Monday, March 30, 2009

Shamrock Shitshow

The weather yesterday morning for my first 8k race did not cooperate (in the opinion of this novice runner). The snow and ice started falling the night before. Then the weather forecaster mentioned that the windchill would be in the teens throughout much of the race due to the 20 mph winds!!

The winds, the cold temperature and the precipitation packed a 1, 2 (and 3) punch that I just could not handle. After much consideration, I made the difficult decision to stay home and not run my race. Then I reached a mental compromise. I would not run outside in the less than desirable conditions but the Pilot and I would trek to the gym and I would run the 4.97 miles on the treadmill. I finished my race in 59:35!

My gym has recently been asking members to reveal why they exercise. I came up with my reason this week; I exercise so I can drink Yuengling.

Yes, the picture you see is a glass cabinet in my kitchen filled with nothing but Yuengling. This delicious beer is only sold regionally and Chicago is not a region they disrupt too. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, every time I am in a place where this beer can be purchased I buy a couple of cases.

During a recent trip to Pittsburgh I bought 3 cases and came home to discover the only place I could store the bottles was on display in the cabinet. My roommate loved the idea and now all my beer drinking bliss can be seen by any guest that walks from the kitchen to the bathroom.

I can also officially say that I exercise to deserve every 150 calories found in that beer. Today marked the first day of a new training program crafted specially for me by the Pilot (complete with an excel spreadsheet and color-coded exercise groupings). In addition to running, this 12 week training program also includes weight training. I will be running 4 days a week and working with weights 3 days a week.

If I am successful, at the end of this 12 weeks I will be fully trained to run a half marathon (I have not registered yet, but I am still considering it) and my personal weight loss goal is to be 12 lbs lighter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

winning weight loss battles and the diet war

For Lent I gave up fried food.

I wanted my Lenten promise to be something health related because so much of my life is currently revolving around that topic anyways. I considered giving up fast food but then the fear of God struck me; would that include Subway?! Their $5 footlongs have been a diet and wallet savior the last month or so. Then the Pilot asked what my real food weakness was and I realized it was yummy food (loosely translated into fried food). I love greasy bar food, anything cutely named crispy, and french fries (preferably loaded with cheese and chili)!

So I made a commitment to degrease my insides. I just picture God unclogging my arteries (I do, after all, come from a long line of nightmarish genetics predisposing me to Heart Disease) as motivation to keep me going. Oh that and Jesus in a desert for 40 days and 40 nights!

This sacrifice has not been that hard to remain committed too, except this past Friday night. Trouble occurred while at the Foundry watching Florida State take on Wisconsin in their first March Madness appearance since the 80's.

Due to the March Madness madness the Foundry had compiled a smaller menu of things they were willing to make, with no additions, subtractions or substitutions. On the menu was all the usual bar food suspects, but my Lenten promise coupled with no-meat Fridays made choosing dinner incredibly difficult. Most of the fish options were fried (think fish n' chips), most of the appetizers were fried, and almost all of the main entrees were meat or chicken dishes. It came down to 2 options (that's all!), the tuna melt or caesar salad sans chicken.

I ordered the tuna melt and asked the waitress to remove the tomatoes and give me a side salad instead of homemade (fried) chips or fries. That is when I was informed of the no additions, subtractions of substitutions rule. I peeled off my own tomatoes and gave all the chips to the Pilot.

Questions came from the Pilot's friend, "Do you always eat this healthy?" I giggled and replied, rolling my eyes, "No way!" Although, I will admit it felt nice to be mistaken for a health freak. Nicer, though, than being believed to be a healthy person was my own sense of accomplishment for ordering a meatless, non-fried dish and asking for a side salad then NOT eating a single homemade chip when I was informed that a salad was not an option.

The even better news is that my Foundry experience was not the first diet and weight loss battle I won.

I quickly learned that I was going to be a person who needed to eat every few hours, even if I did not feel hungry because once the hungry did hit, I went immediately to starving (and that is when the cravings begin). One afternoon while babysitting I did not have my usual bag full of snacks and I could not find anything in the house that was calorie-friendly enough to eat. First mini-battle won; I did not give into my hunger and cravings by eating something unhealthy or loaded with empty calories. I found inner strength to wait until after babysitting to eat. However, as the minutes ticked by all I could think about was where I would stop on my way home to purchase dinner. Taco Bell sounded good, as did a double cheeseburger from McDonalds. Second mini-battle won; I ended up at the grocery store! I am still not consciously aware of how that decision came about but there I was and I went straight to the snack aisle and opened a 100 calorie pack of multi-grain wheat thin crisps (should have grabbed carrots instead, but I still consider it a win). They gave me the fuel I needed to plan a better alternative to a fast food meal. For dinner that night I made my own cheeseburger; english muffin, spicy mustard, boca burger, fat-free cheese and romaine lettuce with apple slices subbing for french fries.

I cooked breakfast for the Pilot and I yesterday morning. Multi-grain pancakes and a heaping fruit salad. I told him if he wanted bacon (more specifically turkey bacon) or eggs he was on his own, I would not be cooking those sort of things. I tried to eat the fruit salad first but the fear of cold pancakes consumed me and I drizzled on the syrup. Not the healthiest choice for breakfast and I think it doomed me for the rest of the day. I was hungry all day and did not have the strength to ignore my cravings. Third mini-battle won; while I ate a bagel with regular cream cheese in a crab craving binge I just said to myself it was one hiccup (not the end of the world) and I could start all over again today.

Which is exactly what I did. Fourth mini-battle won; my breakfast this morning was a cup of green tea, 1 serving of liquid egg substitute (prepared with butter flavored non-stick cooking spray), 1 cup of sauteed spinach (prepared the same way), 1 piece of 35 calorie wheat toast split down the middle (half covered in light whipped butter, half covered with peanut butter) and a juicy clementine. Total calories for breakfast? 181 and I am stuffed!

Fifth mini-battle won; I can run 6 miles the day after a night of large alcohol consumption! Saturday morning I woke up regretting my Miller Lites from the night before. Manageable calories but not so manageable alcohol intake! I chugged water, ate lots of carbs and I knew that running would push the headache out of my body for the remainder of the day. The Pilot came home from work and we set out to run 5 miles (the last long run in my training program before I run an 8k on Sunday). The Pilot sprinted out in front of me and was doing a leg work out (waiting for me) at the turnaround point. We began to run back the way we came. The Pilot sprinted off again and I glanced down at my watch. I could not believe I was running so slow! Then the thought hit me; I'm not running slow, the Pilot is torturing me! He met me close to the end and ran the last half mile with me, the whole time claiming it was only 5 miles. I made him map it again when we got home. "I lied to you," he said, "it was 5.9 miles." No anger here. I ran the whole thing! I ran 6 miles! And I burned 704 calories while doing it!

I am down 7 lbs now and seriously considering signing up for the Chicago half-marathon in September. After all, I can already run about half of it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Have you turned a corner?

I think I have.

After running the Turkey Trot I took a break. A 10 week break. I kept setting goals and putting them off in an "I'll start my new training plan on Monday" fashion. I had many excuses and no real reason for taking the break. It happened and now it is over.

With the prompting of a few friends/colleagues I signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle; under the assumption that spending the money to register for a race would be the push I needed to start training again. It was and it was not.

I trained for the first 3 weeks half-heartedly and without fire and drive in my eyes (that according to the Pilot). I would skip cross training workouts and not stretch properly before and after runs. There were many psychological and emotional reasons for this lax approach to training (another blog will clarify those).

On Monday of week 4, I reached a tear-filled psychological breaking point complete with a phone call to my Dad claiming "I'm never gonna be able to do it" and yet another conversation with the Pilot, in which he told me I could do it and I argued the point. Then the change occurred.

Thanks to the Pilot's amazing internet searching abilities, I signed up for the 2009 Challenge. It is a free way to calculate caloric intake with a food diary and burned calories on the workout log. It also provided me with a manageable strength routine.

Since that day, I have counted my calories, cooked (yes cooked!) edible low calorie foods (thanks to The Hungry Girl), had 9 successful runs reaching a new distance of 4.3 miles, I am doing my strength and cross training workouts, bought 2 new pairs of running shoes, signed up for 2 more 5k races (Wrigley and Illinois) and lost 6 pounds!

Maybe turning a corner will result in more blog posts.