning your own patterns so you can take advantage of them can be hugely helpful in making lifestyle changes. I think of energy like money: we’ve only got so much, so spend it on things that matter most. Side note: Would that make coffee like a credit card since it lets me stretch a little farther than I should? Hmm . . . . .

 

For me, I know that my energy is best in the morning and particularly on weekend mornings. Makes sense, right? I get myself into trouble when I forget that though.

– If I don’t get my workout done in the morning, odds are good I’m going to come up with some excuse to skip or force myself through a miserable workout.

There are other perks to working out in the morning too - gorgeous sunrises!

There are other perks to working out in the morning too – gorgeous sunrises!

– I do my meal planning and grocery shopping on Saturday morning, because that’s when I feel the freshest and most optimistic. Optimism is key for me in making good choices, it turns out. 🙂 If I can take advantage of that weekend morning energy to fill my house with healthy foods, it makes it easier to avoid the kind of things I buy for dinner if I’m stuck doing it on Monday evening after work. Ugh. Let’s just say that after an after-work trip to Costco this week, frozen burritos and frozen buffalo chicken egg rolls may have made their way into my basket . . . .

– I do my meal prep on Sunday mornings, when it is quiet and peaceful and I’m in a good spot mentally to prepare for the week. The later I wait in the day, the more likely I am to skip the prep and let those healthy foods go to waste in the fridge.

Big wins any time I can prep lunches ahead of time for the week!

Big wins any time I can prep lunches ahead of time for the week!

When we try to do the “good stuff” when we’re tired (physically or mentally), it makes what is already a sort-of-difficult choice that much harder. If you can’t take advantage of your naturally high energy times because of job or parenting or other needs (because diet and exercise aren’t the only things worthy of our energy, I know), it’s worth thinking of ways you can work around that. I know that nowadays I’m a lot more wiped out by big efforts in the mornings. I may have a great long run at 6 am Saturday, but by 1 pm I’m a zombie. That never used to happen – thanks lupus – but now that I’m aware of it, I try to take naps in the afternoon at the same time Oliver does so that I’m in better shape for my family and other important tasks later in the day.

Like everything else with lifestyle changes, everyone is different, so it’s worth looking into what will work best for you.While I went to sleep at 8:15, I was up at 5:30 am and out to run this morning feeling springy and smiley. Mornings are clearly my time. Learning your own patterns and when you’ve got the most energy can definitely make it easier to make good choices.

Do you notice it’s easier to get certain healthy tasks done at certain times of the day? Weirdly for work stuff, I get a surge of productivity at 4 pm. I have to set an alarm for 5:30 so I can be sure I leave in time to get O before daycare closes!
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New goals this year for Earth Day

Oliver has been talking to me all week about Earth Day because they’ve been working on recycling all week. We’re good recyclers in our house and we try to be environmentally friendly as much as possible, but every year around this time I try to pick a couple of new goals. Last year, I added a recycling bin to my bathroom because I was throwing away a surprising number of things rather than walking them out to the recycling bin in the kitchen (lazy!). We of course also use our local Community Supported Agriculture program and try to buy locally as much as we can and grow veggies in our own garden. We’ve even taken up vermicomposting and have worms that eat our food scraps, so there’s not much garbage at all generated in our house.

March 2014 had us entering the world of worm farming (going strong by the way!).

March 2014 had us entering the world of worm farming (going strong by the way!).

This year, we’re adding a few extra things to our healthy-world routine:

  • Meatless meals once a week (usually Monday for the alliteration): It takes a lot of resources to raise meat for human consumption, so we’re trying to cut back. According to MeatlessMonday, it takes 11 times more energy to produce animal-based protein as it would an equal amount of plant-based protein. You can make a big impact by cutting back, even without completely eliminating animal proteins. We’ve been doing one vegetarian dinner most weeks since January and everyone has been really accepting of it, which is great.
  • Switching from foil to parchment paper for roasting: I roast veggies all the time and usually use foil to speed clean up. You can’t recycle foil here, so it just gets thrown away. What I didn’t think about until recently is the fact that the foil I throw away never really goes anywhere – it isn’t like its biodegradable. Parchment paper, however, is much more biodegradable and still gets me quick and easy clean up for veggies so I’ll definitely be making the switch for most things.
  • Switching to bar soap instead of liquid: I read an article that talked about how much more energy and resources go into producing liquid soaps rather than bar soaps, which makes sense now that I think about it from a packaging perspective, as well as a longevity perspective. A bar of soap lasts far longer than most bottles of liquid! Yes, I like the feel of liquid soaps but that isn’t a good reason to be adding to waste so I’ll make the switch for me (and hopefully convince my guys too!).
  • Recycle glass. Our garbage service doesn’t include glass in its routine recycling, but there are facilities here in town. We don’t have a ton of glass, but when we do we can clean it up and collect it for recycling. I’d guess we’d only have enough to fill a container a couple of times a year, so it won’t be much added work and will help cut back on our garbage a bit more.

Have you made any new healthy-earth goals this year? I’m expecting a big “Earth Day” craft from Oliver tomorrow given the amount of blue and green paint he’s been covered in all week. 🙂

 

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The Importance of Rest . . .

Rest is a tricky thing when you’re trying to get healthier. We all know that sleep is good for us and that rest is important, but we’re also supposed to have healthy meals and exercise and have meaningful connections with other people and oh yeah, we need to work so that we can pay for things (and because work can also have meaning in our lives). Some times it feels like something has got to give. I’ve always known this intellectually, but lupus really drives it home in a new way for me. Now, if I don’t rest enough, I know it because my elbows get so sore I can’t rest them on table. Good for table manners, bad overall. My hands are just this constant dull ache and oh yeah, ulcers in my mouth that make it hard to eat. Boo. Lupus gives me a more vivid reminder to rest, but even before lupus, I saw signs that rest was important.

Hanging out in bed a little longer might actually be good for you!

Hanging out in bed a little longer might actually be good for you!

Last week in Memphis, I was exhausted from an early flight and that set me up for a long weekend of bad food choices. Looking back, fatigue is often a trigger for me in bad food choices and it turns out, that isn’t just in my head. Certainly, fatigue of any kind makes decision making harder and when I’m traveling outside my normal food comfort zone, there are lots of food choices to make. It’s easy to make a bad choice when I’m choosing over and over again on a tired brain.

There are also two hunger controlling hormones that are thought to be affected by sleep. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you it is time to eat and when you’re sleep deprived, you make a lot more ghrelin. It isn’t just in your head that you’re hungrier when you’re tired! The balancing hormone, leptin, is one that tells us that we’re full and it is time to stop eating. Guess what? When you’re sleep deprived, you make less leptin. It sets you up for the tired-starving feeling we know all too well.

So how do we make this work in a busy life? I used to say “yeah that sucks” and get up early to do my workouts anyway, figuring that my workout was just as important in my weight loss as sleep was. Now, I’ve decided that since a) I don’t have huge time goals for this half marathon anyway and b) lupus demands rest, I let sleep take priority. That means going to bed at 9 pm if I want to wake early to run (working well so far!) and that if I don’t get to bed early, no early wake up.

Last night, I didn’t get to sleep until 10 pm because I was watching the primary results roll in. It was hard to make myself set the alarm for 6 am, instead of 5, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to work out in the morning with that wake up time. However, it’s more important to get my sleep than to get my workout. I may run after work, I may not – depends on how close I get to my bedtime – but I’m going to put sleep first.

Other than protecting our sleep, what can we do to help?

  • Naps can help with blunting that hungry feeling and do seem to help with my lupus symptoms, but be careful about trying to use naps to catch up on sleep debt. A consistent pattern of 7-8 hours sleep a night is better for you than marathon naps on the weekend, no matter how fun those naps might be.
  • Minimize choices, if being tired makes it hard to make good choices. If you’re going into a situation where you know you’ll be tired, arm yourself with easy, healthy snacks to tackle that hungry feeling. The less effort we have to put into making a healthy choice, the healthier that choice is going to be.
  • Drink! Coffee is an obvious go to for a lot of us when we’re tired, but water is even more important. If you are pounding back coffee (I’m not even going to lie and pretend I don’t do that), be sure it isn’t the over sugared frou frou coffee drinks because those calories will seriously add up!
Elixir of the gods

Elixir of the gods

  • Take note of patterns that set you up for failure and rope in support to deal with them. Darrell and I plan our week ahead of time, to be sure I’m not up too late and that we’re streamlining our to-do list as much as possible so we don’t overdo it. Be careful in saying yes to new things on the list so that you can keep the important things in focus (and sleep is an important thing!).

I’ve got another trip coming up to New Orleans at the end of the month and as much as I enjoyed the food in Memphis, New Orleans is my food mecca. I LOVE to eat there and have fond, visceral memories of the fantastic things I’ve enjoyed in that city. It’s also going to be a meeting where I’ve got to network (exhausting for introverted me!) and where I’m sleeping away from home, which never works well for me. My flight times are slightly less crazy (7 am departure and 8 pm back home, as opposed to 5 am departure and midnight back home with this trip) which will help for this trip, but I’m going to do a better job prepping myself with healthy snacks and my water bottle so that I don’t get derailed in the airport. I’m absolutely going to enjoy some fabulous food, don’t worry, but I won’t fall into the trap of the not-worth-it conference food like I did in Memphis.

How do you deal with fatigue and hunger (other than loads of coffee of course)?

Other things to read:

Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain? (Mayo Clinic)

Sleep and weight gain (WebMD)

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Happy Heart Month!

I can’t believe we’ve gotten to the end of February without talking about Heart Month! February has been designated as American Heart Month and we celebrate it by wearing red and going on heart walks, but I celebrated it this month when I went for a check up and again cheered for my normal blood pressure. Yes, there’s a little internal “hooray!” every time I ask for my numbers and they’re normal. Heart health is very personal for me, both because of my own history with high blood pressure and because we lost both of Darrell’s parents to heart disease at a very young age.

I never thought the blood pressure cuff could make me smile. :)

I never thought the blood pressure cuff could make me smile. 🙂

My high blood pressure was a big motivation for me to overhaul my diet and exercise habits and finally try to lose weight back in the summer of 2012. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was 29 years old. My blood pressure had run high for several years, in the “pre-hypertension/hypertension” range of 140s/90s. I always explained it away as a high stress job or having a headache and therefore a little pain that day. My health care providers always allowed me to wave it off, never engaging me on bringing my blood pressure down or losing weight or changing my diet and exercise. I now know that I should have insisted we address it! Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, causing 1 in every 3 deaths each year. That means one woman dies every minute from heart disease. We must advocate for ourselves. We must recognize that heart disease is common and lethal and woefully under-recognized in women by many health care providers. Ignoring the warning signs for years left me in an OB/Gyn’s office for a check up where they found that my blood pressure was 220/110. They should not have let me walk out of the office like that. That’s a dangerously high number. I was told that I should talk to my primary care doctor about it and that was it. Thankfully, that was high enough and scary enough that I did follow through with my doctor before I had a stroke and I started two medications to get things under control.

When I started losing weight in 2012, I did so hoping that I’d be able to get off of my blood pressure medication but knowing that I may not be able to do so because blood pressure is due to a lot of factors, not just obesity. However, I also recognized that just by making changes in my diet and exercise to try and lose the weight, I was helping my heart even if the scale didn’t budge. Losing weight helps your heart, but so do eating a healthier diet and moving more – those things are worthwhile even if weight loss is slow or non-existent so please don’t give up on your healthy lifestyle choices for your heart’s sake!

GoRedforWomen.org and the American Heart Association have developed “Life’s Simple 7”  as a list of some simple tips you can start adopting to decrease your risk of heart disease. These are things we already know we should do, but they’re worth thinking about again this month:

Move more! Get 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days a week.

Control your cholesterol: This mean you have to get screened and get treated if things are high. You don’t know what your cholesterol levels are unless you check.

Eat better! Seems simple, but eating more fruits, veggies and fiber can help your heart tremendously, as does avoiding trans fats.

Manage your blood pressure: Like cholesterol, you won’t know if yours is high if you don’t get it checked. It’s a “silent killer” because it can be asymptomatic until it is too late. Don’t put off getting screened!

Lose weight: Notice that this is only ONE piece of this puzzle, so don’t give up on exercise and eating well even if weight loss is slow.

Reduce your blood sugar: I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant and have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes, so I get my blood sugar screened regularly. Controlling diabetes with diet, exercise and medication can help your heart and the rest of your body.

Stop smoking: This was a big factor for Darrell’s parents, who were both heavy smokers, although I still worry about his genetics as well since they were both less than 50.

Do we have to be perfect at these things or do all 7? No, of course not, but making our best effort to take better care of our hearts can help ameliorate some of the risk that we have from our genes, our other medical conditions (like my lupus) and the fact that we are women who are higher risk than most of us realize, just by being women. Take care of yourself and advocate for yourself to get the care that you and your heart need, this month and every month.

American Heart Month - Go red!

For more information, check out:

GoRedforWomen.org

Millionhearts.hhs.gov

www.heart.org

Are You At Risk for Heart Disease?

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National Healthy Eating Day

Today is National Healthy Eating Day, a day organized by the American Heart Association to raise the awareness of the need to make healthy eating choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. One would think this isn’t something we need to raise awareness of and yet, at this time of year, this is exactly the reminder we need. It’s so easy to get caught up in rolling from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and suddenly it’s January and we’re wondering what happened!

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The American Heart Association’s Healthy Eating home page has a lot of easy information for getting started if you’re looking to make some changes for the better. It can be surprisingly easy for little choices to add up.

Cravings don't have to derail you!

Cravings don’t have to derail you!

This weekend, I was craving P. F. Chang for some reason and rather than giving in to my old favorite Dan Dan noodles (YUM!), I decided to make a healthier choice of ginger chicken with broccoli, steamed and with brown rice. I ate half of it and saved the rest for lunch on Monday. Was it perfect? No. All of the sodium had my hands all swollen for a couple of days, but it was a happy meeting of satisfying the craving with a real world healthier choice.

When it comes to making healthy eating choices, I definitely try to make the better choice more than worrying about the perfect choice. Rigid focus on “perfect” can be a problem, largely because we don’t actually know what “perfect” is when it comes to a healthy diet. Rather than stressing about getting it exactly right (and either not tackling healthy eating at all because it is too hard or falling into a binge because it gets too restrictive), I focus on adding things and making swaps that are healthier.

These are common tips, but that’s because they’re good ones:

  • Eat more veggies! Adding something unquestionably good for you can help fill up and leave less room for the less healthy options.
  • Be prepared: Everything from meal planning to snack planning to checking out restaurant menus ahead of time can make it easier to make healthy choices. The more we set up our environment to make the healthy choice the EASY choice, the more often we’ll get it right.
  • Don’t trust those cute little labels or words like “healthy,” “natural,” and “low-fat” (or low whatever): Read the actual nutrition label and ingredient lists. The serving size (which can be eye opening) and actual nutritional breakdown are there so you can see if it fits your needs and where the swaps have been made in the name of that flashy label on the front. For example, low fat may mean a lot of sugar.

One of my favorite pieces of healthy eating advice is to make the next good choice – don’t worry about the big picture of the rest of your life, just the very next choice you have to make. Make it a good one. 🙂 Maybe that can be our goal for celebrating National Healthy Eating Day – to make the next good food choice.

How do you make healthy eating choices?

For more reading and tips

It’s Easy to Eat Healthy

Snack Smart

 

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Friday Favorites: Anniversary weekend!

I don’t know if you guys remember, but last year I sort of completely forgot my 5 year wedding anniversary.

Lovely anniversary gifts, including wood for 5 years. And of course earrings - I always get a selection of new dangly earrings from Target. :)

Lovely anniversary gifts, including wood for 5 years. And of course earrings – I always get a selection of new dangly earrings from Target. 🙂

Even walking out that morning to see flowers, cards and a gift on a table didn’t clue me in to the fact I’d completely forgotten. This year, that is NOT going to happen! I made reservations at the nicest steakhouse in town and booked a slot in the locked room-escape game Darrell likes, plus picking up a gift. Darrell isn’t big into gifts, so it’s nothing big, but here’s hoping that a night of things he loves will be gift enough. That, and me not forgetting. 🙂

This week included National Coffee Day, always cause for celebration for someone like me who doesn’t want to look too closely at exactly how much coffee I’m drinking every day. I enjoyed this article on “5 reasons it’s okay to drink coffee as a runner” because I’m all for anything supportive of my habit. Reasons #4 and 5 are my personal faves: Coffee is good, duh, and it makes everything more bearable (yes, I  may have a problem with coffee). I was also intrigued by the glycogen uptake bit. It’ll be chilly when I finish my last long run on Sunday, so it looks like it would be good for my glycogen stores and good for my soul to stop for a soy latte on the way home from the park.

Elixir of the gods

Elixir of the gods

Lots of people are working to get some healthy habits this fall, before we head into the temptation fest that is the holiday season. Picking up to start again is part of this game – it definitely isn’t failure. What shouldn’t be part of this, but all too often is, is beating yourself for “straying” in the first place. This is hard work and life full of lots of hard work. It’s okay if every once in a while, other hard work takes priority. Just keep the healthy things you want to do someone on a back burner and come back to them as often as you need to. “Let’s stop pretending it’s ‘so easy’ to be healthy” is a great look at the lies we tell ourselves about how easy it is to get healthy.

A couple of weeks ago, the fabulous SwimBikeMom wrote a post entitled “The Monkey Bars” about the dangers of comparison and how careful we have to be about seeing ourselves negatively in relation to the other people on our chosen playgrounds in life. It’s a great read and definitely one I would recommend if you find yourself falling into comparison trip. Remember that as we set new goals and stretch outside our comfort zones, our peer group is going to change a bit. As a beginning Weight Watcher, I didn’t look like a lot of the other people who were farther along in the process. As a beginning runner, I didn’t look like most of the other runners. That’s okay because I was striving for a new thing. I run into this a lot professionally too. I could stay where I am and feel smart and successful and comfortable in doing just what I’ve always done, or I could try to take on new skills, knowing I’m going to feel stupid for a while. Change is scary and comes with feeling different for a while. That’s a good thing. “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle / end.”

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to check out the lovely Meg’s awesome half marathon race report. I don’t want to tell you guys how many times I’ve read it, but trust me, it’ll make you smile. We all need smiles on Fridays.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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October goals (other than going ga-ga for fall!)

I feel like I say this everything month, but I can’t believe it’s already October! Fortunately, October is possibly my favorite month of the year so I’m happy to see that it’s here. I just love the onset of fall! We’ve already been to the pumpkin patch and have a fall festival planned for this weekend, plus two Halloween events in town later this month. It’ll be lots of fun around here this month! We know we have to get out and enjoy everything we can now before we get snowed in. 🙂

O loves the pumpkin patch! More than pumpkins, there are lots of silly animatronics and games too!

O loves the pumpkin patch! More than pumpkins, there are lots of silly animatronics and games too!

My goals for September were small but mighty:

  • Tackle the tough month of training without injury: I took on bigger mileage, tougher “substance” runs and got through relatively intact. Even better, I feel so STRONG just getting all of this done. I know we always say that the race is the victory lap for the training, but it really does feel like I’ve achieved a lot just getting through this training cycle. I’ve loved it, even though it is hard. I might be nuts. 🙂 I have not done as well with strength training or foam rolling as I’d like, but did step it up again here at the end of the month when I noticed some tightness in my IT band. Thanks to the hallway yoga I do during bath time, I have been able to stay fairly flexible through it all.
  • Work on improving my nutrition to support my running: My weight had gone up almost ten pounds over the summer, which a) doesn’t help my running from a sheer physics perspective and b) reflected a creep of less-than-optimal food and snack choices into my days. I think I’ve done well overall this month in terms of balancing tracking on the weekdays, reining in that snacking, and still making good food choices without tracking on the weekend. My trip this week involved a lot of social stress (networking sucks for introverts) and some pressure, so I did do some snacking that I shouldn’t have just because it was feeding something other than real hunger. I’m happy to say I’m back to tracking this morning.
  • Mini-meditations to manage stress: I think if I’d kept this in mind better through this week, I might have been able to distract myself from the snacking. While I haven’t been perfect about it every day, I’ve definitely done this more this month than ever before and really noticed a difference on the days I did the breathing exercises several times through the day.

So what are my goals for October? October includes several social events for fall and Halloween, but no huge travel. It also includes one half marathon (Des Moines) and transition time to the second half marathon of the fall (Wine and Dine) in early November. Those things are shaping my goals for the month.

  • First and most importantly, I’ve got to drink more water! Since my dentist told me to stop drinking water with lemon to protect my enamel, I’ve really fallen out of the habit of drinking water. With two races coming up, I know staying hydrated is going to be hugely important. I also know, for me, adding water is one of those healthy habits that subtly signals me to stick to my healthy game overall. My goal is 80 oz a day and I’m working with the Lovely Ladies Losing Group for accountability.
I'm at 34 oz out of 80 so far today - gotta step it up! (Also, need to bring my refillable bottle up to the office)

I’m at 34 oz out of 80 so far today – gotta step it up! (Also, need to bring my refillable bottle up to the office)

  • Stay on top of snacking: More concretely, no unplanned snacking. I plan for snacks throughout the day to keep my energy up and particular snacks for pre- and post-run snacks. I find myself giving in far too often to the urge to pick up an extra snack on the way home from work or at bedtime. I won’t lie – I’d like to lose a few more pounds this month, but I’m not setting that as a goal. I’m experienced enough to know that the way I’ll be eating and running this month means I won’t be able to predict what the scale does. Instead, I’ll focus on the inputs I can control, not the outputs I can’t. That means reining in the snacks, a key starting point.
  • Put the foam roller by the bed: Or somewhere I’m literally tripping over it! I need to keep my legs healthy and safe, so I need to roll every day even through taper time and the Wine & Dine training.
  • Stick to this month’s training plan: I need to respect the taper and cut back without cutting off my running. I also need to respect that even though I don’t have a big goal for the Wine & Dine half marathon other than having fun, I do need to recognize that it requires at least some training.

One thing we did last month that I didn’t really include on the goals list was taking a moment to say what we were grateful for or something good that happened in our day at dinner each night. I love that this little habit took hold well enough that O has started leading it off without prompting when we all sit down for dinner together. His default is usually “this lovely meal mama has cooked,” which is cute. I’d definitely like to keep that up. A little positivity when we all gather together is a good thing in this world, I think. 🙂

What are you goals for October? Do you have any big events on the horizon?

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